WHAT MADE TOM CRUISE PICK THE MUMMY 2017?

This is a question asked umpteen times ever since the movie hit theatres, a movie that is not just a reboot of a commercially successful series but also the launch vehicle of Universal’s Dark Universe, an ambitious sub-series by the global entertainment giant to tap into the ever-widening profitability net of comic book super-heroes (and super-villains), supernatural characters and obviously the all-eclipsing monsters.

Well, The Mummy of the previous generation was a bad movie series. It could work commercially because humour was an important part of this storytelling that the world is quite familiar with, palaces, kings, queens, princes, princesses, paramours, conspiracies, killings, tombs, mummies and pryramids.

And the natural inevitability – that how far can you go with a tellingly thin narrative – that any mummy is basically identified with Egypt’s Pyramids and some Egyptian royalty because of the controversial history surrounding them – so, a standalone chapter, or at best two can justify their arrival if they are given some good treatment. Even The Mummy’s previous incarnation had to look for other extensions beyond Egypt to keep the franchise lubricated beyond two but then it chose to suspend the movement beyond one more.

The latest Mummy has come to life after 2008, when the last movie of the series was released. The three previous Mummies were basically horror comedies to say best or if we say conservatively, they were action-comedy flicks which didn’t need star power but the treatment that could pull the viewer to the theatre. They were time-pass flicks running high on computer generated special effects. They didn’t need acting credentials for expressions or starry adrenaline for action sequences.

They simply needed a one point linear narrative that how to keep the viewer engaged for 100 minutes by producing a cocktail of commercial cinematic specs like comedy mixed with horror, special effects, good looking canvases and known mythological monsters. They were meant to entertain somehow. They were never meant to excel.

True, it can be argued that Tom Cruise is an entertainer and excellence in filmmaking is a reserved phenomenon. But he is certainly an actor who cannot, at this stage of his career, be associated with films that are meant to entertain somehow. He is a name. He is a star power. He is among the selected few names who are used to sell films.

So, the big question is, what made Tom Cruise pick The Mummy 2017, a poor reboot that fails to create the effect of its mediocre but commercially successful predecessors, especially when the film has failed to create box office magic? Reports say the film generated only $400 million against its overall budget of $250 million. And critical reception, well its flooded with all kinds of negative witticisms – plain, convoluted, satirical, humorous and even comical.

©SantoshChaubey

MADAARI POWERFULLY CONVEYS WHAT IT WANTS TO CONVEY

Madaari is a powerful film because of the message it conveys – an element that effectively counters flaws that we may discuss in the art of filmmaking here.

And it does so sensitively, touching cords. The film is not just a sensitive portrayal of a father-son relation but is also an apt expression of a common man who is crushed by the system. It is a vengeance story with no personal vendetta. It is as variegated in portrayal as the human thought can be, especially of a man who has lost his everything including the will to live and who wants to avenge his loss at any cost but who, at the same time, is bound by the larger cause of ‘what is right and what ails’ the system.

A vigilante thought process underpins the character developments in the movie – a thought element that we all have in our lifetimes. It is its leitmotif.

The main protagonist in the film loses his son in a flyover collapse which is caused by irregularities and corruption in its construction. The film explains well the internal struggle of a man who fails to accept this loss and chooses to concentrate his anger on the corrupt system that is plaguing the society – that caused the collapse.

A vigilante film is basically about uncommon heroics of someone from among us. The good thing about Madaari is, that though it’s basic premise is far-fetched, it tries to look real – like the reflection of peace and innocent happiness that the main protagonist’s character displays when he finally succeeds in telling to the masses that he has kidnapped the home minister’s son and why he has done so – something that the whole machinery is trying to keep under wraps.

And the film does it with élan. Character development is a high point of this film – every character that is a stakeholder here contributes with heart – the main protagonist, his son, his wife, the captive who also happens to be the son of the home minister, the home minister and his wife, the cop, the corrupt politician and so on.

A home minister who leaves his son in a minimum security school hostel to seek political mileage, a dejected father who abducts that son and roams across many states throughout the movie, a cop who decides not to kill him after knowing his real story and indirectly helps him, a cop who aspires to get the plum posting of some state governor after retirement – unbelievable, unreasonable premises – but then isn’t it not about the most vigilante movies – and, in fact, with all the superhero movies?

Yet we love them – be it ‘The Equalizer’ or the Batman movies of the Superman movies or the Iron Man movies or our very own ‘Krrish’.

It is because of the human psychology – where we all, more or less, at some point of time or regularly – face its brunt – and the main protagonist of the movie is shown taking on such (rogue) VIP elements.

It is because such films give wings to our fantasy that craves (and at times cribs) because of the fundamentally feeble nature of human beings who have been harassed by a corrupt system – something that we all face – and find ourselves forced to compromise.

Madaari portrays that.

MadaariFacebook

©SantoshChaubey

Featured Image Courtesy: Madaari’s Official Facebook page

LON’E’DON HAS FALLEN!

I had the fine luck of watching ‘London Has Fallen’ last night – and after watching the movie (it doesn’t matter if it was in random shots), I could not stop myself from writing about it.

Okay, I decided I would not go too deep as it will reduce gravity of my words. I decided to keep it direct – but with a bit of haziness. After all, we all exist in greys – with only occasional interactions with extremities.

The obvious first step or the first brush on penning some words about the movie was going for that little birdie on Twitter. And here a shocking revelation was waiting for me. When I tried my tweet with the hashtag #LondonHasFallen, I found that I was the first person using that hashtag.

Now, it was the first natural hashtag that people should have gone with while writing about the movie. Why they haven’t sounds a bit strange. Anyway, I ‘created’ the #LondonHasFallen hashtag (and felt good on creating something) and went ahead with my tweet.

Now, it is the time for my reflections on the movie:

Well, first of all, the movie is of epic proportions – the kind of destruction, and that too of London, and that too not by supernatural heroes, but by terrorists, is unprecedented.

No other producer or director can think to show London fallen to this extent. No actor can expect that the creative freedom to show destruction can be taken to this extent.

No producer, director or actor can be so unbelievably bold in killing most of important world leaders in one go – an act that #LondonHasFallen does so efficiently.

And where the mastery lies – in the manner all world leaders have shown to be executed – quickly, swiftly (and unbelievably).

The conspiracy has been shown so adept and meticulous that you can see a French President is shown taking waterways to reach London (without the routine entourage and security) or an Italian power couple giggles and ogles from a building and so on.

The meticulousness goes to the next level as the film shows the main protagonist and the side protagonist (here the US President) on the run and terrorists find men and eyes in every part of London virtually hijacking the city – where all layers of defence – aerial or ground forces or from Thames are shown completely fallen – with no trace of their activity.

And when so much of filmmaking talent is oozing here, brimming over, in fact, is spilling over, who cares about CGI or special effects or acting. The epic level of disaster on display takes care of everything. The movie leaves no time to think about storyline, character development or points of logics/ill-logics/bad logics/silly logics/funny logics.

Certainly, the movie that has earned thrice of its budget will remain a ‘lone’ achiever for the years to come. After all, it is rare to see so much of talent – in acting, directing and cinema-making – coming together on a single platform.

Thanks folks for giving us this filmmaking gem – a class act – like a ‘lone wolf’ – a study in point – that will be read again and again.

The film should rightly be spelt as ‘Lon’e’don’ Has Fallen in its respect.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LINCOLN IS..AS GOOD CINEMA IS..

Good cinema is refreshing.

And at times, it proves levitating as well.

Like most people, I also love films – but I am quite selective about what I watch and how I watch.

Films are a brilliant tool to learn from, to think over and to create a lasting memory worth revisiting – the meaningful cinema is all about that.

Films are also the most potent tool for soft communication (or for soft power projection) when the need is to reach masses not restricted by boundaries.

Films created with a ‘craft conscience’ are case studies in themselves to study the art and craft of cinemamaking, to analyse the subject they are based on and to look into the values of the society they are set into.

Such thoughts come to mind whenever I watch some good, meaningful film. And all these thoughts were there again when I was watching ‘Lincoln’ again this evening – a world cinema classic, a production with honourable values in the annals of cinemamaking.

The 2012 film about Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President, by Steven Spielberg focuses on the final months of Lincoln’s life. It is a moving document to study – for those who are well-informed, for those who are just familiar and for those as well who are not at all aware of. The movie is an important modern day source of one of the most important emancipatory moves made by humans to empower fellow human beings in a democratic society. In fact, the concept of a free society with constitutional equality for all began with this history-making decision executed by Abraham Lincoln in 1865 – making discrimination based on skin colour constitutionally illegal in the United States of America.

Yes, there have been and there are debates and critiques about the cinematic representation of the historical developments in the film but a good piece of ‘meaningful’ cinema liberates you to enjoy the show and inspires you to know further – like, I believe, many would have tried after watching the movie.

The art, the craft, the soul, the flesh – all ingredients of great cinemamaking are here in blossoming health I can say – with acting, with direction, with writing, with lights and camera, with score, with sets, with costumes, with props and so on – and historically, the movie is accurate enough to make viewers sit and experience the age defining development in the modern history of human civilization in making in a thrilling, riveting fashion.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION AND JEAN-PAUL SARTRE’S EXISTENTIALISM

‘Is ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ best cinema tribute to Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism?’

Well, I had not thought so sweepingly on this line even if I had already watched the movie multiple times, until the last night when I was reading about it.

The Wikipedia page on the movie had this ‘sweeping’ statement:

“The film has been critically acclaimed for depicting Jean-Paul Sartre’s ideas about existentialism more fully than any other contemporary movie.”

When I further dug in to find its originating source, I stumbled upon a web page of ‘Philosophy Now’ magazine with an article by some Alexander Hooke on the movie – but available only to subscribers beyond its initial few lines.

These lines are:

“Hope helps keep us alive and anticipating the next sunrise with joy rather than gloom. It enlivens projects and maintains focus. Hope is sustained by the confidence we have in our knowledge of the situation, although the possibility of being deceived, by others or ourselves, can undermine this confidence. Still, hope promises a time or place where things will be better, even if it seems we’re stuck in perpetual hell. Accounts through the millennia depict hell as a realm full of fascinating and ghastly demons, endless tortures, with Satan ruling with a fiery fist, and where hope is impossible.”

Yes, the movie is all about that – in fact a subtle depiction of – in most real and practical ways possible.

And I believe when it so rightly writes about ‘hope and hopes’ – even if we are well aware of limitations, the write-up will certainly have its own logics to discuss about ‘Existentialism’ in the movie, especially Sartre’s Existentialism.

Now, there are three characters central to the movie:

The one which presents before us a characterization epitomizing hope – believing in his existence and persevering to see it materialise, even if it means decades of focused job on something, to steal the day finally for him.

The next one is a sort of crusader of hope with faded charm, helping his friend in difficult times and giving him the means to sustain his ‘hope’ and at the same time, is resigned to his fate, is not sure of his identity.

The last one is like the first one, but in an audacious way, pinning his ‘hope’ on others’ shoulders – thinking of an existence for him and going all out to usurp it.

How do they play out their ‘existences’ and their ‘hopes’ in the movie? Let’s ‘watch’ the movie again.

Let’s see.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THIS TRAILER IS SO FUNNY THAT I WATCHED IT TO LAUGH IT OFF..

MSG

This image is all about what MSG-2’s trailer means to me.

Normally, I don’t write about movies. Yes, I love watching them – but those that suit my taste. So, Citizen Kane is my favourite. Padosan is my favourite. Schindler’s List is an all time in. And I appreciate the art of filmmaking that has gone into making of ‘Haider’.

I do write about such movies. My personal collection goes with detailed analysis of them. Films are the best communication tool ever crafted and I respect the movies that respect filmmaking as an ‘art’ process.

And movies like MSG are certainly not there. In fact, it is such a product that it should not even register.

And that is exactly the reason why its trailer registered.

Its trailer told me how rubbish would be the movie and that how fool we are to worship such people as Gods or as our religious gurus next only to the God.

Yes, with most of the movies being produced here and there, one doesn’t need to watch trailers to make any opinion. Name of cast and crew and are enough to tell about the product (save those small time, obscure movies like ‘Court’ that are big on content and on everything creative).

But, then there is a silver lining – in some empty moments – when you want to watch something funny – not to recharge yourself – but just to continue in the flow of the moment – and that moment happened today.

I was sifting through television channels to catch something funny – some hilarious action stuff from C-grade movies that I do sometimes – when I found myself staring at and then watching this trailer in amusement. And that reflection soon turned into ‘sheer’ amusement.

The image above explains what the trailer is.

And the image is about nothing. I simply, randomly drew lines on my computer screen with a while background. I was dragging mouse on and on until I felt it was black enough to draw lines anymore.

The trailer is like those lines, the countless ones in the image, with no meaning and purpose. Yes, as a mind can stare even at a blank spot and think for hours, and no doubt, can draw conclusions or pointers to think further, similar process can apply even to this trailer.

But then this trailer is so bland, so bad in taste creatively (and therefore so funny) that you laugh it off – like I found myself stuck at it today – to laugh its blandness off – like I do with some C-grade action flicks whenever I catch them.

The trailer’s (or the movie’s) central protagonist is a controversial godman who continues to wield power.

And this C-grade trailer had all the D-grade elements like silly special effects, a flying, omnipresent and omnipotent but odd-shaped and oddly clad hero, funny and funnily shot miracles, badly written dialogues, grandiosely exaggerated frame settings showing everyone else a minion compared to the hero, bawdily stacked shots and gaudy song and dance sequences – a perfect curry to enjoy moments of some absent-minded laugh.

And like drawing this image, that took my time (as its resource), big money (as resource) would have been invested into making this trailer (or the movie).

But while I care for my time, trying to write something around this image to see my resources talking to me, the ones who have invested in this sort of production, they never care for their resources (or they never care wasting their resources).

And it is natural (and understandable) that I am not going to use the movie’s poster as the featured image of the article.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SOME ‘JOLLY’ WATCHING..

I love watching this movie, especially when I try to sense a ‘good’ and ‘humoured’ satire in Hindi cinema.

Yes, the movie is not a masterpiece but has been lifted to a ‘master sort’ of level by brilliant performance of its actors, especially the character delivered to us by Saurabh Shukla – the eternal lower court judge – in his full flair – in his characterization’s full tenacity.

The subject line is not so innovative but is popular enough to ‘be sensitive to masses’ – a drunk scion of a rich business family kills some people under his vehicle’s wheels – and his ‘superrich’ family tries to manipulate and subvert the legal system to get him out.

We have seen it so many times in real life.

So, there is nothing new about it in the movie.

But, then, moviemaking is as much about the subject matter as it is about the treatment of the narrative.

A good narrative treatment can lift even an ordinary plot to the levels of a ‘watchable feast’.

Here, a ‘common but sensitive to masses’ subject has been treated well by the director. In spite of routine song and dance sequences, transition from one frame to the next looks logical. The dialogues are punchy and ‘poignant’ at places – especially in the climax of the movie – the final scene that gives us all a ‘jolly’ feeling.

‘Jolly LLB’ is a treat to watch – because of some powerful acting by its central protagonists – the three legal eagles – the brilliant lower court Justice and the good and the bad lawyers – and they are supported well by some supportive characters.

Anyone who has experienced how the Indian courts function, especially the lower courts, can correlate with the frame by frame development of the movie.

The judge, who ultimately proves that he is incorruptible and whatever he had said was basically part of the routine/social human behaviour, acts so naturally that one can identify him with what happens in natural settings.

The good lawyer is also a human being, like you and me, and finally evolves as a normal human being who is in a dogged pursuit to undo some wrong. Again, this is very human. Circumstances make, break and shape a man (or woman).

The bad lawyer is perennially bad and ‘haughty’. He is cunning enough to see his profit in every move and goes to any extent to achieve his purpose. He does everything illegal to fulfil his objectives in his ‘legal profession’. We can so easily identify him with real people in the said profession.

The high point of the film, in spite of its illogical but light-hearted humorous insertions, is that we act hooked to its scenes, especially the ones in the courtrooms and we spontaneously move from one frame to the next.

The film scores because most of its scenes are worth watching multiple times and we feel the need for its ‘sequel’ after the show is over.

And it was one of those ‘jolly’ times last night again while watching the movie (again) – with freedom of controlling the movement of its frames.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BAHUBALI: VISUALLY RICH BUT FORMULAIC

Bahubali (or Baahubali) is a visually rich panorama frame by frame. The movie is packaged with immaculate detailing in its every shot.

In South Indian film industry (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada) – Tamil Film Industry (Chennai) is the best known one for producing epics with larger canvas. Telugu does have produced some big budget movies but not beyond the ambit of run-of-the-mill productions. Malayalam Cinema has produced some of the finest films of Indian Cinema but no one invests there in big-budget movie productions.

Bahubali was simultaneously produced in Telugu and Tamil but is basically a Telugu production and broke the trend of Tamil Cinema in South India producing big budget quality work.

The movie is a quality product in terms of its technical aspects devoted to express finer details of every shot as meticulously as possible, shaping every possible elements of a frame that could be, and capturing it to creative satisfaction.

But the movie is still formulaic with loose plot elements. Going by the first part of this two part production, the film can be fit in the Masala genre based on revenge plots. Focus of direction seems more on producing a war as a visual extravaganza than making the overall plot an intriguing affair.

Here, actors are good but not as big as Rajinikanth is or not as subtle as Kamal Haasan is. Here the movie is grand but not as refreshing as ‘3 Idiots’ was.

But, nonetheless, the movie is a great leap in Indian film industry where most of the products, including the most big budget ones, are not even a time pass affair.

Because, in spite of Bahubali’s déjà-vu plot, where we can easily expect what will be the next development, its treatment has made it a visual cinematic feast exceeding expectations.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

baahubali-poster-5

Featured Image Courtesy: One of Bahubali’s Official Posters

MOHALLA ASSI: HOPE FILM DELIVERS WHERE ITS ‘LEAKED’ TRAILER FAILS

Well, it claims to a satirical take on ‘bad side’ of Kashi (or Varanasi or Banaras). Reports say it is loosely based on Kashi Nath Singh’s ‘Kashi Ka Assi’ though the novelist, as some versions say, is not happy with the treatment.

I watched this trailer last night and again this morning after I came to know about this movie. Looks an interesting movie by the trailer though it is certainly about stereotyping something peripheral as the main. What Chandraprakash Dwivedi, the Central Board of Film Certification member, wants to show through this film, he only knows.

The culture of Assi, the social milieu of ghats and the overall culture of Banaras is much deeper and mystical. Hope the movie captures this essence which is certainly not in the trailer. What is bad in Banaras, its Pandas and other bad people (Kashi ke ‘thug’ or cons or fakers), is known from ages. I still find more books on Kashi written by foreigners than by Indians. Yes, the drug menace shown in the trailer is a reality but again it cannot be attributed to everyone. And also, the world knows how dirty has become Varanasi in recent days and needs an infrastructural makeover.

I am from Varanasi, born and brought-up there. I have never used any expletive so far in my life. Also, I don’t know anyone in my circle using expletives as habitually as is shown in the trailer. I still go back to this city to learn from it, to experiment with my thoughts.

Not everyone uses abuses or invectives or cuss words or “gaalis’ there, in day to day life, in routine, while talking. It is not there for everyone, as the trailer makes us to believe so. Mostly, it is between friends. High tempers and rage also see such words flowing. But then, it is not unique to Varanasi. Don’t we find such things in Delhi and in other parts, obviously with localized elements? Such societal elements and habits are always on its periphery and we should not see them as mainstream social elements – as this trailer tells us.

Reports say this one is a leaked trailer of the movie, that is a work in progress since 2011 and has seen many issue derailing its completion. Finally, it may release later this year.

As the movie is being claimed as a work of satire and as the trailer is said to be the ‘leaked’ version, let’s see if the movie has that punch to deliver the honest message here.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FIRST THOUGHTS ON THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF FIVE ARMIES

First thoughts on The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies or The Hobbit 3 or simply Hobbit3..

The final chapter is delivered better than the previous two (An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug) but all three installments fail to capture the J R R Tolkien masterpiece (The Hobbit) the way Peter Jackson could do with The Lords of The Rings books.

The Battle had interesting moments but didn’t look epic on screen.

The development of characters further in this part and the development of events leading to the grand finale give a feeling that something is missing, is incomplete.

It didn’t give the feeling of watching a complete movie in itself, a milestone of the three TLOTR movies. Yes, the three installments of TLOTR are incomplete without each other and a jump from one to other bypassing the next renders the story meaningless for someone who wants to see the story to its end but each narrative is weaved in a way that we don’t feel that we are watching an incomplete work while watching the movies separately. We don’t get the feeling of ‘something’ missing here, something that Peter Jackson couldn’t do with The Hobbit. 

Yes, still a much better production than routine Hollywood studio Sci-Fi, superhero and fantasy flicks with finesse in use of colours, frame elements, camera and technical tools, a sort of weariness can be traced from TLOTR movies to The Hobbit movies.

A book into three movies Vs three books into three movies – a possible reason for the fallout!

Will Peter Jackson take up more Tolkien stories?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/