The Courier

Vampire Owl: Did you collect your parcel from the Vampire Courier Service?

Vampire Bat: No, I didn’t. What did it have?

Vampire Owl: How can I know? I was just notified that you had a courier.

Vampire Bat: Okay, so they don’t deliver at the vampire castle.

Vampire Owl: No, not after the Corona Virus crisis.

Vampire Bat: So, they think that the vampire castle is infected beyond redemption.

Vampire Owl: Yes, they think so because of the large number of human visitors who were at the castle last month.

Vampire Bat: Well, nobody trusts the humans these days.

Vampire Owl: I don’t remember the last time any of our people trusted them.

Vampire Bat: When we keep them away, things will get better, and the couriers will be delivering at home.

[Gets a chicken puffs and three cups of mixed tea].

What is the movie about? :: A young woman is tied to a chair at the middle of a parking lot and from the blood on her body, it seems that she was brutally tortured. As she struggles to breathe, she is about to be run down by an accelerating car when it goes to a flashback. Gary Oldman (Ezekiel Mannings) is one of the most powerful crime lords who has his business running in the United States of America and Europe, someone whom nobody dares to question or testify against, until Nick Murch (Amit Shah) makes the decision to go to the police, after witnessing a murder committed by him. For the interpol and the FBI, this is the first time that someone came forward to testify against the much feared crime lord, as usually only the dead bodies remain whenever someone tries to do something like that. The crime lord’s seductive, psychotic and manipulative daughter Alys Mannings (Calli Taylor) would not tolerate the fact that her father was arrested from a church, and was put on house arrest while he awaited trial.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The interpol officers lead by Agent Simmonds (Alicia Agneson) takes Nick to a safe house where they are supposed to stay and contact the court using the live stream video, but when a courier (Olga Kurylenko) rings a bell to deliver a package, things begin to go differently. The courier is the same lady who was tortured in the beginning of the movie, and it turns out that the parcel which she brought with her was something which would mean death. Simmonds shoots her, and turns rogue, trying to kill Nick, and blame it on the courier, who manages to attack her back, and almost kill the agent. Nick escapes from the floor with the help of the courier who seems to have some skill in fighting, but they are caught in the underground parking lot, surrounded by men who wants to kill them. They keep on running through different levels of the parking lot, as more and more men who seems to be mercenaries keep coming. Can Nick somehow manage to testify at the court with the help of the stranger?

The defence of The Courier :: A fine package of action can be seen in the form of The Courier which has all its fights set in just one place where the two protagonists as well as those who are trying to kill them are set – the movie keeps the three classical unities of place, time and action, with everything happening at the same place, and ending, with only one mission to save the witness. Olga Kurylenko is the one person who keeps the action at top level, and even after these many years, she remains a level apart from the other actresses, except for Rebecca Ferguson who is the perfect action impossible girl who also was the psychic vampire in Doctor Sleep. The action sequences are all made in a believable style, as we see her fighting – landing the punches, kicks, gunshots and bike stunts in a parking lot so well in this ride full of thrills. The stunts are all stylish and believable here, with no exaggeration at all.

The claws of flaw :: The Courier is a movie which always had a lot of scope, and could have had a better background tale for it too. There could have been more use of the motor-bike, and also something more about her past and her new life as a courier, which can be linked to The Transporter considering what she does, and to Die Hard considering the fact that they are locked in a building, and has to survive – Olga Kurylenko is Jason Statham, Bruce Willis and even Tom Cruise at some points, but it is good to see the lady action star coming up with more in a realistic way, as you are not supposed to look for something exaggerated around here, for that is not the kind of action which we have here. The dialogues could have been better, and with one of them, they could have explained the Kevlar jacket and a little more. Maybe it could have also had its antagonist to do more, and as it was quite a big building, possibilities were endless.

Performers of the soul :: Olga Kurylenko is a name not unknown to us, as we have seen her in a lot of movies, and she has handled the action genre really well throughout the years – she is someone who means business as far as fighting is concerned. The last one of them was on the funny side with Johnny English Strikes Again, but she had movies like Hitman, Max Payne, Oblivion, November Man, Centurion and the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. Age is showing on the Bond girl, and she is not that lean figure anymore, but her skills with action sequences have only gotten better here. Alicia Agneson looks fine as the special agent when she is there, but her stay is limited, leaving us with hope to see more of her another day. Meanwhile, Calli Taylor has some nice moments, and you cannot doubt her about not being a crime lord’s daughter here. Gary Oldman makes a solid crime lord, and we feel that he is capable of lots of evil, and can always find opportunities for evil with him around. Amit Shah also does a fine job, and adds some humour too, and nobody should be confused about the name.

How it finishes :: Happening at a place within a limited time with one motive, this movie which would make Aristotle happy with its unities, manages to be higher than the level of many other action movies of the same kind. The reviews about this movie hasn’t been that good, but after you watch this movie, you will understand that there is not much that this movie could have done to make them feel better, as this is one wonderful action fest full of thrills, and Olga Kurylenko is the one lady action star who could pull this off so easily. You can always trust Olga to do that, and for the same reason, you can go for this one without second thoughts like I did. I am sure that the audience from this part of the world would like it even more. Just forget those reviews, some of which are not even explaining why they didn’t like this flick, and enjoy The Courier like you would have enjoyed most of those action movies with a male lead.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 97 minutes
Directed by: Zackary Adler
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Alicia Agneson, Gary Oldman, Amit Shah, Greg Orvis, Craig Conway, William Moseley, Dermot Mulroney

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kayamkulam Kochunni

What is the movie about? :: Born to a thief, Kochunni (Nivin Pauly) is someone who had left his village a long time ago to start a new life, without letting anyone about his past. As he works at a local shop, realizes that a master of martial arts, Thangal (Babu Antony) has arrived in the village. During the time when caste system goes deep into the roots, with the help of a lower caste woman Janaki (Priya Anand) who has fallen in love with him, Kochunni tries to learn martial arts. Thangal wouldn’t accept him as his disciple because he knows that Kochunni’s father is a thief. But Kochunni is able to watch the training from a distance and learn it with the help of Janaki. When Thangal realizes how much he has learned from a distance in such a short period of time, he decides that this particular person could be his successor.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This decision to have the son of a thief who just started training, to be the successor of Thangal enrages the former best student of the academy, Kesavan Pillai (Sunny wayne), who decides to leave with a promise to return for vengeance. In a village which seems to be in full control of the upper castes, Kochunni is asked to find some lost gold from the bottom of a river. When he does the same, the upper caste landlords who wish to keep the gold for themselves instead of giving it to the king, gets their goons to attack Kochunni, declare him as a thief. They also have Janaki judged for being in love with someone outside her caste, and she is stoned as well as banished from the village. Even though his friend Vava (Manikandan R Achari) and the rebel Kochu Pillai (Shine Tom Chacko) supports him, there is no hope as he is left to die. But it is not the end of his story, is it?

The defence of Kayamkulam Kochunni :: The movie has the life of Kayamkulam Kochunni brought to us straight, and without pretentions, and there is focus on the problems faced by the subaltern, those who have no say in how things proceed. The subaltern, the lower caste who suffers due to the laws made by the rich and the powerful, the upper caste supported by the whites get their hero who is more than just a thief who steals from the poor and gives it to the rich. Kochunni gets the strength of a revolutionary hero who strives for equality, and the change that comes on the character is visible as the movie progresses. The visuals are great, and the time period is nicely recreated with all the necessary elements. The viewers are transported to the age, and gets close to the life of the protagonist easily. The final moments provide the heroism with further strength.

The claws of flaw :: The story would seem usual, with a hero of the masses fighting against the men in power – it shows that side of the heroes which is rather too common. The legend of Kayamkulam Kochunni does deserve more than that, to rise above the usual fighter for the downtrodden. He is supposed to become our heroic outlaw, our own Robin Hood, but the same is not there. We can also notice that there is the usual separation of good and evil here, and the predictability with the story’s twists is rather strange. The movie could have also been darker in theme at least in parts, but it seems that there is no attempt made here to go beyond the usual, and this one seems to attempt to provide the natural for the family audience instead of striving further. After all, this is the most expensive Malayalam movie to be made so far, and the expectations were always high.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly manages to do the whole thing really well, especially with the transformation. The first part surely came naturally to him, and there is exaggeration with that side, but when things go further, everything gets serious, and the final moments have him even stronger. The role seems to have deviated well for him, suiting him more and more as it progresses. He has been venturing into the variety with movies like Hey Jude, Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Sakhavu, Jacobinte Swargarajyam and Action Hero Biju, all showing different versions of him. He has been choosing his movies well, and here we see no difference. Among the female characters, Priyanka Thimmesh is the second heroine, and she has not much to do, except for that much needed existence to keep things moving forward.

Further performers of the soul :: Priya Anand who was last seen in her only other Malayalam movie Ezra, was there in the much loved song “Kalariyadavum” – she manages to do justice to a role which also has an existence which is short-lived. Nora Fatehi is there for one dance performance. Mohanlal’s extended cameo makes the big impact, and it is a clear case of stealing the show with ease. The mood itself seems to change at that time, seemingly deviating from how things used to be. Babu Antony gets to be back again, with that martial arts strength that he has always possessed – he is the Dronacharya here that supports his Ekalavya. Sunny Wayne gets a strong role to play here, with no more the signs of being funny, and he displays the feelings of his character really well. Shine Tom Chacko and Manikandan R Achari make their smaller roles relevant and worth the time.

How it finishes :: When you think about this movie, the wait has been very long. Earlier set to release on 15 August 2018 and being further postponed, this one finally came to be big screen only a few days earlier. The song “Kalariyadavum” had already created the much needed effect for this movie, and with our own local Robin Hood story, this was always going to be something everyone would attempt to watch. It is to be noted that another version of Robin Hood is releasing in one month and a week. Well, the need for the common man’s hero has been more than ever during these days. There is always the presence of the rich and the powerful dictating the terms without any consideration for the people in need – the relevance shall never cease to exist, and Kochunni will remain the prototype from this part of the world. Let us enjoy the efforts taken by the makers here to bring the man alive again.

Release date: 11th October 2018
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Priya Anand, Priyanka Thimmesh, Babu Antony, Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne, Romanch, Manikandan R. Achari, Sidhartha Siva, Sadiq, Thesni Khan, Sunil Sukhada, Sudheer Karamana, MS Bhaskar, Edavela Babu, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sudev Nair, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Ashwini Chandrashekhar, Mohanlal (cameo), Nora Fatehi (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Midnight Special

midnightspecial-1

Vampire Owl: Now this one should be more about us.

Vampire Bat: What? I don’t see why!

Vampire Owl: It is midnight special. We are people of the midnight.

Vampire Bat: That was long ago. We are anywhere at any moment of time these days.

Vampire Owl: But what about our attacks during midnight?

Vampire Bat: The special plans are no longer limited to midnight, and there are no attacks.

Vampire Owl: But I do come up with attacks. Even on the last midnight, I scared twenty three people from outside their room’s windows.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but as a whole, we are a peace loving community.

Vampire Owl: Never mind. I will launch my personal attacks with my zombie minions.

Vampire Bat: As long as you keep it not connected to the vampire community, it should be fine.

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

What is the movie about? :: Roy Tomlin (Michael Shannon) and his friend, a former state trooper Lucas (Joel Edgerton) are on the run with an eight year old boy named Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher), as alerts keep coming on the television about a missing boy with Roy named as the kidnapper. Roy is revealed to be the father of the boy, but he has been trying to escape from both the government as well as a mysterious and fanatic religious cult, both who have been chasing the group of three. But the group is not willing to stop at any cost, and hopes to get further away from those who wants to capture them. The boy who is extremely photosensitive is protected by them, who are joined by Sarah Tomlin (Kirsten Dunst) who is the boy’s mother who is extremely delighted to see them again, but is not happy with almost the whole country chasing them.

So, what is it really about? :: This fanatic religious cult called The Ranch has been raising Alton for a long time, as he is supposed to be some kind of a saviour for them, who has come after years of prayers from them. Pastor Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepard) will not stop until he has his cult’s messiah back with them, and has sent his people to find the boy. At the same time, Agent Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) finds encoded satellite transmissions in the pastor’s sermons which is supposed to have been found from Alton’s talks, and it has FBI right after them, finding the boy as a threat to the national security. more and more people seems to be after them, with running and hiding becoming rather too difficult for the group. With time running out for them, they decide to keep fighting.

So, what happens next? :: The fact that this special boy even brought one satellite down just because it was tracking them, doesn’t help their case at all. One boy with so much of power seems to be something which the government can’t afford to go free – they surely has more plans for him, as there are more people after him after causing what seemed to be a meteor shower in the form of a destroyed satellite. They are also involved in terrible confrontations with state troopers and don’t get much of help from even their old friend from the cult. As the journey goes on, the boy only gets weaker and weaker. With him seeming to be extremely sick and might even possibly die, there seems not be not many options around other than to give up. But Alton himself has another idea for him, which none of his guardians can agree to. In the end, will they find the secret behind his powers and get him to safety?

The defence of Midnight Special :: There is a different story in store here as this science fiction flick’s divergence works throughout its run. Its specialty should be that it keeps the supernatural at a distance rather than exposing it to us in the beginning itself. It successfully keeps us guessing in the beginning stages as we wonder what this boy is all about, and what big twist is coming up near end. There is something huge going to happen, but we have no idea what it is, and the more we guess, the more we get confused – this one provides that kind of a feeling throughout its stages. The whole movie goes on like some chase, and our protagonists rarely get to stop here or there. The power of visuals are there when they are used to the movie’s advantage, even though that last very less. We are also left with the hope for a sequel in the midst of an emotionally powerful ending that comes as the end is reached, and you know that the drama works towards the end – the finish has its sadness.

The claws of flaw :: Well, Midnight Special is a movie which had the potential to do something better both with its philosophy as well as its content which wanders rather too much on the emotional side, due to which the ending is also not a thrilling one – something which has surely contributed well to its lesser total collection from the theatres. If there was more focus on what was happening rather than diving deep into the emotional side without enough explanations, this one could have done a lot better for the common man as well as those who think. There are mysteries that are not solved, and there are moments which could have been presented in a better way. With some signs of the visual spectacle which it could have been, also there, maybe there was surely the idea to do more, but it was to make itself just a good movie instead of becoming that special movie which was to stay in our minds for a long time.

How it finishes :: One special thing about Midnight Special even when it slows down in pace so much, is that it is a science fiction movie with a stronger human side than many others including Interstellar and Gravity. With Michael Shannon coming up with an emotionally powerful performance, and Kirsten Dunst supporting the same later, we have Joel Edgerton’s character as the most likable, and Jaeden Lieberher does a very good job as the kid too. Despite not everyone liking this movie in this same way considering it as a flick which would depend on the tastes of people to have it loved, one can be sure that Midnight Special will affect its viewers in one way or the other. You will also wish that it was a better movie, but one feels that this is exactly how the makers wanted the movie to work, and in no other way. Take your time and find what can be termed “special” in Midnight Special.

Release date: 18th March 2016
Running time: 111 minutes
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, Paul Sparks, Nathan Brimmer, Bill Camp, Scott Haze, James DuMont, Billy Slaughter, Sean Bridgers

midnightspecial

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

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I have taken the liberty to anglicize Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus into God’s Own Cleetus just like how Daivathinte Swantham Naadu becomes God’s Own Country. No, this is not that much of a lovable character to be baptised twice, but it is the effort of the actor behind the character and the way in which he has done justice to that character which makes Cleetus our own. Yes, you might find the world of this movie asking for a better treatment, but for a debutant director and the background which has been used, this is a very good recovery for a movie which didn’t impress the audience by its trailer nor with the brief storyline which was shared. Let me be clear about one thing; this movie could have gone either way, to the depths of abyss or to the heights of the lost paradise regained. If there is a question about where it stands at the moment, it is a long way from that abyss. Yes, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus has survived, and did use its survival instincts well enough to add on to that survival guide new stories of goodness and faith. If you don’t like this movie, that is still understandable, but it can never stoop low enough to deserve hatred, that is where this movie plays safe, and it is how this movie shall hold on to its audience during this Onam vacation.

It will be facing a tough competition from the most awaited movie of the Onam, Dileep’s Sringaravelan, a possible surprise in the form of Indrajith Sukumaran’s Ezhamathe Varavu, and an interest-seeking Fahadh flick North 24 Kaatham, as we leave D Company out of that list. The Hollywood’s challenge in the form of Grown Ups 2 has self-destructed, and Bollywood’s John Day along with Horror Story are too much limited in shows with an adult-rated Grand Masti not to be an Onam favourite for sure. With pretty much a good competition in store, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus might not be expected to do that good, but the verdict for the other Malayalam movies are not really out yet. Why would we still need movies like this to survive? Because it has tried its luck in an unfamiliar territory even if the fuel is a familiar one. It has a little bit of Chamayam, Pranchiyettan and The Saint and Amen in it, hidden well, but not from the eyes of experienced movie watchers. But, has the movie relentlessly tried to dig these movies out? The answer is no. There is nothing in common as a whole, and our movie has successfully brought out a legacy of its own, not from the ashes, but out of the most valuable sparks which could give rise to a phoenix.

The story tells the story of Cleetus (Mammootty), a feared criminal who causes problems wherever he goes. He is an alcoholic and always ready to do anything for money. As a parish priest Sunny Vadakkumthala (Siddique) chooses him to act as Jesus Christ in a drama as part of a church programme without knowing his true identity, something he does after rejecting a lot of people, chaos breaks loose among the theatre artists. The priest decides to persist with him and his sidekick (Aju Varghese) despite knowing his true identity, in the belief that the experience of being a character such as Jesus Christ might reform him, thus taking a huge risk considering the massive show which is going to happen and the audience expected. If Cleetus changes or makes the people around him change, whether the drama happens or Cleetus makes a clear mess out of it is left to be seen. Will Jesus Christ’s life change Cleetus or will his life change the fate of the drama in a horrible way? The movie answers the question very late, as every time, he would seem to get a little better, the world around him changes needing him to make those adjustments he is not used to make.

The whole movie undoubtedly rests on Mammootty, and as once again he rises to occasion, it is a treat to all the fans and neutral audience alike. No, Cleetus is not Immanuel, Kunjananthan, Bavutty or Mathukkutty, for he is a gunda, and he is surely nowhere near Pranchiyettan. A long list of characters of goodness is teared apart here, as our protagonist starts as the sinner who is not even set on the path to redemption. Unlike the others, Cleetus is a man who rises and takes the chalice of goodness, finishing it with relative ease. There is no denying that the image gets some self-imposed backlashes, but nothing that will not contribute to Cleetus being more and more human, with the shades of grey rather than pitch black – after all who can deny some mood-swings? Do we love Cleetus? The answer would be no. But he gets as close to being lovable as possible for a man seeking redemption, and he seemed to have attained some of it by the end. He comes that far by keeping himself far away from a superhuman image which could come across this time, even as there is no denying the fact that our protagonist beats up a lot of people, something which was expected right from the beginning.

Even as the movie belongs to Mammootty in an undisputed manner, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Thesni Khan handles the humour department quite effectively. Suraj remains the strong link of humour in this flick. Rejith Menon has made his presence felt, as the one and only Romeo character in the movie. Honey Rose is very good in her role, and it a matured character that we see this time. Sanam Shetty has that beautiful presence, something which she carries over from what we saw in Cinema Company, that grace and beauty which was talked about as that of a Greek goddess in that movie; for there is no denying who is the Aphrodite as well as the Juliet in this movie. Vijayaraghavan leaves a mark as one of the villain characters, and so does Kailash. Siddique was at his best, doing a character which he seemed to perfect. It is impossible to keep him out of this world where he once again does a fantastic job. There is a tremendous energy in his character, and also that much needed serenity, the two things which seemed to suit each other very well. One of our favourite comedy stars on television, Ullas Pandalam also makes good mark in the movie.

So, can the worst of people change and go back to God? Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus shows us that all hope is not lost. As the character goes through playing the life of Jesus Christ, his attitude towards life changes too, as a lot of the events in the life of Christ seems to be reflecting in his own world in a small and slightly similar manner. We have a man who has no previous acting experience, like Manoj K. Jayan in Chamayam. No, I am not really comparing, for that one would make it to my all-time favourite list, or may be more than one list. As that monologue in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” – here Cleetus plays one, and plays it fine and it replaces his real life as his new role, and it didn’t just go away as one of the parts which he played, as it stayed on with him. It is “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Because almost the whole world are actors) as Petronius is supposed to have given us. Some of us live our part and others play our roles, and in both cases, the path is similar and leading to the same destination.

Well, we know that it is never late to turn to God. It is the faith, belief and hope that is supposed to guide us rather than materialism. Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus comes up with a great spectacle of divinity by the end, something which is comparable to Amen’s final battle of music, even as this one is less about music and more about the scenes. Is there a hidden magic realism in it? Does it have the magic touch of Pranchiyettan and The Saint helping the movie on moving forward? These are questions which can have more than one answers. But for now, this movie has done its part, but not living upto its potential. The life of Cleetus and his transformation could have been a lot more interesting. It was so close to achieving that balance that a little Icarus-sun battle might have brought it closer to its current rating. It is still your choice if you are to choose one man, who is both the saint and the sinner, saviour and the punisher, redeemer and the destroyer, moving from the path of evil to the way of goodness paved by angels and showered by blessings. This is another Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The destiny of Cleetus now stands in the hands of the viewers, and its final fate is yet to be decided.

Release date: 12th September 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Marthandan
Starring: Mammootty, Honey Rose, Aju Varghese, Sanam Shetty, Rejith Menon, Kailash, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan, Vinayakan, Vijayaraghavan, Anoop Chandran, P. Balachandran, Ullas Pandalam

cleetu copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.