The Double* Richard Ayoade (2013)

IMDb.comWhat a wonderfully weird film. In a 1970’ies like retro futuristic setting, we follow Simon who has a depressing job in a depressing office environment. In the first scenes the viewer gets bright colours, high contrast and Jean-Pierre Jeunet like weird repetative scenes accompanied by similar music. This sets the tone of the film.

After a while a new colleague arrives at the office. This young man looks exactly like James and soon starts to take over James’ life. He makes James do his tests and his work and on the other hand sets after the girl that James has an eye on. Simon also seems to want to make friends with James and help him with his life however. Or does he?

“The Double” is an enjoyable absurdistic comedy, but not a film made to make you laugh though. Especially towards the end the film becomes more and more dramatic. It is stylistically very interesting and certainly a recommended title if you like this strange, black humour kind of film.

The Exorcist * William Friedkin (1973)

This film is a few years older than myself and I already saw it a few times before; now I did so again. I do not know if there are readers of this website so young that they never heard of this horror classic, but just in case there are, I wrote this little review.

The film is about the young girl Sharon who is a little weird. When her bed starts flying through her bedroom, her mother sets out to find help. Sharon proves to be possessed by the devil himself. First Sharons mother tries the normal medical route where the doctors come up with all kinds of fancy explanations. When nothing helps, we go down to the reference in the title.

I was quite surprised how good the film still looks. Of course, the actors wear clothes we would no longer wear and the way they act is somewhat ‘old fashioned’, but the colours, the way the story is built up, “The Exorcist” still makes a good film. What I was less positively surprised about were “the scenes” in which we see the devil talking through Sharon. I remember those as more impressive. Sure, the make-up still has a young girl looking quite awfull and her swearing can still match many current cursing scenes, but the devil seems less scary than before.

Still, should you have never seen this film, and you like the supernatural thriller kind of the not-too-splatter kind of horror, “The Exorcist” remains one that you must have seen.

Devil * John Erick Dowdle (2010)

From the director of “As Above, So Below” and “Quarantine”. I did not like either film, so why did I pick “Devil”?

“Devil”, like “Quarantine” plays in the small confinement of a single building, this time an skyscraper office. The tension is slowly built up, which is not badly done. Basically this film is an old fashioned horror in a current setting.

The film is not horrible, but certainly not exceptionally good either.

Snowpiercer * Joon-ho Bong (2013)

Another not too convincing “sci-fi”. The story of “Snowpiercer” is so unlikely that I really could not get into the film.

In order to stop global warming, mankind caused a new ice age. The only people alive on the planet live on a continuously riding train and it is within that train that the film plays. The train has a strict class society. The ‘low’ people from the back decide to move up front since they feel suppressed. Some wagons look like the inside of a train, others seem massively big. As the troup continue to move forward some wagons have the strangest content and inhabitents.

For the largest part the story seems well thought-through. There are some details that only get clear lateron and overall the train proves to be a picture of society and explains why things are the way they are. This is actually fairly well done. The overal framework of a single train on a frozen earth that takes a year to fullfill one round is so far fetched and unlikely that I cannot really recommend “Snowpiercer”. It too often seemed as if the director’s ideas for a story did not fit his train and there are way too many improbabilties.

Sound Of My Voice * Zal Batmanglij (2011)

I read some good reviews of this film and the IMDb is 6.7 on. Too high in my opinion. I did not really like this film.

The IMDb listings of “mystery” and “sci-fi” are a bit too promising too. Other than that we are dealing with a person from the future, there is little “mystery” and this fact alone does not make the film “sci-fi”. As a matter of fact, the viewer is not even sure Maggie is from the future. This lady from the future founded a New Age cult into which two youngsters infiltrate in order to make a documentary.

The film is very New Agey with all kinds of strange group gatherings and a semi-spiritual message of Maggie. “The Sound Of My Voice” nowhere gets really interesting.

Lost River * Ryan Gosling (2014)

Ryan “Drive” “Only God Forgives” Gosling’s directing debut is rated only 5.9 on IMDb. It indeed is not a popular-looking film, but I guess that the people who enjoy the two mentioned films, might actually like “Lost River” too. Gosling was apparently inspired by Refn’s approach. “Lost River” is as slow and minimalistic as these two of Refn.

There is not too much of a story to “Lost River”. The film title refers to a small town that is almost abandoned. If I understand it correctly, Lost River was founded when another small town was flooded to create a reservoir-lake. Still its inhabitents get out (because of the economic crisis?) and Lost River has only a handfull inhabitents left.

We mostly follow Billy and her two sons. Billy tries to raise enough money to keep the house and runs into the weirdest job, allowing Gosling to tell a macabre story. The oldest son Bones tries to make money collecting copper, but he runs into a more powerfull opponent.

Just a few characters, no too much dialogue or ‘events’, bright images, low speed. “Lost River” might indeed not be a film for anyone, but I must say that I find it not bad at all.

Inherent Vice * Paul Thomas Anderson (2014)

Like other P.T. Andersons “Inherent Vice” is a lengthy film: 148 minutes. Also Like P.T. Andersons it is a good one. I am no big fan of Joaquin Phoenix, but in “Inherent Vice” he is great as hippie private investigator “Doc” who gets different cases that prove to be connected.

“Inherent Vice” plays in the time of the Manson murders in which there is a hippie community alongside ‘the normal community’. Manson being a hippie, the latter community looks down on the former. Naturally the feelings are mutual.

The film has wonderfull humour, sexy ladies, an atmosphere that reminds of films such as “24 Hour Party People” and a drug-infused crazyness not unlike “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas“.

Sure an enjoyable, light film, perfect for a hot summer evening.

Mad Max: Fury Road * George Miller (2015)

Two years ago I felt like rewatching the original Mad Max trilogy. 30 Years after the third part (and 36 after the first!), the original director comes with ‘part 4’. Unfortunately he did/could not get Mel Gibson to play Mad Max.

“Fury Road” opens with the raw and apocalyptic feel of 1985 film, but soon evolves into nothing much more than a road trip through the desert. This time there was no need for Miller to build elaborate cities or Thunderdomes, just some fancy cars and weird characters. Even Mad Max seems to just happen to be present at the events in the film and hardly has the part he had in the original films. It almost looks like Miller wanted to make the weird vehicles again, but did not care too much about a story.

“Fury Road” is not boring and has some amusing findings, but it does not come anywhere near the films of three decades ago.

Jupiter Ascending * Andy & Dana Wachowski (2015)

So even the Wachowski’s can make films without much of a story. “Jupiter Ascending” is a rather brainless sci-fi spectacle.

Jupiter Jones has a troubled youth. Her father dies when her mother is still pregnant of her and Jupiter gets born while her mother flees the country. Her life consists of cleaning houses. Then there is the story of an intergalactic capitalist family who argue over whose inheritance the fertile planet earth falls under. Of course Jupiter fits into the story. She gets chased through space for the capitalists to get want they want.

That is about what the story involves. It is mostly a hangup for spectacular scifi action. The special effects look great, but there you have most of the positive news about the film. The acting is dull, the events not too interesting and an atmosphere is mostly lacking.

Not a film to watch when you like the Wachowski’s earlier films for their more ‘elaborate’ films.

Fargo (season 1) (2014)

Running series have a strange habbit of getting preposterously high IMDb rates recently. “Breaking Bad” now stands at 9.5, “Game Of Thrones” too. “Dexter” 8.9. “True Detective” 9.3. “Mad Men” 8.7. Most of these series are not good enough for me to watch all seasons, or even the next. I do like series though, but they are seldom really good. Then I heard that a series was made of the film “Fargo”. The film (1996) is good for a 8.2, which is deserved. The series currently stands at 9.0.

Initially I thought that the film would have been made into a series. When watching the series this proved to be incorrect and it seems that the true events that the series show are a story that Coen brothers only took a part from for their film. This neither can be true. What is true that both the series and the film play in the snowy landscape of Minnosata and things do not go as the main character had in mind. The characters are alike, the names differ. What also differs is what happens. When you know the film, you still will not be able to foretell events in the series. It is even hard to figure out which character in the series is which in the film sometimes. The atmosphere is comparable. Drama with black humour and violent outbursts. Enough of the comparing though.

The major character in the series is hired killer Lorne Malvo, brilliantly played by Billy Bob Thornton. The icecold Malvo leaves a trail of blood and violence. What is worse, he is also followed by a trail of violence. Malvo accidentally gets acquainted with Lester Nygaard, who -much more than Jerry Lundegaard in the film- proves to be a selfish bastard.

The series make a nice watch, but they by and far do not reach the heights of the film. Also, especially towards the end, the series become more of a drama. Not a cry-baby kind of drama, but the humour slowly flows away, leaving a grim story. The two closing episodes are downright thrillers. This is well done and it all nicely tumbles over the estimation of the characters involved.

So, if you have not seen the series yet, try not to think of the film deciding if you will watch it. The resemblances are vague at best. Like I said, the series make a nice watch, but that 9.0 at is overrated in my opinion. Also, should I have known that more seasons are in the make (2 is announced when I write this), it might have dropped down on my list. I do not like most 3+ season series so I usually wait until a series is wrung out before I decide whether or not I will watch it.

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