Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium
English Movies, Fantasy

Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium directed by Zach Helm

mr_magoriums_wonder_emporium I wonder why a children’s story or a movie is loaded with so many negative connotations for adults – in terms of watchability. Label a movie “Children’s movie” and an ‘Adult’ would rather watch a more ‘adult’ movie, even if its is absolutely mindless – American Pie and its ilk which are somehow labelled ‘teen’ movies.

Well, in my humble opinion, something egregiously horrible happens when the transition happens from the children genre to the teenage one and which continues to the ‘adult’ section. I would rather that the teens stick to the children movies until they have better sense to choose their movies.

Anyway about this movie..

This is a wonderful movie about some of the things we conveniently forget – faith, magic, hope, grace and love. Its about what we consider to be a part of childhood childishness and try to forget; but which we crave for in secret, secret even from us. Most of all, it teaches us about death and how it is a part of living and something you can even look forward to.

Natalie Portman, a musical prodigy whose initial promise has not translated to adult success,  handles the emporium which is basically a magical-magic shop. Its owner is Dustin Hoffman, a mysterious  grandfatherly figure who is more than two and half centuries old. He makes magical toys for children who adore his shop (They don’t consider it to be a toy shop at all). He is endearingly eccentric and childishly wise (an oxymoron that the viewer of the movie would understand)

Well, he decides to ‘leave’ one day and wants to leave the shop tomr-magoriums-wonder-emporium Portman. The story of the movie unfolds as she tries to find within herself what she wants to do – with the shop, with her life. Playing a major role in all this is Eric, a ten year something boy who is determined to save the shop.

The story is rendered in quiet humour and gentle charm. You know it would be a happy ending but you still wait for it – wait for the magic to happen.  And it has one of the best parting dialogues I have heard.


Mr. Edward Agrium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written "He dies." That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with euphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words.
[pause, walks over to Molly]
Mr. Edward Agrium: I’ve lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I’m only asking that you turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest "He died."

mr-magoriums-wonder-emporium-uk-review-20071206063606308 A movie that everyone would enjoy – it might be a common story and you instinctively know the ending but you enjoy the way it is told and the acting supports the story brilliantly. And yes, though the movie needs to be labelled something for marketing purposes, this is as much as a ‘normal’ movie as any. Its more meaningful than most of the blockbusters out there (maybe ‘grownup’ movie are the ones which can spend a percentage of GDP on them)


Fantasy, Satire, World Cinema

District 9 directed by Neill Blomkamp

district9 One of the best science fiction movies that I have seen. The reason I loved it was because it had the same philosophy as the best tales of science fiction. Peel away the surface and you find a story that speaks not of tomorrow, but of today. The science fiction genre is just a tool to tell an attention grabbing, engaging story.

The movie is told partly in the form of a documentary that seems to talk about some event in the near past (something extraordinary happened, we understand, something not ‘approved’). And partly, the movie is told in real time. The premise is that an alien mother ship got stranded over the top of Johannesburg. The human expectations of finding something exciting (either salvation or doom) in the event (haven’t we all hoped for witnessing contact with extra-terrestrials?) is soon dashed when they find malnourished and ETs, decidedly disgusting in appearance on the ship who seem to be disoriented and directionless. They are ‘rehabilitated’ in refugee camps that soon becomes a cordoned off area, an apartheid zone – as clashes increase between humans and ETs. Zones become earmarked as ‘ETs not allowed’ or ‘humans only’ that does not take too much of an imagination to realize as being a spin off from the apartheid signs of ‘Whites only’ and so on.

As the ETs begin to try and get rights for themselves, protests are triggered all over the city with calls for removing the settlement. That is when a private MNC (MNU) comes to the scene to ostensibly help in removal of the ETs and plan their rehabilitation on the outskirts. However they have an ulterior motive, which soon becomes apparent and forms the core of the story. As the rehabilitation drive begins, our district_ninestory begins…

It’s a rollercoaster of a movie that can be seen as a action thriller at one level. For me, it never flagged in its pace. Till the end, you keep on guessing how it can end and if it can end happily. I loved the ending by the way. Lets the movie end with a yearning.

But what is really great about this movie is that it raises a lot of issues –  political and social without ever becoming in the least bit preachy. There are no speeches or highly aware individual. That most of are really pawns and can only do and understand so much is what the movie brings out. Small things shown in the movie make a big difference in the whole viewing experience – like the discrimination against the ETs that comes so naturally, the derogatory nicknaming of the ETs by the humans as ‘prawns’ based on their appearance, the involvement of private armies of large corporations (makes you think of Iraq), the dilemma of acceptance of people (in this case – species) who look and act differently, the unlikely brotherhood that can develop between people when they finally understand each other. All things that you can relate to easily.

district9-440x486 And because the ETs and the humans differ so markedly in appearance and language makes the ‘message’ of the movie even more apparent. And when the ETs show traits like love, sorrow and loyalty, which ironically ‘humanizes’ them, well, you understand what the movie is all about

It’s a movie that people who love a good story told differently will enjoy. It has a certain grim humour about it that goes with the mood of the movie. I love the movie for what it said but I loved it more for the way it said it.


Drama, English Movies, Fantasy

The Jacket directed by John Maybury

 455-1 This is a story of a man thrust into a mad world where he finds the only person he loves and who is worth saving even at the cost of his life. There is a twist though…the person he falls in love with is in the future and he is supposed to die 14 years before.

This is a love story which has a lot of elements of “Butterfly effect” in it. It has a sombre and grey air around it in which the acting of Adrien Brody particularly stands out. His haunted look throughout the movie goes perfectly with the theme of the movie. He dominates the movie completely and does a damn good job of it

The story takes its inspiration from a story by Jack London “The Star Rover” and is about Adrien Brody who is injured in the Gulf war, miraculously surviving a direct head wound, even though he is medically psychologically impaired, possibly suffering from amnesia. He helps Jackie and Jean (a daughter-mother duo) who are stranded on a roadside and in the process forms a bond with the little girl Jackie and shortly after gets innocently involved in a shooting and is implicated in the same. He is packed off to an asylum when he is released since he is considered insane. There, Dr Becker starts experimenting on him, in order to test his healing technique. Brody is strapped in a straitjacket and put in a morgue drawer with drugs pumped into him. It is here where he starts getting transported into the future (2007) where he15031__jacket_l meets Jackie, who has now grown up into an embittered miserable young woman. It is also then that he realizes that he is supposed to die four days later (in the present time)

The rest of the story is about how Brody tries to find out about the cause of his death and how he ultimately decides to deal with it.

I liked the last scene the best. The expression on Brody’s face, as compared to the rest of the movie, is amazing. It was as if he was at last at peace with himself, with his decision.

Watch it for a the different story line (though it has strong echoes from many other movies) and Brody’s acting…


the condemned
Action, English Movies, Fantasy

The Condemned directed by Scott Wiper

2wc1cv7 The Truman show, its not…it does not really bring in question our sense of reality and how warped it can become. Untraceable it is not – it does not show the incredible power of the internet in becoming the playground of a voyeuristic killer. Though the movie does bring in both elements, watch the movie mainly for the action of brawny men fighting it out barefisted!!! Even that is patchy, with it becoming watchable only when the two main guys fight it out…action wise, ‘Death Race’ was much better and it has a similar plotline…

The story is of a millionaire who hits upon a plan to double his capital assets by making ten men and women who were on death row in various countries fight each other to death in an island and have the action transmit live on the internet, an action that subscribers have to pay money to watch…the story is of how the ‘condemned’ ten try to kill off each other and how the whole plan goes awry at the end…

Its an interesting watch only if you discount the attempts to have the movie have a ‘message’. The movie tries to get you to consider the immorality of the whole proceedings and also tells you that because we watch, perhaps we are the ones who are ‘condemned’. But its all done in a half-baked manner and the politically correct statements make you a condemned-vinnie-stonecold1_1177547464 bit weary. And in fact the attempts to bring in the morality angle only prevents the movie from becoming a thoroughly enjoyable action movie, which it had a great potential to be…Another thing that gets a bit irritating is the fact that there is a sort of a brooding American Rambo which emerges at the end…Hate it when that happens…

So all in all, nothing new…every premise of the movie has been done much better in other movies. The movie does not really hold on to you and I found myself checking the watch in between…

English Movies, Fantasy

Inkheart – The movie

inkheart2A fantasy film with an interesting premise – imagine if you could bring the characters of a book you are reading to life!!! Stuff of fantasy surely and something any avid reader would have wanted to do. You would be called ‘silvertongue’ and this is a film that could be about you!!!

Just beware. You can bring in cute characters (like the dog ‘Toto’ from the Wizard of Oz) but can also bring in villains like the ‘Capricorn’ (from the fictional novel – ‘Inkheart’) who can begin to like this world too much and can start a rampage that would need heroes like the fire-eater from the world of Inkheart or a Bedouin boy from 1001 nights and of course our hero and his 12 year precocious daughter to set right .

The movie has a nice and racy feel to it and at times it quite a feast to watch. Its a colourful movie with lots of elements that would hold your attention to the end. Its a movie that can be enjoyed by anyone irrespective of age.

But the viewer must remember that its pure time-pass, as we Indians like to say. This is no Matrix of ‘destiny decided by our choice’ type of fantasy. Its a feel good story with just a dash of villainy needed to make the story interesting (Just good and nice people would make a very boring story) that would remind us of the fairy tales we used to hear in our childhood.

So watch it when you are feeling down. This would surely perk you up…

Starring: Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Eliza Bennett, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis

Based on the book ‘Inkheart’ Cornelia Funke