June

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

School Bus

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know that I am completely against the idea of school bus?

Vampire Bat :: Because school bus is more of a capitalist idea meant for the schools of the rich, and the normal way is for the kids to go home by public transport and walk through the rest of the distance?

Vampire Owl :: No, it is because centuries ago, when I was a little toothless kid, buses were not invented.

Vampire Bat :: I thought you were going to refer to the nostalgia of walking through the greenery and throwing stones at the mangoes which are about to fall.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, that is also there, but I am more concerned about what I didn’t have in the past.

Vampire Bat :: Well, this movie has Rosshan Andrrews and Bobby-Sanjay teaming up again after How Old Are You? and Mumbai Police. The latter had their interesting Nirnaayakam getting lost in the Premam effect – it didn’t just hurt Ivide, you know.

Vampire Owl :: That makes this school bus better than the usual ones, I believe.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and a message is certain from this one from the looks of it.

Vampire Owl :: As the humans rarely make use of the messages from movies except for some show-off, lets make better use of them ourselves.

Vampire Bat :: Lets go for the movie then.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Joseph (Jayasurya) and Aparna (Aparna Gopinath) lead a normal family life with their children, even both happen to have their own struggles. They are not that much comfortable with the ego that each of them possesses, and there is very less time for them to spend with their children. While Joseph is rather too strict with the children, while Aparna has even lesser time – both has a lot of time for their work though. There is also a legal battle going on between Joseph and his brother over three cents of land, and that takes away the rest of the time. Due to the same reasons, their kids, Ajoy Joseph (Aakash Muraleedheeran) and Angelina Joseph (Angelina Rosshan) gets no attention except for the wrong reasons. Ajoy only gets into more and more trouble at school, and his class teacher as well as the principal are fed up with his tendency to attract all the problems to himself.

So what happens next? :: One day, Ajoy creates that kind of a problem at the school which might not end at the school. This clearly turns the whole department and the parents of other children against him. With everyone screaming for punishment, he bunks classes, and when that is also found out, runs away from all his troubles. It is the soft-spoken and intelligent police officer, the new entrant into the force, Inspector Gopakumar (Kunchako Boban) who is in charge of finding the missing child, with the assistance of Mohan (Nandu). But the investigation only leads them to a forest – how does everything point to that one place where there is no chance of a child in the city reaching? Can the police officers get Ajoy back home? How will things go as the parents seem to have realized that they haven’t been the father and mother whom they should have been?

The defence of School Bus :: The messages are abundant in this movie, for the parents, married couples, children, teachers and that list goes on, as most people are going to take something or the other from here. I would always choose a movie which leaves on with something to think about, over the rest of the flicks. This is actually a shorter movie, extending only for less than two hours, which makes sure that the momentum stays on throughout its run. The visuals are good whether in the forest or the city, and the movie has some funny moments involving the kids to provide the needed light feeling. There is a certain reflection of incidents that might have happened in our lives as well as the lives of people whom we know. It is that reflection that we hope not to happen, and what we wish to deny happening during our busy lifestyles, but there are things which will happen considering how much less time we have for the people we love. Sometimes you think that this is going to go the Malooty way, but it doesn’t.

The claws of flaw :: School Bus is a movie which could have been a lot better, especially with the last few moments; its ending could have left one with a clearer message rather than attempting to go different in a strange way. It has enough moments which could have actually been presented in another way. The predictability also shows its head on too many occasions – it is not really something that we would expect from a thriller that attempts to keep the messages alive at the same time. As the moments featuring the kids stand out, a better option here would have been to keep them there for most of the time, or otherwise give more importance to the older characters – but neither of these happens here. By the time Kunchako Boban enters the story, too much of the interesting moments in the movie has passed. Clearer message, better adult characters, less predictability and a much better ending – these could have improved this flick!

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya and Aparna Gopinath does a fine job, but as things doesn’t go around their characters, there is not that much to be seen except for a few emotional moments in the second half. Kunchako Boban also makes his appearance only in the second half and does his job as expected, in his very first police role of the career – there is not that much here to do big though. In the end, it is the kids who get all the attention, and it is them who has more of the screen presence. Aakash Muraleedharan who plays the main character here has done his job well. The director, Rosshan Andrews’ daughter Angelina has made her debut in Malayalam cinema with this movie, and she has done a good job – there are some funny moments for her with those cute grins and the fake fainting, with special mention for the question about the toys. Sudheer Karamana and Nandu have some interesting moments in the second half, but that’s all they would get from this particular movie.

How it finishes :: The combination of Bobby-Sanjay and Rosshan Andrrews has had quite a good amount of success and appreciation except for the dismal thing which was Casanovva. Despite the less hype surrounding it, School Bus is another interesting flick with a fine message to go with it, even though it could have been a lot better; the scope was so much there. The messages include the requirement of the love and care for the kids, the need to keep one’s ego away in relationships, and the significance of sibling love. How many parents look forward to knowing what the children wish for? When both are working and has not time, what happens to the children? As history repeats itself, they and the relatives just keep pushing for the next generation to do only what they want. The final message is also to return to nature, and the true world remains there – well, that is one special thing for the World Environment Day.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Jayasurya, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Gopinath, Aakash Muraleedharan, Angelina Rosshan, Sudheer Karamana, Nandu

schoolbus

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam

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What is it about? :: Sudhi (Jayasurya) works as the manager at one of the branches of Karur Vysya Bank at Bangalore. One day, after helping a group of cinema artists to shoot inside his branch, he gets a ride to his hometown with Mukesh (Mukesh), thanks to his old friend Greygon Das (Aju Varghese) who is in the film field. Sudhi talks to him about his life and the interesting incidents related to it. He is a person who has always had a terrible stammering problem. It had alienated him and affected his confidence ever since he was a child. Even when he reaches his youth, he remains a troubled man due to the same. The same disability leads to his engagement being called off, and the people of the village make fun of him even more. But as time progresses, he will manage to rise above his problems and understand that he is better than his troubles.

The defence of Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam :: If you loved Punyalan Agarbathis, you will surely love this one too; I would consider this one above that flick because our movie here finishes very nicely in a much better way. The feel-good factor is much stronger here because this is more of the common man’s movie. There will be moments when you will feel that this is the story of you or someone you know in a different way. The message is also very clear here, and it will connect with the common man. The fact that the movie is short helps the cause; there is no drag here either. The second half is also better than the first, the movie only improving as it progresses. The emotional side is working all the time and gets stronger in the latter parts. The humour is good when it is present. The songs are okay. It is simple, cute and the right choice for the families.

Claws of flaw :: There is no special ingredient in Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Well, Kung Fu Panda knew that there was no secret ingredient, and this movie also works without the same. There is nothing special with the story as the flick thrives on simplicity and reflecting the common man’s life. More humour could have also been added here too, and more material in the first half. People can also complain about the troubles of the man and his setting to be better shown in another way, asking for more fun or more emotions, but this one takes the middle path. The Punyalan Agarbathis feeling is also there even as this one overtakes that movie in content and presentation. Like what a few people who said about Mili, if you consider the goodness and inspirational stuff as cliche, this won’t be the movie for you; but I believe that they can be infinitely disparate each and every time.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya brings a stunning performance here proving his versatility once again. This movie is all about his character and he makes it all about him. The success of this movie will undoubtedly be his success as he thrives, and lives as the protagonist. Whichever be the movie, he has always been there with some exceptional performance – you can do a rewind into his previous movies and clarify the same. With three stages of the protagonist’s life being shown on screen, the man comes in three appearances, clean shaved, with a moustache and with the beard. Like in Premam, this also shows the man in different appearances as the character’s attitude towards others as well as life as a whole changes. This will be his second movie to run with positive opinions at the same time, along with Amar Akbar Anthony.

Further performers of the soul :: You can note that the director Ranjith Sankar has a cameo role in this one. The two heroines in this movie are not that familiar for the Malayalam audience even though only one is the new face. Swathi plays the protagonist’s fiancee whom he was supposed to marry, and the one person to whom he feels really close. If you watch Comedy Super Nite on Flowers channel, you might have noticed her as she was there in one of the episodes. She makes a nice debut as she entered the industry, and there is a certain amount of cuteness right there. The other heroine, Shivada has more to do, and she also has the more inspirational stuff as the speech therapist. She also comes up with a fine performance as the difference maker. Aju Varghese contributes well to the comic side, and Mukesh brings more laughs. Mukesh as Mukesh was actually a very nice move!

Soul exploration :: Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam inspires you, but it doesn’t ask you to become someone else. The soul of this movie asks you to listen to your own heart and soul rather than the others and society who bring a label for you. The protagonist himself says that everyone is not supposed to become Sachin Tendulkar or Aamir Khan. It is all about us being ourselves, not doing comparisons with others. The movie tells us to be just us, but always to be the best of us, as not to have tried is a terrible thing. If we are not ready to be us, with all the characteristics that belong to us, then what is our significance as individuals? As separate individuals facing different situations, having varying abilities, it is all about making the best use of the talents. This movie is also supposed to be inspired on the real life story of a person. You were inspired by Rani Padmini a few days earlier, and now here is more.

How it finishes :: Don’t expect something huge with a big dose of tings, but as the simple and powerful movie of the weekend, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam will provide you with the motivation that is not restricted in any way. It is a path for you to travel in discovering your individuality, and at the same time, realize that everyone is awesome, no matter what disability or trouble is present. Coming from the director who started with Passenger and gave us some really inspiring movies, this one also leaves a mark, and Ranjith Sankar has left the audience with some happiness while touching the emotional side. If you leave the theatre with some positive energy inside, it is the success of the team which brought you Punyalan Agarbathis once again. Once again, you are reminded of what you can do, and why you are also someone who can achieve. You look for goodness and inspiration; you find Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam.

Release date: 20th November 2015
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Swathi Narayanan, Shivada Nair, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Sunil Sukhada, TG Ravi, KPAC Lalitha, Ranjith Sankar, Muthumani, Sarath Das, Irshad

SuSuSudhiVathmeekam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Apothecary

apothecary (4)

Vampire Owl :: My owlification procedure didn’t work yesterday.

Vampire Bat :: Why? You fell into one of those holes which used to be a part of what used to be our roads?

Vampire Owl :: That was last week. This time, I was trying to pronounce the name of this movie so that I can say that correctly at the ticket counter.

Vampire Bat :: The movie name is one of its kind. I don’t think you will need to pronounce it. They will just give you the tickets.

Vampire Owl :: It is okay then. I can’t pronounce it yet. Still working on it.

Vampire Bat :: Never mind. I call it Eco-Pathiri.

Vampire Owl :: That reminds me, I need pathiri.

Vampire Bat :: You need a blood shake.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, that too. Then I will pronounce it correctly.

Vampire Bat :: May that happen in this century.

[Goes to the ticket counter].

What is it about? :: The movie has the protagonist Dr. Vijay Nambiyar (Suresh Gopi) leading a wonderful life as a neurosurgeon and one of the most respected employees of Apothecary Hospital – a super speciality hospital intended for the high class people which charges an incredibly heavy price for the service that it provides. He is known to be someone who is able to have the grace of God in healing people, and has saved the lives of many people who had lost hope. He is married to Nalini Nambiyar (Abhirami), a gynaecologist working at the same hospital and with two kids. Subi Joseph (Jayasurya) is one of the poor and illiterate patients admitted to the hospital, and along with a few others, he is also a contendor for being a guinea pig for illegal drug tests which are going on in the hospital. Dr. Vijay is also forced to agree to the management’s demands for illegal drug tests on patients, but as he himself is admitted in the same hospital after an accident, things change. There will be a lot happening in one man’s mind – no doubt.

The defence of Apothecary :: Along with the wonderful performances from the cast, this movie can also boast about a straight-forward approach in its path. It doesn’t add any masala in its realistic world and keeps things as it should be. As Kung-fu Panda already found out with the dragon scroll, there is no secret ingrediant in this movie, and it is simple noodles. Every extra masala that you add to the movie noodles won’t always give the result that it is expected to give, and there are times when it has to stay real, and even in the imaginations, the movie achieves the same. Its social relevant theme and the message that it carries with pride are among the things that its makers can be proud about. It leaves the audience with thoughts far above what meets the eye, and this stimulation of the intellect should be made mandatory in the movies which end up crossing the limits of buffoonery and they should be chained to the pillar of sense at some point. The whole thing might have been a risk, but it is good to see that the director has chosen this theme and has given out the right message. It might not have been easy, but it is done. The end dialogues are excellent, even when preachy.

The claws of flaw :: The movie drags, and it does so for quite a long time. The movie can be considered too long for its theme and it stretches itself with repetitions which could have been something else. For someone who gave us Melvilasom on his directorial debut, this is a letdown. That movie was something special, one of the best ever made in the history of Malayalam movie industry, and measuring from that perspective, this movie has gone down. Such a comparison was expected as there was the line “from the director of Melvilasom” on the poster, and even as it can be avoided, the hopes remain partially crushed. Then there is that sentimental background music which runs through the movie and keeps coming out of nowhere to make us irritated. It should have been made shorter and to be capable of connecting better with the audience. There had to be a little more clarity on a few things related to the hallucinations and thoughts of our protagonist. There was to be some better editing too. The first part of the second half seems to drag the most, and almost makes this just an art movie.

Performers of the soul :: Suresh Gopi plays the protagonist and easily steals the show in a character that seemed to work for him like a beautiful dream sponsored by a genie. His moments of emotions as well as the preachy side are very much nicely handled. Jayasurya is also there giving life to a character which is simple and at the same time touching for the audience. Subi Joseph is a representative of the common man who comes to the universe of the elite, and it is well done. Asif Ali has a lesser job to do, but he finishes that well. Meera Nandan’s role is also small, but she is very good as Daisy, and the sadness that she displays is so effective for everyone who watches her on the screen. Abhirami has so less to do, as most of the time, she remains crying, but that is still not that much of a lesser job to do. The supporting cast is mostly okay even as there seemed to be some trouble with it as the characters of the doctors were a little too much on the same side which could have been avoided to add some neutrality. In total, it is good to be part of this movie.

Soul exploration :: Here is a special movie for the viewers. Unlike the usual expectation, this is not a medical thriller, but more of a medical drama. It is meant to make people think and there is no doubt about its success in the same. The whole movie is set inside a hospital and a lot of it inside the ICU, like the director’s last movie was completely shot inside a courtroom. It has been all about one building till now. As the earlier movie had talked about the prejudice that was there among the equals, this one talks about the patients’ existence as commodities as hospitals turn into big business ventures looking just for profit. That one had absolutely no drag though. But here, the relevance of the topic is much higher, as it is something of contemporary nature a lot more than anything else. It is just the same as educational institutions becoming places for business – there are always the hospitals. There are basically two types of commodities in our world – the student and the patient, both being good for business, and to be used as a medium to extract money from their loved ones.

How it finishes :: The movie is incapable of surviving in the theatre of much time, and it was evident from the expressions of the common people who were watching it. Surprisingly, they will like fake movies like Bangalore Days, 1983 and Neelakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi is rather a surprise for me though. After the box-office reports come, lets hope that truth won’t have to take that much of a fall, but the sad and depressing fact is that it will. There is no hope for movies like Apothecary in our theatres. It is not because of any other reason – it is because of the attitude of our own audience who are looking for just stupid fun, not even some intelligent entertainment. People ask for entertainment and they are provided the same, most of the time in a very low quality, but surprisingly, people are more than happy with the same. They come and see their favourite stars, sons of the stars or any relative of their favourite superstar on the screen and watch all the nonsense and clap like there is no tomorrow. The hope is just not there for the meaningful movies.

Release date: 7th August 2014
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Madhav Ramadasan
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Jayasurya, Abhirami, Asif Ali, Meera Nandan, Thampy Antony, Indrans, Kavitha Nair, Neeraj Madhav, Seema G. Nair

apothecaryy copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Stoker

stokerr

The legend of Stoker :: The first idea image that comes to one’s mind with the name “Stoker” is that of a vampire, if not exactly that of the primary antagonist of a 1897 Gothic horror novel. Thanks to Bram Stoker, the legend of Dracula has been something that continues to be synonymous with vampirism itself. But, there is nothing directly related to Bram Stoker here, and lets not make any guesses about it being something about the life of the creator of the world’s most well-known vampire (one of the few English writers whose name I have known since childhood). Stoker gives you no blood sucker, and even when there are murders, there is no such behaviour of not wasting the blood. The Vampire Bat has been historically against wastage of blood, and is certain to have been sad about his own idea about this movie being wrong, but that feeling never stood strong till the end of the movie. Stoker was never supposed to be about vampires, and it was not meant to be the usual horror movie; it had to be different.

What is it about? :: India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is not going through a good period of time after her father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) dies in a car accident. Her mentally unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) and India doesn’t seem to get along well. Richard’s brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to the scene at that time, and keeps talking about his life which was mostly spent traveling all around the world. His stay at the house turns out to be longer than expected, and even as Evelyn likes that, India is mostly indifferent to his presence and on some occasions, rather not happy with his existence. She continues to keep away from him despite the fact that he seems to be trying quite hard to be very friendly with her. But as almost everyone who has an argument with Charlie disappears, India begins to feel that there is more to him than what meets the eye. Later, she even finds one of the dead bodies in the freezer. But she won’t be able to tell that to her mother who seems to have developed some intense feelings for his charms.

The defence of Stoker :: The movie successfully brings that creepy environment into play, with a huge house and its surrounding which seem to have more secrets than any normal person can endure, but that would eventually be proved wrong by the two characters, the introvert niece and her uncle whose existence was never known as his presence is more mysterious than the absence. The association of big houses with horror comes as no surprise, as everybody needs room to store some horrible secrets; the movies in most of the languages has the same, and Stoker has used that very well. There are lots of surprises in store too, especially related to the new member of the family, and the youngest member of the same who always had it in her to bring that shock element for which we are made to wait. Is that all about horror? No, it is mostly about horror and rest is about fantasy which follows horror in such a way that both becomes beautifully intertwined. The visuals are so nicely done so that the strange, creepy atmosphere is never out of our mind, even with nothing vicious being tried.

The claws of flaw :: Stoker can disappoint the usual horror lover depending on what he or she is looking for. It doesn’t have anything supernatural or serial killers who comes out of nowhere to create a pool of blood, even as this one does have enough blood and gruesome murders. There are no weird faces coming out of the dark making strange noises and trying to take advantage of that shocking side. This doesn’t go through that path set by Insidious and Sinister, the former needing no introduction and the latter having the most read horror movie review on my blog even as it was written almost an year after it was released, in the honorary movies list. The movie has that uniqueness which might make some audience disinterested. There is also some part of the movie where it might seem that nothing really happens, but that is not really that usual drag. The movie could have still used a little more of the direct horror, and there it might have lost a few fans too. It is also so much mixed in its genre that it can trouble fans of many genres. The grief and feelings in this movie can be highly subjective for the viewers too.

Performers of the soul :: This one comes from the South Korean director of the much admired Oldboy which was voted as one of the best Asian movies, and also Thirst which seems to have also got a similar reception – so that expectations were going to be high and I would say that this one delivers nicely, at least for me. Matthew Goode’s performance comes as real stunner in this one, as he exhibits both sides of being terrifying as well as charming with so much brilliance. Nicole Kidman also does nice with what might be the best someone can give for such a character. The best part of the movie should be Mia Wasikowska though. I mostly remember her from Alice in Wonderland in which she was so good, and she was the best Jane Eyre that most of us had ever known. Here, she takes that into another level as she is presented with a character who might be one of the strangest girls ever. She plays no Carrie, but even this character is so gifted in many ways along with being disturbed that she keeps us with her even as not completely on her side, and there comes the subjectivity of the viewers into play.

Soul exploration :: This is the first time that I have noticed Mia Wasikowska with black hair, and as that seems to suit her so well, it adds to the soul too. Eighteen year old girl and never really smiling in the movie – now that is more than just interesting for a Vampire Bat’s soul. Caught between her innocence and awareness, India doesn’t become like the others; she chooses to be different. But what is to follow when she decides to follow her instincts rather than her innocence? She is a lot like her uncle, and that is something that is proved again and again in the movie. They both have a lot in common, and India always has that invitation into that dark world which she can resist only with her best attempts. But her world has already shattered, and any resistance that she can produce would rather become an illusion which won’t help her a bit. She has always had the dark side with all its strength, and it is only herself that keeps her back, and there will always be a revelation which can turn the whole world upside down.

How it finishes :: Stoker successfully keeps the audience in the movie and doesn’t throw away its logic, even when it slows down in pace, an achievement which not many horror movies can boast about. You can say that with most of the shots of the movie. Stoker has style and it has substance; to add to it, this is a thriller and horror movie with the elements of drama, not something which is easy to achieve. “Don’t disturb the family” is a nice tagline for the movie too, as we do come to know what happens when even the youngest member of the family is disturbed – not a good sign for anyone planning to do the same. You got to love the way they look in the poster too, especially Mia Wasikowska; Barnabas Collins of Dark Shadows shall approve it with an A+. Watch this one as a horror movie, a thriller, a coming-of-age story, a slasher flick, a tale of revenge and even as a strange romantic tragedy. Stoker might be strange to a number of people belonging to the normal audience category, but it has so much in it which makes it a force to be reckoned with.

Release date: 1st March 2013
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Park Chan-wook
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Phyllis Somerville, Ralph Brown, Judith Godrèche

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Spring Breakers

“I will drink Life to the lees” said the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a lifestyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. In an attempt to maximize pleasure, and keeping the pain and worries away, there is this chaos which is the side-effect of this pleasure-seeking, and Spring Breakers deals with such an effect. The loss of values, traditions and religion in the contemporary world is given a shocking reflection. It is also a satire on all those “finding ourselves” nonsense which has been thrown on us. The modern life might be empty enough without these, but are these not another group of visages of vanity?

The movie begins with a spring break beach party and goes back college attended by four friends, Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brittany (Ashley Benson), and Cotty (Rachel Korine). Candy, Brittany and Cotty despises their normal life at the college and spend their spare time smoking, drinking and partying, while Faith is part of a religious group for the youth in which she seems to be a reluctant participant and finds her world horribly monotonous. When the spring break arrives, the four friends decide to go on their best ever, and enjoy it like never before, but they find themselves terribly short of money. Candy, Brittany and Cotty commit armed robbery at a restaurant and finds enough money to make the trip. Despite of her religious friends warning her about the three friends, Faith decides to accompany the trio in the trip. After reaching Florida, the girls attend wild beach parties and indulge in various unruly activities, and the scene skips to the present when the situation goes and reaches a girls gone wild environment. So much for the shocking mirror of the so called modernity, which is a disturbing world captured in slow-motion.

But after spending a lot of their time in cocaine and alcohol, they are arrested, and taken to the cell and spends two nights in jail, and when all hopes are lost, they are unexpectedly bailed out by Alien (James Franco), a local rapper, a Brittany Spears fan and a gangster who had become very interested in the girls, and calls them “different from the rest”. But as he takes them to one of his usual hangout places, and Faith becomes more and more uncomfortable with his attitude, lifestyle and his friends. Despite his attempts to convince her to stay telling her that he likes her a lot and they would have fun, she decides to leave. But her friends decide to stay despite her begging them to accompany her. They are introduced into Alien’s criminal world full of glamour and money, as they become his partners in crime or soulmates as he would call them, dressed and maked in pink and armed with guns, performing more and more armed robberies not just for the monet, but also for the fun of inflicting the pain and the thrills and advanture associated with it. All these finally leads to Cotty being shot on the arm by a rival gang and returning home as a result of the trauma. But the two girls and Alien decides to stay, continue what they started and seek revenge even as everyone is going back to school, along with taking their relationship to a new level – so the spring break continues.

So, that is how it goes, depicting spring break as an escape from reality, into another world, and two of the girls decides to continue in it, with one leaving when she realizes what is going to happen and the other when she comes to her senses about what is really happening. Then the question would be about reality, and where would one need to escape into. They girls chose the world of drugs, alcohol, sex and violence, rather than something which could have revived them spiritually. From the words of Faith: “It was really great. I think we found ourselves here. We finally got to see some other parts of the world. We saw some beautiful things here. Things we’ll never forget. We got to let loose. God, I can’t believe how many new friends we made. Friends from all over the place. I mean everyone was so sweet here. So warm and friendly. I know we made friends that will last us a lifetime. We met people who are just like us. People the same as us. Everyone was just trying to find themselves. It was way more than just having a good time. We see things different now. More colors, more love, more understanding. God, it’s so nice to get a break from my uni for a little while. I know we have to go back to school, but we’ll always remember this trip. Something so amazing, magical. Something so beautiful. Feels as if the world is perfect. Like it’s never gonna end.”

Consider this and think about the fact that Selena Gomez’ Faith is the only girl out there with some sense left in her. Even she considers that world as “warm and friendly”, the things there as “amazing, magical and beautiful” and people there as “just like us”. Her concept of “colour, love and understanding” were entirely disturbing for someone with a strong religious background. Her desire was change and escape from the monotonous world, and she needed to be awakened. She herself says “I’m starting to think this is the most spiritual place I’ve ever been”; and what she needed was a spiritual awakening, not a physical one. Despite of knowing that the three girls stole the money for the vacation, she still decides to stay, and needed a bigger jolt of being arrested and taken to the gangster world so as to come to know that she was wrong all the time, and it was not the world which she wished for. Selena’s portrayal of the comparatively good girl has been a sweet one. Right from the beginning, when she gets into the bikini with her friends, it seems clear that she is the misfit with her body as well as the expressions, but her role is that of substance, and her character does something other than being crazy and wild, which is to think. But the question would remain if she needed this much of a backlash to get away from her so called friends?

Cotty (Rachel Korine) is the next person to come into her senses and she required to be shot on the arm for the same. She would seem like the sexually charged person of the gang, as the sole female wet, wearing nothing but her panty and surrounded by males in a room throughout the spring break, while her friends spend their time together. But after getting shot, she shows that everything was just a mask of being the strong, smart and sexy lady to be part of the gang. But Brittany (Ashley Benson) and Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) takes the same to the next level, beginning a sexual relationship with Alien (James Franco) as well as taking the violence to another stage. Vanessa Hudgens seems to have shed her cute Disney image completely with this one, and Ashley Benson seems to rule the movie as the most gorgeous of the gang as well as the most beautiful. The final two form the best of the bad girls, with no remorse about anything they have done, and still hanging onto their idea, of pretending that it is a video game or a movie. James Franco is big revolution, and as the rapping hunk who takes the girls under his wing, he looks so different in his looks, his way of talking and his style that nobody might recognize him if not told. He is the Mephistopheles of this morality tale, and even as Faith lives upto her name and suvives the temptation, and Cotty repents as he realizes the horror, the two remaining ones – the “soulmates” are damned with their soul. In this age when tradition has disappeared, and religion takes the exit, such things tend to be stronger than ever.

Well, this movie might look like just a random party show, but what does this tale come up with? It is a morality tale covered in bikinis, as it gives us a horrifying look into the present day culture which has gone to that path which is nothing less than the worst of all hedonism. It is a twisted allegory towards contemporary culture. It is a take on the contemporary world of loose morals and the absence of faith which they lost with the return of Faith, and remorse which they lose with the return of Cotty. There is a Don Juan and there is a Doctor Faustus in all humans beyond the ability for denial, but there is a limit to how far that takes one, and as long as Spring Breakers are concerned, they have taken it to the limits, from the monotonous life to seeking change, they have taken the forbidden path, but still, they are not judged. The new generation has been lost, as it would say, or the most of it. The inherent evil in man has taken control more powerfully. This one can’t work as a morality tale though, as there is a lot of strong outer covering. But what it can do is that it can shock the audience into taking a look into the contemporary world of late night parties, drugs and booze which has taken over the teenage girls, and its raw reflection is Spring Breakers. This shock has been used in a simple manner in Papilio Buddha, the Malayalam movie, but in Spring Breakers, they use it in an exaggerated, twisted manner, but the result is that they surely shock the audience into understanding the terror that is modern culture, with sadness and depression. They could have done without the repeated uncomfortable images, but this is still a different movie using a different style.

Release date: 22nd March 2013
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco, Gucci Mane

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.