Luca

What is the movie about? :: As part of a case investigation, Police officer Akbar (Nithin George) comes across a diary which goes through the lives of Luca (Tovino Thomas) and Niharika (Ahaana Krishna). Luca is a highly talented artist who makes the best art works out of scrap materials, but is a short-tempered man who lives close to his small circle of friends. He had lost his father at a very young age, and his mother within a few years after that. He has extreme fear of death and dead bodies. Niharika is a research scholar in industrial chemistry who has come to Cochin from Bangalore as part of her research. Half-Malayali and half-Bengali, she has had a troubled childhood, and had lost her father at a very young age. Akbar is very close to divorcing his wife Fathima (Vinitha Koshy), as he is unable to forget his first love Jannet (Neethu Bala) who left him for reasons unknown to him, and is often adviced by his senior officer Jayaraman (Thalaivasal Vijay).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The story goes through the love story of Luca and Niharika as well as the tale of Akbar going through his investigation with the help of his junior officer Aloshy (Anwar Shereef). The friendship and later love of Luca and Niharika develops after latter has a bad opinion about the former’s works, which she changes soon. Later, the two meets again, only to have her move to one of the empty rooms in his house, as she feels safer there. The only two people who are at the home most of the time are those who do the household duties, Martin (Chempil Asokan) and Salomi (Pauly Valsan). Niharika’s uncle Jayaprakash (Srikant Murali) despises her attitude and actions, but as she hates him, things come as no surprise. But there would be a few incidents which would change the lives of Luca and Niharika, but nothing changes regarding love.

The defence of Luca :: There is beauty in every frame of Luca. It is more or less like having a wizard, an overlord of aesthetics at work here, as we see beauty on the big screen, which never gets even close to fading away. We have home which is a work or art by itself, and the presence of rain makes the scenes even more beautiful. At the same time, we see some of those elements which have certain significance in the society, and the role that childhood plays in the lives of people and how it affects them as grown-ups can be seen. The movie is also strong with its emotional moments, especially in the end, as it deals with love in a deeper way rather than what is usually seen on the outside. There are also those moments which are there to stay for now, and we feel that a few things are rather symbolic of something else. The narrative strength of the tale keeps the movie together, and one has to love the way it progresses.

The claws of flaw :: Luca does not become your usual flick about romance. Well, it goes beyond that, and can make Romeo and Juliet feel that they can do better at a few things – it is that kind of love that is deeper that what our common movie watchers can take on. There is also a certain tragedy associated with it, and it stretches a bit with the story. One would also think that the tale could have been better, with a deeper investigation side. The mystery could have unfolded in another way too, and with such visual beauty on the screen, the movie had all it needed to go bigger. There is also that usage of flashback which is a little more than one would want to have. There might have been the feeling that Luca was going to be Charlie, but that didn’t happen, as this one develops its own identity.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas’ avatar is nothing less than stunning, as we see the character go through the journey of colours. Even though this is not your usual character, he makes his character both lovable and believable, set close to all that defines Kochi Biennale. He is here after three highly appreciated critical and commercial success movies, Virus, Uyare and Lucifer, and this happens to be one fantastic year for him already – we still have half an year to go. Well, the last year was not less grand either, as we had more. Ahaana Krishna hasn’t been there in many movies, and we remember seeing her last in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela – she has nicely blended in here and has done a fantastic job. She has become the character with ease, and we see her excel in the emotional as well as romantic moments, as she makes a fine combination with Tovino.

Further performers of the soul :: Nithin George who plays the police officer in charge of the investigation comes up with a brilliant performance. He plays the man who lives in his memories, and hopes for answers from the past, and we go on the journey with the character. There is the beauty of serenity in that performance, and the situation that he is in also has us interested. Vinitha Koshy who played the teacher in Aanandam once again has interested in her character. Chempil Asokan and Pauly Valsan makes a perfect pair as the helping hands of the house. Anwar Shereef gives good support as the junior police officer. Jaffer Idukki is there for only a short period of time, and Thalaivasal Vijay only has a little more time with bigger dialogues. Srikant Murali leaves a mark with certain moments. Neethu Bala makes some good impact with one song which she is part of.

How it finishes :: Luca easily gets to the list of the best movies of the year, and it does the same with the love story side rather than getting into some other genre – the investigation and twist are there, but the focus continues to be with the romantic side. With some wonderful music in there, the flick had already caught out attention, and it is one movie which you shouldn’t miss for the beauty on the screen. Along with the same, the socially relevant issues also stays there. As it stands, Luca will continue to stay strong in our theatres. One would wish to watch it again for the emotional content as well as the power of aesthetics, both never backing away from giving the best, just like the actors in there. Have a look at a song from the movie, among the best of the year so far.

Release date: 28th June 2019
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Arun Bose
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Nithin George, Ahaana Krishna, Neethu Bala, Anwar Shereef, Rajesh Sharma, Vinitha Koshy, Sooraj S Kurup, Shalu Rahim, Chempil Asokan, Devi Ajith, Jaffer Idukki, Neena Kurup, Pauly Valsan, Srikant Murali, Thalaivasal Vijay, Raghavan, Hansika Krrishna

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

What is the movie about? :: In the Mexican city of San Juan Ixtenco, there was unnatural storm which devastated most of the place – people are known to have said that there was a face in the storm, and Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) investigate the case while coming across a creature, an Earth Elemental, which derives its powers from Earth. At the same time, a super-powered man Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), arrives to fight the creature. In New York City, the Midtown School of Science and Technology restarts its academic year to take in those students who were affected by the events of Avengers: Infinity War. There is a two-week summer field trip to Europe, starting at Venice, Italy. Peter Parker (Tom Holland) plans to confess his love for classmate MJ (Zendaya) there. Meanwhile, Harold Hogan (Jon Favreau) contacts him to provide the news that Nick Fury is looking for him, and will give a call soon, regarding a mission.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Peter is forced to carry the Spider-Man costume by his aunt May Parker (Marisa Tomei) despite trying to keep away from superhero deeds post the death of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). He even ignores the calls of Nick Fury, who finds him at the hotel in Venice, after escaping the attacks of the Water Elemental which almost destroys the major tourist areas of the city. The students including Peter’s best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) and Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) along with the teachers, Roger Harrington (Martin Starr) and Julius Dell (JB Smoove) are terrorized by the unexpected attacks. After tranquilizing Ned, Fury gives him Stark’s glasses equipped with the artificial intelligence EDITH, providing access to all databases of Stark Industries and with command over large weapon supply. He also introduces him to Quentin Beck, a man with magic powers.

And what more is to happen? :: Even though mistaken by many as Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), this new hero is known to people as Mysterio, a man who is supposed to be from another Earth, which was consumed by the Elementals. He hopes to avenge his family, and destroy the Elementals, and Fury hopes that Peter would be part of the mission at Prague, but he declines saying that his school team is going to Paris and he can’t be seen in the Spider-Man costume when he is in Europe, as it would lead to doubts that he is Spider-Man, revealing his identity. But as their trip itself is re-routed to Prague, Peter is left with no option, but to fight the most powerful of the Elementals, the Fire Elemental. To add to it, he has to fight it in the middle of an on-going carnival, and his friends are also around. Can the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man live up to the legacy that the Avengers lead by Iron Man, Captain America and Thor has left?

The defence of Spider-Man: Far From Home :: It is a difficult task for another Spider-Man movie to stand strong in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, considering the fact that the greatest film of the franchise, Avengers: Endgame has finished strong, and is looking forward to become the highest grossing flick of all-time. Spider-Man: Far From Home has managed to do that well enough, and has also improved its status from Spider-Man Homecoming – this one is bigger in scope and impact, and we also have the superheroes doing better, in the presence of better villainy. The action sequences continue to impress, and the perfect settings are used, which makes things even better – the visuals and the special effects with illusions play a major role in making the fights more interesting. The movie also maintains a certain amount of humour, and it remains light-hearted, as a friendly neighbourhood movie. There is also something in the end to make sure that we have something to look forward to, after the movie.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional strength of the earlier Spider-Man movies continues to be absent in this version, and this comes too late after all the superhero overdose. We have had only one Spider-Man movie before Avengers: Endgame, and that is too little – now, this one requires a lot more sequels, but they will be too late. Also, the movie’s twist is rather predictable for those who are familiar with the tales of Spider-Man, and something more could have been added to get it deeper. Some of the jokes in the movie also go some other way, and fail to create any impact – there is the case of things getting repetitive here. The superhero himself hasn’t learned much after going through all the fading away, and losing his mentor – there is no realization that is added here. Being a better hero doesn’t seem to be an option here. Spider-Man won’t get to that level of The Amazing Spider-Man or The Amazing Spider-Man 2 here either, and we have to wait for the sequels to hope for that.

The performers of the soul :: Jake Gyllenhaal is the one who stands apart in this movie, and we know what he has been capable of with the psychological thriller movies like Enemy and Nocturnal Animals. The role of Mysterio stays safe with him, and we see how well he can handle the two sides of a character. Tom Holland continues to play Spider-Man as he used to, and it gets better than the previous movies in totality. Zendaya playing his love interest makes one interesting character from the beginning itself – she is indeed the most interesting character in the whole team of school children, and lets hope that the character is not replaced by other love interests of Spider-Man in any later movies. Cobie Smulders is there doing what she has been doing well. The others in high school team do a pretty good job including both the teachers and students.

How it finishes :: We have finished most of the main part of the Marvel superheroes, and Spider-Man: Far From Home seems to come as a bonus or an add-on post that biggest battle that happened in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Spider-Man is the hero whom we have always loved, he has been there with Superman and Batman at this part of the world even before the rest of the superheroes like Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Arrow – all of them came later. Therefore, it is only fair that we hope for an even better movie. But this one also keeps us interested and entertained, and Marvel once again has everything working in its favour, even after its best movie done.

Release date: 5th July 2019 (India); 2nd July 2019 (USA)
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L Jackson, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Jake Gyllenhaal, Martin Starr

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Evidey

What is the movie about? :: Symphony Zachariah (Manoj K Jayan) is a busy, but not so rich musician who keeps traveling all the time, not caring much for his wife and children. Jessy Zachariah (Asha Sharath) is left to care for the family which consists of her father-in-law, Kuttichan (Prem Prakash) and two children. When one day, Zachariah goes missing, Jessy is determined to find out what happened to him. Police Inspector Simon Tharakan (Baiju Santhosh) is the one in charge of the case, and it seems that the case is solved when a letter from Zachariah reaches them. But there is something strange about the letter – Jessy doesn’t believe that it was written by Zachariah. A man named Kabir (Kunchan) who comes to see them makes things even more complicated. Jessy even begins to doubt that Zachariah has another wife and kids.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Their son Leen (Shebin Benson), a college student is in love with Shahana (Anaswara Rajan), a girl whose life he saved when she was drowning, an incident which fetched him a bravery award. But it seems that he is no longer the person that he used to be. Studying at a college far away from home, he seems to be having more opportunities to go divergent from the studies rather than be the student who used to be the face of the college earlier. He doesn’t come home much, and has been a difficult person to find even for his family. This, along with the missing husband is breaking the family apart, but Jessy is determined to find Zachariah. For that, she would have to take more than one journey, through Mangalore and Goa, as he was supposed to perform at one of the events there.

The defence of Evidey :: The movie belongs to the genre of a family thriller rather than anything else, and the approach also seems to suggest a journey through such a path. The short length makes sure that there is no dull moment in the movie, and there is no drag, even when it seems to be trying to be preachy. The issues that are shown in the movie are genuine, with messages against drug abuse, and the parents’ failure to guide children along with the inability to become good role models. This is the time when students need to be told about the terrible effects of drugs and alcohol more, and with parents having no time to take care of their children, along with everything negative influencing them better, the movie has becoming very relevant. There has been too much of such things in the news, and this is a movie which can be shown in schools and colleges.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s songs are all very much interesting, and such a thing does no good to a family thriller – a good family song or even a song on friendship and love if done well enough can lift a movie of the genre and provide it with a boost, covering its faults up to an extent. Evidey doesn’t have that, and it also doesn’t seem to try too hard with its thriller side which was to serve as its stronger point. The investigative side could have also been done in a more interesting way, and a better backstory was needed with the family members – it would have worked well with a good song, and that much time could have been enough to have the characters settled, especially the two pairs. Even the sequences at Goa could have taken a boost, with some more wandering around the major areas of the state which is not short of providing some good visuals at any point.

The performers of the soul :: The movie remains mostly centered on Asha Sharath, who once again plays the mother of a son gone the wrong way, like in Drishyam. It is once again the duty to save him, but the task remains difficult as it is too late – the tormented mother continues to be on the spotlight. Prem Prakash, at the same time, brings some very emotional and controlled moments to remember, as he has done before on many occasions. Manoj K Jayan is not there for much time, as he is the missing character who can only be there with some small flashbacks. One would feel the need for more of such flashbacks to get a better idea of the character. Baiju plays the police officer who is working on the case, and he makes one believable cop. Kunchan has shorter presence too, and Shivaji Guruvayoor as well as Sunil Sukhada got even lesser time on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu makes his appearance in the later stages of the movie, and has some of the best dialogues in the whole film. He becomes an integral part of the movie in the second half, and continues to assert his presence until the end. Even though some part of it seems forced, the character sticks on well. Shebin Benson shows some skills in this role, and the emotional sequences are handled very well. We see how the changes occur with the character, and how the same has been portrayed in a believable manner. Anaswara Rajan of Udaharanam Sujatha fame does a wonderful job here, as her character is a well-written and well-performed one without pretensions. From the early happy mood to those emotional sequences, she shows a controlled, realistic version, and tranquility when needed is a skill that we rarely see on the younger stars these days.

How it finishes :: Evidey easily takes its message against drug abuse to the next level, even though it does take some time to be there. With clubs like SADA (Students Against Drug Abuse) being formed in colleges to provide awareness regarding the same, we are slowly, but steadily realizing the fact that the drug menace can’t be left unchecked. Evidey will surely help to bring the awareness, as did Kerala Excise Department with the Vimukthi Short Film Competition and its winning entry “Midhya” by Mar Baselios Institute of Technology and Science, Kothamangalam. After so many short-films tried to make the point in that certain competition, and a number of them winning runner-up and consolation prizes, we now have a full-length movie which doesn’t glorify the evil at any point, and scores with an emotional climax and message against it.

Release date: 4th July 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: KK Rajeev
Starring: Shebin Benson, Asha Sharath, Anaswara Rajan, Prem Prakash, Manoj K Jayan, Baiju Santhosh, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kunchan, Sunil Sukhada

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.