The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Vampire Owl: They once tried to do an autopsy on me, these humans.

Vampire Bat: You mean after you died on that wonderful day.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they wanted to know the cause of my death.

Vampire Bat: And then what happened?

Vampire Owl: I didn’t allow them because I was not dead anymore.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that your vampire transformation was rather too fast.

Vampire Owl: It is because I transformed myself into a vampire. I had chosen my next life.

Vampire Bat: What are you talking about? There has to be a vampire to make one out of you.

Vampire Owl: I was bitten on the soul, as it passed to the other dimension after death, and with the same, it returned to get back to my body.

Vampire Bat: It is very much interesting and impossible. Only a vampire assassin can confirm this.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with paneer paratha].

What is the movie about? :: There is the location of a terrible homicide, and the police officers are left with no clue. The clues are of people trying to escape from the house and not of anyone trying to break in. There are also no prints of anyone who are not part of this home either. Then in the basement, they find the body of a beautiful, unidentified woman, completely naked and it seemed that someone had tried to bury her. They refer to her by the name Jane Doe (Olwen Catherine Kelly), a name which is commonly used to refer to a dead body or a hospital patient whose identity can’t be found out that at the time. Sheriff Sheldon Burke (Michael McElhatton) is left clueless, and has no idea how to face the media with one unknown naked dead body and all the people in the house dead. So he decides that in one way or the other, the identity of the naked corpse had to be found by the morning so that the investigation can proceed.

So, what happens next? :: Meanwhile, a coroner in the town, Tommy Tilden (Brian Cox) and his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) who is a medical technician who has been assisting for a long time, are having just another day with a corpse. The experienced Tommy is quick to find the cause of death of the man, and as it proves once again to Austin that things are more than what meets the eye, with the burns not the real cause of death even though fire did cause all that was to follow. Austin’s girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond) arrives at the location, and is curious about everything that happens in the morgue including a bell tied to the ankle of a corpse – it is revealed that the bells were used to signal if someone was not really dead even though proclaimed so. Austin was supposed to go for a movie with Emma, and they are planning move away soon, but their plans are spoiled by sudden, unexpected arrival of the sheriff.

So, how does the mystery reveal itself in the morgue? :: With the need for cause of death by morning, Austin decides to stay and help his father and join her later, much to the dismay of Emma who asks him to tell Tommy about them moving away to another city. With her and the sheriff having left, they are left in charge of the corpse which looks perfect from the outside. There is not even a scar on the body, and there is visible mark to indicate what might have casued the death. There would be nothing more than a beautiful sleeping beauty without clothes, if the eyes were closed. Despite her body looking so fresh, the eyes do look as if she has been dead for very long. But as they checked further, they found that her bones were broken from the inside and her tongue was removed. The soil on her body also seemed not from that area. But it is not all, with more strange things being found and stranger things actually happen in the morgue.

The defence of The Autopsy of Jane Doe :: The success of this movie depends on that feeling of curiosity and uneasiness that it successfully builds on its viewers, and also plays with their imagination to keep them guessing about what this particular naked body might be all about, and what kind of mystery and horror that it holds inside it. There is that certainty of terror that awaits to be unleashed inside this unblemished body, and the beauty that is seen outside hides something more than a secret, which is to threaten humanity – it has our attention right from the beginning itself. You feel the discomfort, and at the same time, you are the edge of your seat, and it is a perfect setting at this morgue, and the perfect mystery has the claws and the fangs to make your fear come at you with all the needed strength. The performances are also good, from those who are there whole the time to those who just come and go – the girl chosen to play the corpse is also rightly chosen with all the features. There is also vengeance and sacrifice to go with it, as we get to know an ancient evil with a twist.

Positives and negatives :: There is a lot of gore here, and people can feel uncomfortable, especially with the autopsy being performed on the dead body along with the details also being talked about. But what you get here is the closest to some original horror, far away from those which you keep watching all the time. Maybe something bigger could have been made out of how the movie began, and with where the tale goes, but as it is, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one smart horror movie like Don’t Breathe and Lights Out in the last year, and divergent in its core like It Follows, The Witch and Occulus. Some people will also find the movie to be slow at parts, but one has to admit that certain slowness helps in building all the pressure to come to that revelation by the end. There is also no walking corpse in this one, and that is new, for a horror movie which centers around a corpse to have it staying on the table all the time – but the evil is unleashed without having to do that. One location, one corpse surrounded by others, two people, and all the horror is here for you!

How it finishes :: There are those usual horror movies which depend on the usual tale, the usual settings and the usual kind of proceedings with scares, and then there are movies like The Autopsy of Jane Doe which decide to think differently. It is indeed a must watch for all horror movies, specifically those who are tired of going through the same tales about ghosts haunting people and houses all the time. In between all these horror movies which seem to be so close to each other in material, The Autopsy of Jane Doe becomes the movie that thinks differently, and is surely the kind of flick that a real horror fan would watch without any delay. This might be a lesser known horror movie, and surely won’t be the big horror franchise that The Conjuring and Insidious series of movies had gone on to be contribute and become; but our movie here is certainly a flick that will be remembered for long, and might even become a horror classic a few years later. Andre Ovredal’s first English movie here is the one that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Release date: 21st December 2016
Running time: 86 minutes
Directed by: Andre Ovredal
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Parker Sawyers, Jane Perry, Mary Duddy, Mark Phoenix, Sydney

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Life

Vampire Owl: This looks like the tale of someone new to life.

Vampire Bat: Not just life; something extra-terrestrial in nature.

Vampire Owl: You mean like aliens returning once again to get rid of humans from this world for everyone’s good.

Vampire Bat: Extra-terrestrials are kind of better than humans, you know.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I recently met an alien who also gave me the idea to get rid of these humans and save Earth.

Vampire Bat: Absence of humans actually proves to be better for all other life-forms, I wouldn’t deny that.

Vampire Owl: There is no point in denying the same, because it is the truth. We should have actually finished them off when we had a chance.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you remember that it was a team decision to let them not become extinct, as we needed them to write stories about us?

Vampire Owl: But we have been trying to get the voters against the same after they decided to come up with Twilight and its successors. The current voting status in the vampire imperial chambers against human extinction is 591 against 409. It was 880 against 120 earlier.

Vampire Bat: Well, humans are becoming so evil that everyone except them want them extinct. They are giving competition to even the demons.

[Gets three cups of Munnar tea with a piece of pineapple cake].

What is the movie about? :: A probe which was collecting information about possible existence of life in Mars has returned from the planet, with something that is to prove the same and change the future of humanity forever. Even though it strays of the path, the same is intercepted by the crew of an International Space Station. The exobiologist of the team, Hugh Derry (Ariyon Bakare) is successful in reviving a dormant cell from this sample received from Mars after repeated attempts and failures. This new organism fascinates everyone among the crew who belongs to different nationalities, including the medical officer Dr. David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), quarantine officer Dr. Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), systems engineer Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds), pilot Sho Murakami (Hiroyuki Sanada) and the commander of the space station, Katerina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya).

So, what happens next in the movie? :: One day, this organism which was named Calvin, seems to be dead. While trying to revive it, Hugh is attacked by Calvin who escapes by smartly using the electric shock tool used on it. Rory who gets in to save him, gets killed by the creature which keeps getting bigger and bigger. As it escapes through the vent, the rest of the crew are concerned about what is to happen next. Calvin also gets to Katerina, who is also killed, but leaves it outside. Despite the crew trying their best to keep Calvin outside and launch it into deep space using the thrusters, it manages to get through. The International Space Station, after having used so much of fuel through the thrusters to attempt to kill the creature, keeps getting closer to Earth, and seems to be slowly getting into the planet’s atmosphere to get burned. They come up with a plan to finish off the creature, but this one is a lot smarter than they think, and will adapt to anything they can bring – so, what will follow?

The defence of Life :: You have the feeling of going through something close to the Alien franchise with its creature. The execution is also very nice as we can see this one progress. This has its elements of mystery and horror working during the early stages itself. The creature itself develops steadily, and we see it through the different stages of evolution. With Mission Impossible‘s own Rebecca Ferguson and Jake Gyllenhaal around, this also well-acted without causing any change for doubt. The special effects are really good, and we see the space and the ships looking really good. There is also nobody to be the star here, except the alien, with a name, manages to be the one who controls things all the time as an intelligent life-form just recently born. Life surely provides the entertainment with its memorable moments, and the final scene surely brings a nice twist, and is better than what most of the people might expect for a movie like this.

The claws of flaw :: The similarity with Alien franchise is there, which doesn’t really give that original feeling with this one, especially considering the fact that Alien Covenant shares the same year of release with this one, and happens to be a better movie than Life. We have actually watched a little too much of Alien franchise to easily like another one so similar to it. Maybe, it is more like Alien combined with Gravity kind of feeling with its mood. You do have so many space movies with big ideas, like Interstellar, The Martian and Passengers – well, this one comes below them all as far as the rating is considered. As you go on, you will see that this one can’t be considered that evolved with the creatures like Alien, as there is one thing here, which is not that huge, but that could change with the possible sequels which look a little bit too far away right now. Ryan Reynolds disappears too early into the movie, and it is a sad thing for the fans of Deadpool. Maybe, they could have brought some big scary moments with the alien attacks, while using the setting of space along with the same.

Soul exploration :: As the title suggests, the movie is about “life”, but not of humans or any species on Earth, but rather on what exists outside. This search for life which has been going on for many years, seems to land humanity in trouble without doubt, and with no chance for redemption, as you witness how it ends here. Life tells you that there are some boundaries which are not to be crossed. With so much to do otherwise for your own fellow beings, this is not something which is urgent, as references are made to the situation on Earth too. But as with all those big inventions of science for the rich, making life better for the common man is not the first option. The rich always have the first chance at science and its inventions. It also makes too much of curiosity, which surely kills the cat, the reason for all the terror which is to follow. The crew, with its partners on Earth just crosses a line, and understands the consequences of what they had done. Also, a human life is more important than any other creature, and so one should understand.

How it finishes :: There is also that kind of ending which will ensure that “life” goes on, and it can be taken through more than one meaning. The option for sequel is left open there, and lets see if this can develop into a franchise like the Alien series, even though the box-office collection doesn’t really point to the same. Still, you can’t deny the fact that this could be a franchise that has the potential to give the Alien group of movies a challenge for supremacy. With Prometheus and Alien Covenant, that franchise has started exploring further, and Life could just do the same thing. One has to think that this movie has just begun its adventure, and its alien life-form has more and more to do with its humans. A good science fiction horror movie in space is often too hard to find, unless there is a future when something like Event Horizon or Pandorum are to be found here and there, all the time. But for now, Life is indeed the fine addition to the list which is rather small.

Release date: 24th March 2017
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Rebecca Ferguson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Alexander Nguyen, Hiu Woong-Sin

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Wick 2

Vampire Owl: We need to hire this man. He looks a lot effective.

Vampire Bat: But he is always looking for vengeance.

Vampire Owl: We can make him follow our path. There is just the need to have someone from our enemies list kill his dog.

Vampire Bat: He is a ruthless assassin with connections. He will find out in the end.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that we will have to call the Accountant to finish our job.

Vampire Bat: I thought that you would say Mechanic.

Vampire Owl: I would just kill them myself and get the Transporter to get rid of the werewolf heads.

Vampire Bat: You can always hire Codename 47, you know.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is just that he keeps on getting the reboots, I think.

Vampire Bat: Just keep yourself away from John Wick‘s dog and also his car.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with Krackjack biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: John Wick (Keanu Reeves), the retired assassin who had earlier returned to killing people after his dog was killed and his car was stolen by Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), is not finished with what he had been doing. He searches for, and finds his stolen car at a chop shop owned by Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare), the uncle of Iosef. After killing all the men, John spares the life of Tarasov in the name of peace and returns home only to find more of his previous life following him there. After the car which was heavily damaged in the fight is taken for repairs by Aurelio (John Leguizamo), John is provided a surprise visit by the Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), to whom he had sworn an oath, often referred to as a marker, which had helped him to finish the impossible task that had set him free from the world of blood and gore, and allowed him to marry Helen (Bridget Moynahan).

So, what happens next in the movie? :: John Wick is supposed to be someone who could keep doing the impossible, as Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) himself had acknowledged before being dead, and a confident Santino asks John for the favour in return, but the tired assassin decides against going through the violent ways again, and says no without even listening to what the crime lord wanted him to do. An angry Santino goes back to his car, and returns with a grenade launcher to destroy John’s home, almost killing him in the process. John escapes and goes on to meet Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of the Continental hotel in New York City, who tells him to abide by the rules, and he is supposed to honour the promise made in the form of the marker. John decides to play by the rules, and meets Santino again, who provides him the mission of assassinating his sister Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini) to claim her seat among the top-level crime lords.

And what follows the same in the movie? :: John gets to Gianna during a party, where she is under the protection of expert fighter and bodyguard Cassian (Common). Even though John is successful in his mission with her choosing to commit suicide rather than get killed, he is chased by the group of tem lead by Santino’s right-hand, a mute young lady known by the name Ares (Ruby Rose), and also by Cassian who seeks vengeance. With Santino himself putting a seven million dollar bounty on the former retired assassin, John Wick has no option, but to fight for his life – Cassian is determined to have his revenge, and Ares is determined to show her allegiance and effectiveness to her master. There are assassins jumping on him out of nowhere, and he decides to have a meeting with the underground crime lord The Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), but where does their conflict of interests and a troublesome past lead them?

The defence of John Wick: Chapter 2 :: The first movie had become a surprise hit, and this one also follows the same pattern, making things even better by a good margin. Keanu Reeves is also the bigger assassin with this one, and he remains the core. He continues to be at his best as the action hero, doing what he has been doing the best. There is also no humans dead in the name of dogs, as it happens in the name of cows in some parts. The style factor is also too good, and all the action sequences, a lot of them if we consider the total, catch our attention. Among all those who fight the deadly assassin, it is Ruby Rose who comes up with the most memorable show – there is that intensity in her despite being mute, that we feel that she might be one lady whom nobody should have the misfortune of facing. There is that final battle with her, and also the one that we see in the beginning that catch our eyes more than any other. Then there is Laurence Fishburne, evergreen as you would find him in an action thriller.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much in the story here, as it was in the first movie, with the assassin going on killing more and more people, most of them assassins themselves; it is still better than going on to kill people in the name of a dead dog which is given too much importance. The predictability factor is high, as we do have some idea about how things are going to go on and on – John Wick is not that much about surprises, as you might already know from the first movie. This one is also about how great John Wick is, and there is also the presence of those strange laws and oaths which shift the focus. There is also another dog which leaves the option to have another revenge as soon as it is killed. The violence is also there throughout, and deaths have been more and more glorified with this movie. The climax could have also been greater, as something bigger seemed to be getting ready to come up, but unfortunately, that didn’t really happen.

How it finishes :: A long way ahead of the first movie, The defence of John Wick: Chapter 2 is the movie which is once again certain to have your attention with Keanu Reeves going through all the action once again. You have a very nice example of the sequel becoming better than the original movie here, a feature which has more and more examples of things being the other way around – the sequel here has 7.9/10 to 7.2/10, 75% to 68% at Metacritic and 91% to 85% at Rotten Tomatoes, and almost double the box-office collections, compared to the original. There is also a third movie coming up, and we can be sure that it is also going to follow the same pattern, and with all things going more and more global, we can expect more firepower, and a lot more action with the next flick in the franchise. After watching John Wick: Chapter 2, one can safely wait for John Wick: Chapter 3, as we know how much is there to happen in a third movie. The man is a legend, and so we can’t really expect him to finish his tale in two chapters, with so much of him to be unleashed again and again with the certainty of the tides?

Release date: 10th February 2017
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne, Common, Riccardo Scamarcio, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, Claudia Gerini, Bridget Moynahan, Lance Reddick, Thomas Sadoski, David Patrick Kelly, Peter Stormare, Franco Nero, Peter Serafinowicz, Tobias Segal

PS: For the awaited release of the weekend, see the review on Kadam Katha.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kadam Katha

What is the movie about? :: Giri (Vinay Forrt) is running a textile shop in the city of Cochin without making much of a profit – he has lots of loans to repay, and even his last business venture was a failure, and has been making his life more and more difficult. The worst thing is that he had left a good job to begin a business, a decision which he keeps regretting. With no salary to pay his employees, and not enough cash to take more stock, he decides to close it down. But that was not to solve the problem, as everyone would end up believing that now he has absolutely no way to pay anyone anything. His wife Chandini (Srinda Ashab) is staying at her home, and he is staying in a small house for rent, and he is unable to pay the houseowner too. With the loan shark Sreekanth (Saiju Kurup) after him, he decides to attend an inspirational course which promises to change lives and make it a lot better.

So, what happens next? :: Cleetus (Joju George) is a mechanic who runs a car repair shop with two workers Josemon (Sinoj Varghese) and Thampi (Manikandan Pattambi), the three being more of a family than just friends working together. Cleetus also has to pay back his loans, as his repair shop keeps running into loss; the property is also going to be sold by its owner, ending the rent agreement. Therefore, he also goes to an inspirational course, and after the programme, they meet at a local beer and wine parlour. They become friends, and after Giri is thrown out of his house for not paying rent, Cleetus lets him stay with the three at the repair shop. Meanwhile, Cleetus meets a man named Sreekumar (Renji Panicker), whom he saves after being caught in a car accident. This new friend is among the richest men in the city, who has just returned from the Middle East. Sreekumar decides to give Cleetus an offer that he can’t refuse, and Giri also becomes part of it.

And, what is to follow next in this tale? :: Sreekumar who understands the two men’s need for money, promises them wealth beyond their imagination, and they will just have to do one job, and it is concerning his only daughter who is studying for MBBS as a reputed institution. This girl, Jeena (Veena Nandakumar) is in love with Maneesh (Roshan Mathew), a popular radio jockey at one of those prominent radio stations in the city of Cochin. It is with their relationship that he is most concerned about. Jeena has clearly told him that she is ready to marry nobody else, and they keep wandering all around the city together despite him warning her not to do so. Even Giri and Cleetus keeps seeing the two, or at least Maneesh at times in the city – it is as if they are everywhere and everyone knows about that relationship. Sreekumar is fed up with the same, and asks them to do just one thing. What is that? Can the two do the job?

The defence of Kadam Katha :: With some funny moments here and there, and having a good cast, Kadam Katha manages to go on and on with its two hours and a few seconds on run-time. The movie also depends on simple moments and simple people, and the complication only comes with a new generation and more money as the flick suggests. The message is still about retaining one’s goodness, as long as there has been something at some point – no matter what happens, always get to the bottom of things to know the ultimate truth. The visuals are good without doubt, even though not that much of the city’s beauty is not there on the big screen. The humour is present here and there, but we miss it at a lot of occasions when things seem to drag. Kadam Katha surely has the material inside it, and when we look there, we end up seeing more with a bigger potential – the lesser crowd at the theatre was a sign of movies not meeting up to the standard these days, and movie stars only making reasons the wrong way.

The claws of flaw :: Kadam Katha, for some reason, refuses to use most of its humour, and never extends its funny side to make it memorable. The theme has also been repeated for quite some time, and we keep seeing people who need to do something which their lives, and also those who are in need of money. The movie also doesn’t make best use of the talent, and the big list of characters to whom we are introduced. The songs are just not that interesting – they seem to drag the whole thing rather than do anything else. One has to wonder what has been happening with the Malayalam movie industry for some time, for there has been so many movies, but not many which have left the mark. With so many movies including Oru Cinemakkaran, Role Models, Avarude Raavukal, Sunday Holiday and others note able to go more than just above average, one can see the lack of trying the big variety except for a few like Tiyaan and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum.

Performers of the soul :: With Action Hero Biju being his most recognized role among the masses, Joju George remains one actor who never really disappoints us, and it is reflected here too. It is him who makes us feel like the hero in this one. Seen last in Role Models, Oru Cinemakkaran and Godha, Renji Panicker remains the one who keeps us interested, and he does his work in the usual style. Vinay Forrt whose last movies were Role Models, Avarude Raavukal and Georgettan’s Pooram, gets back to doing a fine job here. There is something about his performance every time. Veena Nandakumar who is known for the short-film Moonnamathe Vazhi makes her big screen debut in this one – it is a short movie that provides a beautiful feeling, and you need to watch it if you haven’t yet. She has less to do in this one, and is good with the romantic side; more to be tested in her next works. Malayalam movie industry keeps getting more and more heroines, I guess.

More and the bottomline :: Roshan Mathew is credited in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and was also there in Puthiya Niyamam, but it is with his role in Aanandam which made him a favourite and a popular actor – his next flick Viswasapoorvam Mansoor‘s short stay at the theatres didn’t help, but he has made a strong come back in this one – he plays the new generation lover character with ease. Hareesh Perumanna is wasted in his small role here though, and this might be one rare instance that his character doesn’t bring the laughter. Sinoj Varghese – Manikandan duo is the one that bring some of the fun instead. Srinda Ashab is another one who gets not much to do in this movie except for making phone calls – there is not even a big flashback to support her cause. Kadam Katha is certainly a story which could have done more, with better situations, comedy, and lasting romance as well as emotional side; but this one touches only a few and plays on the safe side. This one is worth the watch, but won’t bring anything huge.

Release date: 28th July 2017
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Senthil Rajan
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Veena Nandakumar, Renji Panicker, Sinoj Varghese, Srinda Ashab, Manikandan Pattambi, Hareesh Perumanna, Alexander Prashanth

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Naam Shabana

Vampire Owl: I know this person from Baby.

Vampire Bat: This is a spin-off prequel to that movie, and so it is no surprise that you know her.

Vampire Owl: So, this is both a spin-off and a prequel? That should mean two levels.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one also has Ajay Singh Rajput played by Akshay Kumar, Anjali Singh Rajput played by Madhurima Tuli and Om Prakash Shukla played by Anupam Kher.

Vampire Owl: And joins Shabana Khan played by Taapsee Pannu, I see.

Vampire Bat: There is also our own Prithviraj with an evil side.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see what can be better than that.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Ivide had shown his negative shades better than any other.

Vampire Owl: And we remember that older movie with him playing the bad cop getting reformed – Vargam, I guess. I also liked him in his other Bollywood movie, Aurangzeb.

Vampire Bat: Bollywood needs a few more in their movies, just like him. I still have Memories in my head.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Shabana Khan (Taapsee Pannu) is a college student who is also practicing Judo to take part in a number of competitions. Her mother, Farida Begum Khan (Natasha Rastogi) is in full support of her, whatever she plans to do. She doesn’t hesitate in beating up people who cause any kind of nuisance, no matter how small it is, or how meaningless the fight is. She has made herself tougher, as she had grown up watching her father beat up her mother mercilessly all the time after coming home drunk and out of his senses. On one of those days when he was attacking her mother, she had hit her father so hard on the back of his head, that he ended up dead – it had left her in the juvenile home, until coming back stronger to help her mother move forward with her life. This flashback about her is rather unknown to her new friends.

So, what happens next? :: Shabana is quite a popular girl in the college, and one of her friends, Jai (Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala) has fallen in love with her. He asks her to accompany him for dinner, and they seem to have fallen in love, but on that night, they come across some eve teasing, to which she decides to respond – the result is Jai getting killed and leaving her scarred for life. His parents blame her for the incident, and despite going to the police station almost every day, she finds no progress at all. Frustrated and without hope, one day while returning from the police station, she gets the calls of an unknown man (Manoj Bajpayee) who gives her an offer she can’t refuse. She will get her revenge against the four men, but he wants something from her in return. So, will she manage to live up to the promise on her end, and will he be able to do the same?

The defence of Naam Shabana :: A lot of reviewers who go around in Bollywood are sure to miss how good Prithviraj Sukumaran has been in this movie, and there is that tendency to figure out how much they can appreciate everyone else. The makers won’t give that much for someone of such calibre, and the reviewers will just focus more on the Bollywood stars – just like I had written earlier in the review of the short-film, Invisible Actor, that there are actors and superstars, and there are those who are good enough to become both and maintain the balance. Along with him and Taapsee, the movie has its thrilling side going. There are also some very nice action sequences, and nothing overdone in that department. There are also some nice dialogues to go with the same – some of them are actually funny, whether intentional or not. It also feels good to get an origin story, which provides more scope for a sequel.

The claws of flaw :: Some scenes in this movies are just strange – with people removing their shirts to fight, vengeance given so much importance by an intelligence wing, the villain willingly giving away his identity when there was other options considering how smart he is, choosing the rookie to do this dangerous mission when there are experienced people around, and so on. It is still good to see that such Bollywood tendencies get to be controlled up to an extent. Shabana also has rather less attention on her character than everything else about her. Some of the moments just get funny when they shouldn’t have been, and we also get so much less of the villain who should have been the highlight of this movie from the darker side. The first half of the movie, with its stretched romance, becomes the rather too long thing here too. They could have done without the songs too.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Taapsee Pannu does provide some knockout punches here, and she suits the character really well – even when the character is not flawless, she nullifies a few bad sides. It her work in the original movie which has inspired this one, and she gets to play the girl with fire more. Everyone loved her in Pink, and this one no longer has her as a damsel in distress – she gets to make sure that her agency remains a proud one. Still, as her work in Baby was so effective in such a short time, that would be remembered more. Prithviraj Sukumaran who was seen in Malayalam movies which were different kind of thrillers, Oozham, Ezra and Tiyaan, here we have him playing the villain, and I am sure that having more of him would have helped this movie better. Akshay Kumar’s role is small, but quick and effective, while Manoj Bajpayee only gets to talk, without getting any action. Madhurima Tuli and Anupam Kher also cross over here from Baby.

How it finishes :: Naam Shabana is a movie which could have done better with more focus on its antagonist, and a more consistent character development of our protagonist. If you don’t go for this one with the expectations high considering Baby, you are surely not going to be disappointed – it is that one which automatically let the expectations go high, and the makers seem to have thought that this would bring the money. They could have made more money with better focus on Prithviraj, but here, they have taken rather too much time for even Taapsee’s training to begin. Still, Naam Shabana is another thriller that works, and even without the name of Baby attached to it, there is more to the tale. Maybe the stand-alone feeling will give the flick even more strength. You can only watch this one and come up with your own opinion, and the need for another movie in the franchise.

Release date: 31st March 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Shivam Nair
Starring: Taapsee Pannu, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manoj Bajpayee, Akshay Kumar, Danny Denzongpa, Madhurima Tuli, Anupam Kher, Murali Sharma, Zakir Hussain, Bhuvan Arora, Taher Shabbir Mithaiwala, Natasha Rastogi, Manav Vij, Mohan Kapoor, Elli Avram, Shibani Dandekar, Virendra Saxena, Aparna Upadhyay

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Lego Batman Movie

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that he is not your relative who left home many years ago?

Vampire Bat: No, Batman is not related to any of us. You can refer to any vampire code.

Vampire Owl: But bat is still the most popular thing in vampire mythology, and might link to all of us.

Vampire Bat: And Batman is the most popular superhero, thanks to Christopher Nolan.

Vampire Owl: I am rather surprised by the same. I had thought that humans never really liked the bats.

Vampire Bat: They are really not fond of the owls either.

Vampire Owl: It is their loss not to like the owls. I even have plans to save humans from extinction.

Vampire Bat: But your plans have always been about taking over the world.

Vampire Owl: Taking over the world is very significant as a part of saving the world.

Vampire Bat: Batman surely won’t like that.

[Gets three cups of black tea with a piece of marble cake].

What is the movie about? :: From the usual DC universe, we are taken to the Lego universe, where Batman (Will Arnett) continues to fight crime like no other, in the Gotham City, something which he seems to have been doing for an eternity and more to come. The caped crusader remains the city’s last hope against a large group of villains including the menacing king of them all, the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), his love interest and most faithful follower Harley Quinn (Jenny Slate), and the rest of them – a list having Two-Face (Billy Dee Williams), Poison Ivy (Riki Lindhome), Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Penguin (John Venzon), Killer Croc (Matt Villa), The Riddler (Conan O’Brien), Bane (Doug Benson), Mr. Freeze (David Burrows), Scarecrow (Jason Mantzoukas) and Clayface (Kate Micucci) among others. Batman also remains Gotham’s most loved figure, even though he doesn’t have a social life otherwise.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: During one of the Joker’s master-plans including a group of Gotham’s master-criminals, he faces Batman talking about himself as Batman’s greatest opponent of all-time, without whom the man with the bat symbol would have no purpose. He tells Batman that he is the reason why Gotham’s favourite superhero has to wake up every morning and be what he has been for many years. Having given the difficult option of catching him or saving the city, Batman chooses to let him go without second thoughts, telling him that he is not important, and even Superman (Channing Tatum) is more interesting than him. With his feelings hurt being not even as important as an alien who can’t be a bad guy, Joker decides to have the ultimate revenge on Batman, and make him as well as everyone in the city understand how significant a villain he is.

And what follows the same in the movie? :: Meanwhile, Batman leads a boring life as Bruce Wayne, having only his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) as the one close to him. His only other big friend is the Batcomputer (Siri), and he spends his lonely time in the Batcave, doing everything by himself. Later, the city is having the programme of retirement of Commissioner Gordon (Héctor Elizondo) and the ascension of his daughter Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) as the new police commissioner of Gotham City. There, Barbara plans to have the police do the work, and not the vigilante Batman who hasn’t been that much successful as expected. It is then, that Joker also comes in with most of the other criminals, and they all surrender, leaving Batman with nothing to fight for. But both Batman and Barbara are doubtful about Joker’s real intention. What would that be?

The defence of The Lego Batman Movie :: The movie clearly follows the path of The Lego Movie, and the feeling of the same is maintained in this one. This also manages to be slightly better than the original movie. The jokes are very much working right from the beginning, and most of them nicely make fun of the superhero movies, especially Batman and Superman with those super-villains. It does manage to take the elements of a superhero movie, and nicely use them in the tale to create the humour. There are also villains from outside the DC, including Lord Voldemort, Sauron, King Kong, Witch of the West and Agent Smith. We can also consider this one was a sarcastic take on how the superhero movies are made, and how the characters are created in them. Batman’s attitude towards Superman, as well as to Iron Man, all becomes part of the fun, as the tale is rather re-written here, and this is also one of the best depictions of Batman and Joker relationship, even though funny.

The claws of flaw :: This one doesn’t become your usual animated movie, if you look at it closely. It can’t be associated with the beauty of the animated movies which have ruled our minds, like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out, Rise of the Guardians or anything similar. All jokes don’t come strong either. There will always be people who don’t like this kind of animation, and also those considering Batman as something bigger than everything else, who will find parody done in a cruel way when they look at this one. There is also quite a slow middle part for this one, and the childish ways also follow this movie. There is a certain exaggeration which is also there as we look further into each character. Also in the end, except for Batman, nobody else has really changed, which makes this movie something about him and him only, as the character talks about all the time. This could have surely been wider with its message, and also more focused on the world.

How it finishes :: There are a few lessons which the DC Extended Universe can take from this movie too, and can apply when they come up with another movie in the franchise. Even though The Lego Movie was a good movie without doubt, we have a pleasant surprise here as this movie manages to come up as a fine spin-off to the same. There are so many moments that will remain in your mind to come back again when watching a superhero movie again, like Batman keeping the password for his computer as “Iron Man sucks”, the never-ending hate between Batman and Joker, the strange friendship or the lack of the same between Batman and Superman, and many other things. We could have had many superheroes about whom a spin-off from The Lego Movie could have made, but it is about Batman because after The Dark Knight franchise, everything had deviated in his way, and most of the fans will find it easy to say that Iron Man sucks for Batman – even the coming of Wonder Woman won’t change much – Batman will always be Batman, and as the movie asks, we can only be ourselves, as we can’t be Batman.

Release date: 10th February 2017
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Chris McKay
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, Siri, Héctor Elizondo, Lauren White, Mariah Carey, Eddie Izzard, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Billy Dee Williams, Riki Lindhome, Conan O’Brien, Jason Mantzoukas, Zoë Kravitz, Kate Micucci, Doug Benson, David Burrows, Matt Villa, John Venzon, Laura Kightlinger, Todd Hansen, Chris McKay, Richard Cheese, Channing Tatum, Ellie Kemper, Jonah Hill, Adam DeVine, Brent Musburger, Ralph Garman, Chris Hardwick

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Code 8

Vampire Owl: Do you know that according the eighth code of vampirism, you are not allowed to use a level eight portal to the human world because it passes through the shadow world?

Vampire Bat: Yes, isn’t that the code which saves the vampires from corruption by the shadows of pure evil alignment?

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is exactly what the code is about. Code 8 is divided into three hundred and thirty nine sub-codes, each needed to be learnt by those pursuing masters in Vampire Law and Order.

Vampire Bat: The humans are not aware of it. So, this code is surely going to be something different.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that the eighth code is something that prevents itself from being studied by the common man, reserved only for those who study a course related to it?

Vampire Bat: You are talking as if all other codes are learned by the normal vampire apprentice all the time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but this code is different. It deals with saving our kind from the type of terrible evil that people even fear to talk about.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Vampire Crocodile once talked about that.

Vampire Owl: What? I knew that the guy was really evil.

Vampire Bat: And he is working for charity among the undead these days.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Set a long time into the future, it is shown that four percentage of people living on Earth has developed some special abilities, which are mostly supernatural in nature. They are able to do what the so called normal people can’t, are qualified enough to be superheroes in the comics. But here, they are made pariahs, and kept under control by the police department which keep them away from the rest of the civilization, as these special people are always watched by the law, with their movements checked. The people in power and those who voted them, they all find these powerful people to be a threat to their world, and keeps them away to maintain the order, as if quarantined. The people with special powers are more of the untouchables in a caste system rather than any other – they can’t find work, and are not able to find their daily food, and with surveillance around, they never really succeed in breaking the law that much.

So, what happens next in this journey? :: Taylor Reed (Robbie Amell) is one of those young men with such special abilities, and struggles to find work and earn money like any other of his kind. He and his friend Freddie (Aaron Abrams) are chosen for some work, but are not paid enough, and that leads to him causing some trouble, which sends the police after them. The drone which searches for people with special abilities finds them and keeps them under control using mechanized soldiers. The nearest police car responds, and the officers wish to arrest the two for breaking the law, but they are adamant that they haven’t. In this prejudiced society, can Taylor and Freddie, or any of their kind find any justice? Or will they be able to bring the justice on this world by themselves? What are the so called normal people and their all-knowing government really afraid of?

Soul exploration 1: Prejudice against the skilled :: Just like you see in those X-Men movies, we see the mutants, or rather the special skilled in this case, being under prejudice from those others, the humans who don’t have any special power, and feels weak against these gifted people. So, they wish to control the super-powered, not allowing them to rise, which might lead to them taking control of the normal human world which is built on what has been the rather usual thing. Yes, taking over or destroying the human world is one thing, and there is more that the specials could do – they could just take over all the jobs. With mind control, the criminals could be tracked with ease, and even the crime could be prevented before it is done. With control over metals or other materials, construction could be done better with these special people. Superior strength would mean that only one person is needed for a job instead of five or six. These special skills were always going to make the normal person feel worthless, which would make them come up with a need to suppress the skilled.

Soul exploration 2: Prejudice against the other :: Yes, these skilled people taking away your opportunities is one reason to hate them, and then there is common thing which has been going on for many centuries. There has been the race, nationality, caste and religion being reasons, and here we have the presence and absence of power as the one big reason. More reasons are rather not needed when these people are others, and your group can’t relate to them. Then hate becomes an easy thing, and each and every thing which they do differently will be worth detesting, as if all these are being done as actions against you. What all they do will also been as something which is against your culture and traditions, and the conclusion will be that your wonderful, perfect world full of only the right things, will be destroyed by these others. There is absolutely no need to teach hatred to a new generation, as they thrive in doing that – we can see such examples all the time around us. One can trust this science fiction tale to develop on these themes very well along with being a big action thriller.

How it finishes :: This short-film is supposed to be made into a bigger full-length movie, which is planned to be released in the year 2019. It was due to this particular information that I came to know about this short-film and decided to watch it. I haven’t really watched many science fiction short-films, except for The Shaman, which is another movie from the same genre which I had liked. It takes skill to make a short-film with a science fiction idea, and this one has done it nicely to set things up for the full version of the movie – this is more like a demo version of a game, for which we are waiting for the full playable version. Imagine this one as a game, and this could be even more. It would be nice to have watched this short-film before that full movie is released, as we get to know what is to be expected, and for what we are going to spend a few hours. You get ten minutes of the big idea in advance; this one is a level ahead of the rest with its visuals, special effects and the cast.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I am also of the opinion that the mutants need to be controlled.

Vampire Bat: So, you are against the X-Men too.

Vampire Owl: Yes, there are already too many gifted species, with the vampires being the most brilliant of them.

Vampire Bat: It is said that the new age vampires are not that good as the elder vampires of the past.

Vampire Owl: They are just jealous of our ability to think so beyond that it hurts their minds to do something like that.

Vampire Bat: They are known to be the world’s greatest vampire minds, which was why they came to be called the Vampire Elders.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that it is not because they are really old?

Vampire Bat: Because they are old and wise.

Vampire Owl: They should still be having memory problems, right?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that people with special abilities won’t mind. It is not like you will have an invisible actor with special powers.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 22nd March 2016
Running time: 10 minutes
Directed by: Jeff Chan
Starring: Robbie Amell, Aaron Abrams, Sung Kang, Stephen Amell, Chad Donella, Peter Huang, Alfred Rubin Thompson, Al Marchesi, Christine Pagulayan, Patrice Henry, Phyllis Politowicz, Tonya Dodds Sinisac, Ryan Freer, Jack Horan, Jeff Sinisac

Watch the movie Code 8 here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Invisible Actor

Vampire Owl: An invisible actor? Did the actor become invisible after a case was registered against him?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that it is not what they meant. There could be many meanings for the same.

Vampire Owl: Then, has the invisibility elixir been stolen from Doctor Frankenstein? This calls for code bloody red alert on level twenty eight!

Vampire Bat: When did he invent that? It is not even on the research list.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am sure that he would have invented that. He is just not telling us. People invent such things all the time in those science fiction books.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr. Frankenstein has any role to play in this short-film.

Vampire Owl: I am writing an article on the evil side of invisibility anyway.

Vampire Bat: Some people are just invisible even without the elixir.

Vampire Owl: Just like people being alive and immortal without the Elixir of Life.

Vampire Bat: It is another myth. What we have here is real.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The crew of a movie has gathered in an old style Kerala house to shoot for the biopic of a renowned Kathakali artist known as Govindan Master (Kalasala Babu). This particular person, whose name is only taken with so much respect, had such an undying love for the art form that he used to bunk his classes to see and learn it at the academy from a distance. It is said that his father, upon realizing his passion, and his lack of interest in regular studies, let him study Kathakali from an early age, and the art form had become his life, until his last breath. This Kathakali Master had given up his whole life for the same, not asking for anything in return. His performances had inspired many to follow his path, and had elevated Kerala’s own colourful contribution to the story play genre of art to another level. His Kathakali performances had made him a legend, with no parallels.

So, what happens next with this tale of making a biopic? :: It turns out that the superstar (Saiju Kurup) who is supposed to play the character is nowhere to be seen. The whole crew has been waiting for him for quite a long time, but there is no sign of him, and he doesn’t even attend the phone – everyone else is there, and they are worried when they will be able to begin the whole thing, and sends people searching for him at the hotel where he is staying and in the surrounding areas of the town. The breakfast time is over, the lunch is done, and finally the superstar arrives with that dialogue about him being a really punctual person. He listens to the story without much interest, while clicking on his mobile phone’s screen. He looks at the photo of the Kathakali artist as if it doesn’t matter – but little does he know that the character he is playing, is watching him.

Soul exploration 1: Of actors and superstars :: One can divide the movie world into two – one which has the actors, and the other which has the superstars. In our world, both often come together, but we often see some actors who deserve better than the superstars, but it is the superstar movie which go on to become the big hit each and every time. There are those one hundred crore movies in Bollywood, which have almost nothing in them other than its superstars – take a look at those top ten movies, and almost all of them have depended on their superstar rather than the actor. I would think otherwise – if Nawazuddin Siddiqui acts in a movie, I would watch that movie for sure, maybe even twice; whether it is Raman Raghav 2.0 or Te3n from last year. I have never really been interested in these superstars – the day they become more superstars and less actor, is the day they sacrifice their best part.

Soul exploration 2: Within and outside a character :: It is a usual thing to change the character to match that of the superstar – there are so many movies which make us feel the same, and naming a few of them would only bring the fan chaos on us. The superstars will say that they practiced cricket to play a cricketer, lived with gangsters to play a mafia don, slept at a cemetery for a horror movie, had classes at a music academy to play a musician and so on, but we know how fake that could be, just like they come on television and tell everyone that this is his or her best performance ever. But to become a character, the so called superstar needs to know the mind, thinking in the way the character think, and acting the way he would. Otherwise, it is the character that would become the superstar and not the other way around. Will some of our superheroes who need to know this realize the same one day?

Soul exploration 3: An eternity within a performance :: There should always be more in a flick with a performance than just being part of a big hundred crore movie. We have the need to see each character on the screen as a different person – it is the same which has been missing in some of those movies which degrade themselves into what is often termed as mass masala. There is the need to rise above the same, as what is often known to cater to this particular genre is nothing other than pure absurdity. It is the terrible and unfair strength of these mindless mass movies which have been devouring the actor and bringing the superstar out on too many occasions. Then there are those fan clubs which are only interested in turning the cinema halls which is for entertainment and thoughts, into something resembling nuisance. It has to be countered with not a mass performance, but with the beauty of an rternity within a work.

How it finishes :: The movie has two actors who have been rather underused by the industry if you look at their movies. Kalasala Babu amazes us in his presence for the short period of time, while we have Saiju Kurup who had some nice and funny roles in Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara doing a wonderful job as the superstar. They make the final few moments of this short-film rise to a higher level, and we have something which is worth more than a usual short movie. I have watched a good number of short-films in the last few days, with choosing to review only less than half of them which seem to be worthy, and among them, this one should have a top place. Invisible Actor wishes for the actor to become invisible and the character to take over when the shooting begins – it should be how we should differentiate actors from superstars; movies need actors, and they could let everyone keep the superstar side out, letting the acting flow, no matter how popular the actor is.

 

Release date: 6th July 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Avinash Chandran
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Kalasala Babu, Jayasankar, Akhil Lekshman, Arun, Naresh

Watch Invisible Actor here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Moonnamathe Vazhi

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that there are three paths rather than two. It is indeed a strange world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is more than just the opposites – more than just life and death, good and evil, heaven and hell, black and white and so on.

Vampire Owl: Yes, there is time just before death, there is the neutral side, there is the purgatory and you also have grey in between.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is more to it than what we usually have.

Vampire Owl: So, where does the third path lead this time?

Vampire Bat: Well, we are going to find that out soon. Lets watch it very carefully.

Vampire Owl: Is there the smell of romance?

Vampire Bat: It is just the biriyani. Remember that you had asked for it earlier.

Vampire Owl: Oh! Never mind then.

Vampire Bat: Biriyani is also love though. A lot of people have fallen due to this desire for the food item that couldn’t be resisted.

[Gets some vegetable biriyani and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lenin (Rahul KP) is a taxi driver in Cochin who is in quick need of money as his mother is in the hospital and requires urgent surgery – there are also pending bills which are to be paid. He asks for loan from a lot of people, but none of them, including his good friends provide him with the amount – some don’t have the money and the others are just reluctant to provide with the same. He already has some loans which are to be repaid, and with this situation, he has been wandering around everywhere to find whatever money he can arrange. He decides to keep going, and tells the staff at the hospital that he will be returning with enough money, and it is going to happen soon. But he is still aware of the truth that there is no real hope and falls asleep in the car. It is then that a girl calls his taxi for a journey to Kakkanad and around.

So, what happens next? :: This girl Nadiya (Veena Nandakumar) is living at Palarivattam who is facing financial problems, and the house of her parents where she had spent her childhood is going to be taken over by the bank. She asks her brother as well as her grandfather for help, but even as they are rich, has no plan is saving the old house. It would also mean that Nadiya would have no place to stay. She has no more hope, and wishes to end her life. It is during his search for help that she enters the taxi and life of Lenin. While they go through the journey together, certain truths about life is revealed, as we witness how it flies without direction, like kites on the sky. The hopelessness of common man gets to find hope by random acts of kindness, and togetherness, which becomes the reason to live at a time when fate plays a sadistic game.

The defence of Moonnamathe Vazhi :: With some of the beautiful music and some great visuals of Cochin and its surroundings, there is more about this movie than you feel in the beginning – it has quite a slow start when you look at it; but there is no denying that we remain interested all the time with what is one the screen and what we listen to. The movie’s progress is so smooth, and very much real that we keep going with the flow, like mermaids in an ocean. There are so many good moments, and dialogues in this short flick that we do feel the need for a longer movie, not ending this with the run-time just over half an hour – we want this to go on and on, as we have already loved its protagonists. The feeling that the final moments provide is also too good, and we are left with the same feeling for quite a long time even after the movie finishes. A simple, realistic tale with love is often so hard to find.

Soul exploration 1: Life and its collection of sadistic twists :: There is this thing about life coming under the effect of fate – the jokes that it plays on us are rather too many. If personified, it is nothing less than Grimm Reaper with his scythe. But being the one who likes to play, fate only chooses to make it slow, as Joker would say, guns are just too quick. We look for hope to escape from this play, but it is difficult to find, and it is just to faith that we hold on. It is when we hold on that there is something worth living for in the end, as it is depicted in the movie, and if we give up, it is the game of fate which is for us to lose. As the protagonists in this movie finally get the directions in the last moment, we realize what it means to stay in the struggle, and follow the righteous path. Poetic justice should follow, no or at another point.

Soul exploration 2: A new path that opens when least expected :: There is always more than one, or two paths ahead of us, but we don’t see that many. Death is always the easy option, and it has been the harbinger of relief and peace for so many people who decided to embrace it instead of life, which has been the tougher choice to make during turbulent times. It takes courage to move on, and only when we go on through the road that we see more of the diverging paths – it is only then we can take that road that we really need to travel through. Here, the path also has that side of love, even though it is not that visible – what we see more is the kindness and empathy which runs right in the middle of this flick. It is the same feeling that we had seen in London Bridge, a less appreciated realistic love story. So, it happens here.

How it finishes :: The short-film undoubtedly has a wonderful cast, starting with Veena Nandakumar who is going to make her big industry debut with Kadam Katha which stars Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Roshan Mathew and Renji Panicker. In the debutant director Senthil Rajan’s flick, she is supposed to be playing an MBBS student. It was great to have her here, as she looks amazingly good in this role. At the same time, Rahul who plays Lenin brings a serene and wonderful performance. The movie rests on the shoulders of these two, and combined with all those elements which makes the right short-film, Moonnamathe Vazhi is the one thing which you shouldn’t miss on Youtube. It was released by Media One television channel earlier last month.

Release date: 8th June 2017
Running time: 32 minutes
Directed by: Gopakumar GK
Starring: Veena Nandakumar, Rahul KP, Pala Aravindan, Girija Venugopal, Saina Kakkattil, Simi Sethy, Akhilesh KT, Shaji Nalpadi, Vineeth Thoyakkavu, Akhil Vishnu VS, Rajith Anirudh, Soorya Panicker, Afsal, Baby Carolin, Master Benchamin, Master Nihaal Saade

Watch Moonnamathe Vazhi here with all its beauty:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Basheerinte Premalekhanam

What is the movie about? :: Somewhere around the city of Calicut, at some point during the 1980s, there is a village which uses its only radio, that is owned by Hussain Haji (Joy Mathew) who is also the Panchayath President, for entertainment. Everyone from the village , without any discrimination according to their social status, religion or caste, usually goes to his house to listen to the drama performance which is a usual thing in the radio during the later evening. They all sit on the verandah with the radio in the centre, listening to the performances. One day, Usman (Manikandan Achari), Hamid’s sister’s son who is in Dubai, sends them a black and white television. He is also supposed to marry Suhra (Sana Althaf), Hamid’s only daughter who is studying in the second year of BA English Language and Literature at the nearby college. The arrival for the television changes things at their home as well as the whole village which has its first television.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Now, everyone is at Hussain’s house again, but this time to watch television. But nobody knows how to make it work, and for the same, they call for Basheer (Farhaan Faasil) to connect and begin the show for the whole village. There are still people who oppose the same, as it makes everyone sit in front of it for such a long time – but there is a change in the situation of the village, something which nobody can deny. Hussain is proud of being only house in the village to have a radio and a television. Meanwhile, Basheer falls in love with Suhra, but it is clear that Hussain will only marry her off to Usman when he returns from Dubai. Basheer who is from a simple family, seems to have no scope in getting the girl. With only her grandmother (Sheela) in support of the relationship, Suhra will have trouble in making her relationship with Basheer go on. Who will support them and who will support the most influential man in the village? What effect will Basheer’s love letter to Suhra bring?

The defence of Basheerinte Premalekhanam :: There is something about the romantic movies set in the eighties and before – it has a lot of nostalgia with simple humour related to the life style of the people of the time; kids up to those till the nineties would relate the best to it. There would also be those emotional moments concerning people who are more of common men than anything else. It is on the emotions and the humour that this movie seems to rely on, and it keeps working nicely, here and there. There is the simple romance of those times getting the strength here, unlike movies like Ennu Ninte Moideen which made things complicated, Anarkali which made it the visual stunner and Annayum Rasoolum which made it a terrible drag that never ended. The simple people and everything simple about them, remains the strength of this movie. There are also some nice songs to go with it, and the romantic saga is established between the two youngsters – thus, the love letter is ready with some good visuals of the village, but has nothing new.

The claws of flaw :: The strength of the romance depicted in this movie is something which is disputed, because the scope for more is missed out. The secondary tale of romance is actually more striking, and that is a surprise because it is there only in the end for a few minutes only. For a romantic movie which tries to use the name of Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s Premalekhanam not just in the title but also inside the movie could have done more during this age. It is the title itself which leads to the higher expectations, which would clearly work against this movie in more than one way – not enough for the older generation inside the movie, and not much for the younger audience even in the title itself, except for the Malayalam literature lovers who are a group which are decreasing in number. The theatre didn’t seem to have called that many people either. A better tale of romance, with more depth in the story would have helped this one for sure. Some characters are also less developed.

Performers of the soul :: Farhan Faasil and Sana Althaf are two people who haven’t really got enough with the Malayalam movie industry – they never really had enough of those movies to show their calibre. Rajeev Ravi’s Njan Steve Lopez, the debut movie and the only other movie of him had the former as a famous name, and this happens to be only his second film – here he is in a look that resembles Kunchako Boban; got confused myself when I saw him in the first song which was released long ago, he does okay here, and the role is still not that interesting as his earlier movie. Sana Althaf’s Mariyam Mukku was quite the disaster that nobody would want with the first leading role, and she was seen only in a small role in Rani Padmini after that. She is the cute presence here, and manages to do her role with the necessary elements for the character, not more or not less. She is someone capable of repeating the cute Nazriya act of Om Shanthi Oshana and Bangalore Days in her absence. They look good together, no doubt about that.

Further performers of the soul :: The one person who leaves the biggest effect on us, is Manikandan Achari, known for the power-packed performance in Kammattipaadam and the strong comic side displayed in Alamaara. Here, he once again shows how good he is, with the emotional sequences as well as the funny side – when the protagonists’ love story gets less from the emotional side, his tale of love gets all, and elevates this movie. Sheela also comes up with a performance which will remind us of her Kochu Tresia in Manasinakkare, but it is not that much when you look at both movies. Madhu’s presence good, but could have been in some other way as real part of the tale – same is the case of Indrans. Joy Mathew scores big time in the movie too as the father. Hareesh Perumanna and Noby Marcose gets some nice humoruous lines, along with the others including Shivaji Guruvayoor and Sreejith Ravi who make it a combined effort. The other two actresses, Renjini Jose and Asha Aravind also make their presence felt. Aju Varghese also makes a cameo which feels rather unnecessary.

How it finishes :: Basheerinte Premalekhanam is a movie which had a lot more possible with its content, but is a fair thing as it is. It is to be noted that the three other Malayalam movies, Tiyaan, Sunday Holiday and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum haven’t really stopped the hunt, and are still in the game. There are also the other new releases, including Minnaminungu – The Firefly which won Surabhi Lakshmi the National Award for Best Actress, Team 5 starring Sreesanth who gets into another area other than cricket and music, Pulimurugan getting its much awaited 3D release, Theeram which already has its name among the superhit songs and a lesser known horror movie known as Mythily Veendum Varunnu. The point to be noted is that none of these movies got any superstar from the Malayalam movie industry – maybe with the recent incidents related to actors’ real life, they are all waiting. Until then, this one brings the feel-good factor.

Release date: 21st July 2017
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Aneesh Anwar
Starring: Farhaan Faasil, Sana Althaf, Renjini Jose, Sheela, Madhu, Manikandan Achari, Noby Marcose, Joy Mathew, Sooraj Harris, Shanavas, Sunil Sugatha, Sasi Kalinga, Hareesh Perumanna, Sreejith Ravi, Sivaji Guruvayoor, Indrans, Asha Aravind, Ponnamma Babu, Aju Varghese (cameo)

PS: You might also want to check out a cute Chinese romantic short-film, The Story of 90 Coins.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Story of 90 Coins

Vampire Owl: I have to say that this title has immediately caught my attention.

Vampire Bat: It is not natural for such a thing to happen for you considering the fact that this is a short-film.

Vampire Owl: I have loved more short-films these days than any other. So, there is a certain vision coming to me.

Vampire Bat: So, you will be watching more short-films?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why not, as you have been writing about so many. I have to keep up.

Vampire Bat: So, you are coming up against the realization that short-films are more worth the time, right?

Vampire Owl: Yes, I have gotten fine results with the last few which I watched.

Vampire Bat: Also, it is for everyone, and not limited by the boundaries, as it is available online.

Vampire Owl: And available in so many language, with English subtitles.

Vampire Bat: The only thing which stops us from watching a short-film is we ourselves.

[Gets some kuzhalappam and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with Wang Yuyang (Dongjun Han) telling Chen Wen (Zhuang Zhiqi) to be with him forever. When she doesn’t agree to the same, and shows her doubts about the future of the relationship, he asks her to give him ninety days to prove her love towards her. Every night, when they left each other, he would give her a coin, and if she rejects his proposal after those ninety days, they would take the cash to the stall where they had first met, have some drinks and bid adieu to each other, hoping not to meet again – that would be the end. Otherwise, they are going to use it for the wedding purposes, according to him. Even though she does fall in love with him, her first priority is to have a house in the city. She also has her career in front of her, and marriage doesn’t come at the top of the list at the moment.

So, what happens next? :: Then there is a chance for her to go to Paris, which is quite the perfect place to continue her fashion designing work. The city which has been commonly referred to as the fashion capital of the world just seemed to have endless opportunities for her. Andre (Jose Acosta), her French co-worker is also asking her regularly to join him on the trip to France, and see how far she can go with her skills in the field. They have their own complications in the relation in between, and it remains to be seen, if they can stand the factors of real life when going through their tale of love. It comes to that point when the relationship was going to be no more – but the promise of ninety days remain. Will they be able to go through those days which are reflected in each coin? Is it love or is it the job that gets the upper hand in the end?

The defence of The Story of 90 Coins :: The movie is just so beautiful to watch – there are those wonderful shots, and there are also beautiful people working in it. Along with the same, the performances are also too good that we feel the reflection of the emotions of the two protagonists. The emotional effect that this movie brings is more than what some of those highly appreciated romantic flicks lasting two and half hours has brought us. We can take the example of two Malayalam movies which are considered top love stories – Ennu Ninte Moideen and Annayum Rasoolum. While the former was entertaining, it dragged itself to almost three hours, with moments which didn’t need to be there. The former also had a run-time close to three hours and had more drag than material. These two, the most overrated love stories don’t stand a chance against a nine minute short-film, and there lies the beauty of The Story of 90 Coins.

Soul exploration 1: Love and promises made :: We see so many movies with promises of love being made. Lets take the example of another overrated movie, Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi – it only has the glorification of our youth who can’t make a good promise and stick to it, and as people don’t usually stick to promises they liked it. The Story of 90 Coins is for the kind of people who stick to those promises made in love, like the characters in the movie Anarkali. Unlike what a lot of youth from a spoilt generation thinks, love is not love when it finds deviation – falling in love is a commitment, and whether it is before or after marriage, it takes real courage, faithfulness and trust to stand with the person you love. With love, comes a promise, and it is about this promise that The Story of 90 Coins talks about. Good men and women keep it, and won’t let it become a random memory which comes into mind later.

Soul exploration 2: Love and love only :: There will be other things like work and people will keep looking for job satisfaction – unfortunately, in a terrible modern world, it is something that people will use to judge you and society will even judge your partner on the same. There will always be those offers to make you feel successful, but it is not inside that cabin or the cubicle that you find what matters the most – it is in in front of your beloved, in her words, and in her arms. As we look at a world affected terribly by modernity, we feel so much less of love – they turns into robots, and they divide us into factions. But there will be a day when we realize that love matters – it will be not that creepy new generation love made in the name of modern love which has no commitment and just infatuation and lust. Love will be love only when it is worth to be called by arranging those four letters in the right way in heart, and never stepping back from those feelings of oneness.

How it finishes :: There are lots of dialogues in this movie which are certain to stay with you. The process of making you feel the love begins from the first few seconds itself, and there are those amazing words in the end, which are sure to give your emotional side and belief in true love a big push. It is shameful that we have more of “theppu” short-films here rather than true love stories – we are the industry which had so many of real love tales which became big hits in the past, and we struggle to make more of the same kind even as short-films. It is during those times that this Chinese short-film from Michael Wong becomes a very significant lesson. This is a movie which has won more than fifty accolades from different international film festivals, and it is the director’s short-film debut. After watching this The Story of 90 Coins, I hope that he will make a lot more of similar interesting flicks.

Release date: 28th July 2016
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Michael Wong
Starring: Jose Acosta, Dongjun Han, Zhuang Zhiqi

Watch The Story of 90 Coins here:

Other short-films of interest: Mangalyam Thanthunanena, Red Jacket, Grace Villa, Culprit, AUFDRUCK, The Shaman.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Culprit

Vampire Owl: Do you know that I am a culprit in love?

Vampire Bat: How is that relevant right now?

Vampire Owl: I just wanted to remind you that the word applies to me too.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that your experience cannot match the genre of this short-film.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that you are not finished reviewing short-films?

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why I should ever stop doing that.

Vampire Owl: What about those big movies which have got you most of the hits?

Vampire Bat: They have stopped being something that matter. I am supporting smaller ones right now; they are the future. There is more material in them.

Vampire Owl: You are talking like a true vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I am the first vampire apprentice to write movie reviews. So, my opinion counts more than most of the others in the New Vampire World.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Amal (Akhil Vivek) reaches Mumbai from Cochin to meet Jithu (Danish Ashokan), a friend and an elder brotherly figure. It turns out that he has run away from Kerala after the circumstances which lead to a girl named Ancy Kuriyan Thomas (Dona Shankar) going missing, pointed fingers at him. There hasn’t been much progress in the case which only has him as the sole link to the events, but about which he has no clue. Amal tells Jithu his story, which has his best friend Sooraj (Akash Sheel), and an unknown phone call from a female voice which introduced itself as a girl named Devika Varma. As they get closer, Amal asks for her to meet up with him instead of being the random voice on his phone. But despite her agreeing to meet up at Cherai, later calls him to warn him against calling her again unless he wishes to get in trouble.

So, what happens next? :: As they attempt to investigate on the matter, it leads them to Dr. Shafeeq (Anwar Shereef) on whose name, the sim card is taken. He tells them something about the missing girl in the news, Ancy Kuriyan Thomas, which shocks them. But it turns out that they can’t tell that to anyone else, as it would put the shadow of doubt on them. But the police ends up getting a photo which works against Amal, and puts him directly in trouble from the cops as well as the media. Now, he has come directly to Maharashtra and hopes to solve this confusing problem. Can he do that before time runs out? Who is this Devika Varma and how is she related to the mysterious disappearance of Ancy Kuriyan Thomas? Is there a chance than Ancy might be alive after so many days? Why does all this point to Amal when it seems to be clear that he has nothing to do with the girl named Ancy?

The defence of Culprit :: The suspense that the movie has is pretty much huge, and we enjoy how it is told, and it is twisted, in a positive way. From the first few moments, it is established that we have a thriller in store, and then, after a few minutes of the usual stuff to set up the whole thing, we are taken back to staying on the edge of our seats. One would still feel that the end was too quick, and wonder if the absence of the explanation for some deeds were the need – it still lets us think more, and come up with our own conclusions. The movie is actually longer than most of those usual short-films that you see, and so there is plenty of time for the viewers to get drawn into it. With its half an hour run-time over, we end up wishing for the length to be little more, and that is surely a rare thing. Whenever the movie seems to stray away from its path, there will be something, a moment or a dialogue to bring it back on track, and it has a smooth run all the way.

Soul exploration :: Culprit explores what all are there as more than what meets the eye. It shows a protagonist being clueless against a force which seems to have worked against him right from the beginning. There is a mystery here that needs to be solved, as it threatens his own existence, and he understands it should be done as quickly as possible. What we see here is a crime committed, and the person who does that goes to any end to make sure that he is not convicted; for it is something planned well enough to have more than one escape route – there is not much of friendships here to save the day, as the protagonist can trust nobody. We see the movie slowly and steadily getting hold of things, leading to that wonderful revealing in the end. There are things that the movie doesn’t try to tell, and on everything else, what you see and understand gets the clarity.

How it finishes :: Culprit is a fine example of how the right talent shows itself when there is a chance. On one side, we have those big movies struggling to become interesting thrillers, and even with that high budget and big stars, they fail – but here, we have something small in scale, but strong with the idea, which is presented really well on screen. We get a great quality here, without waiting in the queue or spending that extra money on online booking, along with those increased ticket prices – we just need a few MB of data to get into some nice thrilling moments. Culprit also comes at a time when there have been too many short-films dealing with the great nonsense romance in many absurd ways. A well-made thriller lasting half an hour is something that has the strength to go far, and it is hence proven by this short-film.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: Do you think that such people can exist in our society too?

Vampire Bat: We are an alcohol-free society – so it would be difficult, but evil always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they could come through the portal which Doctor Frankenstein had opened earlier?

Vampire Bat: Mr. Frankenstein can only be the means to evil if we allow him to be.

Vampire Owl: It could be through anyone, someone whom we trust the most.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Evil as a person is a clever manipulator.

Vampire Owl: It could be the Lich Queen, Werewolf Anger, Vampire Kung Fu Panda

Vampire Bat: Why do you keep waiting for evil to come, when there is the chance to embrace goodness?

Vampire Owl: Well, you just can’t see so much evil, and still go with goodness.

Vampire Bat: Goodness is difficult, and evil is easy. It is on this that we wonder, and get inspired to think more about the same.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 9th July 2017
Running time: 31 minutes
Directed by: Jithin S Babu
Starring: Akhil Vivek, Danish Ashokan, Dona Shankar, Akash Sheel, Anwar Shereef, Santhu Bhai

Watch the interesting thriller, Culprit here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Grace Villa

Vampire Owl: Do you know that writing about short-films is not that rewarding?

Vampire Bat: Yes, especially short-films which are older.

Vampire Owl: So, you understand the same, and is not writing about those bigger movies which will get you more visits?

Vampire Bat: Movies of the Soul’s opinions will not be lost among those many fake paid reviews brought by blind fans and those who sell fake opinions.

Vampire Owl: What about the hope that someone will notice?

Vampire Bat: That exists no more. It disappeared quite some time ago.

Vampire Owl: It is a shame. The fake and paid reviews are still shared more on the movie and celebrity pages.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if we honestly write a movie review, it doesn’t mean much.

Vampire Owl: I wonder how humans managed to be such liars even when it is about art.

Vampire Bat: Lie, hate and lie more; it is their motto. They sacrifice their values for money each and every time.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: A real estate broker (Kochu Preman) is having some bad business going, with most of the properties he is selling, not having many buyers for the same. It is a rather dull time for real estate business, and his efforts are not becoming fruitful. His biggest pain is a property called Grace Villa owned by Saly Grace (Parvathy T) whose son Michael (Vineeth Vishwam) had died a few years ago, and is living with the pain, sadness and depression regarding the same. This particular property has been there for sale ever since Michael had died, and Saly is not ready to sell this property which costs around three lakhs to a maximum of three and half lakhs to anyone at a rate below twenty five lakhs. Many people have come and looked at the property – they have liked it, but nobody is willing to pay about eight to nine times the calculated price.

So, what happens next? :: It is when nobody seems to be interested, that a man named Mathews (Rajesh Hebbar) comes from far away, to the misty town. This man who seems to be there for the first time is very curious about the house, and likes it at first sight. He is determined to buy that property in any way possible, but still the amount of twenty five lakhs seem to be too much for him. Despite the real estate broker and his assistant (Saritha Sreejith) being hopeless about this sale happening, Mathews decides to talk to the lady and come up with some arrangement which will leave him with an opportunity to buy the property at a lesser rate. As he goes to the place and is welcome by Saly, he realizes that there is something about her than what meets the eye, and there is a particular secret that haunts the house. What would that be? Can the mystery be solved and the house be solved?

The defence of Grace Villa :: From the beginning itself, we know that there is something about Grace Villa, something which will bring the nice twist in the end. It was launched by Tovino Thomas, and has some faces which are well-known for us. Rajesh Hebbar is most known to us for the satirical family serial on television known as Oridathoridathu, and has been in the televison programmes for quite a long time – pardon me for not watching television that much. Parvathi T has been there for long too, and we last saw her in three big movies playing the mother of Tovino Thomas, Kunchako Boban and Dulquer Salmaan in Godha, Take Off and CIA: Comrade in America respectively. Kochu Preman also joins them, and there are also the others who play less significant roles. The performances make sure that this one becomes more, as it does more with its material, as we await the mystery to be unveiled.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s theme, as many other short-films is revenge – yes, a lot of short-films deal with revenge or love, or even both these days. This one tells the tale of a revenge that has the strength of waiting, and it only takes a few minutes to execute the same. There is no doubt that people love how this simple and short thing is able to bring so much of effect – people will guess this one half way into the flashback though, and maybe with a little additions here and there, that could have been avoided, and left to be guessed only at the final moment. But once again you will realize that revenge is sweet, and there is nothing as strong as a mother’s need to get justice for her son – well, the thing about revenge is there coming in full cycle in the Tamil and Kannada short-film Red Jacket which I had reviewed earlier. Grace Villa is all about mystery getting to that revenge.

How it finishes :: Grace Villa is based on The Right Kind of House by Henry Slezar, which dates back to the year 1957. If you have read that novel, you will find that the essence of the work is taken right into this short-film which has changed only the elements which are to make it happen at a small town in South India. You will see that the name of the son of the house owner is also the same in this version. The feeling that people have about each other and the house also seems to be the same, along with the order of incidents and location – this is pretty much a faithful adaptation if you just read the work quickly and watch Grace Villa. But the short-film version does seem to explain a little bit more, something which our audience have always wanted. Well, you know what all movie lovers want, as it is to get the story to appeal to them whether it is with mystery or with a message like Mangalyam Thanthunanena, and Grace Villa is undoubtedly a success.

[Walks into the verandah with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I am going to rename my area of the castle as Grace Villa.

Vampire Bat: You have a small room. Why would you name that small a room? Who will notice?

Vampire Owl: There is a mystery behind my room, which nobody will ever find out.

Vampire Bat: What is that mystery? What are you hiding?

Vampire Owl: If I talk to you about that mystery, it will be mystery no more. It is why nobody should know.

Vampire Bat: You are lying that there is a mystery because that can make the other vampires impressed.

Vampire Owl: What are you talking about? I am someone unable to lie. Truth is my other name.

Vampire Bat: You once said that Death is your other name.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I am known by multiple names. There are so many of them, that I forget ninety eight percent of them.

Vampire Bat: You are the kind of vampire who should be a zombie. There is a folk-song among witches regarding that.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 28th October 2016
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Binoy Raveendran
Starring: Parvathi T, Babu Annur , Rajesh Hebbar , Kochu Preman , Vineeth Vishwam, Saritha Sreejith, Vaudev, Suryadev, Saami Vaas, Ranjith, Vinod, Abhilash Abi, Athul S Dev

Watch the movie Grace Villa here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mangalyam Thanthunanena

Vampire Owl: One day, I will write about the complications I had while reading the movie title.

Vampire Bat: I feel that being with too many zombie minions have messed up your brain.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they eat it. Not literally though.

Vampire Bat: Dude, brain biriyani is the official food of your zombie minions. There is no changing that.

Vampire Owl: Oh! I thought it was human brain fried rice. Never mind.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t matter if human or vampire; they love the brains. Just to eat though.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that my struggle in reading this movie title is due to zombies eating part of my brain.

Vampire Bat: Exactly. In the case of humans, they have their own relatives and other people around them in the society to do the job, and you have your own zombies.

Vampire Owl: How do I escape it? I can’t fire them because their contract is for one full eternity.

Vampire Bat: Well, you can always try growing parts of your brain by watching some intelligent short-films.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: The story begins with a group of the three, the groom-to-be, his uncle and his best friend going to see the girl. The broker joins in, and they reach the house where they are welcomed by the girl’s father who is a retired teacher. The girl is also teaching at a nearby school. The groom-to-be, Anirudhan (Sethu Kumar), is a professional who has been working in Dubai for the last five years, and after the death of his father, he is the one who has carried the weight of his family, and also got his elder sister married all by his own efforts. Just like anyone who has returned from the Middle East for a short period of time, he also seems to be going through the procedure of a never-ending “pennu kaanal” programmes which seems to begin and never end – something which almost everyone has to go through in our society, no matter what all qualities are there.

So, what happens next? :: In our world, the programme of “pennu kaanal” has so many sides, not just those of a coin, but of a dice. It is more of something which has the influence of so many factors of which those who are to marry only have that much opinion as everyone else who are around them – but that opportunity to talk alone to the girl during the “pennu kaanal” is a cent percent sure thing. So, Anirudhan gets to talk to his future wife, the school teacher (Anu Padmanabha Iyer) who lets him know some of the harsh realities. After that, what decision he takes, forms the core of this movie, and the message that it attempts to provide for its viewers. Can he take that one decision which will change not only his life, but also of those who are close to him? Is he strong enough to make his own choice, and stay there? Is there the possibility of this wedding take place in the end?

The defence of Mangalyam Thanthunanena :: The main cast, Sethu Kumar and Anu Padmanabha Iyer, as well as the supporting cast got the ability to make us feel the full strength of the situation in this movie – the emotional side gets stronger as we get near the middle of the movie. It is about eight something minutes later that movie gets to be better. From there begins the serious side, after those moments of fun which had a partially working side. The latter part of the movie has some nice dialogues and beautiful moments, which make one wish for short-films like these to come more often. These dialogues are smartly done to bring the point as well as the message to us. It is realistic as well as socially relevant in our society. It is always better to have this kind of movies rather than those messed up love stories which make romance look like some low level new generation nonsense. Nice visuals and beautiful music nicely go with the same.

Soul exploration :: There seems to be so much talent behind this short-film, and the idea here seems to simple, but it goes deep. This is the kind of short-film, about which if I was notified earlier, would have wanted to write a review then. The questions that the film asks, begins and ends with the value of a person – is wealth all that matters? Is money more important than a person and the qualities possessed by the same? Why would anyone value a girl based on the dowry that her father gives? The questions are endless in our society – this short-film is sure to give the message, but the change is to be brought by people themselves. But in a world where some girls’ fathers are willing to give more and more dowry and judging boys only on their land or asking for a government job in return, is there hope? Neither is the girl or the boy is valued for their qualities or education these days – let more short-films with such valuable core arrive, and let more people at least feel how wrong they are.

How it finishes :: There is the usual question that comes up as people have asked me what I have to gain by reviewing a short-film which is already a few months old. There are those who have told me that there is no point in reviewing an old short-film as that would bring no visitors. But I have felt that this socially relevant movie is something that everyone should watch, and so, it is worth supporting at Movies of the Soul. A review on a usual movie will get more hits, but it will be lost among those fake, paid reviews, no matter how sincere we try to be, with our writing. Those big movies can also do well without our support. But giving support to a short-film with a message is something that makes us feel good, and it is a reflection of the feel-good factor in this movie, with its subtitles is a must watch not just in Kerala, but everywhere as it is applicable rather widely. I had earlier reviewed, another different, impressive work, the short-film, Red Jacket.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I am certainly feeling enlightened. But I am not sure if a part of my brain has grown.

Vampire Bat: It is a slow procedure. You wil need a lot more of similar enlightenment to keep it growing.

Vampire Owl: I am surely happy that we vampires don’t have dowry system.

Vampire Bat: I believe that Uncle Dracula abolished it by seeing the future using a time machine developed by Doctor Frankenstein, making him realize that Mavis was to be born.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that Mr. Frankenstein did invent something which was actually working centuries ago?

Vampire Bat: Yes, the vampire defence itself is planned on that vision Uncle Dracula received by traveling into the future.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the victory against werewolves and the Lich Queen lead undead army were not luck?

Vampire Bat: Dude, even luck has its own boundaries. Those victories were beyond that, and they repeated too many times to be just luck. We were outnumbered and weak, and still we won because of something or the other every time.

Vampire Owl: Now, my brain has started working extra.

Vampire Bat: Let’s watch a few more of similar interesting short-films and get it to work better.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 21st January 2017
Running time: 17 minutes
Directed by: Titto P Thankachen
Starring: Anu Padmanabha Iyer, Sethu Kumar, Daliya Rachel Solomon, Surendran Nair, Gopalakrishna Panicker, Sushanth Ninan Koshy, Juliya Mathews, Prasad, Fibi Thomas, Ajo Joseph, Jayaraj Naduvilathu, Jothin Paul, Sachin M Suresh, Shajeer Kodungallur, Vinu Surendran, Titto P Thankachen, B Lalithammal, Prabhavathy Raghunath, Prem Pandalam, Rajesh, Baby Pradeeksha, Master N Pranesh

Watch the beautiful short-film, Mangalyam Thanthunanena here, and take it’s message home:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sing

Vampire Owl: I remember singing once as a part of group song competition; that was long time ago.

Vampire Bat: And what happened? Did you get a prize?

Vampire Owl: They told me never to sing again.

Vampire Bat: They have surely saved the whole vampire community by saying so.

Vampire Owl: Music has never been my field of interest. My relationship with it is truly bad.

Vampire Bat: Which is why nobody is asking you to sing anything again.

Vampire Owl: I still sing motivational songs for my minions.

Vampire Bat: You are motivating your brainless zombie minions with terrible music?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I appreciate their brainless situation.

Vampire Bat: I believe that they appreciate you singing something they don’t understand too.

[Gets some jackfruit chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A koala bear named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) owns a theatre in the middle of the city, catching everyone’s attention. It was bought by all the money his father had earned by washing cars, because father wanted only what his son wished for the most, a wish which is all about music show. Despite working so hard, none of his shows become success, and Judith (Rhea Perlman), the representative of the bank, is after him to pay back the loan which he had taken, without which they would be forced to take over the theatre. He comes up with one final idea to save his theatre, which is about hosting a singing competition. He intends to provide the winner with a prize money of one thousands dollars, but the iguana who works as his assistant, Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings) ends up adding two more zeroes to the end of the amount in the fliers before they are distributed.

So, what happens next? :: The extra zeroes bring the motivation for the animals in the city, as a long line is set in front of the theatre. Moon feels that this is going to be his first and the greatest success story, and he selects his group of contestants from the audience – There is Johnny (Taron Egerton), a teenage gorilla who wants to be a singer unlike his family which is full of criminals led by his own father (Peter Serafinowicz). Then we have Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a porcupine teenager who performes with her boyfriend Lance (Beck Bennett), but only the girl is selected for the programme. Mike (Seth MacFarlane), an arrogant white mouse who earns everyone’s appreciation and thinks that he will win the tournament easily, is also selected. Another selected contestant is a housewife and mother of twenty five piglets Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who is paired with Gunter (Nick Kroll) who is more of an entertainer.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: Then there is Meena (Tori Kelly), an elephant teenager who has a stage fright, but gets in as contestants a giraffe and a group of frogs who were also selected, back out. Even though Buster understands that the flyers show a huge amount, he decides not to back out. He remains optimistic that he can somehow manage the money, and convinces his best friend, a sheep named Eddie (John C. Reilly) that there is a change that his grandmother and former opera singer who performed at same theatre, Nana Noodleman (Jennifer Saunders) could provide them the needed cash. Even though Eddie’s doubt remain, Moon gets word from Nana that she will come and see their performance. Now, it is up to Moon to get the best performances from a rather inexperienced and confused group of contestants who have their personal problems to deal with too. Can he do it? Can they do it?

The defence of Sing :: There are some nice visuals as you would expect, and there is the inspirational side, as the movie has protagonists with self-doubts, which are removed in the end, and everyone gets to show their skill on the big stage – something which rarely happens in our world, but we are happy that it turned happy for everyone at least in the animated version. The funny side is really good – for example, see a koala doing a car wash. The movie actually gets too good in the end, and we appreciate how things go in the final moments more than any other. The final message is indeed to believe in yourself, and to go for one’s dreams without second thoughts – no matter what the others think of you. Well, dreams got long legs and huge wings, which makes it easy for them to fly away, but we keep trying to grab them, and succeed at times. It is something which has been a common thing in the animated movies, but it works for sure, almost every time. We should get to do what we love, but do we?

The claws of flaw :: There are moments when you feel that this movie focuses a little too much on the much smaller audience. It is also not less depressing to see a reality show, as any programme like that only takes commonsense for a ride – we had too many of them in our televisions here, and we have wanted to get rid of each one of them at one moment or the other. There is not that much of a story here to make the big impact either. You will also see that this one doesn’t become a game changer, and falls behind the much appreciated flicks like Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Inside Out, Despicable MeHow to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. There was the sure chance to compete with all these movies with a bigger plot and a bigger message – Sing doesn’t really do that, or even try, despite being such an entertaining treat as a whole; maybe it took a few things for granted too easily.

How it finishes :: Sing is part of an year which had some smart movies with talking animals, and also had Zootopia winning the Academy Award for the best animated movie of the year. It seems that animals who talk bring the best out of animation, and gets appreciated by critics and judges better. With a colourful movie which touches the emotional side, and having some nice messages with the wonderful songs, Sing adds to that list, getting in there in style. Well, there is not much of a life without animated movies these days – there are so many of interesting movies of the genre, going through Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Inside Out; Sing actually makes sure that the possibilities always exist, and we can only have more and more. You get to watch them with all the glory on the screen, and you can’t help not getting a copy of such movies to keep for the next generation. An animated world is a beautiful world, and it feels eternal.

Release date: 21st December 2016
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Garth Jennings
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson, Garth Jennings, Peter Serafinowicz, Asa Jennings, Nick Kroll as Gunter, Beck Bennett, Jay Pharoah, Nick Offerman, Caspar Jennings, Leslie Jones, Rhea Perlman, Leo Jennings, Laraine Newman, Adam Buxton, Brad Morris, Bill Farmer, Oscar Jennings

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.