The Professor And The Madman – Farhad Safinia (2019)

Oxford University has a long time wish to make a dictionary of the English language, but the project keeps stranding. At last they hire the outsider James Murray played by Mel Gibson.

Murray has no university degree. He is a self-taught expert in a stunning amount of languages. After some doubt, he can start is the project. He has some unconventional ideas. Instead of reading everything available in the English language to distill words, definitions and thus the development of the meaning of the word, he wants to use the general public to mail cards with words, meaning and sources so they can catalogue and cross-check them.

One of the volunteers is William Minor (Sean Penn), convicted for shooting a man, a mad, but otherwise brilliant man, with a lot of time on his hands.

The story may sound a bit dull, but actually the film is a very well done drama with an interesting story and good acting.

Bottom Of The World – Richard Sears (2017)

We drop in the middle of a roadtrip. The young couple Alex and Scarlett are driving through vast landscapes heading for LA. They stop at some little town to spend the night and from then on things get weird.

Scarlett becomes obsessed with a TV-preacher and later suffers ache which grows the further they get from the town. Then she disappears and Alex sets out to find her.

The film vaguely reminds of “Lost Highway“. It may be not that dark and weird, but story-wise there are similarities. That is about what you need to know. The atmosphere of “Bottom” is mostly drama, with some thriller elements and Alex going mad.

Judging the 5.3 IMdB rating, not everybody likes the film. It may not be a masterpiece, but I found it quite alright.

Lilyhammer (series)

Some time ago I was looking for a somewhat lighter series to watch and I ran into “Lilyhammer” on Netflix.

The main character is played by Steven van Zandt whom “Sopranos” watchers (which I am not) will know. He plays the Brooklyn mafioso Frank Tagliano who testifies against his former associates and moves to Lillehammer, Norway and takes the name Johnny Hendrickson, because he was impressed by the winter Olympics held in that place. Another main actor in the series is Trond Fausa who we have met before in “The Bothersome Man“.

Johnny is used to getting his way and he has got several ways of persuasion. Norway is a whole different game though, but Johnny manages to blend his old nature with his new.

The series are made by mostly Norwegians and is largely spoken in Norwegian too. It makes fun of the Norwegian way of life with its extremely social system, men in healthcare, immigration policies, etc. Then there is the blunt approach of Johnny who is a heartily man to the people he likes, but you do not want him as your enemy.

Johnny opens a club which allows the creators to put in quite some music in the series. Besides his club, Johnny puts his fingers in about every pudding that comes by. These situation make fairly thin (and usually short) story-lines which are only to make a couple of jokes in a few episodes.

The series are amusing. Van Zandt is a funny guy and the enlarged differences between American and Norwegian ways of handling things is amusing too.

Not a high-flyer, but if you are looking for something light. Three seasons was quite on the edge for me though.

Wheelman – Jeremy Rush (2017)

A get-away-car-driver-for-hire is hired for a job within his parole period. He does not like names, so he says: “just call me wheelman”. While waiting outside the bank that gets robbed by his temporary associates, he gets a call, apparently from the man who hired him. A crazy story unfolds.

Wheelman is first told to get rid of his associates and exchange the money. That does not feel right, so Wheelman takes off. He starts receiving calls from different people while his contact proves hard to reach. Not knowing which of the two callers is his biggest threat, Wheelman tries to avoid danger and figure out a plan while driving.

Almost the entire film plays inside the car. Wheelman has to take care of family business (his recently divorced wife and 13 year old daughter), two blackmailers and his contact in order to get out of the situation alive.

“Wheelman” is an alright action film.

1922 – Zak Hilditch (2017)

Farming is Wilfred James’ life. He manages to marry the pretty Arlette to double his land, but in spite of a son, the marriage is not a happy one. Arlette has little with their hard life and wants to sell her father’s land and move to the city. Wilfred and son Henry prefer to stay on the farm.

The arguments get more and more bitter and when Arlette starts to make plans to force her plans, Wilfred starts to make plans to prevent this from happening.

The story is based on a novella of Stephen King, but has but little of the typical King horror elements. “1922” Is mostly a drama with a few horror elements. The story is not very surprising or even interesting. The atmosphere of the film is alright, but overall, the film is fairly dull.

Journal 64 – Christoffer Boe (2018)

Apparently there is a “Department Q” series of Danish films. We meet the same couple as in “Kvinden I Buret” that you can see on the cover. Carl Mørck is the grumpy detective and Assad plans to move to another vocation. Of course the two have a last case.

A gruesome find is done in an apartment. Mørck steals the case from a colleague and he hauls in his partner-for-only-one-more-week Assad.

The film jumps back and forth in time. We find an institution for girls in the past which somehow connects to the find in the apartment. Of course Mørck and Assad find that connection and go after the bad guys.

The story involves a past that may well be historical and the somewhat extravagant present may be somewhat far fetched, but also shows present tendencies.

The film is an alright Scandinavian crime thriller.

The Crimes Of Grindelwald – David Yates (2018)

I saw a weird-looking Johnny Depp so I figured we could watch a weird film. The film is full of marvellous strange creatures in a very fantasyful world.

There is the obligatory battle between good and evil. The good are ministries of magic, Depp plays the counterpart. Another battle is between the magicians and the non-magicians.

As the film continued there were words, locations and even scenes that reminded me of Harry Potter and indeed, the story is written by J.K. Rowling. There are less children in this film than in the Potter films, but for the rest things are quite alike. I am not sure if this films aims at another audience or that the story just better involved adults.

The film has great CGI, a fairly dull story, some alright humour.

Mostly recommended for Potter lovers I guess. Also, it looks like this film is (going to be) part of a series.

Bubba Ho-Tep – Don Coscarelli (2002)

Elvis is not dead, but old, fragile and has lived in a nursing home for many years after an accident. The film explains how that all came to be.

Another inhabitant of the nursing home is Jack Kennedy who turned black.

The nursing home is haunted by the remains of a mummy that was stolen and crashed nearby and so we get a horror comedy that is not really horror or slapstick. The film is mostly a drama with somewhat black humour and a story-element that is horror.

Horror comedy, not really my genre, but this looked funny enough to try. Not sure how this ended on my watch list though. The film is good for a few chuckles, but certainly not a must-see.

I’m Thinking Of Ending Things – Charlie Kaufman (2020)

More active as a writer than as director, but Charlie Kaufman has made a few interesting films. And so we have another not too big-audience film on Netflix.

Two way too intelligent youngsters just got into a relationship. After about six weeks, they take the long trip down the road to meet his parents. Kaufman let them make all kinds of intelligent, know-it-all discussions. The “young woman” already has second thoughts about the relationship and her thoughts acts somewhat as the voice over.

When at the parents the situation is, of course, a little awkward for both, but then ‘the Kaufman effect’ sets in and it seems like the “young woman” sees her relationship with Jake and with his parents in different times.

When the two drive back home, they visit a 24/7 ice bar in the middle of a snowstorm and later end up in Jake’s old school where things get even weirder. Kaufman even threw in ballet and musical.

Once more Kaufman delivered a tragic romantic story in a surrealistic and melancholic style. If you like Kaufman’s other work, this Netflix original may be a film to watch some time too.

Kill Me Three Times – Kriv Stenders (2014)

  • crime

Something light. A bit of a “Fargo” type black humor action film.

Charlie Wolfe is a hitman and he is asked for a job in a rural community. For most the situation does not exactly go as hoped, and Wolfe navigates between all parties to get the most out of it for himself.

Amusing, not great.