Freaks

Vampire Owl: It has been very long since we had a German film to watch.

Vampire Bat: You could have always watched German movies at will.

Vampire Owl: Well, we should watch them together as part of vampire brotherhood only.

Vampire Bat: You know that I am not always available.

Vampire Owl: Still, you are here now and ready for films.

Vampire Bat: I have been available only as part of my requirement to sign into Dracula Castle.

Vampire Owl: You only need to be here as much as you can. We can always find some worthy vampire horror time.

Vampire Bat: You can still watch as many movies as you want at the castle with the Vampire Crocodile or the Vampire Alligator.

Vampire Owl: You know that they watch films underwater.

Vampire Bat: Well, you asked them to watch a movie with you on the top of a mango tree.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with a quick flashback showing a destroyed area of a school, a crying child and blood as well as a destroyed building which seems like a school. The child is really upset, and we are quickly taken to the present where the rest of the action takes place. Now, Wendy Schulze (Cornelia Groschel) has grown up, and is living with her husband and son, while working at a diner. She seems to have some psychological effect of that incident as a child, and she is taking some pills which were prescribed by her psychiatrist, but mostly, everything seems quite normal. One day, she meets a homeless man named Marek (Wotan Wilke Mohring), and that brings a deviation to her life. His advice to her is to stop taking those pills which are prescribed to her, and he also reminds her that she is one of them, even though Wendy has no idea what is happening – she is quite shocked to see him jumping off a highway bridge only to be run over, but he is the same on the very next day, alive and seemingly even stronger.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Wendy does feel that there is something fishy about everything that has been happening around her, and decides to stop taking the pills, as he had advised. When she is attacked after leaving her shift, she discovers that she has some special powers, and uses them to get rid of the attackers with ease. Her colleague Elmar Mund (Tim Oliver Schultz) notices some of her skills, and as he also has similar powers, they have to work together to find the secret behind these superpowers – it seems that the government has been watching them, and there is more to it than what meets the eye. There could be a vast conspiracy behind all of these, and getting to the bottom of it would require more than one or two superpowers. Is Wendy good enough to live up to the new powerful lady reputation that she has gained, or will some sinister forces have the upper hand? What role does the other people with superpowers have to play, and why is the government so much interested in this?

The defence of Freaks :: Freaks acts as an origin story for a superhero franchise, like Gundala did in Indonesian, and it seems that there is a lot of scope in that. This movie does build up very nicely with that, and the first few moments are really good at doing the same. The music is really good here, and there is something beautiful about the same too. It could really support the superhero stuff when its at full strength with a sequel. The setting is also good, and very much suitable for the superhero stuff here, and there are some beautiful shots too support the same too. There is also some fine humour being added here, and this feels like something nicely managed with less special effects and graphics. New superhero movies are always welcome, and this one has an ending which calls for some more films to follow in a possible long franchise. The world has always been in need of its superheroes, and you even got Shazam! earlier and accepted the same.

The claws of flaw :: Freaks could have actually been more divergent, and there could have been the idea of bringing more variety to the superheroes. You do feel that you have seen this before, as you are aware of so many superheroes. There are similarities to Split and Glass which we can easily recollect, as superhero powers are suppressed, and the existence of such heroes are also not brought to light. There could have been some innovation in that, as going by the usual path seemed rather unnecessary. A few things are also too direct with this one, and even for an origins story, there is a certain amount of predictability being drawn here. The few moments before the climax are not that effective either, and one does wonder if this could have been better there. Some other superpowers could have also been unleashed here, along with more action. When so many of similar films have already been done, this one should have come up with the divergent ingredient, for it was also immensely possible – you learn from what you already have.

Performers of the soul :: Cornelia Groschel leads the way in the movie, as she does in the poster, and that is done really well. She is very good from the beginning, and her transformation is also worth it. She would make a fine superhero in a costume, and can come up with some fights if there is a sequel for this one – Freaks didn’t have that much of action to boast about. She could have surely used some of it though. At the same time, Tim Oliver Schultz does make a fine villain in the making, and if there is a sequel, that could serve his character really well, as changes to the same possible supervillain can be seen from a distance too. Wotan Wilke Mohring does some solid work as the experienced superhero, or metahuman as often referred to. Nina Kunzendorf plays the usual human antagonist going against humans with ease, and there are moments for her to be remembered too. The rest are lesser characters, even though we know that some of them are going to be very much relevant for a sequel, if there is one.

How it finishes :: It hasn’t been easy to find the best German movies, unlike the case with Spanish, French and Korean which were recommended by so many people. Movies of the Soul has had only three German movie reviews before this, the full-length Kidnapping Stella and Breakdown Forest, as well as the short film named AUFDRUCK. Freaks is a fine addition to that list, and is very much fun to watch. You don’t always need your Avengers and Justice League teams, for you can stick to the lesser ones which are also interesting enough. We have had our mutants, the X-Men who were too good. We can surely have more, and even though those from Bollywood have kept disappointing us, the others won’t. Freaks will serve as an example of the same. We could have superhero movies in all languages, for so much of budget is often not necessary – with Tovino Thomas starrer Minnal Murali also coming to Netflix, the Malayalam movie industry will not be that far away from the genre either.

Release date: 2nd September 2020
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Felix Binder
Starring: Cornelia Groschel, Tim Oliver Schultz, Nina Kunzendor, Gisa Flake, Wotan Wilke Mohring, Frederic Linkemann, Finnlay Berger, Thelma Buabeng, Ralph Herforth

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Paramedic

Vampire Owl: Another good Spanish film to watch? That sounds fair.

Vampire Bat: Well, we have always wanted to have more foreign movies to watch.

Vampire Owl: As we speak, the theatres are opening here too.

Vampire Bat: Well, the question remains – for how long?

Vampire Owl: So, you think that the next wave is coming soon.

Vampire Bat: I can already feel it to be close. One only has to wonder about the terror the virus can unleash this time.

Vampire Owl: Nobody is afraid of the Corona virus anymore.

Vampire Bat: They need to be afraid. It is a shame if they are not.

Vampire Owl: Well, people make their own strange choices these days.

Vampire Bat: Not people, just humans. All the other species are fine.

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

What is the movie about? :: Angel Hernandez (Mario Casas) is a paramedic who doesn’t care about his patients, and he also steals valuable items from them if he gets a chance. He is also disappointed about not having a child with his girl friend, Vanesa Francois (Deborah Francois) with whom he shares an apartment. He is also very possessive towards her, and blames her for them not having a child. But she wouldn’t care that much about the same, as she is ore interested in her work and advanced level of studies. Things get only worse when their ambulance which his colleague Ricardo (Guillermo Pfening) was driving meets with an accident, and Angel is paralyzed from waist down, leaving him on a wheel chair. This also further strains the relationship between him and Vanesa, and he begins to feel that she is cheating on him. His doubts only increase, and he also starts spying on her – when she realizes the same, she leaves him. But he still remains obssessed with her, and wouldn’t stop stalking her.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Soon, he comes to know that Vanesa has also started a relationship with Ricardo. Soon, he feels that they are going to have a baby, and that further disappoints him. As he goes through his therapy, Angel is more and more concerned about the sequence of events which had occurred earlier. Therefore, he decides to take matters into his hands and calls Vanessa to come back to their apartment, and take her remaining possessions. But when she arrives, he injects him with medicines that leave her unconscious, and ties her to the bed. He also sends messages to Ricardo from her mobile phone, about her not wishing to have the baby, and that she is also not interested in continuing the relationship anymore. He also injects him with drugs so that she temporarily losses the use of her legs. Now, he has plans of them living together like this, and also raise the baby which she would have. Now, it is up to her to try to escape, and him to continue with his strange plans. The question remains about who will succeed in the end.

The defence of The Paramedic :: The Paramedic is partly a thriller and in part a drama, as we look at it. There are moments which raise the level of the movie, and it is very strong in parts, as we look at it. Some moments will be remembered, even though not fully, and the weirdness and sadness of the main character who often gets psychotic will be remembered. The tension does become stronger at times, and at times, we have some anguish and melancholy taking over, even though not at the strongest with the same. Yet, the same doesn’t reach the full potential, even when we feel that it is rising. The setting is really good, with the Spanish streets and an apartment proving as good backgrounds to the work. For a good amount of time, the movie has a certain amount of realistic feeling, and it is also simple enough, even though its characters are indeed complicated. After all, considering the times in which we live in, there are not many things which are not possible among humanity which has come down by a long way.

The claws of flaw :: The Paramedic had the chance to be something bigger, but it doesn’t use its scope to the best advantage. After the premise changes, and the quick turn of events create something for the film to use in the best possibly ways, it keeps itself back instead. In between everything that happened in the movie, we could have been able to add so many things here and there, but this one chooses to go the usual path, without adding the innovative. The movie is also too slow, and it doesn’t pick up the pace even when there was the certain chance to do so. The drag that it had in between could have been easily avoided. The ending is also not that strong enough, as we were expecting something huge happening with the climax too, but that was also not there. It could have also had some very disturbing and scary things to be added in between, and we feel that they could have arrived at many points. It could have been more fun, or with more substance, but both cases are ignored by the film which just goes on without the deviations.

Performers of the soul :: Mario Casas is solid in his role, which turns out to be a very negative one only a few minutes into the movie. He maintains the characteristics of the role throughout the run, and that does brings some unpredictability in between. Deborah Francois also comes up with a strong performance, as it is required from her here. Her character also changes, and gathers a lot of strength throughout the existence. The other characters give some support, and they are of lesser significance. It is to be noted that there are not characters whom we can call good, as most of them have a neutral vibe or the grey side in action here. We are not admirers of any of these characters, and most of us won’t even make friends out of them. Among the smaller performers who catch our attention, the first one is Maria Rodriguez Soto who has a lot of melancholy going on with her, and Guillermo Pfening who becomes a reason to keep the story going. Celso Bugallo also adds a bit there.

How it finishes :: The Paramedic was a fine opportunity to come up with something huge, but the film refuses to take that risk, and manages to provide us with the usual rather than anything else. While reading about the movie, the expectations were surely higher. For a movie which is known more as a thriller, more thrills are surely required, and with such fine performers, the film could have achieved more. With the theatres all prepared to open, one can wonder if what people would choose now, to go to the OTT platforms or go back to the theatres. I would wait in that case, and go for the movies which are still available in those platforms to watch. After all, the third wave of Corona virus might still be ready to come. You have to stay safe during these periods of time, and it has to be a thing of priority, not just for yourself, but also for the people around you. The two doses of vaccine are no guarantee for anything, and so we are supposed to continue to be as careful as we used to be in the beginning of this pandemic and during the lockdowns and quarantines.

Release date: 16th September 2020
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Carles Torras
Starring: Mario Casas, Deborah Francois, Celso Bugallo, Raul Jimenez, Pol Monen, Gerard Oms, Guillermo Pfening, Maria Rodriguez Soto

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pinocchio

Vampire Owl: I know this person very well from childhood itself.

Vampire Bat: It is a fictional character from the children’s novel The Adventures of written by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi of Florence.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so it is from the land of Renaissance indeed,

Vampire Bat: Yes, most people don’t really know that this tale is not really English.

Vampire Owl: But it went on to become so popular all around the world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is that kind of a story that appeals to everyone.

Vampire Owl: And it is a fine story to read for the children of all ages.

Vampire Bat: We also add an Italian movie dealing with the same story to our list on this day.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one will become a fine deviation from our usual path.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and takes us back to childhood too, at least in parts.

[Gets a green apple cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Geppetto (Roberto Benigni), a poor Italian carpenter has a hard time making his living, as he rarely gets any work, and nobody appreciates him for the quality products which he come up with. But one day, he sees a puppet theatre in the town, and becomes a lot interested in creating a puppet all by himself. He feels that he could create something special which would be appreciated all around the world for its beauty on wood. He manages to get a log of wood which its owner wanted to leave behind because it seemed to have some kind of magic associated with it. Geppetto spends all his time creating the perfect puppet, and in the end, when he finishes the same, he finds out that it can talk. After naming the puppet Pinocchio (Federico Ielapi), he decides to take him as his son. But the newfound son out of the log isn’t really an obedient one, as he keeps exercising his freedom against the wishes of his father.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Pinocchio does get into trouble due to his actions, and Geppetto decides to send him to school, so that he would study well and also mingle with the other children of the town. Geppetto sells his inherited jacket to buy Pinocchio an ABC book which is necessary to accepted into the school. Pinocchio does go for his first day at school, but notices a puppet theater, and he ends up selling the book to buy the ticket. In the theater, the other puppets notice Pinocchio among the viewers and calls him up the stage, thus messing up the show. A furious puppeteer Mangiafuoco (Gigi Proietti) catches Pinocchio and locks him in his caravan with the others puppets, and leaves the town. Mangiafuoco who has been very angry about what had happened, plans to use Pinocchio as firewood to help cooking his dinner. Pinocchio begs him to release him in order to return home from his father, who would be very much worried by then.

And what else is to follow around here with the puppet? :: Mangiafuoco decides to let him go, and seeing his compassion towards the other puppets who he saves from being burned, he gives him five gold coins to give to the poor carpenter whom he calls father. Pinocchio is really happy about it, and tries to get home as soon as possible, but is lost in his way, not sure where he is heading. As he tries to find the right directions, he meets Fox (Massimo Ceccherini) and Cat (Rocco Papaleo) who discovers that the puppet has some gold coins with him which they can use during their jobless ways. They tell him a tale about the Field of Miracles, a special place where they can bury the coins, and a tree full of money will grow rapidly. But they intend to murder the puppet and take the money. They make some fine plans for the same, and takes a room in the nearby tavern. Pinocchio is not aware of such sinister plans, and despite being warned by Talking Cricket (Davide Marotta). Can the puppet keep the money and finally get to his father who is looking for him?

The defence of Pinocchio :: The movie, as expected is a journey to a special world, and those who have known the tale before, will relate to the same very well. There is a beautiful world that provides a certain amount of enchantment close to the original version, and we have one puppet who is not familiar with the ways of humans going through. Roberto Benigni whom we know from the movie Life is Beautiful is here again playing the father figure, and that is indeed beautiful, as we remember how he managed to be a great father there – here, he is not far behind either. The one who used his imagination to shield his son from the terror within a Nazi concentration camp is not to be forgotten that easily. Marine Vacth who plays the fairy and many others also catch our attention, being out of the usual world, getting close to fantasy. With the cat, fox, snail, cricket, characters, the movie is as child-friendly as anything can get, and therefore makes itself a fine watch for the families. Well, a journey through rural Italy of those times never really gets to be less interesting for the eyes.

The claws of flaw :: Pinocchio might be different in looks from what many people might have imagined him earlier. The movie could have had a certain amount of visible magic in there too, not as being regular part of the proceedings, but as something completely out of the world. For the same, more special effects could have been used to create a visual extravaganza, because even lesser films these days seem to display the grandeur – after all, this is a children’s classic of a higher level on print. The fact that the puppet keeps falling into trouble due to not listening to the good advice makes it feel repetitive, especially for the adults who would be a long way past this tale by now – even I don’t remember most of what I read during my childhood. It could have also had more focus on the father-son relationship because the puppet as the adventurer is not of that much interest as a person, and we have to look forward to the fairy to find the next lovable character, followed by the snail. The growing nose could have also been used better.

How it finishes :: As far as the idea of Pinocchio from The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author Carlo Collodi is concerned, this one manages the same well, and it is to be noted that usually the adaptations are supposed to come in the form of cartoons. Making a live-action movie with this type of characters is indeed difficult, but we can see that they have managed everything pretty well here. The Adventures of Pinocchio has been the world’s most translated book excluding religious works and had such a great impact on different cultures, also being a children’s favourite. But we see that it also explores the human condition, about what it means to be human, right here. We do have that usual child who doesn’t like to go to the school, and is not interested in obeying parents, with a certain love for entertainment and adventure over the rest, and is naive when facing the dangers of the outside world. Yes, this version is a successful one too, and you can choose to watch it, without expecting anything too special or highly innovative.

Release date: 19th December 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Matteo Garrone
Starring: Roberto Benigni, Federico Ielapi, Rocco Papaleo, Massimo Ceccherini, Marine Vacth, Gigi Proietti, Paolo Graziosi, Massimiliano Gallo, Maria Pia Timo, Davide Marotta, Alessio Di Domenicantonio

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Italian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Latin movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Serbian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adios

Vampire Owl: So, there is a goodbye related to this title.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the movie is about the death of a child and the following vengeance.

Vampire Owl: Well, there is nothing that catches the audience better than a revenge tale.

Vampire Bat: I agree to that. They are repeated so many times, and still they are so popular.

Vampire Owl: What is surprising is that some good movies become random tales of revenge as it progresses to the end.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Anjaam Pathiraa showed such a tendency, but Forensic was beyond it, with a psycho killer with no motive other than the murder itself.

Vampire Owl: I have always felt that such tales should be a sub-genre with further divisions following it.

Vampire Bat: I feel that that this setting in Sevilla in Spain is perfect too.

Vampire Owl: Well, I did love that setting in Italy too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the setting of Piranhas. That would be a suitable setting too.

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

What is the movie about? :: In a neighbourhood of Sevilla in Spain, there is an area where police, law and order ends up having no power at all. In a newly re-established underworld of drugs and organized crime, Juan Santos (Mario Casas) is a con man gets out of the prison to celebrate the First Communion of Estrella Santos (Paulina Fenoy), their only daughter, with his wife Triana (Natalia de Molina). His uncle Andres Santos (Vicente Romero) and nephew Chico Santos (Mauricio Morales) do come to him on he day of function with a gift, and calls him back to the world of crime, but he is not ready to do that, thinking about his wife and daughter. But on the same day, there is an accident after the party, and after being hit by another car, they are injured, but their daughter dies. The police officers Manuel Santacana (Carlos Bardem) and Eli (Ruth Diaz) who arrives nearby at a murder scene to investigate the killing of four Romanians who were drug traffickers, realizes that the murder is connected to this accident.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Discovering that the car that caused the accident which killed Estrella is the same as that of the killers of those Romanians, Juan meets his mother Maria Santos (Mona Marinez), former Santos’ family mob boss who expelled from the locality by two rival families Fortuna and Taboa. She also seeks vengeance for her grand-daughter, as Andre and Chico also offers their help. A drug addict named Maravilla (Pilar Gomez), tells the cops that it was done by Fortuna family, and even though a strong police force is deployed, the boss Gordo Fortuna (Moreno Borja) escapes from the area. Juan tries running after him, but it is of no use. But there is more than what meets the eye, and the Santos family will not have many chances to regain their lost glory – finding those who were responsible for the death of Estrella Santos, the youngest member of the family, would be a nice start. But, as things go further complicated, there is no hope for them without making friends out of enemies, and vice versa – can Juan be successful in finding the person who caused the death of his only daughter?

The defence of Adios :: There is the early feeling of what is to come, from the beginning itself – the feeling never goes away. The feeling of sadness that runs through this movie is strong, and we feel that not just from the parents of the child meeting accident, but also from the lady police officer who is in charge of the case. The visuals of the city are beautiful, and there are some moments of intensity related to some action and there is suspense with twists to come in the later stages. With the movie not being the usual revenge thriller where the protagonist goes on fighting random people and beating them, this one stays close to a certain amount of realism here. The background music also adds to the charm really well, and there is something about all the music which is played in this movie. With the visuals combining with the same, we have the feeling of being taken to this world, many kilometres away from us, that historical city from where Ferdinand Magellan departed for the first circumnavigation of the Earth – one of the cities of Western Europe which I would visit before most of the others if given a chance.

The claws of flaw :: Adios could have done better with its side of crime, and one wouldn’t doubt that. There is a lot more to explored for sure, as such families of crime are involved. Ruth’s character could have also had an interesting background story, as the need was ascertained during the time when she was talking about kids to the protagonist’s wife, and something was left to be said, as one could observe from that shower scene. The use of another title for the English version was also not needed, as people are well aware of this particular title. It could have simply gone for more action sequences, as the vengeance element was always going to feel the need for more strength. Guns could have been there at all times to bring the power up further. Some parts of the film could have also used some polishing, especially related to the police and the prison, as well as the other gangs which could have unleashed themselves on the streets, which never really get to have the big action out there.

Performers of the soul :: She might not be playing the protagonist in this movie, but Ruth Diaz is the one actress who scores above everyone else, as far as performances are concerned. There is a certain amount of sadness, and melancholic determination in her, which we find early enough – she feels like a beautifully crafted, complicated character with a long past of suffering whenever we look at her. Her expressions nicely support the same, and it seems that her looks also support the same. Natalia de Molina’s suffering is rather easily visible to the outward eye, and it is the kind that we know about, and she goes through that with the character really well. She plays the wife and mother in a believable manner too. Mario Casas plays the main character well, and we know that he is fit for this from the first moments than anything else. He displays the anger mixed with sadness quite well. Mona Martinez who plays the mother figure for the mob family is as solid as one can get. Vicente Romero and Mauricio Morales who play the other family members also support well here.

How it finishes :: Adios finishes well, and in the end, we are glad to have watched another version of a tale of vengeance. This would add to the entertaining during the time of Corona virus lock-down with ease. There is a certain amount of realism in the way this movie progresses, and as it doesn’t unleash a father-figure in unrealistic ways like we had seen in the Malayalam movie, The Great Father and many others from films in different languages, this one surely is a welcome flick. I would hope for more of similar movies which keep the momentum going without losing the realistic side. I would also love to keep such lovely music going on in the background. Let us hope that sooner or later, with the COVID-19 coming down at a later stage, we can have things to be better for the people related to the cinema industry who are suffering at this stage, and also the people who are running the theatres or working there. Let us hope for the best in the month of July.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Starring: Mario Casas, Natalia de Molina, Ruth Diaz, Mona Martínez, Carlos Bardem, Vicente Romero, Paulina Fenoy, Mauricio Morales, Sebastian Haro, Pilar Gomez, Mariola Fuentes, Consuelo Trujillo, Pablo Gomez-Pando, Carlos Cabra, Juan Carlos Villanueva, Moreno Borja

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the first Portuguese movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Italian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Latin movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Polish movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Serbian movie review on the site.

<— Click here to go to the first Russian movie review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kidnapping Stella

Vampire Owl: So, these people have made a movie about just one kidnapping?

Vampire Bat: You are saying that one won’t be enough?

Vampire Owl: No, I am saying that it can be like a vampire movie made out of one blood-sucking event, which won’t be enough.

Vampire Bat: It is a remake of the 2009 British thriller movie, The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

Vampire Owl: Okay, the one starring Gemma Arterton, the lady vampire from Byzantium.

Vampire Bat: The whole vampire team is indebted to her for the work in that movie.

Vampire Owl: It is my second favourite vampire movie after Interview with the Vampire.

Vampire Bat: If you add Let Me In, it could go to the third spot.

Vampire Owl: Do you realize that you haven’t reviewed a full-length German movie yet?

Vampire Bat: Yes, but there has been a short-film which left enough for us to think about.

[Gets an vancho cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: There is some big preparation going on with the two former convicts named Vic (Clemens Schick) and Tom (Max von der Groeben) getting something ready inside a building, just before they get prepared to commit some crime. Stella (Jella Haase), the only child of a wealthy businessman is their target, as they hope to become rich with the money of her father. This act and the resulting ransom is supposed to make sure that they won’t have to go to work for a long time. For this, they come up with some very careful planning, and leave no chance for them to escape, as they undress her and keeps her in a red tracksuit, blindfold her, tie her to a bed, and keeps her in a soundproof room, with no chance for her to even move more than al ittle. To conceal their identities, the two also wear masks while talking to her. There is a certain amount of risk involved with her knowing their identities, because she is pregnant with Tom’s child, as they were in love some time ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Stella tries hard to escape from her bondage, but there is no positive result for those attempts, as far as she is concerned. Tom does have a soft corner for her as he comes to know that she is pregnant only at a later moment when they threaten to cut off one of her fingers in front of the camera, while making a video which is to be shown to her father so that he would finally agree to give the ransom money to them. But the problem here is that during one of those vulnerable moments, she finds out that one of the kidnappers is Tom, and almost manages to overpower him to get hold of the gun. But Tom handles that situation as well as a few others which follow. Soon, Vic starts to have some doubts about Tom and Stella, as he is no longer the person whom he met in the prison – he is not sure if Tom can be trusted either. Now, it is to be seen how the two manage to keep the situation going. Can they get the money, or will the girl end up being dead? What will be the priority for Tom now, as he knows that she is pregnant with his child?

The defence of Kidnapping Stella :: You will notice that Kidnapping Stella, just like The Disappearance of Alice Creed and its earlier remake Reckless, doesn’t waste its time in getting into action. There are a few minutes when nobody talks about anything, and then we are quickly into the action when the girl is kidnapped and tied up without any chance to escape even from the bed where she is tied up. We do not have any subplot to take the focus away from the main thing, and even though there is a possibility of some flashback, we never really go towards it. You do have some twists, even though not used to the full effectiveness. A kidnapping scenario is also shown without any pretensions, and without showing it as someone who is locked in a random room giving them an easy journey throughout the abduction. The kidnapping programme is quite a solid one, and even though becoming only the third version of the same tale, you have to appreciate them doing this situation well enough here along with maintaining the thrills.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched The Disappearance of Alice Creed or its Dutch remake, there is nothing much that you can find here to keep you interested, because you have seen all these in more critically appreciated movies, and the performers who have gained better applause not just in one film, but also many others. This movie also doesn’t seem to have gathered that much of an attention or appreciation as those movies which released much earlier. This one is also quite slow at parts, and for a movie which doesn’t have that much of a run-time, it is definitely a strange thing, no matter how you look at it. The movie could have used some more intense moments to make things feel better. As most of the movie is set within a small area, there was scope to bring more. When you have a film with kidnap as the main thing or rather the only thing, you would expect that something else would be there to be taken. There is always the chance for improvement as far as remakes are concerned, but we doubt if that chance was even thought about here.

Performers of the soul :: One cannot deny the fact that this movie misses someone like Gemma Arterton who has been one class actress in different roles, the best of them that we remember being Byzantium, the highly underrated and under-watched vampire movie coming from the director of the highly appreciated Interview with the Vampire. We can only guess that it would have been a fantastic performance. Jella Haase is pretty much okay as the kidnapped girl, but she doesn’t seem to raise that bar that much. The two kidnappers are actually very good though, and Clemens Schick as Vic, the tougher one comes up with a work that will make us attached to the situation here. Max von der Groeben as Tom, the guy who is caught between two sides also have our attention – he wants to do more than one thing, as there is the need to save his former lover and their unborn baby along with getting all that money from her father. There is no other character here, and these three makes the performers list fully.

How it finishes :: The movie originates from The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a 2009 British movie, which also had another remake in the form a Dutch movie named Reckless. From the reviews which we have read about this version here might be the film with the lowest rating, while the other two movies seem to be quite ahead. But for most of us who haven’t watched those two movies because we never really had much of an experience with Dutch movies and as the British movie was released a long time ago, Kidnapping Stella is going to be an interesting experience. There are enough thrills around there, and it surely feels more than the usual hostage movie. Matching The Disappearance of Alice Creed was always going to be a tough task, as it had Gemma Arterton who has been in all kinds of movies with all the glory, a performer who is difficult to match. You are free to watch all the three versions in different European languages and decide the best for yourself if you feel the need to disagree. Otherwise, you can just enjoy this newer version.

Release date: 12th July 2019
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Sieben
Starring: Clemens Schick, Jella Haase, Max von der Groeben

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Influence

Vampire Owl: So, another foreign movie here? There has been so many.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I have felt an interest in watching those movies.

Vampire Owl: Are the usual types of movies not in the list anymore?

Vampire Bat: Yes, they are there too. But these need our attention even more because they are having some fine movies without many people knowing.

Vampire Owl: There are some English movies which are less known in this part of the world too, if you can remember them.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but you should realize that we get more supporters these days from locations further away from home.

Vampire Owl: Yes, people are rarely appreciated at their hometown, right?

Vampire Bat: You can say that. I have had that feeling for a long time too.

Vampire Owl: At least we vampires are true brethren supporting each other.

Vampire Bat: Yes, doing a lot better than zombies eating each others’ brains.

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

What is the movie about? :: Alicia (Manuela Velles) is a nurse who moves from the city to the little town in the north-west of Spain where she used to spend her childhood. She is greeted there by her sister Sarah (Maggie Civantos) who has been taking care of their mother Victoria (Emma Suarez) with the help of a nurse, Anna (Marta Castellote), as the old lady has been in comma for some time now, after having many other diseases earlier. As Alician is a nurse, she could work in the nearby hospital, and also take care of her mother. Alicia is accompanied by her husband Mikel (Alain Hernandez) and their daughter Nora (Claudia Placer) who gets admission in the nearby school. Nora doesn’t have a good time with her new classmates, as everyone considers her to be a weird girl who came from a distant place. Her only friend is Luna (Daniela Rubio) who is an outsider.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Mikel doesn’t manage to get his usual job as an electrician, and works at the port, handling fish. Alicia doesn’t like being back in the old home, because after the death their father, Victoria had been acting strange, and being abusive to them. But these memories are not the only thing hurting her, as there is a strange presence in the house, and it is somehow related her mother and the strange practices she had directly on indirectly related to witchcraft and demon worship. It also turns out that Victoria had written all her property in the name of Nora, much to the dismay of Sarah who used to take care of her mother until then. At the same time Nora begins acting strange, and she also gets to be terribly violent at times, punching another girl in the school repeatedly. Alicia attributes this to the black magic used by Victoria, and feels her mother’s presence even when she is in comma. Now the question remains if she can save her child, husband and sister from certain terrible evil.

The defence of The Influence :: This movie thrives on its setting, which is very good for a horror thriller. The environment provides the feeling of danger being present there at one corner or the other. The visuals are nicely done, and we are easily immersed in this world, even though not that much with the characters. Most of the scary scenes are left to the end, but there are some moments being provided in between, to keep it going. The idea of black magic works pretty well, even though not fully used here. The children with evil inside are nice to watch, and the creepiness depends a lot on them, just like we had in The Prodigy. There is also the presence of some fine imagery including the head of a goat, book on black magic, terrifying artifacts and more. The Influence can have that horror influence on us with what we see on the screen, and it is more or less symbolic as we look at some of them which feels special.

The claws of flaw :: The Influence is a slow moving horror movie, and it doesn’t bring the scares when needed, until everything is reaching the end, and that does lead to a certain drag, which moves on like a curse on this movie – it is solved only by the end. It is the kind of movie which needed a speed booster, and when we feel that it has speeded up, it slows down, and it is a procedure which repeats itself. In between the slowness, it doesn’t being the class in there, or something which would make the slowness enjoyable, maybe with the haunting. The characters are not the kind with whom we are attached that much, and we also wonder about their actions here. The movie had raised the expectations of its viewers, but doesn’t reach there, and instead becomes a horror thriller which deals with the basics that a horror movie might have, that too slowly.

Performers of the soul :: Manuela Velles plays the main character, and she does well, matched only by Maggie Civantos who plays her sister. Both sisters have some good moments together, and the emotional scenes are handled really well by the two actresses here. They take the movie emotionally forward, with Maggie bringing more of the feelings out there, but the one who gets more space is Manuela – she is not that far behind, as you will notice here. Both do prove that they fit into the horror genre well. I don’t know if the Spanish movies have their own scream queens, but it seems that they will not be short of those who are specialized in horror. Claudia Placer who plays the child might be a fine choice for a future run. Daniela Rubio also makes a fine team with her, as the two become fine evil kids in action. Alain Hernandez who plays the husband is okay, while Marta Castellote who plays the nurse needed more screen space. Emma Suarez is also fine with all the evil inside, projected well.

How it finishes :: Originally titled La influencia, this movie does have an impact as a horror thriller which works on a special setting. When entering into the usual horror world of Sinister, The Conjuring, Annabelle, The Nun and Insidious, and the unusual world of Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, It Follows, A Quiet Place and The Autopsy of Jane Doe, you have to be innovative, or you have to do the best with what you have – The Influence only does the same only upto an extent, and saves its world only in the end. It is the movie that you will want to like, as you enter the house with the protagonists, and you are with them, but in the middle, there is some of that being lost, and in the end, more is being gained. Therefore, it is a movie with its own ups and downs, and you will want to watch this movie as much as any other Hollywood horror movie with the usual stuff. After all, from the movies which I have watched so I far, there is no Spanish horror movie which didn’t have my attention with the setting.

Release date: 11th October 2019
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Denis Rovira van Boekholt
Starring: Manuela Velles, Maggie Civantos, Claudia Placer, Emma Suarez, Alain Hernandez, Daniela Rubio, Ramon Esquinas, Marta Castellote, Mariana Cordero, Felipe Garcia Velez, Sofia Tolina, Berta Sanchez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Whistlers

Vampire Owl: Do you remember how long we waited to watch a Romanian movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure. Maybe, we waited for an eternity.

Vampire Owl: Vampires deserve to watch Romanian movies, don’t they?

Vampire Bat: This movie was selected as the Romanian entry for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Oscars.

Vampire Owl: So, we might be beginning our Romanian movie watching with one of the best.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I don’t see why we shouldn’t go for the best.

Vampire Owl: Should we call Uncle Dracula and the minions to watch this one too?

Vampire Bat: After we watch the movie and declare it safe, they can watch it too.

Vampire Owl: Okay, then. We are going for our first Romanian film.

Vampire Bat: Do watch it carefully, and come up with an opinion.

[Gets an chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a Romanian police officer who acts as a whistle blower for mafia, and it is made clear that he is not someone who stays on one side at all times, as the switch does happen very often. Even though he is under police surveillance for suspected corruption, Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) who has been part of organized crime, manages to bring up a plan to free a controversial businessman arrested in Bucharest and asks for his help in the job. She poses as a high level prostitute with Cristi as her most valued customer to make the cameras set in his house believe that she is up to nothing related to such crimes and gangs, and is just there to provide him her service which she proves to the eyes behind the camera. Cristi is forced by her to go to La Gomera Island, one of Spain’s Canary Islands to learn an ancestral whistling language which he can use to connect to mobsters without being detected by the police or anybody else who possessed some threat to them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: This ancestral whistling language has been the kind of thing used to communicate across the deep ravines and narrow valleys of the island. It enables messages to be exchanged over long distance, and he hopes to study it soon enough, because he needs to get the man out of prison, as he is someone who needs to be outside to give information about millions of cash. As this a case with so much of money involved, there is the certainty of twists occurring. Everyone is after a missing thirty million in cash, and as both the criminals and the police tries to find where the man hid the money. But Cristi has some other plans along with finding the money for any of these sides. For the same, he would come up with a more twisted idea. But it is to be seen whether he would be successful in the same, because he is playing with fire on more than one side. Can he get out of there, maybe with Gilda on his side without being hurt, or will he be hit by the terror that is going to be unleashed when the thirty million is lost?

The defence of The Whistlers :: It can be seen that The Whistlers is that kind of a movie which slowly gets the thrills to us, and from the beginning itself, the same starts getting on to us. You know that all the characters here are up to something, and we are able to feel the same quite early. It also brings a certain amount of humour in there and we also have the surprises thrown in here and there. The settings used here are all beautiful, and when looking at the scenes in Romanian towns as well as the Spanish island far away from its coasts, we are all glad to see such things of beauty. The performances of Vlad Ivanov and Catrinel Marlon are nothing less than deadly either. If you haven’t watched any Romanian movies yet, this might be the film to begin watching these from that particular industry, as it seems to be a lot ahead to catch our attention with almost everything shown on the screen. With the same, there is also simplicity in its complexity.

Positives and negatives :: The Whistlers is the kind of movie which moves too slow for some kind of audience who might be looking for better pace considering the fact that this is a crime thriller. The beginning with the main characters playing certain roles for the cameras seemed to suggest that this was going to be quicker in pace, but it was not so. But it is good to see that unlike the other crime thrillers, this is the kind of movie which cares about its humans too, and they are not really the kind of people who are there to keep shooting and get shot. You can see that power and weakness, loneliness and companionship, pretension and sincerity, trust and the lack of it – all are shown as part of life, while we see everyman elements in these characters around here. The world of crime is not about keeping on shooting people and creating chaos, as there is something more about it, as this movie tries to prove. The Whistlers is more than what meets the eye, as you compare it to the other movies of the genre.

Performers of the soul :: Vlad Ivanov as Cristi comes up with a solid performance, as he plays a character whose intentions are never really that clear, and it is one unpredictable character which he plays to perfection. This particular character is never really the person we think that he is, and he shows signs of the person who brings the twists quite early. Catrinel Marlon as Gilda is nothing less than fantastic, as she plays a femme fatale character with certain class, but it is also a character with more than one side, which she proves quite early into the movie. In the beginning, we even have the doubt if she is the main character, as she is in action just ten minutes into the movie, dictating terms and flourishing on the screen. She is a different kind of Anna, as you look at her closely, and she never hesitates to bring all that she can, at any moment. The same can be seen again in more and more moments, as we see her getting her righteous place in there on different occasions. Rodica Lazar comes up with a fine believable role as the police officer who is in charge.

How it finishes :: The Whistlers is a special movie, not just because it is a crime thriller which keeps itself solid, but also due to how well it handles the content smoothly. This is surely a movie that you would want to watch, and then continue to watch more of Romanian movies – I had said the same about another movie, a Vietnamese one which could introduce you to that film industry really well. Both The Whistlers and Furie as unknown movies in this part of the world, and as people rush to look for more and more Korean movies, these two movies in two different languages from different parts of the world deserves your attention. I have always loved Romania as a place which had the historical region of Transylvania, as my best interest is in Gothic works – it is a place which I would love to visit one day to see those castles which are often related with Count Dracula, but until then, maybe I can watch some more of wonderful Romanian movies. This one is just beginning, as rest will surely come.

Release date: 13th September 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu
Starring: Catrinel Marlon, Vlad Ivanov, Agusti Villaronga, Cristobal Pinto, Sergiu Costache, Antonio Buil

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Piranhas

Vampire Owl: I has been wondering why there has been no Italian movie on the website so far, even with French, Spanish and German being there.

Vampire Bat: You have to note that I don’t have any Portuguese movie either if you are looking at the Western Europe.

Vampire Owl: Still, it is different about Italian. Bicycle Thieves from Vittorio De Sica is your favourite, and you have studied it in college.

Vampire Bat: I would say the same about Life is Beautiful from Roberto Benigni too.

Vampire Owl: But we still had to wait for so long to get an Italian movie here.

Vampire Bat: I do not intend to write about movies from each and every part of the world.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but you have to agree that this one was long due.

Vampire Bat: Well, I did have my plans of writing one earlier.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and I had guessed that long ago.

Vampire Bat: There are no awards for guessing this one though.

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

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set in Naples, the third-largest city of Italy after Rome and Milan, and one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. A group of teenage boys from one of the thickly populated neighbourhoods in Naples, hope to gain power, fame and easy money, and for the same, they enter into the city’s world of crime which is rather complicated. Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli), who lives with his single mother and younger brother, feels that there is no option left for him, but to choose crime as a real opportunity, as the group moves through the streets as gangsters would. Nicola falls in love with an aspiring model who works in her father’s restaurant, Letizia (Viviana Aprea) whom he helps in the street once and again meets her at the swimsuit of a beauty contest which she losses, and he helps her out in the following brawl. Soon, Letizia returns the same affections, and they start a relationship, with the support of his friends who are happy to see him with a girl.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As they try to take control of different areas, Nicola finds it difficult to be with Letizia because she is living in another part of the city which has the presence of a rival gang who wants his gang to keep away. Still he does manage to sneak into her room at times, beginning a part-time live in relationship. Nicola and his friends dive deeper into the world of crime with guns received from one of the notorious dons of the area, and they begin to show no regret after crimes. Nicola’s mother (Valentina Vannino) is not exactly happy about it, but doesn’t say much about it, as his idea itself seems to make her happy, as extortion by gangs at her shop seemed to bother him more than anything else. But with more and more of teenagers’ gangs being formed, and the youth committing further crimes, how long can he hold on a gang within a world of crime? Is survival an easy enough thing here?

The defence of Piranhas :: The movie is undoubtedly good looking, as far as the locations and visuals are concerned here. Naples is indeed a fine place to wander around, and we see different sides of the beautiful city, even though we have only been familiar with the other cities like Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan which we have seen on television, but never this charming city. At the same time, we wish the nation of Italy with its grand history and culture a speedy recovery from the Corona Virus which seems to be happening right now too. The tale also progresses in an order which makes the new generation attitude and their loss of innocence if there was something like that, feels very much close to reality. If you notice the first scene, there is something that reminds you of William Golding’s Lord of Flies, both the film and the movie, as we notice the return of inherent evil in people, and as it returns to the kids who claim to be fifteen year old youth, we understand that evil has been invoked in them too early, and we just can’t trust the children to be good and display innocence any more.

The claws of flaw :: Piranhas doesn’t move away from the usual gangster movie mode, and there are many occasions when you keep feeling that you have seen these before, and at different times, and it has nothing new that you would want to treasure. It also doesn’t manage to explore that much, and extend its strengths a gangster movie, with something seemingly pull it back, which is why even with a run-time of one hour and forty five minutes, it does feel to be longer. It doesn’t try to venture that deep as a movie about youngsters becoming criminals and wandering in the streets. We have had many Malayalam movies dealing with the same topic emotionally as well as in a funny way. Piranhas could have ended with a bigger scope, but it chooses not to do that, and it doesn’t deal with its female characters that well either, as it chooses to keep them down and without significance throughout the time when there was chance for them too.

Performers of the soul :: As the feeling of Lord of the Flies seems to be invoked here, there is much to do for the young cast, and they do not stay far behind with the same – it seems to come naturally to them here. As the leader of the junior gang, and the one to take the big decisions every time, Francesco Di Napoli’s character steals the attention more than anyone else, and he does manage to come up with a straight-forward performance here which rises above everyone else with ease. He does seem to be in control at all times, as he tries to do whatever an older crime boss would do, and in the final moments of the movie, we see that he is more or less a young gangster who has gone through his coming of age moments, and it is where his bildungsroman reaches to final point. Viviana Aprea is a lovely addition to the movie, and she is someone whom we can see with passionate and true love for the main character, but can’t follow the same well enough due to her lover’s gangster kind of life which threatens to separate them forever. The supporting cast does a pretty good job too.

How it finishes :: Piranhas does make an interesting gangster movie which follows the usual style of such movies, but doesn’t work on the same idea that much as one would have wanted it to. As the first Italian movie which I watched since Life is Beautiful a long time ago in the order of its release, and after Bicycle Thieves if we considered the order of release, this one made an interesting watch. There is a certain amount of reality in these movies, and that feeling keeps on going throughout the run. There is no melodrama, but we do feel with the characters, and everything remains so subtle. It is the same reason why I decided to choose an Italian movie to watch for this time of Corona Virus. I hope that all my reader are doing okay during this season of terrible crisis with one virus trying to kill us and our spirits in more than one way. But we will survive, and we shall go past these terrible times – we are all together in this! Stay safe and watch more movies!

Release date: 12th February 2019
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Claudio Giovannesi
Starring: Viviana Aprea, Francesco Di Napoli, Alfredo Turitto, Ar Tem, Carmine Pizzo, Ciro Pellechia, Valentina Vannino, Ciro Vecchione, Luca Nacarlo, Mattia Piano Del Balzo, Pasquale Marotta, Adam Jendoubi

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Wolf’s Call

Vampire Owl: So, we are back to watching French movies again.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this time, a thriller with clarity.

Vampire Owl: Our journey into global movies have been quite good.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we are only watching selected movies which we consider to be special among others.

Vampire Owl: We do make some good choices then, I guess.

Vampire Bat: Yes, all of them have been specially picked, making sure that there is a high possibility that we will like the flicks.

Vampire Owl: Especially with a few cups of tea to go with it.

Vampire Bat: Considering the fact that there has been a lock-down in the name of a virus, we are doing quite well representing the vampire community.

Vampire Owl: Vampires have all been doing some interesting thing or the other during the times of lock-down.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I have heard that the castle has seen rather too many.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of mint tea].

What is the movie about? :: The French submarine Titan is sent through the Mediterranean Sea, to reach the coast of Tartus in Syria to bring back a French Special Forces unit fighting in the area during the time when Syrian Civil War is at its highest point, leaving no room for errors. As they are all prepared to take the troops in away from the Iranian and the Russian forces, Chanteraide a.k.a. Socks (Francois Civil), the sonar expert identifies it as a wounded sperm whale after multiple checks and moments of confusion. But it turns out to be another submarine which can’t be identified. It has detected Titan, and has provided the information about its presence and exact location to an Iranian warship nearby, which launches a helicopter hunting them right above water. But the submarine, with the help of its crew using an anti-tank gun against helicopter, somehow manages to survive the attack including torpedoes, and get the team to safety.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Later, when they are back to the ground, they get the information that Russia is invading Finland’s Aland Islands, which lead to the French President deciding to send a naval task force to the Baltic Sea, supporting the Scandinavian nation. At the same time, Chanteraide, while trying to identify the unknown submarine near the Syrian coast, finds out that it was a Russian made Timour III ballistic missile submarine, which was supposed to be dismantled earlier. During his similar searches for information regarding detailed underwater acoustics, he meets a young and charming bookshop owner, Diane (Paula Beer), whose original name is Priarie. After spending some time at the pub, they get emotionally and physically attached to each other, soon falling in love. But at the same time, a war and even a nuclear attack seems close with further problems arising between Russia and France, and Chanteraide needs to be back in action in Titan facing the nuclear armed submarine, Formidable. Can he do the right thing this time?

The defence of The Wolf’s Call :: This movie thrives on its smart moments here, and we have been presented with top quality thrills. With most of the shooting supposed to have happened in the real submarines, this is a fine achievement, and the whole thing indeed looks very realistic – the accomplishment powers this movie, as it needed to have most of its time within the underwater vessels. There are some highly thrill-packed moments in here, as the world stares at a possible nuclear war beginning with one wrong action from a European superpower, something that would have made that averted Soviet Union nuclear submarine torpedo launch happen many years later. It has to be noted that this movie begins in the middle of action, and there is no dull moment in here, and even those romantic sequences are to be loved. The Wolf’s Call does manage to show how a thriller in a submarine is to be created, with all the action and thrills.

The claws of flaw :: Some points in the movie have terms which we don’t understand that easily, and has to resort to Google – there are words related to military and the submarines which keeps coming back. But that is expected in movies like these, because otherwise, the realistic feeling will be gone. The romantic side could have also been better explored, taking a little bit more time. Paula Beer could have been used better in that case, considering the fact that is well-suited for such roles and moments of romance. The final moments could have also been a little better worked out, as we are battling to avoid a nuclear war, and something more could have been there in the picture. It could have also quickened up things a little bit more in the middle part, even though this one also has a higher pace that regular movies in their middle areas. The Wolf’s Call provides you that underwater world of wars, and you need to be prepared for that to get the best out of it.

Peformers of the soul :: Francois Civil manages to come with a good job in this thriller which shows nations on the brink of war. He seems to be someone who can handle the two sides quite well, being in the military as well as outside, with a happy love life. Paula Beer’s addition to this movie is more about being the love interest, and it is provided, in a cute, lovable way. Other than a few dialogues, adding the feel-good factor and an intimate scene, she adds less, but surely adds a light feeling to the movie, and the young and beautiful German actress is surely someone whom we expect to see more, maybe in Hollywood flicks too, very well suited to light-hearted romance or the fantasy movies based on the good old fairy-tales. We needed some female presence in this movie, and she makes sure that we have it. I would want her to be part of movies like Maleficent, Cinderella, Jack the Giant Slayer or Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters any day. Reda Kateb and Omar Sy plays the two commanders very well, and we have them as strong leaders.

How it finishes :: Originally titled Le Chant du loup in French, The Wolf’s Call has very good ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and we have to agree to it, even though the number of reviews are rather less. The Wolf’s Call is a movie that needs to watched more, for how it manages the whole thing without any single boring moment – it is a serious quality that many more movies need to have during a time when it is Hollywood which struggles to make films like these, and Bollywood’s idea of an action thriller is still that old age masala, which appeals only for the brainless these days. Meanwhile, The Wolf’s Call does the job so well that it might end up inspiring more moves with underwater warfare or can even have remakes coming from different parts of the world after the Corona Virus crisis ends. This COVID-19 pandemic might be the only thing stopping it from happening for an year or two, depending on what is happening in our epidemic affected areas.

Release date: 20th February 2019
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Antonin Baudry
Starring: Francois Civil, Paula Beer, Omar Sy, Mathieu Kassovitz, Reda Kateb, Alexis Michalik, Jean-Yves Berteloot, Damien Bonnard

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Vampire Owl: Have you read The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James?

Vampire Bat: Yes, I had read that novel as a part of writing an assignment during my English Language and Literature post graduation.

Vampire Owl: What would adding some fire to the title mean?

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this has any relation with it. This one is actually French. This is not Korean or Chinese for a change. Let this burn bright!

Vampire Owl: So, the portrait is not really the portrait that one might be led to believe it is. I would still choose a Polaroid camera instead.

Vampire Bat: It was about a young woman who inhered a large amount of money, and becoming prey to some scheming.

Vampire Owl: I have heard about the author, but most of the people I know haven’t.

Vampire Bat: Well, he hasn’t been writing the kind of works, the vampires have been reading, and so its natural not to know.

Vampire Owl: So, you are now choosing French.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we have been going further international these days.

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

What is the movie about? :: The story is set at some time period during the end of the late eighteenth century. Marianne (Noemie Merlant) is a young painter who takes painting classes to her eager students. As she makes them paint her portrait, one of her students asks her about a special painting from her, which Marianne used to call Portrait de la jeune fille en feu. It takes us back to the origins of that particular painting, and the same has a close relationship with Marianne’s past and her emotional side. Once upon a time, Marianne was called to an isolated island in Brittany in the west of France, to paint a portrait of a young woman named Heloise (Adele Haenel) by her mother The Countess (Valeria Golino). Marianne struggles to reach there, as she herself, and the canvas falls into the sea on her way.

So, what happens with the events here? :: There, she meets Sophie (Luana Bajrami), a beautiful young girl who works as the servant to the Countess and her daughter. They become good friends, and comes to know that Heloise was at the convent, and was forced to come back to marry a wealthy Italian nobeleman because her sister had died, supposed to have jumped off a cliff. Now, this portrait is to be sent to that possible husband of Heloise as soon as possible. The Countess says that her daughter was not ready to pose in front of any painter, and so Marianne will have to pretend that she was someone who had come to accompany her during her walks, to get rid of her boredom. It seemed to be the only way for her, and Marianne started being friends with Heloise who arrived there. She also started observing Heloise enough to paint her in parts. But there will be more than just a painting that we will be having here.

The defence of Portrait of a Lady on Fire :: There is some beautiful serenity that runs through this movie and its silence which serves more than anything else, as the main actresses really make a lovely impact with their expressions and body language itself, getting us immersed into this tale set in the late eighteenth century Brittany. The setting is incredibly beautiful, making you wish to make a visit, and one wonders where this particular island stands in history. This environment created as part of this movie is a charming one, but it is also a very simple one – it is not that usually colourful world from a grand historical past as we usually see in historical drama, action or thriller movies. We go through the eyes of an artist who is not just a painter, but someone with intimate feelings which she seems to have gained in connection to her work on the canvas – it reflects there as much as it shows up in her soul.

The claws of flaw :: Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a very slow movie, as you might have expected it from the talks about it, and also by what you have further read about the same. The movie also has some moments which are not utilized the best, especially related to the artistic work, the painting. The focus could have been more on that painting, and the artists feelings should have been above the person’s intimacy. There is also a lot of time taken in the beginning, and in between, which is felt more because of the movie’s slow pace. There could have also been some more characters to provide support, and this movie’s viewpoints are rather limited when you look at it. There is a lot of silence and a good number of dialogues, but there is less happening for the people who are looking for that as the thing which defines a movie – after all, this is close to being what you call the award movie in this part of the world. Two hours were not needed for this movie for sure.

Performers of the soul :: Portrait of a Lady on Fire is a movie nominated for Golden Palm, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, where it lost to the Korean Oscar Winner, Parasite, and so you know that this one had to score in its performances more than anything else. It has to be noted that all the main characters in this movie are female, and you see some men for that amount of time which can be better counted using seconds rather than minutes. The movie is that much dependent on its female characters, especially the two main ladies, with more to be added from a third young character, and a little more from the much older character who plays the mother. I haven’t watched many French movies, but Noemie Merlant is the one lovely actress who has come up with a perfect performance here which cannot be matched. She has been very expressive, and very much enchanting as the painter, closely followed by Adele Haenel who manages almost the same. Luana Bajrami, the next important character is done well, and Valeria Golino is there for less time, and does fine.

How it finishes :: The movie is not to be confused with The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, as the title only has the addition of fire in the end, which might have been enough to prove its point. But people are more or less attracted into feeling that this is the same thing, and only the fact that this is not a British or American movie making them feel that this is something else. But the movie is not a lesser classic when you look at it, as it feels like an old-fashioned throughout its run. It is a slow-moving thing of charm, which makes sure that the moments are there to stay. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is more or less a feeling set in that historical period, and it has that delicate beauty with the realistic touch which is to stay for the beauty of tranquility, and not for what we usually remember a movie for. Portrait of a Lady on Fire takes you through the different, classic path.

Release date: 18th September 2019
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Celine Sciamma
Starring: Noemie Merlant, Adele Haenel, Luana Bajrami, Valeria Golino

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Force II

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know how long we have waited for a sequel here?

Vampire Bat :: Five years. Just have a look at IMDb.

Vampire Owl :: Why do we have to wait so long? Don’t we deserve the sequels much earlier?

Vampire Bat :: I agree. They tend to make it bad when releasing a movie after too much of time.

Vampire Owl :: The first movie a good one, even if it was a remake.

Vampire Bat :: Especially when we haven’t watched the original.

Vampire Owl :: And everything or rather everyone has changed in this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, except for John Abraham.

Vampire Owl :: So, we are going for this right now. May the force be with us.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, in a few minutes; just count till four hundred and twenty five.

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: After the episode with Vishnu (Vidyut Jamwal), ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham) lives in the memories of his dead wife, Maya (Genelia D’Souza), and gets into fight with the gangsters and criminals of the city, which goes on naturally cool for him. But when three Raw agents are killed in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, and one of them is his good friend, he decides to get involved in more than just fights in the streets with thugs. He finds a message from his friend, which he decodes and gives to the RAW chief Anjan (Narendra Jha) who is impressed. He is provided with the special permission to go on the mission to the place in the message, which is Budapest, the capital of Hungary, instead of one of those Chinese cities where the three agents were murdered.

So what happens next? :: The RAW officer Kamaljit Kaur a.k.a. KK (Sonakshi Sinha) also joins him in the quest, even though she is doubtful about the inclusion of a simple police officer. When they reach the city, they are welcomed by an explosion, which makes them realize that RAW agents are not even close to being safe. There is someone on the inside who knows the names of the agents undercover, and all of them, especially the seventeen agents in China are in grave danger. There are a number of people in their list of suspects, but everything points to Shiv Sharma (Tahir Raj Bhasin) in the end. But there is something about him, as he always stays one step ahead of them. They find it almost impossible to get him out of Budapest, and at the same time, another agent gets killed. This newly found enemy has something more to do than to just kill the RAW agents – what is it?

The defence of Force 2 :: The action sequences are well-planned and executed very nicely. The presence of patriotism and thrills are things of certainty here. There is quick pacing, and we are never bored, and you can see that there is the complete absence of drag throughout its run. There is not much of the songs here and it is a relief, which many other Bollywood movies should also provide us with, instead of throwing all those tunes towards us – maybe one would want the songs like the predecessor, but with our hero going on full attack, they were not to be here. The visuals of Budapest are really good, and there are so many occasions when we are lost in them and feel the need to visit Hungary, and even go further through Central and Eastern Europe on a special journey. The movie is emotionally strong too, and there is the tribute for the unsung heroes of the nation. The story has a lot with all these.

The claws of flaw :: The story is not something which we haven’t heard before – it is up to the hero to save more than just the day, with that extra dose of heroism along with the special dose of patriotism coming right through. The similarities with Hollywood situations are there, as you will notice depending on how much of those international movies you get to watch. There are also a little too much extra with the way in which the big action sequences are added – they could have been avoided, and the movie should have stuck to those which feel realistic, even when maintaining that style. There are lots of moments which remind one of a first person shooter, and it comes as kind of a pain. There are explanations which do go missing with the antagonist’s past and all, but within the movie’s scenario, things go fine, and that will satisfy your brains well enough. The comedy is not good.

Performers of the soul :: John Abraham comes up with an intense performance here, and we feel the force in his performance right from the beginning to the end. We have seen him in a similar role in a more realistic way in Madras Cafe, and here he goes more entertaining in this action-packed thriller – there is no real shortage of intensity from him here either. From the first time I had seen Force, I was sure that there was more to be done in that movie for him, and this sequel brings him the opportunity to do the same, for which he has no problem at all – we have the force right through him. Sonakshi Sinha looks nice and does mostly okay, and as expected, it is John who gets to steal the show. Tahir Raj Bhasin who is the antagonist in this thriller has managed to do a great job, and adds this performance to what he did in the much appreciated Mardaani.

How it finishes :: Force 2 is the right sequel to its predecessor, and it makes sure that we are thrilled throughout its run, and this one is a fine action thriller which is worthy enough to rule the weekends with all kinds of audience. As you can remember, the trailer was pretty much interesting, and this one stays strong to live up to the expectations. There were other choices to make this weekend, and for me, that included the Malayalam movie Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, and the Hollywood flick, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them – I am pretty sure that I made the right choice to watch Force 2. I am sure that people will have many reasons to go for another movie, but Force 2 is undoubtedly the right movie, because it is one entertaining package with enough application of brains.

Release date: 18th November 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Abhinay Deo
Starring: John Abraham, Sonakshi Sinha, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Paras Arora, Narendra Jha, Boman Irani (cameo), Genelia D’Souza (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.