What Happened To Monday – Tommy Wirkola (2017)

I got this film with the title “Seven Sisters”. I do not really understand the need for different titles in the same language.

Anyway, in an overcrowded future there is a one-child policy. One man has a ‘seven-twins’ and names them after the days of the week, so there you have both titles explained.

The man hides his daughters in his massive apartment and thinks of an elaborate plan to give his daughters a wee bit of freedom: they get to get out on the weekday they are named after. Of course this cannot go well for eternity.

The sisters are played by Noomi “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” Rapace. Inside their apartment the girls have their own style and personality, outside they are all the same person. Once the authorities find out about them, the film turns into an alright sci-fi action thriller. Too bad that the film ends with rather boring drama and what is even weirder: the governments policies have a logic, but the overcoming of them is presented as a victory.

“What Happened To Monday” is descent thriller with a bad end.

Human Nature – Michel Gondry (2001)

Directed by Gondry, written by Charlie Kaufman and starring Patricia Arquette. Would that be reason enough to watch a comedy? I am not entirely sure.

The story is of course pretty absurd and has some elements critical to modern society. Arquette runs around in an Eve’s costume half of the film too. The film is too light for my liking though.

Arquette plays a hairy girl who decides to retreat into nature, but later returns to society. Her husband is the ultimate example of man trying to ‘enlighten’ nature: he tries to teach table manners to mice. When the two run into a wild man, Nathan (the husband) sets out to socialize “Puff” by teaching him how to behave at a classical concert and other things that apparently makes men civilized.

“Human Nature” has some nice, subtle humor (and some of the more absurd kind) and a message, but I cannot see much more in it than very light entertainment.

Brimstone – Martin Koolhoven (2016)

In the days the Dutch have just settled America we find a young midwife who has a child-birth go wrong. Everybody seems to think she is a witch and especially the newly arrived pastor (a great Guy Pierce) seems ominous.

Liz and the pastor appear to have a past which is further elaborated in the second part of the film. An unexpected plot-line unfolds which is explained more in the third part. This is wonderfully done.

“Brimstone” shows early American settlers of the extremely religious type and well shows the pressure this religion brought, or at least, how it was used. The story-line of Liz and the pastor makes a gloomy red thread through the film which culminates in a fourth part which wraps up the story.

Taking two-and-a-half hours the Dutch director tells his horrible story in a great, international way, giving both an idea of these days, its religion and telling a story of tension.

Kvinden I Buret – Mikkel Nørgaard (2013)

Again a Scandinavian crime film in which the international title is completely different from the original. The title translates to ‘woman in a cage’, but the international title is “Department Q: Keeper Of Lost Causes”.

Initially we see two cops get shot. One of them remains in the hospital, while the other is sent to the basement to investigate cold cases. One of these cases leads Karl and his new partner Assad to continue investigating, much against the will of their colleagues.

The storyline that the original title refers to is a bit far-fetched, but the case unfolds nicely making “Kvinden” a descent yet typical Scandinavian crime film. Judging IMDb, the duo that are here Karl and Assad return in other films.

Bandits – Barry Levinson (2001)

Cheap entertainment, but amusingly so. Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton are great as an unlikely bank-robbing couple. Willis is of course the macho. Thornton the weird intellectual. Blake and Collins run into the gorgeous Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchet) who joins them on their robbing trip. Nothing unexpected happens. Both men fall in love with Kate and in the end this situation leads them to being caught.

Willis, Thornton and Blanchet obviously had a fun time shooting this film. There are some witty dialogues and amusing (yet predictable) situations. Indeed, cheap entertainment, but amusingly so.

The film has some good (forgotten) music too.

A Dark Song – Liam Gavin (2016)

A young woman has a wish and to fulfill it, she turns to Solomonic magic. It was not entirely clear to me what her aim was (she says something different a few times), but I do wonder how an inexperienced person would come up with a months-long (!!) ritual spending tens of thousands of dollars for a need. Would most people not just get one of these ‘magic in five minutes’ type books? Well, her son was killed by black magic, perhaps that is why.

We first see Sophia looking for a proper place which became a massive and remote mansion. Then she has to find an experienced magician who she finds in Joseph Solomon. The film soon plunges into the ritual itself.

What is not too common is that the magic is shown pretty much without prejudice, highlighting some of the concepts and ways of working and showing the amount of work and preparation needed. Then again, when the magic is supposed to be based on the magical books ascribed to Solomon and/or Abramelin then why not just use the imaginary that can be found in hundreds of freely available books and on the internet? Joseph’s books look like something wholly different and he even paints Chinese characters on Sophia’s body. Furthermore, Solomonic rituals can be extensive, but six to eight months and covering several rooms plus preparations?

That said, we follow Sophia and Joseph trying to work their way through their massive ritual which is built of smaller rituals and purifications. They argue and fight like a couple and the viewer is mostly left out of the magic. Towards the end the film does work towards that angle, but then it is fairly corny horror.

“A Dark Song” is to some extent interesting when we follow the two people preparing, performing and discussing the ritual. These parts are a bit too thin and other elements are just not good enough. The 6.1 on IMDb.com is not far off in my opinion. I would bring the average a bit down with my….:

Zero Dark Thirty – Kathryn Bigelow (2012)

This film shows the years long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. It opens with 911 calls from the Twin Towers and then quickly moves a few years ahead showing scenes of unpleasant interrogation techniques of the Americans.

We mostly follow the determined Maya, a young woman convinced that she is going to find Bin Laden. We all know eventually this succeeds, but “Zero Dark Thirty” shows to what lengths especially the CIA had to go for that. We see secret prisons, extreme interrogations, Afghan and Pakistan life and terrorists doing their thing.

The film is quite intense and especially the last scenes are quite tense. Not a pleasant watch, but an apparently good take on a famous part of recent history.

Argo – Ben Affleck (2012)

When the Iranian people get rid off a despot American puppet president, the country is going in an opposite direction. Where the last president steered the country in a Western direction, Ayatollah Khomeini brings extremely conservative Islam to the country. When the previous president gets asylum in the USA, the mood gets fiercely anti-American with massive demonstrations.

During one such demonstration the American embassy is sacked. Almost 60 people are taken hostage for months. Six people manage to escape and hide in the city. The film shows the elaborate plan to get the six out of the country, the other 60 are hardly spoken about.

“Argo” is a dense thriller that shows the extreme circumstances in the new Iran well. Naturally a cat-and-mouse game unfolds which can only lead to an American patriotic outcome, but the film makes a watch-worthy two hours.

God’s Pocket – John Slattery (2014)

God’s Pocket is a small town with not too highly educated inhabitants and a bit of maffia like social structures. When the son from someone the outside dies and a newspaper journalist starts to stir in the pot, tensions occur.

“God’s Pocket” is a descent drama with some familiar faces such as Philip Syemour Hoffman, John Torturro and Caleb Landry Jones.

The Guest – Adam Wingard (2014)

Did I want to see this film so badly that I put him on my watch-list in spite the fact that I could only get a French DVD? The French subtitles could not even be turned off!

“The Guest” is pretty boring. A family gets a visit from a young man who says he was with their deceased son in the army. Talking well, “David” manages to stay with the family for a while. From the first second it is clear what is going to happen and indeed, “David” goes from being a friendly get, a being a menace to the family.

The only positive about the film is a slightly ‘1980’ies vibe’ which even includes music by DAF.