Sunny

What is the movie about? :: Sunny Varkey (Jayasurya) has finally returned home from Dubai after a long time with his Logistics business failing, and these are the troubling times of COVID-19 pandemic. He used to want to become a successful musician, but left that idea much earlier. He gets a quarantine spot in Grand Hyatt Residency in Bolgatty Island, Cochin, and gets to be all alone there. SI Sadashivan Nair (Vijayaraghavan) is the police officer who is in charge of looking out for the people in quarantine there, and he keeps an eye on Sunny. He feels lonely, and is uneasy because he is not able to get any more alcohol, with the hotel changing its policies as people were creating nuisance after being drunk. Dr Erali (Innocent) tries to help him with his withdrawal symptoms and a stage of depression. Adithi (Shritha Sivadas) is in quarantine in the room above him, and they also have regular talks.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Nimmi (Shritha Sivadas) had divorced Sunny because he had an affair which he had confessed, much to her dismay. Sunny is as much disappointed about this, as he has been with his financial affairs. She is also pregnant, and it was for the second time, after their child had died a few hours after birth. He has to pay back a lot of money, as a result of his best friend making him an investment which he now regrets. Nimmi no longer wants to do anything with him anymore, and neither does his former lover Dr Anuradha (Mamta Mohandas). It also seems that some of the passengers in his flight were COVID-19 positive, and there is a chance that he might also be in trouble. But he moves on with his lonely life, which doesn’t seem to have much left for him. Yet, it is still to found if there is something more than what meets the eye. With COVID-19 around, you never know.

The defence of Sunny :: Sunny is quite a small movie when we consider its limited setting within a room. Among the classical unities of Aristotle, unity of place and action are maintained, and with a shorter quarantine, all of them could have been there. The setting is really nice, and it is good to see this particular world where parts of one’s life is revealed. There is a whole grand episode of life which is revealed here through small moments. The past, present and future gets intertwined in these incidents which occur in the grand quarantine centre. There is the usual life being reflected here, and the protagonist is very much human, trying to survive in a world which has descended into chaos for him. It shows the life of a depressed man in quarantine really well, and never does it lags behind in doing the same. These are indeed good times for emotional films, as we know what the COVID-19 affected world has come to. Amazon Prime Video has the right films for the same too.

The claws of flaw :: Sunny doesn’t live much beyond the scope here, and it is indeed predictable. A lot of things that we see here, follow the expected routine, with not many surprises to come around. The movie also maintains its slow pace throughout its run, and it is also something which doesn’t come as a surprise when we look at this particular world. It should have had more, even with life being restricted to a room – there is a lot more to be shown with the scenery and the world around, as well as what is inside. It could have also had more events for the main character, as being in quarantine in such a grand space always has more to be added – it is not like being locked in a small room. There could have been more from other characters, even with their faces not shown, as some of them are not really there, exploring their best possibilities. We wished for the sun to shine brighter with Sunny, even though we are okay with what we have around here.

Performers of the soul :: Sunny is a fully Jayasurya movie, as one would expect it to be, from the trailer, and also with the talks regarding the same. There are only a few others who have faces at least inside their masks, or have part of their faces revealed in one way or the other. This is also Jayasurya’s 100th film, and might be his best film to come to Amazon Prime Video. He has come up with a fantastic performance, as a man who doesn’t have any hope in life, and as the only one character which truly performs on the screen, has the whole canvas to himself – we can do nothing more than just applaud the same. We see different phases of his life in the quarantine room itself, and this is a character that shows a certain amount of evolution, which he reflects really well. There is not that much of a challenge provided here for him, but there is indeed something.

Further performers of the soul :: The other characters are introduced through their voices, as they call the main character or sometimes the other way around. There is something to be revealed from each character whom we identify through their voices. Some of the characters have part of their faces being shown, and the voices are those which we identify with ease, especially that of Innocent, Aju Varghese and Vijayaraghavan. They are all part of the tale, even though we don’t see them. All these phone calls play significant roles to keep the film going forward. It is nice to see people like Shritha Sivadas whom we have loved for her early works, and had gone missing for some time. Mamta Mohandas’ voice is heard for much shorter time than we would have expected.

How it finishes :: Sunny nicely sets itself during the COVID-19 and quarantine times, and has the same feeling running through it. There is the loneliness of a quarantine that runs through it, and as we know that we are going to live with COVID-19 with more and more waves supposed to come at some point, this one is closer to reality than one might think. As a movie which has only one face completely shown, and with one person having the chance to come up with all the performance. This is basically the one man film that we don’t usually see around, and it is one risk which has been taken on with success. Amazon Prime has already provided some fine experiences during the Corona virus times, and this one goes the divergent way with ease. There is always more about smaller films like these than what meets the eye, and this one is also that drama which goes feel-good and does that with effectiveness.

Release date: 23rd September 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Mamta Mohandas, Vijayaraghavan, Innocent, Vijay Babu, Shritha Sivadas, Aju Varghese, Sivada Nair, Purnima Krishnan, Binoy KG

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aarkkariyam

What is the movie about? :: Ittyavira (Biju Menon) is a retired mathematics teacher who is spending his time alone in a village in the district of Kottayam. At the same time, his daughter Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) and her second husband Roy (Sharafudheen) are living in Andheri, Mumbai, and are planning to come back to Kerala after some time, despite the COVID-19 restrictions being further imposed everywhere. The coming of Corona has kept all of them in their own space, without much contact with outside world, and the spread of Corona virus had also brought some financial crisis to Roy and Shirley. The former’s business was already failing and there is no success in mutual fund either. The two manage to come all the way to Kerala to Shirley’s hometown and meet Ittyvira, who is really happy to see them. But they are also not able to meet their daughter, as the borders are closed. They apply for permission, but soon, a nation-wide lock-down is imposed, and they are all stuck there in their home in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The lock-down changes their lives by a long way, and the restrictions reach their place too. The already interior home now feels even more away from civilization. This is the time when people were only beginning to understand the COVID-19 situation, and everyone was expecting all these problems to be solved as the virus would eradicated in the end of lock-down. One of the consignments of Roy is now stuck with the customs, and without that, there is nothing much that can be done. Now, the only way to get some quick money so that they can pay back Vyshak (Saiju Kurup) is by selling the ancestral lands, and it is Ittyvira who provides them that idea. But there are some complications related to the same, as there seems to be some secrets from the past which need to be taken care of. Roy begins to feel uncomfortable about the same, but there is nothing that he can do, other than worry about the same.

The defence of Aarkkariyam :: Aarkkariyam would seem to be a usual film in a village setting, but it is surely more than that – we get the idea only later though. Every moment in this movie nicely contributes to keep it going, and it is not that long either with each second in there used in an interesting manner. It does have that fine punch at the interval, something that makes the film take another route from the second half. The title itself is a worthy one here, as we keep wondering who all knows about a number of things including a sinister event and a person who was involved in the same. The performance of the three main characters elevates the film further, and the supporting cast is also interesting. The surroundings are nicely created, and the feeling of Pala-Kanjirappilly area is given with the rural touch everywhere, from the people to the environment. The film also focuses on the different opinions that different people would have about one person, and how polarized the same happens to be – how one can pretend to be good among the common people.

The claws of flaw :: Aarkkariyam is not the kind of movie which you would expect, as it has a certain deviation in store there. It is also slow at times, and there are lots of moments when nothing happens, even though they do contribute to the mood. There is also the presence of some usual cliché stuff here, but the same will go on and pass. Even if it feels like family drama, it doesn’t suit into that genre completely, and one would have doubt about the kind of audience it is actually looking for – even though we can keep it for the common audience in general. A little bit more of the moments in Mumbai and their return to hometown as well as a few twists in between would have helped more, even if it would deviate further away from the genre. It was an opportunity for something more, and there was the chance to be a classic, but the film manages to keep it going straight and without adding any special ingredient into it – maybe because there was the feeling that it was not needed, like Kungfu Panda would agree.

The performers of the soul :: This movie, as expected has Biju Menon with a performance to remember, and that too with a different kind of work. He has embraced this role like Vijayaraghavan did, as he moved from the usual kind of hero to the senior roles. Much elder to Biju Menon, he would be the one we would expect in a role like this, something which he has done in earlier films, but not as the protagonist like we see here. We know that other older superstars are still playing the characters of lower age group, but Biju Menon has had the courage to take it to the next level. If we remember his last few films, we will see that this difference in looks has come unexpected, and by a long way. Even as everything is kept simple about the character, there is always something to remember with this act. There are also those simple dialogues will stay, and sometimes come back – it is one realistic performance to remember as we look at it.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is indeed about Biju Menon, but others do play their part too. Parvathy Thiruvothu once again has a role to remember, as she blends in here nicely, just like she has done so many times with ease not limited to her most appreciated performances in Uyare, Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. She does get pushed to the background though, as the film progresses. It is also nice to see Sharafudheen in a serious role this time. We have been so much used to see him in those comic roles, except for that villainy in Varathan and the psychotic side in Anjaam Pathira, but those were kind of exaggerated when we have a look back – this is really a fine change here from the early comic side in Premam and the same later in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. The two match with their performances, and the cast has worked really well. Saiju Kurup plays the supporting role in the usual kind of way, but could have been part of more of the action too. Shoba Mohan is the only person here who gives the feeling that we have seen the person before.

How it finishes :: The first movie directed by cinematographer Sanu John Varghese is not something that we can leave behind. This is the kind of movie which I would have surely watched in the theatre early enough, if there was no COVID-19. It was a good decision to release this one on Amazon Prime Video along with Neestream, Roots Video and Cave OTT platforms because most of us were always going to watch it on Prime Video only – it is still difficult to find the movie there because of the spelling required to be exactly as it is when searching, and surprisingly it is also not on the list of the new film releases on Amazon. But we do get to it anyway, and during this time of lock-down and triple lock-down in Kerala, this is the kind of movie that reminds us of last year’s lock-down exactly as it is, and it is more or less a realistic experience that we go through – the kind which we had seen in Joji, and also in Nayattu even though this one keeps the thriller side at a distance.

Release date: 1st April 2021 (Theatre), 19th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video, Neestream, Roots Video, Cave)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Sanu John Varghese
Starring: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen, Arya Salim, Ganga G Nair, Saiju Kurup, Thejaswi Praveen, Shoba Mohan, Jacob George, Pramod Veliyanad

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Joji

What is the movie about? :: Joji Panachel (Fahadh Faasil) is the youngest son of Panachel family, an engineering drop-out who has now failed in his latest attempt in the tourism field due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Living somewhere in the isolated part of the highlands, where his father Kuttappan PK (Sunny PN) owns many acres of land around their house, Joji condemns the fact that everyone considers him as a failure. Kuttappan’s other two sons Jomon Panachel (Baburaj) and Jaison Panachel (Joji Mundakayam) fear him as much as Joji does, and the terrifying head of the family is ruthless in his attitude towards his family members. He keeps all the money to himself, and the sons are ever dependent on him. Jaison and his wife Bincy Jaison (Unnimaya Prasad) are highly obedient towards him, while Jomon also has his son Popy Panachel (Alister Alex) living with him after just recently completing the procedures of his divorce.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is a world where Kuttappan maintains full control, and Jomon is a son who seems to be becoming just like his father. Joji is upset about nothing positive happening in his life, while Popy is a hopeless young boy himself. Bincy also has no hope for future, while her husband the son in the middle, Jaison has no courage to do anything that could change the sequence of events for everyone in the family. But when Kuttappan has a stroke while once again trying to show his strength in front of everyone else, the regular sequence of events is disturbed. The doctors and most family members feel that there is no comeback for him, and even the local priest Fr Kevin (Basil Joseph) believes that now only prayers can save him. But to everyone’s surprise, the 74 year old man survives death and comes back to them in a wheelchair. The fear factor is back, but now there is a chance for everyone to have a deviation here.

The defence of Joji :: Joji thrives on the realistic feeling that it generates with the thrills, something which Dileesh Pothan carries over from Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, with setting coming back to the highlands yet again. The time, from a Google search, the location seems to be more Kottayam than Idukki, and the atmosphere here is nicely set – could even serve as a lesson for anyone who makes a film based on the Koodathayi cyanide murders. This kind of a world is something that could take Malayalam cinema further, especially considering the fact that this flick is no longer limited to the local theatres, but gracing many nations of the world. The build-up is really nice, even though a little bit slow, and it has us expecting a lot to follow, considering the fact that a good number of main characters have certain secret motives. The film does make us remain suspicious at all times, even though some of those doubts are really without any reason. The camera work is excellent, and you also get to see some spectacular shots.

The claws of flaw :: The ending here is not that effective, and there we can see a big opportunity gone missing in a movie which was going to be far more efficient in divergence. One would expect one master twist in the end, but the final moments were just predictable and without the strength that such a movie needed to have. Seeing a top quality psychopath running out of ideas, and nobody stepping into take his place creates a struggle in the end. Even though there is the talk of this being an adaptation from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, one would find that to be an unnecessary addition to the details about the movie, because the protagonist whom we see here is none like that particular character. I wouldn’t connect that Elizabethan age drama to this one because it feels like not doing justice to both – this one works separately, and could have achieved more with this premise. Also, the female character representation is too low here.

The performers of the soul :: Just like the earlier Dileesh Pothan movies which had Fahadh Faasil as the main character, this one also depends on him to bring the magic, which he does with a certain amount of ease, as he has done before in multiple occasions as part of many different movies. We can also find traces of what was seen in Kumbalangi Nights with his psychotic character that brought the twist in the end. That was a movie which should have been sent for the Oscars, and Fahadh has another performance here that follows the much appreciated self-proclaimed hero of Kumbalangi. Unnimaya Prasad is also here doing a really interesting character, someone who seems to have hidden dark shades, even though the same is not explored further. An opportunity to bring the Macbeth element with a guilt-filled Lady Macbeth is not taken here, against expectations. We had seen her most memorable role in Anjaam Paathira, and this is the next most memorable thing.

Further performers of the soul :: Baburaj’s performance in this movie serves as a big boost too, as he excels in the serious as well as the funny moments. In the end, we feel the character as a person who holds on to his own values, and the same differentiates him from others, even though he is still an alcoholic with not control over his tongue – a character nicely executed. Shammi Thilakan’s character also catches our attention, and it is also as realistic a character as we can get. Sunny PN who plays the controlling father character will also have our attention from the beginning itself. Basil Joseph’s role of the priest is a welcome addition too, even though it doesn’t directly affect the storyline. It is to be noted that the director of movies like Kunjiramayanam and Godha has played a good number of interesting roles until now. The lesser characters are also nicely added to the film, as we see them contributing really well in what seems to be nice roles for them.

How it finishes :: During the continuing time of COVID-19 pandemic, this movie has released in Amazon Prime Video, and that has been a nice idea indeed, at least for most of us who haven’t really started visiting theatres again as the cases of infections are still going up. This one is another winner for Dileesh Pothan as a director, as he scored three out of three with simple, realistic movies. I would place this movie between Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, better than the latter, but not that much of an interesting thing as the former. It seems that a pandemic like this version of mutating Corona virus has given us more thriller movies than those films with hope which were filling up the theatres before we went into that lock-down, an example being seen in Kilometers and Kilometers starring Tovino Thomas which served as a light-hearted feel-good film. We are surrounded by horror and suspense, and it is a fine change.

Release date: 7th April 2021
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Unnimaya Prasad, Baburaj, Basil Joseph, Shammi Thilakan, Joji Mundakayam, Sunny PN, Alister Alex, Renjith Rajan, Dhaneesh A Balan, Renjith Gopali

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Platform

Vampire Owl: Have you walked through the platforms?

Vampire Bat: Which one are you talking about?

Vampire Owl: The moving platforms which have been introduced inside the castle.

Vampire Bat: Now we vampires have moving platforms? Why?

Vampire Owl: Come on. This is supposed to a haunted castle with many vampires. Such attractions are supposed to be there.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that Uncle Dracula is planning to make Hotel Transylvania, a five star hotel with special attractions.

Vampire Owl: No, the castle a historical place. We can only add some attractions which supports its status as the monument.

Vampire Bat: They are going to destroy another historical monument. Do the vampire elders know about this?

Vampire Owl: They will know when the platforms are introduced. We are giving them a sweet little surprise.

Vampire Bat: They are so old that such a shocking surprise can make them former elders, and bury them in the vampire underworld.

[Gets a mango cake and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: Goreng (Ivan Massague) wakes up in a concrete room with another man on the bed opposite to his, and Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) is a man who seems to have different opinions on world compared to him. The room is marked by the number 48, and there is a hole in the centre through which he is able to look at a large number of similar rooms going up and also going down towards infinity. Trimagasi explains that they are in a tower-style building that goes a long way to the higher and lower levels, at which food is delivered through a platform that travels from the top, stopping for a fixed period on each floor – each floor below gets only the left over of what the higher floors eat, and the amount of food decreases as each floor passes. If they try to keep some food with them for later use, the room gets heated or cooled towards the extreme ends until the food is thrown down. Each month, the imprisoned people are randomly reassigned to a new level and it seems to happen randomly.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The prisoners at the building were allowed to take one item which they really loved, or wanted to keep, into this building, and Goreng had taken a copy of Don Quixote, one of the best known and the most influential novels in Spanish, something which has been an inspiration and part of syllabus in many colleges all around the world teaching English Language and Literature course. One day, a young woman named Miharu (Alexandra Masangkay) rides down on the platform with food, and Trimagasi tells Goreng that she goes down the hole every month searching for her lost child. Goreng sees that she is being attacked by two men, but is relieved to see that she manages to kill both of them using a knife she had with her, and she continues to go down with the food, seemingly searching for the child that she needed to find.

And what is to follow here as time passed in the pit? :: While Goreng had volunteered to spend six months in what was known as the Vertical Self-Management Center to earn a special diploma, Trimagasi is someone who is serving a one year sentence for manslaughter, and he is surprised to see that someone would volunteer to be part of such a programme just for earning a diploma degree. Even though Trimagasi is not someone who seems to be so friendly, the two somehow manages to be pretty good friends, but only until they are transferred to the next cell, which is numbered 171, a place which is on the lower side, and would get none of the food, because 170 levels above and 340 people in there would need a lot more than what is moved on a platform. So, this is up to the two friends to figure out how to survive in this terrifying situation with no food. Will they find a way to survive until the next change to a better space, or will they end up killing and eating one another? Os is there a way to go to another room or escape from this experiment?

The defence of The Platform :: There are some relevant ideas being discussed in this movie, some directly, and most them indirectly. There is some violence, and it is shown as part of human need, and we also have survival of the fittest, with the certain support of luck, as the residents of this building shows life itself in another way, but the core remains the same. There is a display of how higher social order, or people of a better economic status will look at others, even those who were at their same status earlier. The idea at the base goes like this – if you only take what you need, there will be enough for everyone else; it thrives on the need rather than the want, because the desire for more than you need is the root of all evil. It is not just the case of food, but also of other basic needs like clothing and water among others. Along with food, the one thing that people have more than they need is surely clothes, and water is the one thing which is wasted the most. The movie nicely touches these elements with action and thrills to go with them, and the performances from everyone is good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been more accurate with how it presented its ideas, because some are being lost here. There are also some repetitions, even when considering the fact that this is a movie which is just over one and half hours in total run-time. It is also to be noted that more elements could have been included in this movie in that run-time itself, or by adding a few more minutes, because the movie remains a short one considering the idea which it is trying to convey to the audience of our times. The characters could have also been more interesting, and the ambiguity regarding what was happening above could have been removed, especially with one of the people in the office also becoming a prisoner. The movie is also pretty much violent, and often makes some people feel disgust and shock – this is not really a movie for everyone, as the film doesn’t choose to go through that safe path to bring in the audience, making this a much lesser known Spanish flick.

How it finishes :: As The Platform asks some questions relevant during the time of Corona Virus, with COVID-19 spreading throughout the globe, and it is the time to help others, we cannot deny its significance against a world of chaos as well as selfishness. With only a few main characters, the movie manages to bring its point during the season of crisis, even though it did release much earlier, but not many people had heard about it then. It is the kind of movie which will come to the light during different types of similar problems in the world, and it can be considered as a movie standing on its own, with similarities more with its other elements, and not with its core idea. The Platform is the movie that you need to watch during the season of quarantines, isolation and lock-downs, so that as a part of humanity, you can ponder over whatever is happening in a world which has been taught to be the fittest to survive in a cruel world full of inherent evil that William Golding talked about in his novel, the much studied Lord of the Flies. You can also watch another similar lock-down social experiment with The Belko Experiment.

Release date: 6th March 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Starring: Ivan Massague, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale Coka, Alexandra Masangkay

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.