Ballerina

Vampire Owl: I thought that this movie was called Leap!.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but the original name of the flick is Ballerina.

Vampire Owl: It was the cooler name – they should have kept it. Leap could be part of rather too many things.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Ballerina is the name that suits the flick, considering the content too.

Vampire Owl: I wonder why it is that animated dance movies prove to be better than simple and usual dance movies these days.

Vampire Bat: Because animated is cute and safer option.

Vampire Owl: Do you know that I had participated in a dance programme once?

Vampire Bat: And you won something, at least a small prize?

Vampire Owl: They made sure that I would never dance again.

Vampire Bat: For some reason, I am not really surprised about that. You are going need a cure for wellness.

[Gets three cups of elaichi tea with a piece of tea cake].

What is the movie about? :: In this story set in the 1880s, a young girl who lives at an orphange, Felicie (Elle Fanning) wants to do nothing other than to dance all the time – it is more like her only love, but her future is rather bleak, considering the situation. Her best friend in the orphanage is a smart young boy named Victor (Dane DeHaan) who wants to be an inventor, and also creates a few memorable inventions by himself there. Their plan is to escape from the orphanage and reach Paris, where Felicie plans to be a ballerina and Victor wants to be an inventor. There they separate their ways, and Felecie joins Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen), the cleaner of the Paris Opera who also works for Regine Le Haut (Julie Khaner), an extremely rich lady who owns the city’s most popular restaurant. There she meets Regine’s daughter Camillle (Maddie Ziegler) who is practicing for ballet.

So, what happens next? :: Camille finds Felicie to be a good for nothing girl, who will never be anything other than a cleaner. As she insults her and throws Felicie’s favourite item, her music box out through the windown, breaking it. An angry and depressed Felicie, while going out, is given a letter which was intended for Camille, admitting her to the Paris Opera Ballet. She decides not to show it to Camille, and take her position in the opera, posing as her. She is successful in doing the same, but struggles as she has no experience. Meanwhile, Victor become an office assistant at Gustave Eiffel who is building both the Eiffel Tower, the big landmark of the city, as well as the Statue of Liberty to be gifted to the United States of America. Both struggle in their work, not really able to make the impact that they thought they could make when they left the orphanage.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: Merante (Terrence Scammell), the teacher and choreographer at the opera tells the girls that one of them would be chosen to dance as Clara in The Nutcracker, and promises to make the selection quick by eliminating the worst performer of the group every day. Felicie is expected to be eliminated on the very first day, but escapes when someone else is injured and eliminated. Realizing that Odette used to be a ballerina during her time before getting injured, Felicie gets training from her, and hopes that she could improve herself well enough to keep surviving the elimination. But with so many things in her mind, it seems rather too difficult for her to keep focus, and her lie is also so close to being discovered. She realizes that she stands no chance if her identity is revealed, as she might be sent back to the orphanage, and also if she has to face someone as disciplined like Camille, there is not much chance. Against all odds, can she do it?

The defence of Ballerina :: The movie is more about achieving one’s dreams, none being too small. It calls for hard work, and not backing out, no matter how difficult or impossible the situation seems to be – it calls to do what we love, and keep loving the same. There are a few moments which bring the laughter, and the dance steps make one feel very good. The visuals of the city are also amazing. The movie also shows the usual attitude of the rich towards the poor, and how much the rich and the powerful tries to get their people all the opportunities, and talent don’t matter for them; there will always be the common people who do better. Still the attitude of the rich remains the same, as it has been shown in too many tales. It is strange that even after so many years, nothing has changed – the rich gets all the opportunities by birth, and the poor who gets rich becomes the oppressor at some other point. It is a strange world, but we should never stop trying to get to our dreams.

The claws of flaw :: One would have a feeling that achieving dreams of a higher level is only getting difficult these days, as only foul is fair in an evil world – every time we try to achieve something, there is more than one rich lady in front of us; there are thousands or millions of obstacles in the same place, and happy ending or happy continuation is more than just difficult in our world. We keep feeling that there could have been more of some stunning scenes of dance around here, as the scope was always there to make it bigger. It also takes some time to get itself to the ballet and serious dancing, and it is only balanced by the shorter run-time of the movie which leaves it with no dull moments – how can one find such a thing looking at such cute and wonderful animation? The boy’s tale could have also got a little bit more attention though, at least related to how far he has gone with his objective.

How it finishes :: Ballerina or The Leap! as it is known more, is another animated movie that you would love to add to that long list of interesting movies which ask you to go after your dreams without worrying about what would happen otherwise. It is the kind of inspiration that we have always wanted, and this movie gets to that fine list of animated movies, even though not that much there compared to those bigger flicks like Frozen, Moana, Zootopia, How to Train Your Dragon, Epic, Kung Fu Panda and many others which have gone on to become bigger names among all kinds of audience – Ballerina is also a movie which will work for everyone, and it is certain to appeal to children, as it is that cute. There are movies like Sing and Rock Dog which deals with the singing side, and Ballerina meets the dancing one – we see that all things get the needed inspiration. Well, no dream is to be left unattended.

Release date: 4th November 2016
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Eric Summer, Eric Warin
Starring: Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen, Terrence Scammell, Julie Khaner, Mel Brooks, Kate McKinnon, Elana Dunkelman, Shoshana Sperling, Joe Sheridan, Bronwen Mantel, Jamie Watson, Tamir Kapelian

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Invisible Actor

Vampire Owl: An invisible actor? Did the actor become invisible after a case was registered against him?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that it is not what they meant. There could be many meanings for the same.

Vampire Owl: Then, has the invisibility elixir been stolen from Doctor Frankenstein? This calls for code bloody red alert on level twenty eight!

Vampire Bat: When did he invent that? It is not even on the research list.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am sure that he would have invented that. He is just not telling us. People invent such things all the time in those science fiction books.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr. Frankenstein has any role to play in this short-film.

Vampire Owl: I am writing an article on the evil side of invisibility anyway.

Vampire Bat: Some people are just invisible even without the elixir.

Vampire Owl: Just like people being alive and immortal without the Elixir of Life.

Vampire Bat: It is another myth. What we have here is real.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The crew of a movie has gathered in an old style Kerala house to shoot for the biopic of a renowned Kathakali artist known as Govindan Master (Kalasala Babu). This particular person, whose name is only taken with so much respect, had such an undying love for the art form that he used to bunk his classes to see and learn it at the academy from a distance. It is said that his father, upon realizing his passion, and his lack of interest in regular studies, let him study Kathakali from an early age, and the art form had become his life, until his last breath. This Kathakali Master had given up his whole life for the same, not asking for anything in return. His performances had inspired many to follow his path, and had elevated Kerala’s own colourful contribution to the story play genre of art to another level. His Kathakali performances had made him a legend, with no parallels.

So, what happens next with this tale of making a biopic? :: It turns out that the superstar (Saiju Kurup) who is supposed to play the character is nowhere to be seen. The whole crew has been waiting for him for quite a long time, but there is no sign of him, and he doesn’t even attend the phone – everyone else is there, and they are worried when they will be able to begin the whole thing, and sends people searching for him at the hotel where he is staying and in the surrounding areas of the town. The breakfast time is over, the lunch is done, and finally the superstar arrives with that dialogue about him being a really punctual person. He listens to the story without much interest, while clicking on his mobile phone’s screen. He looks at the photo of the Kathakali artist as if it doesn’t matter – but little does he know that the character he is playing, is watching him.

Soul exploration 1: Of actors and superstars :: One can divide the movie world into two – one which has the actors, and the other which has the superstars. In our world, both often come together, but we often see some actors who deserve better than the superstars, but it is the superstar movie which go on to become the big hit each and every time. There are those one hundred crore movies in Bollywood, which have almost nothing in them other than its superstars – take a look at those top ten movies, and almost all of them have depended on their superstar rather than the actor. I would think otherwise – if Nawazuddin Siddiqui acts in a movie, I would watch that movie for sure, maybe even twice; whether it is Raman Raghav 2.0 or Te3n from last year. I have never really been interested in these superstars – the day they become more superstars and less actor, is the day they sacrifice their best part.

Soul exploration 2: Within and outside a character :: It is a usual thing to change the character to match that of the superstar – there are so many movies which make us feel the same, and naming a few of them would only bring the fan chaos on us. The superstars will say that they practiced cricket to play a cricketer, lived with gangsters to play a mafia don, slept at a cemetery for a horror movie, had classes at a music academy to play a musician and so on, but we know how fake that could be, just like they come on television and tell everyone that this is his or her best performance ever. But to become a character, the so called superstar needs to know the mind, thinking in the way the character think, and acting the way he would. Otherwise, it is the character that would become the superstar and not the other way around. Will some of our superheroes who need to know this realize the same one day?

Soul exploration 3: An eternity within a performance :: There should always be more in a flick with a performance than just being part of a big hundred crore movie. We have the need to see each character on the screen as a different person – it is the same which has been missing in some of those movies which degrade themselves into what is often termed as mass masala. There is the need to rise above the same, as what is often known to cater to this particular genre is nothing other than pure absurdity. It is the terrible and unfair strength of these mindless mass movies which have been devouring the actor and bringing the superstar out on too many occasions. Then there are those fan clubs which are only interested in turning the cinema halls which is for entertainment and thoughts, into something resembling nuisance. It has to be countered with not a mass performance, but with the beauty of an rternity within a work.

How it finishes :: The movie has two actors who have been rather underused by the industry if you look at their movies. Kalasala Babu amazes us in his presence for the short period of time, while we have Saiju Kurup who had some nice and funny roles in Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara doing a wonderful job as the superstar. They make the final few moments of this short-film rise to a higher level, and we have something which is worth more than a usual short movie. I have watched a good number of short-films in the last few days, with choosing to review only less than half of them which seem to be worthy, and among them, this one should have a top place. Invisible Actor wishes for the actor to become invisible and the character to take over when the shooting begins – it should be how we should differentiate actors from superstars; movies need actors, and they could let everyone keep the superstar side out, letting the acting flow, no matter how popular the actor is.

 

Release date: 6th July 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Avinash Chandran
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Kalasala Babu, Jayasankar, Akhil Lekshman, Arun, Naresh

Watch Invisible Actor here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Trolls

trolls-1

Vampire Owl: I have never liked the trolls. They are so bad.

Vampire Bat: People say that we will like them after watching the movie.

Vampire Owl: It is an animated movie, and the same can’t be used to judge a creature like this.

Vampire Bat: It is actually strange because the creatures in this movie doesn’t seem that huge or scary as they really are.

Vampire Owl: Yes, trolls are destroyers as much as we know.

Vampire Bat: Oh! I see that the movie is based on troll dolls.

Vampire Owl: Nowadays, trolls have dolls too?

Vampire Bat: No, they are based on cute little dolls of Danish origins, made for children.

Vampire Owl: I knew this would happen when they made it animation – the real ones can only be in a horror or action adventure movie.

Vampire Bat: DreamWorks Animation has brought this one for us. Let us see how it goes, for animated movies always keep a minimum standard.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with special aloo paratha].

What is the movie about? :: Trolls are supposed to be the small magical creatures that go through a state of happiness continuously throughout their lives. With their existence unknown to most of the world outside, they spend their lives hugging, dancing and singing – the only thing that they care about is having a party, and all these come with the same. This state of perpetual happiness comes into trouble due to an intervention from the outside. Soon they are discovered by the huge creatures called Bergens, who are never happy – living in sadness for eternity, they find a way to bring happiness home, as they could be happy for some time by eating a Troll. It would be considered one of the greatest discoveries for the Bergen world, as happiness just came to them without having to do anything else other than having food.

So, what happens next? :: Bergens decide that happiness is their right too, and for the same they take things one step further. The put the tree as well as the Trolls inside a cage, guarded by their troops, keeping the little creatures under their control until the huge annual fest which included everyone among the Bergens getting to eat a troll and thus getting a taste of true happiness. This festival known as the Trollstice arrives, and with the prince of Bergens Gristle (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) getting to eat his first troll, Chef (Christine Baranski) presents them with Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the princess and the next queen of the Trolls. But it turns out to be a decoy, and the Trolls lead by their king and great warrior, Peppy (Jeffrey Tambor) makes a grand escape through the underground tunnels. This leads to Chef being banished, as the Bergens feel that their prince will never know happiness in his life because he had never eaten a Troll.

And what follows :: With Chef sworn to capture all the Trolls and promising of having her vengeance, the happy group of little creatures find their new home far away from the Bergens. After twenty years had passed, Princess Poppy had grown into a very happy and extremely optmistic person who decides to throw in a huge party and make some noise. But another Troll, Branch (Justin Timberlake) opposes the plan, as he is afraid that it would attract the Bergens who will listen to the sound and find their way to the Trolls. With a possible Bergen attack always in his mind, he has even prepared an underground bunker with a lot food and other facilities in there, so he can hide there forever. Poppy and other Trolls find him as worrying for no real reason, but his fears come true as Chef finds them, and captures most of them for the Trollstice – now it is up-to Poppy and Branch to team up and rescue them.

The defence of Trolls :: There is absolutely no doubt about the facts that the kids are going to love this one – all those elements which touches a child are right here, and the grown ups could also like this one as long as they can choose to ignore that extra level of cuteness and the childish factor which are there. There is a lot of happiness in this movie, and the message also seems to be happy, stay so, and make sure that the others around you are happy too, with the right actions taken to bring them closer to that happiness, no matter how much that seems to avoid their lives. There is also the idea of coming back from a time of no hope, and having an attitude of not giving up, no matter what happens. There is also the idea of friendship, and we also see that everyone is special. There is also quality in the way the animated characters seem and behave. The voices are also nice, and very much suitable throughout.

The claws of flaw :: The title itself will be strange for most of the people here, as nobody has ever heard about the troll dolls in this part of the world as far as I know, even though it has surely worked in those areas where such dolls have existed and have been part of kids’ lives. Everyone knows only one kind of trolls which are huge creatures who are not really friendly as many movies and tales have depicted them. There is a lot of silliness in this one, and it is a fine task for the adults to go above that. There is also a lot of music in this one, and even though it is right for the genre, and will appeal to a group, there is nothing such as Frozen here that will stay for long. The whole world might seem too childish, and also too colourful if we look at them from a neutral point of view. It could have surely done better without that certain amount of stupidity which some character show, which is not really enjoyable – but Trolls does manage to rise above that. Even a better story was possible.

How it finishes :: The movie’s most significant message might be that happiness comes from inside, and not while affected by someone else, or by causing harm to anyone else – it is something that is always inside us, and we have to find them, maybe with a very little amount of help. But as a musical animated adventure, this one could have been more like Frozen, which was better suited for all ages of people – the characters here are too much for the children who are of an even lower age group than most of the other animated movies. This doesn’t go the Inside Out way either. But the message of Trolls, and the beauty of its characters are there to stay – you will realise the same as soon as you finish watching the flick, and there is no way that you will hesitate to watch Trolls with kids. You can also choose to think like a little kid, and make the Trolls get into your mind and heart. The question remains if you are ready to find that happiness which is hidden inside you!

Release date: 4th November 2016
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani, Jeffrey Tambor, Icona Pop, Ron Funches, GloZell, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis, John Cleese, Meg DeAngelis, Noodlerella, Ricky Dillon, Kandee Johnson, Walt Dohrn, Mike Mitchell, Grace Helbig, Curtis Stone, Rhys Darby

trolls

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

ABCD 2

abcd2 (2)

Vampire Owl :: I still don’t understand one thing.

Vampire Bat :: I know. This rush is not so natural considering the fact that this is day time on a Monday with no Khan presence or even Akshay Kumar, Hritik Roshan and those popular stars whom our audience has been appreciating so much.

Vampire Owl :: No, I am thinking about how American Born Confused Desi became Any Body Can Dance. Shouldn’t it actually be Anybody Can Dance and so called ACD?

Vampire Bat :: I think that they are talking about “any body” in which the word “body” stands for their dance team as a group. And it is also the body which moves.

Vampire Owl :: Do you know that missing a letter is still awesome? Like ABD of South Africa?

Vampire Bat :: I don’t really think that this movie will perform like AB DeVilliers.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t demand that much. We are only paying one hundred rupees here.

Vampire Bat :: Do you know that this queue is very large and the theatre is quite small?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, but I have counted the number of seats in this theatre, and according to my calculations, we will get through with around twenty seven seats to spare.

Vampire Bat :: You know, that sounds really weird.

[Waits in the queue].

What is it about? :: Suresh (Varun Dhawan) wishes to make it huge in dance competitions and prove his worth as his mother (Prachi Shah) herself was a famous dancer. His childhood friend Vinnie (Shraddha Kapoor) also has a similar wish, but their group is disbanded as they are branded as cheaters in a reality programme accused of copying steps from a famous dance team. Suresh wishes to go to Las Vegas for a big dance competition, and for the same, he and his friends hope to have Vishnu (Prabhudeva) as their choreographer, to which the man agrees. Despite an initial problem with the crowd and the organizers over their cheater tag, the team manages to win the competition at Bangalore to qualify for the big competition in the United States. But Vishnu does have more than one reason to go to Las Vegas, and the team has to battle their role-models to win – can they do that?

The defence of Any Body Can Dance 2 :: The movie achieves what is mostly expected of it, to provide those nice moves, some of them which are really amazing, and 3D makes a lot of it better. 3D actually takes over from the beginning title sequences itself. There is also a lot of style involved not only with those dance steps, but the way the surroundings are captured. The Bangalore dance sequence remains the best one in the movie followed by the one which they do against the team which they idolize. We have an Indian dance movie in 3D, and that too with two wonderful young stars and the master of dance, and it automatically becomes something we can be happy about, despite the flaws which can be found. 3D and dance – you know what to expect from this movie, and it is certain that most of the viewers have already watched or have known about its predecessor and they know what is coming. The ending is also fair.

The claws of flaw :: There are not many innovations or surprises with Any Body Can Dance 2. There is also not much with the story which goes on through the predictable lines. You can find too many things which comes quite natural to the movies as things start with the late mother’s wishes, goes on through difficulties in finding a teacher and team along with the financial difficulties to finally overcome them all to reach Las Vegas. Then there are also the extra additions which were rather expected, including injury to a member and some disease for another. There are also too many unnecessary problems created with the strange love triangle, one member’s tendency to run away and a number of off-stage fights with another team. Some of these things were seriously not needed. Also, the best dance sequence ends with the first half and it is not really the best thing to happen for the audience.

Performers of the soul :: Unlike the first movie, this one has a well-known cast. ABCD didn’t have that big a release here, and those bigger theatres didn’t have the movie in them even though the Tamil dubbed version did make an appearance here and there. But it is not the case with ABCD 2 as it was widely released and crowd has flocked to the theatres. Varun Dhawan does an okay job as the protagonist here. There is nothing special here but he is indeed good with the moves which he proves in this movie. Shraddha Kapoor is a joy to watch in the movie too, as she does some of those memorable movements – she has given it a lot, as it seems. We know how good Prabhu Deva can be in a movie like this, and it is once again proven. The supporting dancers are excellent as expected, and even the foreign actors do fine work.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s basic idea remains what one expects it to be – to have the lesser known or rather notorious dancers who work at random places for wages come together to make a big impact on a stage which is so huge that it would remain near impossible in the beginning, but so close by the end. The second half actually runs through things after adding some unnecessary sequences and in the end, there is no exceptional performance, and muscle show is the best that can be managed. After watching the trailer, what I was looking for was that dance sequence which was already over in the first half. A rise in the level isn’t there from the concluded half, and that hurts. A great finale was needed, even though “the stumble element” about which further talk would be a spoiler, could still prevail.

How it finishes :: We have just finished watched the Kannada and Malayalam versions of Mythri which told the story of another underdog, and here they go Step Up 3D with the underdogs of dancing. We are so much attached to such stories that even if someone tells us a story which is not real, we might fall for it. There are many motivational classes which find time to talk about one of them, even though there will be options to get them written from their lack of existence rather than reproduced from the presence. ABCD 2 is sure to work with most of the audience who are looking for entertainment, as even with its length and all the melodrama, the movie manages to make sure that there is not much drag. Whatever your favourite genre is, you have to appreciate the dance sequences and the effort which is put in here.

Release date: 19th June 2015
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Remo D’Souza
Starring: Prabhu Deva, Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Lauren Gottlieb, Dharmesh Yelande, Punit Pathak, Raghav Juyal, Pooja Batra, Prachi Shah, Jack Samuel Gill, Tisca Chopra, Kapil Sharma, Ganesh Acharya, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Remo D’Souza, Jineet Rath, Pooja Batra, Terence Lewis, Sushant Pujari, Pravin Bhosale

abcd2

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.