A Monster Calls

amonstercalls-2

Vampire Owl: Do you know that a monster did call me before?

Vampire Bat: Yes, the potato chips monster.

Vampire Owl: No, a real monster.

Vampire Bat: What did he say?

Vampire Owl: He said that he would eat me for dinner.

Vampire Bat: Oh! A monster that eats the undead for dinner. This should have been in the news.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it was April Fool, coming right from Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Bat: According to the humans, we are surely monsters. So, from another perspective, it is true.

Vampire Owl: But we are vegetarian.

Vampire Bat: Yes, that is indeed our specialty which is to remain the same.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with potato chips].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy named Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is in a state of worry due to his mother Elizabeth Clayton’s (Felicity Jones) cancer. She keeps telling him that she is getting better, but the truth is that she is not. It is only getting worse, and she is slowly and steadily moving towards her end. It is difficult for him to accept the same, and with his father Mr. O’Malley (Toby Kebbell) being separated from him and living far away from them, he has not many people to look forward to. He is also targeted by Harry (James Melville), a bully at the school, and he is asked by his grandmother Mrs. Clayton (Sigourney Weaver) with whom he doesn’t have a great relationship, to move to her home with her. But Conor is more frustrated by the idea of moving to his grandmother’s home than about being bullied by his classmate and his friends.

So, what happens next? :: One night at exactly 12:07 a.m., Conor comes across a strange tree-like monster (Liam Neeson), that tells him it is going to come up with three stories, after which Conor has to tell the monster his own story, which is the truth behind the nightmare that he keeps seeing. The first story is that of an old king who has lost all his sons battling giants, dragons and great wizards who led men and creatures of darkness. The only heir he had was his grandson who was loved by all people of the kingdom. But at his old age, he gets married to a beautiful woman, after which he falls ill and dies. With the prince not old enough to claim the kingdom, the queen becomes the ruler, and the prince runs away with his love, a farmer’s daughter who seems to be murdered. This queen who is claimed to be a witch, is supposed to be behind the death of both the king and the lover, is saved by the monster, as he claims – Conor wonders why.

So, how do things go from here? :: The second story is that of an ill-tempered, greedy apothecary who follows the old ways of medicine, and pesters a local parson to let him cut the yew tree in the churchyard. The parson who is a man of strong faith is against the apothecary who grows in hatred towards everyone around. But when the parson’s two children gets ill, he asks the apothecary for help, and even offers the yew tree and a change in his own belief. But the apothecary refuses to help him, and the children die. The tree then takes his monstrous form and begins destroying the house of the parson, much to the dismay of Conor who doesn’t understand why the creature is not destroying the house of the apothecary instead. As the third tale nears, Conor’s relationships with his father and grandmother worsens further, and his mother’s disease also gets worse – now, the question remains if the creature can actually heal his mother.

The defence of A Monster Calls :: There is sadness in A Monster Calls, and you can feel it all the way from the beginning to the end. The monster has the message to move on with one’s life, and survive through the unexpected pains – on what it takes to live through the certainty of losing a loved one. It uses all the available themes to its advantage, and tells the message with ease. All the characters used here points to that one message. It has all which are needed to strike you emotionally, and at the same time, despite being a fantasy movie, has more of real life in it with all the fiction that seem to be part of the world. It becomes more of a fairy-tale for the adults rather than children, as each point that its main characters make is worth pondering about. It makes one turn into one’s own mind and ask the same questions about humanity again and again, and at the same time, we get to see the nice creature detail to go with it.

The claws of flaw :: You can keep feeling a certain amount of drag throughout this flick, and those who are looking for the usual kind of fantasy movies are going to feel strange. If you can’t take some preaching, this one is going to be not the movie for you. There also seems to be an attempt to get more and more emotional with things, but that was really not needed, as there was a lot of the same, which came naturally. This is also based on a novel of the same name, written by Patrick Ness, and so it is up-to the author who wrote the screenplay for the movie as well as the fans to decide on how it did justice to the work. There is also the chance to miss out on the symbolism that one comes across in the movie, and so maybe the flick could have hinted on what it was planning to do – a lot of people should have felt that the monster is the usual one, but this one is not just a monster, but much more than that, and one needs to take that.

How it finishes :: The fangs of the message here is quite strong, and it is the performances which support the same more than anything else. You will see how well Lewis MacDougall takes the protagonist to the viewers so well. There is no doubt anywhere about how Sigourney Weaver gets us closer to things, and Felicity Jones makes us feel the pain. As the movie deals with a situation which most people will face in one way or the other, one can be certain that there is the need for A Monster Calls at some point, and we will have to take these messages from the movie right back home. Well, above them all, there is Liam Neeson as the monster, and there is nobody else who could be a monster who provides us with the best messages – proven here without doubt. What would you do when your own monster calls? Well, it is something to keep thinking about.

Release date: 23rd December 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson, James Melville, Geraldine Chaplin, Max Golds

amonstercalls

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Masaan

masaann

What is it about? :: Set in the city of Varanasi, this tale separates into two, bringing two stories together. One of them is the tale of Devi Pathak (Richa Chadda) with her boyfriend checking into a hotel room, but the police also follows them. As the police inspector tries to record their faces in his mobile phone, the scared boy locks himself in the bathroom, and in fear of humiliation in front of his family and friends, commits suicide much to the shock of Devi. But her trouble doesn’t end there as her father Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra) and herself are blackmailed by the corrupt police officer (Pankaj Tripathi) who demands what seems to be a huge amount of money for them, for not leaking her video into Youtube and other social media. As she keeps switching the jobs and running away from people, things just don’t get any better.

So, what is it about the second tale? :: The next story is that of Deepak Chaudhary (Vicky Kaushal) in the same city of Varanasi, hailing from a low caste that deals with the burning of corpses. But he wishes to go beyond the restrictions of his caste, and studies Civil Engineering at a polytechnic college. He soon meets and falls in love with Shaalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi), an upper-caste girl. Even though it takes time, she accepts his proposal. Even though he does find the courage to tell her about his caste and what his people do, she doesn’t hesitate in going forward with the relationship. She asks him to stay focused and look for camus placements to get a good job – she would accept him as his husband even though her parents won’t, as long as he has a job. But there is a twist waiting to wreck havoc in their lives too, and the question remains if Deepak can get himself out of the depression.

The defence of Masaan :: The biggest advantage of this movie is that it sticks to the common man and a town rather than going for the ultra-modern city life and its people – this one has also told the story in a realistic way without adding those usual Bollywood flavours. One can safely say that Masaan is a long way above a usual Bollywood movie. It works so well emotionally because its characters are not people wearing colourful dress and jumping around with loads of money, and still complaining about their “zindagi” which is not enough. These are not about the kind of spoilt people who blame their past and their parents for what has gone through in their lives – instead, these are responsible people, ready to fight, which is why we fall for them, and we want them to win – there is no moment in this movie that we don’t feel for them, as we go through the tragedy of life which still has hope here and there.

Claws of flaw :: This is not for the usual Bollywood fan-people who support movies which make no sense; this one stays away from that, and uses the real world instead of the exaggerated visions of life – it is not a flaw, but for some people, that means no entertainment. Yes, the movie is pretty much slow, and it won’t have people dancing to strange party music – I would certainly thank God for that. Maybe the ending could have brought something more, even though hope is still there at the finish, stretching its arms towards our protagonists. Finding fault with Masaan is not an easy job; unless you are the masala entertainment seeker who wish to label this one as not interesting and even boring – but trust me, as both these are not the things that we relate to this movie, even when we are sleepy. Masaan is that good, and its nice philosophical claws point towards a reflection of perfection rather than the flaws.

Performers of the soul :: Richa Chadda has an amazing outing in the movie, as her character makes us feel each moment of loss and sadness, and this one is also one of the stronger character that we have been seeing in Hindi movies – she is not the kind of person who blames her parents for her past and falls in love with everyone around, becoming so ambitious with “zindagi” that she cannot sleep and then needs a therapist. It is a character that we admire, and with this performance, the person we see on the screen gets better. Then there is Vicky Kaushal whose character’s feelings reflect on us so well. His bliss in love and his sadness in separation – all feel so real that we feel the need to get further away from the so called superstars of the industry; the best actors and actresses are seen in realistic movies, in the tales of the lives of common man, and not with those ultra-modern people who creates problems for themselves and needs someone to solve them.

Further performers of the soul :: Richa Chadda and Vicky Kaushal might be two names which not many people here knows, but they are among those real performers who act in the movies which are rather real, and not exaggerated. This is exactly the reason why we need new faces with skills instead of superstars; as it is proven here again that a movie shouldn’t be about the big stars and who they are, for there are only characters who need to be played with the needed features. Yes, there is also Shweta Tripathi as Shaalu Gupta who brings such cuteness to the screen that we begin cheering for the two to get married – she has some beautiful combination scenes with Vicky Kaushal that makes us feel for them, not just within this movie, but rather eternally. The next one who impresses us is Sanjay Mishra, and he is there doing the same throughout this movie. To add to it, the world itself is a character, as we see how it influence the people.

How it finishes :: There is a certain happiness and sadness that Masaan leaves one with. It is the happiness of having watched this beautiful movie, and at the same time, the sadness that we share with the protagonists of this movie who are troubled by what fate or destiny has provided them with. There might have been the tendency to move away from the beauty at the centre of everything, but the movie stays there and becomes a realistic film rather than moving towards that side which is too common in Bollywood. Masaan is a very significant movie as it tells us that there is real skill out there, and the best that comes from anywhere around Bollywood can be found among the movies collecting less at the box-office, and has not much of the so called superstars, both male and female. Masaan shows how good content can get better, and so close to perfection, and it becomes another reason why people need to watch realistic movies more, and leave the usual exaggerated and overrated works behind.

Release date: 24th July 2015
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Neeraj Ghaywan
Starring: Richa Chadda, Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Nikhil Sahni, Satya Kam Anand, Vineet Kumar, Niharica Raizada

masaan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.