Category Archives: drama

Keane – Lodge Kerrigan (2004)

This film is somewhat uncomfortable. William Keane’s seven year old daughter disappeared a few months ago and Keane has lost his mind. We very closely follow Keane who appears to be schizophrenic and developing paranoia.

He keeps coming back to the place where he last saw his daughter, talking to himself, trying to find out what happened. He also seems to be trying to relive moments spent with his daughter.

Keane is far from home. He rents a hotel room in the city where his daughter was possibly kidnapped. In that hotel he meets another seven year old girl.

Yes, ‘up close and personal’ that describes the film. It is not an easy watch. Not because it is very heavy or weird, but mostly because you feel sorry for the man. Quite a feat of actor Damian Lewis.

The Doctor – Thomas Nöla (2005)

I have been looking for this film for quite some time, but each time I had no luck. The film features Douglas P. which is how I heard about it. P. also features in the recently reviewed “Pearls Before Swine“, but there he has an actual part, in “The Doctor” his is the narrator.

Nöla wrote both the book and the film and only recently I noticed that a DVD can be ordered from Old Europa Cafe. This is fitting, since films that a recently saw (“Pearls”, “Lords Of Chaos“) and also this one of course have a connection with the music that I listen(ed) to, so getting it from a ‘scene label’ is appropriate.

“The Doctor” being a small production, could I even say ‘an underground film’?, will probably not make you expect a perfect and well-produced film.

In some ways it reminds of “Pearls Before Swine”. The acting is not too convincing, the protagonist is a narcissistic, brute, foul-mouthed, over-philosophical character that likes to hold lengthy monologues with difficult words and wild ideas.

The doctor from the title appears to be some sort of psychiatrist, but he is also his own patient. Haunted by a former patient of his, the doctor slides into a surrealistic world from which he tries to form ideas about the world outside and inside himself.

Just as with “Pearls” the film is not entirely amateurish. There are some alright scenes and some original ideas. Again it is a small production to watch some time just to see what it is exactly.

Downsizing – Alexander Payne (2017)

I was curious about this film in spite of the 5.7 on IMDb. It seemed to be one of these comedies with an absurdist story like “Being John Malkovich” (1999) or “Dogtooth” (2009).

In order to solve the problem of overpopulation and therefore environmental problems, Norwegian scientists found a way to shrink people. Smaller communities, smaller necessities, less waste.

We quickly jump forward in time a few times until we get in the time in which most of the film plays. There are already a few cities for small people and commercial parties have taken up the downsizing of people. As everything in much cheaper when you are small, people chose to have themselves downsized in order to live in luxury.

The Safraneks will have themselves downsized after long deliberations. Then of course things are not as perfect or easy as the companies said.

After amusing and weird scenes in the beginning, the film gets a more serious tone when the ‘solution’ the environmental problems came too late and when the small communities are not perfect either.

“Downsizing” is a descent film. A nicely absurdist start with humour, but also a message.

Apollo 13 – Ron Howard (1995)

A while ago I saw a film about Neil Armstrong as the first man on the moon. That was Apollo 11 about which recently a documentary has been made too. As you can guess, Apollo 13 was a later mission.

Bound for the moon too, we mostly follow Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks). Preparations, practising, etc., but also family life is shown, quite like in “First Man”. The launch is pretty far in the beginning of the film. This -of course- is because Apollo 13 was a troubled mission. Still on its way to the moon, there are major problems, so big even that it is doubtful that the crew can return safely.

With the moon landing abandoned quickly, a new mission arises. There is not enough air and most importantly, not enough power and fuel to complete the return flight. In a gripping and realistic way, Howard tells the story of three man living in a small craft with no power and hence, no heating. They have to repair their CO2 filter with duct tape and a sock, the people below are practising return scenarios and try to come up with ways to have just enough power for the return. Where there initially was little interest from the media in the first mission to the moon, when things went bad, the media was all over it. Specialists talking about the unlikelines of a safe return while the family is watching. All is well-done.

Also well-done are the space scenes with for example weightlessness, the -in our contemporary eyes- amateurish equipment and the hardship of the crews above and below. I am quite surprised that the film is as old as it is.

Aquarius (series 1,2) – John McNamara (2015, 2016)

On Netflix I noticed the face of David Duchovny. Back in the days I was a fervent X-Files watcher, but I have not really followed Duchovny after. The cover seems to suggest that “Aquarius” is some sort of “Californication”-type series which I never watched.

Actually, “Aquarius” is a very descent crime/drama kind of series. A wonderfully acting Duchovny plays Sam Hodiak, an old and cynical detective who has been on the police force way too long. His temporary boss is a long time friend and Hodiak has two young colleagues, but he prefers to work alone.

The series play in the 1960’ies and like Tarantino’s latest, it combines a few of the interesting storylines of the period. The Kennedy assassination, the campaign of Nixon, the hippy movement including Charles Manson and the rise of (militant) black movements.

The series are based on true events, but in some cases I wonder if it was smart to use the real names, like in the case of Manson. Especially in the first season he is portrayed as a pimp with musical ambitions. That first season is in most ways the better. Duchovny is great as the blunt Hodiak who also proves to have a social antenna and even emotions. The pace is nice and slow, the storyline is somewhat interesting.

In the second season things become less interesting. ‘Juicy’ elements are added and the series become more typical for an American crime series. Season two ends suddenly as if there were plans for another season that was never made.

Not bad, not great. Duchovky is a great actor though.

The Irishman – Martin Scorsese (2019)

Scorsese made a classic mafia film with classical mafia film actors such as Al Pacino, Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci.

Robert de Niro is the man from the title, a small time man who works himself up in the mafia ranks. Pacino is great at the overheated head of the truckers union and became one of the most powerful men in the USA.

The Italians in the USA have their hands in many businesses, often illegal. When the Kennedys rise to power, they start to get opposition, but fortunately that problem solves itself. Then internal problems occur that need to be taken care off.

“The Irishman” is an alright mafia film that in my opinion needed not to last for three-and-a-half hours. I must say that De Niro does not really convince.

Baraboo – Mary Sweeney (2009)

For a long time have I wanted to see this film. Mary Sweeney is a long time collaborator of David Lynch. She was the editor of some of his films, produced a few and even wrote some. The two were even shortly married.

It was quite an ordeal to be able to see the film. For many years I knew of no way to watch it. It seemed unavailable on DVD or otherwise. A while ago I ran into it on Amazon Prime, but only in the USA. Shortly after, Amazon started selling a DVD, but it is not shipped to Europe! Fortunately I have a way to work around that.

So 10 years after its release, I got to see “Baraboo”. No, I did not expect a dark Lynch-like film, but I sure was curious was this long time Lynch collaborator would have made for her only full-length film so far. The cover suggests a bit of a “Straight Story” approach. (I have not reviewed that Lynch?!?) The fact that Sweeney wrote the story of that film adds to the suggestion.

And indeed, “Baraboo” is a small, minimalist, slow, somewhat melancholic drama, just as “The Straight Story”. In a small and remote American community, we follow a handful of people. A mother who runs a motel, a gas station and a shop. She is friendly with a very goodly man of her age and has an adolescent son. This son is on the brink of derailing. In her motel an elderly local woman moves in. She is very direct and manages to bring all people together with her unusual way of approaching people.

As you can see on the cover, Sweeney used very bright colors. This is in all ‘day scenes’. The many ‘nights scenes’ are dark with little contrast. The atmosphere of “Baraboo” reminds of “The Straight Story”. Likable people who are easy to empathize with, some cooled humor. A small, all American story.

Indeed, a descent drama.

Joker – Todd Phillips (2019)

What an actor. Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who laughs when he cries and Arthur Fleck laughs a lot.

I guess you have heard by now that “Joker” is not a Batman-style (anti-)superhero film, but a pretty heavy drama about a troubled man in a troubled city.

Fleck is a clown for hire, but he is not quite right. Also the rising tendencies between the undercurrent of society and the rich elite, personally affect Fleck. His hard-humoured colleagues do not help his situation either.

When Fleck starts to take the situation in his own hands, he slowly becomes the face of a movement that is not entirely unlike the social uproar that we see around the world today.

“Joker” is mostly a drama and as I said, a fairly heavy one too. Towards the end despair goes over in violence, but do not expect hip action.

True Story – Rupert Goold (2015)

Michael Finkel is a star journalist, but in his enthusiasm he makes a mistake. A new story pops up when a man who allegedly murdered his family, used Finkels name during his flight.

Finkel goes to interview Christian Longo in his cell. The latter proves to be a fan and the interviews give Finkel the impression that a great book could be the result. He does not really have the support of the public, who want to see the man who murdered his family dead and are not interested in Longo’s side of the story.

As Longo’s story continues, it becomes less clear if he really did it and Finkel starts to backtrack the events continuing to interview Longo receive his lengthy letters and writing the book.

“True Story” is an alright drama with some ‘court thriller’ elements as was popular in the 1990’ies.

Bokeh – Geoffrey Orthwein (2017)

This weak drama is mostly an advertorial for Iceland.

A young couple goes to see Iceland. One morning they wake up and everybody is gone. They start to go around the island tossed between panic and a sense of freedom.

The story and the drama do not really work out well. The directors mostly use the situation to display Iceland’s beauty. Recognisable when you have been there, but when you know the spots where scenes are shot, the story is even more unlikely, since the couple seems to be in Reykjavik and the other end of the island on the same day sometimes.

Nothing much to say about the story. The film is a drama growing heavier as the despair grows, but when you want to see some of Iceland’s highlights, you could consider watching “Bokeh”.