Category Archives: drama

I, Tonya – Graig Gillespie (2017)

How big are the odds to watch two films of two different directors with the last name Gillespie in one weekend?

Tonya Harding likes ice skating as a girl. Her mother pushes her towards to becoming a professional ice figure skater. The mother is, let us say, persuasive.

Tonya is an all-American, somewhat lowlife girl. Her foul mouth she has from her mother. Because of this, no matter how good Tonya is, she does not really fit into the glamour world of ice skating. This causes her to not get the praise she deserves.

Then there some other elements in her life that do not really help her carreer.

“I, Tonya” is a documentary-like film with interviews and flashbacks. The remarkable story is told with harsh humor and gives a peak into the world of a perhaps famous, but certainly not a rich young woman trying to keep her head above the water in the world of professional sports.

Tesla – Michael Almereyda (2020)

Not too long ago but few people had heard of Tesla. Most of those who did probably did not know much more than images with lightening globes. Now that the rest of the world thinks that Elon Musk came up with the name of his cars himself, a biography of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the early experimenter with electricity has been presented.

I am not sure if I knew that Tesla lived in the USA most of his life. He even worked for Thomas Edison (played by Kyle MacLachlan!). Tesla is more innovative than Edison (in some ways at least) and the two have a deep-running dispute about AC versus DC.

Tesla finds new funds, continues on his own and his inventions and investigations become more and more radical. He not only thinks about electricity, but also global wireless communication.

The film shows Tesla as a closed man living inside his own head. When you see all the inventions that are presented, you start to wonder why Tesla is not better known today than he really is. It seems that other people made money and fame with Tesla’s ideas.

The film is a biographical drama with a few ‘out of place’ elements. Not wildy interesting, but not boring either.

I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore – Macon Blair (2017)

Ruth is a nurse in a nursing home. In her boring life she becomes more and more annoyed by the selfishness of our time.

One day Ruth comes home and finds a burglar in her house. The police go about their routine, but do not really seem to want to try to help Ruth finding her belongings back. With a neighbour, Ruth starts her own investigation.

Ruth and Tony first encounter petty crime, but as their investigations continue, they move up in the chain. A bit of a “Fargo” type story unfolds. Anything that can go wrong…

“I Don’t Feel” is an amusing drama / comedy with some very black jokes.

Lucky – John Carroll Lynch (2017)

In spite of the last name, there seems to be no familial relationship to David Lynch and the director. You may know him as an actor though. That said, J.C. Lynch obviously dove into the world of David Lynch for his debut, picking long term Lynch actor Harry Dean Stanton for the leading part and David himself as an actor too!

Stanton is one of the actors who passed shortly after the finishing of the third season of Twin Peaks, age 91. In that last year he also managed to play Lucky.

Lucky is an old man living in a remote, Southern American desert village. He is a sight in his little town, walking around with his cowboy hat. In the film we see Lucky talking about life, his fear of dying, but mostly, we see a charming old man going through his daily routine.

“Lucky” is a slow, minimalist, slightly melancholic and beautiful drama.

Rest in peace, Harry.

Advantageous – Jennifer Phang (2015)

Gwen works for a plastic surgery company. She is the face of the company that is in development. Not only are they working on new techniques, but also on reaching a younger audience and Gwen is getting older. She is side-tracked and ready to be sacked.

Life is not easy and Gwen has problems getting by financially. The risk of becoming unemployed is especially burdensome because she wants her high IQ daughter to get a flying start in life.

Initially Gwen starts looking for other jobs, but when that fails, she volunteers to be one of the first test subjects of a radical new treatment.

“Advantageous” is a melancholic and intimate drama that plays in the (near) future.

The Professor And The Madman – Farhad Safinia (2019)

Oxford University has a long time wish to make a dictionary of the English language, but the project keeps stranding. At last they hire the outsider James Murray played by Mel Gibson.

Murray has no university degree. He is a self-taught expert in a stunning amount of languages. After some doubt, he can start is the project. He has some unconventional ideas. Instead of reading everything available in the English language to distill words, definitions and thus the development of the meaning of the word, he wants to use the general public to mail cards with words, meaning and sources so they can catalogue and cross-check them.

One of the volunteers is William Minor (Sean Penn), convicted for shooting a man, a mad, but otherwise brilliant man, with a lot of time on his hands.

The story may sound a bit dull, but actually the film is a very well done drama with an interesting story and good acting.

1922 – Zak Hilditch (2017)

Farming is Wilfred James’ life. He manages to marry the pretty Arlette to double his land, but in spite of a son, the marriage is not a happy one. Arlette has little with their hard life and wants to sell her father’s land and move to the city. Wilfred and son Henry prefer to stay on the farm.

The arguments get more and more bitter and when Arlette starts to make plans to force her plans, Wilfred starts to make plans to prevent this from happening.

The story is based on a novella of Stephen King, but has but little of the typical King horror elements. “1922” Is mostly a drama with a few horror elements. The story is not very surprising or even interesting. The atmosphere of the film is alright, but overall, the film is fairly dull.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – Charlie Kaufman (2020)

More active as a writer than as director, but Charlie Kaufman has made a few interesting films. And so we have another not too big-audience film on Netflix.

Two way too intelligent youngsters just got into a relationship. After about six weeks, they take the long trip down the road to meet his parents. Kaufman let them make all kinds of intelligent, know-it-all discussions. The “young woman” already has second thoughts about the relationship and her thoughts acts somewhat as the voice over.

When at the parents the situation is, of course, a little awkward for both, but then ‘the Kaufman effect’ sets in and it seems like the “young woman” sees her relationship with Jake and with his parents in different times.

When the two drive back home, they visit a 24/7 ice bar in the middle of a snowstorm and later end up in Jake’s old school where things get even weirder. Kaufman even threw in ballet and musical.

Once more Kaufman delivered a tragic romantic story in a surrealistic and melancholic style. If you like Kaufman’s other work, this Netflix original may be a film to watch some time too.

Notre Jour Viendra – Romain Gavras (2010)

The name of the director rings a bell, but I do not think I have seen a film by Gavras. That is until a friendly ‘Redditor’ suggested “Our Day Will Come” with Vincent Cassel.

The box promises a weird film. The actions of the main characters may be a bit off, but the film itself it a pretty straight forward drama.

Rémy has red hair (very dark red) and he has been bullied for that his whole life, slowly building up anger. In a quite strange event he meets the bored psychiatrist Patrick (played by Cassel). It is not entirely clear to me if Patrick is also supposed to be a redhead and shares in Rémy’s fate or if he just wants to break his boredom provoking Rémy.

An unlikely roadtrip unfolds in which Patrick tries make Rémy grow up by force (getting him into fights, connecting him to easy girls, etc.). Patrick’s delusion grows and he turns to violence and so the two work themselves into more and more problems.

“Our Day Will Come” is a drama with some violence and madness. It very faintly reminds of “Natural Born Killers”. The film is alright.

Snowtown – Justin Kurzel (2011)

Jamie grows up in an Australian slum town. His single parent mother tries her best with four sons, but things are hard. Life in general is hard and everybody vents his/her frustrations to the ones closest.

Then mother Elizabeth meets a man who is good to her and her sons. Too good perhaps. He evens runs some sort of neighborhood vigilante group, often inviting the neighbors for meetings.

Soon it becomes clear that Gavin’s group is somewhat over active. Are they actively looking for pedophiles and homosexuals to take care off? Are these people even what somebody says they are or is everybody too afraid to not be able to present victims to Gavin?

Jamie is a quiet boy, which is not strange as you will soon learn. Initially Gavin is some sort of father figure, but just as with his group, Gavin’s idea of making a man out of Jamie good way off into the extreme.

“Snowtown” is quite a heavy drama. You better not know more about the story than the above. Story wise it would have been easy for this film to have been a thriller of sorts, but instead of focusing on Gavin, the film is mostly about Jamie.

Not great, but especially since the film is based on true events, a somewhat disturbing film.