drama

Adaptation * Spike Jonze * 2002

A film from almost exactly the same crew as “Being John Malkovich” (BJM), which says a lot, doesn’t it? But, if you haven’t seen BJM, I suggest you see it before you do this one. There is one big difference between the two films. Whereas you best know as little as possible about BJM before you see it, with “Adaptation” it is very helpfull to have some background information. The ingenious script for BJM film has been written by Charlie Kaufman. He wasn’t the first choice for, but for this very reason he was asked for a strange Holywood project. There happened to be a book about orchids written by Susan Orlean. However it isn’t exactly an easy popularly-written book, it was a bestseller in the USA and as it goes with bestsellers, the rights to make a film of it were bought by some bobo. Several scenerists have clutched their brains over the question how to make a film about orchids that people would go and see. Nobody succeeded, so Charlie Kaufman got the job. He pondered and thought but couldn’t come up with anything, so in the end he decided to write a script about him trying to write a script for a movey. Instead of looking in Malkovich’s head you get a peek into Kaufman’s own head. The film is partly ‘biographical’/true, partly not. Nicholas Cage for example plays both Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother Donald, but Kaufman doesn’t have a brother in reality. Susan Orlean is played by Meryl Streep who falls in love with the orchid-hunter John Laroche (Chris Cooper), but if I understand correctly, this is added to make the story a bit more interesting. Just as the thrillerish end by the way. Further you can see some of the filming of BJM in the film with Malkovich and some of the actors (including Spike Jonze himself). The title of the film refers to the evolution-theory of Charles Darwin (plants adapt to their new environment in this case) and the adaptation of the book that had to be filmed.
And the result? Well, “Adaptation” is a nice film, but definately no “Being John Malkovich”.
At the same time in the cinemas is another story of Charlie Kaufman being “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” (first film directed by George Clooney!) which I hope to see some time soon too. <3>

Abre Los Ojos * Alejandro Amenábar (1997)

I saw this wonderfull film in the cinema when it still played and later I also saw the American version (“Vanilla Sky”) in the cinema. “Open Your Eyes” by Amenábar (“Tesis”, “The Others”, etc.) was one of the earlier films with the ‘what is true, what is dream’ theme and is here centered around a cryonics project. It is well-done, fairly surprising if you haven’t seen (or heard about) it and especially Penélope Cruz is a feast for the eyes.

21 Grams * Alejandro González Iñárritu * 2003

The title refers to the weight a person looses at the time of death. What weighs 21 grams? The soul? The last breath? Memories? The burden of life? This question is not answered in the film, but asked all the way back at the end. “21 Grams” is a film about death. It is cut in the vein of “Magnolia”, meaning: short scenes from different stories are shuffled through eachother and shown either or not chronologically. Of course eventually the different lines come together and the story becomes clear.
A woman (Naomi Watts) looses her husband and two little daughters in a caraccident, after which she is followed by Sean Penn. Then there is the story of the man who drove over Watt’s family. The story is very dramatic and the film addresses a few serious questions of life, but the director managed to make a not too heavy film of it. This is done fairly well and the film is a nice watch.

4 Inyong Shiktak * Lee Soo-Youn * 2003

This debut of the Korean director is anounced as a horror. Actually it is more a mysterious drama in the Asian horror style, but then without much (any?) horror elements. The story is hard to recapitulate. There is something about a man who is in the metro with two girls who are later found dead, but the same man runs into a woman who has witnessed a baby being killed and his suppressed past. Actually it isn’t too much of a story, at least, not with a ‘Western logic’. The atmosphere of the film is alright, but overall this is just another Asian ‘horror’.

1000 Rosen * Theu Boermans * 1994

This was the 1994 winner of the Rotterdam Filmfestival and in the “Kalverliefde” box (see “Propero’s Books”). Boermans was born in the Netherlands Antilles and there they speak Dutch. The title isn’t Dutch though, nor is the language spoken in the film. This language is a strange mix between Geman, Dutch and something that sounds Scandinavian. “1000 Rosen” (“1000 Roses”) is regarded a Dutch film though (the Antilles are part of the Dutch kingdom). The story is about a small town which is all about a wire-factory. Then the Americans come in and for a moment there is hope for a growing economy. Instead, the town is bought up and plundered. In a way the film is about the small girl on the cover, but also about a woman Gina who sticks her head above ground level in order to profit from the American investations. The film is just as well about the village as a whole that is burned to the ground by capitalism. A very society-critical film with a weird ‘vegetation symbolism’ which makes “1000 Rosen” surely a filmhouse-film for a selected audience. A sligthly depressive atmosphere but beautiful (too perfect in the eyes of some critics) images, weird characters. A very original film with a somewhat familiar story.

Code Inconnu * Michael Haneke * 2000

I think most of you already know Michael Haneke for his ‘controversial’ movie “Funny Games”. It was said that this new movie has the same idea and effect, but I don’t agree with that.
“Code Inconnu” is a strange movie with different stories either or not touching eachother in the course of the film. The scenes usually end very abruptly which starts to irritate after a while. From some characters you will be able to find out what the story is, of others you get not enough information.
“Code Inconnu” is quite a ‘heavy’ movie, pretty depressive, especially in some of the stories. You will see a woman being kicked out of France after being picked up by the police over an event she could do nothing about, a boy fleeing his father and going to his sister in Paris, the sister who has a strange husband who is a soldier in the near-East, and more.
The film as a whole also ends very abruptly, so do not go and see it if you prefer understandable stories and stories with a clear beginning and end.
Overall I don’t even know if I liked it or not…

Bridget Jones’s Diary * Sharon Maguire * 2001

As we all know books, tv-series and movies about single women in their 30’ies are very popular nowadays. Once in a while I can enjoy an episode of “Sex and the City” and I may have watched this movie when it came on tv, but now I already saw in when I flew to the USA a few weeks back.
Not really a ‘plane movie’, because you actually have to listen carefully to what Bridget is telling which is pretty hard with the roar of plane-engines, passing flight-attendants and fellow-passangers.
All in all I found the movie pretty amusing, but I guess I will have to see it again once it is shown on tv.

Requiem For A Dream * Darren Aronofsky * 2000

Aronofsky debuted in 1999 with the brilliant movie “Pi“. Those who know and like it as much as I do, will be delighted to hear that Darren’s new movie just started to play in cinemas throughout Europe.

“Requiem” is not shot in black and white like “Pi” and also is not half as mysterious as it’s brilliant predecessor. Actually the story and message of “Requiem” is very simple. This movie is about addiction in several sences of the word. There is a boy named Harry who has been a friend of Tyrone for a long time. They experiment with drugs together and later decide to sell some to make some big money and never have to be a dealer again. Harry has a beautiful girlfriend called Marion who is also a junkie. In the movie you will see these three people going down in the downward spiral of drug-addicts.
Harry’s mother is addicted to television and the idea that some time she will be in her favorite tv-quiz. To be able to get into her red dress again, she starts seeing a doctor who gives her ‘diet-pills’ (three pills for three meals a day) which she gets addicted to and also mother heads towards a total breakdown.

“Requiem” is just as “Pi” shot and cut and pasted with fast, repetitive and disturbing images, strange sounds at hallucinating speed. This time Aronofsky also worked with colors to add to the effect. Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are watching a character’s hallucination or if what you see is supposed to be real.

Again a brilliant movie and be sure to go and see it if you can.

The soundtrack is reviewed in the “music reviews” section.