Self/less * Tarsem Singh (2015)

A rich, old and sick businessman runs into a company that can transplant his mind to a younger body. He is promised that the body is genetically manufactured.

It soon becomes clear, though, that his mind is transplanted into the body of another person whose mind also still ‘resides’ in the body. This somewhat unlikely scenario is worked out alright to make a bit of a thriller about a man hunted by a company that wants to keep some secrets.

The film has many drama and some thriller elements. It is not worked out into an overly elaborate story like we see so often nowadays. It makes a fair drama thriller.

American Horror Story Coven * Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy (season 3 2013)

The second season of “American Horror Story” was great, so I was curious what the third season would be like. The story this time is about a home for young witches. Jessica Lange has a part comparable to the previous season. Fitting with the ‘concept’ of the series, there are other actors from previous seasons that return, such as Evan Peters, Sarah Poulson and Frances Conroy.

Cordelia Foxx runs a school for young witches because she fears that witches will die out on current times so she wants to bring them together and train them. Her school is not big, just a few young ladies. Cordelia’s mother (Fiona, played by Lange) is “the supreme” and pretty much a despot. The whole series circle around “the next supreme”. Who will it be?
Then there are a few story lines. There is a competitive group of witches, a voodoo-group around Marie Laveau.
Laveau took revenge on Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a brutal Renaissance landlady whose character brings the topic of racism violently into the story. LaLaurie makes a wonderfully weird element to the story that allowed the creators of the series some grim humor.
The series contain brilliant and weird episodes not unlike “Asylum”, but also teeny-witchy epioses. Especially the final episode is awful.

Overall I think that this third season is fairly good, but it has too many weak episodes to be as good as season 2. It is weirder than season 1, but that season is more ‘consistent in level’. Season 3 has more highs and lows and the highs make this season more ‘watch-worthy’ than the opening season in my opinion.

l’Amour Est Un Crime Parfait * Arnaud Larrieu (2013)‘Love Is A Perfect Crime’ is a descent drama that becomes a bit of a thriller towards the end.

Marc is a professor of Literature on some hip university, I think Geneva. He lives high up in the mountains as seduces many of his beautiful students. When one of these students disappears, the police starts to investigate Marc’s role in this disappearance.

Marc lives with his sister with whom he also has a strange relationship. Also this relationship is tested throughout the film.

The film has beautiful shots of the mountainous regions of what I think is Switzerland. It also has a nice, slow pace and even though the story is wholly predictable, it is far from dull.

Perhaps not a masterpiece, but a very descent film.

The Merchant Of Venice * Michael Radford (2004)

IMDb.comA fairly dull film made of Shakespeare’s play. Naturally this is a costume drama. The creators decided to keep the Shakespeare dialogues, so they are often lengthy and ‘flowery’. This works better in some other Shakespeare films.

There is a merchant who takes a loan from a Jew (not the best part of Al Pacino) for a youngster (Joseph Fiennes) who wants to win the princess Portia. The loan has some pretty strange conditions that Shylock (the Jew) sets out to enforce.

The film is not really boring, but not really exiting either.

Dirty Mind * Pieter van Hees (2009)

Van Hees made this film a year after the wonderfull horror/thriller “Linkeroever“. Apparently he wanted to have a try with action comedy, but that did not work out too well.

“Dirty Mind” is spoken in Flemish and contains some amusing ‘Flemish humour’ (expressions, etc.) and the story could have been just fine, but the acting and overall film are pretty unconvincing. We have two brothers Cisse and Diego who do stunts for films, not always very professional, but well enough to make a living. Cisse is the hip stuntman, Diego the nerdy assistent. When Diego has to perform a stunt that goes wrong, he wakes up in the hospital as a brand new man, well-spoken and charismatic. A neurologist and an intern are working on an experiment to fix this type of affection, Diego (then Tony) has second thoughts, since he actually improved.

This story forms the hanger for better and lesser jokes and some thoughts on how far doctors can go to ‘help’ people.

Like I said, the result is not very convincing.

Anomalisa * Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman (2015)

Apparently Charlie Kaufman can also make a boring film. “Anomalisa” is an animation that is too ‘real’ for an animation, but not ‘real’ enough to watch it as a film. Not my kind of animation.

The film is about a writer and speaker about customer services who travels to Cincinnati to give a lecture. Apparently his life does not go the way he would like and he tries to compensate this by using the opportunity to try to get laid.

There are a few odd moments in the film, but not enough to make it interesting. It is just a film without much of a story and what there is of a story is not very appealing (to me). Perhaps the story is more just to hang a well-made animation on to, but I am not the person to judge that.

A Most Violent Year * J.C. Chandor (2014)

New York, 1981. Abel Morales apparently comes from a maffia family, but tries to make his oil transport business legal and transparant. The problem is that his competitors do not all follow the law and Abel did not always either. Two problems occur for Abel. People are violently stealing his trucks and the local government investigates the oil transport business in search for corruption.

“A Most Violent Year” makes an alright drama which has a good 1980’ies feel and shows the thin line between running a successful business and running a clean business.

d’Ardennen * Robin Pront (2015)

A Flemish film in which one of two derailed brothers is sentenced to seven years in jail. When he is released after four years, the brother that was not caught had fallen in love with his brother’s girlfriend and has tried to get his life back on track. The inmate has had four years for his disillusionment to grow. He did not exactly become more easily to handle.

Kenneth (the ex-inmate) does seem to want to try to get his life somewhere near what he has in mind, but when things do not go the way he would prefer, his manipulative nature comes bubbling up. His brother Dave does not know when and how to tell about the new situation, while Kenneth initially thinking of winning Silvie back makes even more problems than there already are.

The film is initially a drama with a ‘thrillerish undertone’ because it is clear that things are going to escalate, but unclear how. Things turn for the bad even worse than I expected and the film ends with a couple of very grim scenes. This is all fairly well done.

“d’Adennen” may not be the best Flemish film, but it certainly is not a bad one.

Love & Mercy * Bill Pohlad (2014)

I often like films about musicians even when I do (did) not like the music. I expected this film to be about the Beach Boys. Actually this film is more about Brian Wilson, one of the brothers Wilson who started the band.

We jump back and forth in time. We see an adult Wilson (played by John Cusack) who is initially set as a bit of an odd person. In the past Wilson is played by Paul Dano and we see the Beach Boys already at the peak of their success. They are as big as the Beattles and ready to tour the world. Also here Brian is a bit off, but mostly in a ‘mad genious way’. He decides to stop touring with his brothers and to stay in the studio to write music. His music becomes more and more experimental and does not really sound like the Beach Boys’ success style. Brian increasingly appears to have autistic features.

In the present time Brian meets the pretty car sales woman Melinda Ledbetter. As Melinda grows into the group around her boyfriend-to-be, it becomes clear that more is wrong with Brian than him being a little odd. There is also something wrong with the people who say to want to take care of Brian. Especially his doctor Eugene Lendy (a good part of Paul Giamatti) is a questionable person.

“Love & Mercy” is mostly a drama. The music is secondary and you will learn little about how, when and why Beach Boys songs were written, so they add little to the atmosphere of the film. Perhaps (I do not know the Beach Boys very well) the film does give some insight in the less-popular recordings of the band (or Brian with other musicians).

An alright film, mostly to watch as a film about a person with a problem.

Night On Earth * Jim Jarmusch (1991)

IMDb.comFive cities, five taxis, five meetings of people who formerly did not know eachother in five short films. Because of the setting, “Night On Earth” is mostly built on the dialogues between the taxi driver and his passenger(s).

Jarmusch worked these few elements very well. In the first film a movie-scout meets a very young taxi driver (Winona Ryder) but both appear to have different views on carreer-planning.
In the second part, an Eastern German immigrant taxi driver picks up a man from Brooklyn with a very catchy laugh.
Another immigrant taxi driver we find in Paris who first picks up to other Africans and later a blind woman.
The taxi driver from Rome is a hilarious Italian whose mouth does not keep still for a second. He literally talks his nighly passanger to death.
More melancholic is the last ride in Helsinki where dramatic stories are shared between the driver and his three passangers.

“Night On Earth” makes a very amusing film.

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