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Hardcore Never Dies – Jim Taihuttu (2023)

  • crime

This is not the documentary about “gabber” (hardcore techno) that I thought it would be. It is more or a Dutch crime film.

Michael lives with his parents. He prefers playing the piano over school and dropped out of school, doing some low-payed job, continiously hoping to be discovered as a pianist. Then his older brother who has left the parental house comes back into his life. Brother Danny discovered the “gabber” scene, but mostly, the drug scene surrounding it. He is a small dealer, thinking he is a big shot.

Michael discovers the escapism that the pounding beats offer and the experience is soon enhanced with XTC and cocaine. Soon he gets stuck in the web that his brother got caught in earlier on. Danny has debts to some people and every time thinks that a new loan will result in a profiting sale and the end of his financial problems. Needless to say that his problems only get bigger.

“Hardcore Never Dies” plays in a time when having a website was something special and when mobile phones still were only for making phonecalls. There are several scenes at hardcore parties, but the characters and their lives in general are mostly the focus.

Page Eight – David Hare (2011)

  • thriller

A descent political thriller in which we follow Johnny Worricker a long time diplomat working for MI5. His boss is his former tutor Benedict Baron. Worricker is modest and charming elderly man who knows how the dice roll.

His boss gives him a file which he says is important. During a meeting with a minister the importance becomes clearer, but the implications of the contents of the file only because really clear as the film continues.

In the meantime we meet Worricker’s neighbour, his latest wife and their daughter. Carefull as he is, Worricker tries to get an idea if he is being played and who are is friends and allies. He also tries to build a better relationship with his daughter.

The film is calm, but as the viewer gets a feel of how serious the situation is, the tension rises slowly but sure. That is worked out pretty well.

Gandu – Qaushiq Mukherjee (2010)

  • drama

It is not all Bollywood that comes from India. “Gandu” is a very raw rap-punk drama.

The title is a swear word, but used as a reappropriation by the young main character. Apparently living with his mother and her new partner (and off his money) Gandu does nothing with his life but writing rap lyrics and use drugs. His lyrics are about everyday life in an Indian slum with no perspective in life. It are his more adolescent lyrics that make him being picked up as an artist.

We mostly follow Gandu as he steals money from his parents and hangs out with a friend. Cut between these scenes are videoclips of Gandu punk-type rap music. Towards the end he is also able to perform on a stage, making followers and finally losing his virginity in an explicit sex scene.

As I said, a raw film with videoclip-type montage, going from black and white to colour and with explicit lyrics and scenes. A coming raw coming of age from the country of sweet Bollywood.

The Lost City – Aaron & Adam Nee (2022)

Sandra Bullock (1964) is Loretta Sage, an author of sensual adventure novels who actually wants to start to take things more slowly. She is talked into finishing her new novel. During the presentation of the boo, Sage is kidnapped and finds herself into one of her own stories.

“The Lost City” is a not-too-special India Jones type romantic comedy with an amusing Bullock and a great Brad Pitt who unfortunately has but a short part.

The Paragon – Michael Duignan (2023)

  • comedy

In a bit of a “Snatch” type comedy we follow Dutch, a somewhat questionable New Zealander who is hit by a car and left for dead. He survives and finds it his mission to catch the driver that hit him. He responds to an ad to learn how to become psychic, but of course, he did not really have to respond to that.

Dutch becomes an apprentice of Lyra who has all kinds of psychic tricks for him to learn, but Dutch is only interested in the finding of objects. When it turns out that Dutch is somewhat gifted, Lyra also has a task for him.

Somewhat screwball with witty dialogues and weird situations, the film goes from comedy drama to more of a fantasy thriller. The result is amusing, but not great.

Minore – Konstantinos Koutsoliotas (2023)

We follow the simple life in a rural part of Athens where a small community goes to a bar to sing Greek folksongs every night. There is one foreigner there looking for his biological father.

It takes quite a while before the film turns into the horror that usually describes it. There are strange sounds to be heard, people walk like zombies into the sea, but nobody is really alarmed until some sort of flying octopuses start to appear from the fog and eat people. When the group of familiars realise what is going on, they set up a plan to fight the monsters.

“Minore” is an alright film. It is a little weird, but nothing that you have never seen before. The typical Greek elements are nice, the horror towards the end is somewhat amusing.

The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar – Wes Anderson (2023)

  • arthouse

A nice surrealistic comedy short (37 minutes) available on Netflix.

A traveler through India hears of a yogi who levitates while meditating. When trying to learn that for himself, he instead develops the ability to see without eyes. He writes his story in a short book that is found by Henry Sugar who decides to learn the art of seeing through playing cards in order to get rich.

All three men need years to develop their abilities, which is pictured in broad strokes. There is more attention for witty monologues and funny situations and how Sugar tries to help the world without becoming famous.

Diabolik – Ginko all’Attacco! – Manetti (2022)

  • action

In this second part of the Diabolik trilogy we mostly follow Diabolik’s enemy, inspector Ginko. Early in the film Ginko manages to find Diabolik’s hide-out, but that does not mean that Diabolik has been beaten.

In the first part, Diabolik found himself a partner. Eva Kant is now his lover and ally. Or is she?

In another James Bond type neo-noir, we follow the hunt for Diabolik and Diabolik’s attempts to recover his earlier spoils.

The Manetti brothers had to find another actor to play Diabolik. Kant and Ginko are played by the same actors as in the first part.

Diabolik – Manetti (2021)

  • action

According to the website of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the creators of the graphic novel never more gave the rights to make films based on the comic since the classic Bava movie from 1968 because Brava betrayed the spirit of the novel.

Over half a century later the Manetti brothers got an agreement to make movies again as long as they stuck the original atmosphere.

Where Bava used bright colors, the Manetti brothers have created more of a “noir” atmosphere or perhaps even “giallo”. Slightly flat colors, 1950’ies looking. The only element that reminds of the graphic novel original is that the knives that Diabolik throws fly pictured in the middle of the screen.

Diabolik is a bit of a James Bond type guy with gadgets and cars, but he is more of an anti-hero. He is a master thief continuously hunted by inspector Ginko.

The first out of three parts is amusing, more Bond-like than Bava’s version.

Blonde – Andrew Dominik (2022)

  • drama

This film has on my watch list for a while, but it is long and I heard it is quite depressive. It is indeed almost three hours long and damn depressive…

The film is based on the “biographical fiction novel” of Joyce Carol Oats about Norma Jeane Mortenson, better known as the alter ego that was created for her: Marilyn Monroe. Quickly scanning the Monroe biography on Wikipedia, it is clear that the book, and thus the film, are not to be regarded as a factual biography of Monroe. For example, a big theme in the film is that Monroe never met her father, while in reality she was abducted by him.

We mostly follow Norma Jeane. Norma had a troubled youth with a troubled mother which brought her to a foster home (in reality 12!). Growing up, Norma Jeane tried to make it into the modeling and film business. Her career skyrocketed when (according to the film) her alter ego Marilyn Monroe sex symbol was invented for her. Norma Jeane saw herself separate from Marilyn Monroe.

External pressure leading her to all kinds of bad situations. The separation between Norma Jeane and Marilyn first gets dissociative identity disorder elements and later also paranoia.

Everybody only hears about the glamour around Monroe, the beautiful and sensual woman that everybody loves, but in “Blonde” we mostly see a troubled woman that never grew up, who everybody seems to take advantage of and who slowly looses her mind. The film gets darker and more surreal as Norma Jeane slips away from reality further and further leading towards the inevitable and heart breaking end.

Certainly not a glamour feel good movie and I am not sure how far the gloom and doom really formed part of Monroe’s life. Did Dominik want to present a ‘smack in the face reality’ or did he enhance the darkness for other reasons? Some points may be given for the film and montage itself by the way, with black and white and colour and beautiful camera work.

“Blonde” is a good film, but a hard watch.