Nocturnal Animals

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What is the movie about? :: Susan Morrow (Amy Adams) receives the manuscript of a novel written by her former husband Edward Sheffield (Jake Gyllenhaal). It is named Nocturnal Animals after Edward’s special nickname for Susan. After an art gallery show, and while going through a flawed marriage to an unfaithful man and a busy businessman who doesn’t have much for, Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer), she is disturbed and has almost no sleep during the nights. In a world which seems to have nothing much to her, she hopes for change, and it is brought to her by this book dedicated to her. She becomes completely immersed in the novel, and that also brings back the memories of her with Edward, a relationship which she once considered to be full of love.

The story of the novel :: The novel titled Nocturnal Animals tells the story of a man named Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal) who leads a family of three, including his wife and daughter. He is a calm and peaceful man who comes across three local criminals, Ray (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Lou (Karl Glusman), and Turk (Robert Aramayo ) during a long trip with his family through the countryside during late night. There is no real reason, but still a confrontation occurs between them and Tony, and his wife Laura (Isla Fisher) and their daughter India (Ellie Bamber) are kidnapped by the young men looking for trouble. Tony is unable to do anything to stop the three men, and somehow manages to get to a nearby farmhouse to call the police for help.

How the novel continues with its tale :: Detective Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon) is assigned to the case of missing women, and as a dedicated officer, begins the investigation rgiht away. There is no clue about the criminals in the beginning, but the corpses of Laura and India are found inside an abandoned building. Tony is angry and frustrated with his inability to protect his loved ones and wishes for vengeance. But soon, he will have his chance, as Bobby is also looking forward to bringing the criminals to justice with what might be his final case. Still, there might not be enough evidence to frame all three of them, and they wonder if the best chance here is to take the law into their hands – but are they ready for the same?

The defence of Nocturnal Animals :: There is beauty and intensity in the way in which this tale is presented to the audience – we get to go through both the tales which are not directly connected to each other, even though deep inside, the same feeling runs through. The incidents in the story within the story is also a reflection of the happenings of the other, as the protagonist losses his wife as well as the child who was aborted, due to his own inability to stop the process, even as he feels that he really could have. It is loss of love and the never ending suffering that is shown in both tales, one violent as it is shown clearly as a simple tale of loss and vengeance, and the other deeply moving inside even though shown less outside.

The claws of flaw :: Nocturnal Animals is surely not a movie for everyone, as it can easily make people stop watching it very early itself. You might feel the need in the opening sequence itself, and it also remains slow for some more time – but surviving these moments is necessary to feel what comes after them, and as we get further in, we understand that this is one of the most different tales of people of our time, and there is a clear reflection of how bad the relationships can go, as what one thinks as love is not always the same, and infatuation and the pretension of love is never really the same as what goes underneath. It is up-to the viewer to get into this movie, and also go deep into its two tales to make things work. It is that kind of a movie which will work the best as long as you keep thinking and connecting all things together. Nocturnal Animals is for the kind of people who connect well, and feel the connection deeply.

Performers of the soul :: Among the cast, it is Amy Adams’ performance that strikes the viewers first, as she is indeed the protagonist of the real world, while Jake Gyllenhaal strikes us hard from the imaginary world inside the novel, which also doesn’t feel less real. After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and before the upcoming Justice League, Amy has one other movie, Arrival, and combined with Nocturnal Animals, make her the one performer to look out for from the last year. It is the character’s fears and insecurities that get best shown here, especially that of turning into her own mother. We know what Jake Gyllenhaal is capable of, and his character goes through suffering not just in the imaginary world, but also in the real one – we remember Enemy too, don’t we? Michael Shannon’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor at 89th Academy Awards and the same for Taylor-Johnson at BAFTA comes as no surprise either.

How it finishes :: Nocturnal Animals is the kind of movie that would have required a lot of skill to bring it through to the audience, and if we think more about the same, a certain amount of skill is required not just on one side, but also on two. It tells us that love is not love just because you had an infatuation during your youth – it is about responsibility, and about being there when the other person needs you the most. You don’t really fall in love just because you think that you do – then you do that with different people too often. It is a lesson that the new generation needs when they are in love just by seeing one side of the one that they love – it is never going to last long, and after knowing that the person who loved might not be the same as the one who is in the marriage, where does the love before marriage stand? So, is it better to start falling in love after marriage? Well, Nocturnal Animals brings different things to ponder about for different people it is that kind of a flick with raw emotions.

Release date: 18th November 2016
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Isla Fisher, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Ellie Bamber, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo, Graham Beckel, India Menuez, Zawe Ashton, Jena Malone, Kristin Bauer van Straten

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Age of Ultron

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What is it about? :: The movie begins with the team of Avengers including Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) attacking a Hydra fort which is concentrated around a town in Eastern Europe. They manage to recover Loki’s Scepter and get out of there, even though they meet two enhanced humans, the Maximoff twins (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who offer tough resistance with their special superpowers. But an attempt by the two part-time superhero scientists of the group to use the artificial intelligence within the artifact goes the wrong way as it unleashes what they called the Ultron and it takes over almost all the available information in the internet including the protected information. The new creation attempts to get stronger with one aim in mind – the extinction of mankind.

The defence of Avengers: Age of Ultron :: This second movie is a big improvement from the first movie, even though there will be big fan boys of the predecessor who will find it very difficult to accept the same. Here, we see more brains than any usual Marvel movie. There is improvement in almost every department, with the characters, special effects as well as the action sequences. The addition of the two new characters, Quick Sliver and the Scarlet Witch in the form of the Maximoff has powered the movie big time. Even the dialogues get better with this one as the funny as well as the thought-provoking moments work wonders, and there is more strength in each department added separately. The action and the dialogues are given so much attention that we feel that just the minimum plot is needed. This looks so good and works so good, and the defence says that you money will be well spent as sparks fly with maximum strength.

Positives and Negatives :: Some of these can give the feeling of being repetitive, and even with a small presence of this repetition, if you feel more than a small amount of the same, it is because you don’t see the big complete picture here. The plot about having the artificial intelligence seeking the destruction of mankind and the loading of consciousness happen to be too common these days, but this has managed to handle the same very well so that the feeling of having gone through this is minimal. It takes a big effort to improve from a movie which was so loved, and the success of Avengers: Age of Ultron comes as a lesson to many superhero movies which are waiting to be released. You can say that there was too much action and so many superheroes, but count them as positives. The only one thing which we miss from the previous movie is the presence of Tom Hiddleston as Loki – but considering how the Marvel Universe is progressing, he should come back only in another story.

Performers of the soul :: What you have to love here is that Jeremy Renner finally gets his due, as Hawkeye becomes that identity of the group who is more human that anybody else, and helps his team to come back together. To be frank, all the characters get some extra in this one, and the only person who might have got slightly lesser in significance might be the Iron Man itself, but then, he comes up with moments of his own – for he is Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans’ Captain America still remains the most likable character in movie and he is so much the man to admire. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulky side continues being the better one and the romantic elements are rather unnecessary, as it also makes Scarlett Johansson less Black Widow and more Natasha Romanoff when not needed. You also have to love how Cobie Smulders makes an impression in what seems to be a smaller role, and Samuel L. Jackson continues to make the big impact – well, he is the fury with all the fury!

Further Performers of the soul :: Anthony Mackie as Falcon has a small presence while Don Cheadle as War Machine gets more even though not anywhere close to the Avengers and the big newer additions to this movie. The two artificial intelligence creatures are well-portrayed, but if you ask me about the best addition to this sequel, I would go for the enhanced twins. I remember last seeing Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen together as husband and wife in Godzilla, and now we have them as the twins. Even though the former has some very nice moments of action, it is the latter who steals the show as the character we know in the comics as the Scarlet Witch. When the former depends on the slow motions sequences which are created to indicate his speed as the Quicksilver that he is in the comics, the latter has her much weirder skills as she goes on and makes the character a joy to watch – she is so perfect in this avatar; check her expressions and movements while in action, and you have to love this casting.

Soul exploration :: While it will be interesting to see what Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch will have to offer for the Avengers in the next movies, let’s get into this movie’s soul. The first movie was too simple, and it was like there is an alien invasion coming up and a superhero team has to save the world just like that – but here we have a movie which is more than just mindless superhero action – this one has space for thoughts, and an expansion of the movie’s ideas in our own way. The movie asks one major question about chaos and order, and where the truth and a perfect righteous situation lies – in the acceptance of order or in the chaos that comes with a revolution? Another question is if the human extinction is the only right way to peace. We all want a better world, are we prepared to change? There are times when you have to feel the mankind itself is too less worthy. Do we find peace these days? We haven’t even evolved out of religious, caste-based and ethnic hatred, and we always have new ones coming up.

How it finishes :: Avengers: Age of Ultron is a spectacle of a very high quality, may be matching that of the immortals of Asgard, and you need to watch this one at the theatre itself. I was not surprised by the houseful shows of this movie at the local theatre too, as this is that good, even in the non-3D version which was there. Yes, it is quite understandable that Fast and Furious 7 managed to be pretty much okay and for the love for the series and Paul Walker, we just can’t stop thinking about that movie. But after two weeks, the big one has released, and this might the highest grossing movie of 2015 if surprises won’t jump in. Well, it will be more of a shock to me if this one won’t end up as the movie which brought the most money for its makers. Avengers: Age of Ultron deserves your presence, and there is absolutely no need to wait for anything else right now. Mark my words, and don’t listen to the lesser mortals, for the Vampire Bat finds this one better than its predecessor, and this is like the heaviest action ever.

Release date: 24th April 2015 (India); 1st May 2015 (US)
Running time: 141 minutes
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, James Spader

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Godzilla

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From W.B. Yeats’ The Second Coming
“The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
The first thing that came to my mind while looking at that Godzilla poster was this poem, and not Pacific Rim or that movie of the same name from 1998. The same was rather justified by watching the movie, as there was something special about this creature this time, and the deviation from the master of destruction which it was supposed to be, is something which adds more mystery to the same. The mystery about the beast which is mentioned in this poem has kept me thinking throughout my studies of English Literature, and now there is the monster, Godzilla who comes up with the element of mystery and surprise.

What is it about? :: Getting out of that 1919 poem by the Irish poet and coming back to our present scenario, the movie begins with some film reels involving atomic explosion and a huge creature partially rising from under the water. The story belongs to Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) though, a military officer specialized in bomb disposal married to his beautiful wife and a nurse wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), having one son. When his father Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is arrested in Japan for trespassing into a quarantined area, he travels there and gets him out of prison, only to join him in the mission to find how his mother died at the same place long ago. But as they get inside the area, they find out that there is actually nothing like the radiation at a place when a nuclear disaster had taken place, and it is not quarantined to save people, but to hide a huge secret which can change the future of mankind forever. The secret will soon be revealed inside a secret complex area, but as it comes to light, there might actually be no real hope for humanity. There will be chaos and destruction unleashed on the world as monsters awaken, and the beginning of all this was years ago.

The defence of Godzilla :: I can’t remember much from the 1998 movie, but from what I can recollect, this is surely a big improvement. Well, as I was a kid at that time, it wouldn’t have been of much use if I had an opinion at that time too. Well, this Godzilla is different, and a big change is that the humanity is not really fighting Godzilla this time, even as there is no denial of confrontations and rockets fired, with destruction caused. Now, that should be a surprise, and the number of monstrous entities should be more than you expect. Unlike Pacific Rim, the movie also has a dark style and there is the more powerful terror element at work. The creatures are designed to look terrifying, and they serve their purpose as they become harbingers of death and destruction with their size and lethal power. There is absolutely nothing funny about their presence or the whole movie as it keeps the seriousness and the atmosphere of horror throughout, between great action supported by the special effects and background score. It is a nice introduction that has been given to the younger audience about this monster who hasn’t graved the screen for sometime. They goes on with the story really well, and there is a lot of suspense built around what is happening around.

The claws of flaw :: Godzilla has released after Pacific Rim; it is not much of a flaw as both deals with the monsters in a different way, but that should hurt a bit for the audience. If this had come before Pacific Rim, that might have actually helped both movies. This should still gross more than the 2013 monster-robot extravaganza, thanks to the title referring to the king of monsters, already running houseful here. There is also no denying a certain amount of slow start to the things unlike Pacific Rim which pounces directly into the action scene. The human characters don’t really impress, and there is no dialogue which will cause an adrenaline rush. The nature-related theme is not fully explored, and this could have actually had a message about the need to preserve environment and get rid of the nuclear warheads. There is a certain amount of uncertainty on what the director was actually planning to bring to the audience; Pacific Rim was certain about it, but not this movie. If it had focused better on the human characters or kept the focus completely on the creatures, this surely would have worked even better. After all, everybody wants to see the giant creatures on the big screen.

Performers of the soul :: Our main hero is played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and it seems to work on most occasions except for a few when he turns wooden. One would still feel that the character has come alive just because there was the need for a hero in this movie. Elizabeth Olsen plays the less explored character of his wife and doesn’t get much attention; neither should be anything memorable. They will be seen together as siblings, or the super-powered evil twins in The Avengers 2 as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch; she played a character attracted to her father in Oldboy – she surely is having a strange combination of characters to play; but unlike Oldboy, she has almost nothing to do that actually affects the movie here, and that should be a let down. The rest of the cast also has very less to do, as this is the world of the monsters where humans become spectators most of the time, and even when they are doing something, the effects are minimal. Even as the monsters come quite late, this slow and steady sacrifice of human characters start very early in the movie and goes on to the end. Well, the monsters need to scare and kill a lot of people, so there is that purpose.

Soul exploration :: The movie shows Godzilla as a force of nature, something that is beyond humans to stop, but the same can also be said about the other creatures. The fact that these creatures feed on radiation is something to be noted. Thus the movie is indirectly a message against the problem that the nuclear power can cause, and the creatures of radiation are rather the symbols of the evil that can be brought upon the current society by the development of science and technology which have been used in such a manner that it makes things convenient, but not better. Godzilla is referred to as a force of nature (that reminds me of what an article called the cricketers Virender Sehwag, Adam Gilchrist and Shahid Afridi a long time ago), and he becomes that force of nature which will bring balance on Earth, whether its enemies are other creatures or the human beings themselves. Well, Godzilla is nothing like the other two creatures which belong to one species, one being the smaller male with wings and the other being the bigger female, stronger without wings. The force of nature is rather the great equalizer, which makes its own choices and takes sides. That is what makes this monster so different and gives the viewers so much to look forward to. Yes, men think that they can control nature with science, but it is indeed the other way around!

How it finishes :: We were given two Malayalam movies with big stars this weekend in the form of How Old Are You and Mr. Fraud and it is a big decision to choose this one over them, but that won’t be too difficult at many places as they would be already booked. The crowd for Godzilla assures the success of the movie, but also makes sure that the two movies I mentioned are already houseful. Godzilla might have lesser audience in the weekdays, but seems to be good enough to stay above par. If you liked Pacific Rim, you will surely like this one too, and the degree of the liking shall depend on what you need, a light action thriller with style or a dark horror thriller with action, Godzilla fitting to the latter detail. Lets take some time to spare some time for these creatures from the depths of Earth, not just the alpha predator which is Godzilla, but the other two mentioned as MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism)! Yet there is one more thing to remember, and that is about the minuteness of humanity against the universe and its secrets, and lets not consider science and technology as the greatest achievement of humanity; it is rather the respect of the fellow humans, environment and the other creatures that should interest us.

Release date: 16th May 2014
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.