Free Guy

Vampire Owl: We are all free vampires in a world of slavery.

Vampire Bat: This not really that much of a world of chains.

Vampire Owl: You are not understanding the power of our chains.

Vampire Bat: There are no chains in this realm which can hold a vampire.

Vampire Owl: I am not talking about the physical chains.

Vampire Bat: You mean to say that there is a telepath in the realm?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and she is stronger than any vampire mind reader.

Vampire Bat: You are talking about the legend of the witch-vampire.

Vampire Owl: It is actually the vampire-witch. She is mostly the witch.

Vampire Bat: Just because she knows how travel on a broom-stick, she is now a witch?

[Gets a paneer puffs and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: We are introduced to Free City where people who are wearing sunglasses are heroes, and run the city. They can do almost anything in the city, never really obeying the rules which are applicable to others. Among the many normal people in the city is Guy (Ryan Reynolds), who seems to live a usual kind of life, as he works as a bank teller, and considers his life as a part of a paradise where he lived from the time he can remember. His best friend is the bank’s securiy gurad, Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), who is not really bothered about the bank getting robbed frequently. Everyone out there seems to be very happy, and Guy feels that he has everything that he needs, except for a lover. He attempts to fall in love without success, and feels that he hasn’t really found the right person yet. Soon, he finds a mysterious girl wearing sunglasses, and as he goes after her, is run over by a train. It is soon revealed that the world they are living in is actually a game – a massively multiplayer online role-playing video game, which has Guy as a non-player character.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The mysterious girl is Millie (Jodie Comer) in the avatar Molotov Girl, a player looking for source code to her original game, Life Itself which she wrote with Keys (Joe Keery). It was stolen by Antwan (Taika Waititi), the Soonami CEO who stole it and turned it into something else. Keys wants to help, but prefers to work with Antwan instead, and continue to have a job. At the same time, Guy has deviated from the programme after listening to that unintentional song from Millie. He starts off by asking the wrong coffee instead of the one programmed for the NPC. He also starts talking differently to many people, which leads to changes in the programming of other NPCs too. Soon, he decides to steal the sunglasses, as the girl was also wearing them. He gets one from a robber, and starts seeing things from the perspective of the players from the world outside. It makes him think deviate even further from his original programming.

And what more is here in a world of chaos? :: The programmers think that a hacker from real life has taken over the NPC, and is playing the role differently, feeling that it is indeed a small glitch which will be resolved soon enough. As Millie comes against him, she also feels that he is a player and asks him to level up, so that he could be of more worth, an advice he takes into himself seriously. Unlike the others, he decides to level up by doing good things only, with minimum use of weapons. He begins to try to be like the heroes that he had witnessed on the streets, but with only the good side by helping people in need and fighting some evil. Soon, he becomes a top level player, and is also an internet sensation in the real world. He also saves Millie when she is on a mission to collect the evidence, and she falls in love with him feeling that he is actually a real person who is playing the game. Soon enough, they will understand the same, and so will Antwan. Now, the equations will be complicated. Can the makers find their code, and where does that leave Guy?

The defence of Free Guy :: The movie’s concept is really good, and is a pretty good addition to what we have seen before in different films before. Among the other more famous films, the one which I remember the most is The Thirteenth Floor, even though the world peculiarities also reminds us of the one most famous film, The Matrix. The main character also reminds us of the protagonist of The Lego Movie and the rest of the people like Nerve. We are reminded of the games like Grand Theft Auto, Mafia and The Godfather too. These reminders serve to provide some nostalgia too. The mixture made out of the combination of different interesting things continue to be engaging, and also has a certain amount of humour associated with it. At the same time, there is a strong emotional side which never brings the overdose. The world in the movie is indeed interesting, and there are some fine visuals which support this new universe. It is indeed a stylish and beautiful environment that we have here, and the connection with the original world is well-established.

Positives and negatives :: One might feel that the idea is not new, but the presentation does have some innovation about it, and it never really gets that dark or serious about the happenings around here. Due to the same reason, there can be some predictability here, which they have managed to hide at some points effectively. Ryan Reynolds is here with a fine performance, and a role which is very much more worth appreciation than Deadpool – here he plays one of the most lovable protagonists around, and he seems to do that with ease. As expected, he also excels in the action sequences. Jodie Comer excels in two worlds, and she strikes well with action sequences within the new world and also outside the game. There are some spectacular action scenes with the two around, and would be a case of grandeur on the big screen. Joe Keery also has a nice role to play which he manages well. Lil Rel Howery adds further to the comic side well. Taika Waititi also makes a good villain, the big rich one with only money in his mind.

How it finishes :: Free Guy is that kind of a movie which needs more attention in this part of the world, as it is appropriate for almost every kind of audience. The movie also deals with the idea of existence – maybe we are all in a video game too, and will never know. Maybe we are all programmed to, as there is something special about all of us – then, maybe life has no meaning; all these could be reminded by this one movie. What if we are not programmed to know the truth about our existence? Even in between all these people go for war, and most humans just hate each other. Maybe it would have been all better if this was a video game, for there is so much of hate, and the futility of one’s actions is disheartening. Those who work harder than others and the ones who are the most honest are the ones who suffer the most. You live a life with life-long learning and it might be some moron who gets the job for which you are best qualified – then there are the reservations which hands them the jobs. Maybe, our lives are also programmed – we might be in a video game.

Release date: 13th August 2021
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Birds of Prey

Vampire Owl: There are not many kinds of vampire birds.

Vampire Bat: But not all of our birds hunt.

Vampire Owl: You stopped letting the birds hunt?

Vampire Bat: Well, the sky needed to be safer for the gargoyles.

Vampire Owl: You are calling for the gargoyles during a pandemic?

Vampire Bat: They are made of stone, and immune to any pandemic.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that these can’t catch the virus?

Vampire Bat: They are immune to the injection too.

Vampire Owl: That saves us some vaccines.

Vampire Bat: I would have loved to believe that the undead are basically immune, as the virus cannot affect the dead even after rising from the grave. But the research from Doctor Frankenstein says otherwise.

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

What is the movie about? :: A number of years have passed after the defeat of Enchantress in the hands of the team of supervillains, Suicide Squad, and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has broken up with Joker (Jared Leto), and despite going through the procedure many times, this time she believes that they are separated forever. She remembers her time as psychiatrist and also her time before that, as she tries to go on with her lonely life, and for the same, she also gets a hyena, but nobody really believes that she really broke up with Joker. She doesn’t really have any good friends, but everyone seems to know her for the association with Joker. To announce her break up to everyone, she blows up Ace Chemicals were she had her best time with Joker, and this time, she gets the attention of everyone. Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) is the first one to come after Harley for exploding Ace chemicals, and others who have held a grudge against her also follows. Ending the relationship with Joker does have its own negative effects for her.

So, what happens with the events here? :: A good number of people now wants her dead, or at least punished for what she had been doing. This includes not just the criminals and police, but also anyone on the streets whom she had offended – it includes a large number of people. Without Joker’s protection, she finds it difficult to move around safely. But she figures out that she will live her life her own way this time. The biggest mafia leader of the area is Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), the crime lord who wishes to have full control over the Gotham City. Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) earlier worked as a singer in his club, but gets a promotion as his driver during important meetings, after he sees her fight on he streets. Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina), the right hand man of Sionis losses a diamond which was supposed to be very important to him, and it turns out that it was taken by Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a young pickpocket who doesn’t hesitate to steal anything from anyone on the streets. The girl also swallows the diamond before being taken to the police station.

And what else is to follow with this strange series of incidents in Gotham City? :: At the same time, a vigilante known as The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) also appears on the streets, killing people all around the city, and nobody really knows what she is after. It does gives more of a head ache to Renee though, as she has been someone not able to get the credit even after working so hard in the police department. With murders happening with crossbows, and Harley also on the loose, Sionis wants the diamond back as soon as possible. For the same, he asks the help of every mercenary in the city, including Harley, who had also started calling herself a professional mercenary with her previous experience in Task Force X, the government funded group of criminals and supervillains. Harley breaks into the police station, and a number of mercenaries also follow her, but she manages to escape with the pickpocket kid, only to be continued to be hunted throughout the city. Dinah and Renee want to save the kid too, but time is running out.

The defence of Birds of Prey :: The film scores with its cast as expected, and while Margot Robbie has already proven herself as the crazy lover of Joker with a PhD in Psychiatry and experience with treating the craziest, Mary Elizabeth Winstead who is known more as the scream queen of horror flicks, has done fine work here – others are okay, even though I wouldn’t consider them to belong here as much as these two manages. The final fight scene scores high with the ambience being used there, and it is something which suits a horror movie more. There are also some humour added here and there, and for that too, the film is highly dependent on Margot Robbie, who seems to have got into that character so well again, and that makes one wonder what would have happened if Joker was also there. The fight sequences are nice, mostly when related to her, and even though left with less number of scenes, Mary Elizabeth Winstead also drops in nicely. The film is also full of colours, and they provide a special feeling to the movie.

The claws of flaw :: The absence of at least a cameo from Joker does have some effect on this film which could have used a little bit more of madness, as there seems to be a little bit too much sanity in here. Along with the same, the character of Rosie Perez seems to be weaker in comparison, and Ewan McGregor plays not that strong a villain as one would expect, with him being only a billionaire with a lot of henchmen – nothing more for him here. Some moments in the movie are also too silly, even when staying within the limits of silliness, and could have been avoided. The movie could have been shorter that way, and it should have stuck to Quinn to make that happen in a better manner. It is also a little bit too violent without reason, a quality which is not the best explored by a DC film. The film also leaves a question if it was trying to be a little bit of Charlie’s Angels by focusing on it as an action movie, but it is understandable, because Harley Quinn is that kind of a character, and only a little bit of the metahuman strength is unleashed here by anyone.

How it finishes :: DC Extended Universe always required more films which though differently, and this is surely one of them. There is a space being left behind after Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame nicely finished the biggest events of Marvel Extended Universe, and now it is up to DC to do the same and bring something grand, despite Justice League not doing that well as it should have managed, and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice failing to gain appreciation. Unlike what was expected, Aquaman and Wonder Woman are the hopes of DC, and I would say that Suicide Squad was one too, even though many people were not really able to get their heads into it. Taking Harley Quinn out of it, and making this film will only help the next part of the second film on the squad when released, for Birds of Prey is a fun-filled entertainer which maintains the same feeling up to an extent, even though not beautifully poetic as that film happened to be. Once again, fun is guaranteed for sure.

Release date: 7th February 2020
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, Ewan McGregor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adios

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Whistlers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Piranhas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Furie

Vampire Owl: This surely sounds like fury with the original spelling.

Vampire Bat: There is another movie with this title in English itself.

Vampire Owl: So, you are beginning to explore other language.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one is Vietnamese, and other languages will follow.

Vampire Owl: Does this remind you of any of your previous journeys to East Asia.

Vampire Bat: No, the journeys were to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. None of them are the same.

Vampire Owl: So, this doesn’t bring much of those memories back?

Vampire Bat: Well, those memories are not going to return. The trips have all ended with the Corona Virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, a Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos trip should happen at some point.

Vampire Bat: It might come a long time later, and that would mean many years later.

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

What is the movie about? :: Hai Phuong (Veronica Ngo) is a former gangster who used to belong to a powerful family in the city, but is now living in the city with her daughter Mai (Cat Vy), working as a debt collector, while she used her skills in vovinam, a Vietnamese martial arts from. With the kid’s father having died a long time ago, she is having a hard time, as both the mother and the child are harassed due to the kid being born out of wedlock, and also because the mother is a debt collector who is seen as a continuous trouble maker. Mai wishes to stop going to school and start a fish farm with her mother, so that they won’t be bullied again, not at the school and not at the market or the streets. But one day, after having a verbal fight with her daughter, Hai finds Mai being kidnapped by some men, and she follows them through road, but can only see them taking her away on a boat, and then into a transport to Ho Chi Minh City also known as Saigon.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hai is returning to the the most populous city in Vietnam, and the capital of the former state South Vietnam after a long time, this time, not as a gangster, but as a mother looking for her daughter who was kidnapped. With no clue about where to search, she asks her former gang members to help, but they refuse help because things did undergo some change around there, and the power balance has shifted – not helping them would be the best for the safety. As he approaches the police, she finds them not good enough, but she does manage to steal the reports of some criminals who could be related to the case of missing children. Detective Luong (Phan Thanh Nhien) is in charge of the cases related to the missing children, but she just misses him. There seems to be a big international gang working behind this, and it could also have a link to her notorious past. Now, can she survive and manage to find her daughter in time?

The defence of Furie :: There is a high dose of action here, provided from the beginning to the end, without any break. All the action sequences are too good, and at the same time believable, taking the best out of the Vietnamese martial arts. We only have the realistic moves here though, with no bodies flying around like in some third-rate superstar movie that we know. We are amazed by the leading lady’s skills in performing action as well as depicting the feelings so well. There is the final action scene on a train, which has been taken in the best possible way. The emotions are also running high, and there is the raw beauty of rural Vietnam as well as the charming style of Ho Chi Minh City. We have those shots from a distance and from the heights, as we get caught in those visuals. We do manage to have a fine chase or two in between here. Furie is a thrilling ride, and we are with a mother in this one, like we were with a father in Taken and its sequels – she is also John Wick of another kind. This is a fine movie to begin your love with Vietnam.

Positives and negatives :: Furie is more or less a full martial arts movie which depends on the same to keep things interesting, taking out John Wick‘s shootout side completely. It is also a tale of redemption, but you need to like the action elements to fall in love with the movie. This is also an amazingly stylish movie, not just with the action, but also with the visuals. You can see the difference between the city and village life, enjoying the beauty of both. With a movie like this, action had to click, and it does, amazingly well, as you are kept on the edge of the seat. If you have watched the Malayalam movie Thira, you will know that it had to be thrilling, but that one never had the need for action sequences, but Furie needed it, and with a desperate mother in the main role, nails it. The chase scenes and the brutal fights will keep this one going strong. The fights are not only on the ground, but also on trains, boats and motor-bikes, as the environment also contributes to making this feel better. The flashbacks give a better idea of the story, but at times, they are redundant.

Performers of the soul :: It is Veronica Ngo who steals the show throughout this movie, with her martial arts moves. There is something that you don’t usually see with the fight scenes as long as she is around. She was there in one of the Star Wars movies, but not noticed much because it was a smaller role. The other main characters are also female, except for a police officer and some others who seem to come into picture for shorter intervals of time. Most of them are there only to get beaten up by her, as the lesser troopers of the evil side. Tran Thanh Hoa plays the antagonist, and she also has her smart moves with some nice action sequences to go with it. Phan Thanh Nhien has a few of them, and is there in a supporting role, after he comes to the picture rather late. Pham Anh Khoa has a smaller, but noticable role to play, and so does the one who plays the nurse at the hospital. The main characters in the village markets are all female too. Cat Vy who plays the daughter is also a fine child actor as proven here.

How it finishes :: Furie is a high quality movie from Vietnam, and it is the first, as well as the only Vietnamese movie which I have watched. This is the kind of movie which has you a lot interested in the movie from the beginning to the end, never wishing to take your eyes off, as you will end up missing the action. The movie was the Vietnamese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. Among the foreign movies that we watch from here, this movie should have a higher status, and something above the rest of the movies from East Asia. Vietnam surely scores with that, and there is the need to focus on some more of the movies from this nation which makes some very interesting movies along with being a tourism destination that everyone should be visiting. I also had a plan to visit the place, but that didn’t work out – with the Corona Virus problem going on and on, I will have to be satisfied with what can be seen in this wonderful movie.

Release date: 22nd February 2019
Running time: 98 minutes
Directed by: Le Van Kiet
Starring: Veronica Ngo, Cat Vy, Phan Thanh Nhien, Pham Anh Khoa, Tran Thanh Hoa

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

First Love

Vampire Owl: This is quite an interesting title for the first Japanese movie that we are going to watch. More power to Asian movies after Korean and Chinese.

Vampire Bat: That would actually be Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood.

Vampire Owl: What was that one all about?

Vampire Bat: It has the grand tale of William Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Macbeth, shining bright in a different form here.

Vampire Owl: So, we have had another adaptation of Macbeth. This should connect to the Japanese setting, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, it moves from Medieval Scotland to feudal Japan, and becomes a special classic in itself.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that there were some great Japanese movies during those times.

Vampire Bat: Yes, you know that Akira Kurosawa is considered to be one of the biggest names in world cinema.

Vampire Owl: I remember reading about that quite well.

Vampire Bat: Let us get back to this movie which won’t be the first Japanese film I watched, but it will surely be the first Japanese flick to be revealed on this site. Take that Polaroid camera too, let’s take some photos.

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

What is the movie about? :: Leo Katsuragi (Masataka Kubota) works at a popular Chinese restaurant in Kabukicho suburb of Tokyo city, which happens to be an entertainment and red-light district in Japan’s busy prefecture. Abandoned as a child, and with nobody to care for, he lives his life all for himself, while participating in local fights as a boxer – supposed to be one of the best young rising boxers and the future of Japan’s boxing talents. But that changes after losing a match, getting knocked down by a weaker punch from a comparatively weaker opponent, much to the dismay of himself and his supporters among the crowd. As Leo visited the hospital, he is told by the doctor there that he has an advanced tumor in her head, and even a treatment might not lead to recovery, making him sure that he is going to die soon enough. With nobody to take care of him, and no hope for future, he just wanders around the city, abusing the fortune-teller who predicts for him a very long life, and no more loneliness.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The city has many groups of transnational organized crime syndicates going strong, and the most powerful of them is yakuza, a mafia-like criminal organization. A corrupt police officer Otomo (Nao Omori) and a yakuza member Kase (Shota Sometani) has a special plan to outsmart the gangsters as well as the police. It is into this plan that a young girl Yuri (Sakurako Konishi) enters. She is sold in prostitution to pay her father’s heavy debts by the call girl name of Monica, and is trapped by a yakuza named Yasu (Takahiro Miura) and his girlfriend Julie (Rebecca Eri Rabone) The two intended to make use of the beautiful young girl for adding further profit to their drug business, making Yuri herself a drug addict. One day, when Otomo is going through his plan, making Yuri also a part of it, she runs away from him hallucinating, and is saved by Leo who knocks him out with a punch. This leads to a butterfly effect which changes everything – the question remains about who all will survive now!

The defence of First Love :: Even though doubts were there in the beginning, First Love is not just focusing on the crime action thrills, as it chooses for fine performances mostly from its protagonists, and then from the rest of the cast. When it is into action, it is furious, but in a believable way, and there are heads rolling for sure. There is no overdose of action though, with flying bodies like in some of those dumb Bollywood movies from the past, and maybe even present. Those were the movies when common men suddenly became super-powered Avenger-kind of people, but here, they have the fights going more realistic, and there is a limit set to the violence too, and that comes as a surprise considering the kind of theme this movie is dealing with. It also leaves some some positive messages with the tale of the two main characters finding hope and life – there is also some fine feel-good factor coming into the play in the end, at it is indeed a lovely ending for a movie which seemed so dark, but not without some humour.

The claws of flaw :: If you are expecting full blood and gore in this movie considering how it began with the gangsters, you are not going to get that. First Love also takes some time to get into its action, and does need time to become interesting. The inciting incident comes a little late for a movie like this. There are some animated sequences, which though do look good, but adds nothing to the movie which should have continued its usual style. You are also going to find a few things being repeated here, which is quite natural for this genre. There can also be a problem with identifying the characters in the beginning, because there are too many of them, and they are all coming and talking about one thing and the other – after all, most of us are people who got not much of an information about these criminal groups and gangsters. The gangs like triads and yakuza are not known to most of our audience in this part of the world, and took me quite some time to figure things out in the early stages of the movie.

Performers of the soul :: The performances start here with Masataka Kubota who plays the young boxer in a very much believable manner, as he moves from solitude to finding someone he could help before he might die. We can see the change in him, and there is no superhuman fights being done by him, as everything stays within the perfect limits. Sakurako Konishi, from her first appearance also becomes the bright spot of the movie, as she also undergoes an evolution which is bigger than that of the main hero. It is her coming-of-age story, the bildungsroman that changes her from the hopeless drug addict and prostitute which she has been since childhood, and we see the smile out of happiness for the first time inside Tokyo metro, and that is the sign of the change which is to come, which she does in a brilliant way. Rebecca Eri Rabone a.k.a. Becky is the other female actress who scores high, as she also gets her dose of action. Nao Omori and Shota Sometani are two others who are more into action nicely. The other actors are usual, and does their jobs naturally in the crime thriller made out of action sequences.

How it finishes :: There is plenty of action going on in First Love, and there will be blood and gore even though not to that very high level – do not be fooled by the name of the movie, because except for some slight, indirect romance which is always there, this has nothing to do with love, except for maybe love for fellow humans as said in the religious texts. Along with all the action and thrilling moments, the movie also provides that message, not to live just for you as a selfish human being and to use the skills for helping others, thus finding meaning and hope in life, not just for you, but also for those people whose lives will undergo some fine changes with your help. The whole thing remains stylish and cool, with the viewers having a very satisfying experience, as the movie never really steps back in its quality since the action gets incited. First Love is one Japanese movie which you can add to your list of foreign regional flicks that need to be watched.

Release date: 17th May 2019
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Takashi Miike
Starring: Masataka Kubota, Sakurako Konishi, Rebecca Eri Rabone, Maimi Yajima, Nao Omori, Shota Sometani, Takahiro Miura, Mami Fujioka, Yen Cheng-kuo, Duan Chun-hao, Masayuki Deai, Jun Murakami, Kenichi Takitoh, Bengal, Sansei Shiomi, Seiyo Uchino

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

2 Guns

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There was the need for an oasis of action among the movies of this Onam, among which none of them was of the much needed action genre, even as at least half of the Malayalam movies of this Onam season were very good. Yes, 2 Guns released here yesterday only, and I have to say that it has been delayed quite a bit, and should be glad to have released this week, as a few others like Elysium are still waiting and waiting, and Grown Ups 2 had its chance only the last Friday. The winner of this weekend should still be the Malayalam movie Sringaravelan, and the word of mouth should be in completely in favour of North 24 Kaatham. As both this day and the next are public holidays, most of these movies should have a good time, also expecting the last days of Onam holidays to boost up the revenue a lot. 2 Guns is one of the five English movies still in the theatres this week, along with Rush, The Conjuring, Grown Ups 2 and Riddick. The advantage of 2 Guns is its star cast and the fact that none of these movies actually rival this one in its genre, even as Riddick is only partially a sci-fi movie.

Now we come to the idea of the buddy-cop comedy movies among which the most known and the most popular might be the Rush Hour series with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker making the most out of it. I would still wonder if Men in Black can come into the same category, and R.I.P.D. and The Heat hasn’t landed here yet. I shall not look into the older movies either. 2 Guns has landed in this area, but still quite unsure if it is an action comedy or comedy action, as it gets quite serious on regular intervals unlike Rush Hour‘s ever-improving funny side. I would guess that this one won’t do that good business here, even as this is the festival-vacation season, with families, the strength of this season expected to pull out of it completely. The hope might be about The Conjuring scaring people out of the theatres and Rush confusing them away. It has the same certificate as Grown Ups 2 and Riddick, and it would depend on how much the star name of Mark Wahlberg will sell around here, with the recently popular R-rated comedy Ted and Max Payne of the computer gamers’ paradise, even as both of them hadn’t released here.

The movie tells the tale of two criminals who turn out to be on the other side of the law later; Robert Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) as the former is an undercover DEA agent and the latter an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer; both of them thinks that the other one is a criminal though. But their attempt to steal the money of Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) from a bank ends them in trouble, as they end up losing both the money as well as blowing their cover. Trench’s lover Deb Rees (Paula Patton) who knew about all these also seems to be on another side which they are not aware about. They have to run from more than one group who is after them, which leaves them with no choice but to work together, this time knowing each other’s identity. They even try kidnapping the drug lord, but that too misfires. So the question will be on who will shoot whom, sided with which person and who will get the large amount of stolen money in a world of treachery and complete chaos which follows the fall of two men from their respective forces.

So what do we get? There is one thing we can be sure about, that is lots of fun and action. There are lots of gunshots involved as expected, but not that much of melee combat. The hand-to-hand combat takes the backseat as the guns take over. These kind of movies seem to make sure that there are also a good number of funny lines, and this one is no exception in that case, and one thing which this movie does by its own is making sure that Paula Patton is gorgeous, which is accomplished by just two scenes; that should be new as one wonders if she was there more for those two occasions only (not denying her character the double-crossing), as she doesn’t really get much screen presence compared to her tough role in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. But she is still our dazzling lady in the lead, with not many others around who are there for more than five minutes. What the movie does is nothing not too obvious, and nothing close to being a normal logical story. We still know what might happen next, even as what we know is not really what should be happening without a willing suspension of disbelief. There is not that much power to strengthen the plot either, even as there is the sincere effort to keep it not that simple.

Mark Wahlberg steals the show, and there is absolutely no reason why someone would think otherwise, unless Paula Patton’s moments which contributed to the movie’s rating steals the same for a few seconds. Even as the critics didn’t give that much to his Planet of the Apes and Max Payne, I would say that those were my favourites from him along with Ted, without denying The Italian Job and Shooter their due and this won’t add to it. He comes up with the funniest lines of the movie, and if a character was to bring cheers from the audience, it was his, as the chicken-eating, chicken-loving man who can’t bear to see the chickens being tortured. The last time I watched a Denzel Washington movie was Unstoppable, if not The Book of Eli. He is there for almost the same time as his partner, but a little lesser in impact compared to the Mark Wahlberg show. Even with their jokes as well as the seriousness, it has to be said that this movie goes to none of their top ten list, except for that of Paula Patton. The two cop characters won’t be in any all-time list, and that is one thing we can be pretty much confident about. They shall still stay alive and out of the coffin as long as the fans are concerned.

The movie is violent for sure, and there are lots of blood, along with some of the violence as well as the dialogues, nothing unexpected though. Well, this is one of those movies which you feel longer than what it really is, as the almost-two-hours of action comedy makes you feel like you have been in the theatre a little longer, and that is due to its moments of no fun which exists. But when Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington are together, there is more fun guaranteed, and luckily they stay together most of the time. They are surely not going to make you love this genre though. But not many of the regular movie watchers can avoid these two actors together, a rare combination which has such a huge potential which is only partially fulfilled. Based on a graphic novel series of the same name, the movie strives inside its limited scope, with the big names which it has associated with. This is a movie which you can watch without thinking, expecting or hoping.

By the end of the movie, there are only a few things that you are sure about, and the more sad side of it is that Paula Patton’s character is dead, and in the distant possibility of a sequel, she won’t be there, and the happy side is that there is the scope for sequel, not just because of the ending, but also due to the way in which the movie has progressed and also considering the fact that people in the theatre did seem to love it upto an extent. This entertainment is something which keeps you asking for more, and this “more” if delivered, can happen only in a sequel. The Seventy Three out of One Hundred, which I have provided the movie with, is not the exact rating for everyone, as a slightly lesser rating might make most of the common movie watchers happy, but I am going to stick with this one, being at my subjective side. This is a movie which you can watch prepared to take it as the entertainer starring two big names and a gorgeous leading actress, not to forget the typical villains. Yes, there are a few things reminding us of some of those Quentin Tarantino flicks, for this movie doesn’t belong to one category, not of comedy, action, adventure or thriller completely, but still qualifies as action comedy from a distance.

Release date: 20th September 2013 (India); 2nd August 2013 (United States)
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton, Fred Ward, James Marsden, Edward James Olmos, Allie DeBerry, Robert John Burke

2guns! copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.