Closed Circuit – John Crowley (2013)

In the 1990’ies the court thriller was a real genre. “Closed Circuit” is a bit of an updated version of that genre.

In a contemporary story we follow the events after a terrorist attack in London. One suspect is apprehended and brought to court. Two ex-lovers are assigned to defend him, but it soon becomes clear that the man is already convicted.

Crowley made a descent court thriller that becomes a bit more of an action thriller as the film goes on. The film has wel built-up tension.

Perhaps an unsurprising, but certainly descent film.

Solace – Afonso Poyart (2015)

Another serial killer thriller in which an FBI team consults a psychic who is played by Anthony Hopkins. Of course the FBI team has a skeptical member who grows to being a believer.

“Solace” starts as an alright thriller. The story has no surprises, but the atmosphere improves when the film gets a bit vaguer in the second half. Hopkins is again good in his role as creepy old man.

A descent thriller in a milked out genre and with no surprises.

Mr. Holmes – Bill Condon (2015)

What a ‘normal’ and dull film. I suppose I read something good about it…

Holmes is an old man who has retired 35 years ago after a particular case. Now that his memory slowly fades away, he decides to reconstruct the story of that last case that caused him to retire.

This results in flashbacks and two interlacing stories. It is not badly done, but very drowsy. Perhaps the director wanted to keep the atmosphere of the Sherlock Holmes books.

Baby Driver – Edgar Wright (2017)

This could well be(come) a modern classic. “Baby Driver” is a hip and well-written action film with good humor and great use of music. Especially in the first part, the music and film are integrated to the extreme.

The title refers to a young man who drive getaway cars for bank robbers. He is a music addict who times his job with his music. Most other characters prove to be music lovers too, so that makes a big theme for the film.

The story is perhaps not really surprising, but it contains nice details and a lot of good and subtle humor.

Recommended when you are out to watch something light.

American Gods – Bryan Fuller & Michael Green (series, season 1) 2017

I found this series because Ian McShane is in it who is brilliant in “Deadwood“. The series seemed strange enough for me to like it. And I did!

Let me start with a down part. The season is only 8 episodes and it looks like half a story. The series is based on a book by Neil Gaiman, so my guess is that the whole story has been divided over two seasons. Had I known that beforehand I would have waited until the entire series are available before watching it.

To the series then. It is not clear to me why a man named Shadow Moon has such a big part in the story, but coming out of jail, he is picked up by a man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday, but people who know him call him Grimnir. I leave it to you to guess who he really is. With the identity of Mr. Wednesday in mind, the series make a whole lot of fun.
What Mr. Wednesday represents is one of the Old Gods (a bit out of place in America though) and he is looking for other old Gods to get the influence back that they used to have. There are many, many references to all kinds of mythologies and religions, sometimes obvious, sometimes vague. The story is not about the fight between prechristian religions and Christianity, Mr. Wednesdays opponents are of the like “Mr. World” (a god of globalization?) and “Media” (Gillian Anderson).

In this manner there is plenty dialogue about the demise of wonder and religion in modern man and critique to modern society. This is done in witty dialogues, with good humor and with both subtle references and blunt statements.

And so we have a fairly vague, at times pompous series with elements that make only little sense and elements that start to make sense as the series continue. My guess is that a few things will only start to make sense in season to and I wonder if the story is going to be milked out in an 8+ season series or if the creators will stick to the book.

Season one is very promising and made an interesting watch.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Rian Johnson (2017)

The Christmas film of this year is another episode in the sage of the battle between good and evil.

As I got used to by now, the story is not as elaborate as is usually suggested. The rebellion is fought by the First Order who got new methods to make life difficult for the rebels. Some space battles are shown and things get hard, but end relatively well.

As for the ‘bigger story’, Luke Skywalker decided to end the Jedi order, but of course not everybody agrees. In the previous film we had a new Vader and that story is worked towards a situation in which good vs evil is not as black and white as it can be.

Even though this is Johnson’s first Star Wars the whole film looks typically Star Wars with no surprises in characters or props. Even some actors have remained the same since the beginning.

An entertaining film with no surprises.

Mystic River – Clint Eastwood (2003)

Eastwood has created a descent drama which plays in the 1950’ies USA. An Italian (?) (maffia) family is shook up when the eldest daughter is found dead. A policeman with close connections to the family investigates the murder and the father uses his own network to find the killer.

“Mystic River” shows how old structures collide with new and has a few twists to prove that not everything is what is seems to be.

Nocturnal Animals – Tom Ford (2016)

This not too convincing film contains two stories. In the ‘real world’ we follow a rich art-lady whose life does not go exactly as she hoped. She receives the manuscript of a book of her ex and that story is the other half of “Nocturnal Animals”.

In the book a family is driven off an abandoned road. The man is dropped out of a car, the wife and daughter are later found dead. With the help of a policeman, the man tries to find the men responsible.

Both stories start to run through each other. This results in a few descent scenes, but overall the film is a not too good drama with thriller elements.

A Simple Plan – Sam Raimi (1999)

This film is a lot like “Fargo” (1996), it only lacks the black humor of that classic.

In a snowy, small community, three people pick up a stupid plan that can only go wrong. Improvising they turn to violence and greed puts stress on their relation. From the beginning it is clear that they are going to have a run-in with organised crime. As in “Fargo” the naivety is stunning.

“A Simple Plan” is by far not as good as the Coen film. It is but a somewhat enjoyable film.

Twin Peaks (series, season 3 2017)

I would be lying if I said that I have been a ‘Peaky’ for 25 years, but it has been certainly more than two decades since I watched the series every couple of years and I have followed Peak-freak groups for many years. These groups, of course, only contained ‘die-hard fans’ when the series had faded from the public eye. Then a while ago there was a stir within the fan base, since, did Laura Palmer not say: “I will see you in 25 years” at the end of the original series? Would Lynch (and Frost) indeed revamp the series? For a while Lynch denied, but either or not persuaded by all the attention, at some point he confirmed that work was done on a new season. Not too much later the filming had actually started, again in Snoqualmie, and people who went there to see what was going on, could see what actors were involved. Actors were confirmed, rumors wandered around the rest and in the end the new season was put out with a massive amount of publicity. Mark Frost even published a book. Suddenly everybody was a Twin Peaks fan and had been one for 25 years. Continue reading