Hejter – Jan Komasa (2020)

Best Buzz PR is a company with a fairly neutral name. It is not a traditional public relations company though, it manipulates (using) social media. You know the stories, companies with hundreds of fake accounts giving people many “likes” and the like.

Best Buzz PR also works the other way around. Clients also hire them to thwart adversaries. Some online sports girl gets too popular, so Best Buzz is hired to raise negative publicity.

Tomasz does pretty much the same in his private life. He uses usual media and cell phones to stalk people, eavesdrop and thus be able to manipulate them. Life does not go exactly as he wants, but he works himself into the fast cruel world of ‘PR’ and gets a job at Best Buzz.

Tomasz’ initial assignments are petty, but after a while the company also proves to work in politics. Politics in this Polish movie is either extremely left and extremely right and Tomasz gets the job to make a slander campaign against the left wing candidate. Tomasz goes way further than misusing social media though.

The actual title of the film is “Sala samobójców. Hejter”, which according to Google translates to “Hall of suicide. Hater.” It does not really dig deep into the possible ways in which social media can be misused. It is also funny to see that all youngers seem to access their social media on laptops, which certainly takes away some of the probably intended contemporary feel. Also it is sometimes unclear what Tomasz is up to.

As a thriller “Hejter” is alright. Tomasz goes in head over heels, a bit too far, but of (of course) he proves to outmaster everybody else and so his is the anti-hero. Story-wise I found the film not too convincing, especially not in details.

Who Am I – Baran bo Odar (2014)

An alright German Netflix film about the nerdy Benjamin who meets a group of hackers. Competing with other hacker groups, they name themselves “Clay”. In the same competition their “projects” become more and more daring.

Even though the film is about a subject which changes rapidly, it does not feel very dated. Here and there it is a bit ‘easy’. Just as if you can hack a building’s network from a nearby switch-point and manipulate in which offices the lights are turned on and off. Of course, such a scene is just to set a tone.

What the creators did do well is that they made the actual hacking and communication on the “dark web” into scenes with people in situations. So when two hackers exchange information, this happens in a dreamy scene on a subway for example. This prevents the techniques that they use from being outdated too rapidly.

But of course there also are some techniques here and I am sure some whizkid will be a better judge than myself to tell if these make sense a lot.

There is an actor that I recognised from “Dark“. Here and there the film gives me a “Dark” feel in ways of acting and story-telling and indeed, both the director Odar and fellow script writer Jantje Friese are also the creators of “Dark”. The series are significantly better than this film though, so who knows what this duo can make in the future!

As I said, “Who Am I” is a descent Netflix film.

The Bad Batch – Ana Lily Amirpour (2016)

  • thriller

So what did I read about this film that I put in on my watchlist? It must sure come from a bad batch. Boy, what a poor movie this is…

In an apparent attempt to make a slow, dystopian film we follow Arlen. It looks like it that criminals are thrown into a no-man’s-land between the American and Mexican borders. The people trying to survive there gravitate between a hard criminal camp and a more hippy type community.

Arlen starts in the wrong camp, finds her way to the other, but grows back to where she started.

The film has got some gruely scenes, but also throws in some more vague and experimental scenes. Nothing really works except a handful of scenes. The film did not annoy me so much that I turned it off, so I come to a:

The VVitch – Robert Eggers (2015)

What did I miss? What is it that people like about this film? I get a bit of a “Midsommar” feeling. Another such applauded film that only worked on my nerves.

“The VVitch” is pretty boring. A very Christian family moved from England to the new world. The ideas of the father do not entirely work with the rest of the village so they move to a remote place in a forest.

Praying day and night, seeing the Devil’s work everywhere, the family works itself into the ground. The only positive thing is the presence of Anya Taylor-Joy. The story is boring, the acting is boring, there is no atmosphere…

I guess I missed something.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Yorgos Lanthimos (2017)

For some reason I had a hard time being able to watch this film. Lanthimos’ earlier weird films such as “Dogtooth” (2009) and “The Lobster” (2015) did relatively well for such films, so I expected this film to get the same attention and thus availability. Perhaps it was overshadowed by the much more ‘normal’ “The Favourite” (2018)?

In a way, “The Killing” lays between “The Favourite” and the other mentioned films. It is not as strange as the earlier films, but not as ‘normal’ as the latter.

Steven Murphy (Collin Farrell) is a successful doctor who lives a perfect life with his wife (the ever beautiful, yet skinny, Nicole Kidman) and two children. His record is not entirely blameless though and he is in contact with Martin, the son of a man who died during an operation.

Both Martin and Steven and his family are tryingly correct, but as the film continues, it becomes obvious that the persuasive Martin holds Steven responsible for the death of his father and is out for revenge.

The film has a ‘slightly off’ atmosphere with some odd scenes, but it is mostly a slow burning psychological thriller.

Stonehearst Asylum – Brad Anderson (2014)

Based on a text by Poe and starring Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine and David Thewlis. That has got to be something, right?

“Stonehearst Asylum” is amusing, but not great. The asylum from the title is remote home for the insane in Victorian times. Edward Newgate travels to the asylum to complete his education. The asylum proves to have some oddly modern methods of treating their patients.

Of course things are not as they seem. Newgate slowly starts to unravel the mysteries of the place which is not received with applaus by the people in charge.

The film has romance, humor and thriller elements and -as we saw- a stack of big actors. All this cannot raise the film above the level ‘average’ though.

Not bad, not great.

Journal 64 – Christoffer Boe (2018)

Apparently there is a “Department Q” series of Danish films. We meet the same couple as in “Kvinden I Buret” that you can see on the cover. Carl Mørck is the grumpy detective and Assad plans to move to another vocation. Of course the two have a last case.

A gruesome find is done in an apartment. Mørck steals the case from a colleague and he hauls in his partner-for-only-one-more-week Assad.

The film jumps back and forth in time. We find an institution for girls in the past which somehow connects to the find in the apartment. Of course Mørck and Assad find that connection and go after the bad guys.

The story involves a past that may well be historical and the somewhat extravagant present may be somewhat far fetched, but also shows present tendencies.

The film is an alright Scandinavian crime thriller.

Law Abiding Citizen – F. Gary Gray (2009)

I like the title of this film, but it took me a long time before I watched it. Unfortunately, I like the film a lot less than the title…

Clyde Shelton sees his wife and daughter get murdered. The perpetrators are caught but the persecutor does not aim as high as Shelton’s wishes.

Suddenly we are 10 years down the line. One of the perpetrators gets a lethal injection, while the other has been out of prison for years. Apparently Shelton has been cooking on revenge for all that time and a fairly boring story unfolds in which Shelton came up with all kinds of incredible ways to take revenge on the people involved a decade earlier. This involves some quite violent scenes.

It all results in an unconvincing film with a lot of ‘yeah, right scenes’.

X-Files (series season 11) – Chris Carter (2018)

So did I fail hearing of season 11 or did it end up somewhere low on my watch-list?

Season 11 is very similar to season 10. There are pomp episodes bringing you up to speed on the ‘big story’ and trying to knit yet another angle to it and there are more comedy like episodes or general X-Files experimentation so to say.

Just like with season 10 this is done with limited success. The ‘big story’ now involves Mulder and Skully’s son, of course there is the “CSM” (“cigarette smoking man”, but I still prefer the description “cancer man”) who is portrayed as the most powerful man in the world. Especially the drama / romance in these episodes is pretty damn boring.

Then we have weird episodes with aliens, episodes about technology, boring vampires and a very amusing episode in which a new character has been montaged into early episodes, which made a good laugh.

That last episode is probably a lot more funny when you know the old series. For the rest, oh well, it is just Carter and co working on some themes and ideas that are familiar to people who have seen the X-Files before, but there is hardly need to know all the previous seasons in detail. Just a few episodes, some are nice, some less so.

Den Skyldige – Gustav Möller (2018)

The first film in months that I got from my DVD rental is a Scandinavian thriller. No idea how this ended up on my list.

“The Guilty” is about a policemen who went off track and waiting for his trial has been put on a one-man-emergency-room. The entire film plays in two rooms in a police station. Asger Holm picks up the phone, talks to some drunk local and waits for the next call. Then a woman who appears to be kidnapped calls and Asger’s policeman serving attitude floats up.

He finds out where the car drives, manages to find out who is the kidnapper, what car he drives and where he lives. He sends a policecar to the house where two children remain and is in contact with the emergency room of the district where the car is.

Even though you basically only watch Asger, the events bring tension. The story turns a bit a couple of times.

“Den Skyldige” is an alright film made in a fairly original way.