Cross the Line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aarkkariyam

What is the movie about? :: Ittyavira (Biju Menon) is a retired mathematics teacher who is spending his time alone in a village in the district of Kottayam. At the same time, his daughter Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) and her second husband Roy (Sharafudheen) are living in Andheri, Mumbai, and are planning to come back to Kerala after some time, despite the COVID-19 restrictions being further imposed everywhere. The coming of Corona has kept all of them in their own space, without much contact with outside world, and the spread of Corona virus had also brought some financial crisis to Roy and Shirley. The former’s business was already failing and there is no success in mutual fund either. The two manage to come all the way to Kerala to Shirley’s hometown and meet Ittyvira, who is really happy to see them. But they are also not able to meet their daughter, as the borders are closed. They apply for permission, but soon, a nation-wide lock-down is imposed, and they are all stuck there in their home in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The lock-down changes their lives by a long way, and the restrictions reach their place too. The already interior home now feels even more away from civilization. This is the time when people were only beginning to understand the COVID-19 situation, and everyone was expecting all these problems to be solved as the virus would eradicated in the end of lock-down. One of the consignments of Roy is now stuck with the customs, and without that, there is nothing much that can be done. Now, the only way to get some quick money so that they can pay back Vyshak (Saiju Kurup) is by selling the ancestral lands, and it is Ittyvira who provides them that idea. But there are some complications related to the same, as there seems to be some secrets from the past which need to be taken care of. Roy begins to feel uncomfortable about the same, but there is nothing that he can do, other than worry about the same.

The defence of Aarkkariyam :: Aarkkariyam would seem to be a usual film in a village setting, but it is surely more than that – we get the idea only later though. Every moment in this movie nicely contributes to keep it going, and it is not that long either with each second in there used in an interesting manner. It does have that fine punch at the interval, something that makes the film take another route from the second half. The title itself is a worthy one here, as we keep wondering who all knows about a number of things including a sinister event and a person who was involved in the same. The performance of the three main characters elevates the film further, and the supporting cast is also interesting. The surroundings are nicely created, and the feeling of Pala-Kanjirappilly area is given with the rural touch everywhere, from the people to the environment. The film also focuses on the different opinions that different people would have about one person, and how polarized the same happens to be – how one can pretend to be good among the common people.

The claws of flaw :: Aarkkariyam is not the kind of movie which you would expect, as it has a certain deviation in store there. It is also slow at times, and there are lots of moments when nothing happens, even though they do contribute to the mood. There is also the presence of some usual cliché stuff here, but the same will go on and pass. Even if it feels like family drama, it doesn’t suit into that genre completely, and one would have doubt about the kind of audience it is actually looking for – even though we can keep it for the common audience in general. A little bit more of the moments in Mumbai and their return to hometown as well as a few twists in between would have helped more, even if it would deviate further away from the genre. It was an opportunity for something more, and there was the chance to be a classic, but the film manages to keep it going straight and without adding any special ingredient into it – maybe because there was the feeling that it was not needed, like Kungfu Panda would agree.

The performers of the soul :: This movie, as expected has Biju Menon with a performance to remember, and that too with a different kind of work. He has embraced this role like Vijayaraghavan did, as he moved from the usual kind of hero to the senior roles. Much elder to Biju Menon, he would be the one we would expect in a role like this, something which he has done in earlier films, but not as the protagonist like we see here. We know that other older superstars are still playing the characters of lower age group, but Biju Menon has had the courage to take it to the next level. If we remember his last few films, we will see that this difference in looks has come unexpected, and by a long way. Even as everything is kept simple about the character, there is always something to remember with this act. There are also those simple dialogues will stay, and sometimes come back – it is one realistic performance to remember as we look at it.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is indeed about Biju Menon, but others do play their part too. Parvathy Thiruvothu once again has a role to remember, as she blends in here nicely, just like she has done so many times with ease not limited to her most appreciated performances in Uyare, Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. She does get pushed to the background though, as the film progresses. It is also nice to see Sharafudheen in a serious role this time. We have been so much used to see him in those comic roles, except for that villainy in Varathan and the psychotic side in Anjaam Pathira, but those were kind of exaggerated when we have a look back – this is really a fine change here from the early comic side in Premam and the same later in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. The two match with their performances, and the cast has worked really well. Saiju Kurup plays the supporting role in the usual kind of way, but could have been part of more of the action too. Shoba Mohan is the only person here who gives the feeling that we have seen the person before.

How it finishes :: The first movie directed by cinematographer Sanu John Varghese is not something that we can leave behind. This is the kind of movie which I would have surely watched in the theatre early enough, if there was no COVID-19. It was a good decision to release this one on Amazon Prime Video along with Neestream, Roots Video and Cave OTT platforms because most of us were always going to watch it on Prime Video only – it is still difficult to find the movie there because of the spelling required to be exactly as it is when searching, and surprisingly it is also not on the list of the new film releases on Amazon. But we do get to it anyway, and during this time of lock-down and triple lock-down in Kerala, this is the kind of movie that reminds us of last year’s lock-down exactly as it is, and it is more or less a realistic experience that we go through – the kind which we had seen in Joji, and also in Nayattu even though this one keeps the thriller side at a distance.

Release date: 1st April 2021 (Theatre), 19th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video, Neestream, Roots Video, Cave)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Sanu John Varghese
Starring: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen, Arya Salim, Ganga G Nair, Saiju Kurup, Thejaswi Praveen, Shoba Mohan, Jacob George, Pramod Veliyanad

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Joji

What is the movie about? :: Joji Panachel (Fahadh Faasil) is the youngest son of Panachel family, an engineering drop-out who has now failed in his latest attempt in the tourism field due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Living somewhere in the isolated part of the highlands, where his father Kuttappan PK (Sunny PN) owns many acres of land around their house, Joji condemns the fact that everyone considers him as a failure. Kuttappan’s other two sons Jomon Panachel (Baburaj) and Jaison Panachel (Joji Mundakayam) fear him as much as Joji does, and the terrifying head of the family is ruthless in his attitude towards his family members. He keeps all the money to himself, and the sons are ever dependent on him. Jaison and his wife Bincy Jaison (Unnimaya Prasad) are highly obedient towards him, while Jomon also has his son Popy Panachel (Alister Alex) living with him after just recently completing the procedures of his divorce.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is a world where Kuttappan maintains full control, and Jomon is a son who seems to be becoming just like his father. Joji is upset about nothing positive happening in his life, while Popy is a hopeless young boy himself. Bincy also has no hope for future, while her husband the son in the middle, Jaison has no courage to do anything that could change the sequence of events for everyone in the family. But when Kuttappan has a stroke while once again trying to show his strength in front of everyone else, the regular sequence of events is disturbed. The doctors and most family members feel that there is no comeback for him, and even the local priest Fr Kevin (Basil Joseph) believes that now only prayers can save him. But to everyone’s surprise, the 74 year old man survives death and comes back to them in a wheelchair. The fear factor is back, but now there is a chance for everyone to have a deviation here.

The defence of Joji :: Joji thrives on the realistic feeling that it generates with the thrills, something which Dileesh Pothan carries over from Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, with setting coming back to the highlands yet again. The time, from a Google search, the location seems to be more Kottayam than Idukki, and the atmosphere here is nicely set – could even serve as a lesson for anyone who makes a film based on the Koodathayi cyanide murders. This kind of a world is something that could take Malayalam cinema further, especially considering the fact that this flick is no longer limited to the local theatres, but gracing many nations of the world. The build-up is really nice, even though a little bit slow, and it has us expecting a lot to follow, considering the fact that a good number of main characters have certain secret motives. The film does make us remain suspicious at all times, even though some of those doubts are really without any reason. The camera work is excellent, and you also get to see some spectacular shots.

The claws of flaw :: The ending here is not that effective, and there we can see a big opportunity gone missing in a movie which was going to be far more efficient in divergence. One would expect one master twist in the end, but the final moments were just predictable and without the strength that such a movie needed to have. Seeing a top quality psychopath running out of ideas, and nobody stepping into take his place creates a struggle in the end. Even though there is the talk of this being an adaptation from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, one would find that to be an unnecessary addition to the details about the movie, because the protagonist whom we see here is none like that particular character. I wouldn’t connect that Elizabethan age drama to this one because it feels like not doing justice to both – this one works separately, and could have achieved more with this premise. Also, the female character representation is too low here.

The performers of the soul :: Just like the earlier Dileesh Pothan movies which had Fahadh Faasil as the main character, this one also depends on him to bring the magic, which he does with a certain amount of ease, as he has done before in multiple occasions as part of many different movies. We can also find traces of what was seen in Kumbalangi Nights with his psychotic character that brought the twist in the end. That was a movie which should have been sent for the Oscars, and Fahadh has another performance here that follows the much appreciated self-proclaimed hero of Kumbalangi. Unnimaya Prasad is also here doing a really interesting character, someone who seems to have hidden dark shades, even though the same is not explored further. An opportunity to bring the Macbeth element with a guilt-filled Lady Macbeth is not taken here, against expectations. We had seen her most memorable role in Anjaam Paathira, and this is the next most memorable thing.

Further performers of the soul :: Baburaj’s performance in this movie serves as a big boost too, as he excels in the serious as well as the funny moments. In the end, we feel the character as a person who holds on to his own values, and the same differentiates him from others, even though he is still an alcoholic with not control over his tongue – a character nicely executed. Shammi Thilakan’s character also catches our attention, and it is also as realistic a character as we can get. Sunny PN who plays the controlling father character will also have our attention from the beginning itself. Basil Joseph’s role of the priest is a welcome addition too, even though it doesn’t directly affect the storyline. It is to be noted that the director of movies like Kunjiramayanam and Godha has played a good number of interesting roles until now. The lesser characters are also nicely added to the film, as we see them contributing really well in what seems to be nice roles for them.

How it finishes :: During the continuing time of COVID-19 pandemic, this movie has released in Amazon Prime Video, and that has been a nice idea indeed, at least for most of us who haven’t really started visiting theatres again as the cases of infections are still going up. This one is another winner for Dileesh Pothan as a director, as he scored three out of three with simple, realistic movies. I would place this movie between Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, better than the latter, but not that much of an interesting thing as the former. It seems that a pandemic like this version of mutating Corona virus has given us more thriller movies than those films with hope which were filling up the theatres before we went into that lock-down, an example being seen in Kilometers and Kilometers starring Tovino Thomas which served as a light-hearted feel-good film. We are surrounded by horror and suspense, and it is a fine change.

Release date: 7th April 2021
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Unnimaya Prasad, Baburaj, Basil Joseph, Shammi Thilakan, Joji Mundakayam, Sunny PN, Alister Alex, Renjith Rajan, Dhaneesh A Balan, Renjith Gopali

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous full OTT release.

<— Click here to go to the previous full TV release.

@ 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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Joseph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mayaanadhi

What is the movie about? :: A young man named John Mathews a.k.a. Mathan (Tovino Thomas), hailing from Perumbavoor, is in love with a girl from Kakkanad, Aparna Ravi a.k.a. Appu (Aishwarya Lekshmi) who studied as his junior at the engineering college outside the state, both not gaining much from the professional course. Mathan gets caught in a series of events that lead to the death of a police officer while he was trying to escape. While the Tamil Nadu police is looking for him, he gets back to Cochin in an attempt to find Aparna who is trying to make it big with the help of her friend Sameera (Leona Lishoy) who is a big name in the movie industry. Aparna couldn’t make much of a progress with her life, as she has been doing different jobs following dropping out of her Engineering course. Her relationship with Mathan is strained due to the fact that he didn’t return the money which she had borrowed from her friend, and she feels that he took advantage of her trust.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As policemen from Madurai chases him to Kerala for vengeance for the death of their colleague rather than anything else, Mathan is trying to get a visa to the Middle East, and hopes that he can also take Aparna with him. Irritated by the attitude of her mother towards her, and failing in auditions, Aparna is in no mood to forgive Mathan, and seems to have no time to get back into a relationship. With revenge-seeking policemen on his trail who would be happy with nothing less than his encounter, can Mathan, with his simple ways, escape to the Middle East with the love of his life without whom he doesn’t want to run? Can Aparna make something out of her never-ending adventures related to cinema and modeling? Does fate get to play the final twisted role in this tale as it does in most of the love stories?

The defence of Mayaanadhi :: As this one brings a new love story of this age, the melodrama never finds a seat. There is a realistic approach in this movie, and we never really gets tired of the same, even when the movie seems to get slow in between. We see how much people need each other, when things get better, or when they get terrible. The protagonists are two people who have struggled with their lives, and their world is something which is not difficult to relate as we understand their circumstances. The music is really good, and there is “Uyirin Nadhiye” which will grab your attention and stay in your mind for long. There are some jokes in there too, but there is the overall sadness in this movie, which seems to reflect on the depressing human condition which remains the same, no matter how the world changes. There are also some harsh realities reflected too, with either fate being so cruel, or the society being against the individual. There is very less for one to be happy in the grim world of Mayaanadhi, and even in between the beautiful shots of the city, there is melancholy.

The claws of flaw :: Mayaanadhi might not be the best option for the family audience, considering the intensity of love that is shown in there, even though the movie uses everything in an aesthetic way rather than in a sexual manner. There is a certain slowness with this movie, and you will also feel that there is not much of a story to tell here other than what we have seen and heard on so many occasions. Maybe, two hours could have done just enough for this movie, and the gangster and police angle could have been left out to bring something just random into the scene as the factors causing problems for the protagonists. The Tamil dialogues without subtitles caused problems for the audience who had tough time figuring it out. The fact that this is the least hyped movie among all the releases of Christmas, Aadu oru Bheekara Jeeviyanu 2, Vimaanam, Aana Alaralodalaral, Masterpiece and also Tiger Zinda Hai from Bollywood, we know that this one could use some attention if it is to do any better at the theatres.

The performers of the soul :: You might have felt that Tovino Thomas hasn’t got the best of divergence out of his movies, and this one surely has that element. Tharangam, Godha, Oru Mexican Aparatha, Ezra and Guppy, which were his last movies had good performances from him, but nothing as divergent as this one. His character has no heroism associated, and he lets his pair, the leading actress who is two movies old, handle the job so well. Aishwarya Lekshmi coming right out of Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela is too good in this movie – she was certainly good in that one, but with this adventure, she makes it many levels here; she gets the bigger opportunity to perform here, and never does she fail to deliver. Her best moment might be during her final audition, but her first which has getting down to reality from the plastic side is not far behind, and you will also find her scenes with Tovino charged with fine chemistry.

Further performers of the soul :: We last saw Leona Lishoy in Annmariya Kalippilannu, and even though we have seen her in other flicks including the lead role in Jawan of Vellimala, she gets enough moments in this one to make sure that Mayaanadhi is something to remember her for. This is also my second favourite movie of Aashiq Abu, after Rani Padmini. You will note that the directors Basil Joseph and Lijo Jose Pellissery also make smaller appearances in the flick. Unnimaya Prasad who played Sara in Maheshinte Prathikaram and Maya teacher in Parava also catches our attention. Soubin Shahir and Aparna Balamurali got very small cameos in the film – it is the kind of job that could have been done by anybody. There are some faces which we are not familiar with, but you see that nobody has to be behind in this realistic tale which has good work from the whole cast. Aashiq Abu has no worries with the acting department.

How it finishes :: It has been a difficult job for those who have been looking for sensible love stories on the big screen. What most of the critics seem to have appreciated seems to be the slow motion walk into absurdity called Annayum Rasoolum and an exaggeration of reality called Ennu Ninte Moideen. Thankfully, we have Mayaanadhi here, which is the one river which shows the right kind of divergence, as it chooses to flow like a river of beautiful illusions, as its name suggests, and in the sadness and phantasm, finds a real world which we can relate. There might be many other movies which would get the attention of the youth, as well as that of the family audience – but this is one movie which shows how the movies are to be made in the right manner, without showing the tendency to follow that path which has been traveled so much that there are rather too many pot-holes on the way. Mayaanadhi is different, and enjoyable in the right way for a movie-loving group of people, looking out for better stuff all the time, as well as the variety. If you liked Thondimuthalum Drisksakshiyum, I don’t see why you can’t like this one with its realism.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Leona Lishoy, Basil Joseph, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Darshana, Unnimaya Prasad, Maya Rajesh, Harish Uthaman, Khalid Rahman, Nizhalgal Ravi, Shine Tom Chacko, Aparna Balamurali (cameo), Soubin Shahir (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

What is the movie about? :: Prasad (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and Sreeja (Nimisha Sajayan) are in love after a certain misunderstanding between them. Living near Vaikom at a village where the caste feeling is high, both are at trouble due to Sreeja’s father and relatives being fully against the marriage and threatens them. The result is that both of them runs away from the place after their wedding, and goes to a remote place in Kasargod where they have bought some land and a place to stay, hoping to get into agriculture. But it turns out that there is no water available there, and things once again takes a twist. They decide to get a loan against her gold ornaments, but her necklace ends up being stolen when in the bus, messing up with their plans. This theft was committed by a man known by the same name, Prasad (Fahadh Faasil) whom Sreeja had seen devouring it to escape being caught with it.

So, what happens next? :: So, the KSRTC bus driver, conductor and the travelers join to take the man to the nearby police station. It is more of a remote area, which doesn’t have leaves too many options for the police than to wait, as Sreeja is certain that the man had stolen her necklace and the thief tells the police that he has stolen nothing, and is working at a road-side eatery making porottas. But when the police asks for an id, he has none, and so they decide to keep him at the police station and wait. With no other option left, the couple also has to wait to find a way to find the necklace from him, as nothing could be proven otherwise. The police officer in charge of the case, A.S.I. Chandran (Alencier Ley Lopez) assures them that the thief is a smart one, but he solves such cases all the time, and will get them their necklace. So, who is the smartest of them all – is it the thief, the couple or the police officer?

The defence of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum :: The question of Dileesh Potham brilliance rises again, and we can see that there is something about it everywhere that fuels this movie. It is a fine narration that takes the story to another level, as we have the perfect example on how to make simplicity so interesting. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is once again an everyman movie like Maheshinte Prathikaram, and those elite classes will not get their due here – there is almost no person in this movie who can be put into that “rich” category, which brings us the real movie for the people, which has never been the self-proclaimed “local” movies. The humour is also working, and they are also based on simple things of life – still there are twists. Once again, we see that the visuals are nice, as you know who in charge of them with the camera. The music is good, with “Kannile Poika” nicely visualized. There is the message hope and forgiveness, even though they are not readily visible.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel a little bit slow and a little bit dull at moments of the first half, as we expect it to be fun-filled entertainer like Maheshinte Prathikaram which had absolutely no moment which will make us doubtful. The emptiness that you feel in between, and the repetition that might seem to occur are also certain to be seen. You do feel at times, that this has a little too much of a remider of Action Hero Biju – so, if you don’t like that movie, there is a chance that Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum will not be that interesting to you too. The story also doesn’t have that much in it to talk about, as things are rather simple, and the whole thing is focused to particular places. If you are looking for the usual kind of a movie, this will not claim to be one, which might be a good thing for a few, and not an interesting thing for some others. There could have been a bigger punch by the end, which is not there.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has his second movie running in the theatres at the same time, as Role Models is already there, having released for Eid with Avarude Raavukal and Oru Cinemakkaran – his earlier movies were Take Off and Maheshinte Prathikaaram, and it has been a fine run which continues into this movie too. Fahadh’s work, no matter how good or bad a movie is always something to look forward too – after all, this one is really good. There is a certain balance in his work, and even the simplest emotions from him brings the claps from the audience – the thief’s smiles score big. Suraj Venjaramoodu brings a performance which brings him back to the “fortress of seriousness”, with a full role rather than what he had in Action Hero Biju – he even has the romantic side to explore nicely. The National Award Winner for Best Actor in 2013 is the hero in this one, even though the term has less potential in a realistic story having no heroism.

Further performers of the soul :: Nimisha Sajayan makes a good debut with this movie too, as her work is simple as well as memorable. We see her taking it further with some realistic emotional scenes. It will be nice to see her in a different performance in one of the upcoming movies, and I remember having read that she has signed for another movie already. The next memorable character in the movie is played by Alencier Ley Lopez, who plays the police officer again after Njan Steve Lopez, and combines forces with Fahadh Faasil and Dileesh Pothan once again after Maheshinte Prathikaaram. You remember Vinay Forrt becoming the officer in control of things in Kismath where almost everything happens in the police stations – Alencier gets to do the same, but he has another mode on with Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. There is also the presence of some lesser known faces, who all do a fine job – it seems that the right ones are chosen for sure.

How it finishes :: We have all known what Dileesh Pothan is capable of, with his Maheshinte Prathikaaram, the National Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam and also for Best Screenplay. The same combination of him with Fahadh Faasil returned here, and as expected there is something for us to be impressed, as we were waiting with expectations being a lot high. The movie with a realistic side will always have more for us than what any of those big superstar movies possess. It is the same realization that makes a lot of people to arrive at the theatres on a rainy day, defying all odds to get a ticket for this rather simple a movie – even the advance bookings have been even more. When the first movie was a success, the second movie has become a bigger challenge, as he has to match the glory, and here, with his brilliance continuing, Dileesh Pothan has kept Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum working, even though not as much as Maheshinte Prathikaaram.

Release date: 30th June 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Nimisha Sajayan, Soubin Shahir, Shince Mathew, Jithin KC, Vettukili Prakash, Sreekanth Murali

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Maheshinte Prathikaram

maheshinteprathikaram ()

What is the movie about? :: Mahesh Bhavana (Fahadh Faasil) owns a small studio named Bhavana, living his life in and around Kattappana in Idukki. He is a simple man who finds happiness in the usual happenings of daily life, and is a popular person in the neighbourhood. His best friends include the older man who runs a shop near his studio, Baby (Alancier Lay) and his employee who is a cheerful young man named Crispin (Soubin Shahir). He has been in love with his childhood friend Soumya Kunjumon (Anusree Nair) for a long time, but it turns out that she decides to marry someone who works abroad instead. At the same time, he also gets into a fight with a group of strangers, and he makes a promise not to wear footwears until he has revenge on Jimson Augustine (Sujith Shankar) who beat him up.

So, how and where will the things be going from there? :: Mahesh is determined to have his revenge as he trains in Kung-fu hoping that he can win a fight against his newly found opponent. As Jimson has moved to the Middle East for a job, he keeps waiting for his moment of return. Meanwhile, Mahesh meets Jimsy Augustine (Aparna Balamurali) who needs him to take a photo for the cover page of a magazine. As they fall for each other, he comes to know that she is the sister of the man whom he wants to beat up. But he decides to go on with the relationship, even though he is determined that he will beat up the man when he returns to India. So, will Mahesh have his revenge? Will he manage to do that and finally wear the chappals? Is the decision not to have revenge as Jimsy wouldn’t want? Or will he just fail in the quest?

The defence of Maheshinte Prathikaram :: This one is more than just a movie; as it is more of life – there is nothing exaggerated in this movie as it uses the simple events of life, which could happen anywhere, and brings everything out of them. The movie’s biggest asset is its ability to make one laugh, and that too without using those silly jokes – even above that, it can bring a certain smile on the face of the viewers. There is a lot of skill in how the comedy is handled in this movie; there is nothing dumb, and there is no words used with hidden meanings. The revenge here is not something of hate, but simple, and out of a simple promise which has been made – nobody gets to suffer for the same; and the movie is that light-hearted. The songs are good and the visuals of the high-ranges are very well captured. Life is rarely reflected on screen this simple and lovable; especially look out for the anthem and the theatre scenes – that’s just two of the long list.

Claws of flaw :: There is nothing huge in the story of this movie; it is just the simple life of the common man in the high-ranges. Well, as Life of Josutty had said in the posters, this one is also just life without twists and suspense. There will be no big melodrama or romance as those exaggerated movies – dealing with a simple man’s life, this movie won’t satisfy the blind fans looking for all which is not there in life. As the movie brings real and natural humour instead of the silliness which is needed for the fans, there will be the group which won’t like it. But the final fight scene could have been shortened, and Aparna Balamurali could have had her entrance much earlier, especially considering the fact that they don’t see each other during their first meeting. But that is no flaw for you to decide not to watch a feel-good movie which is a lot sensible than the rest.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil returns to be the crowd-favourite after Monsoon Mangoes which never really got close to connecting with the audience. As always, he is too good – he has taken control of this character and has done a really fantastic job. You have to love how well he manages each of his characters, and this one is simply awesome. Here is the man whose movies have viewers and admirers of movies rather than fans – it means that we can watch his movies without being troubled by the blind fans who are howlers, abusers and haters; how many celebrities can manage to offer a movie without trouble from terrible people? I had even read that he said that fans associations are not needed, and people need to watch his movies only if they are good. It is the kind of policy which every sensible actor needs to follow.

Further performers of the soul :: Anusree manages her role here with ease, as she plays Fahadh’s love interest in the first half. The second half has Aparna Balamurali whom we remember from Oru Second Class Yathra in which she played the character Amritha Unnikrishnan; it is related to the song “Ambazham Thanalitta” with Vineeth Sreenivasan rather than the movie. Here, she is the one to look out for, after our protagonist. She has a simple and charming way of playing her character here, and it is a lovable performance in store here. I am sure that she will go a long way after this performance. 2015 had some interesting new female faces in Malayalam movies, and 2016 has one more promising star, even though not that much of a new face – she has her first big role and she has done a really good job; this work feels so real and energetic.

And the rest of the movie :: The combination of Alancier Lay and Soubin Shahir is really good in this movie, and they handle the funny side here amazingly well. In a movie which has a lot of new faces, another newcomer Lijomol also has some nice funny moments here. The debut from the director Dileesh Pothan is a wonderful one, and he has also played one role. The supporting cast is really strong here, even with so many new faces. This different kind of revenge story is the kind of movie which you should really watch. It is something like a simple and humorous page taken right out of the book of life. Maheshinte Prathikaram is the kind of movie which could have been made more, but only people who have the ability to notice the simple things in life with skill, can come up with such a creation, and for the same, this movie needs the appreciation as it becomes the best of the year so far! These are good times for movie-watchers, with options of Action Hero Biju and Puthiya Niyamam also there!

Release date: 5th February 2016
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Aparna Balamurali, Anusree Nair, Soubin Shahir, Alancier Lay, Lijomol, KL Antony, Jaffer Idukki, Dileesh Pothan, Sujith Shankar, Saiju Agustine

maheshinteprathikaram

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

In Fear

infear (2)

Vampire Owl :: But I do not know the meaning of Fear.

Vampire Bat :: Then what do you call that expression when you were chased by a dog last month?

Vampire Owl :: I was simply giving the dog a lesson in running.

Vampire Bat :: Then when you jumped over the wall, it was a lesson in high jump?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, but it was a poor little creature with such a small brain. It couldn’t jump over the wall.

Vampire Bat :: You didn’t take the flying classes when all the other owls were doing that, and now you want to pretend to teach others running.

Vampire Owl :: It is actually okay because you can’t fly either. You should attend my classes too. It will help you to run away from a bad movie.

Vampire Bat :: But this is still a good movie. This is simple, raw horror.

Vampire Owl :: I have watched this and won’t approve. I am bigger horror than this little movie.

Vampire Bat :: I would have made a bet for three hundred zombies that you can only say that about this movie.

[Goes to watch ISL].

What is it about? :: Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) are on their first trip after falling for each other, and even as they are planning to go to a music festival with friends, Tom suggests that they rest in a hotel on the way, to which Lucy agrees, despite having promised her friends that she would be there early. They follow a vehicle to the hotel where they were planning to stay, and after showing them the directions, that person drives off. They move on and looks for directions, but following them doesn’t lead them anywhere and it seems that they have seen the same place again and again – it is as if they are trapped in a maze. The rain starts pouring and Lucy keeps seeing a masked figure while going through the path and they are attacked once. They end up giving lift to another person called Max (Allen Leech) who claims to have been attacked too, but the tension only gets higher as there seems to be no way out of there.

The defence of In Fear :: Most of the movie is in the middle of nowhere and we have so much action inside the car which turns into a claustrophobic world, especially with the third person around. There is already a spooky atmosphere created as the darkness falls and the rain pouring, with nowhere to go. It is smart in its anxiety and tension, and the feeling of being nowhere in hopelessness is disturbing. Being in small pocket road with no lights and no signs of civilization around, having no idea how to get anywhere? Everyone needs to be scared about this, especially as some masked villain is ready to pounce if you stop the car – he might even find a way to stop the vehicle. You have the right to be scared here. The stuff is believable too, as this goes on without anything out of the world added to it. There is less stupidity from the characters as they seem to act more as anyone would have, if caught in such a situation. It is good to see something different being tried in the horror genre.

Claws of flaw :: The movie is not for everyone, especially as there is almost no jump scare at all. There is no big scary killer who keeps coming at you and creating all those gory scenes out of nowhere. The locations are limited, and there is darkness around. There is not much of a backstory, and things happen straight. There are minimum resources used here, and there is no murder shown happening on the screen – there is not even a cut on the screen even as there is blood after the cut. There are just three people in this movie and for most of the time, we see only two of them. Some horror fans can find this method uninteresting, and a few others might be more disappointed about the same. The power of the villain is not much, and the ending is actually a little too uninteresting, even as it has the mind not to bring something up in hope for a sequel. The inside the car setting might also disturb a few. There are still a few things unanswered, and the moments of stupidity does come into play when the protagonists are out of the car. There is nothing big in the plot either.

Performers of the soul :: There are just three people acting in this movie, even as there are others who we do from a distance; nothing much here is about another person other than what we hear our leading actors talk about them or contact them through the mobile phone – yes there is a scarecrow if you want to add him to the actors. Among the three, Alice Englert is the pick. The last time I had seen her was in Beautiful Creatures, and even as I did think that she was good, I doubted about her being in a horror movie – but then, I was wrong, and this young lady who was just nineteen when this movie premiered, has just nailed the role of the young damsel in distress in a believable manner. I couldn’t feel anything else but be surprised about the fact that she had made her character so much believable rather than becoming another lady in a horror movie. Iain De Caestecker comes only second, and becomes the weaker character leaving him with less scope. Allen Leech is good, but still not up-to the movie’s power.

Soul exploration :: The soul of the movie is in its atmosphere, and the success of the same is in creating that situation which can haunt any other person. It is a case of genuine fear, as it makes way into our known world. Ever got your car’s tyres punctured in the middle of nowhere at night, or have you ever got lost your way somewhere while taking a shortcut and there are no lights anywhere? There is no range in your phone with GPS already stopped working and rain also stops pouring down. So where do you go from there? In Fear has that situation and successfully drops us into the world of fear and nothing else. Fear might want many things, but this movie proves that what it actually needs is a realistic situation and happenings that can be connected by the audience. A better working of the plot and a better development of the situation could have done a even more for this movie, but for now, there is some realistic horror in its core.

How it finishes :: In Fear is a movie so much less known, and its existence might be something that so many people are unaware of, unless Alice Englert’s filmography keeps catching too much attention. It is a movie which has pretty much low rating at IMDb, but is something which has good ratings from critics. That should explain a few things. No, this doesn’t have the entertainment side working much, and its horror is something of the mind. It has less for the majority of the viewers who would hope for something that thrills outside the borders of realism. But this movie doesn’t have that, as the choice to go with realistic things can gain more critics and lose more viewers. But In Fear still maintains enough to gather the usual fans, at least in my opinion. For the same, one has to think more than what is seen on the screen.

Release date: 20th January 2013
Running time: 85 minutes
Directed by: Jeremy Lovering
Starring: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech

infear

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Captain Phillips

captainphillips (5)

There are only two a few movies which delivers almost in the same manner as the critics say; and we have had two in the gap on one month, which were Rush and Gravity; to that list, here comes Captain Phillips. It is easy to brand a movie as bad and the flick can easily live up-to that bad reputation; but when the critics say a movie is exceptional, there are only a few movies which actually prove them right for the common audience, and Captain Phillips is such a movie. There are so many movies branded as bad by the critics which were actually either good or bad, and there were others which were somehow branded good; but when we talk about this movie along with the other two I mentioned earlier, there would be a uniformity in this branding, and they are exceptional, no matter how we look at them; and who looks at them from which angle and on which day. Welcome to the thirty days of awesomeness from Hollywood, with the exception of Runner Runner – this was a month which started with the first two movies rating 57/200 together, and the last two rated 177/200; it is a strange month indeed!

Our first idea was to leave this movie behind, but that had to change. It was not just the reviews that did it, as it was more about the brilliance of Rush which we had earlier ignored brought to me. It almost completely took away the need to watch a movie which worked on familiar or more interesting background. So this is more of a biopic of Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somalian pirates in the Indian Ocean in 2009; we used to wonder – how is it going to work out? We had already watched a Tamil movie in the form of Maryan which had a hostage situation involving armed men from Sudan. Even as it turned out to be good, there were lot of things lacking in there as it scored just with the visuals, music and the right cast. It had stuck to the love theme in quite an unrealistic manner, and there it lost the footing a bit. Here we have another situation, and here we have Tom Hanks, along with the most realistic portrayal which is more focused on one thing rather than too many unnecessary exaggerated things which were praised to the heavens in the form of love and a lot like the same.

Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is the captain of MV Maersk Alabama in its journey from Oman to Kenya. There is the high chance of being attacked by pirates of Somalia, and they take enough precautions, even keeping two groups of pirates away as they use deception of an airstrike arriving and also the waves of the ship itself to keep the groups away. The first group gets frightened and the second gets the boat’s engine out of order. One of the two groups of pirates return on the next day led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) in a faster boat, carrying a quickly prepared ladder. In spite of the valiant efforts of the crew with pumps and waves, they get on board with the rusty ladder, after taking advantage of a faulty pump, capturing the captain and two others while the rest of the crew keeps themselves safe in the ship’s engine room. Muse hopes to keep the ship for asking for insurance money from the shipping company, and in case of a failure he has to answer to his bosses. About fourty or fourty five minutes into the movie, the ship has already been captured by the pirates.

As the crew capture the pirate leader, they are able to get the pirates into the ship’s lifeboat, but they manage to take Phillips with them as they go into the water in hope for getting some ransom money for the captain. The second half of the movie is about the life in that one orange boat and the efforts of the navy to get the captain back. The ship keeps following the lifeboat until the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge arrives, followed by two other ships of combat. The pirates also lose contact with their mother boat and decides to go all the way to Somalia which the U.S. Navy ships can’t allow. As the pirates know that they have come too far to quit right now, the navy is ordered not to let them get to the land at any cost. Phillips’ efforts to reason with the pirates is in vain and so is his effort to swim away from them to one of the ships. They ask for money in millions for which the navy asks for time. Meanwhile, the SEAL shooters are trying to get shots to take down the pirates. The hostage situation gets worse as the pirates gets impatient and restless. The question would be about how they take care of the situation keeping the hostage alive and how the captain himself manages to keep him alive and in his senses.

As you might have already guessed, this is the movie of Tom Hanks. He depicts his character with such sincerity which is rarely seen on screen. I have known him for Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Appollo 13, Catch Me If You Can, Saving Private Ryan and The Terminal, but from now on-wards I shall know him first for this movie than any other. Yes, there are many other movies of class, but this is the one for now, to be discussed a lot and to be thought about a lot along with all that admiration which it gained with the claps in the theatre, even as it was not that loud as what Rush has managed even with a lesser audience. Tom Hanks is Richard Phillips, a man in charge of a ship and the captain who is taken as a hostage in a lifeboat, beaten up and almost killed by the pirates. There is no doubt left in the mind of the viewers about that. He lives through that experience rather than act with the tide. The portrayal of the leading character is worth the applause as he is a common man, an average person who does nothing heroic to be exact, just what is necessary and what was indeed the right thing. He doesn’t create a spectacle, but lives through that perfectly.

Even as we would never come to know the exact events of the Maersk Alabama hijacking and the Richard Phillips hostage crisis of 2009, the film’s version shall stand as the version that we know. It might not be perfect or close enough that perfection which one can imagine while watching such a movie inspired by true events. The movie has to be applauded for how much it has kept close to a realistic depiction of a ship hijacking and a hostage crisis though, without any exaggeration or stuff for the fans. In spite of the same, the movie is still thrilling, something I had my doubts about. The movie does have the moments of slowing down and repetitions, which can’t be denied, but those moments are very less. The climax scene is really good, and Tom Hanks as well as the actors who played the pirates go through that tense situation very well. The movie does put a strong value on the lives of one human, and places it as the central point. One would be left to wonder how many governments of the world would value the lives of their citizens this much. By the end, the humanity shall turn out victorious as most us already know from what we read from the internet.

Taking the action back from the thrilling climax, I would say that the moments in the ship was the best. What came between the time from the arrival of the SEALs and the negotiation with the pirate leader was a bit of slow and slightly dragging – still not something worth putting the blame on. Here we also have the realistic depiction of piracy, and it is a good reminder to those pirate loving fans of Pirates of the Carribean fans. There is no Captain Jack Sparrow when talking about it, and its time one stops heavily romanticizing vampires, werewolves and pirates just because some books or movies had such depictions. But the movie doesn’t fail to bring out how much of a situation the pirates are caught within, between their bosses and the risk of being murdered or caught by the armed forces. Piracy might remain a cause of concern for a long time, and this movie takes a realistic look into it, asserting the need to get rid of it. One last word would be about Barkhad Abdi who played the pirate leader Abduwali Muse – a great effort indeed; smart, intense and still funny at times; saying that he loves America and wants to live there for the rest of his life. This one is surely a strong contender for some Academy awards next year – along with Gravity and Rush.

Release date: 11th October 2013
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, David Warshofsky, Corey Johnson, Chris Mulkey, Yul Vazquez, Max Martini, Omar Berdouni, Mohamed Ali, Issak Farah Samatar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

World War Z

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Even in the world dominated more by vampires as the popular fantasy creature, there is no lack of support for the zombies, even in India as shown in Go Goa Gone. Otherwise, the Resident Evil series always had the complete control over that zombie world which came up as the result of an infection. The animated corpses which were something more than just a mindless vampire or human, has had more success with the stories of science rather than magic, with virus infection rather than being resurrected by necromancy or being summoned from another world by a sorcerer or a witch. Even then, they would remain the most important weapon for the battle in the box-office, as vampires have had too much run on the big screen. I would still miss I Am Legend for the kind of vampire mix which was given to the zombies, a combination of intellect which has been completely destroyed by Twilight. There are many people whom I can recommend to be zombies without being dead and coming back, but I choose to remain silent now due to the respect which I pay towards them – not those people, but the real zombies of the world. Still, I can’t hesitate to say that the hunger of the human flesh or the human brain should exist with both of them. I would thank Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein more than anything else on this occasion, and move forward.

A global pandemic in the form of a zombie outbreak has become so interesting these days that even if someone prepares for it as if the end of the world is near, there is no need to be surprised. A zombie apocalypse is something which needs its own glorification, as it is already happening with some of the mindless hypocrites who are slave to logic. But here in this Brad Pitt starrer, we have the true, respectable undead zombies, based on the 2006 novel with the same name by Max Brooks. Even as seeing Brad Pitt among the list of producers reminded me of what happened with Will Smith’s After Earth which shattered those hopes made of glass into so many pieces that it was not easy mend, there was a certain belief about this one. In that case, it would have been surprising that this movie made it to the theatres here, as there was a great chance for this one to miss the multiplexes belonging to this part of the world. The presence of Man of Steel and its reluctance to move out of the theatres might be a major blow to this one as well as to Monsters University which has been restricted to a single show if present. None of these can give even a small fight to Superman and his impact on this part of the world, something which is rooted in the childhood memories – the presence of Now You See Me and Fast & Furious 6 shouldn’t really hurt this one though.

After Tom Cruise and Will Smith jumped into the world that was post-apocalyptic Earth in the same year, with the former been a vampire in Interview with the Vampire and the latter been a zombie-vampire killer in I am Legend, Brad Pitt already had the vampire experience as Louis de Pointe du Lac, the complete vampire despite of the human conscience and existential questions of life and death, good and evil, God and Satan, heaven and hell. This time, he is not part of the attacking gang, but still raises his own questions about humanity in not that effective manner. Anne Rice’s works had its own versions of zombies, even as they were also called vampires, like the ones the leading characters encounter in Eastern Europe, with no mind of its own, attacking everything that moves, driven by its own need to feed; the only characteristic that can define them. One has to wonder what differentiates a zombie from the human beings without civilization in a world which has quite a shortage of resources. Won’t each and everyone act the same as a zombie in such a situation, in the absence of the rules and regulations of the society and the restrictions of sin imposed by the religion? That should identify us more with the term zombie rather than the vampire, knowing our need for society and religion to keep us from becoming zombies or even worse.

It must be clear from the title by now that the “Z” stands for Zombies. There is no doubt about the fact that most of the people who came to the theatre were not expecting the same, thanks to the posters which gave no clue about such a thing. Another thing is that there is no scope for 3D, as those glasses give you almost nothing other than some words which would seem to project off the screen in the beginning of the movie. There are some good CGI moments for sure, and the special effects are limited; not a very good thing for a movie of this genre. There is a good chance that most of the comon zombie fans might choose to say a no to this one. It is the story of former UN employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family who are saved from a group of zombies who turn all who they bite into their kind, and after being taken to a US Navy ship in the middle of the sea, he is forced to invetigate into the matter using the special skills he achieved through his missions, so that the origins of the virus could be found out and the pandemic could be stopped. Not without reluctance, but still agreeing for the sake of his family’s staying on the ship rather than in a refugee camp on the land surrounded by zombies, Gerry joins the team of experts on a plane for a military base in South Korea from where some of this is supposed to have started in the first place.

Here is the paragraph which might give you the spoiler – and the story till the end. From there the journey is to Jerusalem, as the nation of Israel seems to have had a prior knowledge about a possible zombie infection, as they did already bring up some walls. But he gets nothing useful from there, and Jerusalem is also attacked, as the zombies climb over the wall, as they form a ladder by piling on the top of one another. As the ultimate chaos follows, he manages to escape from there by boarding a Belarus Airlines flight with his escort soldier, a journey which is cut short when one of the zombies get to bite an airhostess from where hell breaks loose, and Gerry manages to throw a grenade which divides the plane into two and leads to a crash from which the two survive. They finally reach a World Health Organization research facility and assists them in finding a cure, and the find out that the virus needs people who are healthy, and those ill and therefore unsuitable as hosts for viral reproduction are not bitten, and are rather more invisible than anything else. This camouflage helps them to fight zombies, and that should save the day for the world, but the war would continue, as it might seem to the audience. There might be a question though, about this being all that we have been waiting for.

The huge pile-up of cars and the zombie attack in the beginning as well as the Jerusalem zombie attack forms the highlights of the movie. But it remains without enough moments when these two sequences are removed. The attack on the plane is the only other thing worth mentioning. Brad Pitt has done a great job to add to it. He plays an effective character, and without him, this movie would have surely collapsed. The zombies are fine, with their own pros and cons added in this one. But this movie remains slow, and without a good enough reason other than Brad Pitt to attract the viewers. All the awesomeness which was expected to follow after the initial zombie attack never comes, and as it doesn’t attempt to do anything extraordinary, the expectations are scattered and the 3D glasses are wasted. The catchy dialogues might be about the mother nature being a serial killer and how she disguises her strengths and weaknesses. The noises that the zombies make are somewhat attractive too. I would still prefer the zombies and special effects of Resident Evil, and it is a little depressing that this one lacks action, but the advantage is that this one is closer to reality and there is absolutely no exaggeration at any point of time.

The movie is just a little scary and a little thrilling. It might be the slowest zombie movie of the recent times and the most realistic of them all – it is an exaggeration, as these hardly get close enough to reality to be identified with. This world war of the zombies never tries to expand its entertainment elements beyond what is ordinary. It could have been its achievement, but for now, it is clearly working against it. Zombies and vampires have been too commericalized these days, and when the entertainment value is somewhat drained from it, there is only a little to gain. If this was about the wars from A to Z, and this one is the final one of them, there could have been a slightly better chance. World War Z does its job and there is no denying it. With Brad Pitt’s never ceasing charm and acting, and the realistic portrayal of a supernatural world stained with scientific curiosities, this one can go the distance, and stay there until something bigger comes its way and take over. One should choose to watch this one for the one leading actor who carries the movie on his shoulders, and a zombie world which takes a different stance. It is a war which this movie got to face now, as a certain amount of uncertainty is ready to pounce over it.

Release date: 21st June 2013
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, Daniella Kertesz, David Morse

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.