Sweet and Sour

Vampire Owl: I see that they are now exploring two shades of life.

Vampire Bat: Life has millions of shades as of now, towards infinity.

Vampire Owl: There are not many shades for the undead.

Vampire Bat: We have stayed in the grey, not light or dark, not sweet and sour area.

Vampire Owl: Well, humans do consider us to be very much evil.

Vampire Bat: You have never really cared for their opinions.

Vampire Owl: If they are going to cross over to our realm, we will have to care.

Vampire Bat: Nobody can come through the portal without identification. They shall meet their doom even if they manage to do so.

Vampire Owl: Well, you cannot be sure about humans and evil – both always find a way to spread the terror.

Vampire Bat: Evil shall spread, but random humans crossing the portal are the least of our worries. An army of the dead led by the lich queen should worry us more. It would give even Uncle Dracula a jolt.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jang-Hyuk (Lee Woo-je) is hospitalized due to Hepatitis B, and his own relatives as well as parents keep away from him. They keep their masks and glvoes at all times and makes him very uncomfortable. A nurse Da-eun (Chae Soo-bin) ignores the advice of others and takes good care of him. Soon, they become close, and spends some time time together after he saves her from being caught for smoking. She is annoyed that she has to work all the time, and often eats with him or falls asleep on his bed. He helps her to take a nap in his space while setting a timer. Jang-Hyuk is unhappy that he has to be in bed at a time right after he got a permanent job, but the presence of Da-eun makes him feel better. Even though he feels that she the two are really close, the time for his discharge is almost there, and Da-eun seems to be getting distant from him. On the day on which he leaves, his favourite nurse is nowhere to be found, and his friends and family returns to him as he is now cured. His friends also tells him that people like him won’t be able to get beautiful girls like her as girlfriends.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He goes back to the hospital and find the first part of her number, and calls a good number of phone numbers until he finally finds that it is her on the other side. She invites him to come to her home, and he stays with her for the night – he spends the night repairing the broken lamps and preparing breakfast. The two seem to be attracted to each other, and after they go on a trip to Jeju Island together. He decides that he would lose weight and in that way, they can wear similar clothing and look cuter together. A slim Jang-Hyuk (Jang Ki-yong) comes into the picture soon. As he has been a hard working engineer, he is intimated by his superior that he will be sent to a big firm in Seoul where he will have some grand opportunities with chances to earn more. This means that he will have to travel from Incheon to Seoul so that the couple can still be together. But when he reaches there, he discovers that there is another candidate for the permanent post, and he would not be assured about holding the position because she is tough competition.

And how does life go on with the new changes :: The other candidate for the permanent post, Bo-yeong (Krystal Jung), seems to be always trying to make him look worse than her. But when Bo-yeong comes up with a new bridge design, Jang-Hyuk comes up with a critical flaw in the design. She is forced to sort it out with him. Initially, he is happy about her not able to solve the problem, and thus not able to go home. Soon enough, he takes pity on her, and helps her in solving the problem – the two begin to have a bond, and with their success, gets more projects to work together. The relationship between Jang-Hyuk and Da-eun seems to be more strained though, as both of them have to work late, and traveling all the way between the two cities in the heavy traffic is even more strained. He arrives late, and even though he does not come home every day anymore, shows less interested in Da-eun. He even refuses to do the small things at home. Soon, it turns out that Da-eun is pregnant, and he wishes to spend more time with her, but it also seems near impossible. Then it seems that he has feelings for Bo-yeong. Life becomes more complicated for all of them.

The defence of Sweet and Sour :: Chae Soo-bin raises the level of this movie with her performance, and it can be seen that she is always one step ahead – it becomes clear by the end of the film. The cuteness factor also serves well towards the performance, and the initial moments at the hospital are so good. Krystal Jung and Jang Ki-yong plays the other two main characters, and their work also contributes well here – the combination scenes at the office are very much interesting; there is some humour related to that too. I am seeing all these three main performers in any movie for the first time. Lee Woo-je, despite lesser screen space, adds some humour to the movie early too, along with a feel-good factor – the early incidents featuring him are very relevant to how the movie ends. The movie is more drama and less romance, and it is evident after half an hour into the proceedings itself. It has to be best appreciated for how it brings the twist in the end, how it brings everything together to have a feel-good even within break-up – a little bit of tampering with the narrative helps it to achieve the same with efficiency.

Positives and negatives :: The movie nicely move away from the cliché which would have been expected with this movie. As things come around, the audience is reminded of the situations when work and family are not easy to manage together. With the stress that comes as the result of work, and the desire to reach newer heights as part of the job, the relationships are very much destroyed with ease as shown here. The endless work and no appreciation is no stranger to any of us even in India – as it has been evident for years, the situation of nurses never got to be any better, despite the service that they have provided during the corona virus pandemic and beyond. The movie keeps reminding us about the every day problems which become part of relationships. The physical exhaustion as part of a competitive world is something that would feel real for almost everyone; unless you are a politician who can get whatever is needed with least work. The movie should have still focused on the romance as much as the drama. There are also moments when the film seems to repeat things, and does a little extra when not needed. People who missed the first few minutes will also fail to catch up with the finish.

How it finishes :: Sweet and Sour is the romantic drama with a twist that makes us feel that it is more than just the usual drama of life – yet, it is as close to reality as it can be. The last fifteen minutes or so becomes the big finish that elevates the movie. It serves as a reminder to what can happen when more importance is given to things other than relationships. Yet, in a world which seeks success in work for the definition of an ideal person, especially men, you just cannot stop working as if your life depends on it. You will never stop thinking about how the world has transformed, and about the difficulties to battle the competition, and still be available to do anything other than work. It is the curse that has come across the profit-seeking world, which never stops asking for more; profits matter more than lives, and there are not many things that can substitute money in a world which favors nothing over a huge bank balance. The idea that simple romantic drama can bring something different makes us think a lot about the possibilities that we can have even in a realistic world. The reality of romance strikes hard.

Release date: 4th July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Lee Gye-byeok
Starring: Jang Ki-yong, Chae Soo-bin, Krystal Jung, Lee Woo-je, Choi Hwan-yi, Shin Joon-hang, Park Chul-min, Yeo Min-joo, Park Ji-hoon, Yoon Byung-hee, Lee Geung-young, Yoo Sun, Choi-hyeong, Kim Mi-hye, Ahn Gil-kang, Kim Mi-kyung

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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Nothing Serious

Vampire Owl: Vampires do take everything seriously.

Vampire Bat: This is about humans not taking relationships seriously.

Vampire Owl: Well, for us, even the dirt in the graves are serious matter.

Vampire Bat: You are forgetting the dirt in the coffin.

Vampire Owl: Well, humans should at least take the planet seriously.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that they are all prepared to migrate to the next.

Vampire Owl: What? I hope they don’t choose our realm.

Vampire Bat: Well, they were specifically saying that they choose planets.

Vampire Owl: Let us just close the portals to the vampire realm. They will end up destroying our natural world with rivers of blood and graveyards filled with skeletons.

Vampire Bat: You need not worry about it. Uncle Dracula has taken all necessary precautions.

[Gets a mango cake and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Woo-ri (Son Seok-koo) is thirty three years old and single, feeling alone all the time after the woman who was so close to being his girlfriend finds herself a boyfriend. He working at a magazine where he is forced to take over the sex column instead of culture, politics and sports with which he used to be comfortable. Ja-young (Jeon Jong-seo) is a twenty nine year old woman almost turning thirty, and she has had many problems with previous relationships. Woo-ri has his account created on a dating app which Ja-young had created after her breakup with the boyfriend. Ja-young is warned by some of her friends about using the app, but she decides to go on with it, as she finds out that her former boyfriend is getting married, and she would be left single – one of their friends had also found a good partner with the app. She had tried having a relationship in the gym, but that doesn’t work, and neither does her idea of finding someone at the bookshop. Even the random good-looking guy she meets during mountaineering turns out to be the wrong choice, while her debts remain high.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: It is basically the big number of alerts that makes her get back into the dating app, and most of the people there seems to be creepy for her. Woo-ri feels that he will also get something to write in the sex column, and his friend tells him that it will be like having multiple advantages with one single choice with the app. The two meet on the New Year Day and after having a long period of talk over some food, they realize that they do get along quickly enough, only to get their friends curious. She tries to make herself believe that it was a temporary relationship which is not going to last for long, while he is genuinely interested in her. His sex column becomes an instant hit among the readers, as he uses his creative imagination with his experiences, making it like an entertaining story. There is also a lot of appreciation from the higher officials. Despite not getting into a relationship, they do meet each other again and again, and move close to that. Even though they go on with the idea of friends with benefits with nothing serious, there could be more.

The defence of Nothing Serious a.k.a. Romance Without Love :: The movie tries to be the cute romantic love story that does not leave one with much to think about, as the usual romance gets some extra additions here. The visuals of the city are good, and they have chosen some nice places, from restaurants, hotels and cafes to random outdoor places to bring some beauty on the screen. The leading performers of the movie are always there throughout the movie, and for most of the time, both of them are also on the screen, and there is that kind of a dependence on the two characters, which actually works in favour of the film. The fact that these two breathe life and enthusiasm into the main characters is to be appreciated – these are two characters that bring the movie together. Even though there is the usual in here, we also have the divergence also in store – the movie is a combination of the expected and the unexpected, both coming together to create something which is not that far away from life of this century in the big cities. The movie is free-spirited, straight-forward and smart with how it deals with the leading cast, and such collection of qualities are rarely seen in dumb Bollywood romance and others.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does deviate from the cuteness factor at times, as if there is a certain amount of confusion related to which audience the movies is serving. This film should have stayed close to the sweeter side, and could have left some moments for the imagination. All its opportunities are not really sued by the movie, as the first few minutes would make us feel that this movie is up for more. The logic should have been served, but as we know, love story would require less of it, for we know how even the real world tales of love are going and often leading to murders and suicides of the partners before or after the marriage. The movie might not appeal to all kinds of audience, and it seems to be more focused on the newer generation, even though good enough for those generations which are just behind. Even though lasting only one and half hours, there is a certain amount of drag in between, especially with a lot of dialogues coming up. The predictability also has its say, and some melodrama was certainly not needed. The ending also seems forced, even though pretty good to be a finisher to the movie.

The performers of the soul :: Jeon Jong-seo leads the way in this romantic movie, and this is the first time that I am seeing her in a movie. There is a certain amount of cuteness related to her performance here, and there is also some humorous side along with the romantic one. She seems to handle the different emotions of her role quite well. Son Seok-koo contributes in a similar manner, and the chemistry between the two works really well, and seems to raise the movie further. The cuteness factor also relates to their relationship till it gets rather too serious in the last few minutes, only to get back to the same stage by the end. He was part of the supporting cast of the movie, Hit-and-Run Squad among others. Kim Seul-gi and Gong Min-jeung also appear in memorable supporting roles. Kim Young-ok as the grandmother and Kim Jae-hwa as the editor in chief of the magazine also have their moments to be remembered. Along with the same, Kim Kwang-gyu plays the father figure which would also be noted. The supporting cast seems to be quite big, and most of them are going to leave some impact here.

How it finishes :: Nothing Serious a.k.a. Romance Without Love is one of those romantic movies which manages to hold its ground despite not clear with its path, and without bringing anything special. The cuteness factor related to the chemistry between the leading performers seems to drive the movie forward more than anything else. South Korean movies have managed to bring at least some quality in almost every genre that they seem to be part of, and with horror and thriller being the perfect categories, romance and drama also got the power to support. This movie also maintains that quality, and even when there doesn’t seem to be that much of a story, it won’t come down that much in content, and the leading pair elevates it. Jeon Jong-seo who has become part of this genre so well, is often the single reason for the same. It is a much shorter, but interesting idea to spend one and half hours, as there is no shortage of some fun-filled moments. No one can deny the need for some love in the air after the corona virus pandemic.

Release date: 24th November 2021
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Jeong Ga-young
Starring: Jeon Jong-seo, Son Seok-gu, Gong Min-jung, Kim Seul-gi, Kim Young-ok, Kim Jae-hwa, Bae Yoo-ram, Im Sung-jae, Kim Kwang-gyu

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

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

<<< Click here to go to the first Korean film review here.

<<< Click here to go for more East Asian films.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Black Island

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about the island near the Northern Witches territory?

Vampire Bat: That one is called the Dark Island of Magic.

Vampire Owl: Well, that depends on the translation.

Vampire Bat: Let the vampire elders deal with the translation of ancient languages.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein is good with languages.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr Frankenstein was talking about computer languages.

Vampire Owl: He has worked with the Northern Witches in relation to creating new magic potions through scientific experiments.

Vampire Bat: This is why I told you that he is a pseudo-scientist of no real value.

Vampire Owl: You should say the same thing when he wins the Vampire Nobel Prize,  and gets elected to the Vampire Science Academy.

Vampire Bat: There is no Vampire Nobel Prize for pure nonsense.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Jonas Hansen (Philip Froissant) is an orphan who lives under the sponsorship of the last member of his family. He recently lost his grandmother to the attack of a dog on a beach, while his parents had died in a car crash caused by another driver, both incidents seemingly having something strange about it. Nina Cohrs (Mercedes Muller) who lives in the island is instantly attracted to Jonas, and they become good friends. Most of the girls of the island do have some attraction towards him. It is that kind of a place where there is not that much of a modernity – beautiful scenery seems to make the best out of tourism, but even then, not many tourists visit the area. The place doesn’t have a lot of things happening around there either, and it remains a place of serenity throughout the year. Helena Jung (Alice Dwyer) takes over the German classes in an island which is located far away from the mainland in Europe. She is the replacement for a teacher who just had an accident, and would take a lot of time to make a return.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The new teacher feels like someone whom everyone would like, and she remains friendly with almost every student. She asks the students to call her by her first name when they are not at the educational institution, or when nobody else is listening. She also shows great interest in making the students write poetry and improve their creative writing skills, and with the friendly attitude, becomes a favourite of almost all the students. Soon, Helena seems to get really close to Jonas, or rather too close for a teacher and student, while Nina maintains a certain amount of dislike for her. Nina’s suspicions are at place, but the relationship between the teacher and the student only becomes more intimate. There are too many secrets related to the new teacher, and any attempt to venture any deeper into it will put Nina in peril. But can she stay away from this mystery as she cares too much about Jonas? Will Jonas really understand what is going on here? What is the motive of Helena, and why would she choose to be in a remote island instead of the city from where she arrived?

The defence of Black Island :: The movie does work as a mystery thriller a few minutes into action itself. There is the eerie feeling that spreads through the movie especially due to the setting on an island which reminds one of that strange world surrounded by water shown in Sacrifice. The twists await us, and the movement forward, even though slow, is rather smooth. It also makes sure that there is no falling into that usual pit of nonsense with the relationship at the centre. The visuals are really good, as we are introduced into a world with natural beauty within, and surrounded by beaches and crystal clear ocean water, reminding us to go for a journey soon enough. Well, after that COVID-19 scenario, travel hasn’t really opened up for most of us, and it is nice to see this world of beauty at least on the screen. The atmosphere does suit the thirst for revenge, and we know that this kind of a world can have even a serial killer on the loose with maximum effect. There will be the moments to cherish right in between.

The claws of flaw :: This is not the kind of idea that one would need to appreciate for theme – elder teachers falling in love with too young a student is not something that should be encouraged, even with seemingly decent movies like Premam which would use pretensions to play with the minds of the unsuspecting people – as part of a plan of vengeance, that wouldn’t look that bad in this case; there is enough of a past around here. Still, the relationship should have looked more convincing, and the things around here looks rather too easy. These are the kind of things which are to be dealt with more intensity. The movie also kills off one of the most interesting characters in there rather too early. The investigation into all of these should have also been stronger, and people in this movie are not as smart as they should have been. The moments which are of importance here should have also been edited better, showing them as the parts which shouldn’t be missed. The movie could have also picked up pace too.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is mostly an Alice Dwyer work, with her as the centre of attraction. There are still moments when one would feel that she could have been completely into this case of revenge, but at times, she seems be not in focus at more than one thing. It could be more because of her character not being written with that vision that a revenge-seeker should have. A stronger character would have been better for our eyes and the rest of the senses. Yet, she maintains that mystery about her well, especially during the first half of the flick. Mercedes Muller plays a strong role, and she is lovely in her infatuation towards her long-time friend. She seems to be the one intelligent and determined person like nobody else in the movie, and she surely required a screen presence throughout the movie. Philip Froissant plays a usual character who surprisingly has too less to do other than listening to his teacher who became the lover and the friends around him – he is reduced into a person of not that much of importance. The other performers are of not that importance in this small world.

How it finishes :: I have come across some of the interesting German movies in the last few years, and they seem to keep a certain level with the thrillers. Whether it was Blood Red Sky, Freaks or Breakdown Forest, there is some attempt at thinking differently instead of going with the usual things. Well, horror movies and thrillers are the only things which seem to keep me going in this world of chaos and hopelessness. There has been the down-feeling which came with the Corona virus which doesn’t seem to leave, and it feels worse as we are going back to the society. Still, when we see the hatred that is seen in movies like these, we feel that this is real, a reflection of the society that we know, the one full of liars and cheaters. We have to accept horror as a normal part of life, more real than romance and drama which are considered too real. With some more focus, this movie could have done better, and as of now, it goes on as a thriller which also a work of drama and mystery that takes over on many occasions. The movie works better than what some of the reviews had talked about.

Release date: 18th August 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Miguel Alexandre
Starring: Jolene Andersen, Alice Dwyer, Susan Angelo, Hanns Zischler, Mercedes Muller, Jonas Hansen

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

<<< Click here to go to the first German film reviewed here.

<<< Click here to go to the first full-length German film reviewed here.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

12th Man

What is the movie about? :: A few friends from college come together at a resort far away from civilization – Zacharia (Unni Mukundan), Mathew (Saiju Kurup), Nayana (Sshivada) Shiny (Anusree), Merin (Anu Sithara), Sidharth (Anu Mohan), Jithesh (Chandhunath), Sam (Rahul Madhav), Fida (Leona Lishoy), Aarathy (Aditi Ravi) and Annie (Priyanka Nair) come together with their families after a very long time. Zacharia and Annie had just found out that they are going to be parents. Sidharth and Aarathy are going to get married soon, and this particular party is on them. The resort is fully booked only for them, and a lot of facilities are available for them. As they play cricket, Siddharth’s big shot ends up hitting Chandrashekhar (Mohanlal), who is angry that he lost his bottle of liquor when the ball hit him. He asks for a replacement, but there are not bars or beverage shops nearby. To avoid him, the resort arranges some local toddy, but in the final stages, that also becomes becomes unavailable, and the group has to provide him with the alcohol. He accepts it and leaves.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Chandrasekhar leaves, the group decides to take it to the next level. There are too many calls attended by the participants of the programme, and they decide to make all calls and messages which reach their mobile phones during the time period public, in a game of trust. But it is not that simple a game as they had thought, despite Nayana and Fida supporting the same very much. In the first phone call itself, the problems between Zacharia’s mother and wife is revealed, as the former talks about latter’s pregnancy and related issues. Now, Zacharia is in support of the game, saying that let everyone go through the same situation. Two phone calls go on without creating much of a problem, but soon, Mathew’s financial problems are revealed to everyone. But that will not be the biggest revelation, and soon, there would be a revelation that would affect their friendship. Then, soon enough, there is a murder in the premises. Now, the question remains about what can happen next in this small world in the middle of nowhere? Who is the trouble maker here?

The defence of 12th Man :: What interests us the most here is the visual setting, and the atmosphere that it provides the catalyst to help the whole story. This is the kind of world where murders could happen without a trace. The beauty of the place is another thing, and that would surely make one want to visit the area, The twists are really well built in the movie after the death happens. There are different viewpoints being nicely explored around here. Most of the film keeps close to the three classical unities, and maintains its effectiveness using the short time period of the tale. The voice cast is also strong around here – Mallika Sukumaran, Kottayam Pradeep, Soubin Shahir, Aju Varghese and Murali Gopy. Mohanlal can be seen as nicely taking over control here from an environment in which there was nothing like that. He has played a different police officer, and excels in the second half. The movie does a fine job in exposing the fake friendships going on with masks always present there. It reflects how friendships over drinks are the quickest to break apart, and that those built on lies have no existence at all.

The claws of flaw :: Playing games in a building was earlier seen in the Bollywood movie Chehre. This movie takes a lot of times to get there. The final conclusion with the killer is not that conclusive. Some of the revelations are rather too predictable, and with a setting like this, they could have tried more to keep things smarter – this is not the same audience that the makers are facing, or OTT has changed their world by a long way, and the expectations won’t be the same. The initial moments with silly jokes based on the protagonist surely feels more dumb than ever; maybe it would have worked in the theatres with the fans sitting all around. The fans are known for making the nonsense a case of brilliance, but when a movie is releasing on OTT, it has to be smart, as the fans can’t create that kind of an influence, and there are people around the world who are judging this. The movie could have also used the environment in an even better way. Each character could have also been explored further, for there was a lot of talent out there. The film is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is not present on the screen when a lot of interesting things happen around here. He has a terrible, mostly dumb entry in the beginning, which falls flat on its face, while going on becoming more and more irritating. It seems to be fashion to show drunk people becoming heroes. But later, after a murder happens, things only get better, and the character is finally given a true existence outside alcohol and talking nonsense. Mohanlal is completely in control of things in the later stages, as he leads the journey with efficiency. It is always nice to see the two sides of him – Bro Daddy was there on the other side. The next person to catch our attention is Leona Lishoy, the actress who has been seen as someone with different dimensions, always notable in any role that she plays, whether it is the mother in Annmariya Kalippilaanu, sister in Maradona or the investigator in Anveshanam; often rising above the movie itself. We knew how she fared in Mayaanadhi, and she comes up with the divergence here too. Some people do their roles rather too perfectly and she is one of them.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who catches our attention is Anu Sithara, and she has played the good girl image really well – she does look different around here, and that also suits her. Anusree does the job of the most irritating female character of last few years after Srindha in Sherlock Toms. It does feel like a little too much at times. Priyanka Nair and Saiju Kurup are here after that interesting thriller called Antakshari, and both of them once again proves to be solid performers, even though not seen as a pair this time. Unni Mukundan does nothing heroic like in Meppadiyan, and has only a role which is at par or at times, a little below most of the others. Sshivada seems to be playing the one respectable character out there, who doesn’t keep secrets to save herself. Anu Mohan and Chandhunath comes into the picture strong enough. Rahul Madhav plays another character with more than what meets eye well, and that actually applies to all of them. Nandhu and Siddique gets rather smaller roles which they go through with ease. Aditi Ravi supports well within the group.

How it finishes :: When the name Jeethu Joseph is associated with any movie, we know that it will have something of relevance as far as the thrills are concerned. Even though Oozham did have a struggle to go through its nonsensical world, Memories and Drishyam were the biggest thrillers of the industry at that time. This movie attempts to get into that particular group of greatness too. Yet, the journey is not of that high quality, and never does it provide the innovation to feel that this is not something we haven’t seen before. The best movies are indeed the ones which have Jeethu Joseph writing and directing all by himself, but this one doesn’t have the script from him. Yet, this one surely goes on an interesting journey, with its own twists and turns in a setting which adds to the overall mood. I am always in support of a murder investigation mystery in which everyone is a suspect – with the perfect surroundings, things have a minimum guarantee.

Release date: 20th May 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 163 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Unni Mukundan, Saiju Kurup, Anu Sithara, Leona Lishoy, Sshivada, Aditi Ravi, Priyanka Nair, Anusree, Anu Mohan, Rahul Madhav, Chaghunath, Nandhu, Pradeep Chandran, Chali Pala, Siddique

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jolt

Vampire Owl: Usually, the jolt happens during one of the experiments of Doctor Frankenstein and his minions.

Vampire Bat: So, Mr Frankenstein is having his own minions now.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they are a few braindead zombies who were given special passport.

Vampire Bat: You just cannot allow zombies into the world of vampires.

Vampire Owl: They are completely braindead. They won’t remember that they are zombies.

Vampire Bat: Then how can Mr Frankenstein make them useful?

Vampire Owl: Well, he just needs someone to do exactly as he says.

Vampire Bat: Someone to pass through those experimental portals?

Vampire Owl: Yes, and also through those experimental time machines.

Vampire Bat: Well, even zombies would hesitate to do that.

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

What is the movie about? :: Lindy Lewis (Kate Beckinsale) has always had intermittent explosive disorder, which was often triggered by interactions with people around her. As a child, she was so angry that her parents had some really tough time handling her. The parents didn’t have much of a good relationship among themselves to boast about, which made the parenting procedure even worse. This situation had also made her stronger and sharper, and she could beat up even a person or two who were twice her size. The parents no longer wanted anything to do with her. The mental health institution is not able to handle her, and even the military training works against her as she doesn’t take orders from anyone, the process ending with her beating up the commander. A psychiatrist, Dr Ivan Munchin (Stanley Tucci) seems to find a solution, and tries to treat her disorder with a vest which gives electric shocks whenever she gets really angry and a threat to others around her. But it seems to be less effective as days and months pass.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: She feels that as a new option, a social change might help, and with the advice of her psychiatrist, decides to go on a date with an accountant named Justin (Jai Courtney). They become very close to each other, but just before their next date, she finds out that he has been murdered, which means that from requiring no more of the shocks, she will be in need for a lot of them to keep her not angry. The police seems to be not too confident about finding the ones who murdered him, as there are not many clues left there. She feels that she should find out the people behind the murder, and wouldn’t trust the indifferent police officers to do it. As the first step towards the same, she manages to steal his belongings from the police station, much to the dismay of the officers who are in charge of the case, Detective Vicars (Bobby Cannavale) and Detective Nevin (Laverne Cox). Can she be of use in solving this mystery?

The defence of Jolt :: The movie does manage to be funny at times, and the action is pretty much effective. Having Kate Beckinsale at the centre is the big advantage that this movie has, and she is the one reason why things are going on so well. You can always trust her with the action sequences – the fighting on the screen seems to need her every time. The final twist is an effective one, and even though there were were some doubts, we don’t really guess it that well. There are some fine visuals, and the fights also take place at some interesting areas. A touch of humour being added with the fights also works really well. When there is a furious heroine added at the centre of all these, you are into more fun. As a simple fun movie with action, it scores well enough, even though not that much like those older movies starring Jackie Chan and friends – we all miss them for sure. This one is an entertaining ride, and one cannot question the same at any moment, as this one is only as long as it should be, not adding anything extra to increase the length – you enjoy this with the short length really well, without complaints.

The claws of flaw :: There are so many things which seem too usual for this kind of a genre combining action and comedy. We do have so many elements which some dumb people think are funny, even after so many years of repeating the same thing. Some of the jokes make you feel that they have just run out of ideas. A movie like this should always have a better idea about being innovative, as it is not supposed to be full of just dumb humour. It should have known where to stop with the available humour. There were so many opportunities in there. The progress of the movie also has some moments when it doesn’t seem to think enough. With a premise having enough to be so funny, there is always something around here to make the whole thing more innovative, funny and action-filled – much better than what it happens to be. It could have also followed the Kate, John Wick and Hitman mode with more interesting fights. As of now, the hope to have more of the same is only there for future with a possible sequel.

The performers of the soul :: Kate Beckinsale can always do an action thriller like this and provide cent percent without having to think too much about it. As the lady of the Underworld vampire movies and the one in charge within Total Recall, she has done more than enough fighting on the screen than we would think about it. There is the funny and emotional side to her too, which she has also managed very well. We will continue to remember her more as that vampire-figure, but this one is a welcome addition. Nearing her fifties, she is still the one actress who will want to have in an action movie, as much as Resident Evil‘s Milla Jovovich. Jai Courtney has only a few minutes of presence here, but is effective for sure – had the memorable moments with the Divergent and Terminator series in this part of the world too. Bobby Cannavale adds to the humour and does a solid job in doing the role of the good cop. Stanley Tucci also does a really good job in being the man of experimentation.

How it finishes :: Jolt is surely much better than what the critics seemed to talk about, and with Kate Beckinsale in an action thriller, it has managed to maintain a certain amount of quality – it is something one is assured of. If there director had a better vision, this might have transformed into something big, but she has settled with the common and simple path to quick dose entertainment, an action comedy with not many new jokes to be added there. The fact that it remains an entertaining journey is a testimony to Kate Beckinsale once again, as over the years, she seems to have become more experienced in action rather than becoming aged like the Ulysses who said that they were not of the strengths that they were used to be. The movie did release without much hype around here, which might be the reason why most people of this part of the world haven’t watched it yet. But it is a pretty good choice for the entertaining side.

Release date: 23rd July 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: Tanya Wexler
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Bobby Cannavale, Laverne Cox, Stanley Tucci, Jai Courtney, Susan Sarandon, David Bradely, Ori Pfeffer

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fear Street: 1994

Vampire Owl: A slasher from Hollywood with three parts on Netflix. How interesting is that?

Vampire Bat: It is surely what the vampires ordered.

Vampire Owl: We can always take a lot of horror, especially through OTT.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is always nice to take some horror home.

Vampire Owl: Unless we can get some home made horror here.

Vampire Bat: We don’t really come up with horror anymore. Humans do.

Vampire Owl: Well, human horror is out of evil, Ours have been just natural reaction.

Vampire Bat: End of mankind is surely the end of nonsensical evil.

Vampire Owl: Mankind won’t end, for even the virus couldn’t do the job.

Vampire Bat: Corona virus has been just too mild and decent in nature.

[Gets a chocolate cake and three glasses of oreo shake].

What is the movie about? :: Heather (Maya Hawke) who works at a bookstore in a mall is brutally stabbed and murdered by her friend Ryan (David W Thompson) who also works in the same mall. After he had murdered many other employees in the mall, he is shot dead by a police officer Nick (Ashley Zukerman). It is said that the eighteen year old graduate just lost his mind and murdered all these victims for absolutely no reason. But this only one of the many murders which happen in the town, as it is more less referred to as the murder capital of the country. There are multiple murders being committed at different areas, mostly for no real reason at all. This cycle of violence seems to have no end at all, and even in the year 1994, people seem to point to a witch named Sarah Fier, who placed a terrible curse on the town before being executed for witchcraft in 1666. It is also the early days of AOL and internet in USA, with people still spreading conspiracy theories online, as World Wide Web does have its own addicted youngsters. The murders have been going as the hot topic in the internet for too long.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Deena (Kiana Madeira) doesn’t believe in all of these though, as she feels that everyone in the city of Shadyside is so miserable that killing others and committing suicide comes naturally to people. Simon (Fred Hechinger) and Kate (Julia Rehwald) are her best friends, while she is still addicted to Samantha Fraser (Olivia Scott Welch), but had kept her lesbian relationship a secret to most people. Deena’s brother Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr) spends his time to solving the mysteries behind the murders online, while Kate and Simon tries to get out of the city by selling drugs and making more money. Samantha is now with Peter (Jeremy Ford), and both are now part of the city of Sunnyville, which is a richer place with more opportunities and less murders and other crimes happening around. A romantically, emotionally and sexually frustrated Deena has a fight with Samantha as latter decides to go for a straight relationship instead of the lesbian one. The students of Sunnyville and Shadyside starts fighting each other at the same time, and things only get worse for everyone at both side.

The defence of Fear Street: 1994 :: The film is indeed beautifully shot, and there are some colours and beautiful reflections of the world which we are meant to witness with horror. The darkness and the lights contribute nicely too. The 1990s setting works well here. It lets us feel the need to watch the rest of the movies of the trilogy too, and in the end, has put something in there to bring the interest. Movies like these are reminders of a past, a world where we were afraid of monsters – these creatures are now replaced by humans who are much more evil in comparison. With a near unstoppable evil thing at the centre, we are glad to have a witch dealing with things. The film also provides a case for nostalgia, as we are all those kids who grew up in the 1990s, and were introduced to that early stage of internet – we were among the very few people who got to use it then, and can actually feel the memories again. Fear here is powerful within, and it is as close to reality than never ending human nature that inclines towards pure evil.

The claws of flaw :: The movie could have had more of the slasher elements than it has as of now. We know what all a typical slasher flick should have as natural part of it. The romantic side is absolute nonsense, and it could have had a happy ending with the appropriate deaths, but that doesn’t happen. The final moments are also not that effective enough, but how they leave scope for a sequel is to be appreciated – the final possession has you asking for more indeed. As of now, most of us only know about Goosebumps from the authors of the books on which this is based – RL Stine. So, we don’t really know how much this one does justice to the original work. There are similarities to the divergent horror films like It Follows, even though this one is not that different in content. The serial killers who come back as monsters and the witch could have also been shown in a better and scarier manner, as we know how the undead can be captivating in terror. The feeling a slasher parody also comes in between, but nothing can have the fun of The Cabin in the Woods in the case too.

Performers of the soul :: This is the kind of the movie where almost everyone seems to contribute equally, and even though there seems to be one main character who comes as close to a protagonist as one can get, she is not the one in control, and also not the one whom the movie fully depend on – it is not really all about her. Kiana Madeira who is seemingly the protagonist, is a selfish character, and that she does well. Olivia Scott Welch serves the requirement as the beautiful girl to be loved, and the typical damsel in distress, nothing more as we look at her. The two characters are very much unlikable by all means, thinking only about themselves. It would have been more suitable for a slasher to have them dead, but unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger and Benjamin Flores Jr are more likable characters, and they are all part of this equally. The monsters which come back to life here also could have had their own flashbacks.

How it finishes :: We have been in short of some good slasher horror for a long time. This first part of a trilogy makes sure that there is something for us to cherish in a world of terror and chaos. There are enough serial killers in this particular film to keep us interested, and as they don’t really have a motive, going on slashing, it is that quality which was seen rarely in films around here – Tovino Thomas’ Forensic was one grand expectation. This is one slasher film with its own quick scares that work well, even though it does misses some points in between. Well, it does take some skill to get the slasher horror right, and there is often the sequel weakness that comes unto the picture, even though we do have enough from Friday the 13th, The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn and A Nightmare on Elm Street to keep us interested in the slasher genre, maybe forever. Even though the quick release of Madres and The Manor were what Amazon Prime Video did in quick succession, Netflix seems to be one step forward with its collection of good horror.

Release date: 2nd July 2021 (Netflix)
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Leigh Janiak
Starring: Kiana Madeira, Olivia Scott Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr, Julia Rehwald, Fred Hechinger, Ashley Zukerman, Darrell Britt-Gibson, Maya Hawke

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

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

<<< Click here to go to the previous film review out of Netflix.

<<< Click here to go to the previous film review of a direct Netflix release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madhuram

What is the movie about? :: Kevin (Arjun Ashokan) is the bystander for his mother, who is going to have a surgery at the government medical college hospital very soon. He is married to Cherry (Nikhila Vimal) who isn’t accepted by his mother yet. He is very much tensed about it, and spends most of the time wondering about what is to happen next. Sabu (Joju George) is there as a bystander for his wife Chitra (Shruti Ramachandran). There are also others who have become part of the hospital during their time spent out there. Ravi (Indrans) is a retired postman who is waiting for his wife to be discharged, while celebrating forty years of marriage. Thajudeen (Fahim Safar) is a bystander for his father who is forced to come there because the doctor in the hosptial is very famous, and a quick surgery is required. Despite how much how much Ravi talks about the importance of staying in long marriage and how much Sabu reasserts the same, Kevin and Cherry are on the verge of a divorce. Cherry wonders if it will happen as soon as his mother is healthy and asks him to leave her.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Thajudeen is to first one to leave the hospital from the group, as his father has a stroke and dies, causing moments of silence and depression everywhere around them. Kevin’s tension only further increases as the surgery is delayed, and after knowing about the death of Thajudeen’s father. The same also affects Ravi upto an extent, as he is also a little bit worried. Sabu talks to the others about his love story with Chitra which happened at Kunjikka’s (Jaffar Idukki) restaurant, where she used to come and have biriyani in secret. They married after causing a lot of problems in the neighbourhood. Ravi’s tale is about him falling in love with his wife while delivering letters at a locality, and it was another case of love story wrecking havoc around. When Kevin’s anxiety problems get better, they are surprised to find that Sabu is surprisingly angry at the hospital staff, which leads to the big revelation by Doctor Rajah (Lal) about Chitra. This makes them wonder how long he has been in the hospital.

The defence of Madhuram :: The movie has to be appreciated more for its optimistic viewpoint about relationships, and life that goes on with love and endurance against all odds. With Joju George who seems to go through the whole thing as if living through it rather than acting, and Shruti Ramachandran who blends in to this role in a realistic manner like no other, this one feels like a safe watch from the beginning itself. The movie’s messages about relationships is beautiful, as it celebrates being in marriage, and with love. The movie also knows where to place the emotions, without any overdose of melodrama coming into the picture to ruin things. The humour which the movie uses in the initial stages brings some early delight, and as it passes on to the sad and emotional side, it makes sure that the balance is not lost, and we are not put into a world of eternal depression, for there is faith, belief and hope at all times. The taste of love between husbands and wives never losses its charm, for love in marriage is shown as a thing with wings more than that of the other kinds of relationships.

Positives and negatives :: Some dialogues might feel like a little too much in the view of life, but the actors who deliver them make it even more effective – the emotions are so well portrayed through them, and we appreciate the choice of performers here again and again – you see how Joju and Indrans make us feel, and the rest are following them so well, effectively. The visuals of the hospital are also nice, and songs with all the picturization makes us feel the emotions which are present at all times. The food also stays with us, and the focus in the same also contributes to the overall mood, which is surprisingly a happy one for most of its run, even though it is set in a hospital and there is the long wait for some risky surgeries going on throughout the film. You also see that this one basically maintains the balance between optimism and realism, unlike Jis Joy movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans which have so much of optimistic attitude that one feels that there is too much of positivity in life which is not really there. Without the same, this one makes you feel the love, and you are into the emotions.

The performers of the soul :: The director here is blessed with a fantastic cast which anyone would wish to have in a work of drama. It is led by none other than Joju George, the man who touched our emotions the best, not with an emotional drama, but with an investigative thriller, Joseph – that was one turning point which still holds strong in our minds, and this drama holds strong with its emotional content, thanks to him more than anyone else. We have always known what he is capable of, and here is one more testimony to his skills. The combination of Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran is something to remember for long, as their relationship has a lot to take away in this tale of different relationships between many couples. Shruti Ramachandran was already there in the highly emotional drama, Kaanekkaane, which was another film which released in the same platform. This love story of the two over one biriyani and more food, is a thing of high quality and the flashback keeps us glued to the seats and in love. They also have some nicely visualized songs to support their cause – you also remember some simple, yet lovely dialogues.

Further performers of the soul :: After the Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran story, we have the other tale of husband and wife, with Arjun Ashokan and Nikhila Vimal playing the couple without that much of love, and with one mother standing in between them, leading to a possible divorce in future. Arjun Ashokan had the role of a lover in June which came from the same director and has no problems here, while Nikhila Vimal was last seen in the horror movie, The Priest. Her ability to deliver some natural performances were seen in two different roles in the movies Aravindante Athidhikal and Njan Prakashan, and she continues to establish herself as a leading actress with such roles. Even though this is the secondary love story, and is often rushed, raises itself with the performances of the two. Indrans has another touching performance to deliver here after Home, and this character also stays close to us. Jaffar Idukki, Jagadish and Lal also come up with some delightful performances, even though in smaller roles. Fahim Safar, Navas Vallikkunnu and Malavika Sreenath are also notable.

How it finishes :: The movie does have its surprises, but the intention here is to bring an emotional surprise rather than the usual one, and the director is successful in doing the same. There is emotional strength which is equal to, or at times even at a higher level than Kaanekkaane also of Sony LIV, for this movie is purely a relatable drama for many people, and it is about husband and wife relationship. The Tovino-Suraj starrer of the same platform had elements of a thriller, and therefore not relatable for all times, but when we look at Madhuram, its emotional intensity is of the common man’s soul. Well, the work that these OTT platforms have done to make our Christmas celebration better, is to be appreciated, for we have already had the greatest superhero film in India in Netflix, and this one is a collection of emotions, which we are to cherish. Well, with these movies being available everywhere in the online platform, you can give some credit to the Corona virus pandemic for bringing these national and international level of attention.

Release date: 24th December 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Khabeer
Starring: Joju George, Shruti Ramachandran, Nikhila Vimal, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Indrans, Jagadish, Malavika Sreenath, Jaffar Idukki, Babu Jose, Sminu Sijo, Thirumala Ramachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu, Fahim Safar

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mara

Vampire Owl: This would be a nice name for a new vampire.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have so many nice names on the official list.

Vampire Owl: I am still confident that we can use one or two more.

Vampire Bat: Even in that case, there is no shortage of names.

Vampire Owl: You know that these names are too old and outdated.

Vampire Bat: There are no outdated names for immortals like us.

Vampire Owl: The world do change, even if vampires do not.

Vampire Bat: Well, we have changed. There are enough examples for the same within the castle itself.

Vampire Owl: Those are not really part of anything that we use.

Vampire Bat: They are all part of us now, even if you don’t realize the same yet.

[Gets a chocolate chake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: Andrey (Semyon Serzin) wishes for a terrible memory to be erased from the mind of his wife, Olya (Marina Vasileva). For the same, he visits Mara (Aleksandra Revenko) who has some special herbs which could be good enough to do the job for him. Mara realizes that there was a terrible attempt at robbery at their home, and she provides them with some mushrooms which he uses in cake to make sure that she starts forgetting – Mara assures him that she will able to control how much she forgets. That night itself, Olya who was living separately after the incident returns to him. But she still doesn’t want to live with him in the same house where the incident took place, and as Mara had asked him to look after her house after she leaves for a few months, they move to her place which has so many herbs and antique items. She develops a liking for the new place immediately, and is happier than before.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Things seem to go smoother than before from outside. Olya seems to be enjoying her time at the new place, which is strange with its look, but has all the facilities that they need. One night, Andrey does have a dream though, and he sees a child as well as a horse in there, and Olya also sees a person in there, staring at them. Mara assures him that they are ghosts of the previous owners, and that the process does include some side effects, but there is nothing to worry about there, and things can only get better. But Olya begins to experience more, and it only keeps her wishing to get out of there. As a musician, she is not able to practice like she used to, with fear of something being around her. She has her own hallucinations that doesn’t help her at all. Soon, it seems that he is not able to get Mara on the phone again, but it is not all, as he finds out that there is no record of the place as of now, and nobody knows the woman whom he had met. Now he wonders if things are going completely out of control.

The defence of Mara :: There is enough of the feeling of mystery and horror in this particular movie which seems to build, and become stronger with a certain amount of weirdness that is continued to be maintained around here. The atmosphere that is maintained for the same is quite superior, and there are different world being created here, most of them unreal, and bringing a different feeling. It begins very well, providing the idea that we are soon moving to a world of dark fantasy. The film provides the feeling of a twisted fairy-tale which is more than what meets the eye, and the audience are left doubting about many things here. The grief, the melancholy that is present here also feels real, and the whole thing takes enough of deviation to bring the horror, which is less evident, and hidden for us to find. It uses the evil which is off the screen, and generates the fear out of something which is more of a mystery than the usual ghost story.

The claws of flaw :: Mara does have a great beginning, and we were always expecting to see more as it progresses, but there is not that much of terror being unleashed here. The usual quick scares are missing here, even though there were so many opportunities to bring the same, with a certain amount of mystery always present at different areas. It could have also had more of the history of the apartment rather than of the rest. It could have also used the mushrooms in a more terrifying manner rather than with those colours, as the opportunities were many. Being not the usual horror movie, this one could have brought the grandeur that the others would find difficult to bring – that kind of a premise is set in the beginning itself. Mara does miss out on some of such opportunities which were there to be taken, but we appreciate the fact that it could go divergent against all odds. After all, we all have different demons to meet on separate occasions, even though this can be somewhat confusing for regular horror lovers.

Performers of the soul :: Even though not the main character, and even without having that much of time on the screen, it is Aleksandra Revenko who catches our attention from the beginning scenes, and we don’t see much more of her until the end. There is a certain wickedness in her which is clearly visible in the later stages, but the same is also present in her in the beginning too, hidden in her movements. One would have still wanted to use her more in the final stages, in the form of the terrifying antagonist rather than anything else. Semyon Serzin plays a simple, very much confused character, who does some foolish things which come back to haunt him, and that is done fine. At the same time, Marina Vasileva is really good here, and she has blended into this character who goes through different troubles – the emotions are nicely reflected by her. The changes that she goes through are nicely portrayed here, and she also gets more to do by the end of the movie.

How it finishes :: Mara, also known as Side Effect and Pobochnyi Effect reminds us of other Russian horror films like Queen of Spades, Guests and Baba Yaga. The Russian horror movies do have something different in them, just like the science fiction coming from the same area like Coma, Superdeep, Sputnik and The Blackout. There is such grand making quality here. The film also serves as a morality tale, a reminder about how the past cannot be erased, and we can only make things better in the present, for living in past can mean eternal grief and a never ending feeling of melancholy. It is a film of well-made divergent overall, and the same serves as a good cinematic experience with its mystery running directly in the middle. We all need our horror films during the Corona virus pandemic, and this one adds as horror better than most of those flicks which keep repeating the same pattern again and again. After all, we are also having a remake of Ezra coming soon for Bollywood on Amazon Prime Video.

Release date: 5th November 2020
Running time: 93 minutes
Directed by: Aleksey Kazakov
Starring: Semyon Serzin, Marina Vasileva, Aleksandra Revenko, Maria Abramova, Maria Karpova, Anatoliy Zhuravlyov, Stepan Devonin, Sergey Cherdantsev, Natalya Dedeyko, Nikita Tezov

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kilometers and Kilometers

Vampire Owl: I have been waiting for this movie for a long time.

Vampire Bat: This was the next film which we were supposed to watch before COVID-19 came up in March and theatres closed.

Vampire Owl: Well, one of the many things which one virus had changed.

Vampire Bat: A change which brought the movies home.

Vampire Owl: I was thinking Amazon Prime or Netflix in that case.

Vampire Bat: For a change, we have the first television channel release here.

Vampire Owl: Well, it is good to have such a release.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after all, everyone is not into those online platforms.

Vampire Owl: Finally, a release for the common man.

Vampire Bat: Let us makes sure that we don’t miss this!

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

What is the movie about? :: In the village of Thalanadu, Josemon (Tovino Thomas) doesn’t have any job, and struggles to keep everything going, including paying fees for his sister’s studies. He only manages to get some small jobs which don’t translate to anything. He finally decides to sell his Royal Enfield which the family valued a lot. It is then that Cathy (India Jarvis) comes to visit India, starting from Kerala, after winning a lottery. As this is her final destination before return to the United States of America, she hopes to spend the rest of her money there, and with the help of Appachan (Joju George), Josemon finds this as an opportunity to make some quick money. They make their journey to different parts of India, and when they are in the North, their bags get stolen. Now, they have to find the documents which they had lost, and return to Kerala, but with no clue of what had happened with the theft, the same might not be easy.

The defence of Kilometers and Kilometers :: Simple fun and feel-good elements are abundant in this movie. The light-hearted fun in this movie is suitable for everyone in the family, without pretensions. There is the presence of the good message, giving importance to values and relationships over money, a message which has always been there, but is something which people these days won’t care about. What can surprise us the most is that even the people from earlier generation are still proud of their sons and daughters earning more, instead of being proud of their education or acts of goodness towards fellow human beings. The message will stay significant for a long time, because people won’t change, and this one is another addition to that particular message. The visuals are very good, and we would love to see how the places are being depicted. The performances are also very good. The emotional moments are working well too.

The claws of flaw :: People might not find many things new with this film, and it does maintain a certain amount of simplicity here. The idea is indeed in the old style mode, as you can see from the beginning stages itself. The predictability factor is high around here, as soon as the first major turning point occurs. Going innovative surely wasn’t the idea at work around here. As the promotion was not that much even for the first Malayalam movie which released on television, some people might have missed this movie at least in parts. The film could have actually done more with a greater number of characters, and more locations added, making this a travel movie too. But the journey actually gets stuck a little bit too early for our liking. There is no mingling with the cultures of different parts of India, and we only see small parts of the lifestyle being scattered here and there. The final moments, even though emotional enough, is a little too much of cliche.

Performers of the soul :: When COVID-19 started its side-effects, the earlier Tovino Thomas movie, Forensic was running in the theatres but reaching an early unexpected end, and his next film is here, this time completely off the theatres from the beginning itself. He has been one actor whose movies kept a certain level on most occasions, except for maybe one film in between which went full masala. His performance here reminds one of Ente Ummante Peru a little bit, and he does that with ease. There were clues about what was to be expected, from the trailer itself. Basil Joseph, the director of two smart movies Kunjiramayanam and Godha also brings some early humour here, and it is the one thing that lifts up the movie in its early stages – Joju George can also be seen contributing well during those stages. Longer final moments would have meant that these characters would have had a chance to add some more feel-good fun.

Further performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that Sidhartha Siva, director of the crowd favourites like Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Sakhavu nicely takes over the humour, and manages the same really well in the later stages of the film. His talk about the flashback is done with some fine humour, and he keeps bringing the laughter. The moments in Rajasthan are elevated with his use of the funny side. We have already seen him handling the humour really well, and this one has him around for a long period of time. India Jarvis does the job well, and plays the character as expected. From the performance, one would feel the need to see her in more Malayalam movies with similar characters being in requirement. She is not the random person who plays a European or an American just because there is space for the same, as she does much more. Sudheesh also has a very small, but notable role in the beginning stages of the movie.

How it finishes :: Kilometers and Kilometers has been a movie which had to wait quite some time due to COVID-19. At a time when we were wondering if something was actually going to happen, as theatres are still not opening any time soon, the movie has come to Asianet. During the pandemics, having a feel-good film delivered home can surely help to lighten the mood, especially during Onam. Still one has to wonder if most people did have time to watch this movie during the time of Onam celebrations at home. I would like to wish all of you who are reading this, and everyone from Kerala, a Very Happy Onam. Let us face this Corona Virus pandemic together, and rise together, as we did during the floods in the last two years. I really hope that Asianet shows the movie again, because it is a fun flick which can provide the feel-good factor to the Onam Celebrations. After all, we are having a ten day vacation here instead of the usual COVID-19 forced or flood-forced holidays.

Release date: 31st August 2020
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Jeo Baby
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Joju George, India Jarvis, Sidhartha Siva, Basil Joseph, Sudheesh

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<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam drama.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Io

Vampire Owl: We are watching another movie quick enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is surely a plan of Vampire Fate.

Vampire Owl: So, you mean to say that Fate is a vampire too.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not. Fate meets all requirements for the same.

Vampire Owl: For something to become a vampire, first it needs to exist.

Vampire Bat: Fate’s existence has been proven over the centuries.

Vampire Owl: But has Fate ever lived in a physical form?

Vampire Bat: Yes, Fate is already part of the air we breathe.

Vampire Owl: That sounds like the Corona Virus.

Vampire Bat: After all, this Corona Virus pandemic itself is a work of fate itself.

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

What is the movie about? :: When the Earth was going to be destroyed mostly due to pollution resulting from human activities, many scientists had started working on a power station that could be sent to space to harvest geothermal energy from other planets. But it would be too late, as people were dying in their sleep, while some others were suffocating in the streets, with the blood in their veins turning black due to a higher level of pollution. The change in atmospheric composition due to the same led to many spaceships with people flying into the sky and then into space as an act of Exodus turning the power station into a colony, like a lifeboat floating about another celestial body. For the same, they had chosen the fourth largest celestial body among the moons in the solar system which has the highest density among them, and has the lowest amount of water around. Discovered in 1610 by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei and named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera, Jupiter’s volcanic moon, Io now has a higher significance for humans.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Most of the people on Earth had already fled, but a very few still try to survive on its surface. Sam Walden (Margaret Qualley) is one of those very few humans who have some hope left about Earth, and she chooses a high altitude area where the air is somewhat breathable, even though she does make some visit to the highly polluted areas with masks to collect some samples. She is also raising bees, hoping that they can help clean the air, but is asked by her boyfriend who lives on the Io station to join him, as they are planning to live at a newer, greater place, with no hope left for Earth which has fallen to human greed. Sam’s hopes are ruined when her bees are killed by a terrible storm which also destroys some of her equipment and sources of power. But she does maintain some hope, as she continues to be in contact with her long distance boyfriend from Io, and tries to carry on with her objective, even though without that much of a plan this time.

And what more do we see here in a wold without hope for future? :: At the same time, a man named Micah (Anthony Mackie) arrives there on a balloon, and asks for her father and scientist, Dr Harry Walden (Danny Huston) – but he is not there, and she assures him that he will be back soon, maybe the very next day, after some field work. He decides to wait, as Harry was someone who believed that there was hope for humanity on Earth, and he needed to meet the man. But the problem here is that Harry has been dead for a long time, and she has been lying all the time. Micah was brought here by the message from Harry which had further brought him hope – the message was sent by Sam, and this would lead to a crisis, as both of them will have a few things to realize, and the same is to be done together. Is there hope left for Earth, or can they make another choice? Where will they end up in the end, dead or alive while fighting for survival in a dying planet?

The defence of Io :: Here is another post-apocalyptic movie which has the expected stuff, even though not with the action-filled adventure of a science fiction. The emotional moments are serene, and effective, and the cast is perfect for the same. Margaret Qualley’s face has that kind of melancholy going through her, which brings the feeling effectively, whether it is about loneliness or the loss of hope – yet, there is some hesitation, something which Eva Green didn’t have even for a bit in the science fiction drama, Proxima. Anthony Mackie provides the support well enough, even though Margaret eclipses everything around with a certain beauty of hopeless sadness that always surrounds her. The visuals of post-apocalyptic world is done just in the right way, and there are areas where it does have some fine work in store. The references to the mythology are good, but can feel overdone to a number of people who are not familiar with the same. The feeling of failure of faith, belief and hope feels natural too.

The claws of flaw :: Io is indeed a slow movie, and never does it pick up the pace, even though there were many opportunities to do so, especially considering the fact that this is a post-apocalyptic world that we have in store here. For such a world, there is so much potential, even in isolation, as we have seen in many other movies which have setting after the destruction of Earth due to one reason or the other. The best of science fiction had a chance to come in on many occasions. This definitely depends on what you are expecting from a movie like this, as this is not your usual stuff with the same idea at all. The romantic is also not that good, and the film could have easily gone on without it – after all, this is not that kind of a flick. The movie also deserved a better ending, considering how it had built up slowly towards that finish. It could have also had some fine visuals of space with Io out there, along with some moments at the space station, as they have come this much already, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Io is the post-apocalyptic science fiction drama which deviates from the usual path, and seems to be proud of it all the way. After all, it shows what could happen at some stage later, and therefore being realistic is an understatement. The fall of humanity and Earth has been predicted for a long time, and this Corona Virus has asserted the weakness of science in front of most of the enemies whom humans are going to face, and clearly none of the advancements of science can save them. Considering the same, Io is indeed a realization, of the weakness and hopelessness of mankind. You have to move with slow and abiding sadness of the movie to like this version of post-apocalyptic science fiction – otherwise, you might not find this particular version to be interesting. During this time of COVID-19, you know that we might not be that powerful to even delay our extinction for a limited period of time and we are certainly not the saviors of our planet, but the ruthless destroyers.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Jonathan Helpert
Starring: Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, Danny Huston, Tom Payne

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lake of Death

Vampire Owl: I thought that it was originally the river of death.

Vampire Bat: The river of death has already gone dry.

Vampire Owl: What about the pond of death behind the castle then?

Vampire Bat: That pond is originally something related to life and not death.

Vampire Owl: Yet, it is named the pond of death.

Vampire Bat: So, you feel that this lake might not be about death?

Vampire Owl: There is surely something strange about this movie.

Vampire Bat: This is a Norwegian movie, and the first one of the kind we are watching.

Vampire Owl: Well, the idea does seem to be pretty good when we have look from a distance.

Vampire Bat: The first movie which we watch is often too good, no matter what the language happens to be.

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

What is the movie about? :: Lillian (Iben Akerlie) had lived the early parts of her life with her brother Bjorn (Patrick Walshe McBride), who had lost his ability to talk in the later stages of his childhood, after former had left him with nobody to take care of, as they were both orphans, The two only had a cabin in the woods for them to live, and Bjorn had lived there beside the lake for most of his life, which Lillian had left the place for the city. Bjorn had no friends in the isolated place, and used to sit near the lake doing nothing for most of his life. One day, she gets the news that her brother had drowned in the same lake, and that was shocking and depressing for her, as it was her who left him behind, deciding not to spend much time with him. Seeing her depressed state, her friends decide to accompany her to the cabin in the woods beside the lake for the last time she is going there, as she intends to sell it, and get rid of her memories forever, moving on with her life in the city.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The four friends include the beautiful Sonja (Sophia Lie) and three men, Gabriel (Jonathan Harboe), Harald ( Elias Munk) and Bernhard (Jakob Schoyen Andersen), who feels that along with helping Lillian in getting rid of her depression and the memories of the cabin, they can also have some fun in the woods, as they had heard about the beautiful lake and the lovely setting of the cabin. They reach the place and meet Kai (Ulric von der Esch), Lillian’s former lover and friend, a local guy who arranges everything for her. Sonja is quick to turn into the party mood and get into her bikini for the much needed cooling time in the lake, but with people seemingly pulled down under water and the dog going missing, something is wrong, and spoils the holiday mood for all of them. They also find breakfast already there when they wake up, and Lillian has some strange visions, as she begind sleepwalking. The five of them begin to doubt each other as well as another presence which they wonder whether is supernatural in nature.

The defence of Lake of Death :: The movie has a beautiful setting indeed, and the advantage of having such a cabin in the woods setting is that along with that natural beauty which we see at almost every point, we can also find the scope for the creepy effects, for the lake itself has a well-known history of violence happening around it as well as the cabin. There are also some fine scares to go with, and we are left with what is to happen next, even though in the beginning, the horror is not really that direct. The feeling is always there, as horror is present with creepiness wherever you look at it. We do have a few final moments under the lake, and it is beautifully shot, with the protagonist moving underneath like a fish or rather a mermaid, escaping the evil – a site to behold, just like the beauty of nature surely requiring a nymph or a wood elf of its own. There are some other interesting moments of terror which had come earlier – those which we remember include the protagonist sleepwalking through the room, her trying to get away from the bathtub, her awakening beside the lake, as well as the way she looks at other on different occasions.

The claws of flaw :: This is indeed a slow moving movie, and the lack of pace can be seen from the beginning itself. There is some inconsistency in the characters too, except for the two girls who remain the same, and they are well-defined. It does go into the usual traps, with elements which we have seen in other movies, and even those things which didn’t work in those films either. The cliches are indeed there, and most of them work as red herrings, as we move away from what we should focus on, but that too, when it comes in the end, fades away too easily – it could have been longer, especially the moments under the lake which are beautiful, but are over as we begin to get a touch of the same. The movie could have actually been more like The Cabin in the Woods, one of the best horror movies of all-time, which didn’t really get a screen in the malls around here. This Norwegian movie, for some reason, decides not to be that, or even Evil Dead – the scope was really there, as elements of old horror sneaks in so well around here.

Performers of the soul :: The movie’s spirit is entangled into Iben Akerlie who actually becomes a reflection of the atmosphere itself, and she perfectly fits into the role and setting with ease. There is something about her at all times, and we are drawn to the way she looks and acts throughout the movie, like that fairy-tale nymph who reached the world of humans all of a sudden. The way she looks at everything, from the cabin and the woods to people, as well as her simple actions give us a feeling that she is not of this world. She nicely blends into that strange girl whom nobody can easily figure out. Patrick Walshe McBride’s brotherly figure is even more weird, but we don’t really see much of him around here. Then, it is Sophia Lie who has our attention as one of those characters who are better defined than the others. As the only other female character in the movie, she is the one whom we can consider to be the sane one among the other unpredictable ones. The other actors do just the usual in a horror movie as we look at them.

How it finishes :: Lake of Death, the first Norwegian movie which I have watched, has managed to be an interesting horror movie, even though moving on at quite slow pace from the beginning itself. This could have actually worked better as a usual horror movie with this kind of an atmosphere without complicating things too much or lowering the pace rather too much. We could have had the feeling of terror always being there directly rather than bringing them in the form of strange events which don’t seem to be that much dangerous, or through those hallucinations which makes us feel not to be considered serious. Yet, this can begin your movie watching procedure in style as far as Norwegian movies are concerned, because a horror flick with such a setting is always the best option to begin with. You can go through this world of creepiness, beauty and fear, all mingled into one, and then follow up with more Norwegian horror at some other point. After all, horror is the most real thing that you can ever experience in life.

Release date: 1st November 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Nini Bull Robsahm
Starring: Patrick Walshe McBride, Ulric von der Esch, Iben Akerlie, Sophia Lie, Elias Munk, Jonathan Harboe, Jakob Schoyen Andersen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Son

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varane Avashyamundu

What is the movie about? :: Neena (Shobhana) is a divorced mother who is living with her daughter Nikitha (Kalyani Priyadarshan) in the busy city of Chennai. As Neena had eloped from home and married, the only relative who comes to see them is her uncle Manuel (Lalu Alex) while her husband lived far away from them. While Neena works as a teacher of French language, Nikitha also supports herself with a job, and is looking for a groom in a matrimonial website all by herself. Those whom she finds as match include Alphonse (Siju Wilson) and Aby (Rahul Rajasekharan), a Motor Vehicle Inspector and an NRI respectively. In the same block of apartments where they are living, Major Unnikrishnan (Suresh Gopi), a retired army officer also lives alone. He is known for his anger management issues due to which he often gets into trouble, and is disliked by the people living near him.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Bipeesh (Dulquer Salmaan) is the new resident at the apartments, beginning his stay with an argument with Nikitha over their two-wheelers. Nikitha is not fond of him as well as Unnikrishnan who also buys a dog which is almost as huge as him. Major Athmaram (Major Ravi) who was also in the army tries to solve Unnikrishnan’s anger management issues by sending him to his friend who is also a doctor – Doctor Bose (Johny Antony). Unnikrishnan is someone who had managed to climb Mount Everest during his youth, and is also someone who participated in the skirmishes at the Indo-Pakistan border. But he finds it difficult to mingle with people, especially with ladies. The kids of the apartments particularly hate him for his rough attitude. As he tries to change his behaviour, he ends up getting closer to Neena, which changes the lives of Nikitha and Bipeesh as well. But what does it mean for his anger?

The defence of Varane Avashyamundu :: The movie runs on its cast which is an enviable one. It has one generation of veteran performers in the form of Suresh Gopi and Shobhana, and another generation with Dulquer Salmaan and Kalyani Priyadarshan, making it something which everyone from more than one generation feeling the need to watch it. The focus being on the elder stars is the best thing about this movie, as it works really well with the tale to connect with everyone. The funny moments work really well, and the credit for the same rests mostly with Suresh Gopi, supported by Johny Antony. The setting of the apartments in the middle of a city, and people going through their flawed, but interesting lives is nicely shown here. There are some messages given, and most of the time, it is about life and relationships. But, it should have had more depth, in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: One trouble that Varane Avashyamundu seems to face is that it doesn’t have a script to match the cast that it possesses. It had to be better focused on what it was doing, and the same would have allowed us to go beyond that initial drag with ease, and that ending which seemed to be rushed, even though it cannot be termed terrible. The predictability is always there, as we know which direction this is heading – there is no need for any special skill for the same. The need to put the feel-good factor into place would always be a priority, considering the fact that this movie’s competitors were all focused on other genres including the year’s first big hit Anjaam Pathira which is clearly on the other side with the shades. The movie doesn’t have memorable songs or music, and it could have also been shorter, removing some scenes. Even some characters seemed to be rather unnecessary here.

The performers of the soul :: If there is a question about the leading performer in the movie, that is not the leading young pair – it is Suresh Gopi who makes the retired army officer a joy to watch. We had last seen him in My God, and here we have him doing the comedy and emotions exceptionally well, and his character and the changes undergone are too good. Shobana adds to the charm here, and her combination scenes with Suresh Gopi as well as Kalyani. Urvashi also has a memorable role to add here. But at the same time, Dulquer Salmaan doesn’t have much of a screen time – his character is also one which doesn’t suit the overall mood of the movie, and the romance here is also half-baked, seemingly built on fake emotions and therefore lacking in strength. Johny Antony is the next person to bring the comic side alive, while Siju Wilson and Major Ravi also have a few similar moments. Meanwhile, Lalu Alex is there with another usual, but memorable kind of role.

Further performers of the soul :: Kalyani Priyadarshan has her first Malayalam movie, and Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham will be the next. As the daughter of the renowned film director Priyadarshan and the popular actress of her time Lissy Priyadarshan, her debut was long overdue. The other star children had already arrived, and we know what nepotism can do to you, as it was proven with the star kids, even though not that much as it has done with Bollywood. At least in the case of Malayalam movie industry, the sons and daughters can act, and often even excel in what they do, a case which have made the industry rise above the usual brainless acts of Bollywood. Kalyani is no exception either, as she nails her emotional and funny moments. Often reminding one of Bhagyalakshmi Prabhu who plays Meenakshi in Thatteem Mutteem especially with KPAC Lalitha around, she gets to be perfectly fit in this family feel-good stuff.

How it finishes :: Anoop Sathyan, son of the veteran film director Sathyan Anthikad is at the helm of this movie. He is known to have served as assistant director at Malayalam film industry and have also directed independent documentaries. There is a certain Sathyan Anthikad touch that can be seen in this movie, and the same can’t be denied, especially in a feel-good movie directed by his son. It is just with the setting that the difference can be seen – otherwise the model is more or less the same. A shift from the village to the city can be felt more, as it is a change from a very rural setting to a very urban metro setting. But the characters are shown in a simple and lovable manner as we have seen in those rural settings, which make this movie a fine watch for the family audience. There is no question about what the one clean family movie can be, with a modern setting.

Release date: 7th February 2020
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Anoop Sathyan
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Shobana, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Dulquer Salmaan, Urvashi, Lalu Alex, KPAC Lalitha, Johny Antony, Siju Wilson, Major Ravi, Sarvajith Santosh, Meera Krishnan, Sreeja Ravi, Rahul Rajasekharan, Wafa Khatheeja Rahman, Krishna Chandran A Nair, Vidya Menon, Aravind Venugopal, Theni Murugan, K Gopal, Nalsen K Gafoor, Lal Jose (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha

What is the movie about? :: The story is set in a high range village and at an old style family which is left with one old motherly figure and the young son who hasn’t married yet even though he has reached the age of thirty five. Sleevachan (Asif Ali) is someone who hasn’t thought of marriage at any point of his life. Kuttichan (Jaffer Idukki) has brought profiles of many different women for him, but he didn’t even try to go and see a single lady, much to the dismay of his mother, four sisters and other relatives. Even his neighbours, friends and the villagers are looking forward to see him getting married, as he is a much loved person and a helpful man. But as he realized that his mother was getting older, and she needed help, he finally decides that he can’t manage all the farming activities and look after his mother, as he is always outside home.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: A new proposal comes, and this time, Sleevachan is ready to marry, and the girl is Rincy (Veena Nandakumar), daughter of the church vicar’s sister who lives at Angamaly. Even though Sleevachan’s sisters are doubtful in the beginning stages, the two are supposed to be ideal match, and there is no hesitation from anyone’s side about getting them married, except for Richard (Rony David), Rincy’s brother who also agrees to the union of two families. There is a grand wedding ceremony which is attended by almost the whole village, but on the very first day itself, Sleevachan ends up drinking too much alcohol, and falls asleep early. But from what is to follow later, this might be the better night for him. His own lack of understanding of what happens after marriage would land him in trouble. The question remains about how he can change his ways and adapt.

The defence of Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha :: The success of Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha depends on how its situation and idea is presented to make a story with lesser content far more interesting than how it would have been, if presented directly. The main characters are nicely written, and without any melodrama or insensitive dialogues, the movie takes on the family mode quite easily. There was some risk involved with this movie, and the movie even though does take it, never really venture close to danger – the balance is maintained effectively. The music is pretty good, even though not the best. The visuals of the place are nicely captured, and it serves as another good-looking movie too. The messages here are there to be taken, even though not for everyone, and not at the same dose.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much of a content in this movie that stretches to its full length, as some parts of the movie could have been cut down to make this one and half hours – there is not that much in there to take it to two hours and fifteen minutes. The story can be considered to be too simple, and the beginning half an hour or even up to forty five minutes doesn’t have anything to catch our attention at all, and goes through a struggle to get to the point, until it begins to change the mood. There are also moments when one feels that the movie is not that realistic, and due the lesser content out there, it does drag, and the struggle is visible. The ending, even though good, needed to pack a better punch – the feel-good has itself working all the way here though.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali has done a fantastic job here, and it him who gets to drive the movie forward effectively. Even though Kakshi: Amminippilla was a terrible and aimless movie, he had two fantastic movies, Virus and Uyare, as well as the one fine feel-good movies in the form of Vijay Superum Pournamiyum. He makes this simple, highland villager close to life, and also natural enough. He has some fine moments for us to remember, especially in the second half of the movie. This role of the simpleton from a village on a hill, stays safe with him from the beginning to the end. Veena Nandakumar who is best known for the movie Kadam Katha, comes up with a fine, controlled performance. She delivers the most with less dialogues and more from looks and action.

Further performers of the soul :: Basil Joseph, the director of two wonderful movies Kunjiramayanam and Godha has another good role to do after Manoharam. He plays the supporting role well once again, and it is once again the kind of role which Aju Varghese would do in a similar movie. The girl who plays the role of his lover also does a fine job here. Shine Tom Chacko is there in a small role which you would miss if you don’t look around at the right time. Rony David also has a smaller role as the brother of the heroine. Jaffer Idukki has a bigger role, and we get to see him handling a funny as well as matured side. Sruthi Lakshmi and Maala Parvathi are there for shorter moments too. It can be seen that the rest of the cast are also natural, unlike Happy Sardar which released this week, and keeps itself artificial throughout its run.

How it finishes :: Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha has done a pretty good job in keeping close to the family audience while providing a few messages. After the critically acclaimed and top level Helen, this is the movie which will grab your attention. Even with new releases coming this week, its number of shows remaining the same is a sign of the possibility of the movie to stay, even though with Mamangam coming up soon, there is no clear guarantee of the same. Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha‘s title won’t really symbolize the story, but the message does work out, considering the way the movie moves forward. Among the usual feel-good movies, this one strives to be different, and trying new experiments never get old in Malayalam cinema, as we work and seek more.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Nissam Basheer
Starring: Asif Ali, Veena Nandakumar, Manohari Joy, Basil Joseph, Rony David, Jaffer Idukki, Raveendran, Sruthi Lakshmi, Maala Parvathi, Shine Tom Chacko, Jayalakshmi, Sini Abraham, Jesna Sibi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Unforgettable

Vampire Owl: There is nothing unforgettable in this world.

Vampire Bat: It is not true. Some things just stay. I thought you would agree to the unforgettable nature of things.

Vampire Owl: I have been able to forget everything, and re-programme my brain with ease.

Vampire Bat: Was that part of one of the experiments by Doctor Frankenstein?

Vampire Owl: No, it is my own special skill, and no Frankenstein is required for the same.

Vampire Bat: But I know that you keep remembering Lady Death and your inability to get to her realm when needed.

Vampire Owl: Lady Death is not of past. She is more like the present.

Vampire Bat: This is exactly what I am talking about.

Vampire Owl: There is more to that particular story than what meets the eye. You should realize that better, considering how life has been. Well, it follows.

Vampire Bat: I think that you are going to write a book, considering how you have been talking about your life’s story in the last few days.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson) is in a new relationship with David Connover (Geoff Stults) who has only recently separated from his wife Tessa Manning (Katherine Heigl) with whom he has a child, Lily Connover (Isabella Rice). They seem to have managed very well as individuals, sharing the custody of their daughter who stays with each of them at one place after the other. Julia herself has her own little secret, with her abusive former boyfriend Michael Vargas (Simon Kassianides) getting arrested for his violence on him, and is on a restraining order, which has only few days left. To add to her fear about the same, she also has Tessa acting rather strange, seemingly intruding into their lives. Her best friend Ali (Whitney Cummings) would comfort her telling her that these are just common things in life, and is surely better than her last abusive relationship which left her with scars on her body.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: After leaving her job and city to arrive at this town, her biggest nemesis remains Tessa who keeps creating problems for her, mostly in the name of the child, and her inability to take care of the kid as she is not a mother. Scolded by her own mother Helen Manning (Cheryl Ladd) for letting go of her marriage, Tessa gets more and more angry and frustrated, deciding to teach her husband’s new lover a lesson. She searches for information on Julia and finds more than enough about her past, which is not revealed to David. She decides to use the same to her advantage, and contacts Julia’s ex-boyfriend. What follows is a series of events which involve Tessa trying to get rid of Julia, while latter somehow manages to hold on. But the question remains about how long can she evade the traps set by Tessa who seems to have everything in control.

The defence of Unforgettable :: There is the suspense associated with this one, and it keeps you engaged about what is to happen next, and how the plan works out. But above everything else, and even above the story, the movie works the best due to its two leading female actresses, Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl. The former shows her desperation to perfection, while the latter is more like the snow queen who has her heart made into ice, having almost no remorse over her action which would destroy lives – the selfishness that is reflected there is more than what a regular villain would bring in a movie like this. Katherine becomes what they describe by psycho barbie between two characters, and there is some terror hiding behind her eyes as she stare into her nemesis. There are some smart movies being made, but twists oppose the same, and thankfully there is no melodrama even while dealing with this kind of a theme. The one doubt left is whether we have loved the villain so much that we were wishing for her to thrive.

The claws of flaw :: There are a few moments which looks not really living up to what seemed to be planned, and we have some situations that seems to be not done well enough – the movie has its problems here and there as it brings its content. There could have been more to the flashback of the villain too, as we see how good she is even without the same. The final sequence is also strange, seemingly made to let the heroine win, and it is only fair for someone’s good side to let her be the last woman standing, and we wished otherwise, and it would have been more realistic that way. The male characters don’t really have anything interesting to do here, and we see that there was so much more of villainy that could have been brought on. There could have also been certain suspense about what was going to be done, and how worse it could become for the protagonist – the psycho barbie idea could have been twisted to the extreme limits.

How it finishes :: When you see a movie like this, there is that category which you fit this one into, and that is erotic thriller, and then there is erotic drama which has more chance to be chosen by the regular audience. This is certainly not a movie that will be memorable for a very long time with its thrills, but thanks to Katherine Heigl, this one gets raised from where it could have stayed otherwise. After watching this movie, one thing is for sure – we would want a bigger version of such evil on the screen – it is more like the purge that takes away all the bad things; we need something like this more often. When you see the negative reviews and you watch this one, you are going to be surprised by what it brings, and we know that thrillers based on relationships and home can also bring some more when you least expected them.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I think that this particular lady reminds me of someone.

Vampire Bat: If it is about the ex-girlfriend, it might be about Lady Death.

Vampire Owl: What meaningless thing are you talking about? She is not an ex. She is part of my present.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you know that the realm of death has stopped all connections with the vampire world? You can only be trapped in one of the worlds.

Vampire Owl: It is not possible. We are the connection between the living and the dead. We are needed.

Vampire Bat: Even the Lich Queen has been saying the same. There is no real contract regarding the same.

Vampire Owl: There is one with the Vampire Elders.

Vampire Bat: Dude, that connection no longer exists. The Vampire Elders have given up all positions of powers because they are very old.

Vampire Owl: It is absurd. A Vampire Elder rules forever.

Vampire Bat: You should read The Vampire Times at least once a week.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Denise Di Novi
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Katherine Heigl, Geoff Stults, Isabella Rice, Whitney Cummings, Cheryl Ladd, Simon Kassianides, Sarah Burns, Alex Quijano, Stephanie Escajeda, Kincaid Walker, Aline Elasmar, Lauren Rose Lewis, Jayson Blair, Robert Wisdom

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.