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Brimstone – Martin Koolhoven (2016)

In the days the Dutch have just settled America we find a young midwife who has a child-birth go wrong. Everybody seems to think she is a witch and especially the newly arrived pastor (a great Guy Pierce) seems ominous.

Liz and the pastor appear to have a past which is further elaborated in the second part of the film. An unexpected plot-line unfolds which is explained more in the third part. This is wonderfully done.

“Brimstone” shows early American settlers of the extremely religious type and well shows the pressure this religion brought, or at least, how it was used. The story-line of Liz and the pastor makes a gloomy red thread through the film which culminates in a fourth part which wraps up the story.

Taking two-and-a-half hours the Dutch director tells his horrible story in a great, international way, giving both an idea of these days, its religion and telling a story of tension.

Tom à La Ferme * Xavier Dolan (2013)

Tom travels to the farm of a colleague who passed away. The mother and brother of the deceased live there. However Tom never met either of them, he can spend the night until the day of the funeral. It soon becomes clear that Tom is not getting away easily.

“Tom at the farm” is a psychological drama with some thriller elements. We see how Tom goes from being an outsider to being a victim to being a sympathiser. This is worked out alright. The film is not really a ‘high flyer’, but certainly not a boring film either.

Chained * Jennifer Lynch (2012)

Wondering if the latest Jennifer Lynch would be better than “Surveillance” I got out to see “Chained”. Lynch came up with a variation to the serial killer thriller. We follow Bob, a taxi driver with a house in the middle of nowhere where he takes women to in order to kill them. During one of his abductions he gets a 9-year-old for free and he decides to take the boy in. “Chained” is mostly a psychological film about the relation between Bob and “Rabbit” added with the typical bloody murder scenes of a modern serial killer thriller. The camera work is beautiful in the weird, artificially lighted house. The relation between Bob and “Rabbit” does not come out too well and the atmosphere could have been better. Like the IMdB users who voted for this film, I think that “Chained” is not bad, but could have been better.

Babycall * Pål Sletaune (2011)

“Babycall” (international title “The Monitor”) is a film of the director of the much better “Naboer”. The film is about Anna (Noomi Rapace of the “Millenium” films), a troubled young woman that is running from her past. Anna is clearly schizophrenic and tries to protect her son from her ex. The story is perhaps not very original, but makes an alright psychological thriller until the awfull conclusion at the end.

Ne Te Retourne Pas * Marina de Van (2009)

Marina de Van again made a dark and mysterious psychological thriller/drama, but this time not so bloody as “Dans Ma Peau”. We follow Jeanne who does not remember anything from before she was eight years old and decides to write an autobiography. Obviously digging in her past is not good for Jeanne’s psychological stability. Not only the past, but also the presents starts to change and a very weird and nicely dark drama unfolds in which characters change and stories become blurred. “Don’t Look Back” also has the beautiful Monica Bellucci on the role which adds to the pleasure of watching this film. A very nice, alienating drama.

Κυνόδοντας * Giorgos Lanthimos (2009)

“Kynodontas” (“Dogtooth”) is a very strange Greek film with absurdistic drama that could have come from Scandinavia. A man tries to prevent his two daughters and son to become infected with the outside world by keeping them separated in his house with large garden far away from the civilised world. He tries to control their entire life by giving them exercises, language lessons (with strange explanations of words), medical education, etc. Naturally the children are not quite ‘normal’ which results in some nicely suppressed humorous scenes, especially when the outside world comes creeping in inspite of the man’s efforts. The film is very slow and raises a lot of questions that are not answered. In fact, the film ends as suddenly as it begins and just when things start to become interesting. If you want a film which gives you a nice, clean story, this one will not be for you. When you want to have a look at a strange psychological experiment, “Kynodontas” could be something.

The Human Contract * Jada Pinkett Smith (2008)

The successfull business man Julian Wright meets the mysterious beauty Michael (“strange name for a woman”) just when he is in the middle of divorcing his wife. Michael is a sexy lady with a sexy accent and she seems to know exactly what she wants. A bit of a cat-and-mouse-game of two too big egos unfolds in which Michael uses her excentric sensuality and Michael tries to guide the situation according to his own preference. Instead Julian finds out that he is more impulsive than he wants himself to be. “The Human Contact” has one of the more beautiful posters, the story may not be too original, but especially the character of Michael could have made an amusing film. Besides a few sensual scenes, the film really does no go anywhere though. Michael is extremely self-confident in the first half, but what for? Julian tries to be a good businessman, but the situation with Michael and some other do not make things very easy. None of the situations is really worked out very well. In the end “The Human Contract” remains a film with some ideas and many loose ends, there is no continuing atmosphere, the story bumbs and the acting does not make things any more convincing. Nope, it is not hard to tell where that 4.9 on IMdB comes from. Paz “Julia Y El Sexo” Vegas is a reason to watch this film, but really the only one.

Orphan * Jaume Collet-Serra (2009)

A family takes orphan Esther into their family which already consists of two children, a younger (and deaf) daughter and an older son. Esther would be around the age of nine. A predictable story unfolds in which Esther manipulates and terrorises the family, a story that has been filmed a thousand times. There is one thing in which “Orphan” found something slightly different from similar films, but this one element is not worked out too well and in fact comes accross quite incredibly. Nope, “Orphan” is just a boring big-audience thriller and there is no need to go and see it.

Antichrist * Lars von Trier (2009)

So what is the fuss around this film? Even though I had but little expectations for it, I was still disappointed. There is a thin story about a couple who loose their son and all the sudden the woman is afraid of Satan and the grass, oh wait, she already was before. The dialogues are dull and in bad English and the scene is not more shocking than an exploding head in a zombie-film. I think I missed something? So is “Antichrist” an awfull film? That would go too far, since Von Trier presents beautiful images, dark Lynchian scenes and a few interesting filmographic experiments. Personally I think that is all that is to it though.

Clean, Shaven * Lodge Kerrigan (1993)

This film has been on my wish-list for a while, but not for 17 years I guess? “Clean, Shaven” is an impressive film which looks in the head of the schizophrenic Peter Greene. Hypnotic images, a ‘dark ambient / noise’ soundtrack, alternated with relatively ‘normal filming’. The film is quite bloody at times and highly suggestive. In fact, the box suggests another twist to the story than what I thought of it myself. “Clean, Shaven” is a very nice watch for people who enjoy watching another kind of film.