Möbius * Eric Rochant (2013)

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An all-right Hollywood thriller in which a young woman who is extremely successful on the stock-market is approached from different sides to be recruited.

Tim Roth plays a Russian rich man who sees the potential in Alice, but he is not alone. Secret services see in her a possibility to get inside (possible) criminal organisations and these, on their part, want to make sure that Alice can be trusted.

The film starts as a stock-market film, but ends up more like an espionage thriller which is fairly done.

Malos Hábitos * Simón Bross (2007)

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“Bad Habits” is a Mexican drama about a women who thinks her daughter is fat and develops anorexia herself. Her husband does not like the way her body develops and takes a chubby girlfriend. Then we have a nun who develops an eating disorder because she thinks this will help her aunt and will stop de endless rains in her country.

It is weird. I undoubtedly had a good reason to put this film on my rental list, but once again I wonder why. When I check that list I seldom remove a title, but way too frequently I receive ‘just alright’ films recently and seldom a good one. I have to change tactics…

“Malos Hábitos” is not boring, but it is but a drama good for some lost evening when it happens to be on television.

Angels & Demons * Ron Howard (2009)

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At some point I was going to watch the follow-up of the famous “Da Vinci Code“. It was not very high up the list, but apparently I did not reread my review of the initial film…

Then again, with low expectations, Angels & Demons was not that bad. I guess you all know the story. The Pope has died and during conclave the four cardinals with the best papers to be follower-up are kidnapped and threatened to be killed. The group behind his action is a completely fabricated Illuminiati. Robert Langdon is flown in to decipher the maze that the Illuminati created.

The film is extremely pompous with classical music, a fairly high pace and intelligent-sounding theories of Langdon, who, for some reason, is accompanied by a female scientist.

Le Pacte Des Loups * Christophe Gans (2001)

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Vincent Cassel with a wig and Monica Belluci as a high-class prostitude. Little can go wrong with that, right?

“The Brotherhood of the Wolf” is placed in Renaissance France where an area is haunted by a man-killing beast. An adventurer with his Amerindian bloodbrother go to the area to help the people. They mix in the upper class of the area, but have little luck in finding the vicious beast. Until the end of course.

This was only Gans’ second film, so I wonder how he managed to get Belluci for the part. She is perfect for it though. It is not like this, or Gans’ other films, is a big production. The setting (a historical adventure) is a bit dated, the genre used to be more popular; but also he put in unlikely elements such as the Eastern martial arts Indian.

All in all the film may not be great, but it is a nice film to watch when you feel like seeing something different.

Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice * Zack Snyder (2016)

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Like I said before, with the rental that I use, I can chose which films I want to see, but not when. I put this Snyder-spectacle on the list hoping that it would come when I would feel like brainless action. It did. After a maddening week at work, a no-brainer was in place.

But ‘Batman v Superman’ does not exactly start as a no-brainer… In the first 10 to 15 minutes an elaborate story is built up in which Superman is mankind’s hero, but because not everybody is sure about his intentions (in the future), some decide to question Superman’s sense of justice. Also, there is a villain who wants him dead and also Batman thinks the world is better off without Superman, since if you cannot be 100% sure that a man with Superman’s powers is 100% just, it is safer that there is no Superman at all.

After these first 15 minutes, Snyder shifts up and the rest of the film is fairly brainless, highspeed and extremely pompous action. Superman is lead into a trap and brought before court. The villain builds his weapon to kill him and also Batman is trying to find a way to do the same. Naturally the villain fails and Superman and Batman first fight spectacularly and then become friends. Nothing unexpected here.

Just as in Snyder’s previous Superman film, he again created an over-the-top action film with over-the-top special effects and a story that only thinly refers to the stories that we know of both superheros. Again the film is not boring, but it is mostly just see-what-I-can-do with to known characters. The film looks great though and the pompous classical music is great as well.

Brainless action after all. Not a masterpiece, but entertaining.

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Straightheads * Dan Reed (2007)

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Apparently Gillian Anderson wanted to try something less tame than being Skully in the X-Files. “Straightheads” contains quite a bit of sex and brutality. In spite of this and in spite of Anderson looking pretty, “Straightheads” is a very poor film.

Alice (Anderson) and Adam are driving home through a forest after a party. They get molested by three people and are left behind. When Alice later accidentally runs into one of her attackers, she decides to learn the three a lesson.

However the molesting and portrayed violently enough to make the viewer easily see why Alice sets out to do what she does, the film never reaches any level of conviction and it remains a weak film with a thin story.

I am not sure where the title comes from and it seems that other people thought the same, so “Closure” seems to be an alternative title for this film.

Deathlands * Joshua Butler (2003)

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Everything about this film looks considerably older than its actual age. I was under the impression that “Deathlands” came from the time of “Mad Max“, but the first “Mad Max” is 24 years older!

As you may now expect, “Deathlands” is a gloomy, apocalyptic film playing in a bleak future. After a massive war, nothing much is left of the world and we follow a group consisting of men, a mutant and a half-mutant (it is not really explained to what the mutants mutated) on ‘adventure’.

The first half of the film has a very good atmosphere, but in the second half the very thin story begins to show a bit too clearly and this is certainly the weaker half. There is quite some blood and brutality and action, but do not expect a whole lot of script.

“Deathlands” is enjoyable, but not much more than that.

Belgica * Felix van Groeningen (2016)

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Another good film from Flanders!

A young man starts a pub and when his older brother joins the effort, they soon enlarge the cafe to a successful nightclub. With the help of a load of friends they want to have an open club in which everybody is welcome and in which any type of music can be played or performed.

The Flemish language makes the film funny even when there are no jokes, but in basis the film is a drama about how friendship is tested when what starts as a fun project becomes larger and needs to be managed. Especially the relation between the two brothers makes a large part of the story.

The film is good and entertaining. There is quite a lot of interesting music in it too, so I need to see if I can find out if these are existing bands.

Educazione Siberiana * Gabriele Salvatores (2013)

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In this moody film John Malkovich plays the pater familias of a Siberian (criminal) family that has no respect for Russian law (enforcement), but has a strict code of its own.

The international title of this film seems to be “Deadly Code”, but the original title rather seems to mean “Siberian education”, which covers the film a lot better. We mostly follow a small group of youngsters growing up in a small, Siberian town, educated about the people’s ways by the grandfather of one of the boys. They are fed hatred for the regime and harsch ways of protecting their own ways.

The film is told in two stories, which are actually the same, but playing in different times, both of which give a peek into Russian ‘mafia’ and law enforcement.

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil * Clint Eastwood (1997)

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Eastwood takes his time to tell the story of the writer John Celso (John Cusack) who would initially cover the Christmas party of the rich Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey), but the project becomes a book about Williams shooting Billy Hanson (Jude Law).

In a slow pace the story unfolds and characters develop. There is plenty of time for side-stories and after a while a more social theme bubbles up (almost) pushing the main story to the background.

The film has got some odd characters bringing some humor to it.

“Midnight” is certainly a good film, but not really my kind. 155 Minutes is fairly long, but it does not become boring. It is the kind of film to just watch some time when you have a night to fill.

Timecop: The Berlin Connection * Steve Boyum (2003)

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Not even released in the year in which the original film played, another director comes with a follow-up of the film that was released almost a decade earlier. Safe from being based on the same comic, “Timecop 2” has little to do with the original.

Of course the story is similar. A special team has the task to prevent people from going back in history and change the present/future. The title refers to difficulties of being in a position to change the past and to decide to not do it. That very moment is the start for the whole film in which two time-travelers fight each other through time.

The whole notion of (not) changing the past, traveling back and forth, etc. has been worked out into further extremes than the original film, a bit too much so here and there. “The Berlin Connection” makes an alright scifi action with recognisable elements from its predecessor (most notably: martial arts), but it is a wholly different film with (like I said) a different director, different actors, etc.

The film is not really a masterpiece, but the 4.9 on IMDb sounds a bit low (it is about my own rating too though). Then again, part 1 also only gets a 5.8. Not that that is a masterpiece, but that is more of a classic than the follow-up will be (my guess).

Timecop * Peter Hyams (1994)

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I do not remember having seen, or even heard of, this film before. Perhaps this is because scifi not really was my genre in these days. Now I ran into the film second hand and I got curious if this would a 1980’ies scifi action spectacle.

The film is not as old as I thought, but still old enough to look old-fashioned. It has elements of the films of these days such as the obligatory sex scene and of course the clothing looks wonderfully like that of these days. What is also funny that the director looked 10 years ahead and set his film in 2004 with cranky-looking self-driving cars, but also voice-activated television.

Jean Claude van Damme plays the pretty boy Walker, a martial arts policeman, who is recruited for a new force that can travel back in time to prevent the bad guys from changing history in their course. This results in a amusing film that does not really try to thrive on special effects that nowadays would look dated, but rather a well thought-through story that unfolds nicely. Not even is everything chewed out so that the viewer does not have to think for himself, some clues you actually have to figure out for yourself.

Of course the film looks somewhat dated, but not so much, and it is good enough, that you should not (re)watch it as a classic of decades hence.

Import/Export * Ulrich Seidl (2007)

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In this in-your-face film we follow two persons. Olga is an Ukrainian young woman who has a hard time raising the money she needs to take care of her baby and her mother. Besides her job at a hospital, Olga pursues other lines of work and eventually tries her luck in Wien/Vienna.

In Wien, Paul has a similarly hard life with debts and unemployment, His inflammatory character does not help. In the end, he ends up in… Ukraine.

In long and minimalist scenes shows the bleak lives of both youngsters with confrontational details. Indeed, not exactly a feel-good-movie. It is not like “Import/Export” is a depressive film though. One you have to be in the mood for to watch perhaps though.

Silent Hill * Christophe Gans (2006)

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Hm, “Silent Hill” makes me ‘limping on two thoughts’. On one hand it is too much of a Hollywood horror, on the other there are elements to it that are interesting. Worked out better, “Silent Hill” could have been a lot better.

In a weak start, Rose chases after he sleepwalking daughter Sharon who sometimes mentions “Silent Hill” in her nightmares. Rose finds out that Silent Hill is a town and decides to take her daughter there in the hope that visiting the village will take away the nightmares.

“Silent Hill” proves to be a ghost-town where some disaster happened. The gloomy scenes of darkness entering the village are well done. The darkness is a bit corny, but there are some good scenes. Too bad that both the main character (Rose) and the actress playing that part (Radha Mitchell) are pretty annoying and the story has some very unlikely elements in which Rose seems to keep forgetting what she encountered earlier.

Better about the film is that it does not explain much and that the story does not ‘add up’ leaving it open to the speculations of the viewers. I do not know if the audience of a typical Hollywood horror is up for that though.

Concluding I must say that “Silent Hill” has some descent scenes and good elements, but the weak points overshadow the film.

American Horror Story Freak Show (series) * Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy (season 4 2015)

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The fourth season of “American Horror Story” is of the same level as the first. Nice, but not really more than that. After the great season 2 and the good season 3, follows another ‘alright’ season. And there appear to be 9 seasons planned! I wonder if the makers keep going up and down. That would make quite an ordeal deciding if I want to see them all.

As the title suggests we follow a “freak show”, a circus of people with physical deformities. The story is mostly a drama (soap) with people making friends and arguing. Shorter and longer extra stories bring horror elements. It is indeed fun to see actors from other seasons in wholly different, or rather very comparative roles.
The main character is again played by Jessica Lange and her part is not unlike the previous series. Other actors have larger or smaller parts, but most actors return to “Freak Show” at some point. There are a few big parts played by actors that do not seem to return to the series though.

Perhaps, should you not have seen the series, it could be an idea to not just watch them in chronological order. The stories of each season has nothing to do with the other, so you could also just pick the good seasons. Not that the first and fourth season are bad or boring, but they are nothing compared the second. Season 4 does have great opening titles though.