Category Archives: mystery

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.

Upstream Color – Shane Carruth (2013)

What a weird film! In the first scenes a woman is abducted, drugged and hypnotised apparently for some experiment. The kidnapper seems to have other strange experiments. Later we find Kris back at her house where it soon becomes unclear if the events actually took place.

After this she runs into a young man. Was he her abductor, was he a victim of the same man or is the whole film built of suppressed memories of either of them?

“Upstream Color” appears to be a collection of scenes that either or not have something to do with each other. The film does not really appear to tell a coherent story. I usually do not mind that, but in this case I have the feeling that there might be a story that I fail to grasp.

The film is slow, meditative and fairly minimalist. It is alright, but the vague impression it made, prevents me from saying that it is good. Perhaps I should just watch it again some day.

Mother! – Darren Aronofsky (2017)

There was so much attention for this film, that I did not think it would be so strange.

Aronofsky made a couple of great films in a variety of genres. “Mother!” is hard to put a genre on though. It starts as a drama with slightly weird elements, but it slowly becomes a thriller or maybe even horror and the story gets stranger and stranger too. Where some other Aronofskys are very strong emotionally, “Mother!” did not work for my like that. It is entertaining though. The film gets so weird that I need to watch it again some time to figure out what the director actually wanted with it.

The story in short. A young woman lives together with a much older man in a gigantic and remote house that she is refurbishing while he is trying to revive his career as a writer. He is a very social person, continuously inviting people to the house, much to the demise of his wife. This inviting of people runs out of hand and then Aronofsky comes with a strange twist at the end.

Certainly not bad. Perhaps a bit too odd to already say if it is really good or not.

Predestination – Michael Spierig (2014)

This film takes the time-travelling concept to an extreme, but the result can be rather described as ‘annoying’ than ‘interesting’.

We follow agents who are sent back and forth in time to fight crime. We follow the recruitment of new agents whose stories are told throughout the film. Every time a new ‘circle’ is added to the film with a new explanation. Towards the end this gets pretty tiring.

Timescape – David Twohy (1992)

An early take on the time travelling genre.

In this very 1980’ies looking film, the single parent Ben takes a few weird people into his house. The group says to be tourists and as the story unfolds, they are not from another place but of another time.

The fairly descent story gets somewhat weird in the second half, but of course ends with Ben doing the obvious and becoming the hero.

Not bad, but also not a must-see.

Mr. Nobody – Jaco van Dormael (2009)

Van Dormael made one of these Hollywood ‘new vague’ films. Think of a pretentious and strange, cut up story like that of “Interstellar” but with the soap of a film like “Magnolia“.

Mr. Nobody is an old man looking back at his life. This is shown in confusing montage. The same (young) man keeps dying and does not. It appears that the (senile?) old man tells different versions of his life, versions how things would have been, would he have made other choices.

The film contains well done adolescent (failed) romance, scifi, pompous philosophy and, like I said, confusing montage. Do not expect an easy film, but an ununderstandable clutter memories. This is done with a more than descent atmosphere.

Indeed, a ‘difficult film’. Not a bad one either.

American Gods – Bryan Fuller & Michael Green (series, season 1) 2017

I found this series because Ian McShane is in it who is brilliant in “Deadwood“. The series seemed strange enough for me to like it. And I did!

Let me start with a down part. The season is only 8 episodes and it looks like half a story. The series is based on a book by Neil Gaiman, so my guess is that the whole story has been divided over two seasons. Had I known that beforehand I would have waited until the entire series are available before watching it.

To the series then. It is not clear to me why a man named Shadow Moon has such a big part in the story, but coming out of jail, he is picked up by a man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday, but people who know him call him Grimnir. I leave it to you to guess who he really is. With the identity of Mr. Wednesday in mind, the series make a whole lot of fun.
What Mr. Wednesday represents is one of the Old Gods (a bit out of place in America though) and he is looking for other old Gods to get the influence back that they used to have. There are many, many references to all kinds of mythologies and religions, sometimes obvious, sometimes vague. The story is not about the fight between prechristian religions and Christianity, Mr. Wednesdays opponents are of the like “Mr. World” (a god of globalization?) and “Media” (Gillian Anderson).

In this manner there is plenty dialogue about the demise of wonder and religion in modern man and critique to modern society. This is done in witty dialogues, with good humor and with both subtle references and blunt statements.

And so we have a fairly vague, at times pompous series with elements that make only little sense and elements that start to make sense as the series continue. My guess is that a few things will only start to make sense in season to and I wonder if the story is going to be milked out in an 8+ season series or if the creators will stick to the book.

Season one is very promising and made an interesting watch.

Twin Peaks (series, season 3 2017)

I would be lying if I said that I have been a ‘Peaky’ for 25 years, but it has been certainly more than two decades since I watched the series every couple of years and I have followed Peak-freak groups for many years. These groups, of course, only contained ‘die-hard fans’ when the series had faded from the public eye. Then a while ago there was a stir within the fan base, since, did Laura Palmer not say: “I will see you in 25 years” at the end of the original series? Would Lynch (and Frost) indeed revamp the series? For a while Lynch denied, but either or not persuaded by all the attention, at some point he confirmed that work was done on a new season. Not too much later the filming had actually started, again in Snoqualmie, and people who went there to see what was going on, could see what actors were involved. Actors were confirmed, rumors wandered around the rest and in the end the new season was put out with a massive amount of publicity. Mark Frost even published a book. Suddenly everybody was a Twin Peaks fan and had been one for 25 years. Continue reading

The Jacket – John Maybury (2005)

And just like several of the last films that I reviewed, “The Jacket” involves travelling in time. Typical.

While serving in Iraq Jack Starks get shot in the head. He does not die, but the hole in his head leaves a hole in his memory, perhaps even in his mind. He needs a dog tag to remember his name and just seems to travel around the country not living anywhere. Not being an easy person to deal with due to his condition, Jack ends up in an asylum of the criminally insane where he is subjected to an experimental treatment. The idea is to peel off his bad side by reprocessing the past, Jack actually travels to the future.

The film starts as a nice, somewhat surrealistic film with a good atmosphere that reflects Jack’s state of mind. As soon as the ‘trick’ is clear this element gets worn out, quite like in the recently reviewed Deja Vu actually.

“The Jacket” is weirder than most of the time travelling films that I reviewed recently, especially in the first half, making it somewhat more interesting. It is not a masterpiece though.

Midnight Special * Jeff Nichols (2016)

It was about time that I saw a good, weird film again. There have been way too few of these recently.

“Midnight Special” is a film that you should not know too much about before you see it. It has a wonderfully unfolding story that is obviously written to put the viewer on the wrong track. This works quite well. Each time the story gets a weirder layer. The pompous fantasy ‘conclusion’ is a bit too much for my liking, but the film is very well done. The few characters in it do not so much develop, but unfold (together with the story).

The film does not get as weird as films can get, but I guess you have to appreciate strange films to enjoy this one. It has this somewhat melancholic atmosphere that other films of Jeff Nichols have, but there is action, drama, thriller and fantasy and all that pretty well done.