Ema

Vampire Owl: I almost didn’t notice the absence of one “M” here.

Vampire Bat: Yes, this is not the Emma we know from the novels or its adaptations.

Vampire Owl: I had guessed the same because this was a Spanish one from Chile.

Vampire Bat: Even though a movie with the real Emma Woodhouse did release this year.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the movie which has the girl from The Witch, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Anya Taylor‑Joy who was also seen in Shyamalan’s Split.

Vampire Owl: I haven’t read the Jane Austen novel yet, and that is a disappointment.

Vampire Bat: I would definitely agree to that, because I consider it to be her best work.

Vampire Owl: Even better than Pride and Prejudice, the much appreciated and adapted one?

Vampire Bat: Yes, indeed. My doubt is just regarding this Ema with a missing “M”.

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

What is the movie about? :: Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) and her husband Gaston (Gael Garcia Bernal) were leading a fine life and had dance as part of their world. But their adopted son Polo (Cristian Suarez) is the big problem which they invited into their life, and he has an attitude bigger than her mother who has already been strange enough as far as Gaston is concerned. The boy was becoming more and more violent every day, and had caused a fire which had burned the face of Ema’s sister. Polo was not asked to change, but was sent back to the orphanage from where he came from, but Ema just can’t stop thinking about him, even though Gaston blames her for making the boy what he had become. They do not hate each other yet, but are not able to stop blaming each other for the situation where they had reached, from a premise which was good enough for both. It has been a long way down, and it was achieved too quickly.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Ema is quick to begin some new relationships, as she plans to file for a divorce, and the lawayer she chooses is Raquel (Paola Giannini). At the same time, she becomes very close to Anibal (Santiago Cabrera), a firefighter, and she also begins to live with Sonia (Giannina Fruttero), leaving her husband behind after a talk related to the boy who set fire to the house. She had also left the dance troupe run by her husband, and Sonia was with her along with a few friends in doing the same, as they begin dancing in the streets, following the form which her husband considered to be inferior. They find joy in the same, while Ema plans to get closer to Polo, even though the child security services forbids her from going anywhere near him, as he is now adopted by a new family where he is having a good life. But Ema is not someone who would stay behind, as she has her own plans with her life, and would stop at nothing to get what she wants. But will she choose the right path for the same?

The defence of Ema :: Whenever you look at the movie, it is a visually beautifully thing, whether the dance moves or the world which they live in – the flames are also as beautiful as it can get. The world is full of some lovely colours, and the streets with the buildings have some special charm – this is the first movie from Chile that most of us would be watching, even though we might have watched Spanish flicks from Spain and Argentina before, and in that case, this is a special experience too. The dance moves are particularly charming, as the lead character is specialized in the same, along with her friends too. The music is also lovely. There is the idea of parenting and motherhood being talked about, even though the mother-son relationship remains strange throughout the movie’s run. The twists happening throughout the movie which comes to that even more weird end is indeed a satisfactory thing. There is that wonderfully strange feeling which runs through here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel too strange for most of the people, and it does travel a twisted path which doesn’t really bring the justification or poetic justice as one would expect to have. There is no positive message given here even though you did feel that there would be something coming up soon. The flick also feels rather indirect on many occasions. You also see that it is difficult to care for the characters here, and the motives are rather strange, not just for the main character, but also for a kid. We don’t really like the people in here, and when it applies to so many people, we will see this to be too uncommon. Some characters just feel unnecessary in the scheme of things. The manipulation seen here seems to be too complex as well as strange. It is also the kind of movie which cannot be put into any category. Some of the imagery are rather going too far, and a few of the dialogues could have been avoided.

Performers of the soul :: You just cannot take your eyes off Mariana Di Girolamo playing the titular character Ema here. We have a very complex character here, but she has made it feel perfect, and with the dance moves she has further perfection in moving her body around with the delightful music. She seems to be come the character with such precision that if we look at her on Google otherwise, it feels that she is an entirely different person, nothing from her beyond the movie coming into this particular character. Gael Garcia Bernal has a lesser role in comparison, and he manages that fine. This makes Paola Giannini the next person whom we get to focus on, and she is lovely as her character who goes through another path, but nicely has herself attached to the main character with the help of a little bit of manipulation. She is also joy to watch, while Giannina Fruttero seems to play another character which has some more change than one would expect – we see her contributions to be delightful too, as female characters score high in this movie, thanks to the performances.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with Jane Austen’s Emma, this Ema comes with something very much divergent when you look at many other movies which have dealt with a premise like this, with an adopted child as the centre of attraction. The film’s biggest advantages are its visuals, music and an unpredictable character in the centre who is more than what meets the eye. Ema might not be the movie for everyone, but it is the kind of film that we would consider to be a successful experiment, even with its troubles which comes from the same areas where it has its positives. Chile is another South American country that you feel the need to visit, and you get to see some of it in this movie, even though the film doesn’t go on to show us the glorious side much – until we visit those charming areas like Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, Sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception on San Cristobal Hill and many others, we will be happy with having watched one Chilean movie, and another Spanish film to the credit.

Release date: 26th September 2019
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Pablo Larrain
Starring: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Paola Giannini, Santiago Cabrera, Giannina Fruttero, Josefina Fiebelkorn, Paula Hofmann, Paula Luchsinger, Antonia Giesen, Catalina Saavedra, Mariana Loyola, Susana Hidalgo, Cristian Felipe Suarez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Proxima

Vampire Owl: Have you heard about the vampire team planning to travel to Proxima Centauri?

Vampire Bat: No, such a plan was discarded after Doctor Frankenstein created a portal and ended up being crazy for three weeks.

Vampire Owl: It is depressing, because vampire space travel was only beginning to get popular.

Vampire Bat: You could have some temporary relief by watching a movie on space travel.

Vampire Owl: This one seems to be drama and not really science fiction.

Vampire Bat: Drama is more close to life than science fiction as far as humans are concerned.

Vampire Owl: I wouldn’t disagree with that statement. They always create some drama.

Vampire Bat: It is also the one reason why humans stopped evolving.

Vampire Owl: I do feel that they can still evolve like some of the alien species which we had met while traveling through one of those portals.

Vampire Bat: Well, lets see how far they can go and fight their own upcoming extinction.

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

What is the movie about? :: Sarah Loreau (Eva Green) is preparing herself for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station, after different stages of training on Earth, and a final quarantine which would follow. She is very excited about it, as she finally had the chance which she was waiting for, throughout these years. She had kept so many things away just for this special opportunity which rarely comes to her field. But her daughter Stella Akerman Loreau (Zelie Boulant-Lemesle) is certainly not even close to being happy about it. She does like the idea that her mother is going to the stars, but hates the fact that she has to leave her for such a long period of time, first out of the nation and then far away from Earth itself. This would mean that Stella and her cat would have to stay in a new house in a new neighbourhood in a distant city, with her father Thomas Akerman (Lars Eidinger) as the parents had separated, despite falling in love while working at the same space agency.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But things have to go as planned, and they have to follow the procedure, as she has qualified with great difficulty, and now there will be no replacement in her place. Sarah leaves for further training, much to the dismay of Stella who is left to adjust with the new home and the new school were she keeps struggling with Mathematics and also in making new friends, being a new loner. At the same time, Sarah has some initial struggles with keeping up, and her colleague from the United States, Mike Shannon (Matt Dillon) considers her to be more of a space tourist, as he is a war veteran who has served in Irag and Afghanistan. But he does appreciate her hard work as time progresses, but as she develops an infection in a new wound, Sarah has further struggles to go with. At the same time, the bond between the mother and daughter which was very strong and special seems to be having some cracks here and there. Now, Sarah has to keep up both her lives going, and it is a question whether she can do the same.

The defence of Proxima :: As one would expect, the movie thrives in the work of Eva Green, who excels as the astronaut mother who struggles to keep the two sides of her life going. The movie serves as a reflection of anyone who is trying to seek new heights, but cannot let go of the old world to which the person belongs to. The training sequences are nice, and the emotional moments are all in control, with everything safely handled by Eva herself, for this is her movie. As the movie was shot in different original training facilities of the European Space Agency, everything feels more real, just like the feelings. The movie’s progress is also steady, even though we are given the idea of what to expect in the beginning stages itself. As the movie chooses to go realistic over everything else, we do have the interesting family drama which depicts the mother-daughter relationship without much of a trouble. In the same, there is quality guaranteed.

The claws of flaw :: Proxima had scope to be something more, with both its dramatic side and it could have been an action thriller of a lesser level too, with more twists being added to the training sessions and time of quarantine. People who are looking for some science fiction are going to be disappointed, because the same is not there, and we can say the same about the action and thriller side too. It could have also had more of emotional moments together, and there could have been more of bonding scenes between the astronauts in the facility. The fact that it keeps changing the language in between is a little bit strange, as it remaining a French movie with English subtitles would have been fair enough. It could have also used some flashback to add to the tale, because our protagonist here does seem to have had a long interesting past. If it had used all the elements perfectly, there was chance for a flawless film here, but Proxima does come somewhat close.

Performers of the soul :: With birthday on the 6th of July, it is a good time to give Eva Green some lovely birthday wishes, as she is one actress who has been special throughout her career, reminding us of some fine roles which she had played so well – this movie is not that much of an exception in that case too. The lovely actress has that kind of movies in her list which I have loved to watch, with the last few being my personal favourite Dark Shadows, the grand sequel 300: Rise of an Empire, the much different Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be added to the list. She is fantastic in this movie, and we see the emotions running wild on one side, and the determination of the character on the other – Eva is delightful to watch in this film too, and she carries the movie on her shoulders with so much of ease. Zelie Boulant who plays the daughter also comes up with a fine performance. Matt Dillon does a fine job in the supporting role too. The rest just working along, as this one is indeed the Eva Green show from the first moment to the time when the credits starts rolling.

How it finishes :: It is no surprise that Proxima‘s biggest asset is Eva Green, and the same is reflected throughout the flick, with the focus never really shifting from her, as she brings the magnificent performance to elevate this movie to where it would have been, with another actress in her place. But those who watch this movie should note that it is not science fiction unlike some idea being given here. As the movie stays as close to a realistic world as possible even with an upcoming space travel, Proxima does deliver a strong drama which works with the mother-daughter relationship very well. It is the kind of movie that one can choose to watch during Eva Green’s birthday week, and the French actress’ work is reason enough to go for it. If you are going for science fiction in space or other planets, we do have those other titles, and expecting a Gravity, Interstellar or The Martian in this case will be wrong, as the tendency will be there as people see the lady wearing the spacesuit on the poster, but that is just one side of the tale.

Release date: 27th November 2019
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Alice Winocour
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Zelie Boulant, Lars Eidinger, Sandra Huller, Aleksey Fateev, Nancy Tate, Svetlana Nekhoroshikh, Anna Sherbinina, Vitaly Jay, Lionel Ferra, Manuela Aguzzi, Gregoire Colin, Trond-Erik Vassal

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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.

Aravindante Athidhikal

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set up in the area around the Mookambika Temple in the Udupi district of Karnataka. Abandoned by his mother in the temple premises at an early age, Aravindan (Vineeth Sreenivasan) was adopted by Madhavan (Sreenivasan) who made sure that he grew up to be an energetic and educated young man. Madhavan and Aravindan are running a lodge near the temple, and are trying their best to keep up with the rising competition in the name of religious tourism and spiritual journeys, a case in which religions and regions and competing which each other to bring new holy places into the picture. Meanwhile, Girija (Urvashi) and her daughter Varada (Nikhila Vimal) arrives as his new guests at the lodge. Due to some unexpected circumstances, Varada’s performance at the temple is delayed, and in the mean time, Aravindan and her become very good friends.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As a few days pass and she has to leave due to the death of her uncle, Varada feels that Aravindan should give up simply waiting for his mother and start searching for her – Varada herself takes it as her duty to find her with the help of some of Aravindan’s friends. While practising at Sreejaya Nair’s (Janaki Subramaniam) dance academy at Kumbakonam, she is still looking for clues to find the one lady who abandoned her child at the sacred place, and never really looking back. But the question remains if it is easy to find such a person with no solid clue except for some drawings which Aravindan has been preparing since childhood. Well, Varada is not someone who could be disheartened that easily, and will come back to Mookambika for their team’s performance, and there will be at least one good news for Aravindan. What could that be, in the sacred lands?

The defence of Aravindante Athidhikal :: The movie is perfectly targeted at the family audience rather than anyone else, and the whole thing seems to be well directed towards the particular direction. The music is very good and suits the mood of the movie, as it supports the emotional side, and brings us to that final feel-good factor. There are some nice shots of Mookambika and its surroundings, and we feel the mood of the sacred town more than once. We have some interesting characters too, some who wishes to fly on the wings of hope, and others just keep the hope at home, for without it, there might be no tomorrow. As President Snow says in The Hunger Games, it is hope that remains the only thing stronger than fear – we need it, and people decide on how much. Well, there is no shortage of hope in a holy town. With some simple funny moments and the strong emotional side, this movie gets home without trouble.

The claws of flaw :: The story might feel a little outdated for some people, as old wine in a new bottle, but if that wine is still not that bad, one has to wonder why the audience wouldn’t like to have some. The movie also ends rather too soon, and we know that it is the finish when the credits start rolling. We could have also had more with its core tale, which can go beyond the usual stuff, but that attempt is not made here. With a holy town in the middle and the same made colourful, maybe we could have had things to go a level further up – but the movie is satisfied with just this much. There is no dramatic twist that awaits you in this movie, as it keeps the journey straight and simple, or rather too direct for some people. If you are looking for that extra dose of melodrama, it is not going to be there because we see the attempt to have things going closer to reality than anything else.

The performers of the soul :: Vineeth Sreenivasan and Sreenivasan plays the family again, and even though adopted this time, they are no less father-son in effect. Both have their roles nicely matching them, and got their characters as no challenges, doing well at all moments, whether it is about adding some extra fun moments or to contribute to that deep emotional side. Well, we always have certain minimum expectations when the two come together, and it is once again proven that the duo has the strength to keep the whole thing close. These are times when the family movies are needed, and there are no people better than these two to do so. The presence of the family audience in the theatres is more due to the two being there rather than anything else. Urvashi is there with some fun moments after some break, and Aju Varghese along with Bijukuttan further contributes to the funny side with ease.

Further performers of the soul :: Nikhila Vimal has come back to Malayalam movie industry after Love 24×7, and it feels great to have her back at a time that we seem to need someone like her – she has the type of skills that are above the usual actresses that we have here, most of them seemingly here due to recommendation or by having someone in the cinema field. Nikhila stands tall with her performance here, and each moment, whatever it deals with, she scores. She is a wonderful talent that all of us need here, rather than in another industry. After her introduction, it is more about her rather than anyone else. Sreejaya Nair is a nice addition to this tale, and in between, we have Vijayaraghavan, Premkumar and Kottayam Nazeer contributing to the fun. Baiju and Sneha Sreekumar are there for initiating the comic side, as we see in the beginning. KPAC Lalitha is again there playing a mother figure.

How it finishes :: Well, Aravindante Athidhikal is that kind of a movie that is determined to touch your heart, and also leave a smile on your face in the end. It is the feel-good movie that can rise above the others due to its ability to keep things direct and enjoyable throughout its run-time of two hours and two seconds, a length that leaves no chances to drag in between. It is rather surprising that this movie had less publicity compared to the other movies released on the same day, Avengers: Infinity War, Uncle and Thobama. Well, Panchavarnathatha and Mohanlal are still running too. You are not going to regret watching Aravindante Athidhikal on the big screen, and watching with family would be a wonderful experience – well, this is the holiday season, and watching this one with family might be the right choice. After all, feel-good never leaves our industry, as there is always more of the kind.

Release date: 27th April 2018
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: M Mohanan
Starring: Vineeth Sreenivasan, Nikhila Vimal, Aju Varghese, Sreenivasan, Prem Kumar, Vijayaraghavan, Urvashi, KPAC Lalitha, Baiju, Sneha Sreekumar, Bijukuttan, Sreejaya Nair, Kottayam Nazeer, Shanthi Krishna, Devan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.