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Sound Of Metal – Darius Marder (2019)

  • drama

Ruben and Lou are a couple who also form a band. “Heavy metal” according to the blurb, but I would rather call it “noise rock”. Ruben plays drums, his girlfriend guitar and vocals, a bit in the “nowave” style.

Ruben notices dips in his hearing and they become worse. While touring in their massive camper (RV) Ruben leaves Lou out of his decision to see a doctor. He hears nothing of what the good man says, except that there is a very costly operation that involves implants.

Things get worse and Ruben can no longer leave out Lou. With the help of their manager, Lou ends up in a community of deaf people which aims as accepting the situation (and teaching basic things such as sign language) and not at the problem. This works alright for a while, but Ruben keeps seeing his condition as something that can be, and has to be, fixed.

“Sound Of Metal” is an alright drama which shows a bit of the side of people with hearing impairment. Muffled sounds, no sound at all, sudden spikes, people chatting at a table without being able to make anything from the conversations.

Once Upon A Time In America – Sergio Leone (1984)

Trying to find good films on Netflix, I found an IMDb list with high rated films on Netflix. Of course not all of those are available on Netflix in my country. Also of course, this mostly concerns ‘classics’ and that is exactly what “Once Upon…” is.

In a massive length of almost four hours, the story is told of a group of Jewish criminals in New York who work themselves up from petty criminals to big maffia shots. From the start the group had competition and in this line of ‘work’, competition is a treat.

In a slow pace with quite a cast, Leone tells the story while jumping back and forth in time. The film begins with a violent settlement of business. In the following hours we learn about “Noodles” (Robert de Niro), Max (James Woods), their buddies and their foes.

Of course something happened that triggered the violence, but things are not as they initially seem. Having to come back at the events of 35 years ago, the actual story slowly unfolds for the viewer.

“Once Upon A Time In America” is a descent maffia drama with a few violent outbursts.

Knightfall (series) – Handfield & Rayner (2017-2019)

The story of the Knights Templar in a somewhat historical manner.

We mostly follow Landry who quite against his own will, becomes the master Templar of the Paris temple when his predecessor dies. The first season is mostly about Landry looking for the Holy Grail that the Templars lost during a lost battle at Akko in 1291. During that battle the grail was lost, but it appears to have resurfaced in France.

Landry is a friend to the King of France (Philip IV 1268-1314), but also the lover the the king’s wife (Joan I of Navarre (1273-1305) which is basically the start of a lot of problems.

In spite of the lost battle of Akko, the Templar Knights thrive under the protection of the Pope and the King of France, but raptures start to appear in the relationship. First, the King of France is after the Grail as well, thinking it would increase his power. To obtain that power, he first sets up the Pope (Boniface III 1230-1303) against the Templar Knights and then even replaces the Pope with Clement V (1264-1314). Both Popes, especially the former, have their own agendas of course.

The series make a drama with love, drama, brotherhood, honour, fighting and battle scenes and a lot of intrigue. Here and there there are historical elements, but do not see the series as a history lesson.

Of course the Templar Knights eventually loose their organisation and their lives, but not without a fight.

Not boring, but not great either.

The Life Of David Gale – Alan Parker (2003)

  • drama

Just as other Parker films, “The Life Of David Gale” is a fairly ‘normal’ (as in big audience TV movie) but good film.

David Gale (Kevin Spacey) from the title is a lauded philosophy professor who is also an activist against the death penalty. Two major incidents turn his life into a nightmare. First he is accused of sexually abusing one of his students. Later he is accused of murder. Gale ends up on death row himself.

Days before his execution, Gale asks for the young reporter Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet) for an interview about his life. Of course during the three days with two hour interviews all kinds of old and new information turns up and Bloom and her colleague investigate things further. Is Gale innocent?

The story has a few twists and turns which are sometimes well done, sometimes a bit predictable. All in all the film is a descent “whodunnit” drama.

The Matrix Resurrections – Lana Wachowski (2021)

The fourth Matrix is both ‘more of the same’ and some elements have been added and left out. Lana Wachowski made some sort of rewind of the earlier films with scenes that are almost exactly alike and with flashbacks. In general, the first part of “Resurrections” is a bit of a summery of the first film and a bit of the next two.

Thomas Andersson is a celebrated, yet plagued game designer who has had episodes of not being able to distinguish reality from game. So the first three Matrix films are now seen as classic games that sprang from the mind of Andersson.

The company he works for picks up the idea for a fourth part so Wachowski could make some jokes about money and franchise. Of course this is also the step up to Andersson wondering what is real and what is not. Basically the story of the previous films in a slightly updated form.

As we got used to, we have the film playing within and without the matrix and Wachowski has brought back a whole lot of the original actors. Some characters are played by new actors though and the story was adjusted accordingly. The familiar actors bring some amusing scenes.

As you can see in the poster, Trinity apparently did not die in part three and the film is mostly about Neo again trying to find her. Naturally for this he has to find old and new enemies and he encounters new and old people on his side.

“Resurrections” is not the shoot-out that number two was. There is some action here and there which does not look as groundbreaking as in the original films in their time. As I said, there are a few new elements. Also there is a new twist to the whole matrix theme, but do not expect huge surprises.

“Resurrections” is an amusing film, but I do not think it will be anywhere near the classic the original film still is.

Yakuza And The Family – Michihito Fujii (2020)

  • crime

Available on Netflix as “A Family”. It is a very descent, Japanese maffia film.

Kenji is a bit of a petty criminal who by some accident stumbles into one of the two maffia families in his home town after his father dies. The father of that family becomes a surrogate father for Kenji.

The film jumps through Kenji’s life in big strides. We see him as a young man, showing how he became part of the Yakuza. Years later an incident has him put in jail for 14 years and then we jump to the time he got out. The world has changed drastically and being connected to the maffia is no longer prestige, but a massive stain on a person.

The film goes from a bit of a crime thriller towards a drama which is also how the feeling of the story itself develops.

As I said, the film is very descent. Nice peeks into Japanese (criminal) culture, good atmosphere, great camera work. I will have to see what other films Fujii has available.

Paris Window – Amanda Kramer (2018)

Minimalist, slow, weird. Often descriptions of films that I like. I am afraid I cannot say the same for “Paris Window”.

Julian and Sunny are a brother and sister who share a tiny apartment and are a wee bit closer than is ‘healthy’ for siblings. Also they are a little weird. Sunny appears to have to come across and a low IQ girl, but Sophie Kargman does not really manage to get that across. It looks more like somebody making funny faces.

This is quite contrary to Noel Taylor playing Julian. Julian is a way too intelligent, but extremely awkward and paranoid person who never leaves the house. He is obsessed by some sort of self-help hypnosis TV show which forms the constant soundtrack of the film.

“Paris Window” is surrealistic, does not have much of a story and we mostly follow two strange persons. The harmony is disturbed when Sunny meets another person and she grows apart from her brother.

As I said, the film is minimalist, slow and weird, but not in a way that I like. I actually found the film pretty boring and unconvincing. The risk of experimental film I guess.

Freaks Out – Gabriele Mainetti (2021)

We follow a few people with ‘special abilities’ who work at an Italian circus. Then the Nazis take over the country and things do not go entirely as planned. A bunch of them gets separated from the leader of their circus and decide to go and find another local circus looking for a new occupation.

We have a hairy man, a young man who can direct insects, a magnetic man and an electric girl. During their walks through occupied Rome they encounter German razzias, but mostly have quirky adventures and encounters. “Freaks Out” reminds a bit of the work of Jean Pierre Jeunet.

The film is amusing, but do not take too much notice of the historical elements in the story. As the film continues, the focus starts to go to one character in particular who has much bigger ‘super powers’ than the rest.

A nice one when you feel like something light-footed (but not too much) odd.

Inexorable – Fabrice du Welz (2021)

Because of the great “Calvaire” (2004) I still associate the name of Du Welz with dark and weird movies. That is certainly not something I can say about “Inexorable”…

The famous writer Marcel and his wife and publisher Jeanne move in to the massive estate of Jeanne’s recently deceased father who was a successful publisher of books. The day they move in, they meet the young woman Gloria.

Gloria proves to be a fan and obviously tries to work herself into the family. Can you guess too how the film will evolve?

With no surprises “Inexorable” unrolls its story with here and there some tension.

Prisoners – Denis Villeneuve (2013)

I am afraid that once more I have to disagree with the majority on a Villeneuve. “Prisoners” currently has an 8.1 rating on IMDb.com. I have to say: not by far…

In a small American town two little girls disappear while playing outside when their parents have a mutual Thanksgiving. After some searching the police is called in and soon there is a suspect. Detective Loki is not 100% sure, but his boss even less so, so the suspect is set free.

One of the fathers sets out for his own investigations, but he is a wee bit too fanatical.

Of course there have to be some new suspects every now and then (one practically drops out of the sky and disappears again) all to work towards the grand reveal which is a bit… uninteresting.

The film has an alright atmosphere, a bit of a thriller/drama, but I really cannot say that it is very good.