Hotel Artemis – Drew Pearce (2018)

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In an apocalyptic near future LA, “Nurse” runs an expensive hotel hospital only for its criminal members. Jody Foster is great as the weird “Nurse” and the first part of the film the film has a bit of that Jeunet-like weirdness.

Naturally a few people that are better not in the same building need to find admission in Hotel Artemis, so things can only go wrong.

Especially the first half of the film is very entertaining. Nice humour, funny dialogues, strange findings. “Nurse” suffers a trauma that is mostly worked out in the second half which makes the second half less funny. The film explains all events in the end.

Amusing.

The Mule – Clint Eastwood (2018)

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Eastwood as director, producer and main actor. That bound to be a film exactly as he wanted. He made some descent films, so why not?

Eastwood plays the old and fragile Earl Stone who always cared more about his fame in breeding flowers and his job than in his family. When that goes awry, Stone needs to find another source of income. Him having been on a road a lot, his new occupation comes to him fairly easy. He starts driving cargo for the drug mafia.

In a slow pace with realistic drama and cold humour, Eastwood tells his story. We see Stone driving the cargo that he need not know what it is and since he is never caught, his cargo grows and grows. One reason that Stone is never caught, is that he remains his own, strange self making him look very unsuspicious, but it works much on the nerves of his employer.

Then we have the other side of the story with the police trying to sabotage the drug trafficking. This ends a bit unsatisfactory (at least ‘story wise’).

The film has no surprises, but like other Eastwood films, “The Mule” makes a nice crime drama.

Extinction – Ben Young (2018)

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Peter lives in a near future and has apocalyptic nightmares. As you can see on the cover and judge from the title, aliens come to make mankind extinct.

The film has a good tension when Peter and his family are hunted by strange creatures. During their attempt to escape, some obligatory drama is presented. Then comes a somewhat unexpected plot twist which is fairly interesting.

What is less interesting, is that the film becomes very explanatory in the second half all which is laid on a bit too thickly in the end making “Extinction” but an alright film.

The Poison Rose – Francesco Cinquemani & George Gallo (2019)

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The creators wanted to make a 1970’ies style film noir set in the 1970’ies. This worked out well for quite a bit.

John Travolta is the old, yet cool, private investigator Carson Philips. While he prefers to remain in L.A., he is sent for a job in his home-town in Texas, a town that he had left two decades before.

Travolta is also the voice-over, there are the typical introduction titles, way of filming, “femmes fatale” and silly, but good humour. Philips works himself into a web controlled by “Doc” (Morgan Freeman) and everybody seems to know Philip’s every move.

Of course the plots shifts a few times and Philips continues his investigations against all odds and prevails at the end.

The first three quarters are quite good, the ending is just fine.

Spectral – Nick Mathieu (2016)

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In a near future with high-tech warfare, American soldiers run into something that they have not seen yet: an invisible and deadly enemy.

Clyne, the creator of these high-tech items, is sent to a war-zone to try to find out what technique the enemy uses.

“Spectral” makes an alright film with a good war atmosphere. The film is good up until we find out what enemy the soldiers face and then becomes a bit of an action horror which is not too convincing. Of course there is a bit of the obligatory drama and American patriotism, so in this regard a Netflix film is exactly like a Hollywood production.

Dark (season 1 and 2) – Baran bo Odar & Jantje Friese (2017/9)

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I do not have much luck with films on Netflix, especially not “Netflix original” films. This “Netflix original” series are excellent though.

In spite of the English title, “Dark” is spoken in German. The first season starts with the mysterious disappearance of a boy. We learn that 33 years before something quite similar happened.

Initially there are some (torture) horror elements which are quite unnecessary and do not really have a function in the story either. I guess it is to raise an atmosphere in which the ‘bad guy’ can be pinpointed so that the viewer can be put on the wrong foot later on. Especially the first season is moody and fairly dark. The mystery that surrounds the village of Winden with its nuclear power plant slowly becomes clear. From then on, and particularly in the second season, this red thread is constantly twisted and turned.

The characters of the series get new faces often, which in some way makes clear what is going on and makes you ponder the underlying idea of the series. Scenes go from surprising to unlikely, but the atmosphere remains very strong. There is a minimalist soundtrack that consists mostly of just low noises and drones. Here and there is a scene with wonderfully surprising use of music.

The second series mostly stretches what we already know and at the end a new angle to the story is given with a massive cliffhanger. Hopefully the series will not be milked out into a seven season series…

Try to not read too much about the series before watching it. It is enough to know that they are dark, slow, minimalist, surreal and pretty good.

Thelma – Joachim Trier (2017)

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Thelma has had a very religious upbringing in some remote part of Northern Scandinavia. When she goes to school she moves to a city where the student life introduces her to all kinds of things new. People with a different view on life, alcohol, tobacco and love.

The latter seems to cause some sort of fits and Thelma goes to see a doctor. This results in information about her childhood and her family that is new to Thelma, so she digs deeper.

The fits are not quite epileptics and so the film slowly moves from being a drama to a little bit of being a thriller.

The film is nicely shot, with a good telling of the story and a good atmosphere. Some details could have been worked out better, but overall “Thelma” is a very descent film.

Gangster Squad – Ruben Fleischer (2013)

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1949, war hero O’Mara returns to his home town LA which he finds being slowly taken over by mafia leader Mickey Cohen (a great Sean Penn). He joins the police force where he violently goes against the corruption of his town. This results in amusing over-the-top fist fights.

Then O’Mara is asked to put together a team to try to work Cohen out of the city. He finds a colourful team of (ex-)cops who go after Cohen’s money in brutal shootings and interrogations.

The film has a good 1940’ies atmosphere, but contemporary violence and humour. With a typical story with good looking tough guys and beautiful ladies, Fleischer works to a predictable end, but does this with a pretty amusing film.

Réalité – Quentin Dupieux (2014)

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Dupieux again made a pretty absurd film in which he put a lot that does not fit. Reactions to situations that are ‘off’, the situations themselves are odd, weird dialogues and then a totally strange (yet interesting) interweaving of story lines.

The atmosphere is a bit like that of “Wrong” (2012). Suppressed absurd humour. There are some completely weird scenes, but when the film seems to get some sort of idea rather than being just “a collection of absurd scenes” as I described “Wrong”, it raises a little above that previous film.

Not great, but somewhat amusing.

The Equalizer – Antoine Fuqua (2014)

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Well, this time I picked a non-Netflix original with a fair rating on IMDb (7.2) and still it is a weak film. Of course action is not my genre (and yet I feel like watching action for weeks…), but still.

Denzel Washington in the role of a tough guy. Is that unexpected?

Robert McCall (Washington) is the good guy who helps everybody. He works a hardware store where he helps colleagues, he helps people living in his neighborhood and in a cafe where that he visits often, he gets friendly with a Russian prostitute.

When Teri gets trouble with her pimp, McCall decides to help out. In doing so he gets trouble with the Russian maffia. Fortunately he proves to be a killing machine so in a John Wick-like revenge thriller he works himself to the top.

Nothing too interesting.