Category Archives: drama

Tolkien – Dome Karukoski (2019)

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A fairly emotional romantic drama about the famous fantasy writer Tolkien. We get to know him as one of two unfortunate brothers. Fatherless their mother takes them from South Africa to the suffocating city of Birmingham for lack of money. Life is hard, but mother tells their sons tales, fairy tales and myths. Also both are taught extra after school so Tolkien mastered several languages.

When mother dies, the sons are taken in by a rich woman and they get the chance to attend school and -with some trouble- university. It is also in this house that Roland meets his big love.

The film is about the man, not about his work, so you learn about the friends he meets and the brotherhood they form. All are annoyingly smart and they enjoy themselves with reading and discussing literature and art, writing stories and poetry and the like. Since Tolkien was not ‘high born’ things are not as easy for him as they are for his friends. He even has to let go of his beloved. Worst of all: World War I breaks out and all young, British men are sent to the front, including our four friends. War-scenes are woven through the drama and romance of the rest of the film.

You get an idea of what it all came from for Tolkien, but do not expect to learn much about Tolkien’s work.

A very descent film about an interesting character.

First Man – Damien Chazelle (2018)

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Ryan Gosling is Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. We get a very personal story of Armstrong’s life up until his small step. His relationship, children, constantly moving when he switches jobs, colleagues, etc.

The film opens with a somewhat frightening scene in which Armstrong takes a short flight outside the atmosphere. No smooth and romantic spaceflights, but the claustrophobia, constant shaking, creaking metal, extreme heat and extreme G-forces that an astronaut has to endure. The film does this very well. There is the constant threat that the astronauts will not come back after their ‘day of work’ which is either testing, test-flying or real flights. The family, all living together in a sort of camp, know that too. Yet all astronauts have partners and children.

This history lesson guides us through several Gemini projects and when the Americans cannot keep up with the Russians, more ambitious plans are made, leading to the Apollo missions.

“First Man” is a good, and apparently realistic film about the moon mission of the 1960’ies.

Darkest Hour – Joe Wright (2017)

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On the outbreak of WWII the British prime minister Chamberlain is replaced by Winston Churchill, without much enthusiasm of his own party. Especially when Churchill’s rhetoric is about fighting rather than trying to make peace, ways to get rid off him are soon thought of.

Starting optimistically it soon becomes clear that Churchill has to admit that he cannot overpower Germany and when 300.000 of his troops get trapped at the French border, an unpopular way of evacuating them is started (this evacuation is what the film Dunkirk is about).

Some of his ministers want to make peace with (meaning: surrender to) the Germans, but as the people seem to prefer fighting over flying, Churchill pushes his old tactics again.

The film makes a nice history lesson showing a hard politician who was also but a man.

Mysterious Skin – Gregg Araki (2004)

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We follow two boys, Neil and Brian. From the start the stories are shown through each other making it hard to say what is about whom. Neil discovers on a young age that he fancies men and his baseball coach makes sure he does. He grows up finding out that he can make money by having sex. That can only go in one direction, can it?

Brian’s story is less straight forward. The nerdy Brian picks up the idea that he has been taken by aliens and when he sees a documentary about a woman who has been abducted, he contacts her in hope to find more information about his experiences.

Of course the two stories have something in common. It is no big surprise how, but it is worked out nicely and details from earlier in the film, start to make sense later.

“Mysterious Skin” is a descent drama about adolescents.

Lords Of Chaos – Thomas Åkerlund (2018)

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Somewhere around 1990 I rolled into extreme metal. Then in 1991 we hear about the debut cd of the Swiss band Samael (“Worship Him”) and me and a friend started to explore the genre called “black metal”, a Satanic kind of metal. Samael was about the first album that peeked out of the underground, but that underground proved to be vast. Especially from Scandinavia came a plethora of extreme bands with a distinctive style (high pitched guitars, high pitched vocals). There was also a scene in the Netherlands and we soon started to meet the few other people who enjoyed this extreme form of music and philosophy. In several ways it was adversary to other metal scenes. Sure, there was headbanging, but as soon somebody started to try to “pogo” / “mosh” (jump around in front of the stage) or “stagedive”, he was usually kicked out. I remember the bassist of Marduk kicking a stagediver off stage. “No Fun, No Core, No Mosh, No Trends” was the scene motto.

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A Field In England – Ben Wheatley (2013)

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This film has probably been on my wishlist since it came out, but was not too easy to find. It was worth the wait though!

In some British war, an unlikely combination of three men drop out of the fighting and try to make their way to an ale-house one of them saw. Two ruffians and a more nerdy type working for a mysterious master. On their way they run into the person the nerd was after, a dark magician (alchemist) who took off with something that belongs to his master. The magician has other plans with the party.

In a particular field, he hopes to find a treasure and he manipulates the three men into finding the spot and digging it up.

The film looks much older than it is, more like a black-and-white 1950’ies film with rough dialogues and weird characters. The film contains highly amusing dialogues with a lot of black humor. As the film continues there are a couple of very vague hallucinatory scenes. There are some other elements which are not clear if they are meant to be real or imagined.

Indeed, a strange, moody and very enjoyable film.

Chappie – Neill Blomkamp (2015)

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The description for “rebel robot” is more interesting than the film. In a crime-filled future Johannesburg the police uses police robots to fight the gangs that try to control the city. One of the creators of these robots uses one of them to experiment with artificial intelligence and hence “Chappie” is ‘born’.

What I thought would be an amusing action film is a bit of a childish film with cheap drama and a bit of action. The film raises a few questions about AI, but it is all too thin for my liking.

11.22.63 – Bridget Carpenter (series 2016)

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The title of these series of course refer to the date of the assassination of JFK. There is only one season of eight episodes which are written by noone less than Stephen King.

Jake, a high school teacher, learns from a friend who owns a diner that there is a door to 1960. When somebody comes back to the present, only two minutes have passed, no matter how long he stayed in the past. Al, the friend, took up the idea to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy and collects all the information he can find in the present and in the past and went ‘in’ several times only to come back without succes. So he asks Jake.

Of course when you want to prevent the assassination, you will have to spend a few years in the past. Most of the series are Jake in the 1960’ies try to blend in while trying to find a way to try to find a way to do what he came to do. When he succeeds, the result is not what he thought it would be though.

The series have some alright findings and things to think about, but all over the line it is not much more than a drama about a contemporary man trying to live two decades ago.

The Place Beyond The Pines – Derek Cianfrance (2012)

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This film contains three stories. In the first we follow stunt motorcycle driver “Handsome Luke” (Ryan Gosling) who finds out he has a baby boy. He decides that it is his task to take care of his son and his mother, but he tries to do that his own way.

The second story is about a policeman hero whose corrupt colleagues try to suck him into their way of handling things. He manages to get out of the nasty situation and works himself up in life.

The last story is about the two sons of the previous main characters.

The film goes from a ‘typical Gosling film’ (slow, minimalist) to a more 1990’ies police thriller type film to a more modern film about troubled youth. This is nicely done.

In-Lyu-Myeol-Mang-Bo-Go-Seo – Pil-Sung Yim (2012)

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“Doomsday Book” are three short films put after the other. It opens with a film which shows the massive meat consumption and the production thereof. The proces leads to a zombie apocalypse.

The second part is more interesting. A Buddhist monastery has a robot for administration, but the robot starts to reach enlightenment. This leads to philosophical questions about mankind and the nature of enlightenment.

In the last part a girl orders a billiards ball, but she uses the wrong webshop, ordering a meteorite that will destroy life on earth.

There are no masterpieces here, but he middle part has an interesting approach to artificial intelligence. The films have some strange humor too.