Army of Thieves

Vampire Owl: And now we are talking about some thieves.

Vampire Bat: We are not talking about the thieves who raided the vampire outpost.

Vampire Owl: There are other thieves who should be of our concern?

Vampire Bat: They don’t break into the Dracula castle, so not our concern.

Vampire Owl: Well, they can steal from the zombies and werewolves.

Vampire Bat: What would they steal from a zombie? A lost brain?

Vampire Owl: There is always something to steal for those who want to.

Vampire Bat: Okay, like stealing a witch’s heart.

Vampire Owl: A vampire thief would go for blood instead.

Vampire Bat: Vampires have never been real thieves. We steal only the appreciation with some special claps.

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

What is the movie about? :: Sebastian Schlencht-Wohnert (Matthias Schweighofer) is living a common, boring life, working in a bank in the German city of Potsdam. He is used to coming up with Youtube videos about safecreacking that has no viewers and zero comments until someone leaves a comment on his most recent video, about a safecracking competition. He has nightmares about zombies after watching news about the creatures unleashing themselves in Las Vegas, forcing the United States government to send the military forces there, only to mess up the whole thing, leading to a final quarantine of the whole area. He goes on to win the competition, shocking everyone. The very nexy day, Gwendoline Starr (Nathalie Emmanuel) introduces herself, a skilled jewel thief who had commented upon his YouTube video. Gwendoline then introduces herself to the man, a skilled and Interpol wanted jewel thief who had commented upon his YouTube video so that she could recruit him for one grand heist which nobody has done before, after which they will have the perfect life without the mundane bothering them again.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She would have Sebastian as the safecracker, she would be thief, Korina Dominguez (Ruby O Fee) their expert hacker who has been doing it from the age of ten, Rolph (Guz Khan) their getaway driver and Brad Cage (Stuart Martin) their gunman to keep them safe during the whole heist which is going to be one grand adventure. Rolph doesn’t like Sebastian at all, while Brad hopes that he doesn’t mess this up. For meeting up and as a safe house, they have chosen a house which is off the grid. They have to break into three banks which have three safes created by a legendary locksmith. The first one is in Paris, and has the least amount of money. They feel that this might be the easiest of them all, but it might be more difficult than they think, and the other two are long way ahead as far as the difficulty level is concerned. The last two will be in two other European countries, Czech Republic and Switzerland, and shall require better planning than the one in French, with even better team work, but the question remains if they are good enough to pull up those heists as a team – then there is Interpol after them.

The defence of Army of Thieves :: There has been the shortage of some good heist movies, and the biggest release of the genre was Red Notice – it was focusing more on its superstars rather than the act of heist itself, and we have this one which basically focuses on the act in a much better way. There is some quick action with the heist going on with some fine plans in the background – each heist is basically a different thing, as we look at them, and there are some fine detail associated with them too. Also, in comparison to the earlier movie, Army of the Dead, this is a much light-hearted version, and there is also the presence of some nice humour here, suiting the heist genre. The safecracking is nice to watch in all cases, and there is a certain amount of humour and some information being added to each of them. It serves as a stepping stone to the next movie well, and has the origin story of one particular character, as we wait for the same with the others too. We know that how things turn around with the next movie!

Positives and negatives :: As this movie goes back from the zombies to humans, there is surely the feeling of relegation, even though it does its job as it was supposed to do. The film also lacks a power-packed hero like Dave Bautista who had held the previous movie on his gun point with the muscles. The female characters do hold on well enough though. This movie, even if shorter than the other film of the franchise, does feel longer, as this one does have some random time in the beginning, and also some romance to go with it, which means that there is a stretch, even though the interesting way of telling this story makes sure that we are past it. The visuals are also really good, with locations in three European countries – France, Czech Republic and Switzerland. The beauty of Europe does get the due, and the focus is not just on the big cities, but also nature, with the final moments having one grand truck journey through a beautiful world, which is to be remembered too. Well, a heist movie without zombie horror means that this is also for the less valiant.

The performers of the soul :: Matthias Schweighofer leads in the movie, even though he doesn’t do the same with team, taking time to get into it, and manages to come up with a fine job as he goes through the whole thing. He is also the director of this movie, and it seems that he has a lot to do in different fields. Yet, with the performance, it is Nathalie Emmanuel who steals the show, and it is very unlike her in the Fast and Furious as well as The Maze Runner series of movies, as this time, she plays the best character around here. It is also the one with the most skills, and the person who leads and decides things, a role which Dave Bautista did in Army of the Dead. Ruby O Fee who plays the other female member of the team doesn’t fall behind either, as she plays the hacker who does most of the background work for the team. Stuart Martin and Guz Khan are secondary in this team, even though they seem to take over in the beginning stages of the mission in the movie. Jonathan Cohen and Noemie Nakai do add nicely here too.

How it finishes :: Army of Thieves doesn’t have the strength as the earlier movie of the franchise, Army of the Dead had, for one particular reason – it doesn’t have the zombies, and is thus missing the horror elements, but still manages to be a very entertaining heist movie with quality action and humour being the necessary part of it. Some people might not like the fact that this is a prequel, and it doesn’t mention the zombies enough, but we know that dealing with thieves and their heists mean that there can only be a little bit of the monsters of Las Vegas. It does connect to the events of the second movie in the end nicely, and we can actually come out of this movie as having watched an entertainer which sticks to the plan. Well, we have had many films being marketed as big entertainers, and so many of them didn’t live up-to the expectation, or at times managed to overdo and mess up things. But, this one stays strong as the prequel that it was supposed to become, and joins the smart heist movies list in style.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Matthias Schweighofer
Starring: Matthias Schweighofer, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ruby O Fee, Stuart Martin, Guz Khan, Jonathan Cohen, Noemie Nakai, Barbara Meier, Peter Hosking, Fanette Ronjat, Amy Huck, Peter Simonischek, Dave Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Bly Tanaka

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Paradise Beach

Vampire Owl: Why does this movie remind me of your trip to Thailand?

Vampire Bat: Because this film was shot in Thailand itself.

Vampire Owl: A French film shot in Thailand, and that is a fine choice.

Vampire Bat: Still, our visit to Thailand was not to the place shown in the movie.

Vampire Owl: So, the package was not to Phuket?

Vampire Bat: No, it was a Bangkok and Pattaya package.

Vampire Owl: Well, there is not much of a difference for people who don’t know.

Vampire Bat: But we do know that it is different in many ways.

Vampire Owl: Let us watch the movie and find the differences and similarities then.

Vampire Bat: Another French movie is the deal then.

[Gets an egg puffs and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: Six friends manage to pull of a bank heist in Paris, but one of them Medhi (Sami Bouajila) gets caught by the police in the process, and he urges them to escape. The five of them manage to leave France before being caught, and goes to Phuket in Thailand and manages to start some business with the money they had stolen, and live a happy life, while Medhi lives his life in prison for fifteen years, not telling the police anything about the others who were part of the bank heist with him. Phuket, the country’s largest island hosting one of its oldest cities, along with another thirty two smaller islands off its coast, provided some of the best sources of income through tourism by bringing so many of visitors from different parts of the world. As all of them run some kind of resort, restaurant, nightclub or pub in the city, Medhi hopes that he could finally get his share, as he comes back from prison after fifteen years of silence – the first place he visits is Phuket, and it comes as no real surprise for anyone.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Being at Phuket, his plan is to get the money and return to France, but then he has to face the big problem that there is no share left, as they have all invested money in businesses, without getting much in return – some of them have completely failed in their work and there has also been the damage done by the tsunami which it South East Asia. As he keeps asking for money, his friends begin to get frustrated, except for his brotherly figure, Hicham (Tewfik Jallab) who is married to Aom (Sonia Couling) a Thai girl with whom he has two children. At the same time, his girlfriend Julia (Melanie Doutey) comes all the way there from France, and it complicates things. With gangwars and police involvement, things get further complicated, and one has to wonder if Medhi somehow manages to get his share – but will he leave without that? What can he do to make sure that he gets that? How long can the friends remain close to each other as the case of money comes in between?

The defence of Paradise Beach :: When you know that the location is going to Phuket in Thailand, there is the certainty of some fine visuals around here, as it is the third most visited place there after Bangkok and Pattaya, as long as people from this part of the world are concerned. A trip to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore has been the usual thing for almost everyone around here. With beautiful visuals, we get to the rest of the movie with a better feeling. There is also the feeling of a usual gangster movie, with problems arising over money, drugs and women in a night club. The movie does manage to keep close to the same level throughout its run, even though it is not that high a level, as we will be able to notice. There are some shooting sequences, and the other fights are also there, even though less in comparison. In the end, the movie does make sure that we are interested in visiting Thailand, especially Phuket on that particular side of the nation.

The claws of flaw :: Paradise Beach is pretty much a predictable movie as you think and look at it. There are many common things which are repeated here. It shows the same elements when showing Phuket, which reflects the idea that many people have here about Pattaya, as depicted in the foolishness of the movie, Amar Akbar Anthony. The final ending doesn’t impress that much even though we are glad that it happened to those people, and the twists which are put in there just before that, doesn’t prove to be that effective either. There is the feeling of absence here and there, which we can feel too. The idea of having dead people vanishing from group of photos is kind of dumb too, and one wonders why such a plan was being made. A better utilization of the beauty of Phuket is not there, and we don’t see the best use of the movie’s female characters either, which is disappointing, even though they have a few moments to be remembered.

Performers of the soul :: Sami Bouajila plays the main character here, as the one who goes to prison for his friends, the partners in crime. The movie does depend on him, and he doesn’t disappoint. Melanie Doutey plays Julia, his love interest. Melanie’s work is lovely, and has a certain amount of tranquility related to it, among all the possibility of violence waiting to happen. When you say Melanie, the name which comes to the mind first is that of Melanie Laurent though, another French actress, who was in Now You See Me and Enemy, catching our attention in both films. Sonia Couling as Aom is the next one to catch our attention, and she has more to do in this movie than we think she would have in the beginning. Flore Bonaventura as Tatiana also brings some good work here. Tewfik Jallab as Hicham is of importance, and has some good moments here. The others just manage to hold on there, and there is nothing special to be done as far as this movie is concerned.

How it finishes :: Paradise Beach hasn’t gathered many positive reviews with its existence, but it has to be noted that the movie is not as bad as some critics had shown it to be, for we see something in there to keep watching. We are given the feeling that it will bring something more than what we think. But if you are hoping for something special, or anything to raise its level above most of the other movies of the same kind, you are going to be disappointed. This is the kind of movie which is to be watched with lower expectations so that better results can be felt. So, watch the film, and make a visit to Phuket after all the COVID-19 pandemic problems are over. You will love the place, and the movie reflects the beauty well enough. At the same time, you would want to read reviews on movies in other languages like Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Vietnamese and Latin which all did make fine entry into Movies of the Soul during the period of Corona Virus crisis.

Release date: 20th February 2019
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Xavier Durringer
Starring: Sami Bouajila, Melanie Doutey, Tewfik Jallab, Hugo Becker, Kool Shen, Seth Gueko, Dosseh, Hache P, Hubert Kounde, Nessbeal, Bruno Lopes, Chalad Na Songkhla, Karnpitchar Ketmanee, Vithaya Pansringarm

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Shikkari Shambhu

What is the movie about? :: Philippose (Kunchacko Boban) is a thief who works close to two other thieves, Achu (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) and Shaji (Hareesh Perumana). The three had made an attempt to steal a golden cross from a church in Kunnamkulam area, only to fail in the attempt and escape to the highranges. They decide to stay hidden in a remote place, and the news that there is a tiger attack in Kuruthimalakkavu, makes them travel all the way there disguised as hunters. They also have their eyes set on the statue in the village temple which is said to date back long, and is valued at crores. They are welcomed by the group of villagers lead by the Panchayat President Sudhakaran (Maniyanpilla Raju) and the local priest Father Luko (Johny Antony), and are offered five lakhs to catch the tiger. The three feels that this is a big opportunity for them to make some quick money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The three lives in the fear of being attacked by the tiger, and along with their adventure, Achu falls in love with the daughter of the Panchayat President, Revathy (Alphy Panjikaran) who is a college student. At the same time, Philippose has his interest set on Anitha (Shivada Nair), who is one of the more active and stronger women in the area. They do end up capturing the tiger, but it turns out that this doesn’t stop the killings. It won’t put an end to their problems either. So, is there one more tiger that they need to handle? Can another Shikkari Shambu incident of pure luck save them? But even luck has its limits, as the three friends attempt to make one last stand to save the village as well as get the money that they wanted. This is the time for them to find all their courage, but are they up to it? How many people will have to die before they can?

The defence of Shikkari Shambhu :: The movie has the formula that works, right out the movies like Ordinary, which was acceptable to so many types of audience. There is a lot of entertainment in store, beginning with the comic side that runs through, and also the mystery to come to light along with the big twist to arrive by the finish. The visuals are stunning, and it is not limited to the beautiful “mazha” song which has already become the best song of the year without doubt. When you look closely, you see that Shikkari Shambhu is surely better than Pulimurugan, even though that much of a box-office collection is not there to be taken – this one is still more fun, has a better story, and there are cent percent better female characters, along with coming up with better songs and visuals. Well, you begin laughing from the very beginning itself, and when you see that happening in a multiplex in a mall with the family audience, the movie has won the hearts.

The claws of flaw :: The tale could have been better in the middle parts, and there was scope for more with this trio trying to make something out of their stay in a village haunted by wild animals. There is the feeling of the movies like Ordinary, and a little bit of Romans in this one, and you will also think that this flick is a little too long. A bit shortened, this one could have done without some moments. The tiger doesn’t come up well enough to create an impression either. The fact that this movie didn’t have its shows in a number of theatres including Carnival Cinemas Angamaly and Carnival Cinemas Muvattupuzha, was surely a terrible thing, as we can be sure that so many people wanted to watch this movie after being addicted to the “mazha” song which is undoubtedly a pleasure to look out for, on the big screen. A little more care, and this one could have done even better – it could have had the special ingredient and could have attempted a deviation from the usual path.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban handle this role with ease, and we remember that he played a thief in his last movie of 2017 too, in Varnyathil Aashanka. This character does work for him very well, and never does he need to try more. The song “mazha” itself seems to be custom made for him, something which makes the viewers immediately interested in the flick itself. Shivada has a fine role here, paired opposite Kunchacko Boban, making this her one more notable role after Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Her character is strong, determined, and with those qualities that surely make this one a different role for her – there is more than what meets the eye to the strength of this particular female character. Vishnu Unnikrishnan, after Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, continues to be the boy next door, carrying most of charm into this one too.

Further performers of the soul :: Alphy brings good work in her first full role, paired opposite Vishnu as the movie progresses. She is sure to stay there in the industry with some good roles to come. Hareesh Perumana scores the best in this movie, and you don’t need to think twice before asserting the same. We know that he has always been good, no matter what people will say about a movie as a whole. He has been having a good time in the Malayalam movie industry, and this one has him controlling the funny side, rising above everyone else. The movie’s advantage is that he is there throughout the flick. Two directors Johny Antony and Aji John plays interesting roles in the movie too, and the former provides some fun moments which scores big. Salim Kumar has only a smaller presence as a police officer, but when he is there, the whole theatre has no problem in getting into a laugh riot.

How it finishes :: Sugeeth has had a good run with Kunchacko Boban in the lead, beginning with Ordinary and the last one being Madhura Naranga. With a title that reminds us of the comics character who used to be very special for us, Shikkari Shambhu once again brings us one of the better family entertainers of our times, with the content that is suitable for almost all kinds of audience. After the depressing Daivame Kaithozhaam K Kumaraakanam which claimed to be a family entertainer, but ended up being a miserable copy of ideas from other movies creating a mess, the viewers will find Shikkari Shambhu to be a relief among the flicks which are never really what they claim to be. But Shikkari Shambhu is surely the one movie which you would love to go through more than once for its comedy, which will be a big asset to our comedy channels in the future, unlike Aadu 2 which was surely overrated. I hereby leave you with a lovely song from the movie:

Release date: 20th January 2018
Running time: 140 minutes
Directed by: Sugeeth
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Shivada Nair, Alphy Panjikaran, Hareesh Perumana, Johny Antony, Aji John, Salim Kumar, Sphadikam George, Maniyanpilla Raju, Krishna Kumar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varnyathil Aashanka

What is the movie about? :: Pratheesh (Shine Tom Chacko) is a simple guy looking to start a business in or around the city of Thrissur. But usual way of making money doesn’t come naturally to him – he is always looking for the easy path, the shortcuts to his objective. His people doesn’t have a high opinion about him, especially his uncle (Jayaraj Warrier) from whom he takes small amounts of money which he can’t pay back. He also needs money for his new business and has nobody to aid him. At the same time, he has to pay to get back the gold ornaments of his friend Thanima (Gayathri Suresh), which he had used to get money for his needs – she threatens to commit suicide after letting everyone know that he is responsible for her death. Pratheesh even tries pickpocketing, but gets beaten up before escaping. His best friend is Wilson (Chemban Vinod Jose) who also goes through a similar phase, and is looking for some money for family matters.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Shivan (Kunchacko Boban) is a rather experienced thief in the locality. He is known to be very good at his work, and whenever he brings something home, everyone thinks that he has stolen it. Pratheesh, Wilson and Shivan meets up over alcohol, and Gilbert (Manikandan R Achari) from the nearby town also joins them. As they all have their own problems, they decide to solve them all by doing a big heist at the nearby Aishwarya Jewellery owned by Ittoop (Sunil Sukhada). It is something that could change their lives forever, and they plan to do it the simple and effective way, on a twenty four hour harthal night which will have almost nobody on the road in front of the shop. With violence having broken out after the death of a party worker, people have been staying indoor throughout the district, and they decide to use it to their advantage. If things work out right, this would be their one big heist and the last one.

And what else is to happen here? :: Dayanandhan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is just another guy living nearby, and has been sitting idle at home after the bar where he was working had shut down according to the new liquor policy of the government. His wife Keerthana (Rachana Narayanankutty) goes to work at a nearby textile shop, and he isn’t interested in searching for a new job. They have also taken loans, and as they had married after eloping, there is nobody from their place to help them. While returning home after meeting a friend at Aluva on the same harthal day, Dayanandan comes up against the same thieves, and they decide to shut him up in one way or the other. There are also two policemen, Gireesh (Tini Tom) and Murugan (Dinesh Prabhakar) who arrives at the same location at the same time. This leaves everyone confused, on what is to happen next. Everyone has their own problems to deal with, but this one only gets more twisted.

The defence of Varnyathil Aashanka :: The movie goes through a satirical mode with its content, as it takes on what has been happening in the state during some time. There is a lot of humour happening here with simple incidents, as you would notice – the simple things in life gets packed into more and more humour, and there seems to be no difficulty in doing the same at any point. There are also those reflections and messages to take home, as uses its humour to show the people around us as they are – you see that the thieves are the same, and you doubt if this and that are the same. Never does the movie losses its pace, and you will see that it is always interesting. You also see the power of team work in this one, as this is not limited to one person overshadowing the rest – everyone gets to do their part, and contribute to the tale as well as the overall humour. You are going to be interested in being part of the simple man’s heist without complications, in one way or the other.

The claws of flaw :: Despite providing a reflection of the state of our surroundings and leaving the message, the movie’s final funny and interesting speech will feel a little too lengthy, and the final moments will also seem not matching the whole movie, as it goes without the wonder which was rather expected. There also those moments which seem to defy logic, but in the name of bringing the funny side in a neat way, you will find things to be fair – with the same, it eclipses the other two movies which released on the same day. Still, the movie has a few moments in the first half which will hold it down, but it is just by a little bit. There shouldn’t be the expectations about seeing a big heist movie with this one too, as that can ruin things. On the first day of its release, this one seemed to be rather not hyped, and made way for the rest of the releases, but we see this one getting stronger now.

Performers of the soul :: The movie begins with Shine Tom Chacko’s character, and he gets a fine role here following Tiyaan, which he has done without stumbling anywhere. Kunchacko Boban has brought his character to a fine level, and it is very unlike what he has been doing in the recent past. Suraj Venjaramoodu has another interesting role, which immediately catches our attention right from the beginning – he arrives late and he conquers. There is one final speech that he gets to make further difference nicely and effectively. Chemban Vinod Jose is at his usual best, as he has played the thief in so many other movies, having no trouble with this one. Manikandan R Achari extends the fun which is present like he did with Alamara and Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and has his own moments with the flick. Gayathri Suresh makes one nice cameo at the end, which you will remember. Rachana Narayanankutty is a fine addition too, as you would see here.

How it finishes :: Varnyathil Aashanka battles against Sarvopari Palakkaran and Chunkzz for this weeekend, while the others including Sunday Holiday, Kadam Katha and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum are also there from the previous weeks. Its comparisons are going to be to Sapthamashree Thaskaraha and Kohinoor, both having quite a big group of thieves looking forward to the big heist. In comparison, one can place this movie in between the other two movies, as it is better than Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, but not as better as Kohinoor. Certainly a lot better than the other movie of thieves like Bicycle Thieves and Urumbukal Urangaarilla, Varnyathil Aashanka has something that the rest of the flicks of the same kind never had – its ability to use some satire to reflect and make fun of the happenings in the state, and the movie can consider the same as its special quality which makes its stand apart.

Release date: 4th August 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Sidharth Bharathan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Chemban Vinod Jose, Shine Tom Chacko, Rachana Narayanankutty, Manikandan R Achari, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Jayaraj Warrier, Sunil Sukhada, Tini Tom, Dinesh Prabhakar, Gayathri Suresh (cameo), KPAC Lalitha (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Don’t Breathe

dontbreathe

Vampire Owl: Does this movie ask its viewers not to breathe?

Vampire Bat: Even if it does, that would be okay for us, because we are dead already.

Vampire Owl: But we do breathe, all the time.

Vampire Bat: It is an unnecessary thing though. Actually, we can live without that.

Vampire Owl: But I once told my a zombie girl that she took my breath away. From what you said, I realize that what I said then was of no real significance.

Vampire Bat: Why did you have to talk to zombies about life and breath?

Vampire Owl: That wasn’t a planned meeting. I wished to talk about knife and death, but things happened too fast.

Vampire Bat: Where is that zombie girl now?

Vampire Owl: I think that she has joined the army of the Lich Queen.

Vampire Bat: Your adventures are really disturbing, I have to admit.

[Gets three cups of tea with jackfruit chips].

What is the movie about? :: Rocky (Jane Levy), Alex (Dylan Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto) spends their time breaking into houses and stealing things which they sell to make money for their living. Even as they keep doing the same without regret, what they earn by stealing is just not enough, as they are not paid that much money for the stolen goods. Rocky has the worst case, as she wishes to move away with her little sister from her mother and her new boyfriend who are alcoholic and too much bothering. As usual, they look for the easy way out and they find one in a blind Army veteran who lives in the neighbourhood who has a lot of money after a settlement which followed an accident which caused the death of his daughter. Cindy Roberts (Franciska Törőcsik) who had caused the accident had disappeared, and he was left with a lot of money and the house in an abandoned area of the neighbourhood.

So, what happens next? :: Even though Alex is heistant to rob a defenceless blind man, they finally decide to do that as it was supposed to be so easy and there was so much money involved. After looking at the surroundings during the daytime, they finally reach the house at night. After drugging the blind man Norman Nordstrom’s (Stephen Lang) dog, they try to get in, and with all entrances firmly locked, Rocky just manages to squeeze in through a small window and open the door for all of them. But things are not like they had expected. The blind man wakes up, and there are secrets hidden inside the house. There is also someone in chains in the basement, and in the darkness, it is the blind man who has the advantage over them. He is just not the man they thought he was, and they finally realize that they had picked the wrong house to steal from – but not before the death of Money. To add to it, the dog which they had drugged is back on four legs.

The defence of Don’t Breathe :: The success of Don’t Breathe lies on the fact that it is a home invasion movie at the first look, but manages to provide much more than that, as a horror-thriller. With the best use of the atmosphere, the darkness as well as the sounds make sure that we are watching something more than a thriller inside a house. We know what might be coming from the first shot itself, and there was sure to be blood and twists, and they are present for sure. All its elements are cleverly used, and we know that never does this movie misses out on its skill to be brilliant and entertaining. It is not easy to find a horror movie where you struggle to find the flaws, and Don’t Breathe is one of them. The movie is smart and we are satisfied; we had many home invasion thriller, but this is surely the one which you are going to remember longer than any other.

Positives and negatives :: One might still feel that the blind man’s secret is not used to that twisted advantage which the movie could have had and that would have made sure that this movie would stand the test of time for an even longer period of time. Yes, Don’t Breathe could have surely given the viewers an even more twisted experience which would have stayed for all groups of people, but it chooses to stay safe – that might be the smarter decision considering the fact that there are different age groups from different parts of the world watching this, but that was a chance that they could have taken. Instead, this one works with less dialogues and more thrills. The result is that this one makes one holds his or her breath, thus making its title really relevant, even though the name of another horror movie, Lights Out would have also been suitable for this one.

Performers of the soul :: Jane Levy once again establishes herself as a queen of horror, as she once again teams up with the same director after Evil Dead was remade with them being part of the team in the year 2013. Whenever we see a horror movie, we wish for her to be there; a few other names might be there too, but she is someone who comes as a lovely choice. Meanwhile, Stephen Lang is just too good – from the first moment his character is introduced, to the end, we are so much impressed by his work – and we are also looking for a sequel with the ending that the movie brought. There are not many characters out here in this movie as most of the action is restricted to the moments of terror inside the house. Then there is Dylan Minnette who is also there as the third significant character, and stays there for most of the movie for the good. Daniel Zovatto has a rather smaller role, and Franciska Törőcsik is another person with a short role, but we still remember her.

How it finishes :: This movie comes from Fede Alvarez who had given us Evil Dead, the remake of that cult classic movie which we had all watched while growing up. The fourth installment of the franchise was very much an interesting one, and Don’t Breathe successfully overtakes that one. The Uruguayan filmmaker surely knows how a horror movie is made to bring the best effect to us. If you love the genre, you are surely not to miss this one; even otherwise, you can go for this one, as it is that good. This is the kind of movie that we have been looking for since watching The Cabin in the Woods; for this is not the usual horror movie with ghosts, demons and times of haunting, as this is much more. It brings the good news here, as we get back to the ones that matters the most with their immense potential for evil; the humans. You want to see ghosts jumping out of nowhere to bring the cheap scares? Then you should travel another path. Choose The Conjuring or Insidious on another day; this time, go for Don’t Breathe!

Release date: 26th August 2016
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Starring: Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang, Franciska Törőcsik, Emma Bercovici, Christian Zagia, Katia Bokor, Sergej Onopko

dontbreathe

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sapthamashree Thaskaraha

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Vampire Owl :: I can’t pronounce the name of this movie. Is it a bad omen? Does that mean that we will suffer brutally?

Vampire Bat :: No, the movie is good as per all reports. There is absolutely no question about it. The inability to pronounce is because you are an owl.

Vampire Owl :: I am the Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, everybody knows that already.

Vampire Owl :: Well, what you don’t know about is the significance of owls in vampire mythology.

Vampire Bat :: It is not about you, but some random old, toothless owl.

Vampire Owl :: You shall not understand because you were brainwashed thrice by Uncle Dracula. Do you think the movie will go wrong?

Vampire Bat :: I don’t think so. Prithviraj hasn’t missed anything since Ayalum Njanum Thammil. There is that perfection even in cameo roles; even in Bollywood. Even his lesser appreciated movie London Bridge was a very good flick which some people failed to follow with its themes because of their lesser intellect.

Vampire Owl :: So, this is the day we really celebrate Onam?

Vampire Bat :: This should be it. But this is not the end as there are also a few other movies to pick from.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: We see a man coming to confess at a church in the early morning, and he decides to tell the priest about his story of crime. He talks about how his life changed with one big heist that he committed. There are seven people who meet in the prison, and the list includes Krishnanunni (Prithviraj Sukumaran), Shabab (Asif Ali), Noble (Nedumudi Venu), Martin (Chemban Vinod), Narayanankutty (Neeraj Madhav), Vasu (Sudheer Karamana) and Salam (Salam Bukhari). They decide to steal from a business tycoon called Pious Mathew (Joy Mathew) who was the one responsible for the terrible predicament of some of the people in the same cell as well as many other poor people. For the same, they come up with a plan for which they are helped by Noble’s daughter Annamma (Sanusha Santhosh), Salam’s friend Paki (Flower Battsetseg) and a few of the other former acquaintances as they decide to teach the city’s top devil a lesson.

The defence of Sapthamashree Thaskaraha :: Here, the usual heist movie is made interesting due to the skills of the director, as there is some nice narration and progress going on in the movie, and the jokes are nicely added in between the situations. The confession setting is nicely done, and the dialogues there are worth some applause. There were lots of claps all around in the theatre. Anil Radhakrishnan Menon has nicely managed these characters here and has made sure that all the robbers have some individuality of their own to compliment each other. The whole thing remains interesting throughout, and there is no drag, loss of interest or any similar thing. The fact that this turns out to be more of a heist than a social satire might be interesting for a few, but not working for some others – remember that things are rather too easy for the robbers. The movie is a clear winner for the Onam box-office, and nothing can change that, and considering the opinions about the other movies, a defence might not be even needed.

The claws of flaw :: The addition in the end is pretty immature, as if there is that 7th Day hangover which never leaves, and has come back to haunt for this Onam – the movie should have just finished before it. There is never the need for a climax over another climax just to add another twist. What we needed were simple lovable little robbers working for a cause, and the end ruins it, destroying that feel-good element completely. The movie was going in the same mood until it happened. The whole thing does remind us of many Hollywood heist movies, and as a comparison is rather unnecessary, I shall leave out of it. This doesn’t like up-to our director’s first movie North 24 Kaatham in front of which, this is trailing. The movie takes too much time to get into the action, and almost an hour is over by the time all the flashbacks are dealt with – not really appropriate for a heist movie to have such a long background for each character. None of the songs are interesting except for the title song which is okay.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran continues his winning run in Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, as his success story continues from what he had started with the Lal Jose movie and goes on even when put in less familiar territories like Bollywood (Aurangzeb), romance (London Bridge) and even in negative roles most of the actors would hesitate to do. That perfect journey that he started in 2012, as there is no other actor who has achieved such a good winning ratio, as they move around with their ups and downs – this where Prithviraj has risen above them all, the only other person who has achieved a similar record should be Nivin Pauly, but even he hasn’t got such variety opportunities as our man here who has made the impossible look easy through the last few years. Yes, if you choose the right movie to act in, there will always be appreciation or at least there won’t be too many bad things being told in the worst case scenario.

And the same that is continued :: This Onam is not just about this movie’s success for Prithviraj Sukumaran, as he became father to a baby girl a few days ago. Here, he has a role which is not at all a challenge for him, and does that with ease. The rest of the cast is also very good, and it is on the performances that this movie stands. Reenu Mathews and Sanusha do fine with the limited roles that they have, and the pick of the supporting cast should be Chemban Vinod and Neeraj Madhav who give us a lot to laugh. Asif Ali should have had a bigger role here, but he remains just as one of the seven robbers, unlike his nice entrance in the beginning. Joy Mathew is a nice villain, and this might be better than his previous such performances. Sudheer Karamana and Nedumudi Venu also provides nice support here. Indrajith Sukumaran comes in a guest role by the end of the movie. Flower Battsetseg, a Mongolian circus artist also does some nice work in this flick.

How it finishes :: This Onam is not that good as the last year, as it is evident from the reception for the released movies, and it goes on with the total lag that this year has experienced with Malayalam movies. The last year’s Onam had North 24 Kaatham, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus and Ezhamathe Varavu being very good flicks, the first one being simplay awesome. There were also terrible stuff like D Company and Sringaravelan, but this year only has Sapthamashree Thaskaraha and up-to an extent, Bhaiyya Bhaiyya to save the season, as others turn out to be mass masala movies for the fans. If the reports are to be correct, Sapthamashree Thaskaraha should be the movie of Onam, and it is clearly re-iterated by a lot of movie watchers who are regular audience. It is a good sign for this Onam. I shall take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads this a Happy Onam, and hope that this last weekend before the Onam vacation ends, brings some awesome movies which will only extend our celebrations. Enjoy the Onam Holidays and God bless! 🙂

Release date: 6th September 2014
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Anil Radhakrishnan Menon
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Reenu Mathews, Sanusha Santhosh, Asif Ali, Joy Mathew, Neeraj Madhav, Nedumudi Venu, Chemban Vinod, Flower Battsetseg, Sudheer Karamana, Salam Bukhari, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Indrajith Sukumaran (cameo)

sapthasreethaskarahaa

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mr. Fraud

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The Heist Stuff :: The heist movies have always managed to keep us interested (the Bollywood ones not included), and among them, I would rate The Italian Job as the best, followed by many others, including Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, along with Tower Heist and The Art of the Steal, even Fast Five turning into a Rio Heist making one believe that heist was a kind of new successful genre to explore. Even Bollywood had The Italian Job remade as Players, and it was only a matter of time until Malayalam movie industry also came up with a heist movie, and it comes from B. Unikrishnan with Mohanlal in the lead, and it was called Mr. Fraud – quite a negative name for a heist movie (may be it is named from the point of view of the victims). There will be the genuine question about why these heist films are so popular. I would say that people are having more tendency to take risks, and it is basic human nature to desire for something that someone else has, and it is the envy that takes over – at that moment combined by the risk plus desire/envy, the robbery becoming the wonderful art of steal and there begins the world of heist movies. These movies usually have many twists, innovations and the robber is usually portrayed as the good or better person.

What is it about? :: The centre of attraction is Bhaiji or Mr. Fraud (Mohanlal), the man with many names and many faces, none of them real or revealed. He is a man who commits heists against impossible odds with the help of his assistants Abbas (Vijay Babu) and Priya (Manjari Phadnis) as well as special electronic gadgets. After stealing from the dowry of a billionaire’s daughter, they are ready for one final mission to end all heists, and it includes stealing the treasure from the basement of one of the old palaces which is kept there due to a dispute between two parties and a petition to make them public. The two rivals, the two sons and their sons and daughters are waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the treasure and claim the whole of it as Bhaiji comes in between disguised as the evaluator of the treasure. Inspector Sajan (Sai Kumar) also comes the scene hoping to make some profit out of it and takes over as the head of security. In the middle of hatred and discomfort that prevails in the palace, can the man of disguises steal what he has come there to steal or will he lose his way?

The defence of Mr. Fraud :: How many real heist movies do we see in Malayalam movie industry? The other one concerning robbery was Robinhood which was really dumb and that movie had absolutely nothing, and we surely can’t bring Lokpal to the equation when talking about movies which are above average, even as there was the movies like Gangster which won’t stand a chance in front of even Lokpal. This need has been answered by Mr. Fraud which has enough heist moments, along with that idea which is in the centre. Even as it is not anywhere near those awesome heist movies that we watch in Hollywood, this one has managed to do the stuff in the same style, but weaker in content and execution. The movie, even as it has limited thrills, is never boring – that is a new considering how difficult it has been not to bore the audience. They have also managed to come up with a superior first half and nice early second half. The cast is also superb and most of them have played their characters with beauty. The movie hasn’t tried anything too much, it seemed to attempt and be a decent one, with mediocre elements and that is what is has managed to achieve.

The claws of flaw :: Mr. Fraud has had mostly negative or average reviews from the audience, and it has created a clear doubt when the memories of Lokpal comes to the mind. The biggest problem of the movie is that it is not sure about its own genre, and it deviates from its purpose more than once, adding too much emotions. The protagonist also doesn’t become the true fraud that he is supposed to be, not justifying the title – he is not even the exact opposite here. Some of the characters are not fully developed with so many of them there just for the sake of existing there under the shadow of doubt, and the ending is forced. The movie might seem to lose its steam during the climax, and all the action scenes which don’t involve the heists are quite bad, with the superhero side and slow motion taking over, but that is only about a few scenes. The superhero should have remained under or may be on par with the actor when we consider this movie. The background score often gets irritating and so do the songs which jump out of nowhere and the audience has to ask who let them out when they were not really needed.

Performers of the soul :: This is one of the triumvirate movies of Mohanlal which are expected to score big and release soon enough – Koothara, Peruchaazhi and this one, all three expected to be special for one reason or the other, and Mr. Fraud is the first one to reach the theatre despite so many delays. If I had to choose one among them earlier, I would have chosen Koothara to be the better one. This had to be his movie as it is, and from the family man role to this one, he runs the show as usual, and the good thing is that this doesn’t go to that level of Sagar Alias Jacky and there is the limit under control. His looks are nice and keeps things cool. Manjari Phadnis is there for the looks, but surely has her short moments, and Mia also got so much less to do even as she does that without any significant problems. Vijay Babu never gets to do a lot, but Siddique and Sai Kumar excel in the supporting roles as both are there in the roles which they have perfected before. Suresh Krishna in a bigger role would have been nice though, as the situation seemed to suit him, but that was not to be. Characterization, come up with more power next time!

Soul exploration :: There is the need for heist, and even Inception was about heist, wasn’t it? They were the ones who stole ideas, and planting an idea is just the same as stealing one, as one idea is lost while another one takes its place. Mission: Impossible also had its heists going through. Fast Five was a better heist movie than many of the full-time heist movies. So when the bogeyman steals our dreams and convert them into nightmares, isn’t he also a man who is part of this art? Can he be considered one of the first and the most efficient heist artists of all time? Even as it is nowhere near any of the mentioned, Mr. Fraud steals, and performs that operation well. For most of the people though, heist is an adventure, and in the case of such a ride, it has to be entertaining and having a better motive than just to steal. Heist is usually considered different from the usual robbery, and that word is often used positively, thanks to the heist films. The ambiguity remains in this movie too, if it is right to steal under any circumstance or not to; who is evil and who has the fountain of goodness flowing through? Well, the characters in movies like Big B was not with any goodness, and considering that people supported the main characters, the ones in heist movies are much better. Only if this wasn’t that mediocre, we could have come to a conclusion.

How it finishes :: Mr. Fraud is not as bad as some people might suggest, and a comparison to Lokpal is kind of ridiculous and the question of it being better than Gangster is answered with only one sentence – Gangster was the worst movie of the year, challenged only by Salaala Mobiles. It is brought down only by the hype it created, and by being mediocre. Well, Mr. Fraud has its advantages in the theatre, the most important one being the postponement of Bangalore Days which has such a multi-starrer cast that can bring every other movie down – How Old are You will hold onto its place for quite a long time as the family audience have taken it into hearts, and this position that Mr. Fraud was about to lose will be there for at least one week as Bangalore Days has been on a postpone-spree which might or might not end on the upcoming Friday. Kochadiiyaan is not creating the impact that it should have, and Heropanti is running low, so the only challenge that Malayalam movies have is from the English movies, but none of them can replace these movies in content, and they are miles apart in what they come up with, all three Hollywood movies in the theatre dealing with superheroes and super-monsters not really attracting the families.

Release date: 17th May 2014
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: B. Unnikrishnan
Starring: Mohanlal, Mia George, Manjari Phadnis, Vijay Babu, Pallavi Purohit, Dev Gill, Siddique, Sai Kumar, Vijayakumar, Rahul Madhav, P. Balachandran, Devan, Suresh Krishna, Rajeev Parameshwar, V.K. Sreeraman, Kalasala Babu, Sathaar, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Biju Pappan, Ashvin Matthew, Balaji, Amritha Anil

mrfraud copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.