Bodies at Rest

Vampire Owl: Can the bodies be ever at rest as long as the undead are there?

Vampire Bat: We have never been at rest, as far as I know.

Vampire Owl: The castle is witness and proof to that particular statement.

Vampire Bat: I guess that they didn’t have a vampire or zombie to turn them.

Vampire Owl: Even a sorcerer or a witch could do that. Necromancers were actually available for consultation.

Vampire Bat: Even Dr. Frankenstein was available for the bodies.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t recommend Mr. Frankenstein to do that again.

Vampire Bat: He is known for that one event involving the creation of life.

Vampire Owl: Yes, he is notorious for the same, and it is not a good sign.

Vampire Bat: Still, he is the one I look forward to, for creating dumb creatures with no teeth, those which walk like zombies.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: A much respected pathologist Chen Jia Hao (Nick Cheung) and his assistant Lynn Qiao (Yang Zi) continue to work late at a public morgue on the evening of Christmas, as people begins to celebrate. Even though it is the time to rejoice, there is not much of a crowd outside due to the thunderstorms occuring outside, and people being advised to stay at home at least for the night, or until a notice comes from the authorities. It is then that three armed criminals come into the morgue, demanding that the doctor and his assistant give them a bullet from the dead body of a girl was shot dead earlier. They beat up the elder security guard known to everyone as Uncle Jin (Shu-liang Ma), and the doctor seems to have been left with no option, with phone cables being cut, mobile phones taken, and nobody left inside the building, as it is Christmas evening with a terrible weather making everyone leave early.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The three men who goes under the names, Santa (Richie Jen), Elf (Carlos Chan) and Rudolph (Jiayi Feng) manages to get a bullet from the doctor, but it turns out that it was not one from their gun. The doctor had managed to trick them into believing that he had taken the bullet out of the girl’s dead body, but he hadn’t. After the criminals leave, he takes the body from her back, and manages to break out of the room where they were locked in, only to be chased by the returning criminals again, as he tries to sneak out of there with his assistant and the injured security guard. But the criminals are quick, and they want to get that bullet to remove any proof, because this case has many implications. Can there be hope for the trio to escape and give the bullet to the police, before the criminals catch up to them? Are there other secrets which are to be revealed as time passes? Will this really be a Christmas night with joy, or is there unlimited terror awaiting them all?

The defence of Bodies at Rest :: The movie does have an interesting premise, with three people being caught in a morgue with three masked killers ready to shoot at them, unless the decide the give away the evidence of a murder – it is the kind of thing that keeps us interesting from the beginning itself. As the movie begins, there is a fine shot of the Chinese city that displays the beauty of modernity at night with the lights, and also showing the severity of nature with thunderstorms coming in strong and seemingly without an end – it is more or less an early reflection of what is to follow, as the thriller unfolds. The action scenes in the movie are all believable, as they fight normally, and both the doctor and his assistant while trying to resist, get themselves on the receiving end of the punches and kicks. There are some twists to be revealed in between, and you are in full support of the two protagonists to make it out, while the three classical Aristotelian unities of place, time and action are maintained, with everything happening in the morgue at a night, focusing on one bullet and dead body, having only minor exception.

The claws of flaw :: Bodies at Rest could have done more, and there is absolutely no doubt about it here – there are enough dead bodies in the morgue to assure that, and there is enough going on inside and outside which could have further contributed to increasing the level of this movie. A morgue is always a place of eerie and fear, and with some dead bodies, the same could have been achieved – even the corpse of the girl doesn’t serve as a reason for adding some terror in here. It would have had many places to hide, and even the morgue could have had secrets to be unveiled. The two protagonists, especially the girl could have found more spaces to escape through, as she is quite small. A better connection between the doctor and the main antagonist could have also been nice. The villains often end up being funny, and that is not too good considering the fact that they are wearing the masks, holding the guns, and are ready to murder anyone to take the bullet out of the dead girl’s body.

Peformers of the soul :: Nick Cheung plays the main character here, the one who qualifies as the protagonist from the first scene itself. He is very good, as we see the doctor handling things so well, and he goes through the character nicely. The man who is ready to take a hit to save the forensic evidence has you supporting him throughout the movie. There is also a flashback about him which is discussed here, and it becomes linked to the criminals who have something more to hide than the case of one bullet inside a young girl. Yang Zi is a lovely addition to this movie, and one has to say that she provides some surprises that we love. It has to be said that she fights incredibly well, as she runs away from the criminals, and she brings kind of an escape attack every time here. The three criminals are played very well, and Richie Jen stands out among them as the leader and the focused one. Carlos Chan and Jiayi Feng supports well enough to keep the team going. Shu-liang Ma who plays the security guard gets less to do, but does it okay.

How it finishes :: Bodies at Rest tries to compete with other thrillers which seem to make something out of an idea which feels great from the beginning itself, and the action is well restricted to a single place during one night with all the focus there. It does succeed in doing that up to an extent, but one is not supposed to expect something like The Autopsy of Jane Doe, for this is not that kind of near-perfect thriller. We do have an urge to watch these kinds of movies, with people locked in a morgue full of dead bodies and criminals hunting them, all being something that catches our attention and interest easily. Even though the reviews haven’t been that kind to this one, this Chinese movie is something that will keep you interested throughout the movie, and even before the attack on the morgue – it has that kind of a perfect setting to begin things. Bodies at Rest is only the fourth full-length Chinese movie I watched, and it was surely worth the one and half hours of run-time.

Release date: 16th August 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Starring: Nick Cheung, Richie Jen, Yang Zi, Carlos Chan, Jiayi Feng, Shu-liang Ma

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ente Ummante Peru

What is the movie about? :: Hameed (Tovino Thomas) is left with nobody to call a relative after the death of his father Haider (Renji Panicker). Even though he inherits the big house along with his father’s business as well as a few acres of land, he is lonely – as he has nobody to call his own, he is not able to get married to a respectable family either. He, along with Beeran (Hareesh Perumanna) and Hamsa (Mamukkoya) keeps looking for a suitable alliance for him. He soon falls in love with Sainaba (Saipriya Deva), a girl whose proposal had already come for him, but was rejected by her father because he seemed to be nothing less than an orphan. While he is running his family business and looking for a way to marry Sainaba, he comes across a will left by his father, which points to two women, and one of them could be his mother. He decides that this is his chance to find his family.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: So, the the wives are to be given a share of the property, and there is the need to find both of them to figure out which one his mother is. The two of them are located in Kozhikode and Ponnani in the form of Ramlath (Shanthi Krishna) and Aisha (Urvashi), the former being married with two children and the latter living alone in her house on the side of the lake. But the question remains if this can happen because the truth is still hidden in some of the pages about which there is not much information, even for Haider’s good old friend, Sivankutty (Dileesh Pothan) who seemed to know almost everything about his friend’s past. Can Hameed rise above all these to get what he wants? Will he finally cease being an orphan? Can he finally marry the girl whom he loves? It would take a journey not just through North Kerala, but through North India to make sure about that.

The defence of Ente Ummante Peru :: Unlike the usual stories with the same setting, this one never really does manage to keep selling the same thing again and again. But the tale is kept simple and enjoyable for families. It sticks to the point from the beginning to the end, never really deviating from the path or having moments of dullness – the total movie length makes sure that it stays put. There is nothing exaggerated here with everything going on while staying close to life. The feel-good factor never really falls behind here, and the visuals, wherever it is set, stays good. The emotional side is strong, and by the end, it reaches an even better level. Along with the expected comic side, the use of gallows humour is to be noted – it is the human condition that makes us think on more than one occasion, as the point of life and its meaning is always something to ponder about with death making a grand entry at so many unexpected times.

The claws of flaw :: There is no special ingredient with this one, as we look deep into this tale of search for the main character’s mother. This is the kind of story that we have heard for a long time, with search being for parents or siblings. The children separated from their parents or brothers is an idea which goes older than some of those very old flicks, not just in Malayalam or South India. Even Oru Indian Pranayakatha had a similar search with its main character looking for both parents, after returning from Canada and collecting clues leading to more than one state in India. The songs and music are not really that good. We never really get that much of a romance between the leading characters, and one has to remember that Tovino used to be an expert in that. The journey through Uttar Pradesh could have been more interesting, and the supporting characters could have been closer to our heart that what they seemed to be.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas is the one to keep this movie going with a realistic and lovable performance once again. His last movies Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, Theevandi and Maradona – all were among the strongest flicks of the year. Here, we continue to admire his work, as the emotional state of a man looking for his mother is nicely shown – he is someone who is looking for his last hope in changing things. This is not the first time that he has shown this with the same strength though. Urvashi had a fine role in Aravindante Athidhikal, but here she has a lot more to do, and she has done the same well. It is in no way, an easy character to play this time, as her role becomes the most significant thing in the movie ever since she makes her entrance. We hope that we see her in more movies, and without that many breaks in between.

Further performers of the soul :: Meanwhile, there is a new face in Malayalam movie industry in the form of Saipriya Deva who plays the heroine, and she does that with a lot of charm. It can be seen that the movie doesn’t focus on her at all, as far as the complete plot is considered. We can surely keep her close to our hearts though. Malayalam movie industry does need its heroines more than its heroes, and more skilled actresses will elevate the level of the characters that they play. At the same time, Hareesh Perumanna in charge of the comedy, and he does that with amazing skill. Shanthi Krishna has a smaller, but emotionally strong role – since her return in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, we have all wished to see her on the big screen very often. Mamukkoya and Siddique got the kind of roles which they have done before, and brings no challenge to them, while Dileesh Pothan makes a short, but nice appearance of significance.

How it finishes :: There are four Malayalam movies releasing in the beginning of Christmas vacation, and this is just one of them. Unlike the others, this movie seems to have made no big claim, and therefore the expectations have been kept low. We know what expectations could do to a movie like Odiyan, and how the low expectations for DC movies did help Aquaman in the early stages. Ente Ummante Peru brings the surprise not only due to the lower expectations, but also with how it remains so simple and yet so effective at the same time. It is one movie which possesses and displays the true spirit of Christmas season, more than anything else. Therefore, choosing Ente Ummante Peru over most of the other movies won’t be that difficult a job. The idea of feeling happy and leaving the theatre with a smile on one’s face never has a substitute, especially when with family.

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Jose Sebastian
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Saipriya Deva, Urvashi, Shanthi Krishna, Hareesh Perumanna, Dileesh Pothan, Mamukkoya, Siddique

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vimaanam

What is the movie about? :: Venkateswaran a.k.a. Venkidi (Prithviraj Sukumaran), a man with hearing problems, is the latest recipient of Padma Bhushan for his grand achievements in the field of Aeronautics. But it turns out that he has a past which is deeply set in emotions. As he travels back to his hometown in Kerala from Delhi despite the warnings of his good friend Elias (Major Ravi), his flashback is revealed. It goes back to that time when he was going through his school days. From then, there was only one thing which interested him, and it was all about flying. His desire to fly got him to a bigger need, to build an airplane, inspired by Roger’s (Alencier Ley Lopez) tales about how the first flying airplane was invented. He grew up dreaming about the same, and not being interested in studies much, despite being an excellent student. There is someone who had supported him all the time, and continued to do so; that would be Janaki (Durga Krishna), his childhood friend who plans to join MBBS – they have been in love for longer than they can remember.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As Venkidi is half-Christian and half-Hindu, the possibility of their love story becoming something that would be approved at Janaki’s home, is very less, despite him following the same Hindu traditions. But their love continues to grow, and causing trouble for the romance is Anand (Saiju Kurup) to whom Janaki’s father hopes to marry her off, as his family is rich and settled in Singapore. Meanwhile, with the help of Janaki, Roger and his favourite uncle (Sudheer Karamana), Venkidi keeps trying to fly his new machines, none of which manage to rise from the floor. The whole village makes fun of his attempts, but he is not the kind of person who would back down. During difficult times, Venkidi and Roger, with the help of Janaki, steals an engine, which does help them to fly, but flying won’t be enough to get the lovers together in a society which looks for more than just that.

The defence of Vimaanam :: The movie tries to be another inspirational movie in Malayalam, and adds to that long list of similar movies which have tried to do the same, a few being Mili, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, Rani Padmini, Udaharanam Sujatha, My God and Aby. Yes, the inspiration to achieve the dreams which have been there for long, is right there. It achieves the same, and makes one feel the power of dreams, not just with the dream of the protagonist, but with that of a shared dream, which gets its significance by the end – as some people would say, that one’s dream is not his or her alone, as it is shared by all those who are beloved. The love story scores more due to the songs, as this flick undoubtedly has some delightful songs, as do its romantic competitor, Mayaanadhi. Well, this one uses subtitles whether it is English or Hindi, and it is something which people related to Mayaanadhi couldn’t do for Tamil. The visuals are also good, and the setting of this movie is something which is capable of achieving a lot more than what we can see on the big screen.

The claws of flaw :: We can see that a simple tale based on real-life people has been exaggerated a lot rather than keeping the simplicity in place. Vineeth Sreenivasan starrer Aby, which released in February this year also dealt with the same thing, about its protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly, fighting against all odds. A number of people might have felt that this is more of a repetition, with bigger budget, and more familiar cast. But the fact remains that Aby was a much simpler story, and it had some light moments of fun to go with it; this one lacks the same. You remember the Jomonte Suvisheshangal becoming the repetition of Jacobinte Swargarajyam, and the same is the case here, causing Vimaanam not to go that high as it could have. The romantic side of this movie, and the incidents surrounding the same, are also the same old wine in that bottle which was available in the market from February itself. There is absolutely no attempt to make this one special, even there were so many chances in there, and the result is a certain predictability with drag in between.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with more here, as we see him in another avatar, unlike his recent adventures of the year, Ezra, Tiyaan and Adam Joan. Among the young stars, he has been the one with the most variety in his roles, and with Vimaanam, there is nothing there to compared with his previous roles of 2017. Vimaanam‘s role is rather easy for him, compared to the other three characters which he had played in the year, which included a troubled man tackling a Jewish creature of pure darkness, a former gangster turning into a mystic and a father hoping to find his kidnapped daughter who might be in the hands of Satan worshipers – even the movie before that, Oozham had him seeking vengeance; in comparison, this one brings no challenge to him. As he has played character from real life with charm, significant examples being Celluloid and Ennu Ninte Moideen, you know what to expect when he is out there.

Further performers of the soul :: When we look at Aby and this movie, we keep looking for something new, and that new element is Durga Krishna, the debutante actress who brings cuteness and energy to the flick, in a performance which is certain to bring her more roles in the future. The character might feel single-dimensional, and cent percent predictable in a world itself having no surprises, but her work makes the same work for the audience. Alencier Ley Lopez is certainly the man to look out for in the movie, as this character seems to be so well suited for him. Sudheer Karamana is not far behind in that case either, for he was against flight in Aby, but is with all support for his favourite boy’s flight in this one. Eric Zachariah who plays Prithviraj’s childhood has one delightful performance for us, which would prepare us for what is to follow, a wonderful child actor there. Anarkali Marikar has a smaller role, but it is nice to have her there after Aanandam. Lena and Saiju Kurup are good as usual.

How it finishes :: Vimaanam is a movie which was much talked about for a long time. Even as Aby had overtaken the movie with its own protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly like Jacobinte Swargarajyam did before Jomonte Suvisheshangal, this one was something which kept the audience’s interest alive due to the presence of Prithviraj Sukumaran in a different look. But you will find that even with its cliched characters and melodrama, Vimaanam has managed to fly, and battle Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu 2 which has been the youth favourite even before it had released, and even with Mayaanadhi, Masterpiece and Aana Alaralodalaral there with Tiger Zinda Hai, this flight is also catching our attention. It is more or less a reflection of the noble intentions of a movie which is hoping to inspire more and more dreams in a world of chaos. Vimaanam might be the one right family movie for Christmas, catering to the needs of the full family outing, unlike the rest of the movies which are focusing on selections.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Pradeep M Nair
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Durga Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Lena, Sudheer Karamana, Saiju Kurup, P. Balachandran, Anarkali Marikar, Major Ravi, Nandhu, Master Eric Zachariah, Ashokan, Tesni Khan, Liya Anu Varghese, Baby Durga Premjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Indian Pranaya Katha

oruindianpranayakatha (1)

An Indian Love Story :: Now, that is the direct Malayalam to English translation of the title of this movie, but let it not make you think about this as a romantic love story full of melodious songs and a hero and heroine looking at each other, the sky, the beach, or the river. This is partially a political satire and otherwise a drama concerning family relations. Coming from the director who never disappoints us (except for may be No. 1 Snehatheeram Banglore North), as the man with such a fine record, this movie was always going to be watchable whatever be the content, and even as it turned out to be kind of usual, this movie also doesn’t disappoint (yes, I do think well of his last venture Puthiya Theerangal too). His best of this century was Manassinakkare, and before that we know it has always been NadodikkattuOru Indian Pranaya Katha fits among the good movies, not at the higher level though. But be assured that the love between the lead pair happens just because the movie ends, and that is where the romance should begin.

What is it about? :: Ayamanam Sidharthan (Fahad Fazil) is the leader of the local youth wing of a party who hopes to become an M.L.A. soon by being the candidate in the upcoming by-election. He is supported by Uthup Vallikkadan (Innocent) who is the district head of the party always making an attempt to show his face on television. But his hopes are crashed when the national leaders choose another person who has no political background to contest in the elections instead of him, just because she is the daughter of a big shot politician. As Sidharthan is fed up and decides to take a break, he comes across Irene Gardner (Amala Paul) from Canada who is attempting to shoot a documentary and needs someone to help her, for which she can provide rupees two thousand per day. He feels that this could be a nice opportunity for him to keep away from politics as well as gain some much needed money, and he takes that offer. But he realizes that there is something about her that is much more than what meets the eye. So why is Irene in India and what is she looking for, and how can our hero help her? There remain the questions.

The defence of Oru Indian Pranaya Katha :: The movie has a wonderful first half, and it is a gem that shines and takes all the claps with grace. There are lots of moments of fun, and in each of them, Fahadh Faasil scores, and Innocent provides good support. There is the humble and yet beautiful beginning to the story which is carried on towards the interval. The moment when the hero takes up the job for the heroine is hilarious, and most of the moments involving politics are times of laughter. It remains clean throughout the movie, and there are no unnecessary vulgar jokes which has been plaguing Malayalam movie industry and keeping the audience away. There is basically nothing which is bad for kids, and there is no stupid romance getting in the way of the movie flow. There was obviously the chance for bad jokes on many occasions, and at a time when even movies like Sringaravelan become family entertainers, this effort to keep the dirty things away has to be appreciated. To add to it, the goodness and social message that the movie delivers is worth some applause.

Claws of flaw :: The movie fails to keep the momentum going in the second half, and right after the first half, the world starts twisting and breaking apart. Even as the latter half also has some good jokes, it seems to suffer from a big curse which hinders its movement, and it drags and gets converted into a family drama from the political satire which it was in the first half. There is lot of emotional undercurrents going on, and none of them romantic in character. The leading lady’s search for her roots lacks in both strength and innovation and the flashback story is too much off the dusty old books. The songs stay below average, and there is nothing that can pounce in our hearts. There is a void left in our desire to follow the satirical side, and our need for things which are left behind can be felt by the end of the movie. It has a happy and a righteous ending for sure, but surely not an effective one. The people who are looking for the romantic side will be disappointed, as the love between the leading characters blossoms only in the last few moments of the movie, or rather the last few seconds before the movie ends.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Sathyan Anthikkad’s style rescues another movie yet again. But Fahadh Faasil is the man who leads the show yet again, just like he did in North 24 Kaatham without even speaking much, and in Amen with simplicity. He has portrayed a different character yet again, and his comic side in this movie is something that takes over. He once again transforms to a character who rules the first half of the movie and stays good in the second half. Innocent’s support is as good as usual, and there is no boring moment when he is around. Amala Paul looks even better than ever in this movie, and it is good to see that her presence is there right from the moment she is introduced. Her character seems to have been rightly portrayed, right from the moment she appears with a video camera in an orphanage. Her characteristics of a lady searching roots as well as a fun loving girl are rightly captured and reflected to the audience. Shafna and Lakshmi Gopalaswamy are also there with significant roles which catches attention, but the latter could have had more screen time.

Soul exploration :: The movie does leave us with many messages, one of them being the core of them all, not to take politics as a job, but as a means to serve people along with working. The real ambition is to be serving people rather than to be at the top, but that will rather be a need. Well, ambition is the root of all evil, and as Doctor Faustus did prove long ago as in the lives of Lucifer and Mephistopheles, there is nothing like ambition that makes a man evil. The leading characters do undergo significant changes in their journey, but not something as huge as North 24 Kaatham, as they were both this good right from the beginning to the end. Even as a movie which is considered as a romantic comedy, there is no glorification of romance or similar stuff, and that is another bonus. The useless nature of exaggerated love is made known to us throughout the movie, and the stress is more on family values, along with helping others at the same time. The movie also stresses on the importance of roots and the need to know them thoroughly. Whatever be the situation, or however the world changes, there is nothing like our parents, as the movie shows.

How it finishes :: When the hero says “There is beef in the scene” – that was a hilarious moment, and so was the dialogues in the library – the movie drops such laughter bombs regularly to keep the movie in the hunt in a weekend powered by two other big releases, Jeethu Joseph’s Mohanlal starrer Dryshyam and Lal Jose’s Dileep starrer Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal along with the Bollywood’s own Dhoom 3 and Hollywood’s only release Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. There is also the Tamil movie Biriyani, which means that there is a lot going on in the theatres this weekend – I have already booked tickets for Dryshyam, and I am looking forward to watching Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal on the same day. There is a lot to be done for me this Christmas, that is for sure, and as far as Oru Indian Pranaya Katha is concerned, it is a good choice for a family outing, and there is not much rush for it due to the less hype – you can go for it soon enough. Forgive the movie for its weaknesses in the second half, and do give it a chance to be that love story that scores without that much of romance. This is a small movie of goodness, that can do with a lot of support from the audience.

Release date: 20th December 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Amala Paul, Innocent, Shafna, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Krishna Prabha, Muthumani

oruindianpranayakatha copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.