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Perder Es Cuestión De Método * Sergio Cabrera * 2005

As this Columbian film opens, it suggests becoming a grim serial killer thriller like Se7en or Saw, but soon it becomes clear this this is more like a British police/crime film. Since these seem to become more grim recently, “Losing is a question of method” fits well in that genre. A journalist is dragged into the investigation of a gruesome murder, but soon the focus shifts to something completely different. In the process the Victor falls in love with the way too young, but beautiful prostitute Quica and drags her into the investigation. The film has a very nice sence of humour and the Southern temperament makes it a good film in a genre that is not really mine. The story and plot shift enough to keep you wondering what everything is all about and however the conclusion is not that strong, this film surely is not a bad watch.

Brick * Rian Johnson * 2005

BrickHm, two not too great choices for this weekend I’m afraid. I wonder why I “Brick” was in the arthouse section. It is a detective/thriller about somebody who wants to help his ex-girlfriend and starts poking in the world of heavy drug criminality loosing the girl in the process. “Brick” has an alright story line and well built-up tension, but arthouse…? What is a big bummer too is that it plays on a highschool and all characters are teenagers. The “hero”, his girlfriends, the “muscles” all the way up to the almighty drug baron who runs his empire from his mother’s basement. The capital crime is telling the school director about the drug involvements of a class-mate, yet the high-drug-cheeses fear no tortures or executions. Not very credible. “Brick” might have been an alright crime film for a drowsy tv evening, had the setting been a more logical one. As of now I can only conclude that the film itself is just above medium level, but the highschool setting makes me give a lower rating.

The Black Dahlia * Brian de Palma * 2006

The Black DahliaHere we have a nice film that plays in the 1950’ies and has a nice 50’ies atmosphere. Two policemen and friends and the girlfriend of one of them, have a strange relationship and also a strange history. The policemen investigate two cases which seem to have some link with the past. The story is not really surprising, but in all the film is very nice. Towards the end it becomes a bit too Hollywood though.

The Good Shepherd * Robert De Niro * 2006

This “godfather of all espionage films” was actually a big disappointment to me. The film supposedly gives the early history of the CIA in the WWII period. For this we follow the top-spy Edward Wilson, played by Matt Damon. Here comes the first point of comment: Matt Damon has too much of a baby-face to play a ruthless and powerfull personality. Also in the scenes with his 20-year-old son it is hard to say who is actually the younger. What is mostly strange, is that Damon looks 18 in the scenes in which he is a student recruited by the CIA, but also in the scenes which supposedly play much later in his life. Completely unconvincing! Then we have the fact that the film seems to jump back and forth in time, but this is completely unclear (especially when all the rest also just look the same all the time) and therefor it is hard to detect the line and/or story in the film. Because I didn’t get the story, the film seemed to me like a string of separate scenes that is not particularly interesting, especially not for almost three hours. “The Good Shepherd” lacks the atmosphere of a good espionage thriller, fails in showing the story and inspite of ‘great Hollywood names’ the film is not as interesting as told. I think you better watch George Clooney’s “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” for a similar, but much much better film.

Veronica Guerin * Joel Schumacher * 2003

The story plays in Ireland only a decade ago. The bigger cities had a big drugproblem that was denied by the government. The journalist Veronica Guerin (Cate Blanchett) decides that it is her mission to make this known and starts to write about the problem. Delving in the drugscene it soon becomes clear that she was very naive. Even after having been shot in her own house, she bluntly drives up to the house of the main man to ask him a few questions. Of course this doesn’t quite go as she wants. Eventually she gets killed even though she “never thought that they would kill the messenger”. Guerin’s death sure turned the tide and drugs and drug related violence suddenly were a hot topic in Ireland.
Schumacher (“Phone Booth”, “8 MM”) gives a nice idea about this part of the near past.

Thursday * Skip Woods * 1998

Casey (Thomas Jane) is an ex criminal trying to live a normal life with his exigent wife. Then he gets a phonecall of his old partner Nick (Aaron Eckhart) who says to be on the straight path as well and he wants to step by on his way to paris. When Nick arrives on thursday morning, all hell breaks loose.
Casey finds drugs in a suitcase that the two of them used in the old days and decides to flush it down the sink. Obviously other people know about the drugs and first a rasta-man (Glenn Plummer) tries to get it from him, which results in a brilliant Tarantino-like scene. After overpowering the rasta-man and hanging him in the garage, Casey is visited by Nick’s girlfriend Dallas (Pauline Porizcova) who isn’t after the drugs, but “the money”, of which Casey didn’t know yet. Waiting for Nick Dallas decides to rape Casey, but after two orgasms her head is blown off by Billy Hill (James LeGross). He already knows about the drugs and that Casey doesn’t know about the money, so he also decides to wait for Nick to come back. In the meantime he would like to try to saw Casey to pieces but have him live longer than 16 hours (his record). Fortunately Casey manages to overpower Billy Hill as well and also hang him in the garage. The next visitor is a cop (played by Mickey Rourke) and apparently Nick has stolen a lot of money from the cops. Casey gets until 7:00 pm to get the money. When he finds it, he decides to try and have the bad guys shoot up eachother at his house while he flees with his wife.

I hadn’t heard of this film until a friend lent it to me. I found it very funny. It is a rather violent movie with a lot of grim humour. The way we like it, eh?

Swimming Pool * François Ozon * 2003

I recently reviewed Ozon’s previous film “8 Femmes”. It is funny that Ozon took the same idea again, but worked it out totally differently. “Swimming Pool” again is an old fashioned detective, but this time no light musical. An English writer goes to the house in France of her publisher to find out that also her publishers never-mentioned French daughter uses it to enjoy herself and her lovers. Sarah first is extremely irritated by Julies behaviour, but later gets intrigued by her and starts writing about Julie.

The film is minimal and slow and really balances on the border between boredom and gripping, without bending too much towards the first. Well done I must say, but the end of the film is really not what Ozon should have done. All the film there is nothing wrong, but still Ozon wanted a few changes of plot which he puts in the last three minutes. Too bad. All in all a nice film, but I suggest you wait until it is out on video. Strange by the way, “Swimming Pool” had its Dutch premiere last week, while it played in Belgium two months ago.

The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes & Arthur Conan Doyle * David Pirie * 2005

The Britisch channel BBC keeps coming up with expensive and ambitious TV projects. Recently a result of them is this TV film with a long title. As you will understand from the title, this film is about the famous inspector Sherlock Holmes and it’s author Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). Doyle is getting sick and tired of Sherlock Holmes and lets him die. The audience and critics react fiercely. Doyle proves more productive in writing than ever but the public keeps longing for Holmes. Doyle’s publisher suggests a biography of the writer in the ‘Sherlock Holmes style’. So a man comes to Doyle asking quesions about his past, his motives, etc. in order to found out if events in Doyle’s life have shaped the stories of Sherlock Holmes.
The film is enjoyable, probably especially for people who know the stories of Sherlock Holmes (I don’t). If you know abut the BBC TV-film projects, you can easily compare this one with most of the others regarding quality in writing, acting, recording, etc.: very good. It is a good thing that a public channel has the money to make something different from the usual Hollywood films. You will have to see them on TV, but he, you can’t have everything!

Snatch * Guy Ritchie * 2000

This is the third film of Guy Ritchie and comes some time after the nice, but not as funny “Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels”. A great crime-comedy with a magnificent role of Brad Pitt as boxing gipsie (“pikey”). Two maffioso involved in illegal boxing-games want to buy a caravan from gipsie Pitt who sells them a wreck that doesn’t even survive the trip out of the gipsie camp. Boxer Bullet Tooth and Pitt will make things up in a fight and the small Pitt knocks-out Bullet Tooth with just one hit. BT was supposed to have a fight in the next night and eventually they pursuade Mickey (Pitt) to replace him. However Mickey is supposed to go down in round four, he knocks-out his opponent with one blow, which meant a lot of problems for some high-ranked criminals.

Of course there is more about the movie and these few lines are just the first part, but I suggest that you just go and see this movie yourself. It is pretty violent at times and especially… funny. Tarantino humour, strange dialogues and an unintelligible Pitt make “Snatch” an instant classic.

It is said that the film “Sexy Beast” (the debut of Jonathan Glazer with Ben Kingsley as main character) is equally brilliant and in the same style (crime-comedy). We Europeans are set for 11 October for that one, I don’t know about the USA). (reviewed 18/11/01)

I just saw the film again after too many years. “Snatch” DID become the instant classic that I mentioned. It was (one of the) first crime-comedies with ‘nouvelle violence’ humour and cut-up stories that are still popular, but “Snatch” has certainly stood the course of time. (jan 09)

Sexy Beast * Jonathan Glazer * 2000

Gal (Ray Winstone) is an ex criminal from the UK who lives out his retirement of his stolen fortune in Spain with his wife and a befriended couple. Then they get a phonecall from Don Logan (played by Ben Kingsley best known for playing Gandhi) about a cracking for which he wanted to ask Gal. The friends already know that the terrible Don is not going to take “no” for an answer and when Logan even comes over to ask Gal personally, stress and nervousnous get grip of the friends. When he arrived, Gal tries to tell Logan a couple of times that he isn’t interested, but indeed Logan doesn’t take “no” for an answer which results in some serious collisions. Eventually Gal does go to London, but since Logan is dead, he has another problem.

“Sexy Beast” is the first film of Jonathan Glazer and I read about it quite some time ago. The original plans were to release it only on video in Europe, but when the film was a big success in the States and European critics wrote ravingly about it, it was anounced for European cinemas. Eventually this turned out (for me) only 5 cinemas in the Netherlands (closest at 100 km) and one in Belgium (140 km). DAMN! Then (big surprise) there was one play in my hometown! Bad news, one time, saturdaynight 00:00 (12 am)…
But so I went. The film is often compared to “Snatch”, but I don’t entirely agree with that. Okay, both are crime-films, “Snatch” is more funny, but also “Sexy Beast” has some grim humour. A big difference lays in the essembly (?) of the films. “Snatch” is more like one film without much flash-backs, etc., “Sexy Beast” does have flash-backs, but more in a dark way, even reminding of David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” sometimes. Further: strange camery-positions, great special effects and wonderfull acting. Sometimes “Sexy Beast” is completely brilliant, but at other times not so. Overall I liked the film, but I don’t think it is as brilliant as some people say.