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mystery

Enemy * Denis Villeneuve (2013)

The cover somewhat suggests a “Being John Malkovich”-like film (after which many similar films have been made) which is in way true, but “Enemy” is in no way as interesting.

History teacher Adam watches a film in which an actor plays that looks exactly like him. He sets out to find this actor and finds him living nearby. Adam is an annoyingly nervous person, even more so when he meets his ‘doppelgänger’. The film does not make clear, and Adam probably does not know himself, why he wants to meet his double, but the events that follow certainly are not what he hoped for. The story is already not too appealing, but the ‘explaining’ last scene is pretty silly. Not that the film is awfull, it is not boring or anything, but it is just a not too convincing drama.

I Origins * Mike Cahill (2014)

The young scientist Ian is fascinated by the eye. First because each human iris is unique and second because by proving that the eye evolved too, Ian thinks he will be able to prove that the last thing religious people claim to be a creation of God, is also scientifically explainable. It is also through eyes that Ian meets his wife-to-be, the beautifull Sofi.

Ian and Sofi are two colliding worlds. Sofi is a very spiritual girl, Ian the complete opposite. When Ian’s laboratory partner Karen finds the missing link that is going to give their work a boost, Ian’s life changes drastically in two ways.

Cahill worked out a nice theory, that the eyes are the mirror to the soul, quite literally. He sets aside outlooks that we see a lot today; the overly materialistic and rational view and the New Agey one. This works better in some scenes than in others. The same I can say about the general atmosphere. While there are some nice scenes showing Ian and Sofi falling in love, the most dramatic scene of the film did nothing to me.

“I Origins” is a nice film with a nice story, but unfortunately does not rise above the level of ‘nice’.

The Time Traveller’s Wife * Robert Schwentke (2009)

A film about Heny (Eric Bana) (or judging the title, the film is actually about his wife Annette) who jumps back and forth in time without having any influence on when he leaves and where he goes to. To make a story, Henry seems to only jump through his own life and that of the ones that he loves. He meets his wife when she was only a child and by the time they have about the same age, they get married. Henry can even meet himself at a different age or his mother or his father.

The people in Henry’s life just have their lives at a normal paces. It is just that they meet Henry at different ages. After a while they understand his situation. This is worked out better in some scenes than in others, but the starting point is enough to make an entertaining film. However the story has some inconsistencies and a few mistakes, “The Time Traveller’s Wife” makes nice romance and drama that work well.

Mr. Jones * Karl Mueller (2013)

And again a weak film from Netflix. I have either to find a way to more easily watch the American Netflix roster or just quit the service. “Mr. Jones” starts as a “Blair Witch Project” clone with two youngters going to a remote house to shoot a nature documentary. When they find out that their neighbour is the mysterious and disturbing artist Mr. Jones the subject of their documentary changes. In the Blair Witch style documentary about themselves (including the whining close up) they start to investigate people who worked with the artist and the premise of the house next door. Of course things go bad and the film finally evolves into something more interesting, a pretty dark and haunting horror. Nothing great though, but the atmosphere gets a lot better towards the end of the film.
Not really recommended…

John Dies At The End * Don Coscarelli (2012)

Here we have a difficult film to review. Difficult, because the film is both corny and brilliant. It opens with a marvelous, weird scene and starts off blazingly as a film with the weirdness and wonder of “Naked Lunch” and “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas“. Soon it becomes clear that the story is good in basis, but contains many bad elements. Also more and more teenage-superpower-film-elements creep in which makes some scenes rather annoying. Did the director hope to direct the audience of a film like “Chronicle” to the Cronenbergian way of filmmaking, the other way around, or could he not choose between horror weirdness or teen-film?
One thing is certain: the Cronenberg parts are brilliant and in themselves make this film worth watching. Too bad that the other part take the film down substantiously.
A little bit about the story then. Two young ghostbusters accidentally acquire the power to see all different times and dimensions at the same time and they are part of these different times and dimensions themselves. This leads to amusing scenes with ‘philosophy’ used to add to the unlikely story.
I guess I said enough for you to be able to decide whether you want to watch this film or not.

Borgman * Alex van Warmerdam (2013)

The latest film of the Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam opened last year’s Cannes filmfestival which gave it a lot of positive attention. People compared the film to the works of Lynch and Haneke, but “Borgman” does not have the darkness of Lynch or the gruesomeness of Haneke. Like the only other film of Warmerdam that I reviewed so far (click on his name above), I would rather make comparisons with Scandinavian productions. Looking back perhaps not so much “Mifunes Sidste Sang” or “Festen”, but rather “Adams Æbler” or “Salmer Fra Kjøkkenet“.
“Borgman” opens with a great and weird, but completely unexplained scene. The unexplained weirdness keeps returning in the film. Many events, and actually the overall story, are pretty absurd but you will never know what the things that happen, happen. I will not tell you about this story. As with “Kitchen Stories“, the film is probably more enjoyable when you do not know what to expect.
Plus elements of the film are some great absurdistic findings. Minor parts, the (partly) ‘Dutch style’ unconvincing acting. Fortunately this does not go for all actors and the main character is great. A weird film, but apparently not when you know Warmerdam’s other films, not magnificent, but one you might want to see some time.

Beyond The Black Rainbow * Panos Cosmatos (2010)

Somewhere between David Lynch, early David Cronenberg, 80’ies scifi and “The Cube” comes this o far the only film of Cosmatos. I heard about it a while ago but it took some time before I had the chance to see it. Some people complain about the lack of story, but the way I see it, the film is about doctor Barry Nyle who has an elaborate psychological hospital in which one patient has his special interest: Elena. There is something about Elena and Nyle found a way to control her. Not entirely though…
The first three quarters are brilliant. The film is very minimalistic and is more like a visual soundscape with a great soundtrack than a film. Weird colourly overflowing scenes, almost no dialogue, just an overlighted videoclip. Not for the average filmwatcher for sure. In the last quarter the level drops somewhat as new elements are brought into the film, but overall “Beyond The Black Rainbow” is a very interesting psychedelic experience.

Begotten * E. Elias Merhige (1990)

So you thought “Eraserhead” is weird? Try “Begotten”! Usually telling the story of a film makes a massive “spoiler”, but in this case it actually helps to know what you are looking at. “Begotten” seems to tell a story of creation. In the first scene you see a man cutting himself up: God. As he dies, a young woman appears who is mother earth. Mother earth impregnates herself with God’s semen. I do not recall seeing her having a child, but the character we follow mostly is the ‘son of earth’. ‘Son of earth’ is in a very bad state from the start, but when he is discovered by a group of faceless nomads his fate is even worse. The nomads kill ‘son of earth’, have a ball with mother earth, bury them (or just ‘son of earth’?) and flowers start to bloom on the surface of the earth.
Right, having given you the story, let me tell you a bit about the film. It looks like footage of a century old, granular, in extremely high-contrast black and white. Most of the time I had a hard time trying to find out what I was looking at. Perhaps it is for the better that the film is not in high definition, since the film is extremely gory. Blood, guts, smashed-in heads, rapings; creation certainly was not a lovely event in the eyes of Merhige.
So you get it, a difficult film for a select audience. Personally I thought it was interesting in a way, but it is for the better that it only lasts for 78 minutes. Also I was glad that I looked up the story while watching, otherwise it would just have been a sequence of shocking scenes.

Antiviral * Brandon Cronenberg (2012)

Hell yeah! I needed a film like this. Nice camera work and a critical, extremely weird Cronenberg-like story. I will tell you what: this is a Cronenberg! Brandon is a son of David and it looks like he is inspired by the older films of his old man. The way I see it he succeeded gloriously, inspite of the 5.5 on IMdB. “Antiviral” brings flashbacks of films like “Videodrome”, “The Fly” and even “Naked Lunch” while it is pretty much in a different style. The story is, like Cronenberg sr. older films, so extravagant that I will have to watch the film again (and preferably with subtitles) to know what this is all about. Let me give it a try.
The celebrity craze went to such extremes in some unknown future that a facility called Lucas Clinic offers the possibility to fans to be infected with the same virus as the celebrities they adore. One of the employers, Syd March, also enters the black marked where meat seems to be cloned from these same celebrities so that people can eat the meat of their loved ones. Syd also seems to have plans for himself which of course goes bad and he gets crushed between the big money market parties living off celebrities’ cells. This is perhaps a bit too much about the story, but these are but some elements of a crazy story that slowly unfolds during the film.
The camera work is great. The hospital scenes are white and overlighted, giving some heavenly gleam. Outsides scenes are underlighted as if the outside world is unenlightened. There are only a hanfull of characters and everything is nicely minimalistic. There are a couple of great over the top scenes with experimenting doctors. Great, weird, Cronenberg. A wonderfull ode to his old man, but in his own style, and I hope that jr. will continue in this style. I watched this like I did when I first saw the sr’s classics. Perhaps “Antiviral” will be one of such classics.

Fausto 5.0 * Àlex Ollé (2001)

A medical doctor travels to some unknown city for a convention about terminal medicines. On arrival he meets a man who claims to be a patient from whom the doctor removed his entire stomach eight years ago. Theoretically the patient should have been long dead, but since he is not, he is eternally greatfull and wants to fullfill the doctor’s every wish. The doctor’s name is Faustos, so I guess you can guess the rest of the story. The box suggests an over the top cultfilm with splatter and sex. There are indeed some weird scenes and also some sex, but overall the film is not particularly weird of shocking. Not boring either, but mind that it is mostly quite a normal film with some not-too-normal elements.