Another ‘whodunnit’ playing in past times on Netflix. A West Point cadet is found dead and nearby detective (played by Christian Bale) is asked to look into the matter.
In a bit of a ‘gothic horror’ style typical murder investigation, the viewer is tossed between suspects and solutions, of course leading towards an unexpected conclusion.
Did the cadet kill himself or was he murdered? What lurks below the surface on this fine academy? In a slow pace and moody, grey images, Cooper introduces and works out different characters, not in the last place Augustus Landor himself.
A nice surprise. When I picked the film, I did not release Anya Taylor-Joy was in it, so actually there are two nice surprises. I will come back to the first one.
We follow the young Eloise who lives on the country side with her grandmother. She wants to study fashion design in London and is indeed elected to do so. She first moves into a student apartment building, but cannot get used to student living, so she quietly moves to the attic of an old lady.
There is a strange mixture between Eloise and another girl (who is played by Taylor-Joy). Eloise is a bit shy, but wants to move on in the world, Sandie is more of a vamp who knows what she wants and how to get it. Or so she thinks.
The first nice surprise is that the stories of both young women are surrealistically intermingled. Is Eloise dreaming? Does she imagine herself to be Sandie? Or are we watching two different stories, but mixed together in montage? The result is a nicely vague film in which it is unclear how things are until the end. That end on its turn is fairly weak, but for the larger part, the film is certainly worth a watch.
The new supposed-to-be-hype of Amazon is quite unimpressive. The 6.9 on IMdB.com is perhaps not a low rating, but it is hardly a new Games of Thrones.
Speaking of GoT, these new series are supposed to be a prequel to the famous Tolkien stories, but it seems that an attempt was made to create a political war epic in the style of GoT. In my opinion, these series do not really come out very strong either as a Tolkien story or a GoT spectacle.
There are a few interlinked stories. We have the facial expressiveless elf Galadriel who has spent her long life hunting Sauron and his kin. She lands in the land of man and teams up to continue her struggle.
Another Elf, Elrond, tries to use his friendship with a dwarf to prevent his race from going extinct.
Then we have another kind of little people who are visited by a mysterious giant. And of course there are orks, otherwise there would be no battle scenes.
The characters are fairly flat, the stories not very exiting, there are continuous attempts to stretch scenes to enlarge drama. Like I said, it seems that the creators could not choose between Tolkien and GoT and falls somewhat flat somewhere in the middle.
It is not like the eight episodes are completely boring, but I have big doubts that I am going to watch season 2 should it come.
A bit of a weird film (can I say “arthouse”?) apparently based on a Navajo story. A beautiful valley is inhabited by ‘Amerindians’. It is their valley of the Gods. Nearby is an encroaching city where industrialists have their eyes on some mineral that can be found in the valley. The main company with interest is headed by the wealthiest man on earth who lives on top of a nearby mountain.
John Ecas is a writer with not too much inspiration. Then the project of a biography of this wealthy man (Wes Tauros, played by John Malkovich) comes up, for which he is going to spend some time in Tauros’ castle.
Tauros is not the dogged materialist that you may expect and Ecas also wants to look at the Navajo’s side of the story. Thus a mix between Navajo mythology and utopian/dystopian future Western culture unfolds both in the story and in the way of filming.
The highly intelligent Beth Harmon has a troubled mother that first causes her to lose her father and later her mother as well. She ends up in an orphanage at the age of nine. In the basement she encounters the janitor playing chess. Reluctantly he teaches her the game. Beth proves to be a prodigy and her chess-star soon rises.
By the time Beth becomes a young woman, she is played by the beautiful Anya Taylor-Joy.
We follow Beth both as a growing chess player, but also as a young woman coming of age. Sensitive to the temptations of drugs and alcohol, perfectionist, single minded and a bad loser. In the series we see Beth in good and bad times, Taylor-Joy wonderfully portraying Beth’s ups and downs.
Of course the game of chess is central to the series, but I do not know if you will learn much of the game. The plays are extraordinary fast and theories are explained, but my own knowledge of the game are too limited to tell if all that is very educational. The series are set in the wonderful 1960s with colourful wallpaper and furniture, design dresses, odd haircuts, nice cars and new music.
According to the series, the ‘chess scene’ in the USA is of alright level. Beth can make a living playing chess, but the biggest US tournaments are played in universities using “cheap plastic pieces on cheap plastic boards”. Europe is better, bigger tournaments are in Paris. Russia is the top-notch chess country, so the series end in Moskou.
Taylor-Joy is indeed great (she won several prices for her role), other characters (such as Jolene) as well. The creators managed to make chess games actually look tense with a lot of ‘facial acting’. The story unfolds nicely. Indeed a good series that for some reason are listed as “Creating the Queen’s Gambit” on IMdB.com.
This dystopian action scifi reminds a bit of the old Mad Max movies. Mankind managed to almost wipe itself out. It partly hides behind a wall that keeps the virus infected Scotland from saved England. Then it proves that on the other side of the wall, people still live.
There in Scotland a survival of the fittest took place resulting in punk-like gangs not unlike the wild bunch in Mad Max. Of course a person with ties to both camps has to go to the enemy camp to get something and she is tossed between both sides.
“Doomsday” is perhaps not a great, but a pretty amusing film for when you feel like scifi dystopia.
Before she lost her husband, the wealthy widow Edith Pretty bought a piece of land next to her house where a few tiny hills were located. She asks the local and fairly well-known amateur archaeologist Basil Brown to come to investigate.
After some digging, Brown stumbled upon what appears to be the remains of a boat which he suggests could be Anglo-Saxon. Soon colleagues get wind of the discovery and two musea try to take over the project. Pretty sees to it that Brown remains involved in the further excavation which proves to be the finding of the nowadays famous Sutton Hoo ship and treasure.
The time is 1938. Europe is tumbling into the Second World War. Time for the excavation is short the signs of the war become more and more obvious. Pretty suffers from bad health, but tries to use her influence as long as possible. In the end, she cannot prevent other people than Brown receiving the credits for the spectacular finding and the film is an hommage to the man and his work.
“The Dig” is an alright drama about an interesting historical event. As a viewer you do not really become much wiser about the finding and especially not of the ‘treasure’. No image of what was found and what the findings look like.
It took me a while before I watched season 3. 2 Was not too great, it took a while before 3 got out and then I couldn’t find a version with subtitles. I ended up joining Amazon Prime to watch this.
This time there are 10 episodes rather than eight, but again the series end with a massive cliffhanger. Mr. Wednesday is still amusing and still gathering old Gods to wage war against the new. At the same time he gets in trouble with some of the other old Gods (very close too) and gets on better terms with some other.
Nothing much happens. Shadow Moon (this time with hair) ends up in a small village in the cold North. His dead wife is no longer dead. We meet some old and new Gods and other spiritual beings which are sometimes new to me in general. There are some strange scenes in season 3, but not as psychedelic as towards the end of 2.
I like the subtle references to mythology, while other elements are a bit overdone.
The follow-up was a preview before “Woman King“, which made me somewhat curious about the film. “Black Panther” holds the middle between adventure, science-fiction and superhero action.
The imaginary African state of Wakanda is built on a vibranium mine. Vibranium is an odd substance that came with a comet and allows the inhabitents of Wakanda extremely high-tech sollutions; hence the sci-fi elements. The Wandians have super-cars, super-suits and super-weapons which gives the film the superhero elements. The movie is indeed based on a comic.
A piece of vibranium that was kept in a museum outside Wakandu was stolen and the Wakandians set out to retrieve it and to prevent the powers of vibranium falling in the wrong hands.
“Black Panther” is a bit of a ‘blacksploitation’ with mostly black actors (the white ones are the villains). Besides all the sci-fi and spectacle, there are also ‘African elements’ which bring the ‘adventure’ elements that are somewhat out of place. This is exactly what makes the film somewhat atypical which is not a bad thing.
All in all not a masterpiece, but an enjoyable sci-fi, superhero action.