The Theory Of Everything * James Marsh (2014)

The story of the famous scientist in the wheelchair. We meet Stephen Hawking as a brilliant, but not too-hard-working student who cannot decide the subject of his thesis. He meets his beautiful wife-to-be, but is soon diagnosed with a disease and is told to have max two more years to live. As you probably know, Hawking -born in 1942- is still among us.

As a student, Hawking saw as his life’s project to find a simple equation that explains everything. This theory he is still working on, but in doing so he wrote books that changed the ways scholars look at certain things. The film is not about this theory, but about the man, his disease, his ups and downs in life, etc. A fairly common drama without any surprises, but a fair way to learn more about the famous scientist in the wheelchair.

The East * Zal Batmanglij (2013)

Special agent Sarah infiltrates a radical group of environmental activists who attack public people who abuse the environment. The story is not uninteresting and for the most parts “The East” is a well-tensioned thriller, but on the long run, it is not a very good film in my eyes.

The director apparently felt the need to portray the group “The East” as some sort of sect. This results in too lenghty, superfluous, silly and rather boring New Agey scenes which take down the film substantially. The scenes in which the “jam”s are worked out and executed show the difficult relation between ideology and practice. This is worked out quite well, especially in the case of Sarah, who -of course- grows towards the group, but this is not enough to save the film. The social criticism of the film makes up some.

Birdman * Alejandro González Iñárritu (2014)

A fine film indeed! I expected a bit of a weird drama and “Birdman” indeed is a bit of a weird drama, but not as weird as the poster and trailer suggest or perhaps just differently and more subtlely.

Riggan is an actor who made fame with the pompous Hollywood comic-scifi franchise Birdman. We find him later in life running a theatre in the hip theatre scene of New York trying to perform the play of his life. Things do not entirely go as planned especially not when Mike comes aboard.

Birdman appears to not only be Riggan’s old movie-character and Riggan also is not an ordinary man thus the film has nicely surreal elements from the beginning. The film is shot with flying cameras and threatre-like drama so both in form and content “Birdman” is certainly a film to see.

Pompeii * Paul W.S. Anderson (2014)

I guess the director was the only reason this film landed on my to-see list. The rating on certainly not (5.6). On the other hand, I did not like the two other films of this director that I reviewed… So if that was the reason, I should perhaps mixing up Anderson’s? Then again, the three W.S.’s that I now review(ed) are neither really good, but also not really bad.

This film is totally different from the sci-fi spectacles “Event Horizon” and “Resident Evil”. We start with the Romans butchering a Celtic village. Only a small boy survives. 17 Years later the boy is a gladiator and one of the best. In Pompeii he meets Atticus, his biggest rival. The two not only share cell, but are also doomed to fight eachother.
Also in Pompeii, “the Celt” meets Cassia who on her turn is followed by Corvus from Rome to Pompeii, exactly the reason she left.
All this unsurprisingly comes together and the story has some other unsurprising turns. As the title suggests, the destruction of Pompeii by the Vesuvio vulcano makes part of the film. This allows the director to add some apocalyptic spectacle towards the end.

“Pompeii” is a 13 in a dozen historical spectacle with no surprises. It is not a boring watch, but certainly not a recommended one either.

Frankenweenie * Tim Burton (2012)

There are still Burton films that I did not see. “Frankenweenie” is a bit too much of a kids-film for me though. A young boy revives his deceased dog and when his classmates fear he is going to use that feat at the contest of their weird science teacher, they try to copy the trick. Of course things go wrong.

Like I said, the film seems to aim at a younger audience. Besides a few jokes, horror themed references for the parents (the kid is called Victor Frankenstein, there is a family Van Helmont) and funny characters, the film is at its best amusing.

Enemy * Dennis Villeneuve (2013)

The cover somewhat suggests a “Being John Malkovich”-like film (after which many similar films have been made) which is in way true, but “Enemy” is in no way as interesting.

History teacher Adam watches a film in which an actor plays that looks exactly like him. He sets out to find this actor and finds him living nearby. Adam is an annoyingly nervous person, even more so when he meets his ‘doppelgänger’. The film does not make clear, and Adam probably does not know himself, why he wants to meet his double, but the events that follow certainly are not what he hoped for. The story is already not too appealing, but the ‘explaining’ last scene is pretty silly. Not that the film is awfull, it is not boring or anything, but it is just a not too convincing drama.

The Grand Budapest Hotel * Wes Anderson (2014)

This highly acclaimed film was not too high on my wishlist, but my girlfriend already saw it and thought that I should too. It is a nice film indeed.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” has a bit of the atmosphere of “Amélie“; slightly absurdistically surrealistic, both romantic and somewhat tragic and with colourfull stages and weird characters and situations.

A writer goes to the gone-glory Grand Budapest Hotel where he meets the owner. This owner tells him the story of how he came to possess the hotel. A weird story about the “legendary concierge” Gustave H. unfolds. This extremely distiguished gentleman seems to be the main reason for the rich and famous to come to the hotel. When a customer of his dies and leaves Gustave a priceless painting, the family of the deceased opens all cabinets to prevent the concierge from obtaining the most valuable item of the legacy. Gustave and his favourite bellboy try to clear Gustave’s name.

The film contains a range of famous actors in unlikely roles which certainly adds to the amusement of the film. For the rest, it is a film for people like light, but ‘high brow’ comedy and the slightly surrealistic films like those of Jeanne-Pierre Jeunet or Paul Thomas Andersson.

Source Code * Duncan Jones (2011)

Ah yes, another scifi with a difficult story. Perhaps I had better seen this film of Duncan “Moon” Jones when it came out. Now it is pretty much overshadowed by similar films such as “Transcendence“, “Oblivion“, “Interstellar“, “Sunshine” and especially “Edge of Tomorrow“. The story is quite a bit like that of the latter title.

In “Source Code” an elaborate theory is worked out to explain how a soldier kan keep repeating eight minutes in a train to find the person who bombed it. The result has some obvious similarities with “Edge of Tomorrow” (or actually the other way around of course) which works with a similar theme.

I actually find the title of the film and the concept that is given the term “source code” the weaker part of the film. The eight minute repeat is worked out well enough, however there are no surprises in the story.

A film to see if you cannot get enough of the ‘difficult’ scifi genre (because that is what is becomes with so many titles).

Quarantine * John Erick Dowdle (2008)

Boy this film is corny. I even have the idea that I already saw it, but this was very long ago or I found it too bad to review.

Angela (Jennifer Carpenter, ‘Dexter’s sister’) and Scott form a tv-crew that are going to spend a night with the local fire department. It takes a long while before the first call, but the men are called for a medical call (which are most, the commander says) in the middle of the night. A woman in an appartment building went berzerk and soon several people are wounded. Assembling all inhabitents in the lobby below, it soon becomes clear that people outside do not want anyone to leave the building. Of course things go from bad to worse when the story takes a very predictable turn.

I Origins * Mike Cahill (2014)

The young scientist Ian is fascinated by the eye. First because each human iris is unique and second because by proving that the eye evolved too, Ian thinks he will be able to prove that the last thing religious people claim to be a creation of God, is also scientifically explainable. It is also through eyes that Ian meets his wife-to-be, the beautifull Sofi.

Ian and Sofi are two colliding worlds. Sofi is a very spiritual girl, Ian the complete opposite. When Ian’s laboratory partner Karen finds the missing link that is going to give their work a boost, Ian’s life changes drastically in two ways.

Cahill worked out a nice theory, that the eyes are the mirror to the soul, quite literally. He sets aside outlooks that we see a lot today; the overly materialistic and rational view and the New Agey one. This works better in some scenes than in others. The same I can say about the general atmosphere. While there are some nice scenes showing Ian and Sofi falling in love, the most dramatic scene of the film did nothing to me.

“I Origins” is a nice film with a nice story, but unfortunately does not rise above the level of ‘nice’.

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