The Son

Vampire Owl: And we have another Spanish movie, but this seems different.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this one is from Argentina, and so it is not like the other movies we watched earlier, from Spain.

Vampire Owl: Okay, so just like the one Porutuguese movie on this site is from Brazil and not from Portugal.

Vampire Bat: Yes, people tend to have such confusions when someone is mentioning the language used.

Vampire Owl: So, we are seeing a rise in French, Spanish, Korean and Chinese movies in comparison to the other foreign languages.

Vampire Bat: Yes, and I don’t think that you would be surprised about the Korean ones.

Vampire Owl: It is not surprise, because Korean films have been here for a long time.

Vampire Bat: We haven’t focused on the rest, even though we should have.

Vampire Owl: Well, times have changed, and things can be different.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we can further work on watching more such movies.

[Gets an orange cake and three glasses of blackcurrant shake].

What is the movie about? :: Lorenzo (Joaquin Furriel) is a fifty year old Argentinian painter who has been trying to rebuild his life, as he hasn’t been that successful with his career or the personal side, even though there has been no doubt about his talents. Julietta (Martina Gusman), his former student and love interest is now living with his friend Renato (Luciano Caceres), while Lorenzo marries a much younger Sigrid (Heidi Toini), a Norweginian biologist doing research in Argentina, who approaches him for an experiment, and later decide to move in with him. But there is a certain amount of anxiety related to the child going on there, and Lorenzo and Sigrid seem to be going apart. Sigrid who is a biologist, wants to have the baby at home, citing the possible infections in a hosptial, and for the same, she brings a Norwegian mid-wife who assisted in her mother’s delivery a long time ago. The baby is born, but the relationship between its father and mother is strained, and there is something strange going on with both of them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: It turns out that Sigrid doesn’t go out of her room or shows the baby to anyone else. She stay inside with the baby, and she is the pediatrician with the support of the mid-wife, much to the dismay of Lorenzo who doesn’t get to spend any time with the child, even after six months. She doesn’t allow him to take the boy to the hospital which makes him further depressed. When he finally takes the child to the hospital, she files a case of domestic violence, and makes sure that he can’t come near her or the baby. After that, she asks for divorce, and tries to keep him away using anything within the law that gives her the advantage as a woman. Now, the question remains if Lorenzo can finally meet him, because he feels that the boy who is with Sigrid is not their son, but somebody else. Is it the truth or just a feeling that he has? Is there a big mystery surrounding these incidents, or is he just hallucinating, as he is a person with a long history of being an alcoholic?

The defence of The Son :: The movie surely keeps one guessing, and there is a certain amount of skill being displayed here on not letting us know exactly what is happening. We are not sure whose side we should be on, because strangest of things do happen. But there is something about her which is not usual, because it is clear that she is playing the victim card as a woman to blame her husband for fake domestic abuse and everything else. As a biologist, something strange is going on with her, and we are still left in the dark about what is going on – with that, the movie is successful. The film also deals with the possibilities that someone could make use of, as far as laws helping a particular gender, religion, race or any such category is concerned – especially in the name of helping a group which seems to be brought into submission. It also talks about how judgmental people happen to be, as far as some cases are concerned, taking only one side with the help of law. At the same time, we have the suspense and twists in there.

The claws of flaw :: The film does have a certain amount of slow pace associated with it, but it is mostly solved by the short length of the movie. The feeling of danger is also absent in this movie, as we only suspect people being possessive, or having some minute problems, and nothing more. The ending also feels rather incomplete – it leaves too much for the audience to think about, and we feel like we left that movie without watching it completely. The movie could have been closer to horror rather than the other genres, but it doesn’t try to use the horror at all. Even those movies which don’t have any such inclination will try to do that, and this one leaves the idea behind completely. We feel that there is so much more that this movie could have done, as the stage was all set, and there was something in the background trying to take over at all times. There was enough around here to bring a special ingredient into the picture, which is not really there.

Performers of the soul :: Joaquin Furriel’s performance is the one thing that elevates the movie to another level. He looks solid as the painter and the one who is in some kind of problem almost all the time. We can relate to him as he seems to face situations which make no sense for him at all, even though he does leave enough for us to doubt him too – we lie there in between. Heidi Toini is very good as she goes on looking more or less like a psychotic person of science, someone who seems to be in control of everything biological, looking at even doctors as if they are not necessary. Martina Gusman also comes up with some quality performance as she tries to help the main character – the same can be said about Luciano Caceres in a lesser way, as he is not there for that much time in comparison. Then we only have Regina Lamm who speaks only in Norwegian, and we know nothing much about that – maybe someone who knows the language will bring some light into that if required.

How it finishes :: The Son might not be the first Spanish movie on this website, but is certainly the first Argentinian film around here. Despite a certain amount of weirdness associated with this movie, The Son does have enough to keep us guessing, as we wonder what is going on here, at all times. It also reminds us that things are not usually what they seem to be, and when one takes the side of a person who is also supported also by the law in the name of gender, race, religion or anything else, you have to look deep into it because things are not always what they seem to be. As of now, all the Spanish movies which I have watched did leave me with the same feeling. It should have more to do with my choice of movies, but it has been there. After all, the Spanish Football Team is also my favourite international team, and it is also a nation which I have always wanted to visit; you can add that feeling to both Spain and Argentina – maybe, one day, very long after the Corona restrictions, I will.

Release date: 2nd May 2019
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Sebastian Schindel
Starring: Joaquin Furriel, Heidi Toini, Martina Gusman, Luciano Caceres, Regina Lamm

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sibyl

Vampire Owl: I have heard that name before, and not just once.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if you go back in history, sibyls were oracles in Ancient Greece.

Vampire Owl: They had prophesied at holy sites of Greece, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, and their prophecies were supposed to be influenced by the gods.

Vampire Owl: I guess that they also lead to the foundation of many great cities.

Vampire Bat: Yes, because they go a long way back, with Heraclitus mentioning them in the 5th century BC itself.

Vampire Owl: Well, when gods speak through these women, you are forced to accept that it is the truth.

Vampire Bat: What they spoke were also collected in Sibylline Books. The Romans had them.

Vampire Owl: I have seen them at other places too, I am sure about it.

Vampire Bat: Michelangelo shows five sibyls in the Sistine Chapel ceiling. There are other similar art works, and has references in the works of Shakespeare. It is to be seen how this relates the movie here or if it is just a name used for the sake of it.

[Gets an marble cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: A popular psychotherapist Sibyl (Virginie Efira) decides to quit her job and become a famous writer as she always wanted to. Her job no longer interested her, and work satisfaction gets to zero despite her patients feeling otherwise, not being able to continue without her expertise in their lives. As Sibyl begins to turn away patients, she has a lot of time, but no inspiration, reaching the writer’s block earlier than she had expected. It is why when she gets a call from Margot (Adele Exarchopoulos), a young new actress caught in a dramatic affair with a popular actor, Igor (Gaspard Ulliel) in the same movie, who is living with the film’s director Mikaela Sanders (Sandra Huller). This seems to be a complicated enough tale for a story as far as Sibyl is concerned, just like the newspapers finding entertainment from the lives of these celebrities who make news from the dress they wear, places they visit, food they eat and the people they meet.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The celebrity life becomes something special for the new writer, as far as entertainment is concerned, as she asks Margot about the minute details of their life, and records them using her mobile phone’s sound recorder to listen to the same later. Becoming further interested and immersed in Margot’s life, Sibyl begins to use Margot’s life as the main source material for her novel, finally seeming to get the inspiration and ideas that she always wanted, and at times, it also reflects moments from her own life. But where will that lead her, Igor and Margot, as Sibyl also has a one night stand with Igor while trying to help them to focus on the film instead of being uncomfortable with each other? None of them are really happy as they try to move to the end of shooting schedule because the film has already been delayed enough for different reasons. Now one has to wonder if it is the movie or the novel that completes first, whether it is the releasing or publishing that will bring the people earlier – Sibyl and Mikaela would definitely want things to speed up.

The defence of Sibyl :: Here we have a complex movie which has elements that go deep into a person’s eventful mind. The main character, even though specialized in dealing with such minds, is not a strong enough person in herself. As the complicated psychologist, the confused writer, the lustful lover and the struggling mother, all of these going safe with the leading lady who plays the main character, the only thing that the movie and the rest of the characters need to do is to follow her. She has easily risen above the level of the whole movie itself, as she is as much natural as she is a complex personality. There are questions about relationships and professional life, as well as love and career, as people struggle to keep both going in the same pace. There are a few dramatic, emotional and romantic moments which stand apart, and we have other moments which come as a mixture of different feelings. The visuals of France are very good as expected.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Sibyl does drag right from the beginning. The slow pace comes on to pull it back a little bit, but we can go past it eventually. The beginning itself was not that great, and the interesting moments takes a little bit extra time to come on the screen. Adele Exarchopoulos who was part of Blue Is the Warmest Colour is also not used well enough in this movie, and she deserved a role close enough to having a similar interest as the main character here. The twenty six year old actress earned such international attention and critical appreciation for that role, that being in a drama movie like this one, she could achieve even more. Adele is indeed that kind of a performer, and she is forced into the shadow of the main character here. The film could have also had some more action in between, and we are left with needing even more.

Performers of the soul :: It is Virginie Efira’s performance that elevates this movie to another level, and we can be only glad that we could witness he same, as it has many sides to it – she plays a character having so many sides, and all of them are indeed interesting. The forty three year old actress brings both experience and style into this movie, and it has to be noted that she looks at least ten years younger in this movie, as there is a certain amount of youthful vivacity in her, and this enthusiasm catches our attention more than anything else. Playing a complicated character like this required quite some skills. Adele Exarchopoulos is more or less known for Blue Is the Warmest Colour, a movie which has been known for its controversy, but was appreciated more – yet, it has to be noted that she doesn’t have that much of a work to do here while Virginie scores highly with each and every moment she is on the screen. But she remains close to her character, and so does Gaspard Ulliel. The rest are just smaller parts of the movie’s proceedings.

How it finishes :: Unlike the other French movies which I have reviewed on this page, this is one film which provides us with the feeling that it is clearly not American or British – maybe, the French feeling is there throughout it, somewhat the same being already there in Portrait of a Lady on Fire which made us feel the same less because it was more or less historical drama. Sibyl is not the kind of movie that everyone would love to watch with a psychotherapist with a complicated past trying to write a novel in which the characters who are from real-life, and they also have some similar problems. There is also the question about the meaning of life being asked, as many events happen with hope not being the strongest thing. The movie makes an interesting slow journey through the lives of these people, who become more or less like the common people rather than the big complex personalities which they seem to be in the beginning, and the movie comes to a simple end.

Release date: 24th May 2019
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Justine Triet
Starring: Virginie Efira, Adele Exarchopoulos, Sandra Huller, Laure Calamy, Gaspard Ulliel, Niels Schneider, Paul Hamy, Arthur Harari

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Phobia

Vampire Owl: I hope that she doesn’t have vampirophobia. I really hope that she doesn’t.

Vampire Bat: I believe that the exact term for the same is sanguivoriphobia.

Vampire Owl: What? Who on Earth comes up with such strange names? Who even gets that at first attempt?

Vampire Bat: Well, they call it the fear for blood eaters.

Vampire Owl: How can someone actually eat blood? And we are vegetarian vampires; we have suitable replacements instead.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t count. Humans are masters of generalisation, and they create opinions based on that.

Vampire Owl: We should have a phobia of them instead – unless they are all dead.

Vampire Bat: You are in no position to call an event which causes human extinction. They have to cause their own downfall.

Vampire Owl: It is something that I have always believed in.

Vampire Bat: Just make sure that Wonder Woman won’t murder you after naming you Ares, the God of War.

[Gets three cups of special tea with Tiger biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mehak Deo (Radhika Apte), a talented artist who is quite popular with her friends, attends almost every party in the town, becoming more of the popular girl in the city. But after being molested by a taxi driver on a terrible night, she develops the worst of agoraphobia, which keeps her away from public places and large groups, as she keeps herself inside the house and mostly in her room. Living in the same house as her sister Anusha (Nivedita Bhattacharya), it gets worse for everyone, as her actions remain more and more uncontrollable and unbearable for all. With the eccentric and unpredictable nature affecting Anusha’s little kid too, they all feel done with helping her, because it seems to be of no use, and Mehak herself doesn’t want to be treated, staying inside home without making an attempt to go out for months.

So, what happens next? :: Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra), Mehak’s good friend decides to help her, and gets her to an apartment which is empty for now after its previous occupant decided to move away. He hopes that this change, and life alone will be better for her, and she will start longing to meet people after this. At the new place, she seems to have some visions, and she feels that there is something sinister about these particular visions. She has two neighbours there with whom she gets to talk often, one of them being Nikki (Yashaswini Dayama), who is a graduate student who lives on the flat on the right, while on the left side, there lives Manu (Ankur Vikal) who had anger management issues and is using laughter to fight the same. The latter used to be in a relationship with a woman called Jiah Khurana (Amrit Bagchi) who had left the place.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It turns out that Jiah was living in the same apartment in which Mahek is living right now. Knowing that the girl had disappeared without telling anyone, and that there is no clue of where she is, Mahek begins to feel that there is a big mystery behind the same. She comes up with the idea that an angry Manu had killed Jiah and has hidden her body in his apartment. Mehak also feels that her visions are from Jiah’s spirit which is trying to tell her something about the demise. Shaan feels that this is all part of her disease, and that she is having so many hallucinations. Her psychiatrist (Faezeh Jalali) also confirms that Mahek’s condition is worsening every day, and there is not much that can be done unless she is taken to a mental asylum. But Nikki is curious, and decides to help Mehak in finding the truth behind the missing girl. Now the question remains about what really is the truth here.

The defence of Phobia :: There is one thing about which you can be cent percent sure, and it is that Phobia won’t be like any other movie which you have seen in Bollywood, and in psychological horror, it explores more territories, and most of these areas are divergent. The story is nicely presented right from the beginning, and it keeps you wondering what is happening, and what is to follow. The visuals nicely match the overall mood of the movie, and there are some scenes which are particularly great and deserves our attention. Radhika Apte is once again too good, as you would expect her to be – she is that kind of an actress who has more in store for us than anyone from Bollywood, and it is a fact that you just can’t ignore. There are moments from her which you are going to remember for so long. The next one to make the impact is Yashaswini Dayama who keep the curious college girl act going on very nicely.

The claws of flaw :: One can say without doubt that Phobia is not a movie for everyone; I am sure that it might have already been established by many others in one way or the other which randomly talking about the flick. There are also logic flaws in this movie, and her living alone in the flat is nothing less than strange, and having a knife near her when she goes into the virtual reality is rather comfortable. The way in which the mystery is finally solved is also rather strange, when it could have taken a rather direct approach. The climax had potential to be something more, and for some reason, it chooses not to live up to the fantastic build-up in the first half, and finish the movie on a high. The audience is left clueless on a lot of occasions, and more scary moments could have been built regarding the neighbour and other residents of the apartments. When you have an apartment where someone with a mental problem living alone, there is always scope for more.

How it finishes :: Phobia demands that you take things differently, and get your thinking procedure to go another way, which has almost no relation with a regular Bollywood movie; all that those movies are, this movie is not. It is where movies like Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0 scores, and it is also what we strive to have. Otherwise, Bollywood can only focus on biopics, and tales inspired from real life incidents like Neerja, Rustom and Airlift, which they need to keep the ship sailing in the right direction. It is during such times that this movie does go against the flow, and what we can do is to appreciate the effort and watch this movie without second thoughts about how it will make us feel, and how well it can relate when we haven’t watched similar movies before.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Pavan Kirpalani
Starring: Radhika Apte, Yashaswini Dayama, Satyadeep Mishra, Ankur Vikal, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Amrita Bagchi, Faezeh Jalali, Salone Mehta, Arush Nand, Dinyar Tirandaz, Amit Kumar Pandey, Malhar Goenka

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.