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The Gray Man – Anthony & Joe Russo (2022)

  • action

So that he would not be remembered for playing in slow action films, Ryan Gosling plays in a fast one.

In a typical story undercover agent Six has to retrieve a single object that apparently can cause world destruction. Of course his boss turns against him (or the other way around), so not only the enemy, but also his own organisation hunts him down. Unsurprisingly, Six turns out to be an uncatchable one man army.

In spite of the unoriginal and predictable story, “The Gray Man” is a descent over-the-top action film with a lot of fighting and shooting and not to forget Ana de Armas as Dani and Billy Bob Thornton as the bad guy.

Gypsy (series) – Lisa Rubin (2017)

The ever beautiful Naomi Watts (1968-) plays Jean Holloway, a therapist who has ‘it all’ in life. She is married to a loving lawyer husband. The couple has a big house, a kid, etc. Yet, Jean seems to long for a little adventure in her life.

She starts to look at the other sides of her patients’ stories. One woman keeps talking about her daughter, so Jean sets out to meet her. The same with the ex girlfriend of another patient. Jean also manipulates her reports for work and as her indiscretions start to conflict with her ‘perfect life’, she starts lying to colleagues, husband and friends.

Rubin turned the story into a quite intimate look into the life of Jean. Bathroom shots, her getting ready to go out, masturbating to a fantasy, Watts pulls it all off wonderfully.

Then there is the story to which I think many people can relate. Life can be ‘perfect’, but perfect is also boring. Jean starts to lead two lives. In one she is a reckless woman pushing her boundaries. In the other she tries to be the good wife, mother, friend and colleague. Of course these two worlds cannot remain entirely separate.

The whole series the question lingers: why would she risk her life for fairly flat adventure? The answer is simple: she does not know. Do we always know why we like the things we like, do the things we do? Do we have to rationalise everything? Perhaps Jean should have started doing that at some point.

In any case, “Gypsy” (I have no idea what the title alludes to) is a descent drama series of 10 episodes about fairly day-to-day events and with a wee bit of thriller elements.

The Brothers Grimm – Terry Gilliam (2005)

A couple of weeks ago I visited “Grimmwelt” (Grimm world, a museum dedicated to the brothers Grimm) in Kassel (Germany). There was a movie which was a compilation of fairy tales and I saw a scene with Monica Beluchi that this not look familiar. Then Netflix started to recommend this film. Nifty algorithms!

I do wonder -though- how I missed a Gilliam film. Perhaps I expected it to be too childish?

Just as the museum, the main focus of the film lays on the fairly tales that people remember the Grimm brothers for. But, just as in the museum, you also see some other sides of the brothers. In the museum more seriously so of course.

Not unexpectedly, but the story of the film is not very historical. The famous brothers do indeed collect stories, but they reenact them in order to make money out of them. Then they are led to a haunted forest where things are more real than they expected.

Gilliam wove different fairy tales into the story. Of course there is some humour and romance, but the film is not was weird as Gilliam can get.

Alright, but nothing more than that.

The 355 – Simon Kinberg (2022)

  • action

A female version of “The Expendables”? Nah, the ladies in “The 355” are not that old. But it sure is some sort of women actor reunion action film.

In a typical 007 actionfilm story, a group of bad guys has bad plans with the world and some secret service heroes are going to prevent that. Working for different secret services and innocent bystanders form a team to prevent the sale of a device that can disrupt the entire world.

The film is fairly amusing. Pretty women, action, chasing scenes, just your alright action film and certainly not boring.

Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay (2021)

Listed as ‘comedy’, “Don’t Look Up” has a dead serious message. Student Kate Dibiasky discovers a massive meteorite that is heading straight to earth. The result of the crash will be catastrophic. Together with her professor Randall Mindy, Kate tries to convince the world that the earth has but six more months to live.

The American president finds the timing off. There are elections coming up, so there is no time for bad news. Dibiasky and Mindy decide to use the media. News has so be light, funny and empty, so their message falls dead to the ground; it did not generate enough ‘internet points’.

Slowly but surely the two manage to change the tide and the American president decides to take action. An attempt is made to blow the meteorite out of its course. Then commerce sets in. There is actually money to be made by this meteorite, so let us not blow it up.

Meanwhile the larger audience starts to be divided between people who ‘believe’ in the meteorite and those who do not. It is all fake news of a few rich people who want to take away our freedom after all.

The film has quite a cast. Leonardo Di Caprio, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchet, Ron Perlman, Ariane Grande. The link to the climate crisis is obvious. Is the ‘high end cast’ to try to get the point across? Surely that will fail. We are too much like the people in the movie.

Spiderhead – Joseph Kosinski (2022)

I did not have high expectations of this film, but it is even worse than I expected.

Prisoners can opt to be be transferred to a facility where drugs are tested. This facility has more freedom than state prison. The facility is headed by “Abnesti”. Test subjects have some sort of module on their backs which are used to administer drugs that induce love (or actually: lust), hunger, fear or whatever. Abnesti uses these tests to make a drug that will rid the world off hatred and anxiety. Or so he says.

We mostly follow prisoner Jeff who is subjected to different tests but -of course- sees through the immorality of the system and looks for a way to rebel.

Boooooring.

Crimes Of The Future – David Cronenberg (2022)

Many decades ago Cronenberg saw the line “crimes of the future” used as an unwritten poem in a movie and thought ‘that is a movie I am going to make’. He did so in 1970. It is said that also “Existenz” (2009) originally also has this as the working title. In 2022 Cronenberg (who is almost 80 years old) made his second (or third) “Crimes Of The Future”.

It is quite a classic Cronenberg. More of the “body horror” kind than “Maps To The Stars” (2014) and “Cosmopolis” (2012). It actually reminds somewhat of “Exitenz” even though Cronenberg says the two or three “Crimes Of The Future” have nothing to do with each other.

We find ourselves again in a dystopian future. The human body appears to be rather devolving than evolving. People no longer experience pain and some people even grow new and useless (and fatal?) organs. Then there are those who have turned the public removal of these new organs into “body art”. So we find ourselves following Saul Tenser and his sensual assistent Caprice.

Cronenberg would not have been Cronenberg did he not explicitly portray deformed bodies, surgery, weird organ-like machines and of course, sex. This time “surgery is the new sex”.

You get it: dark, weird, disturbing, uneasy. In short: Cronenberg.

“Crimes Of The Future” may not be his best, but if you like the dark side of this director, do not miss out on his latest.

The Adam Project – Shawn Levy (2022)

Despite being a Netflix original. Despite being somewhat ‘kiddy’. Besides being a comedy of sorts, “The Adam Project” was actually somewhat amusing. Or was it because I had not seen a film in a few weeks?

Adam from the title escapes from the 2050’ies to 2022. His aim was actually four years earlier. In 2022 he runs into his younger self and the two Adams are going to try to prevent time-travelling from being invented. Of course the future Adam has some adversaries that try to stop his efforts.

The film has a few original elements to the often filmed time travelling concept. The obligatory jokes are sometimes funny, sometimes less so, but overall not too annoying. There is some action and special effects making a film that is probably aimed at adolescents. Perhaps even a bit younger.

As said, the film is not that bad.

Archive 81 (series) – Rebecca Sonnenshine (2022)

My girlfriend read something about these new Netflix series. When I heard about involvement of the “Saw” crew, my interest dropped even further than after the initial comment that it is a horror series. But we did watch it.

In eight episodes we follow the story of Dan who restores video material. He is assigned to a job to restore material that survived the fire in an appartement building. For that job he is transferred to a remote building. So, video, a comparison to “Ringu” a remote building and a reference to “The Shining” and did somebody say “Blair Witch Project“? We all know where this is going to. Or do we?

During his restoration work, Dan becomes acquainted with Melody, a film student who goes to an appartement building to make a documentary about its inhabitants. These inhabitants are said to be a close knit group. This is pretty clear from the beginning.

Melody is actually looking for her mother and while poking around in the building and the people who live there, something uncanny starts to rise to the surface. We follow the story by Melody’s film material and Dan watching it all with a friend as backup to find background information.

As we continue, everything seems to be connected in some odd way. Dan did not get the job by accident. The material did not pop up many years after the fire by accident. The fire in the building was not an accident.

The series have an alright atmosphere. It is by far not as scary as some want us to believe. The story is worked out fairly well. The last episode is somewhat weak.

In my opinion not the instant classic that some people make of it, just an alright thriller series with some horror elements.

Big Bug – Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2022)

Jeunet made another weird and wonderful film, this time for Netflix. As more often with Jeunet, “Big Bug” plays in the future. Not a dark and bleak future, but a bright and colourful future this time.

Contrary to most of his previous films, there are but a few of his go-to actors in this Jeunet. Dominque Pinon is only on screen a split second and François Levantal has a big part, but he only appears in one other Jeunet.

In a not too far future, mankind makes greater use of technology as it does today. Jeunet came up with some amusing concepts. Some sort of little drone that can locate things that have been misplaced, a flying Citroen DS, a talking vacuum cleaner and a robot housemaid. Of course all if very secure.

For different reasons, a group of people are in the villa of the sensual Alice when the robots apparently decided to take over. They cripple mankind by creating a massive traffic jam and then local systems lock people inside their houses because the level of danger is too high outside.

In Alice’s house are some ‘vintage’ robots not connected to the main Yonyx system so not robots are immediately hostile. They are of not much help either, since they do have protocols to follow. The robots have meetings to try to find a way for the people to like them better, so they start to read books, download humour and compassion. You get it, Jeunet has stuffed his film with hilarious situations and odd findings. Laughing robots, a vacuum cleaner trying to seduce his mistress. All things you can safely to Jeunet.

The result is very amusing. “Big Bug” may not be Jeunet’s best, but it certainly is a great watch and much better than most (any?) Netflix-original that I saw so far.