Sweet and Sour

Vampire Owl: I see that they are now exploring two shades of life.

Vampire Bat: Life has millions of shades as of now, towards infinity.

Vampire Owl: There are not many shades for the undead.

Vampire Bat: We have stayed in the grey, not light or dark, not sweet and sour area.

Vampire Owl: Well, humans do consider us to be very much evil.

Vampire Bat: You have never really cared for their opinions.

Vampire Owl: If they are going to cross over to our realm, we will have to care.

Vampire Bat: Nobody can come through the portal without identification. They shall meet their doom even if they manage to do so.

Vampire Owl: Well, you cannot be sure about humans and evil – both always find a way to spread the terror.

Vampire Bat: Evil shall spread, but random humans crossing the portal are the least of our worries. An army of the dead led by the lich queen should worry us more. It would give even Uncle Dracula a jolt.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jang-Hyuk (Lee Woo-je) is hospitalized due to Hepatitis B, and his own relatives as well as parents keep away from him. They keep their masks and glvoes at all times and makes him very uncomfortable. A nurse Da-eun (Chae Soo-bin) ignores the advice of others and takes good care of him. Soon, they become close, and spends some time time together after he saves her from being caught for smoking. She is annoyed that she has to work all the time, and often eats with him or falls asleep on his bed. He helps her to take a nap in his space while setting a timer. Jang-Hyuk is unhappy that he has to be in bed at a time right after he got a permanent job, but the presence of Da-eun makes him feel better. Even though he feels that she the two are really close, the time for his discharge is almost there, and Da-eun seems to be getting distant from him. On the day on which he leaves, his favourite nurse is nowhere to be found, and his friends and family returns to him as he is now cured. His friends also tells him that people like him won’t be able to get beautiful girls like her as girlfriends.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He goes back to the hospital and find the first part of her number, and calls a good number of phone numbers until he finally finds that it is her on the other side. She invites him to come to her home, and he stays with her for the night – he spends the night repairing the broken lamps and preparing breakfast. The two seem to be attracted to each other, and after they go on a trip to Jeju Island together. He decides that he would lose weight and in that way, they can wear similar clothing and look cuter together. A slim Jang-Hyuk (Jang Ki-yong) comes into the picture soon. As he has been a hard working engineer, he is intimated by his superior that he will be sent to a big firm in Seoul where he will have some grand opportunities with chances to earn more. This means that he will have to travel from Incheon to Seoul so that the couple can still be together. But when he reaches there, he discovers that there is another candidate for the permanent post, and he would not be assured about holding the position because she is tough competition.

And how does life go on with the new changes :: The other candidate for the permanent post, Bo-yeong (Krystal Jung), seems to be always trying to make him look worse than her. But when Bo-yeong comes up with a new bridge design, Jang-Hyuk comes up with a critical flaw in the design. She is forced to sort it out with him. Initially, he is happy about her not able to solve the problem, and thus not able to go home. Soon enough, he takes pity on her, and helps her in solving the problem – the two begin to have a bond, and with their success, gets more projects to work together. The relationship between Jang-Hyuk and Da-eun seems to be more strained though, as both of them have to work late, and traveling all the way between the two cities in the heavy traffic is even more strained. He arrives late, and even though he does not come home every day anymore, shows less interested in Da-eun. He even refuses to do the small things at home. Soon, it turns out that Da-eun is pregnant, and he wishes to spend more time with her, but it also seems near impossible. Then it seems that he has feelings for Bo-yeong. Life becomes more complicated for all of them.

The defence of Sweet and Sour :: Chae Soo-bin raises the level of this movie with her performance, and it can be seen that she is always one step ahead – it becomes clear by the end of the film. The cuteness factor also serves well towards the performance, and the initial moments at the hospital are so good. Krystal Jung and Jang Ki-yong plays the other two main characters, and their work also contributes well here – the combination scenes at the office are very much interesting; there is some humour related to that too. I am seeing all these three main performers in any movie for the first time. Lee Woo-je, despite lesser screen space, adds some humour to the movie early too, along with a feel-good factor – the early incidents featuring him are very relevant to how the movie ends. The movie is more drama and less romance, and it is evident after half an hour into the proceedings itself. It has to be best appreciated for how it brings the twist in the end, how it brings everything together to have a feel-good even within break-up – a little bit of tampering with the narrative helps it to achieve the same with efficiency.

Positives and negatives :: The movie nicely move away from the cliché which would have been expected with this movie. As things come around, the audience is reminded of the situations when work and family are not easy to manage together. With the stress that comes as the result of work, and the desire to reach newer heights as part of the job, the relationships are very much destroyed with ease as shown here. The endless work and no appreciation is no stranger to any of us even in India – as it has been evident for years, the situation of nurses never got to be any better, despite the service that they have provided during the corona virus pandemic and beyond. The movie keeps reminding us about the every day problems which become part of relationships. The physical exhaustion as part of a competitive world is something that would feel real for almost everyone; unless you are a politician who can get whatever is needed with least work. The movie should have still focused on the romance as much as the drama. There are also moments when the film seems to repeat things, and does a little extra when not needed. People who missed the first few minutes will also fail to catch up with the finish.

How it finishes :: Sweet and Sour is the romantic drama with a twist that makes us feel that it is more than just the usual drama of life – yet, it is as close to reality as it can be. The last fifteen minutes or so becomes the big finish that elevates the movie. It serves as a reminder to what can happen when more importance is given to things other than relationships. Yet, in a world which seeks success in work for the definition of an ideal person, especially men, you just cannot stop working as if your life depends on it. You will never stop thinking about how the world has transformed, and about the difficulties to battle the competition, and still be available to do anything other than work. It is the curse that has come across the profit-seeking world, which never stops asking for more; profits matter more than lives, and there are not many things that can substitute money in a world which favors nothing over a huge bank balance. The idea that simple romantic drama can bring something different makes us think a lot about the possibilities that we can have even in a realistic world. The reality of romance strikes hard.

Release date: 4th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Lee Gye-byeok
Starring: Jang Ki-yong, Chae Soo-bin, Krystal Jung, Lee Woo-je, Choi Hwan-yi, Shin Joon-hang, Park Chul-min, Yeo Min-joo, Park Ji-hoon, Yoon Byung-hee, Lee Geung-young, Yoo Sun, Choi-hyeong, Kim Mi-hye, Ahn Gil-kang, Kim Mi-kyung

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Malayankunju

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the floods and landslides of the last few years?

Vampire Bat: Yes, 2018 floods was too terrifying for vampires too.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this movie will be a Fahadh Faasil show.

Vampire Bat: You mean, more focused on him than the big works like Joji and Malik.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why it should be any different.

Vampire Bat: There can always be balanced acts.

Vampire Owl: The focus always shifts to Fahadh Faasil at some point of time.

Vampire Bat: We remember the much earlier Fahadh Faasil movie which was focused on high ranges too.

Vampire Owl: Maheshinte Prathikaaram was one of its kind.

Vampire Bat: Well, so was Kumbalangi Nights which deserved better accolades than what it had received then. Still my favourite movies of him would still be the earlier ones in the form of Amen and Diamond Necklace.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three scoops of blackcurrant ice cream].

What is the movie about? :: Anil Kumar aka Anikuttan (Fahadh Faasil) is an expert electrician who serves the locals of the high ranges of Kerala. He is the one whom almost everyone depends on, whether it is about laptops and mobiles or related to general household items like televisions, refrigerators and washing machines, with any possible doubts being cleared using Youtube. Sumesh (Deepak Parambol) is his best friend, and helps him with obtaining the electrical equipments required for repair, as they live closer to the forest area. His father Radhakrishnan (Jaffar Idukki) had committed suicide a long time ago, and he had been unhappy about it for a long time, leading him to becoming frequently angry towards others and even resulted in him acting strangely for most of time. His mother Shanthamma (Jaya S Kurup) is particularly unhappy about how he has been living his life – as the child next door cries all the time, he feels disturbed and not able to concentrate on his work, leading to more fights with neighbours.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: All of these points to his sister Sandhya (Rajisha Vijayan) eloping with Deepu (Arjun Ashokan) on the night before her marriage, the event thus becoming the major reason for the suicide of Anil’s father. Even though his uncle Surendran (Indrans), neighbour Poulose (Irshad) and a few others are still in support of him, he doesn’t gain any fans among the people around. As his sister comes back to the area with her child, he is not ready to go and see her. He also gets into fights with the locals, and lands in the police station. But he somewhat gets along with these people, but it has been raining heavily for a long time, and an alert was already issued. Most of the people nearby had already moved from the area, and Anil’s neighbours plan to get out there the very next morning. Anil is adamant that he won’t leave his house, despite the warnings of his mother. But the landslide occurs during that night, and everyone seems to have perished. Anil tries to get out of the area underneath the land and try to save others who might have also been caught in there, but can he?

The defence of Malayankunju :: The struggle that the main character has to face, feels as real as possible. The skills with cinematography seems to have worked in favour of the movie, not just underneath the ground, but also outside with the shots, even though there are no shots of this particular world like in one of the best quality films in high ranges for sometime, John Luther. There are no exaggerations in this tale which is close to reality from the beginning to the end – the protagonist is no hero, and struggles with the problems of the mind reminding us of North 24 Kaatham which had a different crisis from inside. The movie is very much well shot in parts, and with some fine use of lighting and sound effects, creates the desired effects to take us to that world. The nature with all the greenery works close to the tale, even though environment is pushed to the background for quite a long time. This seems to be a movie custom made for Fahadh Faasil, and he assures the audience about the same. He continues with his excellence, and when he is there, you know that the movie will rise further, even if caught in the ordinary at times.

The claws of flaw :: With the premise, one would have expected this to be a disaster movie with the visuals of the terror also coming into the picture. The time spent underneath the ground could have also looked better, with some more smaller events of interest – the situation outside could have also been shown from outside, about what had actually happened, and how the news channels report the incidents – these could be easily achieved without making things complicated or exaggerated. The idea of having the father appear in the dream-like sequence doesn’t work, considering the mood which the film has been maintaining. Some of the characters are there to do very less, and it is disappointing considering their skills. The sudden interest in humanity which is displayed by the protagonist seems to be forced, as he looks like the one who is interested in his fellow humans all of a sudden. The movie had already stretched a little bit too much with the events in the early stages. After all, as people watch survival thrillers in different languages, they are no strangers to the idea. The songs are also not that interesting.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has never stopped amazing us with his works, and it is to be noted that even with the ordinary stories like Ayal Njanalla and Role Models, he has elevated the movie to a classic level, and there is no question about those works which have managed to be close to perfection with his presence. We have been seeing him as the actor who has been part of movies from different languages and having more and more fans from different parts of the world and even outside the nation. Here, he is excellent in displaying the protagonist’s desire to survive against all odds, as he is caught in the debris which remained after the landslide. Rajisha Vijayan plays another role in which she does a fine job, even though one would have wanted to see her more, as we had only recently seen how well she managed to work as the sole star in Keedam, a quality which was also seen in Kho Kho, Finals and June, all of them having her rising above all expectations. The usual veterans are surely strong in here, in the form of Indrans, Irshad and Jaffar Idukki. Nilja K Baby also gets a good role which is performed well, and we would expect RJ Nilja as part of more similar movies – more of future for the film industry.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have had its inspiration from the landslides which occurred in Kerala, especially from the year of Kerala’s biggest floods of the century till the year of the corona virus – the devastation of the times seems to serve as inspiration for creativity as much as for caution. The horror related to natural disasters has never been too far away from us. This one works as an eye opener for all people, as everyone needs to come together during the disaster which unites humanity, and let them get out of the boundaries of religion, caste, race and language. The disaster has been used to remind people of what they have been missing, and some fantastic performances make sure that it gets to the viewers. It also works as the triumph of humanity when it discovers what it had lost in the last few years – hope and love for the other. Malayankunju successfully urges the audience to reclaim the same, even though a world of chaos and destruction awaits to be unleashed on unsuspecting people.

Release date: 11th August 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 22 July 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Sajimon Prabhakar
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Rajisha Vijayan, Indrans, Nilja K Baby, Johny Antony, Jose MV, Deepu Navaikulam, Jaffar Idukki, Jaya S Kurup, Deepak Parambol, Arjun Ashokan, Meera Krishnan, Binu Manambur, Irshad, Chali Pala, Meera Krishnan, Remya Suresh, Kiran Peethambaram

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jo and Jo

Vampire Owl: The movie seems to have gathered some extra attention.

Vampire Bat: Some movies always get some unexpected attention.

Vampire Owl: Most of them also get the unwanted.

Vampire Bat: Well, there are many unwanted movies.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about the movies with so called superstars.

Vampire Bat: Yes, in comparison, this one is capable of more.

Vampire Owl: Yet funny movies mostly get more ratings than they should.

Vampire Bat: Let us not think about comedy right now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that these are bad times.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there are never good times when humans are involved.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jomon Baby (Mathew Thomas) and Jomol Baby (Nikhila Vimal) are the two children of Baby Palathara (Johny Antony) and Lillykutty Baby (Sminu Sijo). Both the children do not like each other, and fights continuously, sometimes without any reason at all. Manoj Sundaran (Naslen K Gafoor) and Ebey Kuruvilla (Melvin G Babu) are Jomon’s best friends, and the former also has a crush for Jomol. Baby is an understanding father even though both of his children are more irritating than anything he had known before, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down days. Baby doesn’t have that much of a work because these are the corona times, and Lillykutty is not happy about her children being rebellious against her. Jomol is not happy and often violent for no reason because she feels that Lillykutty likes Jomon more as he is the younger one and male. Jomon is a very irresponsible student and son, whose only contribution towards home is the one fish that he gets once in a bluemoon while trying fishing with his friends.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Member Shibu (Binu Adimaly) is consistently trying to get Jomol married to someone who is settled outside India, especially because Lillykutty wants to see Canada, United States of America, United Kingdom or similar countries after she settles down there – Jomol is very hostile about that idea as she is not the kind of person who wishes to leave her comfort zone. One day, Jomon finds a letter seemingly of romance, addressed to a person named Jo, and also a green motor-bike leaving the area. He feels that Jomol is having an affair, and throws the letter away. He feels that she will leave them all, and go with a stranger on a motor-bike. Jomol who picks up the letter later, finds the writings for someone named Jo, and feels that Jomon is having a romantic affair at this age, which means that the girl would most probably be below eighteen, and therefore it is an illegal affair. Jomol decides to take the help of their grandmother to find out the truth, while Jomon is helped by his friends, especially Manoj who is heart-broken about his crush having an affair. What would actually be the truth?

The defence of Jo and Jo :: When we look at Jo and Jo, some people might find it perfect to relate, especially the kind of new generation that is not ready to give their elder sister the deserving respect, and spends their time playing nonsensical games when not wandering around with friends for smoking or drinking alcohol. The film is a fine representation of such a generation, and also that of a new generation of elder sisters who fail to take responsibility of the younger brother – in that case, the boys who serve more as friends are surely better. Still, it does feels that the new generation is gone beyond repair, thanks to the mobile and internet addiction brought to everyone by Reliance through Jio and schools through the online classes in the time of COIVD-19 lock-downs. The film clearly shows that the future is lost with a new generation coming up from online schooling. The humour which has been used for the same is somewhat working, and those who are able to relate to these might find the proceedings to be even better.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much in Jo and Jo that you have not witnessed before in different forms in a few movies and some homes, even though there is the exaggeration. Sometimes, this idea of exaggerating is a little too much. The problem that the main character has with his bowels is made fun of in a miserable manner, and those are not really fit to get anywhere near quality jokes. When making a family movie, one also has to make sure about the language. There are strengths being displayed in this movie, but they don’t get the required focus. A better awareness about the genre was required here. One actor who should have been used more is Sagar Surya of the Thatteem Mutteem fame. The moments related to corona could have also been more fun – a lot of innovations could have been used there too. After all, there is more about corona virus than what is reported in the news; you just need to look a little more for inspiration. For a movie dealing with simple things, it feels a little long, and also has some irritating moments. The feel-good factor just goes missing, and there is almost no good thing about family here.

The performers of the soul :: Mathew Thomas who set the ball rolling with Kumbalangi Nights and Thanneer Mathan Dinangal, continues his good form around here too, even though that much of power cannot be seen around here. The talent is visible at points around here, but not as a whole. Nikhila Vimal who debuted as the lead in Love 24×7 and only recently had different types of performances in The Priest and Madhuram, gets a role which is still much divergent from her previous performances. Yet, sometimes, her character feels overdone, and one would love her the most from that work of grace which was seen in Aravindante Athidhikal. Johny Antony who is known more as the director, earlier seen in Home, has evolved into Ranji Panicker – Lalu Alex mode with ease, and is the one true lovable character in this movie. Naslen K Gafoor who traveled a different path with Kuruthi, does what he has been usually doing with ease. Melvin G Babu is the one who nicely adds to the fun, often better than the bigger names around here. Sagar Surya’s small role is made effective enough too. Sminu Sijo makes a fine mother too.

How it finishes :: It is nice to see that Jo and Jo releasing on Amazon Prime Video less than one month after its theatre release. These are the times when the corona virus is becoming stronger than ever, and crowds should be taken care of, even though political parties and celebrities would care less about common man who is forced to suffer due to the never ending attack of the virus. If it was stronger and better focused, it would have been able to leave an emotional impact or a result of pure fun, but due to it going through everything randomly, it is only a somewhat effective entertainer without an emotional side to be taken further. If it has tried to send a message, there has been failure related to that. The movie can be considered as a random funny movie about happenings in a family during COVID-19 lock-down times, without expecting too much – there is nothing grand here, and no contribution towards the intellect. You can just go through this movie because you wish to see something which could naturally occur in families, with the funny side, avoiding the terrible exaggerations in between – nothing more is granted here.

Release date: 10th June 2022 (Amazon); 13th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Arun D Jose
Starring: Mathew Thomas, Nikhila Vimal, Naslen K Gafoor, Melvin G Babu, Johny Antony, Leena Antony, Sminu Sijo, Sagar Surya, Hareesh Penga, Binu Adimaly, Kalabhavan Shajohn

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Encounter

Vampire Owl: I have always enjoyed encounters with aliens.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you have always been looking for vampire aliens.

Vampire Owl: If a species requires blood to survive, they would just vampires and not aliens.

Vampire Bat: Well, if they are from another planet, they are surely aliens.

Vampire Owl: You are questioning their basic nature of existence.

Vampire Bat: When on Earth, they are still aliens.

Vampire Owl: Drinking blood is in their nature, and that counts as vampires only.

Vampire Bat: This one is worth a debate at the Dracula Castle.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that Uncle Dracula will accept them as just vampires.

Vampire Bat: You don’t know him well enough after the Corona virus pandemic.

[Gets some French fries and three glasses of strawberry shake].

What is the movie about? :: Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) is a dishonorably discharged Marine who is having a tough time living the usual kind of life. He sees that there is so much of riots going on the nearby cities, and the is bothered by increase in violence all around the state and the country. His former wife Piya Khan (Janina Gavankar) and children Jay Khan (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby Khan (Aditya Geddada) are now living with her present husband Dylan (Misha Collins), a long distance from him. The sons, especially Jay is not happy with the situation, and has turned extremely arrogant. He visits Jay and Bobby at takes them away in his car, saying that this is a road trip which their mother has kept as a surprise. The boys feel that this could really be a fun ride, but there is more to it than what he says. Malik seems to be waiting for something bad to happen at all times, and there is a lot of worries that he seems to have here.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: When they are stopped on the road by a police officer, he is forced to tell the boys the truth about what has been happening in the last few days. He tells them that there are some non-terrestrial microorganisms taking over the planet, as these aliens are using human bodies are used as hosts – most of the humans are no longer in control, and some heavy research is required regarding this, for which they hope to reach a safe place. He also feels that at least half of the population has been infected. The idea of a parasite growing inside one’s body frightens the boys, but they decide to fight and make it the safe place with their father. As Hattie (Octavia Spencer) is the one who is in charge of Malik’s parole understands that he took the children after tying up Piya and Dylan, she understands that he is in trouble. Back home, FBI is in charge of the investigation on the kidnapping of the boys, and they feel that he might be going to keep his children.

The defence of Encounter :: The beginning of the movie was really good, and it keeps us interested throughout most part of its run. Most of the things which were shown in the beginning turns useless in the end, but they had a fine role in making the whole film engaging. This has the strength to work as a post-apocalyptic movie after the worms, parasites, or anything takes over later, but it chooses to go ordinary, and that is indeed a shame. The performance are really good, and the visuals are also nice, when we look at them. Some action is also added here and there, but there is almost no horror being part of this, even though there was the chance for that too. It is basically what we thought about the movie before watching it that has kept us interested, and one has to say that the talk about the film before its release did go well to create an image – the same is not reflected well here though, as we stare at it.

The claws of flaw :: Encounter is very much a confused movie, as it doesn’t really seem to know what it is aiming for, with a beginning as an alien invasion movie, and then going on to be a strange family drama. This change that the movie brings at a point of time does no favour to it – if everything happened the other way around, things would have been much better. The movie is called a science fiction thriller both on IMDB and Wikipedia, and one really has to wonder how this film gets into that particular category, especially in the second half, as the path seems completely lost. Even though the ending does look realistic, it is not the kind of finish that are looking for, and for a climax like this one, not many people would wish to buy the tickets – well, this is on Amazon Prime Video and when you have already taken the subscription, one might just end up watching it quickly for the sake of it. Promoting a movie as what it really is, would be the right thing to do, in my opinion.

Performers of the soul :: It is the performances that score for the movie which struggles with confusion over its own identity, as Riz Ahmed does a very good job as the former Marine who seems to be trying to end an alien invasion, but is as confused as the movie itself. His feeling of paranoia, worries and strange acts are all things which work well for us. If the movie could have actually stepped it up well enough, this could have brought wonders for him, but unfortunately, he also struggles with the film as we reach the disappointing end. Janina Gavankar has some fine family moments in the beginning, but that doesn’t carry over as the protagonist doesn’t really feel the need to save her from aliens. Octavia Spenser also has some fine moments, as one of the most likable characters that we see anywhere. Rory Cochrance is the typical FBI agent that we see in different movies in similar forms. The two children are good, especially Lucian-River Chauhan who has a little more to contribute in comparison with Aditya Geddada.

How it finishes :: Encounter makes another science fiction alien invasion thriller entry to Amazon Prime Video after The Tomorrow War did the same thing a few months ago. Still, our movie here is rather different, with no big alien attacking people around, and no huge action scenes – in this case, we don’t have too much of sci-fi being thrown around, as no certainty about the alien attack is provided. Almost all the movie, you keep thinking if there is really an alien, a doubt which won’t favour you if you are looking for full action alien flicks. This movie is more drama when we consider the case here. You have an alien movie here without the certainty of the existence of the aliens, and that is indeed not the science fiction that you want. Well, when there are so many alien invasion movies at your disposal, and which a good number of science fiction films waiting for your eyes, this one which degrades into a family drama might not be the one you prefer, but it is still an interesting watch, especially during the first half.

Release date: 10th December 2021
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Michael Pearce
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, Rory Cochrane, Lucian-River Chauhan, Aditya Geddada

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Meander

Vampire Owl: I remember having met an elf with a similar name.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is certainly not a fantasy movie.

Vampire Owl: Elves are as real as we are. None of us are fantasy.

Vampire Bat: Well, for humans, we are all fantasy elements.

Vampire Owl: The girl on the poster does look very much real.

Vampire Bat: You surely cannot say the same about her surroundings.

Vampire Owl: The poster here doesn’t seems to mean anything.

Vampire Bat: It could be a reflection of the useless lives that the humans lead.

Vampire Owl: Well, with the terrible mindset that they have, what else can they do?

Vampire Bat: They could always choose to be extinct and save the planet and the other life forms that live without hate.

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

What is the movie about? :: Lisa (Gaia Weiss) who works as a waiter is seen lying in the middle of a road in the countryside until a car arrives from a distance. She starts walking, but the man in the car, Adam (Peter Franzen) who works as a night watchman offers her a lift, as there is nobody nearby, and there is no hope of finding civilization soon enough. They seem to get along well enough, and Lisa is disappointed about her daughter’s death – she realizes that the girl would have been nine years old on that day if she was alive. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through her, and she hopes that she could die one day and unite with he daughter again. It is then that it turns out that the man who is with her is a murderer, and the police is in search of him, as she realizes the same from the news on the radio. But the realization comes a little late, as he slams her head against the dashboard of the car, leaving her motionless.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Lisa wakes up in a small room which seems to have no way out. She is clothed in a strange suit which tightly fits her body, and a strange light-emitting device is attached to her wrist. Later, a door on the side opens and reveals a narrow tunnel through which she crawls with great difficulty, and the door closes right behind her, leaving her trapped inside on her all fours. She has no option, but to continue crawling, trying to find and exit which could lead her to freedom. The device on her wrist also seems to have a timer and alarm, as it seems to remind her of time running out, as she has to go squeeze through extremely narrow passages, as she moved towards light. As the roof of the tunnel comes down, almost catching her buttocks stuck within, that would be only the first of the challenges that she would have to overcome, soon to be followed by a rotten body, water, acid and others.

The defence of Meander :: Almost whole of the movie has just one setting around here, and it has also dealt with the same effectively. There are some fine traps in here, and the more terrifying thing is that they are all within a crawlspace, with the chance of escape being really minute – I wouldn’t give most of us any chance with this, but we root for the lady in distress here, as we are more confident about her getting through, even though not as much as Prince of Persia or Tomb Raider would. Here, in between, we come to know that there is more to all of these than what meets the eye, and that there is something beyond our comprehension, most probably supernatural or paranormal at work. The same is revealed in the end, and it means that we have further scope for a sequel here. After all, this kind of a premise, like that of Prometheus and Alien Covenant, even though lesser in grandeur, can have many different paths to follow. The mysterious feeling never really leaves us.

The claws of flaw :: Meander is surely not the usual kind of a movie, and it goes divergent from even any other possible film who can deal with a similar circumstance. It doesn’t have much more than what it provides here, and leaves us with minimal settings. People who don’t wish to see one person trying to fight it all to make the way out of a long crawlspace won’t find this one to be of their type. Even though this is supposed to be science fiction, the same type of elements show less of a presence around here. We also feel that this could have been better, more direct in what it does, because you know how these have worked really well with the video games. There could have been direct ideas provided here, and even though there could be symbolism being connected here, there is not much that we can use directly. We do have many films with one actor getting all the focus, and others being almost absent – Sunny is a recent example, and this one could have done more with the one character other than the trap escape acts.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has only two actors, and it is more or less about Gaia Weiss, who is there for the whole of the movie, and works through it very all, as her character keeps trying to survive against all odds. She nicely fits in here, and one would feel that if there is a full action film coming soon, she could be right in there, doing a great job. She plays the character that has do the impossible, and she does some fantastic work as the one person who goes through all of these. To add to it, there is also an emotional side to her character, which is also portrayed well. Peter Franzen also has some work to do, but he has a very less time on the screen. Basically, we can say that everything is left to Gaia, and she becomes the sole pillar on which the movie depends on, as far as performances are concerned. She never looks like she is going to lag with that much of a weight on her. Not many people could have handled the same so well too.

How it finishes :: Meander makes a fine French movie that has different elements coming together even with almost everything set in one particular place. It is all about survival, set in a seemingly difficult situation, much scarier than The Shallows where we know the enemy, and much hopeless than The Platform in which there was at least the certainty of food and a possible companionship. Unlike the rest which has some hope for its protagonists, this one is at an advanced level of leaving almost no chance to survive, like a hopeless level of The Maze Runner. As a film which gives you claustrophobia, this one is surely an experiment which you might want to remember for long. As the lady moves through this particular crawlspace world, you are into some slow and effective moments of thrills, unlike the ones that we usually see elsewhere. It is that tale of survival which once again has the protagonist fighting against all odds, and we are all hoping for her to survive.

Release date: 11th October 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Directed by: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Gaia Weiss, Peter Franzen

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

<— Click here to go to the first French film review on the site.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cross the Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Voyeurs

Vampire Owl: Do you think that life means anything?

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t matter for humans at all. Then why should it matter for us?

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

Vampire Bat: I would never understand why humans are like this.

Vampire Owl: Humans need their lives to keep lying.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is the only thing that they do throughout their lives.

Vampire Owl: I had trusted three humans last year, and I would never do that again.

Vampire Bat: Humans are all about cheating others, and nothing more.

Vampire Owl: I would trust the demons of hell over these people.

Vampire Bat: Let us not blame the zombies for eating their brains then, and go home.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Pippa (Sydney Sweeney) and Thomas (Justice Smith), move into a new apartment in Montreal, Canada after a long time of spending time apart despite being in love for quite a long time. It seems to be the perfect place for them, and everything seems to work exactly according to the plans, which includes children, job and many more things. They soon find out that the windows of their apartment look across the street to another one, which has no curtains. They see and note these neighbours from the first night itself, and there is initially just some photography, but soon things get more intimate. Pippa doesn’t feel that it is okay to look into the lives of others. They even end up giving those people random names. Soon, they become more addicted in the life of people on the other side. Sebastian (Ben Hardy) and Sam (Cait Alexander) are the two people whom they end up seeing in action. Then there is also Julia (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) whom they see at the same apartment.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They understand that Julia is the original wife, and Seb is cheating on her. Now, Pippa and Thomas are really interested, and wants to know what these people were talking to each other. For the same, they attend a Halloween Party in the apartment, and place a recording device in there. Julia who is supposed to be the real wife of Seb knows that he is cheating on her with some of the models whose photos he had taken. As more models including Mere (Blessing Adedijo) are added to the list, only Thomas and Pippa knows about the same as they watch from a distance. When Julia visits Pippa’s eye clinic, they become friends, and Pippa really wishes to talk to Julia about all the cheating that has been going on. But it seems that there is more to what they have been seeing around. The world has its secrets, and here once again, we have more than what meets the eye.

The defence of The Voyeurs :: The Voyeurs does have some moments of suspense, and it keeps us interested about what is to happen next, and twists as well as thrills do make the appearance. We have many unpredictable moments in here too, as one does feel that he or she never did see that coming. It is then that the mood of the movie suddenly changes without a warning, and there are those final moments when Sydney Sweeney scores above everyone else. All of a sudden, we have something to look out for. The pattern is also really good, and how it transcends the genre is a thing to look out for. The final moments of the film are among the best too, as the shock does get to everyone. We also have some fine visuals around here, and there is also the message given about not to believe what we see. Well, we just cannot believe the humans about almost anything, because humanity itself is built on the towers of lies and hatred for others.

The claws of flaw :: Even though The Voyeurs could have been a better film, there is no attempt here to rise above the limitations. There are lots of slow moments in here, and we are left with times when nothing much happens. The film also takes some time to bring its twists to the scene. People will find some parts of the movie strange too, and also related to how things change so fast. We also have times when things are not that perfect, and we do feel that some of these things could have been different. It also follows the usual formula for the is kind of film for most of the time too. It could have also focused more on human nature, and how it has led to all of these in a direct manner. The film could have also had its focus on evil rather than anything else, as well as some special tendencies which people have. It does have the strength up to an extent, and we are always looking for more as far as films like this one are concerned.

Performers of the soul :: Sydney Sweeney leads the cast, and things go pretty well with her work, and Justice Smith also comes up with a similar job. Sydney is indeed lovely in showing those emotions as things change so quickly. We can see that in the end, she raises the level so well. It is beautiful to watch her emotional side at work. The leading cast are pretty good together, as we look at them. Natasha Liu Bordizzo is very good with her work, even though it is Katharine King whom we notice before her. Natasha also has something special in store, and you can wait for that too. The other names including Katharine King are fine to watch on the screen, but quickly vanish without any trace of their former existence. Ben Hardy is more or less the character that seemed predictable earlier, but not so later. There are also a number of other characters who are not given that much focus, and we forget them too, as film comes to an end.

How it finishes :: The Voyeurs has its moments of suspense and thrills, along with the twists which keep us going. It is not just what it seems to be, but more, and also leaves hope for a possible sequel in an even stranger manner. The films like this can actually go a strange route, and can miss the mark easily, but this one holds on really well. It is nice to see that another interesting thriller has come out on Amazon Prime Video during these times when theatres still remain closed. There are surely more coming up, and for now, we have this one to be appreciated. The Voyeurs might not be watched by many as of now, but it will surely be a preference soon enough. So, all of you do stay safe during the time of COVID-19 pandemic, and watch more films from Amazon Prime Video. These might not be the best time, but at least we can watch some good movies.

Release date: 10th September 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Michael Mohan
Starring: Sydney Sweeney, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Justice Smith, Ben Hardy, Katharine King, Cameo Adele, Jean Yoon, Blessing Adedijo

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous film review from Amazon release.

<— Click here to go to the previous English film review from Amazon release.

<— Click here to go to the English review from Amazon release during the same time.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sunny

What is the movie about? :: Sunny Varkey (Jayasurya) has finally returned home from Dubai after a long time with his Logistics business failing, and these are the troubling times of COVID-19 pandemic. He used to want to become a successful musician, but left that idea much earlier. He gets a quarantine spot in Grand Hyatt Residency in Bolgatty Island, Cochin, and gets to be all alone there. SI Sadashivan Nair (Vijayaraghavan) is the police officer who is in charge of looking out for the people in quarantine there, and he keeps an eye on Sunny. He feels lonely, and is uneasy because he is not able to get any more alcohol, with the hotel changing its policies as people were creating nuisance after being drunk. Dr Erali (Innocent) tries to help him with his withdrawal symptoms and a stage of depression. Adithi (Shritha Sivadas) is in quarantine in the room above him, and they also have regular talks.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Nimmi (Shritha Sivadas) had divorced Sunny because he had an affair which he had confessed, much to her dismay. Sunny is as much disappointed about this, as he has been with his financial affairs. She is also pregnant, and it was for the second time, after their child had died a few hours after birth. He has to pay back a lot of money, as a result of his best friend making him an investment which he now regrets. Nimmi no longer wants to do anything with him anymore, and neither does his former lover Dr Anuradha (Mamta Mohandas). It also seems that some of the passengers in his flight were COVID-19 positive, and there is a chance that he might also be in trouble. But he moves on with his lonely life, which doesn’t seem to have much left for him. Yet, it is still to found if there is something more than what meets the eye. With COVID-19 around, you never know.

The defence of Sunny :: Sunny is quite a small movie when we consider its limited setting within a room. Among the classical unities of Aristotle, unity of place and action are maintained, and with a shorter quarantine, all of them could have been there. The setting is really nice, and it is good to see this particular world where parts of one’s life is revealed. There is a whole grand episode of life which is revealed here through small moments. The past, present and future gets intertwined in these incidents which occur in the grand quarantine centre. There is the usual life being reflected here, and the protagonist is very much human, trying to survive in a world which has descended into chaos for him. It shows the life of a depressed man in quarantine really well, and never does it lags behind in doing the same. These are indeed good times for emotional films, as we know what the COVID-19 affected world has come to. Amazon Prime Video has the right films for the same too.

The claws of flaw :: Sunny doesn’t live much beyond the scope here, and it is indeed predictable. A lot of things that we see here, follow the expected routine, with not many surprises to come around. The movie also maintains its slow pace throughout its run, and it is also something which doesn’t come as a surprise when we look at this particular world. It should have had more, even with life being restricted to a room – there is a lot more to be shown with the scenery and the world around, as well as what is inside. It could have also had more events for the main character, as being in quarantine in such a grand space always has more to be added – it is not like being locked in a small room. There could have been more from other characters, even with their faces not shown, as some of them are not really there, exploring their best possibilities. We wished for the sun to shine brighter with Sunny, even though we are okay with what we have around here.

Performers of the soul :: Sunny is a fully Jayasurya movie, as one would expect it to be, from the trailer, and also with the talks regarding the same. There are only a few others who have faces at least inside their masks, or have part of their faces revealed in one way or the other. This is also Jayasurya’s 100th film, and might be his best film to come to Amazon Prime Video. He has come up with a fantastic performance, as a man who doesn’t have any hope in life, and as the only one character which truly performs on the screen, has the whole canvas to himself – we can do nothing more than just applaud the same. We see different phases of his life in the quarantine room itself, and this is a character that shows a certain amount of evolution, which he reflects really well. There is not that much of a challenge provided here for him, but there is indeed something.

Further performers of the soul :: The other characters are introduced through their voices, as they call the main character or sometimes the other way around. There is something to be revealed from each character whom we identify through their voices. Some of the characters have part of their faces being shown, and the voices are those which we identify with ease, especially that of Innocent, Aju Varghese and Vijayaraghavan. They are all part of the tale, even though we don’t see them. All these phone calls play significant roles to keep the film going forward. It is nice to see people like Shritha Sivadas whom we have loved for her early works, and had gone missing for some time. Mamta Mohandas’ voice is heard for much shorter time than we would have expected.

How it finishes :: Sunny nicely sets itself during the COVID-19 and quarantine times, and has the same feeling running through it. There is the loneliness of a quarantine that runs through it, and as we know that we are going to live with COVID-19 with more and more waves supposed to come at some point, this one is closer to reality than one might think. As a movie which has only one face completely shown, and with one person having the chance to come up with all the performance. This is basically the one man film that we don’t usually see around, and it is one risk which has been taken on with success. Amazon Prime has already provided some fine experiences during the Corona virus times, and this one goes the divergent way with ease. There is always more about smaller films like these than what meets the eye, and this one is also that drama which goes feel-good and does that with effectiveness.

Release date: 23rd September 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Mamta Mohandas, Vijayaraghavan, Innocent, Vijay Babu, Shritha Sivadas, Aju Varghese, Sivada Nair, Purnima Krishnan, Binoy KG

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Home

What is the movie about? :: Oliver Twist (Indrans) is leading a normal life with his two sons, Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Nalsen K Gafoor), his wife Kuttiyamma (Manju Pillai) and father (Kainakary Thankaraj) who has memory problems. Oliver and Kuttiyamma are also feeling the problems of their old age. Antony is trying to be successful in the film field, but he is too busy with social media that he doesn’t complete the climax of the script, much to the dismay of the producer, Baby (Maniyanpilla Raju) who keeps asking if something can be done about it. His time is running out, as it has been two years after he started writing – he had directed his first film to a grand success, and this time, nobody is sure that he will finish it in time. At the same time, Charles’ interest in social media only, and nothing else is on his list of interesting things. He keeps putting Instagram stories at all times, and during the rest of the time, he is mostly sleeping.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Finally, Antony decides to return home to finish his script, and for the same, he returns home with a seven day deadline to complete his script. There he finds out that Charles is vlogging at all times, and doing nothing else. His life is highly digitalized, and he is happy to keep himself online instead of talking to anyone in the family. Antony is no different, even though his parents remember that he used to be a different person before leaving them for the city. Antony is in love with Priya (Deepa Thomas), a relationship which has lasted very long, but now he is too bust to return her calls. Her father, Joseph Lopez (Srikanth Murali) is a very rich and influential man, popular at all places. Oliver hopes to be friendly with his sons, but they don’t have that much of an interest in talking to the elders. Often, they even ignore Oliver as if he is not a part of their life. Oliver hopes that things will change, and he goes on with his life, with that wish, but Antony has very low opinion about him, and is often hostile towards him too.

The defence of Home :: There are many things which are reflections of real life incidents in the film, and one often wonders if they have come across such incidents before. Social media addiction has been an effective theme, and these days, anyone is a vlogger on Youtube, and with many followers, they think that this is life. People have been bothered more about what happens online rather than offline, and in the same the real world is forgotten, a reflection of the same is reflected here. The message about mobile phones stealing our valuable time is also provided nicely. It adds a few things about loss of relationships and health due to the use of smartphones and social media among the youth. The film, even though set most in a home and its surroundings, is visually too good, not just inside the house, but also during the outside moments. There is a lot of beauty on the screen that surrounds everything, and occasional humour adds on well. Then, there is the ending that conquers all, emotionally as strong as it could be.

The claws of flaw :: There is a lot of repetition which happens in the film, and it is surely a slow work, as we look at it. Some of the emotions are added here and there as if it was just there for the sake of it, and some incidents just become random part of the same. This comes from the man behind Philips and the Monkeypen and Jo and the Boy, and we can see similar elements being repeated here. It still doesn’t have the charm or quality of the former, which was one of the best movies released in the year, seemingly bringing a certain amount of magic to the screen. It also has its length extended a little too much, and with too many songs being added here and there, it does feel a few minutes too long. There are moments in between when we feel that this was going nowhere nowhere, and it was going to go on with the same kind of thing again and again. There are so many things coming up, and often it does seem to miss the main point, but there is the ending that brings things together.

Performers of the soul :: Indrans was earlier seen in two very serious roles this year with two films, Malik and Yuvam, playing the roles of a police officer and an advocate respectively. This one is a light-hearted, but yet emotional role for him, and having come out of fully comic roles, he has been doing this really well. This is indeed a very heartfelt performance from him, and with him at the centre of a family movie, this will be remembered as he celebrate forty years in Malayalam cinema industry, in his 341st movie in the long career. We are finally able to see him throughout a mainstream film in the lead role, and also with the most emotional touch, as he basically lives through here. Sreenath Bhasi had some very serious roles in Virus and Kumbalangi Nights not too long ago, and he now has a rather lighter version here – he had come out of that earlier “freakan” image a long time ago, and this one has him in a controlled role. Nalsen K Gafoor who was last seen in Kuruthi with all the seriousness, and earlier in Thanneermathan Dinangal with all the humour, can be seen in a realistic role of a youngster in this film, and he once again scores big. The simple comic side that he adds here brings more life to the movie.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also nice to Manju Pillai having a good role to play in a film, as we have been seeing more in the television series and comedy shows of Mazhavil Manorama. She has blended into this role really well, and one would wonder why she was not that much in similar roles before. We have always loved to watch her in Thatteem Mutteem for a long time. There are also some nice dialogues that reflects the mood of the film. Deepa Thomas has her first leading role, and she has comes up with a memorable performance too. She has indeed provided a natural performance, and we look forward to seeing her in more roles, and with more screen space in comparison to what is seen here. Srikant Murali also has a role to remember here. Anoop Menon’s act is also a good one, while Maniyanpilla Raju also drops in here and there. Vijay Babu’s role might seem very small, but is still one role that also makes a difference, with a lovely touch of humour. Johny Antony, as usual adds more humour here, while KPAC Lalitha who comes in the final stages of the movie has something special to add. Priyanka Nair also has a fine role in the flashback.

How it finishes :: Home is a movie for the present families, which are not short of this kind of a situation at different homes, due a new generation of kids who are addicted to gadgets and moving away from parents both physically and mentally. It will be remembered for some moments for the heart. The feel-good elements from the director’s earlier films can be seen reflected here, and the same kind of reflections can be seen visually too. Vijay Babu has provided us with so many of similar movies, and we have always stayed close to most of them. During COVID-19 times, having a feel-good film to watch with family was always going to be good. The messages that the film provides are effective, and leads to that one final message which raises the level of the film. Do look out for the final scenes with credits too, and it is where the movie brings a little more for the soul. So, we have our Onam movie on Amazon Prime Video, and as you watch the same, I wish you a Very Happy Onam in advance!

Release date: 19th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakary Thankaraj, Naslen K Gafoor, Manju Pillai, Deepa Thomas, Vijay Babu, Srikant Murali, Johny Antony, Anoop Menon, Maniyanpilla Raju, Aju Varghese

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Beach House

Vampire Owl: This is certainly not the right time to go to a beach.

Vampire Bat: We, vampires have always preferred the hills.

Vampire Owl: That is a tradition left for us by Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Bat: Even the Corona Virus has struggled to make it all the way to the hills under his control.

Vampire Owl: Historically, vampires have only caught bacteria, not virus.

Vampire Bat: That won’t be a statement approving our immunity.

Vampire Owl: There is nothing in a vampire that attracts a virus.

Vampire Bat: Doctor Frankenstein has said otherwise though.

Vampire Owl: All mad scientists try to prove it the other way around.

Vampire Bat: Mr Frankenstein is still a successful scientist in our realm.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) arrives at the beach house which belonged to latter’s father, and as it is not the time when the tourists make a visit, they feel that it could be found empty, just like many other buildings in the area which is supposed to be a travel destination at a certain period of time. After getting into the beach house, and spending some time together, Emily is surprised to see someone else in the house. Jane (Maryann Nagel) and Mitchell (Jake Weber) identifies themselves as friends of Randall’s father, and according to them, latter knew his father from the university. A confused Emily who is upset about almost being caught be strangers without her pants, offers that they can move out somewhere, but the elderly couple asks them to stay with them, as they have known Randall whom they addressed as Randy from those times when he was a little kid. They offer them that the youngsters could stay there in their room as much as they wanted to.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The four get along really well, and Emily comes up with her plans to study astro-biology and become a scientist, while Randall is not at all fond of studies, comes up with a packet of cannabis which they share. Emily does have doubts about what it could do to the elder couple, but Randall is sure that it is just a little, and will only help them. At the same time, there is also some heavy fog outside, and it seems rather out of this world. Jane goes out to see the same, while Mitchell follows her later. The next morning, the young couple wakes up, and Emily finds Jane in a strange state. They also find Mitchell, and he is also not in a good shape. Emily follows him, as he doesn’t come back after walking into the sea, and finds something strange catching her legs. At the same time, Randall who tries to gelp Jane finds that there is something seriousy wrong with her, and it is not something that they can understand. What is it that is haunting the area? Is it of this world or is it from another planet or dimension?

The defence of The Beach House :: This one is surely not your usual kind of movie, and it is only the name of the setting, as you look at it, without providing a chance to explore the place more – but horror does gets its significance here. The horror here is mostly based on the strange fog and the worms which get into people followed by movement inside them until a complete transformation occurs. The setting is really good, and there is terror being created by the atmosphere, even though one does wonder if it has been taken a little too lightly for this type of a movie – yet it does get to somewhat the expected level during the final stages. We get to know the terrifying situation even when that much is not shown, even though we know that there could have been more. It is Liana Liberato who lifts this movie higher, and I would say that the performances have all been pretty good, even though it is Liana who gets the chance to do much. Whether it is with the relationship or horror itself, she makes it work.

The claws of flaw :: The Beach House does have a struggle with some of its elements, and it could have used more of horror in a better way. This is not the kind of idea which we haven’t seem before, especially with the creepy little worm-like things. The scares of the fog or the mist are not that new, or used with the best possible effect. The movie does feel a little bit too long even with its short total run-time, as there is a little bit too much time spent talking, and all those talks become not too relevant for what is to follow later, a the film changes the mood almost completely. The beginning stages had already given us one kind of impression, but later stages mean something else. Creating a movie like this required more of a different kind of horror to be added to it. You see that there is a beach and the sea which are central to the tale, but the main characters don’t even jump into it or get close to thinking about at least wetting their feet, which is strange, even under these circumstances.

Performers of the soul :: Liana Liberato plays the protagonist in this movie, as she is the girl who wishes to be an astro-biologist here. It is not really the face that we have seen much, and I am sure I haven’t come across her movies before. She makes a fine scream queen, with very good job being done in between all the chaos and terror that is unleashed there. Horror, as a genre seems to suit her, and the other one which seems to be good enough to work out for her feels like romance. In the beginning, there is the case of a fading relationship, which is done with ease, and when horror comes, the same level is maintained. Noah Le Gros supports well, playing her lover. Jake Weber and Maryann Nagel plays the older couple, and their performance is also believable, but we are left without themselves before the half-time itself. But a movie like this doesn’t demand much of them, except for more from the girl who seems to go on towards the end, as people are not the ones who provide the much needed elements of horror.

How it finishes :: The Beach House makes another movie which goes divergent in pursuit of horror. It is to be noted that the movie does remind us of the short story The Colour Out of Space by HP Lovecraft as well as its fine adaptation in which Nicholas Cage stars. There is that same strange feeling that we have here, even though this one is not that colourful, and we understand that it has been made on a low budget. With Corona Virus said to be spreading by air too, we do feel that this kind of a terror is always possible too. After all, we are the ones who will be responsible for the end of this planet, speeding up the upcoming extinction event like never before, in the last few years. Therefore, we await the extinction event or just the human extinction in one way or the other. Before that, we do have movies like this one which seems to bring the end closer than ever, and that is also done in a way that it moves away from the usual stuff with ease.

Release date: 9th July 2019
Running time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Jeffrey A Brown
Starring: Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, Maryann Nagel, Michael Brumfield, Matt Maisto, Steven Corkin, Veronica Fellman, Dan Zakarija

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

June

What is the movie about? :: June Sarah Joy (Rajisha Vijayan) considers herself to be an ordinary girl with no special talents, which is the reason why she is upset that most of the other students who join her class are able to do so much more. Her parents (Joju George and Aswathi Menon) care very much about her as she is their only child. Noel (Sarjano Khalid) is her newfound best friend who is elevated to the level of her boyfriend. They get to connect well with each other as they are both considered to be lagging with their talents. As time progresses, she is able to make new friends, and her Plus Two batch of 2007 is finally able to become a batch to remember not just for the students, but also to the teachers. But at the same time, when her parents find out about Noel, she decided to end their relationship. She joins a nearby college while he travels to Mumbai to stay with his parents and to continue his studies.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The best friends go in their own ways, and June is left with the memories of Noel. She goes through her college days without much of an enthusiasm as she is still caught in her life in Plus Two. After completing her degree, she decides to go for an interview in Mumbai and meet Noel at the same time. She stays with her Plus Two classmate Abhirami a.k.a. Mottachi (Vaishnavi Venugopal) who is also working there, and finds Noel to begin the next phase of their relationship. But things are not that easy as she thought they would be. She has to deal with his family as well as hers, and at the same time, maintain her own independence. About their life, what Noel thinks might not be the same either. So, the question remains about what awaits her in the rest of her life.

The defence of June :: The strength of June lies not just in the performances lead by the female lead, but also in the memories that it creates. It takes us back to the school days, and even though it is not an exact reflection of the memories as it was recreated in Om Shanti Oshana, this one is surely an effective one, thanks to a better performance from the female lead in comparison to that older version. The movie is also a clean entertainer for the family audience, with nothing that makes them doubt about their plan to watch the movie – keeping it so, and at the same time, funny would have been a difficult job, but is done with skill. The climax and the final scenes are beautifully done too, and it talks not just of love, but of nostalgia and friendship that comes back after a long time. The music is nice, and suits the mood of the movie. The songs come too often, but they are nice to hear.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s idea to skip the college days completely is one strong negative point on this movie – the second half could have used some of that too, and in that case, being a coming-of-age story in the lines of Premam and Om Shanti Oshana, this one has a little missing part. There is no life that serves as a coming-of-age story without the college days, because it doesn’t matter who denies the same, there is something about those moments all the time. It is where bildungsroman struggles. The movie is also a little bit too long, which is why one can feel certain drag with the romance. There was surely more scope to make this one better. It has to be noted that not everything in the movie brings the memories of school days, and not all jokes serve to be that effective. But as the industry is once again becoming hesitant to experiment, June is surely one another welcome move.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in her debut film Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, which was also her first movie, once again makes an impression, as we had expected from the trailer. Georgettan’s Pooram and Oru Cinemakkaran never really gave her any challenge as movies which kept at a certain level, never trying to rise or give its female protagonists opportunity to do much. She takes over the protagonist, and has the sixteen year old going through to the next ten years of her life, even though three years at college are absent. The moments during the Plus Two time period are done with amazing skill, and the latter moments are not far behind, and they seemed to come naturally to her. With the whole movie completely dependent on her performance, she makes sure that she comes up with only the best.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Rajisha, there are others to add to this one very well. Joju George gets another fine role after Joseph, unlike the insignificant one he had to do in Lonappante Mamodeesa. He nicely gets into the father role here, and has some funny as well as touching moments to go with it. Aswathi Menon who is best known for Sathyam Sivam Sundaram and its highly popular song “Walking in the moonlight” has the mother role here, and she makes it a good one. Sarjano Khalid, the debutante who plays a male lead does well, as if he’s been there before. Arjun Ashokan has also done a good job, especially in the second half. Among the actors and actresses who plays the protagonist’s friends, it is Vaishnavi Venugopal who shines the most. That should be among the most natural performances not by a main or secondary heroine, in a long time. The other newcomers are also good talents, as we can see here.

How it finishes :: Releasing at the same time as Oru Adaar Love released, this one uses less hype and more quality to be assured of a more solid run. After Aadu 2, Vijay Babu becomes the producer again here, and we expected a performance to remember from Rajisha Vijayan – it is the same that we get here. This one stays close to life and memories, along with being another feel-good movie which touches our hearts after Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, Njan Prakashan and Ente Ummante Peru. June is also one movie which does so much justice to the trailer, as it is more or less the same thing that we watched earlier and expected. Even though Kumbalangi Nights and 9 are there, this movie should take over some of the presence of the latter, and keep going, because the movie is many different things to different people.

Release date: 15th February 2019
Running time: 141 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Kabir
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Joju George, Sarjano Khalid, Aswathi Menon, Vaishnavi Venugopal, Nayana Eliza, Arjun Ashokan, Sanju KS, Akhil Manoj, Harisankar, Sruthy Suresh, Margret Antony, Raveena Nair, Aju Varghese (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vijay Superum Pournamiyum

What is the movie about? :: Vijay (Asif Ali) represents a generation of young men who were forced to do engineering even as they want to do something else. He struggled hard and finally managed to pass the exams after multiple efforts. But his dream is to become a chef and for the same, he keeps trying. But his father Chandramohan (Siddique) is convinced that he shouldn’t do cooking after studying engineering, and gets him a job in a call centre. He meets Reshma (Viviya Santh) there and falls in love, only to end up realizing that she was cheating on her – his expression of his anger becomes viral on Youtube, and he also losses his job. His parents feel that the only way to make him responsible is to get him married to a rich and educated girl who would also be able to provide him with financial support. Finally, they find such a family and a girl.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This leads them to the house of Venugopal (Renji Panicker) who wishes to see his daughter Pournami a.k.a. Pinky (Aishwarya Lekshmi) married as soon as possible. Being an MBA holder and wishing to become a successful entrepreneur, she has the record of failing in every business she tried to begin, and in the process, losing the money her father invested in her ventures. As the two meet and talk, the door of the room which was being repaired, gets closed and is automatically locked. As the two are locked inside with the carpenter being called for, they are left with a few hours to talk about their past, present, future and ambitions. This talk changes the journey of life for both of them. They don’t find them as good match for each other and are not in a mood to marry soon, but destiny has other plans.

The defence of Vijay Superum Pournamiyum :: Remake of a Telugu movie Pelli Choopulu starring Vijay Devarakonda and Ritu Varma which is also known to have a Hindi remake called Mitron, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum does manage to make it completely Keralite with its moments nicely reflecting life easily. The feel-good elements work nicely, and the movie is light-hearted throughout its run, despite having moments which could have driven it through another path. The first half is full of fun, and the second one comes with an emotional touch as expected. With a simple plot, the characters are of interest right from the beginning itself. There are things that you can relate to, and it is a fine watch for the family audience in more than one way. The messages are good, and these also go for all kinds of audience of the present age.

The claws of flaw :: The second half, except for the final moments, doesn’t have the fun as the first half had. The radio talk sequence also could have something better to replace it, as it made things look too easy in the end. There is too much of a journey on the expected path, and the divergence could have been shown in a better way. There is the confusion, inability to talk about one’s love for each other, business deals relating to wedding and more, all of them going in a predictable manner. After the food truck business started, there was actually scope for more too. The songs are okay, and there is a nice one; the background music is good enough to give the feeling – there are those strange and ridiculous dance sequences in one song though, which don’t even come close to being funny. There are times when the movie seems to get into the melodrama mood, which was kind of out of place. Well, this is the first big Malayalam movie of the year, and you can expect more every time.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali plays the immature youth unable to do anything positive in life, and lacking confidence – it is something that he does with ease and in a believable way. We remember how he did the confused young man roles in the movies like Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, Avarude Raavukal and Adventures of Omanakkuttan. The irresponsible youth role was safe with him even in the earlier movies like Kavi Uddheshichathu..? and Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. Aishwarya Lekshmi coming out of the Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Mayaanadhi, Varathan trio of big hits critically appreciated, does another fantastic job in portraying the lady who is set to leave a mark – she is once again a long way ahead of the rest, getting into her role so well. She has all those moments in control, no matter what is thrown at her.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique and Renji Panicker handles the father roles here really well, with former going through his familiar territory nicely and latter doing what he has been doing so well since Om Shanti Oshana – the father who is very much caring for his children and supports them in more than one way. Another father figure who is there for a lesser amount of time is Devan who has not a lot to do. Aju Varghese has only a smaller role, but it is significant, and the funny side is strong during his presence. Balu Varghese and Joseph Annamkutty Jose support with enough jokes to add to the fun too. Shantikrishna has another mother role which she continues after the recently released Ente Ummante Peru in which she was there only for a few minutes. Darshana Rajendran also has some friendly, cute support in store for the protagonists. Then there is KPAC Lalitha doing the perfect grandmother yet again.

How it finishes :: As the third movie that united Jis Joy and Asif Ali as director and leading actor, following Bicycle Thieves and Sunday Holiday, this movie was expected to have something special in store. Bicycle Thieves was a dumb movie with foolish twists which were not needed, but Sunday Holiday had nice feel-good factor in store. With Vijay Superum Pournamiyum too, it was the same thing that the audience expected, and it is the same that they received, but in an even better package. Njan Prakashan is still running in the theatres with strong feel-good elements and Ente Ummante Peru had no shortage of the same; Thattumpurath Achuthan despite lagging behind had also tried the same – in this season of feel-good supported by Christmas and New Year, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum has its own high position to be proud of.

Release date: 11th January 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Asif Ali, Balu Varghese, Aju Varghese, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Siddique, Darshana Rajendran, Devan, Joseph Annamkutty Jose, KPAC Lalitha, Maya Menon, Renji Panicker, Shantikrishna, Austin Dan, Viviya Santh, Shaheen Siddique, Rajesh Sharma, K. S. Chithra, Harisanth Sharan

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Njan Prakashan

What is the movie about? :: Prakashan (Fahadh Faasil) is someone who is looking for easy money instead of going for the profession that he is skilled in – the job of a male nurse in one of the hospitals in the state or even the nation doesn’t seem to appeal to him, as he wastes his days doing nothing useful other than complain. His hope for a better job sees some light when he once again meets his former lover Salomi (Nikhila Vimal) who studied in the same nursing college. He was consistently avoiding her as she wasn’t that rich as he expected her to be. But the information that she is leaving for Germany to work at a salary of above three lakhs, his love for her quickly returns to him. He hopes to marry her and go to Germany, only to divorce her and marry someone from a rich and reputed family later. For achieving the same, he begins showing his love towards her and her family in different ways.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Now known as PR Akash after changing his original name, he is determined to leave for Germany, whatever happens. He seeks the help of his father’s former student Gopalji (Sreenivasan) who is a labout supplier, and even learns German after shifting to the city. For achieving his German dreams, he even pretends to be an orphan and secretly marry Salomi at the register office. He even tries and succeeds in getting the remaining cash which is needed for her to leave for Germany. Everything seems perfect until her father lands in the hospital. Twist of fate lands him at another place, as a male nurse to a rich child Tina (Devika Sanjay) who has been an eternal pain to her nurses until they left, and he also comes across Shruthi (Anju Kurian) who is struggling to keep her life going after the death of her father. For him, Germany no longer is the option or the dream.

The defence of Njan Prakashan :: There are some wonderful performances to power this movie, and along with the same, it also holds a mirror in front of the society – it is more or less a satire, as we see more than one people you know in the form of Prakashan. Our protagonist is someone who is not willing to work hard thus choosing any chance for easy money, complaining about one thing or the other, being sceptical and jealous about others, and more. We do meet people having these qualities often, which is why the movie becomes a reflection of those around us. The movie as a satire is funny, but not throughout, and it leaves us with some questions, along with invoking the emotional side slightly as well as brutally. As the movie reaches the end, it becomes that morality tale which has the lesson being taught as it finishes. The second half of the movie is top quality, racing ahead of the first, towards glory in the end with the climax and beyond.

The claws of flaw :: Njan Prakashan could have been more natural and it would have been as good as Maheshinte Prathikaaram – instead, this one has been polished, and certain cliches have been added, with the progress being more or less in an old format. The repetitive mode of comedy is rather strange considering the fact that these moments have a lot more to contribute to the overal quality of the movie. The first half of the movie is kind of dull in most parts, with jokes being present at times, and it doesn’t work at some points either. If the first half was reduced in length and more was added to the second, that would have helped the movie further. There is also the absence of some good songs, which should be the selling point of such flicks. We also see no attempt to capture the beauty and tranquility of the villages, as the same could also been positive addition to the movie. The talk about migrant labour population also gets nowhere in the end.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is once again the man to look out for, as there are shades of Maheshinte Prathikaaram in his character, and the same is combined with the other side of his character in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. Fahadh easily manages this role with every ingredient that the character needed, and it comes as no surprise for us, considering the variety he has been bringing until his last movie, Varathan. We see him excelling in the natural fun moments as well as those strong emotional moments. The change that comes within the character is also nicely displayed by him, and is complete by the end. He also gets to show some shades of his character in Oru Indian Pranayakadha, the earlier combination between him and the same veteran director. The role from Carbon should also be coming to one’s mind as part of those different, yet similar faces of the man who has shown us many faces on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: The two heroines of the movie are Nikhila Vimal and Anju Kurian. Nikhila who had her first lead role in Love 24×7 was last seen in another wonderful performance in Aravindante Athidhikal. Anju’s lead role in Kavi Uddheshichathu was a memorable one. The former leads the first half while the latter influences the second. Both are perfectly suited for their roles, and we look forward to seeing them in more movies. Devika Sanjay who plays Tina in this movie with her debut, makes her first one grand, without doubt. She is someone for the future of the industry without doubt. The different shades of a lone school girl is nicely portrayed by her. Sreenivasan remains strong throughout the movie, even though one would feel that his character could have been a lot funnier consider the role and the setting.

How it finishes :: Ente Ummante Peru, Thattumpurath Achuthan, Pretham 2 and Njan Prakashan have been the Christmas moves, and all of them have been doing pretty good, with Odiyan also staying there. Well, the best of the year, Joseph is not finished yet, and we know that there are so many options out there. Among these movies, Njan Prakashan surely has an advantage, because of how it ends, and regarding how it can be connected to the common man’s life. As the year comes to an end, there are things that we need to make sure about, before taking those new year resolutions. Njan Prakashan is that kind of a movie which helps one to do that with ease. The change that needs to happen, is clearly shown in this flick, as we look forward to another year, a better one, with better us.

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nikhila Vimal, Anju Kurian, Sreenivasan, Aparna Das, Aneesh G Menon, Sabitha Anand, KPAC Lalitha, Veena Nair, Manjula, Manjusha, Jayashankar, Munshi Dileep, Devika Sanjay, MG Sasi, Shania D’Souza

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Joseph

What is the movie about? :: Joseph George (Joju George) is a retired police officer spending his time with alcohol and cigarettes. He doesn’t have much time for the outside world except for some of his friends from police department, and lives alone in his house. He is a brilliant police officer who never really managed to use his skills to the best effect. He has suffered losses in his family life too, with his daughter Dayana Joseph (Malavika Menon) being lost to an accident a few years ago. He is separated from his wife Stella (Aathmiya) who is now married to Peter (Dileesh Pothan). When Stella meets an accident and dies, it sends him into further depression, as he had always loved her, despite not being able to express his feeling well enough. As an expert investigator who still helps the police department with finding clues to twisted cases, he feels something strange when standing near the place where Stella had the accident.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Joseph finds a few things to be out of place there. He tries to read all the reports together, but is able to feel that this is more or less a planned incident rather than an accident. He calls his friends in the police department who are also retired, and Sudhi (Sudhi Koppa) who was a senior of his daughter in the engineering college, and is now working in the cyber wing. The result is that Joseph finds something shocking behind all these. There is one link between everything, and the roots go deep, and long. To solve this mystery and bring those behind the crime to justice, he would have to travel through those paths less traveled, and take that kind of a risk which someone else wouldn’t even think about. So the question remains if he is ready to do that, and can his friends support him in the same?

The defence of Joseph :: There are many other movies, and then there is Joseph. The movie thrives on the strength of its emotions, and with its investigation, there is even more. There are some twists to follow, and the music nicely supports the mood as well as the elements of mystery that goes right through. The songs are pretty good, and we are sure to enjoy listening to them. There is also one thing that we can value the most, and it is staying close to reality. Joseph has no exaggeration, something which similar thrillers with superstars would have. As there are no superstars who want to beat up their villains, we have a story here which is very much believable. There is no action here, and the police officer here does nothing physical – he is just the smart one, and yet not the perfect one in any way. He is with his flaws, and he is an everyman police officer in whom we can find someone whom we know.

Positives and negatives :: Considering the mood of this movie, it is Memories that we remember before any other movie, with one protagonist, a police officer who has lost his wife and child looking forward to solve a murder mystery or two. The next movie that it reminds us of, is Angels, a movie which had its own twisted ending – something we were not expecting at all. The idea in that movie as well as that of Apothecary can find the reflections here. There might be certain doubts about the genre, as the movie goes on between more than one of them. People can feel that the flashbacks were somewhat longer, but they are all beautiful – almost every moment of this movie has beauty in one way or the other. The visuals are nice, and the feeling of terror that is shown is real, that too without showing anything disturbing with blood and gore.

The performers of the soul :: Joju George is indeed the biggest asset of this movie, as he comes up with a terrific performance as the protagonist, the man with the scar who has lost almost everything he held close to his heart. There is abiding sadness on his face which strikes the hearts of the audience very hard. There is a beautiful scar that he leaves in our souls, and it is due to a performance that stays with us for long. With his career best performance, he has our admiration, and the choice for the protagonist here is perfect, with no seeking perfection to become a hero – Joju’s police officer is the common man, and someone whom we can relate to, because he is not in the sky, but on Earth. From the beginning to the end, we are into his journey, from those simple moments in life to the complex times. Along with the same, we also carry the weight of his emotions, as the character gets so close to the depth of our souls. We, with our waxen winged hearts, like Icarus, burn in the fire of those emotions, and we are delighted about the same.

Further performers of the soul :: Dileesh Pothan, the master of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is one the other side, showing the enduring sadness from another side, and he contributes with the same as does the rest of the supporting cast. Irshad and team bring nothing less than some wonderful support. Aathmiya also has a memorable performance in there as the wife, and it is also an emotionally touching role from her side. Malavika Menon has a rather small, but notable role here. Johny Antony is once again good in the role of a priest after doing the same in Shikkari Shambhu. You also notice how solid Sudhi Koppa is once again – we had seen the range of his performance in Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam, and here he plays a solid police officer in the cyber wing. His character can actually have a spin-off – I might be asking for a lot, but that is certainly a nice possibility.

How it finishes :: Joseph is that kind of an emotional investigative thriller which will stay with you for so long, and the melancholy that it provides will stay strong. The sadness that this movie possesses has the power to take over you too, as the feelings of the protagonist here are the same as any other common person would have. There is a certain amount of skill in the way in which the whole thing is presented, and we have the kind of protagonist who stays close to life rather than go for the exaggerated heroism. The way in which the whole story is built, will have you interested in each moment, and as the final scenes point to something that needs our attention, everything comes together and we have the best Malayalam movie of the year so far – Joju George can be proud of this one.
Release date: 18th November 2018

Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Joju George, Dileesh Pothan, Madhuri Braganz, James Elia, Sudhi Koppa, Johny Antony, Idavela Babu, Irshad, Aathmiya, Malavika Menon, Jaffer Idukki

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Neerali

What is the movie about? :: Sunny George (Mohanlal) is gemologist who works for a reputed firm. He is an expert in the science dealing with natural and artificial gemstone materials, and is considered to be someone at the top of the company heirarchy with his experience and connections. Working at Bengaluru, he only makes some visists back to Kerala when possible. His wife, Molykutty (Nadhiya Moidu) is pregnant with twins after a long wait, and as the date approaches earlier than expected, it calls for an urgent visit back home. The other two girls in his life, Naina (Parvatii Nair) and Lekshmi (Megha Mathew) are attracted to him, and the former is so attached to him that she is not willing to let him go. But Sunny sneaks out of the office and travels to Kerala in the pickup truck of Veerappa (Suraj Venjaramoodu) who has his own problems. To add to this, they are quietly followed by a team of goons lead by Rajan (Dileesh Pothan).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: They are traveling through the highranges, and all of a sudden, they come across someone crossing the road, and while trying to save the man, hits on the side of a truck, leading to Veerappa losing control of the vehicle. They go all the way down, and stops at the edge of the cliff further below the road. The two are stuck inside the vehicle, with just the back tyres stuck on a log. With the front side of the pickup truck suspended in the air, they have no way of getting out. Veerappa is seriously injured and cannot move, while Sunny’s attempts to get back to the cliff bear no fruit. Veerappa’s mobile is stuck in a precarious position while Sunny’s mobile has no outgoing facility because of Lekshmi forgetting to pay the bill despite being assigned the task. The two incoming callers Naina and Molykutty are in no mood to hear what he has to say as the former thinks that his intention was always to cheat her and the latter feels that she is going to die. Is there a chance for escape though?

The defence of Neerali :: A good survival thriller is something that we have all lacked for a long time – Hollywood had so many of them including The GreyThe Shallows, The Martian, Everest, Gravity, 127 Hours, The Revenant, Buried and others, while Bollywood had that less known little flick known as Trapped. There are moments that has us on the edge of the seat, and the question mark about more than one thing is always present. We also have interesting questions being asked here, about relationships and on what it takes to survive, even though they are not taken that much further. There are moments when movie go a little philosophical, and we see a little bit of magic realism with the protagonist’s father making an appearance with a gun pointed at him. There is no heroism from the protagonist this time, and it is a clear bonus, and having a the main character as a helpless and rather realistic one is always better than having those supercops and superfighters. The visuals are nice too.

The claws of flaw :: We can see that Neerali was aiming for more, but it is not that much there as a survival movie – so many things could have added to this tale of survival, and we could have had the protagonist facing more, and getting out of all those troubles in a believable way. We know how well the mobile phone can be used in a survival thriller as proven by the movie Buried. The idea to bring back the Nokketha Doorathu Kannumnattu model with Mohanlal and Nadhiya is still something to be questioned, as all the references fall flat, and fails to make any positive impact – the same only gets irritating. The first half had actually promised more than what the second half could deliver. Adding some better music would have been nice too. There are also a few things that are left untouched in the end, and one is left wondering if it was done intentionally, and if it was done so, one has to wonder about its effect.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal does a great job as the protagonist in peril as expected, and it is on him and his character that the whole thing is centered on. Its own his actions that most of the happenings in the movie proceeds – the decisions that he make would decide not just his life, but also that of others. We see the helplessness as well as the abilities nicely reflected here. We would have still wanted to see him as a more close to life character here though. Suraj Venjaramoodu is the other character whom we see here with Mohanlal for more time that anyone else, as the traveler and partner in distress, hanging above death staring from underneath. His character isn’t given that much of a depth, and we know him mostly from the dialogues made in the vehicle. He looks good here, and the kid who plays his daughter has also done a natural job. But we know that Suraj could have had more with at least some nice dialogues inside the pickup truck hanging from above.

Further performers of the soul :: Nassar has an appearance which last a few minutes while Dileesh Pothan is wasted in a role which doesn’t go anywhere – something that we don’t see with him on the screen often. Nadhiya Moidu is the biggest disappointment in this movie, as the pair never connects to the audience and the same can be said about her character – it is clearly overdone, and we feel that her presence is more as a necessary pregnant character rather than anything else. There is nothing good that she adds to the movie, and Girly Mathew of Nokkatha Doorathu Kannumnattu gets the bad name because of the attempt to drag that feeling into this flick in which the same doesn’t belong at all. Parvatii Nair does her job really well though, and she seemed to blend in so well into this character with certain problems for herself. Megha Mathew who was there for only a few minutes also leaves a mark, as we notice the same early.

How it finishes :: We can see that Neerali ventures deep into that survival thriller territory, which Malayalam cinema industry hasn’t been that interested in exploring. With some more of imagination, the movie could have done very much better – this one is still a thriller with its moments, but more could have been achieved. Yet, we can hope that there will be more of similar movies to come, and that the genre could get a much needed boost. Next time, when someone makes an attempt at this, it could go deeper. Until then, let us be glad that this movie has made an attempt at variety, and could do without much of heroism or style from the protagonist, leaving us with more of a human world rather than that of strange superheroes made from the so called superstars. Neerali brings the divergence, and we appreciate the same.

Release date: 13th July 2018
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Ajoy Varma
Starring: Mohanlal, Nadhiya Moidu, Parvatii Nair, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Dileesh Pothan, Megha Mathew, Saikumar, Nassar, Santhosh T Kuruvilla, Bineesh Kodiyeri

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.