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Thale * Aleksander Nordaas (2012)

“Thale” is an amusing little Norwegian film. Coldblooded Leo and his by far not coldblooded temporary colleague Elvis have a job to clean up the forrest house of an old men torn up by predators. When searching the house, they stumble upon a cellar with a wild girl in it (with a remarkably fashionable haircut). The rest of the story is already given away everywhere, try not to read all that. Pokerface Leo is brilliant as he approaches everything without any emotion. Elvis is also funny since most things he encounters makes him puke. This is brought with great, Scandinavian humour. From a black comedy the film slowly ships towards becoming a thriller with fantasy elements. That part is not exactly perfectly worked out, but when you watch “Thale” as a small production and not as some hip Hollywood production, it is a nice film to watch some time.

Cronos * Guillermo del Toro (1993)

The first full-length film of Guillermo del Toro has all the Del Toro elements but the Franko line in the story. “Cronos” has elaborate characters and camera work, a slightly surrealistic atmosphere, fantasy and some horror elements and a nice story. The story is somewhat of a variation on one of the most common horror themes. An antiquarian accidentally finds a device of an alchemist of a few centuries earlier. Soon he finds out that there is somebody else that wants it badly and who sends out his servant (a great part of Ron Perlman) to get it. As Jesus finds out what the device does, he is not keen on handing it over and a nice cat-and-mouse game develops that is well portrayed by Del Toro. A very nice film. I have to see some other Del Toros that I missed.

Brazil * Terry Gilliam (1985)

The title of this film eludes me, but in a 1950’ies looking future, technology and bureaucracy reign supreme. Dreamer Sam Lowry accidentally becomes involved in the resistance movement. Gilliam created a magnificent (sur)realistic imaginary and dark world with great little jokes and weird characters. Things remind quite a bit of Jeunet. Sam’s government jobs are weird, but his dreams are even more so and when it comes to it, the real world is even weirder than his dreams. In brilliant scenes other government officials come to fix Sam’s heating system after the sought terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert de Niro in probably his strangest part ever) has already done so. A nice stack of other famous actors pass by. The first 75% is great, in the last part things become a bit less interesting and the fact that the DVD started to malfunction did not help. In general this is a very good film, somewhere between “Dark City” and Jeunet. When you like the weirder stuff, be sure not to miss this one.

The Cell * Tarsem Singh (2000)

I totally forgot that I already saw this film. It took so long for two reaons. First, I keep mixing it up with The Cube, which is a great film, but I am sure that I saw that one. Second the presence of J-Lo which, to me, is not a reason to watch it (again). Actually “The Cell” is a very good variation on the milked-out serial killer thriller, where Singh mixes elements of “Inception” through a quite typical serial killer film. The FBI is on the hunt for an of course very weird serial killer. They look for the help of a group of scientists who have a very experimental approach to the treatment of people in a coma. Based on that second point, Singh had the opportunity to create elaborate fantasy worlds and in the second half of the film, pretty dark fantasy. Lopez proves to be a descent actress able to carry the film and Singh did not too abundently use her status as beauty-queen. “The Cell” is not completely convincing for the entire duration, but has a good ballance between ‘real’ and fantasy (sometimes reminding a big of Del Torro) and a good atmosphere.

Balada Triste De Trompeta * Álex de la Iglesia (2010)

A Spanish film that shows the attrocities of the Franco regime and that mixed with surrealistic fantasy. That reminds of Guillermo del Torro, not? In the 1930’ies we find ourselves in a weird circus with a violent main man. Main character Javier joins the circus as the sad clown and falls in love with the girlfriend of the boss. Where the first part of the film is quite gloomy (not reallyCarnivale“, but still a bit), the film gets weirder and weirder and also bloodier and bloodier. It does not develop towards a horror, but more a violent thriller. Also the fantasy part slowly takes over and Álex de la Iglesia uses grand (computerised) stages and strange landscapes to add to the already surrealistic atmosphere. The characters are already both strange and colourfull (of course, in a circus) and there is some nice humour, so I guess I can recommend this film to people who like the films of Del Torro. A nice, weird film.

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus * Terry Gilliam (2009)

Not too original anymore, but also Terry Gilliam worked out a “Being John Malkovich” like story, but then in the Gilliam style. This means colourfull weird animations, strange characters and original fantasy. A travelling theatre offers its visitors a peek into their imagination. The story is very nice, the result quite original and very enjoyable. The special effects are not always convincing, but think about an “Alice In Wonderland” with a modern twist in the story.

Desu Nôto * Shusuke Kaneko (2006)

This Japanese fantasy thriller is based on a comic. The story is quite original, but the result a bit ‘teen power’. The story is quickly given away, so I will just refer to the English title “Death Note” and leave it with that. In between genres such as crime-investigating police, a little bit of thriller and fantasy, “Desu Nôto” comes out just average. It is not bad, but certainly not great either.

The Fall * Tarsem Singh (2006)

The FallThe Dali-like cover caught my attention and the cover represents the film very well. “The Fall” opens with a very strange scene, but basically is about a young girl who stays in some 18th century hospital where she meets a young man who tells her stories. The stories are pictured in elaborate colours, with grand stages and costumes. The dreamy atmosphere that becomes darker as the film progresses reminds a bit of “El Laberinto Del Fauno” or “The Fountain“, but is is not that elaborate of fantasyfull. A nice film that initially looks like a family film, but the last part where story and reality start to mix the light tone disappears.

Storm * Måns Mårlind (2005)

Storm“Storm” is a rather strange and confusing Swedish film. Almost anything I say will give away too much, but “Storm” has several alternating realities and each time when you think you understand the basic idea, there turns out to be another one. Somewhere between a psychological drama (in theme), action and fantasy thriller, “Storm” has combined several popular elements from outside the film industry. The film is not great, not even too original at all times, but an enjoyable watch and a nice mix of different elements.