drama

Ad Astra – James Gray (2019)

A not too convincing sci-fi drama with Brad Pitt as almost sole actor.

In near future mankind has a base on the moon which they use to fly to other planets. Problems coming from Neptune appear to be caused by a mission to that area of many years ago. That mission was led by the father of Pitt’s character and star astronaute Pitt is sent there to see if he can fix the problem.

The film is slow and moody, but the story contains a couple of very illogical elements which take down the film a lot. Even the basic storyline is not too strong.

We mostly follow Roy McBride (Pitt). We hear his thoughts / doubts, follow him on his way to the moon, to Mars, to Neptune. Of course there is some tension and some drama.

The film is not boring, but it certainly is not great either.

Mank – David Fincher (2020)

  • drama

The title of this film refers to Herman Mankiewicz, a writer who starts to write for movies in the 1930’ies. Mankiewicz is played by Gary Oldman.

The film brings memories of Georges Clooney’s “Good Night, And Good Luck” (2005). Both are films playing in Hollywood where entertainment and politics are closer than one may imagine.

In the 1930’ies the political divide in Hollywood appears to have been between Communists and anti-Communists. People gather to talk about films, films of the competition, but also about politics.

In spite of his alcoholism, Mank has a keen observing eye. His writing skills make him a respected man in some regards, but in his drinking bouts he also swims against the tides of people close to him. The fact that he has to write a script in record-time just after having been involved in a car-crash complicates his situation. Apparently he decides to mix his script with current events, something that is not received with applaus.

“Mank” is an amusing film with subtle humour, nice characters, a nice 1930’ies setting and even a message of sorts.

The Midnight Sky – George Clooney (2020)

  • drama

Clooney directed another film with himself in the main part. This time he took a stab at the sci-fi genre. Well, “The Midnight Sky” is not a typical sci-fi. Just one of the two stories is.

In 2049 mankind has managed to kill the earth. In the opening scene people evacuate. We do not learn whereto, but later it becomes clear that the air has become so bad that mankind had to flee underground where it will be able to survive for a limited amount of time.

Clooney’s character works at some sort of observatory at the North Pole and since Augustine is a dying man, he decides to remain at his post to see if he can be of some use in his last weeks. It turns out he is not entirely alone though.

Because this disaster did not appear overnight, mankind has been looking for a place to move to in order to survive. A candidate is a moon of Jupiter. A mission has been sent to K23. So besides Augustine, the film follows the small crew of a ship that has been to K23 and is now on its way back to earth.

The film is alright. Story-wise it makes some sense, things look good, the acting is good, it (of course) has both tension and drama.

Capone – Josh Trank (2020)

  • drama

Not very well received this film about a 47-year-old Al Capone. Tom Hardy is the leading part was the main reason to watch it nonetheless.

I guess many people expected a “Scarface” type maffia film about Capone, while actually this film is a drama about the man’s last year in which he deteriorates rapidly.

Capone spent years in prison. At an early age he got syphilis which starts to seriously attack his nervous system. Capone gets so bad that he is allowed to leave prison and is place under house arrest. There he founds out that his family has serious financial problems and has started to sell items from the house.

Initially Capone is only not too mobile, but for the rest not too bad. It soon becomes clear that the decease also attacks his brain and the rest of is body. Capone’s paranoia starts to take over which results in a few strange dream-like scenes.

Word is that Capone hid a big amount of money somewhere, so everybody tries to pick the information about the whereabouts of the money from the rapidly fleeing memory.

“Capone” is mostly a drama. It has some grim humor partly about Capone’s situation. If you do not expect a maffia crime movie, “Capone” is actually a descent film.

Babel – Alejandro González Iñárritu (2006)

My girlfriend bought “Babel” quite a while back, but since I find Iñárritu’s films good, but rather heavy (at least, I remember them that way), I did not really feel like watching it.

And indeed, “Babel” is again somewhat heavy. Not a depressive tear-jerker, but certainly not a feel-good movie either.

There are different stories. Some are obviously linked, others only later prove to be linked with the rest.

First we have the inhabitants of a tiny Moroccan village in which two boys play around and make a awful mistake. Then we have the couple Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) who are on holidays in Morocco when something terrible happens. There is also Amelia, an illegal Mexican immigrant in the USA who takes care of two white children. When her brother gets married in her home-country, she takes the worst decission of her life: she takes the children with her to the wedding. Also we follow the young and deaf Japanese girl Cheiko. Even though pretty, her disability gives her a negative approach to life. Forcefully trying to loose her virgity does not make life easier.

Iñárritu managed shows the wildly different cultures, the Mexican, the Japanese, the rural Moroccan, well. The obvious drama and stress around Richard and Susan brings tension to the film. The heartfelt psychological drama of Cheiko makes the film somewhat heavy.

Another good Iñárritu.

The VVitch – Robert Eggers (2015)

What did I miss? What is it that people like about this film? I get a bit of a “Midsommar” feeling. Another such applauded film that only worked on my nerves.

“The VVitch” is pretty boring. A very Christian family moved from England to the new world. The ideas of the father do not entirely work with the rest of the village so they move to a remote place in a forest.

Praying day and night, seeing the Devil’s work everywhere, the family works itself into the ground. The only positive thing is the presence of Anya Taylor-Joy. The story is boring, the acting is boring, there is no atmosphere…

I guess I missed something.

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.