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What is the movie about? :: Oliver Twist (Indrans) is leading a normal life with his two sons, Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Nalsen K Gafoor), his wife Kuttiyamma (Manju Pillai) and father (Kainakary Thankaraj) who has memory problems. Oliver and Kuttiyamma are also feeling the problems of their old age. Antony is trying to be successful in the film field, but he is too busy with social media that he doesn’t complete the climax of the script, much to the dismay of the producer, Baby (Maniyanpilla Raju) who keeps asking if something can be done about it. His time is running out, as it has been two years after he started writing – he had directed his first film to a grand success, and this time, nobody is sure that he will finish it in time. At the same time, Charles’ interest in social media only, and nothing else is on his list of interesting things. He keeps putting Instagram stories at all times, and during the rest of the time, he is mostly sleeping.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Finally, Antony decides to return home to finish his script, and for the same, he returns home with a seven day deadline to complete his script. There he finds out that Charles is vlogging at all times, and doing nothing else. His life is highly digitalized, and he is happy to keep himself online instead of talking to anyone in the family. Antony is no different, even though his parents remember that he used to be a different person before leaving them for the city. Antony is in love with Priya (Deepa Thomas), a relationship which has lasted very long, but now he is too bust to return her calls. Her father, Joseph Lopez (Srikanth Murali) is a very rich and influential man, popular at all places. Oliver hopes to be friendly with his sons, but they don’t have that much of an interest in talking to the elders. Often, they even ignore Oliver as if he is not a part of their life. Oliver hopes that things will change, and he goes on with his life, with that wish, but Antony has very low opinion about him, and is often hostile towards him too.

The defence of Home :: There are many things which are reflections of real life incidents in the film, and one often wonders if they have come across such incidents before. Social media addiction has been an effective theme, and these days, anyone is a vlogger on Youtube, and with many followers, they think that this is life. People have been bothered more about what happens online rather than offline, and in the same the real world is forgotten, a reflection of the same is reflected here. The message about mobile phones stealing our valuable time is also provided nicely. It adds a few things about loss of relationships and health due to the use of smartphones and social media among the youth. The film, even though set most in a home and its surroundings, is visually too good, not just inside the house, but also during the outside moments. There is a lot of beauty on the screen that surrounds everything, and occasional humour adds on well. Then, there is the ending that conquers all, emotionally as strong as it could be.

The claws of flaw :: There is a lot of repetition which happens in the film, and it is surely a slow work, as we look at it. Some of the emotions are added here and there as if it was just there for the sake of it, and some incidents just become random part of the same. This comes from the man behind Philips and the Monkeypen and Jo and the Boy, and we can see similar elements being repeated here. It still doesn’t have the charm or quality of the former, which was one of the best movies released in the year, seemingly bringing a certain amount of magic to the screen. It also has its length extended a little too much, and with too many songs being added here and there, it does feel a few minutes too long. There are moments in between when we feel that this was going nowhere nowhere, and it was going to go on with the same kind of thing again and again. There are so many things coming up, and often it does seem to miss the main point, but there is the ending that brings things together.

Performers of the soul :: Indrans was earlier seen in two very serious roles this year with two films, Malik and Yuvam, playing the roles of a police officer and an advocate respectively. This one is a light-hearted, but yet emotional role for him, and having come out of fully comic roles, he has been doing this really well. This is indeed a very heartfelt performance from him, and with him at the centre of a family movie, this will be remembered as he celebrate forty years in Malayalam cinema industry, in his 341st movie in the long career. We are finally able to see him throughout a mainstream film in the lead role, and also with the most emotional touch, as he basically lives through here. Sreenath Bhasi had some very serious roles in Virus and Kumbalangi Nights not too long ago, and he now has a rather lighter version here – he had come out of that earlier “freakan” image a long time ago, and this one has him in a controlled role. Nalsen K Gafoor who was last seen in Kuruthi with all the seriousness, and earlier in Thanneermathan Dinangal with all the humour, can be seen in a realistic role of a youngster in this film, and he once again scores big. The simple comic side that he adds here brings more life to the movie.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also nice to Manju Pillai having a good role to play in a film, as we have been seeing more in the television series and comedy shows of Mazhavil Manorama. She has blended into this role really well, and one would wonder why she was not that much in similar roles before. We have always loved to watch her in Thatteem Mutteem for a long time. There are also some nice dialogues that reflects the mood of the film. Deepa Thomas has her first leading role, and she has comes up with a memorable performance too. She has indeed provided a natural performance, and we look forward to seeing her in more roles, and with more screen space in comparison to what is seen here. Srikant Murali also has a role to remember here. Anoop Menon’s act is also a good one, while Maniyanpilla Raju also drops in here and there. Vijay Babu’s role might seem very small, but is still one role that also makes a difference, with a lovely touch of humour. Johny Antony, as usual adds more humour here, while KPAC Lalitha who comes in the final stages of the movie has something special to add. Priyanka Nair also has a fine role in the flashback.

How it finishes :: Home is a movie for the present families, which are not short of this kind of a situation at different homes, due a new generation of kids who are addicted to gadgets and moving away from parents both physically and mentally. It will be remembered for some moments for the heart. The feel-good elements from the director’s earlier films can be seen reflected here, and the same kind of reflections can be seen visually too. Vijay Babu has provided us with so many of similar movies, and we have always stayed close to most of them. During COVID-19 times, having a feel-good film to watch with family was always going to be good. The messages that the film provides are effective, and leads to that one final message which raises the level of the film. Do look out for the final scenes with credits too, and it is where the movie brings a little more for the soul. So, we have our Onam movie on Amazon Prime Video, and as you watch the same, I wish you a Very Happy Onam in advance!

Release date: 19th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakary Thankaraj, Naslen K Gafoor, Manju Pillai, Deepa Thomas, Vijay Babu, Srikant Murali, Johny Antony, Anoop Menon, Maniyanpilla Raju, Aju Varghese

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Noor

Vampire Owl: The only Noor I know is from the 1997 Malayalam movie, Chandralekha.

Vampire Bat: That character was Nooruddin.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but saying the name will be like asking for a hundred rupees.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t matter. If you get one hundred rupees, keep it.

Vampire Owl: But what would I do with human money in our realm?

Vampire Bat: Well, you can start a coin museum. We already have different kinds of museums and one more will do nicely.

Vampire Owl: That is surely not a bad idea. My zombie minions can always do with some extra business when not trying to take over the world.

Vampire Bat: Isn’t it yet proven that they can’t take over the world at all?

Vampire Owl: No, because I have taught them to be positive in their life, or rather in their undead existence.

Vampire Bat: Now I know what is going wrong with a few brainless zombies.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Noor Roy Chaudhary (Sonakshi Sinha) is a girl in her late twenties, worried about so many things, and her weight being more than her Twitter followers is just one of them. She feels that she is the step-daughter of her father, and the cat Dimpy is the real child, as he cares a lot for the cat. She feels that there is nothing good going on in her life, as she spends most of her time in the traffic, and can’t afford anything much, with her salary being lesser than what she has been spending in the last few months – the potholes meant that she had to keep changing the tyres of her Tata Nano, and she also ends up quitting smoking to cut the costs. Her job as a journalist has her disappointed all the time, as she thinks that she is more of a joker than a journalist. She keeps sending her resume to CNN and BBC so that she could escape from the meaningless journalism which she is doing.

So, what happens next? :: Shekhar Das (Manish Chaudhary), her boss used to be a journalist whom everyone admired – all young journalists wanted to be like him. After his marriage to Lavina Kapadia (Suchitra Pillai), he had received his father-in-law’s news agency, and had settled in as the boss, and had no more courageous journalist action. It is there, at The Buzz that Noor also worked as the junior correspondent. She runs a show called Mumbai Believe it or Not which she finds to be pointless. She gets to talk to different people in the city, like someone who walks upside down and another one who never removes her helmet – she wants to do something like the problems local fishermen are facing due to a new coastal road and the problem with sewers. Also, she is worried about her weight, and doesn’t believe that any good and decent guy will fall in love with her, considering that hiring a hitman to kill someone is rather easier.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: Her best friend in the city is Zaara Patel (Shibani Dandekar) who doesn’t listen to anyone else, and has been trying to motivate her since school days. Saad Sehgal (Kanan Gill), her other friend is now at London, and these childhood friends are all that she got. Her favourite sentence is “I hate my life”, and the maid at the place Malti (Smita Tambe) is the only other person whom she regularly talks, other than her friend and her father (MK Raina). It is then that she comes across Ayananka Banerjee (Purab Kohli) who has been a CNN reporter working in the Middle East during the wars, and the two gets close. It is then that she gets an idea about something more – an exclusive news which could turn things around for her. But will that happen, or will she remains the same and keep blaming herself for not doing it right?

The defence of Noor :: The movie goes on a realistic path, and there is nothing that goes beyond the lines drawn regarding the same. We feel the protagonist’s problems, no matter how silly they will sound, and they are possible in the case of so many people. The first half is really good, with some humour, and there are also those moments which are there to stay. The credit for the same goes to Sonakshi Sinha who makes this character work so well. Her dialogues, expressions, and the incidents in life make things go on smoothly, and we keep enjoying the light and sweet moments around. There is everything going right with this character with those scenes. If you don’t read too many reviews which keep saying that this isn’t right, and that should have been like something else, you will know that this movie is close to life as it can get – most of the blame put on this movie seems to be more due to some prejudice rather than anything else, even though the movie does have its problems. Still, there are messages, and the feel-good factor.

The claws of flaw :: Noor could have been big, and there is no doubt about that. There was scope for almost everything that could have stayed, from big thrilling moments to those big funny scenes, all contributing very well to the movie in totality. There are also those silly scenes which get rather too much of an attention. There are also those final moments, which seem to have finished the movie without trying that much – maybe there was a rush without that much of a thinking. Things get rather too comforable there, and we are left to witness the curse of the second half, which has attacked Bollywood so much, and is without any plans to stop at any time. One has to wonder why it gets a step down from the moment the first half stops. When there seems to be the chance to get deep into the bad practices in the medical field, the movie just takes one step back, and then when getting close to the bad guy, there is another step taken back – strange things happen in the second half. Then there is too much of party.

How it finishes :: One thing that Noor makes one feel is like that of the Malayalam movie Mili. There is a lot in common between the two despite having entirely different personalities. Also, in certain reviews, there have been people judging the character, without thinking about the fact that it is the role, and this is a person who has her own problems – some people are even against her thoughts, and it is not like they say that it is badly done, but coming up with the idea that it is wrong. It is a strange judgment of people when you see it. We surely have some strange people who come with their own strange ways of hating a movie. This flick is based on the novel Karachi, You’re Killing Me! by the Pakistani journalist and writer Saba Imtiaz, which was also her debut novel. She has also developed the script for this movie, and any comparison can only be done by someone who has gone through both the movie and the novel.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Sunhil Sippy
Starring: Sonakshi Sinha, Shibani Dandekar, Smita Tambe, Kanan Gill, Purab Kohli, Manish Chaudhary, Suchitra Pillai, MK Raina, Gareth Lawrence, Nikhil Khurana, Indraneel Bhattacharya, Sippora Zoutewelle, Ajita Khanna, Yulian Shchukin, Avantika Akerkar, Sunny Leone (cameo), Diljit Dosanjh (cameo), Badshah (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Monkey King II

Vampire Owl: I have this name wandering in my mind somewhere.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you have known many kings and monkeys during your life-time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the most recent acquaintance being the Lich Queen with her undead minions.

Vampire Bat: What? You met the Lich Queen? It is forbidden for a vampire to meet an undead queen sorceress.

Vampire Owl: She is not that undead, you know, and she is a good host.

Vampire Bat: Whatever. That doesn’t explain how you met the Monkey King though.

Vampire Owl: Well, I was reading this classic, and the pages came alive.

Vampire Bat: And they attacked you?

Vampire Owl: No, then I realized that I was tearing the pages apart. Then I took some glue and fixed it back to its place.

Vampire Bat: The imperial librarian won’t be that happy this time. You should get a few zombie minions to cover it up.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A young Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Feng Shaofeng) is on the journey to the West, to the Thunder Monastery in India to collect some of the valuable scriptures of Buddha. But the soldiers who were meant to assist and protect him during his journey leaves him when a white tiger attacks them. Trying to protect the horse, he ends up being under attack from the tiger, only to get into a cave and save himself. As he is followed by the tiger, he sees Sun Wukong a.k.a. The Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) who was imprisoned under the Five Fingers Mountain as part of his five hundred years of atonement for the trouble which he had caused in heaven. The awakened and released monkey soon deals with the tiger, but that only begins in new life, as the Goddess Guan Yin (Kelly Chen) has instructed him to protect the monk throughout his journey.

So, what happens next? :: Wukong is not someone who likes taking orders from anyone, but he is bound to stay close to the instructions made by the goddess, as he is wearing a magical headband which can’t be removed, and will cause him pain if he acts like a bad monkey. He finds his life connected to the monk’s, and decides to finish this job as soon as possible, and get back to his usual, mischievous life. On the way, Wukong defeats two other immortals looking like monsters – Zhu Bajie (Xiaoshenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law) who joins them in the journey as atonement for their sins, as the monk gets protected from three sides. Both of the new travelers consider Wukong as their big brother, and approves of his superiority in skills. They have some interesting moments during their travel, and reaches Yun Hai Xi Kingdom, which is ruled by a king (Fei Xiang) and his people living in fear.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: The kingdom is terrorized by the White Bone Demon (Gong Li), a powerful demoness who is known to take away children from everywhere, and she is supposed to devour them to keep herself in this world. As the demoness learns about the arrival of the young monk, she decides to eat him, and thus get more powerful, without no reincarnation, being an eternally unstoppable demon who could challenge even heaven and hell. She, along with her three demoness minions (Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi and Miya Muqi) get the four to their house in the middle of the forest, where they offer all of them a place to rest. She tells them the story of her past as a young woman, which had Sanzang in tears. The two monsters fall into the seductive trap of the demonesses posing as beautiful girls, and Wukong seems to have some problem with his eyes – so, will the demoness and her minions be successful in using the young monk to expand their evil? Or will the Monkey King be able to save him?

The defence of The Monkey King 2 :: This movie is visually excellent with its creatures, surroundings and magic having our attention, and has those action sequences which will immediately ask for your attention. There are also the messages about forgiveness, and the reflection of the fact that humans are so capable of being more evil than the demons every time. There is also some humour present here, and the comic relief is very much useful in this movie. It actually combines nicely with the adventure as well as the spiritual side, making this package whole. Everything is so simple in this movie, and this simplicity in fantasy is something that we can cherish, and the same makes sure that this movie is for everyone – kids are certainly going to love this one as much as any animated movie. Even though there are not that many reviews of this movie in English, the ratings received, including those in Rotten Tomatoes make nice example of how well this has worked.

The claws of flaw :: Maybe, a more serious version of the classic might have been expected by many, and also this one happens to be a sequel rather than the original story, which could have also kept some people from watching this particular flick. There is also more needed of action from everyone other than Monkey King whose action scenes never cease being delightful – the fans from everywhere will always look for more from him, as I had wondered more about this particular character than anyone else. Also, despite having a very strong female villain there with minions, her manipulation or the fighting skills get quite less attention than we would have expected to witness. Looking silly at times is not something that one would expect from this movie, as there is enough depth all the time, as long as you have a classic in your hands, and got hope of everyone who has read or has read about the work expecting a lot. Also, despite the movie being a visual treat, there are moments when the CGI looks too much and strange.

How it finishes :: Those who have read the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, are sure to love this movie adaptation of the tale – there are so many version of the same, and many translations. This tale is actually something that needs to be read by everyone, and this movie will help in attaining that for sure. As more people get to read Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, adding the other three, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin to their list of books to read, we can safely say that this visual extravaganza of an action movie is successful in doing the right thing for literature. Even if you haven’t watched this movie’s predecessor, or never known about the novel, it is still okay to watch this movie – this one is a rather stand-alone work, and things really can’t get any simpler than this as far as fantasy movies are concerned. Then, the messages are also straight-forward with nothing there to bring a message out of a message. Also note that the actor who played the antagonist in the previous movie plays the protagonist here.

PS: For more on the movie of the week here, read on – Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Release date: 6th February 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Fei Xiang, Kelly Chen, Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi, Miya Muqi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jacobinte Swargarajyam

jacobinteswargarajyam (2)

Vampire Owl :: Quite a lot of things happened this year, you know; with the Malayalam movies.

Vampire Bat :: Only a few months have passed, and so you can’t really say a lot!

Vampire Owl :: Well, Darwin completed his evolution and Mahesh had his vengeance. Now, Jacob wants his kingdom of heaven.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Darwinte Parinamam and Maheshinte Prathikaram; now Jacobinte Swargarajyam – note the “NTE” sound in the middle of the title of every movie.

Vampire Owl :: I am sure that this one has worked so well too. I couldn’t get tickets for the movie at the multiplexes.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is Vishu. Theatres were supposed to be full.

Vampire Owl :: Is that the same reason why we are here so early?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, you see the large number of people in the queue behind us.

Vampire Owl :: And I am glad that we parked our car early.

Vampire Bat :: This one should work for us too.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Jacob (Renji Panicker) is a successful businessman who made Dubai his home after striving hard to reach his current position. With his wife Sherly (Lakshmy Ramakrishnan) and four children, Jerry (Nivin Pauly), Abin (Sreenath Bhasi), Ammu (Aima Sebastian) and Chris (Stacen), they go through some of the happiest times of their life. Jerry is in love with Chippy (Reba Monica John), a medical student, and Ammu leaves to study the same course. Abin spends his time with music. But as Jacob is cheated by one of his trusted people, he is left in a lot of trouble and also in dire need of money, disturbing the momentum of the family. With consistent threats from Murali Menon (Ashwin Kumar) and others who had invested in his venture, he decides to travel to Liberia to find bring a deal and come up with a solution to his present problem.

What is it actually about? :: The absence of his father required the rise of Jerry to the vacant position, and it is what the movie is really about. It is about Jerry trying to bring things back together with the help of his family of his brothers and his mother. With his father stuck in Liberia, he will find new ideas and will bring new plans to minimize and later get rid of the damage completely. With the help of the old friends of his father, Unni (T.G. Ravi) and Philip (Sai Kumar), and also the newly found people in his life, Yousuf (Vineeth Sreenivasan), he will rise to the occasion, and with the help of the situation and fate, shall go on to become the person whom he never thought he would be. But the question remains about the timing – with time running out so fast, will he really be able to do that when needed? Can he be the saviour for his family when it matters the most?

The defence of Jacobinte Swargarajyam :: Clean, and staying close to the realities of life, this movie makes a good use of its cast which has come up with some natural performances. The scenes which depict the relationship between the members of the family gives that special and yet beautiful feeling – it provides anyone who values family with that special reflection to life. The funny scenes are simple and from everyday life, but working very well. The emotional scenes are very much touching, but still kept in control. There is so much positivity in this movie even when facing lots of trouble, and the feel-good factor here is rather tremendous. There are also some very nice visuals; the songs are interesting, and “Ee Shishirakaalam” is the pick of them all. The messages left here are also beautiful, of working hard without any shortcuts, supporting one’s family and being there for the ones you love the most.

Claws of flaw :: Yes, undoubtedly, this movie could have been better; the scope was there, and such a wonderful cast was present. This emotional family story goes through a little bit too much of a predictable path too. We can guess a lot of things around here easily. A story at the Middle East and the tale of a family facing financial crisis – these are two things that can appeal to the Malayali audience so well, which is why a better story with a rather slower transformation of the protagonist would have done better for the movie. The film is also a little bit too much focused on money, and it is the capital, the profit and the money that drives too many things in this movie – well, it is still not the primary focus, but the fingers are often pointed towards that, even though not many people might see that. Well, capitalism was always supposed to be there, considering the setting.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly requirest a lot of appreciation here – for he surely knows how to become the hero, and otherwise stay there waiting for the opportunity; it has been the case with his character here. Renji Panicker takes the glory in the beginning stages, and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan dominates at times, and Nivin is there exactly as his character demands, and I consider that a wonderful thing here. After Action Hero Biju, he once again has a realistic portrayal of his character here, and it only gets better. Meanwhile, Aima Sebastian has a small but amazingly cute presence in this movie, and Reba Monica John leaves a mark even with her shorter presence – that could have been explored further. Renji Panicker does his job with ease, and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan has her character becoming one of the best strong mother/wife characters that we have seen for a long time. The other most notable person here is Sreenath Bhasi who is a lot likable.

How it finishes :: Do note that Vineeth Sreenivasan and Aju Varghese make notable cameos here, the former making a bigger impact in the story. The child artist Stacen also does a good job. This movie could have been stronger with its story, but the feeling that it provides is really good. It is something that is perfect for a family watch for the weekend, as it is a movie with faith, hope and values. It is a movie that reminds the viewers of their family and how much the blood keeps us together, binding us. The significance of the family is something that has been part of our movie industry for a long time, and this one becomes a welcome addition to the same. Vineeth Sreenivasan does four in a row, after Malarvadi Arts Club, Thattathin Marayathu and Thira. The Thira sequel won’t be here soon though, I guess.

Here is a song from the movie; you should love it 🙂

Release date: 8th April 2016
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Reba Monica John, Renji Panicker, Aima Sebastian, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, Sreenath Bhasi, Stacen, Sai Kumar, Ashwin Kumar, T. G. Ravi, Dinesh Prabhakar, Vineeth Sreenivasan (cameo), Aju Varghese (cameo)

jacobinteswargarajyam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.