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”.

Maps To The Stars * David Cronenberg (2014)

After visiting the great David Cronenberg exposition in Eye Amsterdam we went to see his latest film. In the exposition a lot of stress is laid on Cronenberg’s weird creations, mixes between bodies and technologies and the like, but nothing of that can be found in his latest film. “Maps To The Stars” is mostly a drama about Hollywood actors and their lives. Julianne Moore once again plays a heavily troubled woman, this time an actress whose carreer is as good as over. Then we have another troubled woman, Agatha Weiss whose past is getting on with her. Agatha’s husband is the successfull New Age Hollywood star doctor Stafford Weiss who goes to great length to keep the drama out of his life so that it does not interfere with his cashflow. Agatha and Stafford have a successfull child-star as a son. Then there is Jerome Fontana who is one of those typical youngsters working in Hollywood to get money and at the same time trying his luck with acting and writing.
All characters are part of the same story, but different sides of it. Nothing fancy for a change, but there are some surprising connections. It looks like Cronenberg wanted to show the dark side of Hollywood and use that element in a slightly mysterious story, or at least, a story which shows the dark side of man.
“Maps To The Stars” is a good drama with good acting, but I must say that I was more in the mood of the old Cronenberg after the exposition.

The Cabin in the Woods * Drew Goddard (2012)

The box and IMDb suggests this to be a “mystery” and the cover suggests that much, but do not put your money on that! “The Cabin In The Woods” is mostly just another teen-horror-slasher in which a group of youngsters go to a cabin in the woods in order to be brutally slain.
From the beginning there is an uncommon and somewhat sick element that is worked out in a bit too silly way and this does not really raise the film above the teen-slash-horror genre and everything goes very predictable, not unamusing though. Then towards the end two characters open a Pandora’s box which allows the director to pull off every single horror cliché from the shelves and throw in his entire special effects budget. These 20 minutes are highly entertaining.
The film closes with the obligatory ‘intelligent twist’ that should explain all that happened before. Man, what a drag.
Anyways, certainly not a good film, but it is not boring and has one good part.

Wristcutters: A Love Story * Goran Dukic (2006)

This absurd comedy could have been made in Scandinavia, but the director is Kroatian and most actors American.
Zia makes an end to his life, only to find out that the afterlife is an exact copy of life on earth; just as boring and depressing. He meets the weird, Russian folkrock singer Eugene and the two set out to explore the new land. Soon they run into the beautiful Mikal and the film turns into a roadmovie with some pretty weird elements. Since every knows they are dead, the humour is rather black and slightly absurdistic. As the title suggest, there is also room for romance.
A nice strange little comedy.

Pacific Rim * Guillermo del Toro (2013)

A film of Guillermo del Toto with Ron Perlman, that has got to be something, right? Perlman indeed is great, but his character is in the film rather short. Of Del Toro I can only conclude that this is not his best film. By far…
It is not like “Pacific Rim” is a terrible movie, but here we obviously have a massive production in which a good director aims for the big, American audience. “Pacific Rim” is a scifi spectacle that might have been better without the big bucks.
A century ahead larger than life aliens are taking over the world. They come from the ocean where ‘our side’ of a wormhole is located, which is called “the breech”. In order to defend itself, mankind developped larger than life robots, operated by human beings. Of course these machines are human-formed, quite like the machines that are used in “The Matrix” to defend Zion. Del Toro came up with a highly unlikely way of operating that initially only seems to add some sort of “Inception”-like element to the film, but lateron it looks like he needed this element to explain another twist in the story, but it still makes the way of operating quite silly. The story is as predictable as a drive to work, but fortunately Del Toro managed to sneak in some elements of his own visually and message-wise.
The film is not boring or bad, but might have come from any Hollywood blockbuster director. Now I get a bit of a “Dune” feeling…

Birth * Jonathan Glazer (2004)

Indeed it was because Glazer’s latest (“Under The Skin”) now plays in Dutch filmhouses that I noticed “Birth”. Birth is about a women who looses her husband and 10 years later a young boy says he is him. The woman (Anna) is wonderfully played by Nicole Kidman. Anna goes from disbelief and denial to doubt and eventually acceptation. Kidman seems to be the only good element of the film though. Other actors are less convincing and especially the story with its terrible conclusion is very weak.
Not a very convincing film. The unlikely basis could (should) have been worked out better.

Wolf * Jim Taihuttu (2013)

In this Dutch film we follow Majid and Adil, two small criminals of Maroccan descent. Majid is on parole and living with his parents, but Adil remained the in the criminal milieu, rapidly drawing Majid back in when he is out of prison. Trying to remain on right track Majid keeps falling back in old customs. Then when he picks up the sport he is good at, kickboxing, Majib seems to find a patron, but this again navigates him in dubious circles. Moreover, his uncontrollable anger keeps getting him in trouble.
“Wolf” (the word means the same in English and Dutch) is much more of a drama than the crime thriller it is listed as. The film is fairly good and gives a nice peak in the slightly hopeless situation of second generation Maroccans. Taihuttu uses a lot of bleak ‘living-factory’ shots to add to the atmosphere (not really an advertisement of my country!) Not the 7.4 that the film gets on IMDb for me, but not a bad film either.

Stoker * Chan-wook Park (2013)

What can I say about “Stoker”? The story is one that has been filmed a thousand times. In a remote house lives a family, one of the members dies and unknown family comes to live with them; obviously up to no good. The story of “Stoker” keeps reminding of other films, is quite unimaginable and predictable. The director has made some (for the Westerner) less common films, but apparently wanted to make some easy for a Hollywood production. In a few scenes you might see less common Hollywood elements.
Then to the good news. Mia Wasikowska is the sweet and sexy daughter of the house and manages to set down the mood-changing adolescent well. Then we have the mother of the house: Nicole Kidman. Not her best part, but Kidman can play the both sweet and wrathfull mother. The best thing about “Stoker” is the camera-work. Unusual positions, strange close-ups, bright colours, that sort of stuff.
So, if you are interested in film-technique and not too much in a proper or original story and you can stand the awfull end, this slightly ‘thrillerish’ drama could be for you.

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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.