Red Notice

Vampire Owl: I am also sending a bloody notice.

Vampire Bat: A red notice doesn’t really mean that it is bloody.

Vampire Owl: A thing of red colour can always have blood added to it.

Vampire Bat: It is supposed to be an international alert circulated by Interpol.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about any notice, which is red in colour.

Vampire Bat: It is still with information about crimes, criminals and threats.

Vampire Owl: The vampire blood moon event also has a red notice.

Vampire Bat: It is not a red notice. It is pasted with red colour directed on it.

Vampire Owl: That still makes it a notice in red.

Vampire Bat: Now, you are clearly talking like a zombie without brain.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: The tale of the Roman general Mark Antony, who fell in love with the enchanting Egyptian queen, Cleopatra is well known, as the two had taken their own lives instead of being defeated and captured, thus forced to live without each other and their world. gifts He had gifted Cleopatra three jeweled eggs as a wedding gift symbolizing their love. The eggs are lost until two are found by a farmer near Cairo in 1907, but there is still no information about the last egg. In the present, Special Agent John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), is working as a criminal profiler for the FBI. He is assigned to help Interpol agent Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya) in investigating the possible theft of one of the eggs at Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. The head of the security in the museum feels that the concern is useless, as the security there is too heavy for anyone to make an impact. But John proves the egg there is not real, and it has been forged. The security seals all doors, but Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) manages to get out of the room.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Despite all the chasing which follows, Nolan is finally captured by John in Bali, with clues from another art thief. But soon, it turns out that the other thief had other plans – the original egg has been replaced once again, and has John presented as the one who is behind all of these, with an eight million transferred to his account, and disguising as FBI office. Urvashi who considers herself to be too smart, is easily fooled by this, and has him taken to the Russian prison where Nolan was already imprisoned. In the prison, the other art thief Sarah Black, known to most people as The Bishop (Gal Gadot) meets them, and her offer to steal the second egg and find the third egg is declined by Nolan. The two becomes determined to get to the second egg before she does, and plans an escape, which is successful, more due to luck than anything else. When the two of them reach the location of the second egg, which is the home of an arms dealer, they also find Sarah there. Now how will the race to the eggs of Cleopatra go, and who will have the final laugh?

The defence of Red Notice :: If looked close, Red Notice is the kind of fun-packed entertainer that you watch on the big screen without thinking much about it. The film does maintain the whole thing where it should be, and mostly manages not to overdo the same. It focuses on the major things, and doesn’t make things complicated at any point, making sure that anyone can watch this film at any point of time, without the stress, and without having to think too much. The straight-forward action remains strong at all times. You get to see some big fights on many occasions, and the Gal Gadot action sequences are among the best of them. Everyone seems to get an equal dose of action scenes to perform too. The heist scene is also interesting, even though there could have been more of similar moments. The visuals of different places at different parts of the world are also stunning. We get to see different cities of different countries with all the charm that they have, and the visual beauty has been maintained until the very last scene of the movie.

The claws of flaw :: Red Notice is surely not a movie which tries hard enough to go out of the usual, and nothing innovative or special can be seen here. We have the usual action going on as the main character go on the heist. The major characters could have also been established better – maybe except for the Ryan Reynolds’ character, which seems to be there for one purpose, and the backstory is also somewhat rightly told. It could have also had more heist sequences with some smarter moments added to it, as well as more outdoor fighting sequences to get better pictures of the cities where the protagonist go. The humour is only somewhat working, and it is unlike the usual works featuring the main characters. It seems that Hollywood is also somewhat running out of ideas as far as innovation is concerned, and holding itself very high over the highly talentless and brainless list in Bollywood is not really an achievement. There is surely the need to try harder, get rid of the silly jokes and fights, to keep the good ones, and add better creative imagination.

The performers of the soul :: Dwayne Johnson a.k.a. The Rock gets things going strong and entertaining as usual. There is almost no movie where you don’t expect him to do what he has been doing the best in style – we remember what he has been doing with WWE too, and he never lags with entertaining the viewers. Whether it is Jumanji, Hercules, Journey to the Mysterious Island, Central Intelligence, Hobbs and Shaw or the whole of the later Fast and Furious franchise, we know what he is capable of, and how well he has been doing the same. There is no doubt about him achieving the same here too. Yet, one has the feeling that this had to be more focused on him rather than dividing this between all of them. Ryan Reynolds do a similar thing like he has been doing in Deadpool and its sequel – even though the humour is not that dark here, there is nothing that divergent in this character either, which he seems to have no problem playing. Gal Gadot is once again the wonder woman here, and she has a spear in one battle here too. She does a great job in a character which required more of a backstory. Then there is Ritu Arya who plays the cop who always losses, but she does that really well.

How it finishes :: The fact that Red Notice works with its entertainment is something to be happy about, but at the same time, one has to remember that Hollywood cannot go on with movies like these, without using more cerebral activity with innovative ideas. The regional movie industries are thinking more these days, and Red Notice is not of that much power to be standing tall against some original ideas which are not short of entertainment either. When you are looking for this kind of fun which takes over everything else, this is the movie for you – it doesn’t come up with the overdose of the same at any point, and hesitates to go the completely mindless Bollywood way. Red Notice is the kind of movie which will keep you interested and engaged, even without having that much of a new story to provide. You can watch it, be entertained, and then leave it behind. After all, you know that whenever the Rock is around, you cannot be disappointed – ask the WWE fans, and they will tell you the rest, whether your favourite wrestler is the Undertaker, Randy Orton, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, or anyone around.

Release date: 5th November 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds, Ritu Arya, Chris Diamantopoulos, Ivan Mbakop, Vincenzo Amato, Rafael Petardi, Daniel Bernhardt

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sweet Girl

Vampire Owl: I remember having met a sweet witch.

Vampire Bat: I do not remember any witch being sweet at all.

Vampire Owl: He had some of the sweetest magic potions.

Vampire Bat: You shouldn’t buy potions without approval of Vampire Senate.

Vampire Owl: I have paid all the taxes along with the price.

Vampire Bat: You will still have to pay the import duty.

Vampire Owl: But we belong to the same realm.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but not the same territory.

Vampire Owl: Now, we are having taxes like humans?

Vampire Bat: It is still very much less in comparison to some of the nations in the world of evil humans.

[Gets a raspberry cake and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ray Cooper (Jason Momoa) jumps off the top of a building while being chased by the police, and it is followed by a flashback. His wife Amanda Cooper (Adria Arjona) gets really ill with a rare form of cancer. The survival expert, Ray hopes that he can do all that is possible to save her. But it is soon revealed that the life-saving drug called Infirmam was taken off the market due to Bio Prime CEO Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha) paying the manufacturers to delay the production. This also means that there was going to be an indefinite delay, and Amanda doesn’t have that much time. He watches congress woman Diana Morgan (Amy Brenneman) going through a live devate with Simon, and there he seems to be talking about much their company is dedicated to saving lives at less cost, and on how much they have sacrificed in the form of money and time. He makes a call to the live debate, and as Simon doesn’t seem to care that much about bringing the drug back to the market, Ray threatens to kill him if his wife dies because of this negligence.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon enough, Amanda dies, and Ray is left with his daughter Rachel Cooper (Isabela Merced) to go on with the pain and grief. A few months later, Ray gets a call from a journalist Martin Bennett (Nelson Franklin) who claims that he possesses evidence related to the unethical practices and criminal activities on the side of Bio Prime. They meet on a moving train, but a hitman Amo Santos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) attacks them, killing the journalist and stabbing Ray. Rachel who had followed them also gets knocked out in the process. Even though further investigations reveal nothing about what had happened with Bio Prime or in the train, and with no information about the hitman who attacked them, Ray still continues to track Simon and his company. He manages to sneak into a charity programme and interrogate Simon, only to be attached by the bodyguards whom he manages to kill along with his gaurds. The only other responsible name that he gets is that of the chairman of the same company, Vinod Shah (Raza Jaffrey). FBI Agent Sarah Meeker (Lex Scott Davis) is in charge of the case.

And how far can this go as we keep moving forward? :: Ray and Rachel go on a long ride through less taken roads, trying to get away before the police officers or the assassins get to them. Rachel tries calling Sarah, hoping that she will look into Bio Prime before her father comes up with something terrible again. Sarah is able to get the trust of Rachel like a mother figure. Meanwhile, they are attacked by mercenaries who seems to have found them much to their surprise. Ray fights them and after a small fight, ends up killing them too. At the same time, the same hitman who had attacked them on the train is after them too. Their only option here seems to be to find Vinod and hope that it ends with them. But Santos has other ideas about it, and Vinod knowing anything more than what Simon knew seems not possible at all. How far does all these secrets go? Who might be the last link behind all of these? Will the father and daughter duo survive against what they seem to be completely incapable of handling? Is there a thing like hope for them?

The defence of Sweet Girl :: Jason Momoa is here doing what he does the best, without the superpowers of Aquaman and outside the team of Justice League. Isabela Merced has a point as the daughter figure. She plays a character who is more matured than anyone else of her age, and has her own ideology. This is also one strong character that she can happy that she played. The twist also works like a dream for her, and she rises above everyone else with ease here. She does remind one of Chloe Grace Moretz, like someone who could rise above the senior stars when provided with an opportunity. Then there is Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as the hitman and Amy Brenneman as the congress woman who are all doing what they do the best. The action sequences are all good, and both the father and daughter do their job well. The twist basically comes a shock, even though there were some red herrings here and there – that should work for most people. The movie, just like it begins well, ends without overdoing it, but being mostly satisfactory.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have been quicker here, as there is a lot action to be done. The twist in question here doesn’t seem to be that effective for everyone, as the willing suspension of disbelief might have its problems with how the action sequences have been going on here. It does take a little too much time to get to the twist, which should have been revealed earlier for the audience to adjust to the whole new situation it had created. The loopholes are surely there, especially in the second half of the movie. The movie does seem to be confused about how to respect the genre, and the world it had built earlier. The feeling of half-bakedness does bring some trouble. There was the chance to come up with better dialogues and better emotional moments too – the emotions are there, but with the twist, some emotions feel as if they didn’t exist at all. With that particular twist, it also feels that some of the length of this movie was for no reason, as a number of things didn’t happen as it was shown.

How it finishes :: Sweet Girl is more of less the movie that can go in the path of Hitman, Transporter, John Wick, Mechanic, Accountant, Equalizer, Kate and others while having its main lead going through the impossible to reach the other end. It would require a sequel for that, as it had that twist which changed things a little too much. There will be opinions against this one for sure, as the twist would take away something which the fans would have wanted in the climax, but the film did require something divergent to set a path different from the usual movies dealing with this kind of thing – you can’t just complain for taking the risk and bringing more to ponder about. With lots of action around, a few things can be forgotten, and others can be appreciated – what is to loved and hated might still be different for different types of people. I would be asking people to watch this one without looking at the spoilers and come with your opinion. We are never really less in need of action thriller with a huge mission in hand, right?

Release date: 20th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Brian Andrew Mendoza
Starring: Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Adria Arjona, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Amy Brenneman, Raza Jaffrey, Justin Bartha, Lex Scott Davis, Michael Raymond-James

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Heaven

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Uncle Dracula is going to heaven?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have a different afterlife.

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t know before death, but there would surely be blood.

Vampire Owl: Well, as long as there is blood, I am okay with it.

Vampire Bat: You don’t really take the blood substitute anymore?

Vampire Owl: Until Doctor Frankenstein invents the perfect substitute, I won’t.

Vampire Bat: Then, be assured that it will a long wait, because that pseudo-doctor and scientist with fake degree is involved.

[Gets a paneer puffs and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A group of NCC cadets discover a dead body in the forest area where they were camping for the holidays from their school. The first police officer to the scene is Bijoy Kuruvilla (Sudev Nair), and the dead person is identified to be Fabian John (Deepak Parambol), with the help of the forensic experts who are led by Narayana Swami (Joy Mathew). According to the descriptions from the witnesses and circumstancial evidences, the police discover the murderer to be none other than Peter Kurishingal (Suraj Venjaramoodu), another police officer. Then, the movie gets a flashback when Peter is in charge of a police station in a village. He had only recently lost his wife, and has a number of cases for investigation, which he takes very seriously so that he can use them to forget the grief of loss. His mother Mariyam Kurisingal (Vinaya Prasad) takes care of his only son, as he remains mostly busy as a strict police officer. But things get worse as he comes up against a case which would prove to be personal for him, as a family is murdered, and along with them, he also find his son’s dead body, much to his shock.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Peter’s subordinate Sukumara Pillai (Alencier Ley Lopez) is posted in the case with the new officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Kishore (Padmaraj Ratheesh) who seems to be solving the case rather quickly, and a man named Stephen (Jaffar Idukki) confesses to have committed the crime with an immigrant labourer from West Bengal, as part of an attempted robbery. Peter has his doubts, but as one of the victims is his son, his superior officer Revathi Subramaniam (Abhija Sivakala) declines him an opportunity to be part of the investigation team, but lets him have a look at it as part of a parallel investigation for which he would be solely responsible. Soon, he discovers that the man who is accused of murder, Stephen actually had nothing to do with it. This home named Heaven, where the murders took place, seem to have more than one secrets to be discovered. His discoveries soon lead to him taking over the case after joining back on duty. But it remains to be seen if he will like what he would discover.

The defence of Heaven :: Here is one more addition to the smart thrillers of our times with some fine red herrings. The investigation shown in the movie feels solid, and so does the emotional side. The movie achieves its motives without exaggerating anything at any moment. There are twists till the end of the movie, and we see that it has nicely solved the puzzles to come strong in the end with enough strength. The realistic mode is maintained while bringing up the thrills and twists, and it surely feels like something which could happen during these days when different crimes are part of the news more than ever. Even the police procedures seem to be much accurate, and it doesn’t seem to venture into those areas where the smartness of the audience is questioned; maybe it is because the film chooses to have no such superstars who have so many fans wishing for their favourite actor to destroy evil like a fallen angel. Well, this movie is also something with fallen angels, but it knows how to keep it realistic. This is the kind of film that can teach valuable lessons for Bollywood which has its non-performers coming out of nepotism, not able to emote.

The positives and negatives :: The visuals are really good, and the camera is particularly good in capturing the emotions of Suraj Venjaramoodu, with all the grief which is part of the character’s life. The moments after the son’s death is as emotional as it can get, and it is only matched by the determination in his face that comes up later. There are the inner and outer battle shown here are with their own relevance. Heaven does not hesitate in going through the emotional path of the police officer and his investigation, just like it was seen in the movie Memories which had that abiding sadness in it which would return to haunt the viewer. The movie could have actually focused on the darker side even more. The return to the initial moments come rather too late, and due to the same, people might have actually forgotten the events which had happened earlier. The movie does slow down after the deaths and following emotional troubles, and it could have used a serial killer instead of the usual vengeance ideas being repeated. The music doesn’t feel as that great in comparison to some of the other thrillers which dealt with similar themes.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu handles the regretful cop role really well, and it reminds us of his earlier movie Pathaam Valavu, where he had also lost his child. The helpless and lack of hope can be seen on one side, while there is smartness on the other. He is the police officer and father to remember. The emotional struggle which was best displayed in Kaanekkaane, and added with mass in Jana Gana Mana and Driving License works really well here too, as he is indeed one of the best actors to go through a strong emotional side. The biggest support to him is provided by Alencier Ley Lopez who makes a fine cop in a supporting role; I had felt that John Luther could have really used him as a police officer too. The actors like Sudheesh and Jaffer Idukki add more of an emotional side to the film with their shorter presence. Vinaya Prasad also has the emotional grandmother role. Padmaraj Ratheesh and Sudev Nair also makes some fine police officers. Abhija Sivakala as the superior police officer is also solid. Deepak Parambol’s as well Nimisha Sajayan’s smaller roles are effective too. The collection of performers here makes sure that there is something interesting about all of them.

How it finishes :: Heaven gets into the list of interesting thrillers including the recently released Twenty One Grams and Solamante Theneechakal, as well as many others which came earlier. After all, the thrillers of this world mean more than just Drishyam. The movie working a lot better than the heavily hyped movies like CBI 5: The Brain is a reminder that we have some new names who can do the same thing better. Well, this is the kind of film which can never work for Bollywood as the sons and daughters of superstars would not agree to act in movies which cannot progress without throwing hundreds of villains around. Movies like this should open their eyes to the idea that there is the need for more thinking differently, or the drought in Bollywood of blockbusters is going to continue forever. Bollywood’s fight with its own incompetence might be forever, but during those times, Malayalam movie industry, just like the other South Indian film industries, is coming up with some fine works of quality which are to be remembered.

Release date: 19th August 2022 (Hotstar); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Unni Govindraj
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Sudev Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheesh, Joy Mathew, Alencier Ley Lopez, Jaffer Idukki, Vinaya Prasad, Abhija Sivakala, Deepak Parambol

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Solamante Theneechakal

Vampire Owl: Do you think that there could be honeybees in this movie?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the bees are different in this case.

Vampire Owl: I was looking forward to see a vampire bee.

Vampire Bat: There has been no bee which has been turned into a vampire.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has transformed a few.

Vampire Bat: They are pseudo vampires. They won’t count.

Vampire Owl: You continue to show your prejudice against Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: I have never shown love for dumb experiments.

Vampire Owl: You will surely love the vampire bee though.

Vampire Bat: You should see how the human bees turn out here in this movie which is noted as a romantic thriller.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Glyna Thomas (Vincy Aloshious) and Suja S (Darshana S. Nair) are police constables who are also best friends – they have also rented a place together in Cochin. While Suja is posted in traffic duty, Glyna is assigned the duties at the police station itself. CI Binu Alex (Addis Antony Akkara) is in the charge of the station, and Suja hopes to get rid of the traffic duty and somehow be part of the station duties. For the same, Suja tries to portray Sharath Balakrishnan (Shambhu Menon) as a nuisance for women, but fails miserably. She even falls in love with him later. Sharath works for Nikhil Davis (Sunil Sukhada) who runs a rent-a-car business, but also has other motives. Their love story continues well until one day Binu and Sharath comes across each other, leading to a fight. Binu vows to make Sharath suffer for laying his hands on a police officer, but it is then that a criminal named Arumughan (Manikandan Achari) makes an entry with a grudge against Binu. Then, on an eventful night, things go out of control, and Suja might be the one to suffer for it. Will at least Glyna stand with her during the crisis?

The defence of Solamante Theneechakal :: It is to be noted that Solamante Theneechakal is a movie that has been much awaited by people who had watched at least one episode of the talent hunt show from where the leading actors of the movie where selected. But considering the performances which we come across here, this is more than that – none of the leading performers show any signs of acting in their first movie. They cast indeed is the biggest strength of the movie, as the newcomers score so well with the elder stars like Joju George and Johny Antony. The thrills remain strong, right after the defining incident. The twists are also there to be taken, and the red herrings are very much effective, to make us wonder about them. The early scenes also remain cute, and the friendship is effectively portrayed, with romance almost having a role to be added. There is also a certain amount of realism in the way the life of the leading ladies are portrayed, as both Vincy and Darshana make everything feel so real. Until the life turns around, everything that they do is so natural and without hesitations – the audience falls in love with such portrayal without exaggerations or pretensions.

The claws of flaw :: The absence of the big stars might make this movie’s collections and early appreciation struggle a bit – most people are still slaves to the superstars, and there are other three already established success stories in the form of crowd favourite movies already running in the theatres, which could make this particular movie take a hit. The dark side that the movie adds, do not get that much of a strength as it was expected, and there is some predictability about a few things, even though not with the grand scheme of things. The songs are not that great, and none of them provides the feeling of romance or terror, two elements which seemed to rise above the others – one or two still provide the feel-good feeling though. The first fight scene might be the only exaggerated moment, but there is no following it up well enough. The investigating officer does seem to deviate from the main concerns in the case, but it is justified in the end. Some of the supporting cast members don’t seem to have been used with the effectiveness that they might have deserved – it is still understandable, as the focus is on establishing the new talent which did such a fantastic job on television and deserves to be in the focus throughout the film. Yet, at times it chooses to defy logic by a little bit

The performers of the soul :: It was news then that the main performers for Lal Jose’s new movie were to be selected through a talent hunt show called Nayika Nayakan which aired on Mazhavil Manorama. Darshana S Nair and Shambhu Menon were the winners of the show, and they play the lead with the romantic side in this movie. Vincy Aloshious and Addis Antony Akkara who were the runner-ups in the show also play the next important roles in the movie as expected. They were selected from sixteen contestants going through multiple rounds, and it was one of the high quality shows from which these people were selected, and they have shown the same set of skills reflected around here too. Along with Vincy, some other participants like Meenakshi Raveendran, Ann Jameela Saleem, Venkitesh VP, Amina Nijam and Malavika Krishnadas were already seen in small roles in movies. Thattumpurath Achuthan had served as a vehicle for most of them to make some relatively small appearances which would not be memorized, and this one was to become the bigger space for these four to perform in a memorable way.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is supposed to be the next big platform for these performers to show their skills, even though their talent hunt show was something which was a memorable experience for the audience. Even the participants in that show who were eliminated earlier, like Ann Paul were enormously skilled – that left no doubt about what these people could achieve. To support them, as the centre of everything, there is also Joju George, who had his best performance in Madhuram last year along with that memorable journey through Pada this year. He feels very natural as the police officer whose portrait never gets exaggerated – we know what he can do with this from Joseph itself. The performers from the talent show makes us feel the professionalism and not the reluctance of the newcomers. Among them, Vincy Aloshious stands out as the star performer, and her moments with Addis are too good. Darshana gets into make things even better – her moments with Vincy are among the best, whether with a funny side or the emotional one, and the two make things work so well. Addis’ villainous side is a strong one, and a lot realistic, but could have used better voice. Shambhu feels perfectly suitable for this role.

How it finishes :: This seems to be a movie which should have released much earlier, if it was not for the corona virus spreading through the world. As it was intended, the movie serves as the fine platform to show the abilities of the performers selected from the talent hunt show, which would reach the bigger audience. I was still surprised to see the less number of audience for this movie, and I would hope for the numbers to increase as it has the quality – we are all admirers of good movies, as far as I know. The other successful movies at the theatre might be a reason, but this need to pick up the pace, and with some good opinions, it should surely do that – this would be one of the first such opinions. The movie has to depend on the content more than anything else with the big names being absent, and it does exactly that, with the thrilling moments and the twists that are added to the tale. With no exaggeration of action or life itself, the movie is something that has the special ingredient, which is the new young cast itself. Seeing them would make us believe that Lal Jose has indeed made the right decision once more.

Release date: 18th August 2022
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Joju George, Darshana S Nair, Vincy Aloshious, Addis Antony Akkara, Shambhu Menon, Shiva Parvathy, Johny Antony, Manikandan Achari, Shaju Sreedhar, Binu Pappu, Sunil Sukhada, Sivaji Guruvayoor, Abhinav Manikantan, Aurora Adya

<<< Click here to go to the previous film review.

<<< Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Midnight

Vampire Owl: There are not many mediums that vampires can use at midnight.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we can use an Ouija board at midnight instead.

Vampire Owl: That board is a fake medium invented by humans.

Vampire Bat: So, you think that there is no hope with the board.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we need to look forward to finding an undead conductor.

Vampire Bat: You cannot have any of the undead allow something from the other side to pass through it.

Vampire Owl: The undead is greater than any spirit.

Vampire Bat: Getting possessed by a spirit is not a great experience.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that there can be possessions.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know the thing about demonic possessions.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of Munnar tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kim Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-joo), is a mute and deaf woman who works as a sign language customer service executive at a sign language call center. Her mother Kyung-mi’s mother (Gil Hae-yeon) is also dumb and deaf. As some of the employees have to go for a dinner with the clients, she chooses to go with her employers and return late at midnight. Jung-eun’s (Kim Hye-yoon) goes out on a date at night, and her brother Jong-tak (Park Hoon) who works as a security guard after serving in the army, is worried because she would arrive late, almost at midnight, especially as a man and woman were found dead during an earlier night. Coming back home late after dinner and visiting her mother, Kim witnesses the sister bleeding after being stabbed by an unknown man and becomes the new target for this particular serial killer Do-sik (Wi Ha-joon) who had been hunting women, and sometimes unsuspecting men some time around midnight. She runs further away from the area when her mother is standing and tries to hide, but the killer is someone who knows the area really well.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The killer needs to find the young woman to make sure that there are no trails that lead to her. At the same time, Jong-tak is in the streets, searching for his sister who has not returned home yet. As Kim reaches her car and enters it, she is shocked to find him inside the vehicle, and after being forced to drive at knifepoint, she jumps out the car, once again chased by the killer, only to connect to the cops, but as she cannot sleep, it does not work at all. When the police finally arrive, it seems that the killer had already manipulated all the evidence, and there are no suitable clues in the CCTV cameras either. The killer had also joined them in making things more confusing for the mother and daughter duo. As the brother also arrives in the police station with the photo of his sister, Kim identifies her as the woman who was abducted, stabbed and kept in the vehicle by the stranger. But the killer is someone who knows when to manipulate and when to kill with all the brutality – does this mean that the killer will go on with the murders and the sister and the witness would also have to die?

The defence of Midnight :: In the beginning, this movie might seem to be just another serial killer movie with its antagonists targeting random people on the streets, but it becomes much more than that, as it uses almost everything at its disposal to the best effect. The night itself has been used to its best advantage, and this is also not the kind of movie when there is a long investigation going on, and the police has to go for clues which they acquire over days, and the result is that there would be more victims. Instead, this movie has so many thrilling moments set in a night, which has the serial killer’s smartness displayed in an interesting manner, but we are not bothered with the flashbacks or the motive that would have been there in other movies – this becomes more of a survival movie where there is the need to make sure that a missing woman survives, and at the same time, the leading lady further struggles to survive. As things unfold with a night that progresses, there is the idea that two of the main characters cannot speak and hear, which drives this movie to bringing things to light in a different manner. There is no shortage of thrills around here, and silence is nicely used with sound effects in a visual treat of terror.

Positives and negatives :: There are moments when one would feel that the movie could have elevated the status a little bit. But the final moments are just too good, as finally the serial killer understands that more than one person can play his game. The movie is a survival thriller for the main protagonist, and Jin Ki-joo, with her performance, has us backing her to survive against all odds. The characters do no get to be that smart as they should be though, as they create opportunities for the killer to come back and get them, multiple times. There are many co-incidences in here too, and those are used a little more than needed. But there is no shortage of the feeling of danger around here, as night seems to be used as a medium for the serial killer terror to spread – it always seems that he is in control, even when he gets beaten up. We did not know about this movie when it released, but we know it now, and we have that serial killer whom we have been waiting. The movie is also a reminder that in a busy world, nobody has time to check on others, and a serial killer could always be hiding among us, undetected until captured.

The performers of the soul :: Jin Ki-joo is leading lady and the protagonist of this movie, and she comes up with a performance to remember as the woman who cannot speak or hear, but has to rise above her limitations as she faces one of smartest and most brutal serial killer who is good at hiding his motives. She has presented the character so well that the audience keep believing that she has no hope, but continues to see that slight ray of hope that she could stay alive despite the odds being very much against her. She seems to be better known for the South Korean television series and the drama, but the way in which she displays the hopelessness and fear to replace it with courage, is something that will catch our eyes – the ending with her character gaining the advantage is too good. Wi Ha-joon makes a fantastic serial killer, and I won’t be surprised if someone would try to copy this character, as the killer works so well. Park Hoon also join in very well. Then there is Gil Hae-yeon who comes up with the mother figure really well. At the same time, Kim Hye-yoon is lovely addition, and becomes the reason for the events of the movie to start moving forward.

How it finishes :: Midnight is a reminder that Korean films still possess the top quality with horror thrillers featuring serial killers. It will be a good idea to watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video before someone from Bollywood copies the film and shows it as a much lesser version with the brother of the victim and the girl who witnesses the crime dancing to songs at a party while the serial killer kills the abducted girl, and we would also have to listen to some very sad songs with the brother grieving for the sister. The quality of this movie will always be higher as it does have all the emotions, but never does it overdo them, or come up with irrelevant subplots or exaggerating the villain. We directly enter this world which is all about that particular night, and the audience is also as much part of the events that happen during midnight, and everyone goes on this journey with the main characters. You are also reminded that you need to go back to these kind of movies, and even though we do have our own serial killers with films like Forensic, Anjaam Pathiraa, Memories and Antakshari, but none so classically determined in the form of a stranger as this one.

Release date: 30th June 2021
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Kwon Oh-seung
Starring: Jin Ki-joo, Wi Ha-joon, Kim Hye-yoon, Gil Hae-yeon, Park Hoon, Kang In-seo, Noh Su-min, Na Eun-saem, Lee Jae-seok, Park Ji-hoon, Song Yoo-hyun, Bae Eun-woo, Kwon Young-min, Jung Wo Chang

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Soul

Vampire Owl: Do you think that vampires can have an extra soul?

Vampire Bat: I don’t understand why one would require one as extra.

Vampire Owl: What if a soul is lost? We can use the other one.

Vampire Bat: The souls are not lost as long as we are living dead.

Vampire Owl: When did we start referring to the undead as living dead?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that we have always been the living dead.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t argue as death is only the beginning.

Vampire Bat: There is no undead without the appropriate kind of death.

Vampire Owl: Maybe humans will also understand that death is the true solution.

Vampire Bat: They are less afraid to kill than to die, which is strange.

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

What is the movie about? :: Wang Shi-Cong (Samuel Ku), a very rich man and the founder of a medical firm developing cancer treatment based on ultra-modern technology is found murdered. His wife who has also remained a respectable figure, Li Yan (Sun Anke) is discovered to be holding the weapon used for the brutal murder, quite a strange knife-like blunt thing indeed. There are also some strange writings on the door and all over the walls. At the same time, Ah-Bao (Janine Chang), a detective is expecting a child very soon. Liang Wen-Chao (Chang Chen), her husband is having an advanced stage of cancer, and it doesn’t seem to get any better. His cancer seems to be spreading and resisting the existing modes of treatment, and the doctor gives them the advice to consider doing a RNA restoration technology. Liang, who has been working as a prosecutor, decides to join back, as a lot of money is required for his treatment – he had asked her to let him skip that costly treatment, but she has been very adamant in keeping him alive.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ah-Bao is assigned the case of Wang’s murder, and Liang goes on to become the prosecutor once again, much to the surprise of his wife who was expecting him to take rest. Li Yang tells them that it was their son, Wang Tian-You (Erek Lin) who committed some strange rituals in the same room and murdered his father who had earlier disinherited him because of his strange and unacceptable behaviour. They remember that he only comes back home rarely, and has the same symbol which was seen in the room, tattooed on his body. He has a lot of magical symbols tattooed on his body, and talks about some particular gods and spirits which are not that well-known. He was heartbroken after his mother, the first wife of Wang died, and has been talking about vengeance since then. It seems that other than his wife, the dead man had left another inheritance as the next in line. The detective also understands that the dead man used to have different affairs with many women, which had ruined their world. The first wife also had enough information about hier husband’s life.

What lies beneath the secrets which are unveiled around here? :: There is also the talk about the first wife placing a curse on Wang before death, and about the second wife coming out of an orphanage, with no roots. But they do understand that this particular woman had changed a lot after coming to the mansion. In the beginning, she was very nice to everyone around, and very careful in her behaviour. It felt as if she wanted to be good to make an impression. But that seems to change soon, as they look through the CCTV cameras for some old footages. She wasn’t the person whom she used to be, as she even started talking to nothingness, which she understood as ghosts. They wonder if it was a case of possession or the result of some drugs which were introduced by the medical firm. A bigger surprise is that she who was a right-hander is now a left-hander. Is it science or some dark curse which is behind all of these? After all, isn’t science the modern necromancy? How many secrets can this particular world hold? There seems to be something really strange going on around here, and is anyone good enough to find the truth?

The defence of The Soul a.k.a. Ji Hun :: The movie never stops keeping us interested in the mystery of science or magic, whichever seems to surround a grand investigation. It does keep us guessing through its run, and is very much effective in doing the same. The twists are very much unpredictable, and with so many red herrings around, one only keeps wondering about how good are the characters who have figured it out inside the tale. At a specific point, you make a guess about the characters, and then you have to think differently about them. At one point, you feel that there is the talk about soul in its original form, but then all you see is science. You wonder about psychological problems and demonic possession at the same time. In the end, it is not anywhere close to what you were thinking in the early stages, and there is so much going on around there. Any more revealing would annihilate the beauty of the surprise and twists in here. The movie moves forward beautifully, as if it is poetry in motion, and the level of immersion of the audience that it provides is simply magnificent. The emotional side does help further in its movement forward – you do feel them running strong. The visuals and the music also remains extraordinary and contributes well to the dark beauty.

Positives and negatives :: The movie’s slowness also has a certain amount of beauty related to it, and we watch it move as if part of an elegy written in memory. Well, there is no doubt that it could have traveled somewhat a quicker path as it seems to be in need of being called a thriller rather than anything else – yet, it can be said that The Soul keeps us immersed around here, even without picking up the pace that much when it could have done the same. The details in each moment will still make sure that you are always attentive around here, and there are some top performers to support the same. Chang Chen gets into this character so well that we become attached to the same – there is a lot of immersion into the plight of the character taking place here, and that feels unbelievably realistic. In the beginning, one feels that Janine Chang is the one playing the protagonist, and even though she is not the one doing that, blends in perfectly, and excels in the emotional moments. Then there is Sun Anke who plays the woman in identity crisis with a lot of perfection – it is a role which requires a lot of dedication, and her different expressions are so much of the reflection of her calibre.

How it finishes :: The movie has one of the most complicated plots than any film has had in a long time, and it makes sure that we are always guessing. There has not been many movies which had our guesses going wrong by such a long way. By the end of the film, you are standing on a lot different ground than where you found yourself in the beginning. Well, the world of science and spiritual beliefs can both be strange enough, and this one makes use of both, while placing them in a corporate world where the only thing that reigns supreme is selfishness and a display of a fake “normal” image. I would consider this to be the best movie of the year and also the best film which I have found on Netflix among the last few years’ releases. Then, there is also those final questions which the movie leaves for all of us – what makes one a person? Is it the soul? In that case, where does the soul lie? In the memories of the brain or the emotions of the heart? Or is it something which has no real shape or size to be seen? Well, we will never know, that seems to be a surety. Until then, there are some fine Chinese movies to watch.

Release date: 29th January 2021 (China); 14th April 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Cheng Wei-hao
Starring: Chang Chen, Janine Chang, Sun Anke, Christopher Lee, Baijia Zhang, Erek Lin, Samuel Ku, Daniel Chang, Lu Hsueh-feng

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kimi

Vampire Owl: I know a witch by this name.

Vampire Bat: Witches don’t have such names – it should be nickname.

Vampire Owl: Northern Witches are now known by some special names.

Vampire Bat: Are you trying to say that they are going to modernize soon?

Vampire Owl: Yes, their covens are all with electricity now.

Vampire Bat: The witches no longer use magic to light their covens?

Vampire Owl: No, they are now deviating the power taken from the nodes elsewhere.

Vampire Bat: So, they are now deriving cent percent of power from their chaos node.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they are now more powerful than ever. Two of them now serve as sources of unlimited chaos energy.

Vampire Bat: You have to warn the vampire border fortresses. Nobody can stop a fully chaos charged witch, not even a full werewolf army with armour on a full moon.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Bradley Hasling (Derek DelGaudio) is the CEO of a technological firm known as Amygdala, and the newest product in their list is Kimi, a smart speaker which makes use of human monitoring to improve its search algorithm. They are planning to have a stock launch which will help them to earn a good fortune. Sharon (India de Beaufort), a journalist is suspicious about the same, and considers it to be a case of controversy. Angela Childs (Zoe Kravitz) is an employee who works for the same company as part of the Seattle division’s work from home policy. She is supposed to monitor incoming data streams from Kimi devices and make the needed corrections to the code, so that the software can be upgraded and improved. But she continues to stay at home at all times, as she has agoraphobia, and due to the anxiety disorder reaching new heights, things only get worse for her. COVID-19 pandemic did make it almost impossible for her already. Her mother’s advice doesn’t really help either.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She does stalk people living the apartments and Terry Hughes (Byron Bowers) is her man of interest, whom she end up calling into her apartment as she also feels sex starved. Yet, she is not able to start a romantic relationship with him, as it is no longer her point of concern, living all by herself and not caring about anybody else. One day, as she is working, she goes through a recording that she feels is a sexual assault. As her co-workder Darius (Alex Dobrenko) who is initially suspicious that it is just an argument helps her, she is able to find information about the account holder, a lady named Samantha Gerrity (Erika Christensen). She later finds out that the lady was also killed, and there is a hitman associated with it. She intends to talk about this to Natalie Chowdhury (Rita Wilson), a high ranked executive who is in charge of the operations there, but she doesn’t want to go out. But considering her state of mind, will they be ready to listen to her? Is there something sinister about this particular company? Should she be worried about all of these?

The defence of Kimi :: There is something about Kimi that will keep us going. The protagonist and his struggles are quite close to what the introverts might come across, and in the current world, it is only appropriate not to trust another human being. There are some fine camera angles which make things better too – how her situation inside the house and also when she ventures outside are all nicely taken. The first exit out of the place after a shower and brushing is to be appreciated further. The talk in the bedroom had nicely served to let us understand her character already. They have also served a happy ending here, and there is never a situation of too much of danger around – it seems like she can handle them all by herself even though she does get unexpected help. Even with so many complex happening in between, what we see on the screen is kept simple and things get solved also with a certain amount of luck here. As the movie is on Amazon Prime Video, more people will watch this lesser known interesting thing.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be a dark side to the main character’s past, but it is not shown well enough for anyone to believe if that really happened or if she was hallucinating, having mental problems for a long time. The use of flashbacks doesn’t seem to be something of importance around here. We also have times when the main character is just an irritating person rather than anything else. After all, the movie itself focuses on her all the time, and the other characters seem like people with no identities for most of the time. Well, humans have the right to be irritating and evil, and therefore we go through that. There were many moments when some action could have been added – fight scenes can serve fine around here. This would have also been a big thriller with a few moments given better focus. This could have been the girl on the run, and throughout the process, there could have been a big adventure, with some funny moments to add to it – the humour could have been used more effectively here.

The performers of the soul :: You will not be able to take your eyes off Zoe Kravitz in this film which is all about her – it is clear that she is so good, as she adapts so well into this character, evolved a lot from Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant. This wouldn’t be a role that can be easy to play for the usual celebrities who are so much used to being part of the public fame. This is the same reason why almost nobody from this part of the world will find it easy to play this kind of a role, except what you had seen in North 24 Kaatham. The moments of her going out for the first time after a long time is among the best scenes – from a shower and electric toothpaste to how she goes on unnoticed by the the public is something worth noting for sure. For all celebrities, this kind of roles would require more work, and she has has surely nailed it. The other performances are of so much less significance in comparison here. Byron Bowers has a few dialogues and some moments to add. At the same time, Jaime Camil makes an interesting killer, and it would have been nice if there was more of the action with him around – some fight scenes could have been added here and there with him and the gang around.

How it finishes :: Kimi seems to remind one of Amazon Alexa, and the movie also serves as a cautionary tale about the possibilities of secrets being leaked through some of the newer technologies, which seems to offer more, but is also doing something else in the process. It also gives a nice picture of anxiety and agoraphobia, both being blended in here. It is also something which most of the introverts would love, and being at home all the time is not considered strange anymore with the Corona virus pandemic and work from home establishment changing things. Well, one wouldn’t be able to live a life like the protagonist of this movie though, as the person would considered mentally unstable and forced to an institution, or will be forced by the family, friends and locals to go out and talk with people. Being at those so called developed countries does have more advantages. Then you remember that this is the least of the advantages that you can have there.

Release date: 10th February 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Zoe Kravitz, Betsy Brantley, Rita Wilson, India de Beaufort, Emily Kuroda, Byron Bowers, Alex Dobrenko, Jaime Camil, Jacob Vargas, Derek DelGaudio, Erika Christensen, Devin Ratray, Andy Daly, Robin Givens, Charles Halford, David Wain

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kate

Vampire Owl: I don’t know many Kates from around here.

Vampire Bat: You do know Kate Winslet and Kate Beckinsale.

Vampire Owl: They are certainly not from around here.

Vampire Bat: They are still part of our large film universe.

Vampire Owl: Universe is never that large, as we look at it.

Vampire Bat: Well, this movie and its performers can be part of it.

Vampire Owl: Mary Elizabeth Winstead has always been part of it.

Vampire Bat: Okay, you do remember her movies which suited us vampires’ tastes.

Vampire Owl: Living through so many centuries, tastes do change.

Vampire Bat: The world does change, but do we? In this realm, can we?

[Gets a ghee roast and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an experienced assassin who has Varrick (Woody Harrelson) as her handler. She is also an expert sniper who has never missed a target in her long career which has focused mostly on the use of sniper gun and long distance shots. Varrick was also the one who trained her, right from childhood itself. Kate has to come to Osaka in Japan to kill a leader within a powerful yakuza mob, but only just manages to hit the target, after a child comes in the way. Even though this hit was also a success, having to kill someone in front of a child bothers here, leading to an emotional turmoil. She intends to go for one final mission, and then begin a new life, as a commoner. But before the final mission, she comes up against Stephen (Michiel Huisman) in bar. They have sex in the room, and she follows up with a sniper shot, and it is the first time that she misses one, that too, with the chance for clear shot.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She understands that she was poisoned by Stephen under the instructions of the members of a crime family which is headed by Kijima (Jun Kunimura), whom she was planning to assassinate, after having already killed his brother in front of his niece, Ani (Miku Martineau). Having only a day left to live before poison gets her, she decides to kidnap Ani, and bargain with Kijima. Despite using her as a bait in the beginning, she decides to keep her safe during the mission, as the gangsters are also targeting her. Ani is the last in the line of the family, and her death would help an internal power struggle. For getting to the top, she has to get through Renji (Tadanobu Asano) and Jojima (Miyavi), and there is a long way ahead after that too. There are many complications that she has to face on the way too, as many other secrets are revealed, with the unexpected happenings that occur related to the person whom she was trying to assassinate.

The defence of Kate :: Led by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, we have female assassin for a change, instead of the usual, and with her performance in the action scenes, we feel that she makes the exact person who was needed here. The film has so many delightful action sequences, and the one at the top floor of a penthouse, and the final combat are of top quality – the style and the music are nothing less than charming. The world that this movie has created in Japan feels like a classic one, and with all the beautiful violence, you only wants to go there. The fights that we have here, are also never overdone, and would make both John Wick and Hitman: Codename 47 proud. There are also enough emotional sequences to go with it. The lighting, darkness and colours have a different feeling about them, and the we also feel a lot of Japan. After the first few minutes, almost all of the city is set in one city in Japan, and with the main character having less than twenty four hours to live, this one keeps close to the unity of time and place, as well as unity of action, one of the rare action movies to keep it close to the Classical unities of Aristotle.

Positives and negatives :: With its quick action, the movie never drags, even when adding the emotions to it – the emotional side also deserves some applause, even though it could have dealt with the same in different ways which could have appealed more, for options were surely there to be taken. Reminder of other films will also be there, but we can actually see this one as superior in action at times. The violence is there for most of the time, and it has taken with a certain amount of beauty related to it. Some parts of it can feel predictable, but it is with multiple guesses taken – many options were there and therefore one cannot correctly guess the same at all times. Some dialogues are actually there to remembered, and a few of them are like providing some messages about life, revenge and forgiveness. There is strength in the frames, and the way in which this one is taken, will need applause too. Even as you are not part of anything like this, and has never been to the city or been part of any action that comes close, you feel what is happening around, and you are engaged at all times with the assassin’s work.

Performers of the soul :: Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fantastic as the assassin, and it is the one thing that stands apart like no other. We have seen her from Final Destination 3 itself, and after slashers like Black Christmas were there, we saw her 10 Cloverfield Lane and Gemini Man, two others full of action and mystery. Birds of Prey had her as an assassin too, as the Huntress who was supporting Harley Quinn. Action, horror and mystery seems to suit her really well, and thriller seems to be her perfect genre. From 2000s itself, she has held a higher position among the scream queens, a position which Amber Heard also shared during a similar time period. Unfortunately, there is no scope for a sequel to have her back as the assassin, with this being the dead end, but one has to say that she deserved more movies like Hitman, John Wick or The Transporter. You can have her as part of these bloody genres at any moment of time, and she is sure to deliver. Miku Martineau as Ani plays a child in trauma that you are to remember. Woody Harrelson has a solid role to play here too.

How it finishes :: Kate is a strong action film which reminds one mostly of John Wick, and at times of The Equalizer, but also develops a life of its own. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead at the top, you can also feel some shots of Anna, even though the premise and the world itself is very much different. You can watch this particular movie just for the action itself, and she is more or less like a female Keanu Reeves – one would wonder if she could have actually played Matrix‘s Trinity in another parallel universe, because there is the feeling that in those clothes, and in that world, she would look almost the same. Clearly an engaging ride, Kate takes you through a fun-filled action journey which is to be remembered not just for all the melee combat, sword fights and gun shots, but also for the story with its twists, as well as the beautiful world that we see around there in between the combat. It is indeed an all-round action package, and not a movie that depends on mindless action all the time. Choose this one for full-time entertainment.

Release date: 10th September 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miku Martineau, Woody Harrelson, Tadanobu Asano, Miyavi, Michiel Huisman

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Possessor

Vampire Owl: We do feel that we are possessed very often.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but they are gentle spirits of the forest.

Vampire Owl: There are gentle possessors. Possessing another person’s body is evil.

Vampire Bat: The gentle spirits of the forests have the right to possess.

Vampire Owl: It is not that gentle a possession. I know that.

Vampire Bat: There is a deal between Vampire Elders and the Spirits. You have to honour that as part of our allegiance.

Vampire Owl: There is no honour among non-vampire entities.

Vampire Bat: Honour is just a word. The definition goes by our actions.

Vampire Owl: Possession of another person’s body is not an act of honour.

Vampire Bat: Well, honour depends a lot on the opinions anyway.

[Gets some potato chips and three glasses of Spanish delight shake].

What is the movie about? :: In a certain alternate reality, Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is living as an assassin, but that requires her to take control of others’s bodies to carry out the murders which have become part of her life. The agency of the assassins use an implany installed in the captured host’s brain to control the person, and Vos’ consciousness is inserted in there. Vos decides how to go through the murder using the new body. After the job is completed, she forces the host to commit suicide, or get shot by people, which is the basically the only way for her to get back to her own body. She is considered to be one of the best assassins the group ever had, but as she spends too much of time in the bodies of others, imitating them, she struggles with her identity, and often fails to understand who she really is. She has to practice in her real life to speak normally, just like she has to practice before taking the identity of others. The memories of the murders which she had committed continues to haunt her at all time, spoiling her limited time with her family.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is in control of the agency, is confident about Vos, but hopes that she is detached from her family, which would make her an even better assassin, as attachments are holding her back. She also holds on to lot of her memories from the past. She is forced to take the next assignment too early despite not being that stable – this time, she has to take the body of Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott) and murder the host’s lover Ava Parse (Tuppence Middleton) and his future father-in-law John Parse (Sean Bean), who is a wealthy CEO – the large amount of money and the properties are the target here. In the end, the CEO’s stepson would be taking over the company, and this would also bring the agency a lot of money. But the mission is only a partial success, as Ava is dead, but not the main target, John Parse survives. Vos is not able to escape from the body either, as she cannot make him commit suicide. She understands that she cannot leave this body due to a damaged implant, and she is now strong enough to overpower his will. Now, an inside crisis begins.

The defence of Possessor :: Possessor does have some fine ideas behind it, and we feel them to be strong in the first half of the film. The initial scene is quite a strong one, and it is what makes us very much interested in seeing what is to be followed. There is the courage to go divergent, which is seen here, even though the same losses the strength after showing so much strength in the beginning. The question is indeed asked about identity here, and the problems when one person tries to becomes someone else. It tells the viewers that the basic nature always wins, and you just cannot try to be another person like acting a role. The movie does remain dark throughout its run, and there is nothing like hope of positivity being thrown here, even though we feel that there is a family with a child involved, and there would be a “happily ever after” coming up soon. Well, we know that reality is a dark, tragic space where people are only interested in selfish deeds, and therefore, this movie more or less reflects the same. After all, humanity is not of hope in the present, past or the future.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t really have the strength to go through this idea with the visuals, which could have been better, and the action could have been stronger too. The science fiction elements could have also been used with clarity around here. Some more clarity would have only helped the movie, and as it moves towards the end, the focus seems to be somewhat lost, even though the beginning stages were making us wishing for the better. Too many images come and go here, but without them coming together well enough, this cannot be considered as the best of use of the available resources. You can always have a Hitman, John Wick, Gemini Man or Anna doing their job, but not without some fine visualizations. The early death of Tuppence Middleton is also disappointing, considering the fact that she was one nice addition to the film. In the end, one does wonder if all these were for this one thing, as you were expecting that grand finish, and not something like this.

Performers of the soul :: Andrea Riseborough’s performance is the one to remember, and there is no doubt about the same. Her work is limited due to some strange visions and the lack of clarity which the movie has. Christopher Abbott does a pretty good job, but having the mind-controlled, confused character not leaving out the complication at any moment, leaves him limited too. Tuppence Middleton is the actress whom we had seen in a supporting role in Jupiter Ascending, and she has the skill to come up with something notable out of nowhere – it is no exception here. She is lovely, but we don’t get to see her for more, as her character is killed, and we see another work from her vanish too early for our liking. Sean Bean is very good yet again, and when he is there, we love how things proceed. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays another complicated character who has a few moments to remember. Rossif Sutherland’s role is rather limited here, and when we begin to feel that Kaniehtiio Horn was going to show promise, her character is also killed.

How it finishes :: Possessor seems to be the one movie which is more critically acclaimed and award-winning at the film festivals. The movie is interesting, and does have its moments, but one might not find it as that grand as those critical appreciations suggest. As I had written in the earlier paragraphs, the idea is very good and so are the messages, but they could have shown in a better way, and some of the characters could have also been used in better ways rather than just killing them. Yet, we are interested in the divergent idea and the path less taken, as we look forward to seeing such risks being taken further. If you like the difference in ideas being taken into consideration without holding back, this would appeal to you. Other than that, this one goes on a slow journey which begins strong, and gets weaker by the end, not strengthening its possibilities. So, it is a personal decision to be made on watching this film, and as these are the times of Corona virus pandemic, most decisions are indeed personal in nature, as solitude comes with different pandemics of the world, and the quarantine that follows the same.

Release date: 2nd October 2020
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Brandon Cronenberg
Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Tuppence Middleton, Kaniehtiio Horn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Abbott, Rossif Sutherland, Sean Bean, Raoul Bhaneja, Gabrielle Graham, Gage Graham-Arbuthnot

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Birds of Prey

Vampire Owl: There are not many kinds of vampire birds.

Vampire Bat: But not all of our birds hunt.

Vampire Owl: You stopped letting the birds hunt?

Vampire Bat: Well, the sky needed to be safer for the gargoyles.

Vampire Owl: You are calling for the gargoyles during a pandemic?

Vampire Bat: They are made of stone, and immune to any pandemic.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that these can’t catch the virus?

Vampire Bat: They are immune to the injection too.

Vampire Owl: That saves us some vaccines.

Vampire Bat: I would have loved to believe that the undead are basically immune, as the virus cannot affect the dead even after rising from the grave. But the research from Doctor Frankenstein says otherwise.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: A number of years have passed after the defeat of Enchantress in the hands of the team of supervillains, Suicide Squad, and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has broken up with Joker (Jared Leto), and despite going through the procedure many times, this time she believes that they are separated forever. She remembers her time as psychiatrist and also her time before that, as she tries to go on with her lonely life, and for the same, she also gets a hyena, but nobody really believes that she really broke up with Joker. She doesn’t really have any good friends, but everyone seems to know her for the association with Joker. To announce her break up to everyone, she blows up Ace Chemicals were she had her best time with Joker, and this time, she gets the attention of everyone. Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) is the first one to come after Harley for exploding Ace chemicals, and others who have held a grudge against her also follows. Ending the relationship with Joker does have its own negative effects for her.

So, what happens with the events here? :: A good number of people now wants her dead, or at least punished for what she had been doing. This includes not just the criminals and police, but also anyone on the streets whom she had offended – it includes a large number of people. Without Joker’s protection, she finds it difficult to move around safely. But she figures out that she will live her life her own way this time. The biggest mafia leader of the area is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), the crime lord who wishes to have full control over the Gotham City. Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) earlier worked as a singer in his club, but gets a promotion as his driver during important meetings, after he sees her fight on he streets. Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), the right hand man of Sionis losses a diamond which was supposed to be very important to him, and it turns out that it was taken by Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a young pickpocket who doesn’t hesitate to steal anything from anyone on the streets. The girl also swallows the diamond before being taken to the police station.

And what else is to follow with this strange series of incidents in Gotham City? :: At the same time, a vigilante known as The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) also appears on the streets, killing people all around the city, and nobody really knows what she is after. It does gives more of a head ache to Renee though, as she has been someone not able to get the credit even after working so hard in the police department. With murders happening with crossbows, and Harley also on the loose, Sionis wants the diamond back as soon as possible. For the same, he asks the help of every mercenary in the city, including Harley, who had also started calling herself a professional mercenary with her previous experience in Task Force X, the government funded group of criminals and supervillains. Harley breaks into the police station, and a number of mercenaries also follow her, but she manages to escape with the pickpocket kid, only to be continued to be hunted throughout the city. Dinah and Renee want to save the kid too, but time is running out.

The defence of Birds of Prey :: The film scores with its cast as expected, and while Margot Robbie has already proven herself as the crazy lover of Joker with a PhD in Psychiatry and experience with treating the craziest, Mary Elizabeth Winstead who is known more as the scream queen of horror flicks, has done fine work here – others are okay, even though I wouldn’t consider them to belong here as much as these two manages. The final fight scene scores high with the ambience being used there, and it is something which suits a horror movie more. There are also some humour added here and there, and for that too, the film is highly dependent on Margot Robbie, who seems to have got into that character so well again, and that makes one wonder what would have happened if Joker was also there. The fight sequences are nice, mostly when related to her, and even though left with less number of scenes, Mary Elizabeth Winstead also drops in nicely. The film is also full of colours, and they provide a special feeling to the movie.

The claws of flaw :: The absence of at least a cameo from Joker does have some effect on this film which could have used a little bit more of madness, as there seems to be a little bit too much sanity in here. Along with the same, the character of Rosie Perez seems to be weaker in comparison, and Ewan McGregor plays not that strong a villain as one would expect, with him being only a billionaire with a lot of henchmen – nothing more for him here. Some moments in the movie are also too silly, even when staying within the limits of silliness, and could have been avoided. The movie could have been shorter that way, and it should have stuck to Quinn to make that happen in a better manner. It is also a little bit too violent without reason, a quality which is not the best explored by a DC film. The film also leaves a question if it was trying to be a little bit of Charlie’s Angels by focusing on it as an action movie, but it is understandable, because Harley Quinn is that kind of a character, and only a little bit of the metahuman strength is unleashed here by anyone.

How it finishes :: DC Extended Universe always required more films which though differently, and this is surely one of them. There is a space being left behind after Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame nicely finished the biggest events of Marvel Extended Universe, and now it is up to DC to do the same and bring something grand, despite Justice League not doing that well as it should have managed, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice failing to gain appreciation. Unlike what was expected, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are the hopes of DC, and I would say that Suicide Squad was one too, even though many people were not really able to get their heads into it. Taking Harley Quinn out of it, and making this film will only help the next part of the second film on the squad when released, for Birds of Prey is a fun-filled entertainer which maintains the same feeling up to an extent, even though not beautifully poetic as that film happened to be. Once again, fun is guaranteed for sure.

Release date: 7th February 2020
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, Ewan McGregor

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bob Biswas

Vampire Owl: I am interested in this from the trailer itself.

Vampire Bat: There is a lot to be interested about, in there.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I feel that this could be my favourite film of this lead actor.

Vampire Bat: Abhishek Bachchan has been in need of such roles for long.

Vampire Owl: It seems that everyone around knows this particular character though.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the titular character is from a film which we didn’t watch.

Vampire Owl: Well, as this is a spin-off, I guess that it is fine enough.

Vampire Bat: You can always have more though.

Vampire Owl: I wonder if that would be possible with more theatre releases.

Vampire Bat: We have shifted to OTT from theatres. The rest will be history.

[Gets some French fries and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Bob Biswas (Abhishek Bachchan) is a former insurance agent who has been in a comma for years, and has now come back to his senses, only to find out that he doesn’t really remember anything, despite the best efforts of everyone around him. He is told that he has a wife, Mary Biswas (Chitrangada Singh) along with their daughter Mini (Samara Tijori) and son Benny (Ronith Arora). It turns out that he has earned almost nothing from his work as an insurance agent, and he also understands that they are still living in a small rented home. Mary and Benny tries their best to make him remember his past through different incidents which serve as catalysts. Mini spends all her time studying so that she could become a doctor at some point of time. She is so much focused on the same that she even looks out for drugs which help her to concentrate better on her studies. As she finds a new kind of drug which can help her in examinations, there is also the addiction that comes with it. She wanders through risky territories searching for the same.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One day, two strangers, Jishu Narag (Bhanu Uday) and Kharaj Sahu (Vishwanath Chatterjee) approach him, and ask him to get back to what he has been doing the best, which is assassination of chosen targets. He doesn’t really believe them though, and keep on going with his life, as well as meet some possible clients as an insurance agent. Soon, he finds himself murdering a man in the neighborhood, as that person was disturbing his daughter with his loud singing, and this comes as a surprise for him. He continues the murders, as a dealer of the drugs, Bubai (Purab Kohli) and his henchmen also become his victims, with him regaining his lost talents. Later, there are other targets added to his list. Indira Verma (Tina Desai) is in charge of the investigation about a few murders which have happened around. She suspects that Bob and Mini have something to do with them. Meanwhile, there is a war going on between different gangs, and some police officers are also part of it. Still, it is yet to be seen if something can be done about it.

The defence of Bob Biswas :: There is something not Bollywood-like about this movie, and that is indeed the strength here. Shot in the city of Joy, Kolkata does give this film some real life with the visuals and the lifestyle. There is always something different about a movie which is shot in Kolkata, and it is not just about Hindi films – we feel a lovely divergence, and a joy which comes with the nickname of the city itself. This kind of setting also suits the film’s genre-blurring, as it is partly a thriller and at times it is drama, with a good dose of action coming at times and getting stronger by the end of the film, as the mystery is finally unveiled almost completely. The emotions run high around here, as much as the mystery which has the need to get solved early enough. There is also a good amount of humour in store here, especially with some black comedy, often related to murders and death. The same is more or less about Abhishek Bachchan, who has done a job which one would love to remember him for – not like the highly forgettable sequels of Dhoom, which have gained all the money at the box-office.

Positives and negatives :: Bob Biswas can be felt as a little bit slow, and kind of lengthy, considering the fact that in the early moments, it doesn’t pick up the pace. Even when it gets into that crime memory quick enough, the overall pace is still the same – yet, there is beauty in this slow pace. There are also reminders of Hollywood movies here, like The Accountant, John Wick, Gemini Man and Hitman, but nothing much is that clear about the origins and rise of this particular assassin, and instead of making this one an origin story, everyone is more concerned about making sure that this one keeps going towards a possible sequel. The subplot doesn’t really work that much, and the movie could have done well without the same. The Kolkata settings could have also been used in the form of some trams at night, the crowded railway stations and the charming old buses, all good enough to contribute to a tale like this. Also, too many characters are dead very easily, and we also have the absence of a single strong villain here, despite menace being always there. Those who seems to be good enough for the same are also dead early, much to our dismay.

The performers of the soul :: This is Abhishek Bachchan’s best movie in a long time, and one can only be glad to see him in this particular avatar. He has blended in nicely into this character with some special problems. Chitrangada Singh plays the lady lead really well too, and we don’t see her that often these days. Samara Tijori who plays the daughter, also has some interesting work to do, even though the character doesn’t get the dimensions as it deserves. She could surely be a talent for the future. Tina Desai’s work comes as the big surprise, as we have been remembering her for the much underrated, but very much memorable thriller, Table No. 21 which also had a song to remember with her around. One has to wonder why she didn’t get that many big roles, as she makes a solid police officer here too, reminding one of Tapsee Pannu in Naam Shabana and Baby – maybe her character could also have a full-length action movie spin-off at some point of time. We note the other characters too, but not that much individually in comparison to these.

How it finishes :: Bob Biswas is known to have come from the movie Kahaani, but I haven’t watched that particular film, and have manage to watch only its sequel. My only relation there is with Kahaani 2, which proved to be a pretty good movie. This movie is also strong with its themes, as guilt and remorse keeps on running through here, with a church and a cemetery at the centre. The message about one’s terrible crimes coming back to haunt the person is evident, and we see the man going John Wick in style, making the final moments of the film very much enjoyable. Unless you are looking for the traces of a Vidya Balan film from a long time ago while making comparisons, this one is surely a fully enjoyable journey despite the slower pace at parts. There is always something about this film, and you have to keep the Bollywood-style requirements away, as this one completely moves away from that mindless comedy. With the theatres opening again, these OTT films have to be very good to keep one watching things online, and Bob Biswas succeeds in doing the same.

Release date: 3rd December 2021 (ZEE5)
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Diya Annapurna Ghosh
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Chitrangada Singh, Paran Bandopadhyay, Purab Kohli, Barun Chanda, Bhanu Uday, Amar Upadhyay, Kanchan Mullick, Samara Tijori, Ronith Arora, Ditipriya Roy, Karanuday Jenjani, Vishwanath Chatterjee, Kunal Verma, Pabitra Rabha, Yusuf Hussain, Tina Desai, Rajatabha Dutta

<— Click here to go to the previous film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hindi film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cadaver

Vampire Owl: I have got some doubt if they are talking about us.

Vampire Bat: This is surely not about the undead. You can have my assurance.

Vampire Owl: Well, dead people have no rights in the human world. So, we cannot be sure.

Vampire Bat: Such doubts that you have are usually wrong.

Vampire Owl: This is just our second Norwegian film to be watched.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the last one, Lake of Death was a good one, right?

Vampire Owl: There is something sinister about these movies. I can feel it.

Vampire Bat: You can reserve your feelings for later, after watching the film.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but I am a vampire of extreme doubt, you know that.

Vampire Bat: Yet, you remain the leader of a large vampire battalion.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of Darjeeling tea].

What is the movie about? :: One of the big Norwegian cities was hit by a nuclear disaster, and people struggling to survive with devastation all around. There is no hope for future in this post-apocalyptic situation – food is very difficult to find, and there is also no electricity. Dead bodies could be seen in different parts of the city with devastated buildings, and the climate seems to be very rough, as news about nuclear disasters, conflicts and possible world wars are everywhere. Leonora (Gitte Witt) and Jacob (Thomas Gullestad) live in this particular city with their little child, Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman). The child has regular nightmares, as they live alone in what seems to be an abandoned apartment. They understand that they cannot just hang in there with nothing left other than each other. It is then that they find out that there is a theatre play happening nearby, with a free meal. They understand that it is their chance to have some food for the family, and decides to go there at night, even though they do have some initial doubts about the same.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Leonara hopes that these are the signs of things getting better, and her optimism leads them to the thaetre building – she feels that even if the meals are not enough, they could still have some fun, which the child desperately needs. Even though Alice is first refused entry, the hotel director, Mathias (Thorbjorn Harr), personally gets there and allows the child inside. The building seems to the one last thing standing tall in between all the destruction around. They are all happy to see what is like a new world for them, with a lot of food and it is more like a festival. Everyone seems starved, and they all eats as much as they want. There are other people who are also there for the first time. Mathias tells the guests that the play will be performed by using the whole hotel without curtain, seats and intermission. Everything during the night would be part of the show, with spectators given masks to wear, and the actors would be without the masks, as they move around.

And things can get only stranger in this world of chaos :: The performance starts all of a sudden, without a warning. The guests have the option to attend any performance at any part of the huge building with so many rooms and floors. Everyone keeps looking for things that would catch their interest, and there are so many different spaces without masked people. As everyone keeps walking around, soon Leonara and Jacon understand that Alice is not with them anymore. They remember seeing her just before, but now she seems lost. They keep searching for them, while others also seems to have lost people who were with them. Soon, it seems that there are no more spectactors, and all of them seems to have disappeared without trace. The show still seems to continue in the same manner, but without people. There are some strange trapdoors and creepy rooms around, while things only get more sinister as they keep moving on. It seems that we have more than what meets the eye with this particular building and the show – how dangerous is it?

The defence of Cadaver :: There seems to be so many mysteries hidden in this particular world, and after the initial introduction to the world of chaos hit by an apocalyptic world, we have a terrifying post-apocalyptic world outside, and we are then introduced into something even more frightening inside a building, that is two levels of horror unleashed without warning. The world inside is creepier than one can imagine. The structure, with its creepy corridors, rooms, paintings, darkness – this old-style building is something which will stay in our minds for a very long time. The terror that the movie brings feels much realistic than it is supposed to be, because it is more or less a reflection of humanity and the inherent evil that has led it for a long time throughout history. People have always been evil, as William Golding had shown in Lord of the Flies, a long time ago – it is the same reflection that we see here. As we look at where humanity has reached as of now, what happens in this film is only a little distant probability, for modernity has taken a part of everyone’s soul, as people go for riches above everything else.

Positives and negatives :: The film could have made itself a bigger blood and gore fest with terrifying secrets being brought to light on after the other, but it gains some remarkable ground in its current form. There were more opportunities in between, with all those strange acts being possible with this premise – the film could have used it for the better. The conclusion is pretty good, there are some moments in between that seems to stretch the movie rather than doing anything else. There is also a little bit of predictability, but we can go past that quick enough. Yet, when you are transported into this particular world, you are more or less in a mystery which seems to get thicker and thicker as time passes. When you have a horror thriller set inside a strange building which is part of a post-apocalyptic world, what can be there other than consistent scope of danger? Well, that much has been achieved really well with this particular movie which thrives on its atmosphere again and again. The idea of survival of the fittest, when applied here works remarkably well. The performances are pretty good, but that is not the focus here.

How it finishes :: This Norwegian film seems to rise above the usual horror flicks, as it rises above the genre which has depleted some of its strengths due to modernity and the lack of belief in traditions. The way in which Cadaver uses its scares should come as inspiration to Hollywood too, as one cannot always depend on The Conjuring, Insidious, Annabelle, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe among others to do the thing, and even come up with more and more sequels, for originality matters. Cadaver is innovative enough to create something special out of an already terrifying premise, and the ability to display some extra skills to keep the audience engaged makes sure that this is one of the most effective horror flicks of these times. The atmosphere, setting, situations – all seems to come together so well. If you haven’t watched this one, you are missing the opportunity to watch a well-made horror movie making unexpected impact. This is indeed a film to stay with you even after the whole thing ends – as effective as you can expect from such a world of mystery.

Release date: 22nd October 2020
Running time: 86 minutes
Directed by: Jarand Herdal
Starring: Gitte Witt, Thomas Gullestad, Thorbjorn Harr, Tuva Olivia, Kingsford Siayor, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Jonatan Rodriguez, Trine Wiggen

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rogue City

Vampire Owl: A rogue city is what we can call a city belonging to the werewolves.

Vampire Bat: You are classifying a whole species into rogues.

Vampire Owl: I think that this should have been done as a declaration a long time ago.

Vampire Bat: Vampire Elders have been against the same since last war.

Vampire Owl: They can say anything, as they are too old to take a strong stand.

Vampire Bat: We cannot devalue the werewolves that much.

Vampire Owl: We have done that for zombies, and so we can do the same everyone.

Vampire Bat: Well, not for the witches, for we can never do that.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I know. It is never the good time to blame a witch.

Vampire Bat: At least we get to agree on one thing in the end.

[Gets a French Naugha cake and three cups of masala tea].

What is the movie about? :: Marseille is caught in the middle of gang wars, as there is something dreadful happening at all times. There are drug deals, smuggling, murders and robberies related to these gangs, which has put a lot of pressure on the police force. A new police chief arrives, and the risk for the police force has never been this high in an already dangerous city which cannot afford mistakes from the side of cops. There are always talks about honour, honesty, courage and other qualities along with quotes from the Holy Bible and other literature, but none of these matters as there seems to be a war going on at all times, sometimes directly, and at other times, hidden for normal view. There is no love, but there is war, and everything seems to be fair in that, and one often wonders which side a person is on, or who is at risk of being killed by which gang. To this uncertain future of violence, a few people seems to be able to make some changes.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, there is a shoot-out at a party, and Mario Costa (Moussa Maaskri) who is in charge of the investigation fakes a report that the man whom they got in custody attacked him, and was shot dead in the process. At the same time, there are rumours about top secret information being provided to the gangsters by some corrupt police officers. The people who were killed in the shoot-out were part of an Arab gang who were trying to increase their influence among the territories of other gangs. They hope to find out what the dead man was doing in the club, and a determined officer Richard Vronski (Lannick Gautry) is determined to find out what really happened with the shooting, and he also hopes to find the rat in the police force and deal with it himself rather than waiting for the superior officers to make a move. But it seems that all of these is bigger than them, and they might be fighting something which they don’t really know that well.

The defence of Rogue City :: There seems to somewhat a realistic mode being followed in this particular movie. We have a city in France that has gangster infestation, and some of the police also takes sides, leading to so many gunfights between the sides. There is a lot of action that goes on here, and most of it is related to gunshots between police and gangsters, as well as in between them. There are also some twists related to the same being added here. It also maintains a certain amount of the dark mood here, as almost everything about this movie is grim, and that close to reality. The visuals of the city are beautiful, and even in the darker shades of the nights, they have our attention. It does remind one of some of the films set in other parts of Europe with terror awaiting in the streets. The melancholy feeling runs through here, and the same never leaves the film behind. The actors and actresses nicely get into the scheme of things.

The claws of flaw :: The film does provide the feeling of not being polished enough, and it moves on in a rather raw state. It doesn’t provide that much focus towards the thrills and twists when there was so much of chance. The film also moves in a slower pace than one would expect it to. With a shorter run-time, maybe it would have worked better, as some of the scenes and dialogues pass on as the extra thing rather than anything else. The characters that we have here are also not given that much of a depth, and some of them seems to be there to fill up the spaces more than anything else. There is surely more talent and more opportunities here to be explored. The ending is also not that satisfactory, as if all these had to come to this for no real reason. This film really needed to know where to stop, but it goes on adding something or the other, seemingly because there was the feeling that a little more is needed.

Performers of the soul :: Lannick Gautry plays the main character, and indeed the most solid one among the police officers as well as the gangsters. This is the one character who has that kind of a determination which we associate with some of the tragic heroes we have come across in our own films here too. David Belle is the most noticeable actor here, and we remember him the most in Brick Mansions where he combined forces with Paul Walker. But for some reason, his special physical discipline and fight technique of parkour is not used here – the same could have added a lot to the film, and changed the action scenes completely in a stylish manner. Barbara Opsomer is the next person to catch our attention – she is there in the background for most of the time, but has a big influence on the scheme of things as it nears the end. We remember Jean Reno the most for that funny role in The Pink Panther, and he has a solid presence here, and so does Moussa Maaskri. Jeanne Bournaud, Stanislas Merhar and Kaaris, all has something notable to leave for us.

How it finishes :: Rogue City, also known as Bronx has another crime thriller drama going on well with it possesses. It could have used its elements to create a better effect, which it doesn’t, but it remains pretty much solid and realistic during most of its run-time. For those who are interested in this genre, this will something of higher significance. After all, these are the days in which the value of human life is priced at a much lesser amount. With Corona virus on one side, and the even more lethal humans with no remorse on the other, we need movies like this one as a reminder. We had seen a different version of younger gangsters in the Italian film Piranhas, and this one is the more advanced, darker version, also resembling the Spanish film, Adios. There is no change in the basic idea that Lord of the Flies had provided us long ago though, for the inherent evil always has a big enough role to play, and people tend to move too much into the dark grey area.

Release date: 30th October 2020
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Olivier Marchal
Starring: Lannick Gautry, Stanislas Merhar, Kaaris, David Belle, Patrick Catalifo, Jean Reno, Claudia Cardinale, Catherine Marchal, Erika Sainte, Barbara Opsomer, Ambre Pietri, Jeanne Bournaud, Moussa Maaskri, Francis Renaud, Gerard Lanvin, Eriq Ebouaney

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cross the Line

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Spain has become my dream country again?

Vampire Bat: I thought that you were going to Romania.

Vampire Owl: All vampires are supposed to have some interest in Romania.

Vampire Bat: Does that lead to an interest in Spanish movies?

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why it shouldn’t.

Vampire Bat: Well, we already have some interesting Spanish favourites.

Vampire Owl: This seems to be the more critically appreciated type.

Vampire Bat: That doesn’t guarantee that this could be your type of a movie.

Vampire Owl: There is no my type of movie unless I make one.

Vampire Bat: Well, vampires don’t make movies, but do watch them.

[Gets a pineapple cake and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Daniel (Mario Casas) is a shy and good-mannered man who is working at a travel agency in Barcelona. He is very much interested in his job, and loves his family consisting of his father and sister. After their father dies, Dani’s sister Laura (Elisabeth Larena) arranges a trip around the world for him from his own company, as he was the one who was taking care of their father, and might be missing the presence of their bed-ridden father. He is not really fond of the trip though, and he is not interested in changing his lifestyle either. He hopes that he can cancel the trip because there is a two week window, and therefore he just accepts the idea. It is then that he comes across a girl at a restaurant and cafe where he often spends time over a burger, and meeting this girl, Milagros (Milena Smit) changes how things would go about in his life from then. She borrows a small amount from him, and is not happy because she really wants to give it back to him.

So, what happens with the events here as some twist is coming up? :: She keeps asking him to come with her for the money despite him not wishing for it to be returned. They take a walk through the street to the place where she works. Finally, as she is a tattoo artist, decides to give him a tattoo instead. He is reluctant again, but finally decides to go for one due to her consistent persuasion. He becomes interested in her, and therefore, he continues to follow her when she asks for his company. But as he goes to her apartment, her interest in him stays only for a few minutes. Soon, things take a twist, and things are not as what he had thought they were. He would commit a murder due to the circumstances, and soon people would be after him, and it won’t be about just police looking for the murderer. These are not the circumstances which he thought he would have to go through at any point of his straightforward life, but he would have to work through it. Now his life has changed, but unlike what his sister thought, it is not for the best.

The defence of Cross the Line :: The film has managed thing nicely with less resources, and it something which we can appreciate. We can also see the beautiful colours on the screen as well as the spaces which also have that beauty about it. There is some nice music being used here, and the sound effects are really good. The film also serves as a morality tale in disguise, as it talks about what can happen when one crosses the line, hence the title being justified here. There is the side effects of what can happen when one immediately begins to trust someone, especially someone beautiful – you should always have limitations in a world like this, where things are not the same as what seem from outside. The situation of such a person is shown perfectly, without the addition of melodrama or extraordinary elements, and a change coming upon him is also visible. All these happen very quickly, and lasting only about three hours, there is no time being wasted here. It is a continuous busy ride from the beginning, even though the elements of thriller come up later only, and we stay close to the protagonist.

Positives and negatives :: Cross the Line, originally known as No Mataras, is no usual thriller, as it goes on from a drama to thriller half way, more or less like Drishyam and its remakes which changed the mood at the centre stage. So, there is that certain diversion, and some people might have wanted the mood in the beginning to continue, and others might have wanted a full thriller, but this one depends on that twist of events to make things happen. It also has no character development of others as it is completely focusing on the protagonist all the time, giving no importance to others except for in moments. It also ends too soon, and the ending could have had a certain amount of extraordinary, as this film is not something which is not scared of taking the risks. Along with that, Barcelona is among the top ten cities which I want to visit in my life, and in Western Europe, it is the first place which I wish to travel to, and I would hope that the same could be achieved some day, but after COVID-19 pandemic, you never know where you will end up.

Performers of the soul :: The performance from Mario Casas won him the Best Actor Award at the Goya Awards, Spain’s prestigious national annual film awards, and it is no surprise when we watch the film. The performance is realistic, and as far as performances from actors in foreign films are concerned, I would consider his work to be among the best, and something which should have all that appreciation. I had also loved his performance in Adios which released earlier. Along with the same, Milena Smit was also nominated for Best New Actress Award, coming very close to winning that one – when we look at her work here, even though not lasting throughout the film, is really good. She excels with her emotions, and I would love to see more of her in other movies, maybe in Hollywood too. The situations without money and clothes would seem to make her vulnerable, but it can be seen that her character dictates things even when it doesn’t seem so – a character at the strongest when dumped in a relationship, or when fully naked. Fernando Valdivielso was also nominated for Best New Actor there, and he had some good short time in the film too. Elisabeth Larena is a strong name in the film too, and in a film which is dominated by the main actor, she has her moments.

How it finishes :: The movie focuses on one character, and it has two others who are there for enough time to call them as providing support, and with these itself, the film manages to do very well. Serving as a message to what could happen if you cross the line, and also showing how much it can change a person, the film does the same very effectively. The thrilling moments of the film are supported really well by the music that runs in the background. The tension-filled atmosphere being nicely built, this is the kind of film that stays with you for the experience. With seemingly lesser budget and minimal characters, what the film has managed needs to be appreciated. One can be sure that there are many things that can be learnt from this particular film, and this one with its ending seems to taunt us to ask for a possible sequel too. Well, with films like these, it is only fair to hope for more, as it was short and we would have wished for it to go on for more.

Release date: 16th October 2020
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: David Victori
Starring: Mario Casas, Milena Smit, Elisabeth Larena, Javier Mula, Fernando Valdivielso, Aysha Daraaui, Javier Mula

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Spanish film review here.

<— Click here to go to the first big budget Spanish film review here.

<— Click here to go to the most popular Spanish in this part of the world reviewed.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chehre

Vampire Owl: How many faces do we see here?

Vampire Bat: The faces of humans do not matter at all.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that it would matter to us more at some point.

Vampire Bat: The human identity is no longer significant in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: Well, at least we can know the lying faces early.

Vampire Bat: Well, it is the only thing that humans do throughout their lives.

Vampire Owl: I did trust too many humans, and that has made a mess. They are the true villains of all realms.

Vampire Bat: Humans are all about lying, cheating and stealing. Being the villains of the universe comes naturally to them.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would say that demons are better.

Vampire Bat: Let the zombies for eat their brains then.

[Gets an orange cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sameer Mehra (Emraan Hashmi) is forced to travel through some strong winter in the mountains. He wishes to go to Delhi, but is forced to stop in the middle of nowhere, as the climate only gets worse, and his car is stuck, with trees right in the front. He searches for a hotel or a guest house to wait until the tree is removed by the authorities. He then comes across Paramjeet Singh Bhullar (Annu Kapoor) who asks him to join come to a friend’s place until things get any better, even though there are not signs of something like that happening. He is taken to the house of Jagdish Acharya (Dhritiman Chatterjee), and he also meets Hariya Jatav (Raghubir Yadav) there. Anna (Rhea Chakraborty) is already present there, helping everyone in the building, who are pretty much old. The mobile phones have no network connection out there, and the landlines also do not work, much to the dismay of Sameer who wishes to connect to his wife.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The group of old men is also joined by Lateef Zaidi (Amitabh Bachchan), who reaches there despite the snowfall getting much worse. Sameer is surprised to see everything that happens around this house in the middle of nowhere, which is nothing less than a grand mansion of some older time period. They tell Sameer that they meet there and play a strange game in which these retired professionals of law conduct mock trials. They take some very old well known case and go on with the same. In the beginning, they talk about the case of Phoolan Devi, but later chooses Sameer as the accused. Sameer says that he hasn’t committed any crime, and is ready to face anything that is put in front of him. He is confident that he will win the game, and none of these people are good enough to pose any challenge to him. But there is more than what meets the eye to these people in the mansion.

The defence of Chehre :: What works really well for Chehre is its setting in the middle of nowhere, with snow all around, and the building is also a thing of visual splendour which we cannot avoid. Everything is perfectly suited for what is to happen next in the film. It also seems to come up with a message, even though it seems to be confused about where that is leading. But it never leaves the messages behind, that is for sure. The film does stand for the right judgment and the need for justice to be served, even though it seems almost impossible to be done when law has its loopholes. The cast is also nicely selected here, and we see the signs of the same at different moments. It does need some courage and skill to create something like this which go highly unconventional, and one cannot deny the fact that there is some good research done in the background – the risk does have its own effectiveness to go with it.

The claws of flaw :: The initial introductory dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan during the beginning itself is one of the least interesting starts to a film, and it keeps us wishing to fast forward throughout those dialogues. There are many other dialogues which were not necessary, and often goes out of the equation, seemingly just for the sake of bringing them. Too much speech here adds to the struggle, which also lengthens the film too much. When you keep talking too much without coming up with any action, people can only be confused. Preaching doesn’t always get you were you want. It also struggles to use most of its elements in the best possible manner, even though there were indeed the available opportunities. This could have been something like Pink, or something stranger than we could ever imagine, but the same is not done here. There was even scope for bringing something supernatural into the scene.

Performers of the soul :: Amitabh Bachchan controls things around here, and he makes things clear from the beginning itself. We have seen him doing this a lot, in different movies belonging to various decades. The rest of the support including Annu Kapoor, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Raghubir Yadav are very much suitable for how the game moves on. They are all different when we look at them, and have some interesting perspectives. Emraan Hashmi is also pretty much suitable for this kind of role. Siddhanth Kapoor plays a mute role, a notable one indeed. Rhea Chakraborty shows some promise, but the role is not carried on that much, even though the world could have had more for her. Krystle D’Souza makes a bigger impact, as she blends in very well to the character. There is a certain amount of mystery about her character, and even with some predictability, leaves one with more than what originally meets the eye.

How it finishes :: Chehre is a mystery thriller which can surely boast about its moments, and even though known as an uncredited adaptation of a German novel named A Dangerous Game by Friedrich Durrenmatt, makes its point well within its adapted environment. During the days of COVID-19, containment, quarantine and lockdown, we all love to watch movies set in remote worlds. It is a fine decision to release this movie on Amazon Prime Video, some days after its release in the theatres, as we are yet to see the theatres being opened here. We do know that the movie could have been much better, but for now, we adjust with what we have, and enjoy it in moments. After all, the world as we know it also has had its own limitations in the last one and half years. Nothing is the same any more, and we enjoy what we have here, with less than three months to go to end another year of virus and all kinds of terror to behold.

Release date: 30th September 2021 (Amazon), 21st August 2021 (Theatre)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Rumi Jaffery
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi, Krystle D’Souza, Rhea Chakraborty, Annu Kapoor, Raghubir Yadav, Alexx O’Nell, Sameer Soni, Dhritiman Chatterjee

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hindi film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.