Atlantics

Vampire Owl: Have you tried flying over the Atlantic Ocean?

Vampire Bat: Why would we do that when we have so many portals?

Vampire Owl: Do all these portals serve as gateways now?

Vampire Bat: Not everyone. But the rest are also being repaired by Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Owl: I don’t know why you keep calling that inefficient person for repairs.

Vampire Bat: Well, you don’t get many undead doctors with multiple skills.

Vampire Owl: But most of his qualifications are fake, and I am sure about that.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that all of these will be important related to this movie.

Vampire Owl: There seems to be something strange about this film though.

Vampire Bat: It is not set in France or even Europe, and that does make a difference.

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

What is the movie about? :: In a popular suburb of Dakar, the capital and largest city of the African nation of Senegal, people are forced to work on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without payment even after long hours of continuous toil. The high-rising ultra-modern tower is exactly the opposite of the rest of the city which is seen around there. The tower keep getting taller, but there is no hope for the people working there, as they go on for days without getting paid the proposed wages. As there is no hope for people like them, the only option remains running away from there and finding a job elsewhere, maybe in another nation. Adding to that, the climate change has led to a consistent decline in rainfall and a certain increase in temperature. The climate change and further environmental concerns also greatly impact the very weak economy and the already struggling population. The city no longer remains an option for the young man Souleiman (Ibrahima Traore) who is in love with the charming young lady, Ada (Mame Bineta Sane) who is from the same neighbourhood.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The workers decide to leave the nation by sea, in search of a brighter future in Spain, and Souleiman accompanies them so that he can come back and try to marry his lady love who is to be married to Omar (Babacar Sylla), a rich man who seems to be the better option for Ada in the eyes of everyone. Ada’s family has almost everything set for the big function, which they hope to arrange in a few days. Spain is quite far away, and it is to be a tiring and risky journey, but that doesn’t hold Souleiman back from making the choice. Ada is highly disappointed about the fact that Souleiman decided to leave without giving her an idea. Her friends like Mariama (Mariama Gassama) does try to console her, and even for her friends, Omar is the right person for her, while Souleiman is just a hindrance in front of her objective of marrying the right man. But would he choose to wait for him for years instead of getting into wedlock? Would that be the right decision, or is it something that would go as far as eternity?

The defence of Atlantics :: There are two sides to this movie, one being the social commentary which is not far away from life, and the other one is something which you wouldn’t expect from a movie like this, a supernatural drama which is rather unpredictable. Unlike what the posters seem to suggest, this is a movie which cannot be restricted to such smaller displays. The problems of poverty, unemployment, class divide, forced migration, lack of hope and many others are shown in the movie, even though they are not always staying in the front. The visuals feel different, and beautiful even in the absence of any spectacular scene being made. We do feel the culture of the area, and there is also that feeling of inherent terror of not being among those who are supposed to be born into the advantage. It also reminds one of the 2013 Tamil movie, Maryan, the Dhanush starrer set in Kanyakumari and parts of Sudan, which had the habit of growing on you, after watching the same, a reminder that the tale of the subaltern remains the same at all places.

The claws of flaw :: You do have so much scope as far as this movie with such a setting is concerned, and the movie doesn’t use its core elements well enough. It is also quite slow, especially in the beginning stages. There was enough with this idea to speed up things, but the movie decides not to take it. The handling of pace would have a much bigger role to play inthe middle stages of the flick. The idea itself could have been clearer, and it might have helped to add some extra polishing here, but the movie doesn’t use the same either – you feel that there could be something bigger at moments, but that is not provided here. They could have also made sure that the story-line made more sense for everyone. The strange feeling of this movie might not be interesting for everyone, and it makes very much a subjective experience leading to polarised opinions among common men despite winning it completely with the critics. It is also quite surprising that their possible destination is Spain, as the location makes it a difficult place to reach by the sea.

Performers of the soul :: The cast is an unknown one, even for us who watch a lot of movies, including English, and those multiple foreign languages. But it is to be noted that they are often better than most of those so called superstars who are sons and daughters of those bigger superstars who bring them into the movie industry just because they can do whatever they please – the terrible plight of Bollywood; but here, we have a skilled cast. Mame Bineta Sane who plays Ada leads the way with ease here. Amadou Mbow also follows the procedure well to make his role memorable enough. The characters played by Aminata Kane and Mariama Gassama are also memorable as you look at them. Babacar Sylla as Omar makes a usual character which you see in the romantic movies with separation as a major theme, and he does his job quite well. In this movie, you feel more or less like the setting itself becomes a character, especially the tower and the sea, which reflects the human situation there in an interesting manner, as you look deep.

How it finishes :: As a movie which was selected as the Senegalese entry earlier for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, this movie does make a pretty good impact, as it already did in the Cannes Film Festival. It is also said that the former United States President Barack Obama had named this film among his favorite films and television series of 2019 in Twitter. It would be difficult to bring the supernatural even in the normal situations, and this one tries to do the same against all odds in a situation which is based on multiple real life themes, but manages to come through well enough in the end. You are sure to feel that there is more than what meets the eye, as far as this movie is concerned. It is surely not your usual kind of film, and this divergence definitely sets it apart. This is the time when we celebrate the variety, and for the same, the movie becomes the kind of flick that one should watch and take the ideas back home.

Release date: 29th November 2019
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Mati Diop
Starring: Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Nicole Sougou, Aminata Kane, Traore, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, Diankou Sembene, Abdou Balde, Babacar Sylla, Arame Fall Faye, Ya Arame Mousse Sene, Babacar Samba, Astou N’Diaye, Khouda Fall

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hey Jude

What is the movie about? :: Dominique Rodriguez (Siddique) and Mariya Rodriguez (Neena Kurup), are living a pretty good life with their children Jude Rodriguez (Nivin Pauly) and Andrea Rodriguez (Apoorva Bose) at Fort Cochin. They trace their lineage a long way back, as one of the most respectable Anglo-Indian families at the place. Dominique runs an antique shop nearby, and his skills in doing business depends on his ability to lie so well that he makes a usual thing a symbol of Dravidian world or the last piece of a part of Indian heritage that is not found anywhere else in the country – he sells them at high prices to unsuspecting foreigners who have a strange fascination for the orient, the fine pearls of the East, especially of India. But his son Jude is just the opposite, never able to lie, but more intelligent than anyone else around; at the same time, he completely lacks in any kind of social skill.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jude has no friends in the city, and his co-workers make sure that he gets fired from his job at a hardware company. He spends his time collecting pictures of different aquatic animals – he has all the information about ocean’s creatures, and loves clown fish, jelly fish and gold fish and his dream is about owning a big aquarium one day. While his parents are worried about his future, his sister finds no hope in him, as he wishes to have food at the exact same time every day, and eats only the same food items all the time. He has a list for almost everything in his life, and talks to his video camera about each day about his thoughts. Twenty eight years old and being different from everyone around him, he has a tough time going through each and every day of his life. But he is not ready to accompany his father with the work.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: When Dominique has to travel to Goa to attend a funeral, things change. He has to take Jude and Mariya with him on the journey, leaving Andrea in charge of the antique shop. There, it turns out that Dominique and Jude have inherited everything which was owned by the dead person who had special love for the distant relatives. Now, the problem that Domique faces in selling the newly acquired property and traveling back to Cochin is Sebastian Chakraparambu (Vijay Menon) who lives with his daughter Crystal Ann Chakraparambu (Trisha Krishnan) in the outhouse which cannot be cleared as the building was rented for a period of five years. Dominique comes up with some plans to get rid of the new neighbours, but nothing works. At the same time, Jude and Crystal become good friends, but both have their own troubles in facing life.

The defence of Hey Jude :: From the first moments itself, you are sure that this is that kind of a light-hearted entertainer with messages for life, which will be developing slowly and steadily as the movie progresses. Hey Jude can be considered as the simplest and the most entertaining movie from the director who has known to provide us with strong philosophical side to ponder about. The humour is a clear winner in this movie, as it keeps dropping in all the time. All the characters in this movie are funny in one way or the other, and things never go out of control to bring a possible dark side. The funny side has us more and more interested in the proceedings, and with the grand visuals of Goa, all becomes good for this movie. The music is pretty good, and as it has been talked about, this is a lovely tale of love, self-discovery, healing and transformation. It gets into the list of inspirational movies which have made the big impact in the industry – we see the support for people to be who they want to be.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is kind of longer than one would have wanted it to be. Then, those who wanted Shyamaprasad to go into those deeper human emotions and situations are going to feel the need for more. One can feel that there has been the effort to make things a little too simple – it was surely not needed considering how far our audience could evolve from the time the first movie of the same director released. The movie could have also ended smarter and without a quick full stop. If you don’t like movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, and are unable to connect to the protagonists of those movie, you would have the same trouble here – well, some so called perfect people will always have problems with these kinds of characters, as they jump right out of the firmament with stored thunder in mouth; this one is not for that kind of people born with silver spoons and even golden forks in their mouths.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly surely has the most divergent as well as different character that he has had to play in his whole career, and he could manage the same with great skill. Meanwhile, Trisha makes her Malayalam debut here, and she does that with ease – it is surely surprising that it took her such a long time to be here, but as she is here, it is all good. Well, she has played a Malayali girl in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, making this not the first instance of being part of such a character. Siddique plays the father figure again, as we see him at his best just after watching him in Aadhi in the role of a responsible father – this one is actually more challenging, and his work is light-hearted as well as interesting. Neena Kurup is there throughout as the mother figure, and it is nice to see Apoorva Bose back in action; she was being missed. Vijay Menon plays a funny as well as powerful character present throughout the flick. Aju Varghese has a nice, funny cameo to his credit.

How it finishes :: Shyamaprasad is the one director whom we know the most for adapting the American classic expressionist play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams for the Malayalam audience, and doing that with such skill, that Mahatma Gandhi University has included it in the paper, Comparative Literature for the final semester BA English students. Arike, which signified the exact opposite meaning to Akale, was another beautiful flick with its quest for love. Ivide with its quest for identity and reflecting rootlessness, was also with philosophical undercurrents. But Hey Jude is rather direct in all that it reflects on the screen, and it can be considered as the most light-hearted as well as the funniest movie from the director with messages to go with it. If you liked movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, I don’t see why you won’t watch this one with family.

Release date: 2nd February 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Trisha Krishnan, Siddique, Neena Kurup, Vijay Menon, Apoorva Bose, Aju Varghese (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Paippinchuvattile Pranayam

What is the movie about? :: Very close to the city, but still, very far away from the urban setting, there is the small island which is known by the name Pandarathuruthu, and the first half of that name itself is enough to know how that place is considered to be, by not just the people from outside, but also those who live there. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge has said in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the people of the island also faces the same situation – “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, surrounded by salt water, and having only a few boats – as all roads lead to Rome, all of those boats get them to the city, and nowhere else. This is the tale of the simple people in that particular place, where everyone spends more time waiting for water in a long queue in front of the common tap at the centre of the island, rather than doing anything else. The rest of the people do simple jobs, including fishing, painting and also a little bit of farming which doesn’t need much of fresh water.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is around that place of local gathering around the tap meant to collect water, that Govindankutty a.k.a Govutty (Neeraj Madhav) and Teena (Reba Monica John) falls in love. While there is the scarcity of water there, one can see no difficulty in getting some love, as far as these two are concerned. Govindankutty leads a happy life with his good friends Ayyappan (Sudhi Koppa) and Bashi (Rishi S Kumar) earning enough through painting work and a few dance performances when opportunities are available. There is not much of a complaint from them about their lives, despite the unavailiability of water bothering them all the time. They know that people have tried to bring better facilities to the island before, but nothing has happened with those politicians who keep making excuses, and life goes on. Any further attempt would be waste of time, according to them.

And what is to follow in this small adventure at the island? :: Babumon (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is the one to suffer the most, as no girl wishes to get married to someone without access to drinking water. Teena’s parents are also not ready to get her married to Govindankutty, and they are also looking for someone who got access to clean water, from anywhere outside the village. Despite his mother (Sethulakshmi) asking for the bride, Teena’s parents (Jaffer Idukki and Thesni Khan) are not ready to accept the proposal. It is more or less the reflection of their realization that nothing good can happen in Pandarathuruthu and the people of the island will never have access to clean water. But when one tragedy strikes, they have to think differently, and understand that it is the time to act. It is upon the youth to make the difference, but are they up to it? One journalist named Shyam Prakash (Aju Varghese) is ready to help them, but will that be enough?

The defence of Paippinchuvattile Pranayam :: There are moments in Paippinchuvattile Pranayam that keep rising like the certainty of tides – we see them coming and going. The humour is present here and there, and the lead has a good chemistry going on in movie’s favour. Some good visuals of the place will have our attention, and we see the huge buildings of the city on one side and this small world on the other. The music is good, even though they are used without care at some places. There are messages in store, and we have social issues being discussed, after the lack of availability of clean water in many areas. There were those islands around Cochin which had problems in getting drinking water, something we have been reading about since childhood. Even though a lot of problems have been solved now, it remains something that is present at one place or the other. Paippinchuvattile Pranayam adds something there.

The claws of flaw :: With a little more than two hours of length, some parts of the movie do make us feel a certain amount of drag. There is also the whole thing not used to its advantage, as this one could have been funnier, as well as having a thrilling end which could be a lot more of a difference maker with its ideas. The final moments could have been polished to bring an effect which would have made this one a social thriller with romance to go with it. The romantic side also makes way for the rest of the things too easily – there is not that much of strength with it if we consider the fact that the title Paippinchuvattile Pranayam as well as the expectations were all related to that only. There is also the need for the ability to relate to the problems of the common man, without which, this movie can go flying far away; this one would be more for the common audience, the everyman who can reflect these elements better as well as the invisible villains.

Performers of the soul :: Neeraj Madhav right out of Lavakusha and Oru Mexican Aparatha this year leads the way, and he is comfortable in being this kind of a hero, as all things are in control here. Reba Monica John seems naturally suited for this role, and is there throughout, winning points with big smiles and enchanting expressions, unlike that small presence which she had in Jacobinte Swargarajyam despite being the leading actress there too. As one might have figured out with the trailer and songs, she fits in, even without that many dialogues. Sudhi Koppa is the one actor who supports so well as he rises to the occasion, and he does a fantastic job with those emotional side, more than that comic side which was there earlier. We already saw him in Alamara, Lakshyam and Udaharanam Sujatha in notable roles this year among the others, and he gets his best here. Dharmajan strengthens the funny side, which would have struggled a lot without him. Aju Varghese has a smaller role which is managed easily. Sarath falls prey to a badly written negative character.

How it finishes :: Among those movies about common people made with what seems to rather lower budget, Paippinchuvattile Pranayam will surely have a good position. It is always nice to see tales being made about common men and not those money laundering bourgeoisie class attached to pubs and parties. It can’t claim to be perfect or close to being perfect in what it deals with, but it is as close to reality that we can get, and it is close to the heart of everyone who feels for those who are in need. But concerning others who have no heart for the sufferings of others, this wouldn’t be the movie. This is the age of superheroes with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League running in the theatres, and one can go for them without thinking too much, for the big entertainment. But if you care, try giving a chance to the smaller movies about everyman, like Paippinchuvattile Pranayam. In simple words, call it “Love, water & other social issues”.

Release date: 24th November 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Domin D’Silva
Starring: Neeraj Madhav, Reba Monica John, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sarath Appani, Sudhi Koppa, Sruthy Jayan, Jaffer Idukki, Rishi S Kumar, Tesni Khan, Sethulakshmi, Indrans, Anoop Chandran

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal

mosayilekuthirameenukal (2)

Vampire Owl [Looking at the Son of God poster] : Mosa, horse, fish, sea…is this a Biblical story?

Vampire Bat: It is not Moses’ Malayalam version, it is Mosa…”Sa” as in Salman Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly. The Son of God poster is from last week, it doesn’t show at the theatres any more.

Vampire Owl: So what do you think a title like Horse-fishes of Mosa would mean?

Vampire Bat: Hmmm…may be they use fishes as horses, or horses as sea-food?

Vampire Owl: Or may be a man named Mosa eats both the horse and the fish, or eats fish on a horse?

Vampire Bat: May be the actors are the horses and actresses are fish or fishy.

Vampire Owl: So much for the movie names.

Vampire Bat: And some people said they preferred Malayalam titles for Malayalam movies. This should make them happy.

[Gets the eighty rupee tickets].

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of two men, Alex (Asif Ali) and Akbar Ali (Sunny Wayne) who meets under strange circumstances. Alex is the son of a rich land owner and planter at Pambady, Kottayam. He is born as the fourteenth kid in the family as his father Kuriachan (Nedumudi Venu) wanted one more son than his predecessor who had thirteen. Alex lives in a huge house, but is isolated as his brothers and sisters are too much older than him, and soon he is left with his father alone, after his mother dies and the others move away. As his father also dies, he moves to Cochin to do his Master degree, but spends time wasting money. But, thanks to his best friend who cheats him, he ends up in jail from where he keeps making attempts to escape. His last effort is successful, thanks to the help of Akbar who also escapes from the jail. As one of the sons of his brethren is the jail warden, he is convinced to go back to jail with his name is among a number of people to be released on the Independence Day. But he has to bring Akbar back with him, but for that, he will have to follow him all the way to the Lackshadweep Islands. He meets Deena (Janani Iyer) who agrees to help him, but he is now in the centre of a love story featuring Akbar and Isa (Swati Reddy).

The defence of Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal :: The best thing about the movie is its wonderful visuals, and its success in capturing the beauty of Lakshadweep Islands, the sea and the underwater world with such skill. This is actually a big advertisement for Lakshadweep if it works well at the box-office. We also have to admire how they turned such a simple story into a nice watch with a philosophy. Unlike pseudo-travel movies like Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi which tries to pretend that it has a philosophy and still provides the audience with a kind of protagonist who never really changes or even becomes more of himself, Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal rejects the opportunity to be a machine spreading more and more lies through a journey. Our movie is more of a travel movie with bildungsroman elements which attempt to look into the human nature through incidents of different worlds joined together. The protagonists are left changed by the end, thanks to what they experience here. This is an adventure with a certain amount of romance and small doses of thrills. The background score is also interesting, but the songs are ordinary. One also has to admire the leading actors for their performances.

The claws of flaw :: Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal is not a movie for everyone, and I can dare to think that it might not interest a good number of common movie watchers, and as you already know, the name itself arouses curiosity, but keeps people think too many times before watching this movie. The movie’s drag comes as another problem, even as compared to a movie like Annayum Rasoolum, this is a Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4, and to Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, this is a McLaren F1. Even as this is many times a better love story than Annayum Rasoolum, but the intensity of the feeling of love remains just the motive when it could have been part of the theme. The love between Alex and Deena is something seemingly possible only in the end and also revealed before the credits roll. Meanwhile, the same between Akbar and Isa is hidden not by the lady’s veil, but by her own selfishness that she admits, and this proof for inherent selfishness that cruise through the human mind at high speeds, weakens the romantic side, and a resurrection of love detained by selfishness raises from the ashes only by the end. There is no denying the fact that a better plot and an energized romantic side could have done this movie a lot of favour.

Performers of the soul :: This is one of the best performances from Asif Ali, and one can easily feel that it is more his movie, as he is the one who narrates, and for the first forty five minutes, none of the four leading actors/actresses are introduced other than him. He single-handedly makes sure that the first half is quite fun, and one also has to love his style of narration. The funny side is also handled well by him. Sunny Wayne makes his entrance after the first forty five minutes, and shares the burden. The story changes to his life and his world, which he handles quite well. But that character that we follows and relates with will still be that of Asif Ali’s Alex who guides us through this adventure. Janani Iyer is cute here, and plays a wonderful character in this movie, but is there for only a short time, a case of sudden disappearance as if her concern ends spontaneously, and her next presence is only in the final scene. But this Deena, is one lovable character that she plays, and even graces us with some words of wisdom along with that charming smile. Swati Reddy looks kind of uncomfortable with this role and also with the looks, but manages to survive as Isa. May be she could have done Deena better than she has performed as Isa, but one can’t be sure.

Soul exploration :: Coming back to name of the movie, the word “mosa” means huge sea waves (credit to the newspapers who ended that doubt) and “kuthira meenukal” even as it is literally translated into “horse-fish” means swordfish (again newspapers to the rescue) in local language. It is said that this kind of fish, predatory in nature, happens to be very selfish, and they are equated to the characters of the movie (no, I haven’t met any of these creatures personally to test the selfishness factor; thought selfish went better with shellfish :D). Both of our heroes as well as Isa remains selfish throughout the movie, mostly due to their circumstances, the only exception being Deena whose words reflect on Alex during the climax scene, and he realizes that even as he made a mockery of her earlier, what she said was more closer to the truth than anything that he had ever said. The random act of kindness that brought to Alex the ability to make others happy without him ever knowing, and that too for the first time in life, would change his life forever, along with that of Akbar. After going on a different path, we can see that Alex asks a bribe-demanding police officer who is also his relative, if he has eaten swordfish, a question which he asks not only to the corrupt officials, but also to a generation powered by selfish motives. So, this movie transforms the swordfish that is seen dancing on the waves of life, back to what could be goldfish, something which occurs in the mind.

How it finishes :: Here is somthing to gather more attention – the cinematography of this movie is handled by the same person who did it for Amen which was praised for the same reason (Abinandhan Ramanujam). There are some movies which turns out to be entertainers, and there are others which end up as classics. But Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal doesn’t really belong anywhere, and even with a certain inability to gather attention, this movie has to be applauded for the different approach that it takes. This visual philosophical spectacle needed something more in the script. Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal is a flawed gem, and its flaws often make us less interested, but it is still a refreshing journey, and also that movie which will make you think about going the the Lakshadweep Islands. But do keep this in mind – this is not the movie that everyone deserves, and it is just this movie that deserves its limited audience! You look for change, and you look for some difference instead of entertainment, and here is a movie which is pretty good in doing something like that. The movie seems to be receiving mixed reviews, and a possible failure of Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal will only make sure that the time of mindless entertainers will begin again. And yes, lets not be even half-a-swordfish 😀

Release date: 1st May 2014
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Ajith Pillai
Starring: Asif Ali, Sunny Wayne, Janani Iyer, Swati Reddy, Nedumudi Venu, Nishanth Sagar, Jijoy, Jojo Mala, Chemban Vinod, P. Balachandran

mosa copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.