Baraboo – Mary Sweeney (2009)

For a long time have I wanted to see this film. Mary Sweeney is a long time collaborator of David Lynch. She was the editor of some of his films, produced a few and even wrote some. The two were even shortly married.

It was quite an ordeal to be able to see the film. For many years I knew of no way to watch it. It seemed unavailable on DVD or otherwise. A while ago I ran into it on Amazon Prime, but only in the USA. Shortly after, Amazon started selling a DVD, but it is not shipped to Europe! Fortunately I have a way to work around that.

So 10 years after its release, I got to see “Baraboo”. No, I did not expect a dark Lynch-like film, but I sure was curious was this long time Lynch collaborator would have made for her only full-length film so far. The cover suggests a bit of a “Straight Story” approach. (I have not reviewed that Lynch?!?) The fact that Sweeney wrote the story of that film adds to the suggestion.

And indeed, “Baraboo” is a small, minimalist, slow, somewhat melancholic drama, just as “The Straight Story”. In a small and remote American community, we follow a handful of people. A mother who runs a motel, a gas station and a shop. She is friendly with a very goodly man of her age and has an adolescent son. This son is on the brink of derailing. In her motel an elderly local woman moves in. She is very direct and manages to bring all people together with her unusual way of approaching people.

As you can see on the cover, Sweeney used very bright colors. This is in all ‘day scenes’. The many ‘nights scenes’ are dark with little contrast. The atmosphere of “Baraboo” reminds of “The Straight Story”. Likable people who are easy to empathize with, some cooled humor. A small, all American story.

Indeed, a descent drama.

La Terza Madre – Dario Argento (2007)

Giallo master Dario Argento made a film typical for the genre. That means: corny special effects, bloody gore and poor acting. Of course it also means beautiful women.

“Mother Of Tears” is an occult horror. The finding of an ancient box leads evil to grow stronger in the world and of course a pretty lady has to fight that evil.

I still cannot entirely wrap my head around especially the poor acting. The poor overdone gore is somewhat amusing, but the acting…

The box calls the film a classic. I would say it is an amusing watch if you are interested in the typical Italian style of horror. Do not expect a slick Hollywood horror though!

Joker – Todd Phillips (2019)

What an actor. Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who laughs when he cries and Arthur Fleck laughs a lot.

I guess you have heard by now that “Joker” is not a Batman-style (anti-)superhero film, but a pretty heavy drama about a troubled man in a troubled city.

Fleck is a clown for hire, but he is not quite right. Also the rising tendencies between the undercurrent of society and the rich elite, personally affect Fleck. His hard-humoured colleagues do not help his situation either.

When Fleck starts to take the situation in his own hands, he slowly becomes the face of a movement that is not entirely unlike the social uproar that we see around the world today.

“Joker” is mostly a drama and as I said, a fairly heavy one too. Towards the end despair goes over in violence, but do not expect hip action.

True Story – Rupert Goold (2015)

Michael Finkel is a star journalist, but in his enthusiasm he makes a mistake. A new story pops up when a man who allegedly murdered his family, used Finkels name during his flight.

Finkel goes to interview Christian Longo in his cell. The latter proves to be a fan and the interviews give Finkel the impression that a great book could be the result. He does not really have the support of the public, who want to see the man who murdered his family dead and are not interested in Longo’s side of the story.

As Longo’s story continues, it becomes less clear if he really did it and Finkel starts to backtrack the events continuing to interview Longo receive his lengthy letters and writing the book.

“True Story” is an alright drama with some ‘court thriller’ elements as was popular in the 1990’ies.

Godless (series) (2017)

Not entirely what I expected. “Godless” is a Netflix series, or mini series perhaps, as there are only seven episodes. It is ‘but’ a Western.

Basically there are two stories. There is a small town of La Belle which in the 1880’ies USA lost almost all their men in an accident in the local mine.

Then we have a group of lawless men who are looking for one of them who escaped with their money. The escaped man of course ends up in La Belle.

The lawless men are led by Frank Griffin who is magnificently played by Jeff Daniels. In spite of Daniels’ friendly face, he manages to set Griffin as a scary maniac.

The series are slow paced, have some cold humour, romance and tension. Not bad at all, but as I said, it is mostly ‘but’ a Western.

Shimmer Lake – Oren Uziel (2017)

I saw this film last weekend and apparently forgot to review it. I do not remember much of it, which is probably a bad sign.

Both the Netflix announcement and IMDb immediately tell you that the film is told backwards. How inventive! Watching “Memento” (2000) for the first time, it is a lot more fun when you do not know the clue.

That said, some not too bright hillbillies think it is a good idea to rob the local bank. Of course everybody knows everybody in the small community, so it is not exactly difficult to figure things out. Just one character’s part in the whole scheme is somewhat elusive.

The film has a few descent jokes and amusing situations, but I do not remember many details, so I guess it was just alright.

In The Shadow Of The Moon – Jim Mickle (2019)

And again a not too good Netflix film.

Two policemen go after a mysterious killer. When the job is done, the killer proves to be able to return again and again. Having put his teeth in the case, investigator Locke thinks to have found a way to stop the killings.

So far the film is an alright thriller with some action. Towards the end the director felt the need to explain the story and put some drama in it, the result of which is pretty annoying.

Not bad, but certainly not very good. You better do not know too much of the story, otherwise the film will be even less interesting.

Bokeh – Geoffrey Orthwein (2017)

This weak drama is mostly an advertorial for Iceland.

A young couple goes to see Iceland. One morning they wake up and everybody is gone. They start to go around the island tossed between panic and a sense of freedom.

The story and the drama do not really work out well. The directors mostly use the situation to display Iceland’s beauty. Recognisable when you have been there, but when you know the spots where scenes are shot, the story is even more unlikely, since the couple seems to be in Reykjavik and the other end of the island on the same day sometimes.

Nothing much to say about the story. The film is a drama growing heavier as the despair grows, but when you want to see some of Iceland’s highlights, you could consider watching “Bokeh”.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – David Slade (2018)

1984. The gaming business is on the verge of exploding. Stefan Butler is working on turning the interactive adventure book Bandersnatch into a game.

In the book, the reader is presented options which make on which page (s)he continues reading. Thus Butler is making a game with the same options. Typing commands has been done before, he just gives two option to choose from using the joystick.

The film is made the same way. When you go along you have to choose what to eat for breakfast, to drown the computer or smash it, etc. thus giving an alternative turn to the story.

The first time I navigated myself to an end within the hour. The second time I noticed that most other options are just small loops back, but there are so many loops that I started going in circles, so at one point I just turned it off without trying to find out any of the alternative endings (which I somewhat doubt there are (m)any).

Nicely thought off, but it makes a fairly dull film with only here and there an amusing twist/loop.

Glass – M. Night Shyamalan (2019)

Shyamalan is not exactly one of my favourite directors, but “Glass” has Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, so I gave it a go. Unfortunately my idea about Shyamalan is supported. “Glass” is quite a terrible film…

The director tried to make a balance between comic and reality. We start with the super-hero and super-villain who both are ‘just above human’. They are apprehended and treated for their condition.

The facility houses three people who think they are super-human comic actors which they cannot be and later of course they appear they can. Some ‘comic logic’ gives the film an annoyingly explanatory feel, so much even that it is actually a drama.

Willis and Jackson do not make the film any more interesting. Acting-wise some praise has to be given to James McAvoy though. His character houses 24 personalities which switch every few seconds.

I am afraid that I can make much more of this film but: boring. I did sit it out, so it was not awful.