The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty – Ben Stiller (2013)

The film has been on my ‘to watch list’ for quite a while. Not too high up, so it took some time before I did watch it. The film is exactly the quirky romantic tragic comedy that I thought it would be and a nice one too.

Walter Mitty is shown as the most boring of boring men in the first scenes of the film. Dreary hallways in his apartment building, a job in the dusty basement of Life Magazine. Walter is also a daydreamer. His body can go into ‘pause mode’ while he travels to imaginary lands in imaginary situations. This often to the astonishment and amusement of for example colleagues.

Life Magazine is going through the transformation of a printed periodical to an online magazine which -of course- means cuts and redundancies. Their star photographer just sent his latest shots and included a letter that photo number 25 is his best ever and deserves a place on the cover. There is one problem: just that photo negative misses from the shipment. Walter is pressured into finding it.

Where the film slowly becomes more and more surrealistic when we watch in Walter’s head, his locating of the photo negative brings him a real adventure (or does it?). He travels to Greenland, then to Iceland (and eats in a restaurant that I visited too) and back to work to find out that the elusive photographer that he is after has visited his mother which leads Walter to the Himalayas for his next clue.

At the same time Walter gets in contact with a colleague that he likes and he proves to have had a somewhat rebellious youth. The grey mouse is not as grey as he seemed to be in the first place.

“The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty” is a nice, funny and slightly weird film to watch some time when you feel like watching something light.

The Most Hated Woman In America – Tommy O’Haver (2017)

  • drama

Madelyn Murray O’Hair (1919-1995) lived in Texas, one of the most conservative states of the USA. She not only was an unmarried mother, but she was very vocal in her ideas that religion should not be measure of society. When she noticed that her son has so say the Lord’s Prayer every morning, she sues the school and wins. The obligatory prayers are gone.

Madelyn finds other things to sail out against. Being foul mouthed, direct and vocal as she is, she made a lot of enemies. This even led to threats and murder attempts. Being a public atheist she also draws attention of the media and Madelyn starts to become famous and draw attention of people who agree with her who start to send donations. Madelyn founds the American Atheists association which increases attention and funds.

Opposers keep trying to find ways thwart her efforts. At the same time, her uncompromising person starts to place a burden on people around her. Then there are those who know about Madelyns creative bookkeeping and decide to squeeze some money out of her.

The film is mostly a drama with a lot of black humour. It is amusing, especially when you realise that it is based on true events.

Ji Hun – Wei-Hao Cheng (2021)

“The Soul” starts as a decent Eastern occultic thriller. A man is found ritually clubbed to death and the police investigates if the circumstances are perhaps not as easy at they initially seem. Just before the film is halfway, this story is pretty much unfolded, so I wondered would the other half would be.

Well, the movie takes an annoyingly dramatic turn in which the persecutor suffers from cancer and his case may bring a solution to his problem. Also this is not as easy as it seems and the film gets more and more melodramatic and less and less interesting. As a matter of fact, this second half is downright corny.

So we have an alright first half, a terrible second half and in total, I would not recommend you watching this film.

Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach (2019)

  • drama

So on Netflix I saw a friendly looking Adam “Kylo Ren” Driver and when I clicked on movie info, the names Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern appeared as well. I added it to my list for when I wanted to watch something different. I expected “Marriage Story” to be some sort of romantic comedy. Not my genre at all. but I have to think out of the box every now and then do I not?

Driver (Charlie) and Johansson (Nicole) are married. He is a director of plays, she an actor, working at the same productions. The film starts with Nicole having second thoughts about the marriage and making plans to end it. Charlie does not see it coming and is confronted with a situation he never wanted to be in. Both want to separate as friends, but different expectations do not make things easy. When the legal part of the separation sets in, things get nasty.

Johansson reminds me a bit of Frances McDormand, her character is somewhat goofy. I do not think I saw many films with Driver, but he appears to be a good actor. As expected, “Marriage Story” is not my kind of film though. It is dramatic, pretty much probably shows the situation of many in real life. There is an alright sense of humour in the film and Laura Dern is great to watch, but overall I would not have minded not having seen the film.

Arq – Tony Elliott (2016)

It may be better not to know, but all information about the film gives it away anyway, but the story of “ARQ” is somewhat similar to that of “Edge Of Tomorrow“.

In some future the air is polluted and energy scarce. Renton used to work for a big and influential company and built a machine which charges itself, so it is a perpetual energy source. He left his job, but his former employer wants (the blueprints) of his machine. Other groups do too.

The “Edge Of Tomorrow” story is worked out nicely. More and more people involved in the events start to realize what is going on and act accordingly. Of course the story has some twists and turns and a bit of humor.

An alright Netflix film.

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.

Terminator: Dark Fate – Tim Miller (2019)

“Dark Fate” was as much fun as “Genisys“. As you can see on the cover, two characters of the original films return. The film opens with a scene from decades past in which Sarah Connor (still played by Linda Hamilton) predicts doomsday. Well actually, the doomsday that Connor predicted never happened, as Conner and her son prevented it.

That did not help prevent developing a future that still has problems with the past, so in a familiar story, both a terminator and a protector are sent back in time to terminate and protect the mother of a rebel-to-be.

So we find Dani in the same place as Grace Connor in the old days, protected by a half-woman and hunted by an extremely advanced terminator. That terminator is quite like the one in “Judgement Day” (1991), made of liquid metal that just folds back when you shoot it. A new element is that this terminator can connect to computer networks, which makes it easier for him to find his target.

We have the usual spectacular chasing scenes with shootings and explosions, shape-shifting robots and indestructible machines fighting indestructible machines. It takes a while before Schwarzenegger joins the scene. As in “Genisys” he is older, but he is as cool as he ever was and he makes the best joke I have seen in a film for quite some time claiming that he is extremely funny.

Connor and T-800 reluctantly team up trying to protect Dani while Rev-9 demolishes everything and everyone he encounters in his chase.

The many references back to the old films make “Dark Fate” an extra fun watch. There is action, a gloomy atmosphere, everybody is cool and everything looks good.

Sure a fun watch. Just as “Genisys”. Now I really feel like watching the 2003 and 2009 films as well.

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 Umbrella Academy (series, season 1+2) – Blackman & Slater (2019/20)

I expected this Netflix series to be a quirky comedy. In a way it is, but it also has many elements of the popular overly violent action and superpower heroes.

On the same day, all over the world, children are born which were not conceived. These children all prove to have some sort of power and a millionaire adopts seven of these children and trains them to be a group of heroes solving the world’s problems.

By the time we meet the characters the father has passed and the adoptive brothers and sisters return after having been scattered over the globe.

In the first season one brother comes back from the future and tries to convince his siblings that they have to prevent a forthcoming apocalypse that he had already experienced. Other people from the future try to prevent “five” from achieving his goal and is slowly becomes clear how things came about.

In the second season the family has travelled back to 1963 allowing the creators to portray the characters that we know by now with different looks. A not uncommon trick nowadays. The apocalypse has travelled back in time with the “umbrella academy”, so they have to once more try to prevent is.

The series indeed are somewhat quirky. It has a talking monkey, a stern dad, a sexy “handler” with an odd sense of humour, black and violent humour, a fish with a human body, etc. Every episode has a few things to laugh and the story is somewhat interesting.

“The Umbrella Academy” is an alright series. Season 3 is already announced. It is not high up my list, but perhaps I will watch it again some time.

Anna – Luc Besson (2019)

  • action

The Russian Anna has a tough life when she gets recruited (quite forcibly) by the secret service. After a year of training, she is appointed some heavy job after some even heavier tests.

Here we have the basis of a film with a pretty woman in an action film. The trailer shows some over the top action, but not the entire film is like that.

Being a spy film, “Anna” has a story with espionage, counter espionage, intrigue, etc. so it the side Anna works for switches all the time. Anna apparently tries to play out her employers against each other to get out of a life that she does not really want.

The film fairly violent with, as said, some over the top action and descent story.