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Three Thousand Years Of Longing – George Miller (2022)

Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a happy, single “narratologist”. When in Turkey for a conference, she buys a bottle which proves to contain a Djinn (Idris Elba).

The Djinn likes to tell stories, Alithea of course does so too, so the film is presented as a story in which stories are told. We hear how the Djinn found himself trapped in a bottle three times, all times ’caused’ women. As the Djinn tells his story, so does Alithea culminating into a shared life.

Miller’s film is slow and somewhat dreamy, romantic in the sense that the two spirits find their similarities.

Lucifer (series) – Tom Kapinos (2016-2021)

The devil is on vacation in the city of angels (LA) and he intends to stay. As the playboy Lucifer Morningstar he owns a club called Lux and he has no lack of money. Filling his time with partying and women, Lucifer runs into the detective Chloe Decker who is somehow immune to his “mojo”. Fascinated as he is, Lucifer joins forces with “the detective” in the LAPD.

A long stretched storyline which is bound to lead to a Lucifer/Decker romance unfolds with plenty of sub-plots, laughter and drama. The series start off as a bit of ‘screwball’ with a fairly childish devil who thinks the world revolves around him and who -even though he never lies- nobody believes to be the devil anyway. That will change though.

Lucifers family also starts to visit earth. To mock him, to try to get him back, sometimes to stay. Lighter and darker storylines develop and the inspiration for all that does not seem all Christian, rather Jewish perhaps.

Anyway, some sub-plots are interesting, some less so. The red thread is sometimes interesting, sometimes less so. There are amusing characters, characters that undergo a big transformation during six seasons. Some come and go, some come to stay. The biggest transformation is for Lucifer himself.

There is the obligatory enlarged drama, that for some reason sometimes ‘works’. There are some interesting musical choices in the soundtrack too. Also there are a lot of scenes that made me say ‘fast forward please’. All in all the series are good enough to keep watching.

So drama, romance, thriller, action, it is all there. Highs and lows; making the final score the average:

Allied – Robert Zemeckis (2016)

A romantic spy adventure with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, that bound to be a popular Hollywood production. This fairly descent film is only rated 7.1 on IMDb though.

Pitt and Cotillard are coupled on a mission to kill some Nazis and when they survive the mission against the odds, they leave for London where Max Vatan (Pitt) remains under the employment of the British secret service.

The secret agent professionalism initially looks a bit forced, but as soon as the spark of love enlightens, the two actors seem to be more in their element. The story is perhaps not be too surprising, but well-written. Also the film shows well how life continued during the war, while at other times it did not.

A descent film. Very much a Hollywood production, but not a bad watch.

En Kärlekshistoria * Roy Andersson (1970)

We got a box with Roy Andersson films and started with the oldest one. Roy Andersson got known for his extremely slow and absurdistic films, but this teenage lovestory is pretty straightforward.

The just-fifteen Pär and the beautiful big-eyed, short skirted and almost-fourteen Annika fall in love. This does initially not go too smoothly, but soon things are a-okay and they even spend a weekend with both families. Like I said, the film is pretty straightforward with no unexpected storylines or filming. Towards the end, with the family weekend, the film forshadows later Scandinavian films such as “Festen” a little.

Så Som I Himmelen * Kay Pollak (2004)

My girlfriend’s boss bought this film for all his personel, so I guess that outside TV and cinema, this was the best-watched film last weekend in these parts! “As It Is In Heaven” is about a successfull conductor who at the peak of his carreer has a heart attack and decides to quit. He goes back to the tiny village where he was pestered away as a boy, but with his artists name. Starting on his own, he soon feels the need to be part of the small community and he offers to lead the church choir, since everybody knows he is that famous conductor anyway. Never having orchestred a choir, Daniel tries to learn how to do this and his new methods leads the villagers away from the town pastor and to Daniel. How new elements in a conservative surrounding brings change, a thing that people usually fear. “As It Is In Heaven” is a drama, not really boring and the presence of the beautiful Frida Hallgren helps too.

Bin-Jip * Ki-Duk Kum * 2004

The versatile Korean director Ki-Duk Kim (or Kim Ki-Duk) this times comes with an original and wonderfull drama. In his usual slow pace and minimalistic style, Ki-Duk shows us a story of a young, ‘good burglar’ who meets a young model who is suppressed by her husband. The burglar continues his ‘hobby’ together with the girl. When the couple is caught by the police, the woman is returned to her husband and the young man further develops certain abilities (which would give away too much if I mentioned them). The film is full of amusingly surprising moments, but is far from a comedy. The two main characters hardly speak and the film is in large parts completely silent. As you may expect from Ki-Duk, the shooting is beautiful. If you like the films of Ki-Duk, I am sure you will also enjoy “3 Iron”, as the international title goes.

Vanilla Sky * Cameron Crowe * 2001

There is a strange story to this film. In 1997 there was the film “Abre Los Ojos” (“open your eyes”) of Alejandro Amenábar (best known for “Tesis”, the inspiration for “8MM”). Tom Cruise liked it so much that he wanted it in the USA, but since the film is in Spanish, he decided that an English version should be made. Since Amenábar had moved to Hollywood to make his first big film, he didn’t have time for “Vanilla Sky”. Cruise, however, decided to give Amenábar an extra chance by producing “The Others” (with Nicole Kidman who just broke with Cruise). Also Cruise produced “Vanilla Sky” and hired Cameron Crow (“Almost Famous”, “Jerry McGuire”) to make it.

“Vanilla Sky” is almost identical to “Abre Los Ojos” and Cruise is said to have said that he sees “Vanilla Sky” more as a ‘cover’ of “Abre…” than a remake. Of course there are different actors, different locations, etc. but mostly the rest is the same. There are some differences though, but I will leave it upto you to detect them.

The story is about a David Aames (names from “Vanilla Sky”, they are different) who has experienced nothing but luck in his life. He got the 51% of the stocks of his fathers publishing houses when his father died and David is massively popular under women, personell and associated companies. He does live ‘the easy way’ too much which brings him trouble sometimes, but there is actually no way how anybody could do him any harm.
David has a ‘fucking mate’ in the beautiful Cameron Diaz, but falls in love with Sofia (Penélope Cruz plays the same part in both films!!), when his best friend Brian brings her to his birthday party. David spends the night with Sofia and when he wants to go home, he is waited for by Julie (Diaz) who asks him for a ride. Julie drives the car off a bridge. She gets killed, David is extremely deformed when he comes out of his coma.

After this there is the stuggle of getting Sofia back, keeping his job, remaining friends with Brian and learning to live with his deformity. Eventually David does win the heart of Sofia back, keeps his job, but looses Brian, it seems…

The film is ‘told’ in a ‘reality’, a ‘real reality’, dreams and flashbacks and gets more and more confusing towards the end. I didn’t like the “Existenz”/”Matrix” type idea too much, but there is a massive atmosphere, great filming, good acting and fortunately Cruz is just as beautiful as in the original (I had fears about this, since among some films she did between “Abre…” and “Vanilla Sky” were a few in which she didn’t look that great) and this is definately the driving-factor of the film.

What is quite remarkable is that “Vanilla Sky” is just as good, if not better than “Abre Los Ojos” and left me with the same feeling. As mentioned, some elements are different, there is more explaining in the American version (of course, the mass audience doesn’t want to think) and the end of “Abre…” is more beautiful, but the filming, locations and atmosphere are in both films great. Also “Vanilla Sky” remained a strange and not everyday film and is actually still not for the big audience in my opinion, but it seems to do well.

And something that you may have heard, Cruise and Cruz fell in love during (or just before?) the shooting of this film. Some critics say that this doesn’t show at all, some say it does. I agree with the second group.

My advise: get “Abre Los Ojos” from the videostore and enjoy it (or even better, try and see it on the big screen) and go to see “Vanilla Sky” a week later. Prove that even a remake can be good and this is really an exception I think.

Tristan & Isolde * Kevin Reynolds * 2006

This classic medieval love-story is put in a Hollywood coat to appeal to the masses. The original story is altered a bit, which is a pitty. For the rest this film is an entertaining medieval costume warrior film about an impossible love between two people. Tristan is pushed back and forth between his love for Isolde and his loyalty to his king. Isolde can only obey her father. On the background plays the struggle between the tribes in Brittain who try to be united in order to stand stronger against the Irish invaders. Alright.

Intimacy * Patrice Chéreau * 2000

From the director of the brilliant “La Reine Margot” comes this “explicit and confronting” film. I suppose that most of you have heard of it. However it got good critics almost allover, some people thought it to be ‘too explicit’ for a ‘normal’ film, while what you hear about it most is that it is a ‘sophisticated sexfilm’. So what is my own conclusion? “Intimacy” is very much like ‘that other’ film “Une Laison Pornographique”. The story for both films is about two people who meet solely for sex. In the French film the two people first grow towards eachother but later split, in “Intimacy” Claire is looking for nothing more than sex while Jay goes out to find who Claire is in normal life. Not too interesting stories in either film, so what about that other thing? Maybe “Intimacy” is a bit more explicit, but only in the sense that you sometimes see genitals which is unlike most other ‘normal’ films, but there isn’t that much sex in it in general and I suppose if you expect that or are looking for that, you better focus your attention on another kind of film.
Overall I had hoped “Intimacy” to be more beautiful and also a bit more of content would have been nice.

Intolerable Cruelty * Joel + Ethan Coen * 2003

What do you get when the brothers Coen (“Blood Simple”, “Raising Arisona”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”, “The Man Who Wasn’t There”, etc.) make a deal with a real Hollywood producer and get the disposal of a real Hollywood budget? Well: “Intollerable Cruelty”! And are we happy with the combination? Yes, we sure are! Besides partially the well-known Coen-crew (George Clooney, Billy-Bob Thornton, but no John Goodman or Frances McDormand) we get the very nice Coen sense of humour and a no-average film which will probably will fall good with a wider audience.

“Intollerable Cruelty” is a romantic comedy in which top-notch divorce-lawyer Clooney falls in love with Catherine Zeta Jones who only wants the fortune one rich man to become partially hers by way of a very short marriage. The result is a wonderfull romantic comedy with a nice story, wonderfull acting and a great sense of humour. The film opens with the greatest animation of little cupidos shooting darts at the rhythm of the music (it has been a long time since I had to laugh this hard) and the first sence of Clooney making a phonecall while his teeth are being cleaned is in one word brilliant. If you like Coen-films, don’t worry about the big budget, you are going to like this film. If you don’t know the Coen films, just have a try a see this nice, but not everyday romantic comedy. <11/11/03><4>