Midsommar – Ari Aster (2019)

Of course I heard about this film when it came out, but I was not sure if I wanted to see it. It is about a heathen Midsummer celebration that turns into horror. That can only be corny parody, right? Or would the attempt be more serious like a modern Wicker Man? Since it popped up on Netflex I decided to watch the two and a half hours after all and see what the fuss is about.

The film is quite like Wicker Man, too much so, but still falls in the first ‘category’: a corny parody. It is truly and awfully yawn-inspiring.

A group of outsiders travel to Sweden for a Midsummer celebration. From minute one it is clear how the film will unfold, almost exactly like the Wicker Man. The celebrations have little to do with Northern European Midsummer celebrations.

The film starts with bad drama. When skipped this terrible part, half an hour could have been saved. Then there is some predictable gore going over in tension that never comes. Even the story stinks. The celebration is held every 90 years but everybody know exactly what to do?

Dolomite Is My Name – Craig Brewer (2019)

Eddy Murphey is Rudy Ray Moore, a man who tries to become famous, but has a hard time doing so. He tried music and dance and then he comes up with the idea to be a comedian.

This works very well. Rudy comes with a spitfire of dirty jokes for and about the black community. Indeed, most of his jokes elude me. Rudy does very well and when he starts to sell his shows on vinyl, his star rises quickly.

When watching a comedy film with his friends and finding it not funny at all, Rudy decides to make a film by and for the blacks. This does not entirely go easily, but eventually pays out.

The film is almost exclusively played by black actors, so you can expect people to appear such as Wesley Snipes, Graig Robinson, but also a great Snoop Dog and Chris Rock. Indeed, the film is about “Blaxploitation” and is basically a “Blaxploitation” film itself. A bit strange to see the director though.

“Dolomite” is amusing. Murphey is still funny and the film looks like everybody got a fun time making it.

Paul – Greg Mottola (2011)

Every time my girlfriend wanted to watch something funny, the film turned out to be not really so. So I searched Netflix for obvious comedy. Not really my genre, but I think I found a few that I could enjoy too. “Paul” is the first we watched.

Two British nerds travel to the Comic-Con and plan to rent a camper to see the famous American UFO sites. After the first site they run into an actual alien who goes by the name Paul. Paul has another destination in mind as Graeme and Clive.

Even for someone who seldom watches comedy “Paul” has a barely original story. Graeme and Clive are obvious references to Bill & Ted or the Waynes’ World duo and this time we do not have a cursing and swearing teddy-bear, but a cursing and swearing alien.

Well, that is about the level to expect. The film has a few good jokes, but overall it is but one of these trying to be silly type of films.

Parker – Taylor Hackford (2013)

I thought / hoped that this would be one of these action comedies, but actually “Parker” is a revenge action thriller.

Parker (Jason Stratham) is a thief who is doubled crossed by some temporary partners. Of course he is going to get back at them and claim the money they owe him.

Along the line Parker picks up Leslie who is played by Jennifer Lopez.

Nothing surprising, not boring either. Well perhaps the very old Nick Nolte is somewhat of a surprise.

Uncut Gems – Benny & Josh Safdie (2019)

Howard Ratner is a New York Jew with a very typical profession. He deals in diamonds and other expensive objects. Howard is well-known among the rich and famous and everybody who wants to be.

Howard does not always make the best decisions though, so he also builds debts and enemies. His complete naivety shows when he receives a long sought after rough diamond. His already precarious situation becomes worse rapidly.

“Uncut Gems” is an amusing film with strange situations and an ADHD Ratner doing his best, but he should listen to other people’s advice more often. The film has a bit of a mafia film atmosphere and in spite of the ‘small story’ easily fills its 2:15 hours.

American Gods – Bryan Fuller & Michael Green (series, season 2) 2019

The first season had its flaws, but I liked it a lot. I looked forward to seeing seaon 2, but it took a long time before I found a reasonably priced DVD box.

The flaws of season one are still there. There are again only 8 episodes and again the story suddenly ends. Indeed, season 3 is already announced.

Perhaps the novelty is gone, but even though season 2 is very similar to season 1, I liked it a lot less. In fact, I do not even know if I want to watch season 3. Perhaps I will wait to see if after 3 comes a 4 and…

Anyway, in season 2 it is obvious who “Mr. Wednesday” is. He is gathering “old Gods” to wage war against the new Gods, particularly “Mr. World” and “Media” (the latter is not played by Gilian Anderson this time). Mr. World is quite annoying. Wednesday is a fun as he was and he is a very ambivalent character just as the God he was styled after.

Again there are all kinds of known and unknown Gods and other spiritual beings, many references to known and unknown myths and stories with sometimes great dialogues if you understand the pun. There are also ‘intelligent’ dialogues and monologues and also critique on the modern way of living.

As I said, I liked season 2 less than I did season 1. There are some great scenes, amusing situations and weird characters, but nothing really ‘happens’ and the story about Shadow Moon and his dead wife is not really interesting.

Just alright.

6 Underground – Michael Bay (2019)

A friend was enthousiastic about this film which was an over-the-top action.

Indeed, in the opening scene it is. After some robbery gone wrong, a group has to flee through Paris in a fast car. The scene is fun for a few minutes, but it looks as if it is largely CGI.

Then there appears to be a story. Some rich guy gathers people who allegedly die so they can join his group fighting bad people.

An all-American story unfolds in which bad leaders of bad countries have to be get rid off. This indeed leads to a lot of action and a couple of descent scenes, but overall I found the film pretty dull.

Talvar – Meghna Gulzar (2015)

Often IMDb.com is a good indication if a film is any good. I found this film on Netflix, the story sounded alright and IMDb has this five year old film rated at 8.2, so I gave it a go.

Well, “Talvar” proves to be an Indian film. It is spoken half Indian and half Indian-English. The acting is alright, but the film almost completely lacks atmosphere while it is supposed to be a mystery thriller.

What is somewhat nicely done is that the death of a 14-year-old and a servant is investigated three times. The investigators come to wholly different theories as to what happened and how and these theories are made into film, so you get three different versions of the same story.

For the rest, I found “Talvar” quite unconvincing.

Peaky Blinders (series) Steven Knight (2013-)

When the series were first shown in 2013 it sounded like everybody was watching “Peaky Blinders”. I am never so quick with watching a series. First I need to know it does not become one of these milked out 10 season series. Also I often wait to see if people still think it is so great after a couple of years.

So a while ago I was looking for a new series to watch and ran into a note saying “Peaky Blinders”, so I watched the first episode. I must say: that was great!

The series are somewhat gloomy, play in the interbellum (the time between the World Wars) mostly in Birmingham, UK. There are lengthy scenes with nothing but shots of industrial workers, exploding fires from metal workers, etc. and the series have great music which does totally not fit the 1920’ies setting, but which fits the atmosphere of the series well. Especially the great opening tune of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds is great and often wonderfully incorporated into the opening scene.

We follow the family Shelby who own the factories in Birmingham, but who also form some sort of maffia with a gambling house. There are a couple of brothers and other relatives. After a while it becomes clear that not the oldest brother Arthur runs things, but the next in line Thomas/Tommy.

The first season is great. The characters develop, they run into amusing situations when they try to slowly convert from illegal business to legal businesses. Of course they keep running into old and new enemies, local authorities, etc.

The second season is enjoyable too, but from then on the story-writing goes down rapidly. Quite silly new characters are introduced for the next tension arc, story-lines that are suddenly wrapped up in half an episode to make room for something else. Jumps in time to not have to show how kids grow up or how Shelby’s move to the USA and back, dead and not dead and more and more it is all about Thomas… Somewhere in the beginning of the fourth season I started to slow down watching and I am not sure if I am going to finish even this season, let alone the next three (and probably running).

Yep, this is one of these milked-out series that should have stopped after two good seasons.

The Laundromat – Steven Soderbergh (2019)

Not quite was I expected. I thought this would be a comedy, but actually it is a ‘high end’ indinctment of the global financial system. The cast is pretty impressive. Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep in the main roles; James Cromwell and Chris McLaughlin in by-roles.

An old Meryl Streep looses her husband (Cromwell) in a terrible boat accident. The company running the boat just moved their insurance to a cheaper company, but this proves to be a part of a big financial scam in which ownership is moved to all kinds of empty businesses on tax friendly islands.

Streep sets her mind on finding out why she does not just get the compensation that the boat company was insured for. She walks into a massive swamp in which people own thousands of companies with the only aim to raise their own wealth. Banderas and Oldman are the (fictional) masterminds behind the whole system and they ironically explain how all that works.

The film is amusing, but mostly in a painful way, because this is probably how it really works. “The Laundromat” is -so to way- an instructive comedy.