Black Mirror * Charlie Brooker (series 2011, 2013)

Two seasons, three episodes each. That is not quite what we think of when we hear “series”. Furthermore the episodes are not ‘serial’. Each episode stands on its own, with its own story, actors, etc. The episodes are very different, but the red thead throughout the series is technology. The creators really try to make you think about technology.

The first episode is rather weak. The prime minister is blackmailed by a Youtube terrorist. The next episode is very futuristic and an indictment against Idols-like ‘meat inspections’ and the hollowness of modern media. In the last episode of the first season we follow people who have a chip inserted in their brain that records everything they experience with the possibility to look it back.
In the first episode of the second season a woman replaces her deceased boyfriend by advanced technology. In the second episode a young woman is filmed by bystanders when she tries to escape a murderer. The last episode features the animated bear Waldo who unintentionally gets involved in politics.
The different episodes are not particularly good. Some are better than others, but overall this is ‘filmographically’ not a must-see. The creaters did take the liberty to experiment with stories and filming which does make “Black Mirror” an interesting experiment. Also the way technology and the way we use it is presented, something very recognisable, sometimes understandable, does put a magnifying glass on it and indeed may make you think about some things.
The IMDb page seems to suggest that there will be more episodes, but the 2014 season is (as of yet) completely empty.

Animal Kingdom * David Michôd (2010)

IMDb.com“Animal Kingdom” is a descent thriller/drama about a criminal family. The film opens with a pretty black scene after which the main character, Joshua, is taken in with his larger family under the motherly care of his grandmother. Pretty soon ‘J’ is submurged in the violent world of his cousins and uncles. When the police (mainly the moustaches Guy Pearce) think Joshua might be a way to take care of the family, things get rough.

Like I said, a descent film.

Kat * Martin Schmid (2001)

I guess this is a small, Danish, film with some familiar actors. However the film is based on a novel, the story is rather thin. Some old folks try to summon a spirit, but let in the wrong one. That bad spirit raises hell in a small town. A bit secondary to this story are the personal problems of main character Maria.

The atmosphere is not too bad, but “Kat” is a standard horror with gruely images and shock-effects. The acting is not too bad and the music well chosen, so I find the 3.6 on IMDb slightly too low, but I am not going to rate it much higher coming to a…

The Dead Girl * Karen Moncrieff (2006)

This film makes a nice variation to the too-often-used serial-killer theme. The film does not show the hunt for a serial killer, nor really focusses on a victim. Rather there are different stories of different people somehow connected to one victim of a serial killer. This is done with no intention whatsoever to come to a close or a reason. The film is nothing more, and nothing less, than a peek into a part of the lives of a few people. This is nicely done and results more in a drama than a thriller, but this fits the film well.

The Master * Paul Thomas Anderson (2012)

“The Master” opens with a long and weird scene with men on a beach. Then the focus shifts to a young man. Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) always gets himself in trouble forcing himself to flee to another life. On one of those flights, he ends up on the boat of Lancaster Dodd, the master from the title. Dodd proves to be some sort of guru who developped a past-life therapy to overcome both physical and metal illnesses. Dodd is somehow attracted to Quell so even though Quell does not fit either the group around Dodd, nor his method of healing, he remains in Dodd’s presence. The friendship has ups and downs and in the end, Quell’s path leads elsewhere. Or does it?
Dodd is played magnificently by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman manages to raise attraction and repel just by pulling another face. He makes Dodd into an admirable person who often seems very normal and at other times enigmatic. Surely Hoffman was a great actor. Even though I am not a big fan of Phoenix, he is good to have in this film too.
P.T. Anderson has created another drama with a good atmosphere, slightly surrealistic, with amazing camera work and just a bit different from your usual Hollywood drama.
This film will not be in any of my top-film list (not entirely my genre), but it is certainly a good film.

True Detective (series, season 1) * Cary Fukunaga (2015)

A story that could have fitted in the length of a film is spread over 8 episodes; a story not untold in the film world either. Two detectives try to find a brutal serial killer with a satanic approach. Still, the series are highly regarded. Currently IMDb.com has it rated on 9.3! Now of course that happens more often with series that are new, but with about 160.000 voters and having heard a lot of compliments about the series, I decided to watch a series that is not yet finished. It is said that each “True Detective” seasons stands on its own, even with new main characters for every season (and a new director?). That was another reason for me to get season 1.
A story that could have been told in a third of the running time, that tells you that “True Detective” must be very slow, right? It is! Very slow. The creators took their time to make lengthy, moody shots and a story that unfolds slowly. Here we immediately have the biggest strength of the series. It is extremely moody. It has that ‘Scandinvian bleakness’ with touches of darkness.
The story is about two detectives Marty (Woody Harrelson) and Rust (Matthew McConaughey) who have completely different characters. Marty is the usual cop; a hard worker with a lot of experience. Rust is the younger of the two, but he is a too well-read misanthropist who does have a way of finding out what he wants. The story is told in different ways, in interviews with Marty and Rust and in flashbacks. What is well done is that the two sources of the story do not always overlap, but the viewer seems to be able to make the picture as it should be. The story is told in such a slow pace, that is was not really necessary to build in surprises, yet still there is a slighly dull ‘whodunnit’ suggestion towards the end.

So indeed, “True Detective” is a great series! The sympathy-raise for both main characters works most of the time. The atmosphere and camera work a superb, the music fitting. The story is not really original, but at least the creators did not use the usual brutal violence of the usual serial killer story. Their suggestion works a lot better than that!
Do not read too much about “True Detective”. Just get it and watch it. It is only 8 episodes.

King Of The Ants * Stuart Gordon (2003)

Here we have a relatively early sadistic thriller/horror. A young man is hired by a rich guy to follow some man. Then the assignment is changed and things take a drastic turn for Sean.
“King Of The Ants” is not particularly good or surprising. There are a few nice hallucinatory scenes and Georges Wendt of Cheers plays an unexpected brutal part, but overall this is certainly no ‘must-see’.

Berberian Sound Studio * Peter Strickland (2012)

The very British Gilderoy is a sound engineer for films and he is asked to work on an Italian production so he travels to the sound studio from the title. The culture clash seems the red thread of this film. The film that is recorded sounds very bloody, but since, according to the director, it is no horror, I suppose it is a “giallo”. The equipment seems to place the film in that time too.
I got a DVD with only French subtitles and I did not know that the film is spoken in English, but mostly in Italian, so I guess I missed some things here and there. The film is quite minimalistic and some suspence is worked into the work of the characters. Towards the ends there is a completely over-the-top Lynchian scene which is very nice. The rest of the film is amusing.

Badlands * Terrence Malick (1973)

This old Malick features Martin Sheen who looks a lot like his son at the same age. “Badlands” is a road movie about two youngsters who fall in love and have to flee. Their situation gets worse and worse, especially when the media jumps on the story.
A sort of Bonny and Clyde story. Nothing you have never seen before nowadays, but a nice film.

Deadwood (series) * David Milch (2004/6)

I do not mind an open end, but “Deadwood” just suddenly stops. The last episode does not even look like the end of a season. So, what about the three seasons that came before that sudden end?
Deadwood is a small US town in the late 1800’s, a prospectors city that arose when gold was found in the neighbourhood. Deadwood does not fall under any juridisction, so there are no laws. Some of the first people who arrived see to it that things go as they want, particularly Al Swearengen, the owner of the first bar in town. Later Swearengen has to give up some of his influence to Cy Tolliver who opens another bar and who is equally inflexible and manipulative as Swearengen. There are even bigger problems to overcome. The plague, towns that want Deadwood under their jurisdiction, but most of all: big bucks.
“Deadwood” is basically a soap. There is not much of a story, but the focus is on the development of different characters. A few of them certainly development in my way of seeing them. This is done truely wonderfully. The good-hearted, foul mouthed drunkard Jane; the bastard who appears not to be so bad afterall Swearengen; Trixie who does not know if she wants to be good or bad; Silas Adams whose allegiance never become clear; etc.
The eye-catching (or actually ear-catching) thing of “Deadwood” is the roughness of the life in the town and the foulness of the language. That is to say, the things people say could have been written by Shakespeare, but every other word is a curse. A weird combination that allowed the scriptwriters to throw themselves on entirely and which makes brilliant conversations that made me laugh out loud several times each episode. Then there is the superb acting. Ian McShane, who plays Al Swearengen, manages to tell complete stories with his face in just seconds. One time he has a face you would run away from, another time -about the same face- deep drama. The same for cursing Jane and a range of other characters. As funny most parts of the series are, as heavy some scenes can be. To close off, the humour is pitch and pitch black, but the characters, how harsch life and they themselves can be, they remain human afterall.
It is said that the series are based on actual characters, the language even (only the cursing has been ‘updated’) some say.
A wonderfull series full of laughs and here and there a tear. I am no fond of too long running series, but I would have liked another season of “Deadwood”.

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Fantasy bombast

During two airplaneflights I have killed some time watching to fantasy spectacles. First the lauded "Avatar", second the first "Hobbit". I did not expect "Avatar" to be some sort of "Matrix", but the famous blue characters inhabit some sort of 'inbetweenworld' that men can only come using some sort of machine. The film is an 'ecological awareness' film and I hope that all the people who saw the film picked up something of the message.
The "Hobbit" then seems to have been given in by all the people who did not find the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy spectactular enough. Over-the-top action, tons of special effects and a high speed; yep, LOTR in overdrive. I personally prefer the worked out story of the earlier trilogy.
Anyway, on corny earphones in a noisy plane it is close to impossible to follow dialogues, so I undoubtely missed so much from the films that I decided not to really review then. I do not think I will watch either again on my couch if you are curious about that.

Pandrogeny Manifesto on Youtube

This comment was on such a strange place, that I almost spammed it. When I checked what this was about, I found a film with Genesis P-Orridge. The director apparently uploaded his 2006 short to Youtube for your entertainment. Check it out if you are interested. (more…)

Breaking Bad

Now that I think of it, we also watched the first series of the lauded series "Breaking Bad". The series have a nice joke here and there, but also here the first series did not make me want to watch the second. Many people say that the series develops, but frankly, when you want people to watch your series, the first have to be very good, right? I guess I missed that part.

Series

We usually spend one evening a week watching series. Not on TV though, I am terrible with following things on TV, I just want to watch something when I want to watch it. Also I am no fond of all these 7+ season series and consequentally not of still running series. Also I find little of interest actually. (more…)

Enter The Void

It has been a while since I saw "Enter The Void". Taking that the DVD would be released by now, I thought I would get myself a copy and watch it again. Well, the DVD is available, but from the average DVD shop downtown... Fortunately there is the internet.

Four days of Dexter

The circumstances were thus that we watched "Dexter" four nights in a row, it were the first eight episodes of the second series. "Dexter" started in 2006 and is still running (season 6). (more…)

Il Campeggio dei Morti Viventi

Remember "Horizonica" (2007)? The team of "Schat Ik Ga Fietsen" is working on a new full-length "Nederhorror" ("Netherhorror" after the Netherlands) zombie slasher with a plethora of volunteers. Make-up is done by Suzy Terror (who else), Ramon Etman (director of "Horizonica") has his influence because of the cooperation of "Broet. The title is in Italian "Il Campeggio dei Morti Viventi" and on the Facebook page you can find more information. Also 'Googling' the title will bring up Youtube 'trailers' and the like. It looks like there will be some zombies in the film that I know, just as in "Horizonica", hopefully "Il Campeggio..." will be a bit better :-)

Dexter

As a new series we got ourselves "Dexter". These series actually have a 9.3 on IMdB (just as Twin Peaks) and a friend of mine says that it is getter better with every episode, even upto the fifth series. I am no fond of still running series, neither of series with too many seasons, but last week we saw the pilot and first (or second) episode. As in "American Psycho" we get the viewpoint of a serial killer. We hear him thinking, the story is with him as focal point. Dexter is an adopted child and has had urges to kill since his youth. His adoptive father, a policeman, knew all about these urges and taught Dexter to use them 'for good', hense, kill the people the police cannot catch. In his normal life Dexter is a forensic expert with "blood splatter patterns" as his speciality. The police is not his employer, but he works for them. His (step?)sister followed her father's footsteps. Dexters jog inspires his other work.
The first two episodes were amusing, but not brilliant. The series have a grim sense of humour and it is funny that a serial killer is the hero of a popular series. I know that I gave all the information already, but I myself wonder how a series of five seasons with 12 episodes each remain interesting when the pilot already gives everything away. I suppose it does not (and so neither did I) or the writers manage to keep coming up with new ideas. Time will tell.