The Wolf Of Snow Hollow – Jim Cummings (2020)

So is this what a contemporary horror comedy is like? In Fargo-like settings, a remote and snowy village, we follow the whereabouts of the conveniently named family Marshall. John (played by the director) is the sheriff. His predecessor is his father. John has a tough private life with a demanding ex-wife and an adolescent daughter. The comedy of the film is mostly people bickering.

Then a brutal murder takes place in Snow Hollow. Very brutal. Maybe the film is not really horror per se, but the murders certainly add a horror element to the film. The theme is horror as well.

Balancing between screwball and Fargo-like black humour, Cummings tried to make a … horror comedy?

The film is alright.

Color Out of Space – Richard Stanley (2019)

  • horror

I had heard that this is a ‘love it or hate it’ film, but gave it a try nonetheless. Actually it is even more ‘difficult’ than that…

Nicholas Cage plays Nathan. Nathan and his family moved out of the big city into some upstate no-man’s-land. Nathan and his wife Theresa have two adolescent children and a younger one. Lavinia is a witch (Wicca), a somewhat sad storyline as it seems that Stanley did not investigate the subject enough. even though he tries to make it seem that he did. Then we have the nerdy Benny and the youngest Jack.

Some day a meteorite falls into the family’s garden and from then on things get weird. The story is based on a story of H.P. Lovecraft which explains a few things. Initially the garden gets an early spring, but then it seems that there is also something in the water with more negative effects. Slowly, the family members get madder and madder and the aliens / force gets weirder and weirder.

So, there is the (as mentioned) somewhat sad character of Lavinia, a fairly corny first half and the overly typical horror elements. As the film gets weirder, things get mildly interesting though. There are some truly weird findings, the color madness brings psychedelic scenes. Actually many things ‘around the acting’ are the most interesting.

Not really weird enough to be a weird film. Not typical enough to be a standard horror or thriller or scifi. “Color Out Of Space” hangs somewhere in the middle. Also ‘rating wise’.

Possessor – Brandon Cronenberg (2020)

Because of his excellent “Antiviral” (2012) I was pretty excited when I heard about Cronenberg junior’s latest film. It took a while before the release though and when I write this, there still seems to be no European release or even a date. So my copy came from the USA which apparently takes a month in shipping.

“Possessor” and by far not as good as “Antiviral”. It starts as a nice, moody movie, but the story is much less interesting as Cronenberg’s previous film and there is more focus on (horror) gore. Not the “body horror” of his old man and which could also be found in “Antiviral”, but bloody violence.

In some future everybody seems to have a brain implant. Some company uses these implants for contract killings. An agent is ‘transported’ to a victim who will commit the crime and die.

We mostly follow one such agent, Tasya, who has done this work for a while and who appears to have increasing problems with the work. Of course things do not go as planned in the last job and the victim is not entirely taken over.

“Possessor” is not your average film. It is dark, weird, the story is strange. You have to enjoy the weirder kind of film for “Possessor”. I think Cronenberg’s previous is a good compare even though this new film is (of course) much different. Like I said, it is also less good in my opinion. Since we do not often get films of this type, I still recommend “Possessor” if you also like the darker and weirder stuff.

Ad Astra – James Gray (2019)

A not too convincing sci-fi drama with Brad Pitt as almost sole actor.

In near future mankind has a base on the moon which they use to fly to other planets. Problems coming from Neptune appear to be caused by a mission to that area of many years ago. That mission was led by the father of Pitt’s character and star astronaute Pitt is sent there to see if he can fix the problem.

The film is slow and moody, but the story contains a couple of very illogical elements which take down the film a lot. Even the basic storyline is not too strong.

We mostly follow Roy McBride (Pitt). We hear his thoughts / doubts, follow him on his way to the moon, to Mars, to Neptune. Of course there is some tension and some drama.

The film is not boring, but it certainly is not great either.

Mank – David Fincher (2020)

  • drama

The title of this film refers to Herman Mankiewicz, a writer who starts to write for movies in the 1930’ies. Mankiewicz is played by Gary Oldman.

The film brings memories of Georges Clooney’s “Good Night, And Good Luck” (2005). Both are films playing in Hollywood where entertainment and politics are closer than one may imagine.

In the 1930’ies the political divide in Hollywood appears to have been between Communists and anti-Communists. People gather to talk about films, films of the competition, but also about politics.

In spite of his alcoholism, Mank has a keen observing eye. His writing skills make him a respected man in some regards, but in his drinking bouts he also swims against the tides of people close to him. The fact that he has to write a script in record-time just after having been involved in a car-crash complicates his situation. Apparently he decides to mix his script with current events, something that is not received with applaus.

“Mank” is an amusing film with subtle humour, nice characters, a nice 1930’ies setting and even a message of sorts.

The Midnight Sky – George Clooney (2020)

  • drama

Clooney directed another film with himself in the main part. This time he took a stab at the sci-fi genre. Well, “The Midnight Sky” is not a typical sci-fi. Just one of the two stories is.

In 2049 mankind has managed to kill the earth. In the opening scene people evacuate. We do not learn whereto, but later it becomes clear that the air has become so bad that mankind had to flee underground where it will be able to survive for a limited amount of time.

Clooney’s character works at some sort of observatory at the North Pole and since Augustine is a dying man, he decides to remain at his post to see if he can be of some use in his last weeks. It turns out he is not entirely alone though.

Because this disaster did not appear overnight, mankind has been looking for a place to move to in order to survive. A candidate is a moon of Jupiter. A mission has been sent to K23. So besides Augustine, the film follows the small crew of a ship that has been to K23 and is now on its way back to earth.

The film is alright. Story-wise it makes some sense, things look good, the acting is good, it (of course) has both tension and drama.

Tenet – Christopher Nolan (2020)

  • action

Nolan made a 007-type movie with a super agent, a Bond-girl and an arch villain who wants to destroy the world. Of course he had to come up with a ‘mind-blowing’ theme as well.

So we have bad guys who found a way to manipulate time. This seems mostly in order to make the final scenes in which two times are shown simultaneously allowing Nolan to present pretty far-out CGI which in some ways are as awe-inspiring as in “Inception” (2010).

To get to this, Nolan had to come up with a way too complex theory to explain how that last scene can come to be. Throw in another complex story about how the bad guy makes his money and how he means to end the word and you not only have a vague concept, but a downright hard-to-follow film. At times I got a bit of a “Primer” (2004) feeling. Things may just have gotten a wee bit too complex.

For the rest you can expect some over-the-top action with plane crashes to get to a painting, shootouts, fistfights, romance and everything that you expect from a 007. The film makes an amusing circle towards the end that does make that I want to see this film again some time to see if I can make more sense of the complex story.

Good, entertaining, but after a first watch, a bit too much.

The Bad Batch – Ana Lily Amirpour (2016)

  • thriller

So what did I read about this film that I put in on my watchlist? It must sure come from a bad batch. Boy, what a poor movie this is…

In an apparent attempt to make a slow, dystopian film we follow Arlen. It looks like it that criminals are thrown into a no-man’s-land between the American and Mexican borders. The people trying to survive there gravitate between a hard criminal camp and a more hippy type community.

Arlen starts in the wrong camp, finds her way to the other, but grows back to where she started.

The film has got some gruely scenes, but also throws in some more vague and experimental scenes. Nothing really works except a handful of scenes. The film did not annoy me so much that I turned it off, so I come to a:

Capone – Josh Trank (2020)

  • drama

Not very well received this film about a 47-year-old Al Capone. Tom Hardy is the leading part was the main reason to watch it nonetheless.

I guess many people expected a “Scarface” type maffia film about Capone, while actually this film is a drama about the man’s last year in which he deteriorates rapidly.

Capone spent years in prison. At an early age he got syphilis which starts to seriously attack his nervous system. Capone gets so bad that he is allowed to leave prison and is place under house arrest. There he founds out that his family has serious financial problems and has started to sell items from the house.

Initially Capone is only not too mobile, but for the rest not too bad. It soon becomes clear that the decease also attacks his brain and the rest of is body. Capone’s paranoia starts to take over which results in a few strange dream-like scenes.

Word is that Capone hid a big amount of money somewhere, so everybody tries to pick the information about the whereabouts of the money from the rapidly fleeing memory.

“Capone” is mostly a drama. It has some grim humor partly about Capone’s situation. If you do not expect a maffia crime movie, “Capone” is actually a descent film.

Star Wars (series) (1977-2020)

So my girlfriend likes the old “Star Wars” films and she owned a few of the later ones. A couple of recent ones we even saw on the big screen. So around the holidays season, she bought the remaining films and we watched them all in the order of the story.

I never really gave it much thought, but the films that Georges Lucas himself made, drop in somewhere half of a story that appears to have been (rudimentary) present already. Later, the films were named “episodes” and the first film from 1977 was suddenly episode IV.

So here is the list:

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