Theevandi

What is the movie about? :: Bineesh (Tovino Thomas) started smoking at an early age, and tries to go on with his life without having any responsibility. He has a few friends around whom most of his life happens. The smoking which he started in school followed him to youth, and even though that bothers his lover Devika (Samyuktha Menon), they continue the relationship. Her father Madhu (Suraaj Venjarammood) is not confident about the relationship as he knows that he is a chain smoker due to which the title “Theevandi” was given to him – there is no positive side in the future which he sees about Bineesh, but he reluctantly agrees as Devika is certain about it. He talks to Bineesh’s brother-in-law, Vijith (Saiju Kurup) who works with him in the same political party and gets Devika and Bineesh engaged.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But Devika discovers that the smoking habit of Bineesh is beyond all limits and decides that she can no longer continue to be in love with a man who is obsessed with cigarettes. As she decides to be no longer engaged, another problem arises about who would be the next MLA of the constituency, following a terrible accident involving the MLA who has only a few days left to live. The two possible candidates are Bineesh’s brother-in-law and his possible father-in-law which brings another problem to light. In between all of these, is his smoking problem, and as long as the same exists, he can solve nothing. Can there be a solution to Bineesh’s problems, and how far can he go to make it happen? Or will he take the easy way out?

The defence of Theevandi :: There is the certainty of fun as far as Theevandi is concerned. Some jokes will be remembered for longer than we think, that is for sure. The message also arrives strong, and gets stronger and stronger as the movie progresses. The song “Jeevamshamayi Thaane” might be the best moment of the movie, with some other songs to join in. The music of the flick is very good, and there are some nice visuals of the beautiful village at which the flick is based. There is simplicity all around, and the message which the flick deals with, is serious and beyond the limitations. It is complicated when we see the whole of it, and the message against smoking is something of universal relevance. If the movie can inspire at least one person to give up smoking and lead a better life, there is great success being shown here – that one person will surely not be the end of it.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Theevandi could have done even better with its content. Being a movie which was supposed to release in June, this has been delayed for too long. The length of the move is also a negative thing, especially considering the fact that the main purpose here to provide one message, the one thing that it attempts more than the others. Some moments which were supposed to be funny, also falls short. The ending of the movie is certainly interesting and feel-good, and after a good beginning, it is the middle part that has somewhat a struggle. The political side could have also been a better satire. The tools and the premise were present there, but we see a struggle to go too deep in there, and maybe that concerns the possible risks.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas has another role of a flawed hero after Maradona and Mayaanadhi. He has done this job naturally, and there is no moment when he seems to be in trouble. The protagonist’s problems are nicely shown, and the man caught in the terrible situation has our attention. Samyuktha Menon makes a big impact in her first big role. As the industry seems to have less big names among current actresses, her performance here should elevate more of the cinema of these times too. She excels in the romantic and funny sequences, and just holds the ground during emotional scenes. The pair has fine chemistry running through, and the same feeling that was conveyed through the popular romantic song in the movie, goes on even when she seems to show less interest.

Further performers of the soul :: Despite being provided with an exaggerated character, Surabhi Lakshmi manages to bring the most fun of the same. The character seems to be forced into existence without detailed thoughts, but she could manage that, and make things work. Suraj Venjaramood is comfortable in this role which is mostly serious with some chance for comedy. We remember how he nicely kept the balance earlier with Varnyathil Aashanka, Oru Muthassi Gadha, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Aby – here he has no problems in doing the same again. Shammi Thilakan also brings the funny elements, even though for a lesser amount of time. Sudheesh and Vijilesh do leave a few things for the funny side too. Rajesh Sharma is also there leaving a mark.

How it finishes :: These are the days when the Malayalam movies are making a comeback after a short break caused by the Kerala Floods. It is the return of the films as much as the return of the state to the normal world. It is with more interesting releases including Ranam and Theevandi that Malayalam movies are making a return, as movies like Koode and Maradona have been there for quite long. The case of Theevandi is stronger because it deals with a socially relevant movie. Translated better as “the vehicle of fire” rather than as the literal translation “the train”, this movie certainly becomes a better notice against smoking than any of those small advertisements shown in the beginning of the flicks. It marks a fine return of Malayalam movies as it surely seems to serve its purpose. You might also want to watch the video song from the movie which has become so popular.

Release date: 7th September 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Fellini TP
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Samyuktha Menon, Surabhi Lakshmi, Rajesh Sharma, Suraaj Venjarammood, Shammi Thilakan, Sudheesh, Krishna Praba, Neena Kurup, Vijilesh, Musthafa

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Panchavarnathatha

What is the movie about? :: A nameless man (Jayaram) is a mystery to many, as he owns pets ranging from cats, dogs and parrots to camels, horses, donkeys and elephants. He speaks and acts in strange ways, leading to most people of his neighbourhood belonging to upper middle class family not liking his presence in a plot right between their homes. Most of his collection of birds and animals are leftovers of a circus which had recently ceased to exist. He takes special care of his animals and birds, and sells them only to those people whom he finds fit to give them the best lives. Along with living with these creatures, he also has small real estate business and other small part-time jobs. Even though he might seem tough for people who never knew him, he is more than that, with no hesitation in helping others in need, having special love for children, as he is an orphan who never knew his father and mother.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Kalesh (Kunchacko Boban) is the MLA of the place, who was elected earlier because his father, the former MLA had died, leaving a wave of sympathy among the common people. Despite his father being a man loved by many people, Kalesh couldn’t do much for those who elected him, and is living in a mansion of his friend, Nazir (Joju George) with his wife Chitra (Anusree) and a complaining mother (Mallika Sukumaran), who blames him being not anywhere close to his father as a politician or a social worker. With his father’s former aid Udayan (Ashokan), Kalesh hopes to claim all the glory in style with a win in the upcoming elections. His opponent for this election is Jimmy (Salim Kumar), who hopes to reclaim the consituency for his party after a long time, in one way or the other.

And what is follow with the events? :: The journeys of the two, the unnamed man and Kalesh meets when the people of the neighbourhood tries to have the animal and bird lover evicted. Kalesh is the person whom they see to accomplish that aim. But not everyone thinks about him in the same way, as the the local police officer KO Rangan (Prem Kumar) himself finds the animals and birds interesting. Things get further complicated when Kalesh is forced to give the man some space in his home because of certain twist of events. With all creatures following him, Kalesh and his family might have taken in more than what they could have. Now, questions remain about the future of the animals and birds, as well as the political career of Kalesh. Can things get better in their lives, or is this strange combination going to ruin everything?

The defence of Panchavarnathatha :: There is some good comedy followed by a fine emotional end in this flick, which is never short of being interesting for the family audience. Along with the same, there is a good message being provided here, about doing good for the others, not just to humans, but also to the animals and birds. With its everyman characters, we feel the need to attach ourselves to it, rather than some random fan movie which has fan-centered life which is not applicable to the common man who think about their families and society rather than any random superstar. The songs are just okay. Ramesh Pisharody’s first attempt at direction surely feels better and closer to heart than those movies celebrated in the name of common man like Amar Akbar Anthony and Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. There is enough in Panchavarnathatha for most people, and the others are having problems which are surely not visible on the big screen. Some incidents in real life are also reflected here.

The claws of flaw :: There is one person whom we miss on the screen, and it is Ramesh Pisharody himself who has directed the movie, but never appears as an actor. Some of the comedy also misses out, and we feel that this kind of an idea could have had even better treatment, maybe closer to daily life’s incidents, or in a way that it goes beyond the self-inflicted restrictions – you feel the strength of the idea within this one, and the need to have more. It could have been a complete social satire, but that choice is not made even though there is politics with the ugly sides, and people within a society that has its own stranger sides. The movie is also a little too long as it deals with its content, which had to be dealt with better to go for such a long run. Also, these many animals were not needed, as it doesn’t help to take things seriously. There could have been a fine background story for the main character too.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram is here with a different avatar, and after this year’s disaster of a movie Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam which competed with Queen to become the worst movie of 2018, he has redeemed up to an extent with this role. There is the absence of those big dialogues with this one, and the character serves with the divergence that was needed. Kunchacko Boban has this character under full control, and Anusree seems to be rightly suited for this role, as she goes natural with the performance. Mallika Sukumaran also contributes well on the usual lines. Dharmajan Bolgatty arrives later, but contributes well to the fun; before that there was Salim Kumar doing the same. Prem Kumar also brings some good contribution for the comic side, and Ashokan is there for the whole length of the movie. Joju George then brings a little more later.

How it finishes :: Panchavarnathatha is the one underrated movie of this Vishu – it seems to have managed less attention than Jayaram’s earlier lesser movies including Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam and Kunchacko Boban’s Kuttanadan Marpappa, which is rather strange. This one is surely better than Mohanlal which released with Panchavarnathatha gaining more attention, as the comedy is cent percent better working, and has characters that will appeal to us rather than some random fan girl who never really deserved to be taken seriously, as she went on to become a curse for everyone around here. We all need everyman characters, and Panchavarnathatha has something that touches the emotions along with the comic side, rather than becoming a pretender like many other movies; any kind of different uprising is always required among similar movies.

Release date: 14th April 2018
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Ramesh Pisharody
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Jayaram, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Anusree, Ashokan, Salim Kumar, Maniyanpilla Raju, Joju George, Prem Kumar, Mallika Sukumaran, Dini Daniel, Tini Tom, Seema G Nair, Kunchan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varnyathil Aashanka

What is the movie about? :: Pratheesh (Shine Tom Chacko) is a simple guy looking to start a business in or around the city of Thrissur. But usual way of making money doesn’t come naturally to him – he is always looking for the easy path, the shortcuts to his objective. His people doesn’t have a high opinion about him, especially his uncle (Jayaraj Warrier) from whom he takes small amounts of money which he can’t pay back. He also needs money for his new business and has nobody to aid him. At the same time, he has to pay to get back the gold ornaments of his friend Thanima (Gayathri Suresh), which he had used to get money for his needs – she threatens to commit suicide after letting everyone know that he is responsible for her death. Pratheesh even tries pickpocketing, but gets beaten up before escaping. His best friend is Wilson (Chemban Vinod Jose) who also goes through a similar phase, and is looking for some money for family matters.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Shivan (Kunchacko Boban) is a rather experienced thief in the locality. He is known to be very good at his work, and whenever he brings something home, everyone thinks that he has stolen it. Pratheesh, Wilson and Shivan meets up over alcohol, and Gilbert (Manikandan R Achari) from the nearby town also joins them. As they all have their own problems, they decide to solve them all by doing a big heist at the nearby Aishwarya Jewellery owned by Ittoop (Sunil Sukhada). It is something that could change their lives forever, and they plan to do it the simple and effective way, on a twenty four hour harthal night which will have almost nobody on the road in front of the shop. With violence having broken out after the death of a party worker, people have been staying indoor throughout the district, and they decide to use it to their advantage. If things work out right, this would be their one big heist and the last one.

And what else is to happen here? :: Dayanandhan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is just another guy living nearby, and has been sitting idle at home after the bar where he was working had shut down according to the new liquor policy of the government. His wife Keerthana (Rachana Narayanankutty) goes to work at a nearby textile shop, and he isn’t interested in searching for a new job. They have also taken loans, and as they had married after eloping, there is nobody from their place to help them. While returning home after meeting a friend at Aluva on the same harthal day, Dayanandan comes up against the same thieves, and they decide to shut him up in one way or the other. There are also two policemen, Gireesh (Tini Tom) and Murugan (Dinesh Prabhakar) who arrives at the same location at the same time. This leaves everyone confused, on what is to happen next. Everyone has their own problems to deal with, but this one only gets more twisted.

The defence of Varnyathil Aashanka :: The movie goes through a satirical mode with its content, as it takes on what has been happening in the state during some time. There is a lot of humour happening here with simple incidents, as you would notice – the simple things in life gets packed into more and more humour, and there seems to be no difficulty in doing the same at any point. There are also those reflections and messages to take home, as uses its humour to show the people around us as they are – you see that the thieves are the same, and you doubt if this and that are the same. Never does the movie losses its pace, and you will see that it is always interesting. You also see the power of team work in this one, as this is not limited to one person overshadowing the rest – everyone gets to do their part, and contribute to the tale as well as the overall humour. You are going to be interested in being part of the simple man’s heist without complications, in one way or the other.

The claws of flaw :: Despite providing a reflection of the state of our surroundings and leaving the message, the movie’s final funny and interesting speech will feel a little too lengthy, and the final moments will also seem not matching the whole movie, as it goes without the wonder which was rather expected. There also those moments which seem to defy logic, but in the name of bringing the funny side in a neat way, you will find things to be fair – with the same, it eclipses the other two movies which released on the same day. Still, the movie has a few moments in the first half which will hold it down, but it is just by a little bit. There shouldn’t be the expectations about seeing a big heist movie with this one too, as that can ruin things. On the first day of its release, this one seemed to be rather not hyped, and made way for the rest of the releases, but we see this one getting stronger now.

Performers of the soul :: The movie begins with Shine Tom Chacko’s character, and he gets a fine role here following Tiyaan, which he has done without stumbling anywhere. Kunchacko Boban has brought his character to a fine level, and it is very unlike what he has been doing in the recent past. Suraj Venjaramoodu has another interesting role, which immediately catches our attention right from the beginning – he arrives late and he conquers. There is one final speech that he gets to make further difference nicely and effectively. Chemban Vinod Jose is at his usual best, as he has played the thief in so many other movies, having no trouble with this one. Manikandan R Achari extends the fun which is present like he did with Alamara and Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and has his own moments with the flick. Gayathri Suresh makes one nice cameo at the end, which you will remember. Rachana Narayanankutty is a fine addition too, as you would see here.

How it finishes :: Varnyathil Aashanka battles against Sarvopari Palakkaran and Chunkzz for this weeekend, while the others including Sunday Holiday, Kadam Katha and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum are also there from the previous weeks. Its comparisons are going to be to Sapthamashree Thaskaraha and Kohinoor, both having quite a big group of thieves looking forward to the big heist. In comparison, one can place this movie in between the other two movies, as it is better than Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, but not as better as Kohinoor. Certainly a lot better than the other movie of thieves like Bicycle Thieves and Urumbukal Urangaarilla, Varnyathil Aashanka has something that the rest of the flicks of the same kind never had – its ability to use some satire to reflect and make fun of the happenings in the state, and the movie can consider the same as its special quality which makes its stand apart.

Release date: 4th August 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Sidharth Bharathan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Chemban Vinod Jose, Shine Tom Chacko, Rachana Narayanankutty, Manikandan R Achari, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Jayaraj Warrier, Sunil Sukhada, Tini Tom, Dinesh Prabhakar, Gayathri Suresh (cameo), KPAC Lalitha (cameo)

<— Click here for the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Specials: Remake Saga

temporary

*With two of the four remakes of Drishyam still pending and scheduled to release next month, I take this opportunity to remember a few of the Hindi movies which were remakes from Malayalam, with most of the better known ones from Priyadarshan. So, as we wait for the release of the much awaited movie remakes starring Kamal Haasan and Ajay Devgan, let us have a look at one of those remakes. Even though a good number of them worked in both languages, here I choose a movie which still remains a much loved title in Malayalam, but the same can’t be said about its Hindi remake. Sanmanassullavarkku Samadhanam and Yeh Teraa Ghar Yeh Meraa Ghar are the two movies I am writing about.

Even though the setting look different, they are the same with the situations in both movies. Actually, the protagonist enters the scene earlier in the case of the Hindi version. The sequences do look exactly the same though, beginning with the eviction notice and going on with talks about the problems of the house, related to the marriage of the female family members and the other financial problems which have been created and the chances of any of the troubles getting over. These things actually do remain the same everywhere even though the cultural differences and changes in the tones of characters according to the language can also be seen.

The Malayalam version has better known actors playing the supporting roles, and as the scene shifts to the city, the changes are more easily visible – both cities are nowhere close to being similar in the soul as each has its own identity. You can see that from the way characters interact and even from the looks of the building which the protagonist owns. There is a gap of fifteen years between the movies and the changes are clearly seen; so are the differences in language and culture. This raises the question if this remake would have worked better if done a few years ago and with even less similarities with the original. The good thing about the remakes of Drishyam is that the gap between the original and the last released remake won’t be more than two years.

The Malayalam version also had Mohanlal who is a big difference between the two versions – it would have been easier to guess though. Even with some dialogues which seems to be exactly translated with such clarity like using a good translating software, there is no match for that time period which was like the golden age of Malayalam cinema. The version is also longer at the beginning stages; if you check at 35 minutes of the Malayalam version, the Hindi version has only reached 29 minutes or slightly shorter with the story reaching the same point. But you won’t feel that so much time has passed, and it is the skill of the legendary actor to keep the audience interested, and things are closer to the life of the 1980s. Then in the end, the Hindi version gets longer by around 40 minutes.

The slight changes occur when the run-time gets to half an hour with new characters included as they lead to some more situations; those having no place in the original. The Malayalam original also has fun right through it, even though the Hindi remake has more ups and down with its progress, and makes less sense. Sreenivasan was that big boost to the original that the remake misses despite the presence of Paresh Rawal. He comes with that hilarious performance in a song which can never be matched. The jokes become less effective as the original was so simple and right out of the heart. The veteran actor Thilakan was another big positive along with the songs.

The extra sequences that the Hindi version adds nothing good to the movie, as some of them actually remind the viewers of older Malayalam movies like Shubhayathra, Minnaram, Chandralekha and Vandanam, which might have been added to bring some extra humour. Chandralekha-inspired money lending sequence is rather too ineffective in this movie unlike it was in the Malayalam movie. This actually means that the Malayalam version gets ahead and now the remake from Bollywood is lagging. Releasing too late, the remake had to do something special, and not add things from other movies. There was also the social satire element of the Malayalam version which doesn’t become that effective here.

Hera Pheri was actually that remake of Ramji Rao Speaking which did some justice to the original. I liked how it worked with Garam Masala (Boeing Boeing), Hungama (Poochakkoru Mookkuthi), Dhol (In Harihar Nagar) and Hulchul (Godfather) even though, in almost every case, the original scores better. But here, even with the jokes, the effect is less, as Yeh Teraa Ghar Yeh Meraa Ghar doesn’t do the same for Sanmanassullavarkku Samadhanam even though it should still be okay for those who haven’t watched the original or the scenes from other Malayalam movies. I don’t have much of a positive opinion about Bodyguard and its remakes though. About the nonsense movie Pokkiri Raja and its remake Boss, there is no need for any opinion. The ratings are very low for our movie here, but this remake isn’t that terrible as it shows, when we think about those movies and compare. But with Drishyam, there seems to be some very nice effort put in there made, and you will know if you have watched the trailers. I will be watching both the remakes, and I really hope that they do justice to the original – if they do, it is going to be awesome!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vellimoonga

vellimoonga (1)

Vampire Owl :: I condemn the name of this movie. They are not supposed to name a comedy movie as “the silver owl”.

Vampire Bat :: It says silver owl, not vampire owl or not even night owl. There is no way it can affect you.

Vampire Owl :: But I am still deeply offended.

Vampire Bat :: You were just looking to find a reason to be offended.

Vampire Owl :: Everyone is offended by something or anything all the time, and I choose to follow that path which is the new fashion. I shall still forgive them if the movie is a good one, because I am a generous Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: It has good reviews so far. You could actually not blame a few people this time.

Vampire Owl :: Who are they to judge and review an owl? What do they even know about owls? Are they married to owls?

Vampire Bat :: It is not really the story of an owl. It has humans. What is wrong with you these days?

Vampire Owl :: I stare at the mirror and see only the owlish truth. The absolute truth that only the owls can recognize as true.

Vampire Bat :: This is exactly why zombies eat brains.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Vellimoonga tells the story of a politician Mamachan (Biju Menon) who attempts to reach big heights by being part of political party in the north of India rather than joining a local party and using his local image to become a leader in the locality. He roams around his village, attempting to make a name using his political affliation to the big party of which he is just one of the very few members in the whole state. His best friend and the only other member of the party in that locality is Pachan (Aju Varghese) who helps him in his initiatives, hoping to go to Delhi with him some day. Jose (Tini Tom) is his big political enemy from the left wing. Mamachan who is not married even after his younger brother getting married and having two kids, finally falls of a girl who attends the same church, Lisa (Nikki Galrani), but would face big resistance from her father Vareeth (Siddique) who used to be his rival. How our hero handles the situation becomes the rest of the story.

The defence of Vellimoonga :: The movie’s ability to be a laugh riot cannot be questioned in the most doubtful situations. We come to know that right in the beginning itself. They could ornate this simple plot with nice comic numbers and some interesting twists with serene strength. The script does have enough to extract the performances from the actors and actresses. The visuals are good as the beauty of the rural area is captured nicely and the shots are beautifully adorned. There is no questioning the movie’s propensity for competence even without the presence of any so called superstar or heavy publicity, and for the same, the movie deserves some more applause. The movie could skillfully use its cast to its strength, and could thrive on the abilities of its actors to evoke laughter embedding the right situations here and there and there is also the ultimate realization that it gives to its viewers on how cute and pretty Nikki Galrani actually looks.

The claws of flaw :: Vellimoonga could have surely had a little more logic with some of its proceedings, but that should be a purely subjective opinion as far as a funny movie purely made for fun is concerned, and it does keep some of the same. The songs are just ordinary, nothing really making an impact. There is a little bit of missing in the middle, with the flow getting lost at times, but that can often go unnoticed. A little more care to the plot could have been nice, instead of deviating each situation to bring comedy here and there. A little bit more of the reflections of the major political incidents would have also done this movie more favours. A full swing political satire like Sandhesam could have been here, may be developing what Oru Indian Pranayakadha had also partially shown, sadly that much is not there to be seen. There are also a number of comedy numbers which should have been rather avoided, but may be it caters to a certain group of viewers.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon returns to the big screen as the solo leading character of a movie after a very long time, and it is not just the silver in the name of the movie that he strikes, but it is the gold itself. It was splendid to see how well he captures the mannerisms of his character and gets into the role of a political player with such an ease. Yes, it is Aju Varghese who skillfully supports him and does what he has been doing the best, but there is nothing like Biju Menon leading the comedy train, something he has been doing for such a long time along with his other variety roles. He doesn’t combine with or play second fiddle to Kunchako Boban or Dileep this time as takes things forwards with the support of Aju. This also turns out to be Nikki Galrani’s best ever outing in Malayalam as she is stunningly beautiful and cute like no other actress of these days. Tini Tom also essays an impressive role with ease, and Asif Ali’s extended cameo is likable. It is good to see Anu Joseph in the movies too. Sunil Sukhada and Sasi Kalinga scores with their comic numbers too.

Soul exploration :: Vellimoonga does work as a satire, there is no doubt about it. The movie doesn’t hesitate in making fun of the political situation that is prevalent in the country concerned with unholy alliances between the parties and seat sharing, along with the influence of regional parties. The situations related to politics remain funny throughout the movie, and the personal life of the protagonist and his infatuation towards the girl comes only as a part of the same. The significant thing is that the whole thing is concerned with what happens in one village, something which provides a certain feel-good factor to this movie, as the audience also seems to need such locations. The movie doesn’t give the feeling of drinking some bourgeoisie coffee which is provided by some random machinery, but that of a certain kind of tea which has the flavour of the villages and its hardworking common people.

How it finishes :: Vellimoonga is the winner of the weekend before Gandhi Jayanthi and will carry over its success to the Pooja season – who would have thought that this Biju Menon starrer will be the winner facing bigger movies which released at the same time, or were already in the theatres when it came to the audience? Yes, Biju Menon wins this round with ease, and for giving us this one with all its power, we can thank his versatility as a wonderful actor. Let’s hope that this movie is not lost in mindless remakes coming from Bollywood with the dumb stuff like Bang Bang! We are in need of comedy movies which don’t stoop into buffoonery of any kind, and Vellimoonga guarantees that such movies can exist without superstars with its own existence. May be it will inspire more movies which can come up with some more genuine comedy which won’t make the brains of the audience feel like vegetable noodles.

Release date: 26th September 2014
Running time: 130 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Jibu Jacob
Starring: Biju Menon, Aju Varghese, Nikki Galrani, Tini Tom, Lena, Asif Ali, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Siddique, Sunil Sukhada, Sasi Kalinga, Kalabhavan Shajon, Anu Joseph, Chembil Ashokan, Shivaji Guruvayoor

vellimoonga!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sapthamashree Thaskaraha

sapthamasreethaskara

Vampire Owl :: I can’t pronounce the name of this movie. Is it a bad omen? Does that mean that we will suffer brutally?

Vampire Bat :: No, the movie is good as per all reports. There is absolutely no question about it. The inability to pronounce is because you are an owl.

Vampire Owl :: I am the Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, everybody knows that already.

Vampire Owl :: Well, what you don’t know about is the significance of owls in vampire mythology.

Vampire Bat :: It is not about you, but some random old, toothless owl.

Vampire Owl :: You shall not understand because you were brainwashed thrice by Uncle Dracula. Do you think the movie will go wrong?

Vampire Bat :: I don’t think so. Prithviraj hasn’t missed anything since Ayalum Njanum Thammil. There is that perfection even in cameo roles; even in Bollywood. Even his lesser appreciated movie London Bridge was a very good flick which some people failed to follow with its themes because of their lesser intellect.

Vampire Owl :: So, this is the day we really celebrate Onam?

Vampire Bat :: This should be it. But this is not the end as there are also a few other movies to pick from.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: We see a man coming to confess at a church in the early morning, and he decides to tell the priest about his story of crime. He talks about how his life changed with one big heist that he committed. There are seven people who meet in the prison, and the list includes Krishnanunni (Prithviraj Sukumaran), Shabab (Asif Ali), Noble (Nedumudi Venu), Martin (Chemban Vinod), Narayanankutty (Neeraj Madhav), Vasu (Sudheer Karamana) and Salam (Salam Bukhari). They decide to steal from a business tycoon called Pious Mathew (Joy Mathew) who was the one responsible for the terrible predicament of some of the people in the same cell as well as many other poor people. For the same, they come up with a plan for which they are helped by Noble’s daughter Annamma (Sanusha Santhosh), Salam’s friend Paki (Flower Battsetseg) and a few of the other former acquaintances as they decide to teach the city’s top devil a lesson.

The defence of Sapthamashree Thaskaraha :: Here, the usual heist movie is made interesting due to the skills of the director, as there is some nice narration and progress going on in the movie, and the jokes are nicely added in between the situations. The confession setting is nicely done, and the dialogues there are worth some applause. There were lots of claps all around in the theatre. Anil Radhakrishnan Menon has nicely managed these characters here and has made sure that all the robbers have some individuality of their own to compliment each other. The whole thing remains interesting throughout, and there is no drag, loss of interest or any similar thing. The fact that this turns out to be more of a heist than a social satire might be interesting for a few, but not working for some others – remember that things are rather too easy for the robbers. The movie is a clear winner for the Onam box-office, and nothing can change that, and considering the opinions about the other movies, a defence might not be even needed.

The claws of flaw :: The addition in the end is pretty immature, as if there is that 7th Day hangover which never leaves, and has come back to haunt for this Onam – the movie should have just finished before it. There is never the need for a climax over another climax just to add another twist. What we needed were simple lovable little robbers working for a cause, and the end ruins it, destroying that feel-good element completely. The movie was going in the same mood until it happened. The whole thing does remind us of many Hollywood heist movies, and as a comparison is rather unnecessary, I shall leave out of it. This doesn’t like up-to our director’s first movie North 24 Kaatham in front of which, this is trailing. The movie takes too much time to get into the action, and almost an hour is over by the time all the flashbacks are dealt with – not really appropriate for a heist movie to have such a long background for each character. None of the songs are interesting except for the title song which is okay.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran continues his winning run in Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, as his success story continues from what he had started with the Lal Jose movie and goes on even when put in less familiar territories like Bollywood (Aurangzeb), romance (London Bridge) and even in negative roles most of the actors would hesitate to do. That perfect journey that he started in 2012, as there is no other actor who has achieved such a good winning ratio, as they move around with their ups and downs – this where Prithviraj has risen above them all, the only other person who has achieved a similar record should be Nivin Pauly, but even he hasn’t got such variety opportunities as our man here who has made the impossible look easy through the last few years. Yes, if you choose the right movie to act in, there will always be appreciation or at least there won’t be too many bad things being told in the worst case scenario.

And the same that is continued :: This Onam is not just about this movie’s success for Prithviraj Sukumaran, as he became father to a baby girl a few days ago. Here, he has a role which is not at all a challenge for him, and does that with ease. The rest of the cast is also very good, and it is on the performances that this movie stands. Reenu Mathews and Sanusha do fine with the limited roles that they have, and the pick of the supporting cast should be Chemban Vinod and Neeraj Madhav who give us a lot to laugh. Asif Ali should have had a bigger role here, but he remains just as one of the seven robbers, unlike his nice entrance in the beginning. Joy Mathew is a nice villain, and this might be better than his previous such performances. Sudheer Karamana and Nedumudi Venu also provides nice support here. Indrajith Sukumaran comes in a guest role by the end of the movie. Flower Battsetseg, a Mongolian circus artist also does some nice work in this flick.

How it finishes :: This Onam is not that good as the last year, as it is evident from the reception for the released movies, and it goes on with the total lag that this year has experienced with Malayalam movies. The last year’s Onam had North 24 Kaatham, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus and Ezhamathe Varavu being very good flicks, the first one being simplay awesome. There were also terrible stuff like D Company and Sringaravelan, but this year only has Sapthamashree Thaskaraha and up-to an extent, Bhaiyya Bhaiyya to save the season, as others turn out to be mass masala movies for the fans. If the reports are to be correct, Sapthamashree Thaskaraha should be the movie of Onam, and it is clearly re-iterated by a lot of movie watchers who are regular audience. It is a good sign for this Onam. I shall take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads this a Happy Onam, and hope that this last weekend before the Onam vacation ends, brings some awesome movies which will only extend our celebrations. Enjoy the Onam Holidays and God bless! 🙂

Release date: 6th September 2014
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Anil Radhakrishnan Menon
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Reenu Mathews, Sanusha Santhosh, Asif Ali, Joy Mathew, Neeraj Madhav, Nedumudi Venu, Chemban Vinod, Flower Battsetseg, Sudheer Karamana, Salam Bukhari, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Indrajith Sukumaran (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Punyalan Agarbathis

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The time of the saints :: It is the time for the saints, and it was proved by one of the best satirical movies in Malayalam belonging to this century. There was indeed a saint in that movie, and it was Pranchiyettan and the Saint. Now, with the word “punyalan” translated as the saint, this movie also tries to take on the saint + trichur slang which shaped that wonderful satire. The saint is for sale this time, as our hero sells “Saint Incense Sticks” which is how “Punyalan Agarbathis” would get translated, and also if we consider it in another way, it is the sale of a useful saint imagery that happens here, now just as a Christian saint, but rather as the saintly figure in the centre which gets explored so many times, mostly remembered by this year’s movie Immanuel with its title character and Pranchiyettan was himself nothing less than a saint. There is still a lot of interest for the saintly figures among our usual audience, even as the hero who beats up people and says vulgar dialogues might come back any time now – I just hope they stay dead.

What is it about? :: Hailing from Trichur, Joy Thakkolkaran (Jayasurya) is a man who keeps trying his luck in many business ventures, but none of them really working. His latest attempt is on creating incense sticks from elephant dung, and it is named Punyalan Agarbathis hoping that Saint George will help him in his attempt to make it big. He wanders around looking for collecting what he calls “raw materials”. His wife, Anu (Nyla Usha) supports him with a regular job, but it is often insufficient for what he has to spend for his business. He is helped by his long time friend and assistant Greenu Sharma (Aju Varghese) and a driver Abhaya Kumar (Sreejith Ravi) as well as two workers who rarely works. But he has to fight a lot of narrow minded people, politicians and after all, fate which means that his troubles might never end. He is forced to spend most of his time in the court seeking justice, and his ideas keep getting struck down by destiny’s lightning, as he begins to feel that the whole world is against him. The story deals with how he finally survives in his battle.

The defence of Punyalan Agarbathis :: Well, the defence of Punyalan Agarbathis is easy up-to an extent. Other than its social relevance which is mostly about the tragic situation of the common man and the social evil which is harthal, the whole thing is about fun. The simplicity of the movie is worth appreciating. There are lots of funny dialogues stored in between. The beginning credits scene itself is well-crafted with scenes from Trichur. Most of the characters are interesting, and the movie has successfully built up a very good first half after its interesting beginnings. It has moments which makes one wonder how more awesome it can get, and keeps the audience asking for more. The movie’s biggest advantage might be its name, and its trailer which keeps the audience interested, and once the movie starts, there is also the ability to keep close to that standard till the end of first half. The songs are fine and the cinematography is admirable. The saint hasn’t avoided this movie, that is for sure.

Claws of flaw :: The movie seems to create the idea that there is a saint in most of the common man who suffers due to the rich, corrupt hands of the same society, but that kind of fades a few minutes after the first half. By that time, movie had deviated from its wonderful world to an abyss of incapacitated story with the undercurrents of that logic which decided that it is better to leave the flick and go to Mars and stay with Martians. There was always the chance to go astray right from the beginning, but it happened only in the second half, and the way they tried to finish it quickly almost as if a limited offer deus ex machina is used, is a real blemish on the movie. It was more like a cargo ship with great items on board going adrift and losing its good cargo by the time it reaches the destination. Why this sudden disorientation? Even if there was no happy ending to the story, may be if they had just let the leading character miss out and leave his business, it wouldn’t have been a lesser level second half or ending.

Performers of the soul :: If I have to tell who is the performer of the day, that would be a surprise, as Jayasurya is the man in form yet again. He transforms into another interesting character with ease, and Aju Varghese is a wonderful support to him. Sreejith Ravi also contributes to the fun in an avatar he is not usually seen in. Nyla Usha joins the party with charm, and Rachana Narayanankutty does a great job, both serious and funny sides handled with care. Innocent and Tesni Khan also contributes with their relatively small presence, even as we would have liked to see a lot more from the former. T.G. Ravi was there for the last Trichur based satirical comedy and he is there to impress us yet again. Idavela Babu is here as a villain for a change and doing a wonderful job, even as the evil face doesn’t just belong to him, but to so many forces of the society. You have to like Sunil Sukhada in his job. The acting department is so close to perfection, and the other areas of the movies are well supported, yes Mala Aravindan’s funny KAPA character included.

Social relevance :: We have had many movies of social relevance, with Sandesam, Varavelpu and Vellanakalude Naadu quite a long time ago, and Arabikkatha, Passenger and Pranchiyettan and the Saint not too far away from the present. Punyalan Agarbathis falls behind all these movies, but is the next movie which comes to the list. The movie takes on harthal as a social disturbance right from the beginning stages itself. The assertion on the harthal stands tall among others, and another focus is on the corrupt politics and the plight of the common man, and also about how difficult it is to begin an industry in Kerala. But the use of elephant dung there might be strange, but still okay enough as the movie is not to be taken that seriously, and the use of such an insignificant and free thing means that one can’t even try little things in a world of corruption and among influential people who are there to create trouble. If it was presented a little differently, with a better second half and a much better climax, the movie would have been remembered for a very long time.

How it finishes :: Ranjith Sankar has given us messages through his movies, and his best shall yet remain Passenger, a fine Molly Aunty Rocks and a below average Arjunan Saakshi. All of them had something other than the story to tell us, and this one is not different either. The elephant dung thing gets irritating after some time, and you know at which point the movie losses focus. Otherwise, this is the right Malayalam movie for the weekend, if we consider the reports. As the title Bicycle Thieves hurts my feelings about Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist drama and the name Escape from Uganda makes one feel worse, with the only thing further strange being the name Namboothiri Yuvavu @ 43 – this movie is a winner right from the title. The reports also seem to suggest that there is something in the title that is carried into the movie. Still, if you are not fixed on watching a Malayalam movie, I would suggest Frozen as the movie of the week. Meanwhile, our desire to watch another Pranchiyettan and the Saint remains unfulfilled.

PS: The leading character in Pranchiyettan and the Saint was Francis, and here we have the character as Joy. Something tells me that next satires based on Trichur might having the protagonists, as Jos and Paul, and you can make a guess why I predict so! 😀

Release date: 29h November 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Nyla Usha, Aju Varghese, Innocent, Rachana Narayanankutty, Sreejith Ravi, T.G. Ravi, Tesni Khan, Mala Aravindan, Idavela Babu, Sunil Sukhada, Shivaji Guruvayur

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

5 Sundarikal

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5 Sundarikal which can be translated as 5 Beauties, is that romantic anthology film which might have had its existence to thank the 2009 anthology movie Kerala Cafe. There were ten stories in that one and here it is cut to half with five, and only Anwar Rasheed doing a story in both the anthologies. The Vampire Bat would not agree to the title though, as it would be left to him to say which one is the beauty and which one is the beast. The only suitable title would have been 5 Females, and fighting with three other movies which has interested the crowds, even the name of a movie has to add to the total interest generated. Even in my case, this is the first time I get a Malayalam movie with a Malayalam name to review, and the “5” is to be read as Malayalam “anchu” and not “five” as far as I know. Watching stupidity like Raanjhanaa is clearly out of the equation and this movie having five stories instead of one increases the probability of getting at least two good ones; so there is no doubt which Indian movie one is supposed to go this week. There is the power of five compared to the power of six in ASK a.k.a Aaru Sundarimaarude Katha, and the obsession with beauties continue, this time with more success, and one beauty judged less is always the truth gained further. Whether it should be “sundarikal” or “sundarimaar” is a question to be asked to satisfy the quest to find grammatical errors, and I would go with the former.

Sethulakshmi: directed by Shyju Khalid :: [59/100] :: No, there isn’t going to be a total score based on the average of these stories, as that should annihilate the purpose of this movie as an anthology as well as this review as a subjective reality. There would be separate worlds for each story and for the movie, there would be another reality of totality, to which this simple story adds on first coming as an adaptation of M. Mukundan’s short story, Photo. The story of two school kids is shown in its own natural innocence until their world-changing event happens. The simplicity turns itself into the tough theme which the story has to deal with, and that is the place and may be where it scores. There is the depth of evil portrayed in a way that will haunt one with innocence. But the question remains if this belongs to this movie, as the presence of a beauty or even pseudo-beauty here itself negates the need for this story in the movie and all the purpose it would have served, and however one tries to look at this, a more deserving platform for this one would have been Kerala Cafe, and might have been the second best story in that movie after Anjali Menon’s Happy Journey. It is kind of misplaced here, and this might have been added here to arouse the curiosity of the viewers as well as to create that new generation element – otherwise this among the other stories is like Roger Federer guarding the goal post for the Spanish national football team.

Isha: directed by Sameer Thahir :: [79/100] :: Along with the former one, this story also has the scope of becoming a one and half to two hours of good cinema. It stars Nivin Pauly as the thief a.k.a the Santa, and Isha Sharvani who makes her debut as the beauty of this segment, and undoubtedly the smartest and the most charming of them all. They start off as two strangers and with many things in common, and the question would be what they end up to be, and that is the surprise, that twist of plot which raises the story from its existence just inches about the average level. Nivin Pauly has remained similar to what we saw in Thattathin Marayathu, as this time he has another Isha, Isha Sharvani instead of Isha Talwar, another lady from the North, and this female lead does a lot more than the other one did. This story and what is to follow are the only two segments which are actually centered on the beauties, and this is the only segment in which the beauty is in control and remains so throughout most of the story. One has to say that this one has the best of the lighter moments too, and the claps which came after this segment are well deserved. The whole story is centered on the two leading characters, and there we see the most beautiful lady and the one romantic hero; they make this work like nobody else could have.

Gouri: directed by Aashiq Abu :: [10/100] :: This is the weak link in the whole movie, and without this, the movie could have been declared the best anthology in Malayalam movie industry ever. This is Aashiq Abu’s worst so far, and from what we have seen of him already, it might remain his worst. Biju Menon is there as the husband with nothing to do that really matters to the story. Tini Tom and Rimi Tomy makes an unnecessary visit, as Kavya Madhavan who plays the wife expresses her need to have a kid. Kavya is there as if she is to be that strange character who is more unsure about herself and the world around her than Popeye without his spinach. Jayasurya also makes a small appearance thus making this one the most powerful segment in terms of celebrity power, but in performance, it is a dynamite of the next generation which failed to blow. This is a painfuel half an hour of torture, which could have been avoided or may be replaced. It is surprising that it came from the same director who gave us Da Thadiya in the same year. This might even make Estragon and Vladimir say that there is something to be done – sorry, Samuel Beckett. Kammath and Kammath and Lokpaal were not that bad now, as you go through this one. This story in the middle shows us the middle finger, but fortunately it was preceded and followed by brilliant segments.

Kullante Bharya: directed by Amal Neerad :: [84/100] :: This is the moment which strikes you hard. Amal Neerad has come up with a story which is narrated by Dulquer Salmaan who sees everything from the top floor of a group of apartments. The awesome presentation and the story’s ability to relate with the contemporary society of Kerala, and may be even India as a whole, has helped this one to get the most claps in the theatre, and remain the highlight of this five star experiment. Dulquer Salmaan has eased through this segment, and even as a person moving on wheelchair, there is so much of impact with every word he says. Reenu Mathews leaves an imprint without even a word said. The newcomer Jinu Ben brings tears to the audience with no direct revelation. The story also works as a satire on the self-proclaimed righteous, highly moral society which considers itself as the role-model, and has a lot of prejudice against the people whom they are not familiar with, and those who think or act different. If there has been so much interest in this story which has only one actor who has performed in a leading role in more than one movie, it shows how much impact this one has created, and how much it could relate with its audience.

Aami: by Anwar Rasheed :: [61/100] :: This might be the most awaited story of the movie, with a businessman, Ajmal (Fahadh Faasil), who travels from Malappuram to Kochi and vice versa. His too much affectionate wife who is known only by her nickname (Asmitha Sood) keeps asking tricky questions to him and leaves him puzzles to solve – a strange abnormal habit, to which anybody would agree. The night journey then transforms into something that changes his life. The presence of Honey Rose and Vinayakan just adds to powerful cast of this segment which is already the talking point due to Fahadh Faasil’s presence and his new looks. It is him who excells in this story, and everything else is a little let down. With meaningless puzzles and strange happenings, this is not something which the viewers can relate with, but thanks to the leading actor and some interesting dialogues, this one lets the movie with its head held high, not annihilating the world which was created by the second and the fourth segments. As Fahadh Faasil fights extreme anger, greed for money, violence and his own old relationships and gets back to his beloved, the whole thing ends happily. This is surely better than the highly predictable Bridge segment in Kerala Cafe by the same director.

The movie is that roller coaster ride of Final Destination 3, in which death tries to pull the movie down, as some of the stories lose charm, and suddenly a story comes up which changes the things around. It is the advantage of having five different stories directed by five different people, and this is well done, and it would live on as long as this theme doesn’t come up with a overdose, either with the stories or with the concept of pseudo-beauty. To be frank, there is nothing in this which binds this collection together, as same was the case with Kerala Cafe, and it doesn’t give that much of anything that Cloud Atlas gave its viewers. This movie uses the concept of enchanting viewers with its title and the trailer, and tries to undo the failure of Poppins which had its own wrecked set of anthologies in which only the story of Kunchako Boban and Nithya Menon made any impact, with Indrajith-Padmapriya and Jayasurya-Meghna stories staying there not without troubles. Still, the question remains, who is the beauty? If they were all eligible for the same title, won’t they be good enough for that word which comes as just the opposite? Why would we be forced to believe with that willing suspension of disbelief that they are all beautiful? Will Isha Sharvani and Kavya Madhavan look like beauties to two people who have different concepts of beauty? Even myself is clearly sceptical about the latter; but leave that for the intellectuals, and concentrate on the medium for now.

Release date: 20th June 2013
Running time: 145 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed, Sameer Thahir, Shyju Khaled, Aashiq Abu
Starring: Isha Sharvani, Asmitha Sood, Reenu Mathews, Honey Rose, Kavya Madhavan, Baby Anika, Nivin Pauly, Dulquer Salmaan, Biju Menon, Fahadh Faasil, Jayasurya, Master Chethan, Tini Tom, Rimi Tomy, Jinu Ben, Vinayakan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Cabin in the Woods

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On one of those days which supported flashbacks in a big way, I could unintentionally fall into the wonderful trap of horror which was this movie. In this trap that is a horror movie, there was another world, which had a lot from the former horror movies, thus serving as a tribute along with being a great horror treat. It is a perfect story of five friends who become part of a perfectly executed horror reality in an environment which is more of a cage – they are watched through hidden cameras, and are made to act in the way the people watching them wants them to act. But the fact remains that this not just a horror movie, as it drains energy from the earlier slasher movies and along with paying homage to them, there is a little bit of satire involved in the treatment. There are elements of The Evil Dead, Hellraiser, as well as all the vampire, zombie and werewolf movies, and not even leaving the mythological as well as the natural beasts behind. The movie has combined all of these to create an astonishing effect, a mixture which can be scary and creepy enough as well as funny enough. It leaves the horror movies with lots of nostalgia with all these, and there might surely be pure satisfaction on most of those faces. This is a mixture which leaves a long-lasting impression on one.

Five college students Dana Polk (Kristen Connolly), Jules Louden (Anna Hutchison), Holden McCrea (Jesse Williams), Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz) and Curt Vaughan (Chris Hemsworth) travells to a remote cabin in the distant woods away from civilization for a vacation. But the abandoned cabin is more of a controlled environment, as a number of people manage whatever happens in that cabin as they view each and every incident in there with hidden cameras. It is seen that they have an influence throughout the area and not just the cabin. They also give drug the students to reduce their awareness and capability to think in a rational manner. A cellar opens automatically which they feel a result of the wind. Inside the cellar, they find many strange items, including a diary of Patience Buckner, a girl who was abused by her sadistic family. Reciting a Latin incantation from the diary, Dana accidentally summons the whole Buckner family in the form of the walking dead, a group of zombies. Jules is the first one to be killed by the zombies outside, and soon the cabin is attacked by the monsters. With a number of people frequently monitoring and guiding the monsters, as well as trying to weaken the possibilities of the remaining four friends in surviving the horror, it will be a perfect hell-ride for each of them, and escaping the living dead might be more difficult than death itself.

The movie keeps giving that feeling of The Evil Dead throughout its first few minutes in the cabin. There is going to be a little bit of a spoiler from now on, and the base of this movie lies on ritual sacrifice. This is about the need to appease the ancient gods, resembling more of giant monsters who live beneath the facility under the cabin and are kept there in satisfaction by these rituals. The sacrifice should have five constituents, the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty) and the Virgin (Dana), and the Virgin is supposed to die last with the process usually starting with the Whore. All of these begin with the future victims choosing their method of torment and death, in this case the diary of Patience Becker. They are lead to choosing these, and being unaware through the careful tactics of the people in control, who always check the camera for each move, and manipulate the environment so that the victims will fo what they want, including opening a door or window as well as closing it, or drugging them. Another person could have unleashed the Lord of Pain, a vampire, a merman, an anaconda or a werewolf – the list is almost endless as these creatures are all locked away in the facility.

Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk a.k.a the Virgin; the first movie I ever watched starring her, and she is one of the characters who are in control, keeping within the limits, thus surviving much longer. Even as she keeps tp herself, she is still part of the gang, very unlike Amber Heard’s character in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. But it is debatable if she is really a virgin from what they talk about in the beginning of the movie. She does seem surprised when the director mentions her as the Virgin, and the facility had to admit that they work with what they have, which should imply that she was clearly the better of the two, consider the character of her only female friend in the gang. Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea a.k.a the Scholar is her lover in a relationship which seems hundred percent platonic for now. He works as the perfect gentleman who doesn’t force her into anything and even decides not to look at Dana’s nudity through a one-way mirror and alerts her of the vision he is having in the other room while she undresses. There he also put a block on the desire of the facility’s employees who are watching the same scene to see something. But he is still proud and very confident about his skills, which doesn’t really serve him that well when affected by the drugs.

Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughan a.k.a the Athlete is the strongest member of the group, and is extremely confident about his power, and this confidence leads to his death. Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden a.k.a the Whore is a character which proves to be closest to the title from the beginning itself, and even solves the employers’ sadness of seeing no nudity. Her death occurs right after she undresses, about to make out with her boyfriend Curt, as she has completed her role as the archetype which is seen in most of the horror movies. She had already done a sexy dance and even kissed a wolf-head on the wall before this, thus reiterating her position as the one stereotype, the immoral one who gets killed first, and at its perfection, when topless – the facility works with what they had, and therefore, considering her abstinence and also her relationship with the lover, Dana had to be the Virgin, and therefore, Jules had to be the Whore. In that case, even Holden is not too less of an athlete and just loses out to Curt. These roles might have been assigned by the facility’s helper at the petrol pump, who already called Jules by the same title. The employees looking to the screen and waiting for her bare bosom or even extended nudity as well as the betting is less a result of their prejudice and more based on what information the man outside had already given them.

Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski a.k.a the Fool is the most intelligent one among them all, and the only one without a heroine; no Virgin and no Whore. He is more of the lone wolf who still sticks to the gang without any problem. As he is always on drugs, the drugging never really works on him and he remains in control of his full brain. He might be the first person ever to kill a zombie out there, or at least semi-murder or half-murder those undead creatures. He doubts the presence of puppeteers around right from the beginning, which Dana acknowledges only after the death of Curt. He also saves Dana from sure death in the hands of a zombie. His intellect seems to be more based on movies, and not what is taught in the school and the college which might have helped him to guess things that others couldn’t in such an environment of horror. With his limited arsenal, he has humiliated both the Hercules equivalent and the Socrates equivalent in survival, and he still had remaining darts in his quiver. He even fooled the experts who spent most of their lives in front of the camera, and thus even faked his death, something which might have been unintentional, but still, perfect.

Well, other than the facts that the monster details are awesome, and the leading ladies do a great job along with looking stunning, the more interesting thing is the philosophy involved in it. The gods who are kept underground by ritual sacrifice are more like the viewers who need those good doses of movies in a certain pattern, and the breaking of that pattern might destroy the movie by depriving it of the common viewers, but the gods are change, and variety would come in another generation of movies. May be for a change, the Whore survives, or the whole situation might be reversed. In the case of the giant monstrous gods coming out of the ground to destroy humanity, as the Fool would agree at any point of time, there is the need for another species to be given a chance where humanity failed in its treatment of its own species as well as nature. This movie is a surprise, and it leaves so much for its viewers, to find and deconstruct in their own world, as the gods that they are, and not as the voyeurs who look on the screen from darkness with full confidence that nobody is watching them. There are so many possibilities for imagination related to this movie, and the movie audience got the power. It would have surely been a grand success if its had released here, but what to do for people who can’t even release Evil Dead.

Release date: 13th April 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Amy Acker, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Django Unchained

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The Vampire Bat knew only one Django and was planning to give him knighthood for being such a wonderful coffin-dragger. It would have been an awesome feeling to have one’s own coffin. What about the awesome graves where he could have worked with the Ghost Rider with a stylish motor-bike or a horse-on-fire burning bright? This bat has always dreamt about those coffins, graves and wastelands along with ghost towns. But he could get none of them in this one. Still, there were those strange horses which were not really on fire. May be this new breed of horses could go to school and end up as smart toothless people. Well, they would still be highly vulnerable to being shot by the new Django who can shoot like a gun’s ghost in a human-spirit form who has come back to seek revenge. The number of vengeful spirits never seem to throw the Vampire Bat into that bloody abyss of nonstop boredom, as he had so much of those intolerant revenge stories that he could see only one side of this world which is full of evil and supposed-to-be-evil followed by glorified revenge full of blood and scattered body parts which might have brought the most evil vampire and the most stupid zombie into that Ring girl’s well of eternal shame.

What the Vampire Bat had was a Mango Icecream so that it could rhym with the movie, and that was indeed a success and would later prove to be an even better experience than the movie itself. The movie starts with the shots of several male slaves being chained and transported to work in a possible plantation which run on slave labour. Among the slaves is Django (Jamie Foxx), who has been sold away from his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) – a name which the Vampire Bat heard as many things other than this certain one. They encounter Doctor King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German dentist and a bounty hunter in the shades of an abandoned area on the way. After getting rid of the trouble from the slave owners, Schultz offers Django his freedom and a reasonably good payment in exchange for helping him track a number of people whom he has been tracing as part of his hunt. After they find and hunt down the targets, Schultz continues with Django as they do the same work. During this period of time, Schultz trains Django in the art of bounty hunting and on using a gun with efficiency.

After collecting a number of bounties and surviving with ease, they go on to free Django’s wife Broomhilda, whose current owner is Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the charming and stylish, but cruel owner of a plantation in Mississippi. They come up with a certain plan to make a big offer for one of the slave fighters of Candie, who fights till death, a offer which he can’t refuse. This catches both the curiousity and attention of the slave owner and he immediately agrees. But the seemingly flawless plan which was so close to success is shattered as the expressions of the two lovers raise the suspicions of Candie’s loyal and senior slave, Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) who finds out that Django and Broomhilda know each other very well and that the sale of the slave fighter is just a trick meant to hide another big plan which lies beneath. This is where all the fun ends, and the death of Schultz would leave the Vampire Bat with nobody to root for. From this, the age of boredom begins. There are stupid shootouts and ridiculous explosions, with the presence of “the people of the night cooling glasses” and “the strangest of the strange horses”. The nonsense would reach a new level and ends with a ridiculous smile.

Well, Django’s “D” is silent, as he himself mentions, but the movie is anything but that. There is lot of violence and I am pretty much confident that there is the presence of even more violence around as the Censor Board has surely tried hard to make this PG-13 and give it an 18+ Adult rating in India. Django Freeman is evil, not by choice but by circumstances. He has so much body count that would make Count Dracula and Lestat de Lioncourt retire and beg for mercy from a dead wood elf with no teeth. Meanwhile, Doctor King Schultz is of lesser evil, as he works with his white man’s guilt to save one man, and to save the man’s wife, he loses his life. Now, that should balance his life and make it rather neutral or a little aligned to the side of good. But Django is away from redemption. He chooses the path of revenge without remorse, and thus the path to hell and may be even compete for a hell-hot cup of tea from the hands of the devil. He is highly hostile to anyone of another race, the only exception being the man who saved and trained him; he is also hostile to one person of his race, the man who is loyal to the people of the other race. That brings such a huge equation of race into the situation – bombarded to be exact.

Jamie Foxx’s Django is a very good potrayal, even as the character is at no point likeable – he has done well to make it so. There lies his success of showing the forced evil. Christoph Waltz winning the Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actor would be no surprise to anybody who has watched the movie. His character rules the movie, with the witty dialogues, action and lots of fun. He provides some of the best lighter moments, and also does the serious side with an incredible amount of mastery. Leonardo DiCaprio comes up with the power of extreme evil which seems inherent in the character. He should still be remembered for his Inception and Shutter Island, but this one also comes up with a memory leaf. Samuel L. Jackson hasn’t really fallen behind, as his character makes a powerful impression. Kerry Washington also contributes in the expected way, making this a movie of performances rather than anything else. It is here, in the acting department where the movie scores the most, followed by the one-liners which creates a great first half only to be made powerless by the second part of the second half and the climax scenes.

As far as Quentin Tarantino is concerned, this is still inferior to Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds. Those stand a few Petronas Towers higher than this one. But there is no shortage of blood and violence here too. One has to wonder if these movies should belong to a new bloody genre. There are too many killings and in many sequences, blood and gore has the upper hand and humanity becomes mere spectator in chaos and brutality. There is no sympathy or empathy throughout the movie, especially when the guns take over and spits hell like fire-breathing dragons. Still, its treatment of the racism and slavery could have been better if it was done in a more realistic fashion. Well, not all movies can be “the art”, and this is that moment when the grand wish was to focus more on creating that entertainer which could gross a lot rather than something which could have made humanity aware of the truth. But this shall make the waves, even as not in the way it should have, if thought about from a righteous side – a sad movie for humanity indeed, as even movies like Hostel and Saw knew what was good and evil. Well, one can say that Django Unchained is a true torture porn of the worst level.

The more important of the questions might be about which kind of audience this movie targets. They are surely not for the intellectuals nor for the faint-hearted. The next doubt would be if this is a story of the revenge of a certain race or the story of a pure hearted man of one race helping the man of another race and even facing death in that process. This is surely no respectful treatment of anything, but for the mindless fans with its weird style, glorified violence, senseless admiration and huge historical twists, this might be a treat. There might be disrespect (to which side – or to both?), and there might be too much easiness, but as far as I know, this is a little too much to take as a movie treating such a subject. Satire? May be a little bit, not that much – can we really separate the reality of tragedy to have that feeling? In simple words, one race shedding the blood of others and vice versa – colouring the walls with shades of red is not what I wished for; I would have agreed to the same on some other occasions, but not on this. The movie came to India kind of late, and I am not really unhappy about it, as watching this one late has had its advantages – to hear about it and disagree on many occasions. There is the first half which gave hope, and what follows is not of expectations, and therefore clear thumbs down for the second. Another thing – beware of a drag and length.

PS: My rating for this movie has come down a lot since writing this, but I am not bothering to bring it down just because I don’t want to think about this again. I wish that I had asked only to the right people before watching this movie!

Release date: 22nd March 2013 (India); 25th December 2012 (United States)
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Michael Parks, Don Johnson

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.