28 May 2018

Alone in Berlin

Alone in Berlin
  • Director: Vincent Perez
  • Based on the novel by Hans Fallada
  • Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Daniel Brühl, Mikael Persbrandt
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Brendan Gleeson – Edge of Tomorrow, In Bruges, Harry Potter, Kingdom of Heaven, Cold Mountain, Gangs of New York, 28 Days Later, My Life So Far, Butcher Boy, Michael Collins, Braveheart
    • Emma Thompson – The Love Punch, Beautiful Creatures, Brave, The Boat that Rocked, Harry Potter, Nanny McPhee, An Education, Last Chance Harvey, Brideshead Revisited, Stranger than Fiction, Angels in America, Love Actually, Wit, The Winter Guest, Sense and Sensibility, The Remains of the Day, Much Ado about Nothing, Peter’s Friends, Howards End, Impromptu, Dead Again, Henry V, Fortune’s War, Tutti Frutti
    • Daniel Brühl – Woman in Gold, Inglourios Basterds, Ladies in Lavender, Good-bye Lenin
    • Mikal Persbrandt – The Hobbit, Radioskuggan, Svensson Svensson
  • Why? Emma Thompson
  • Seen: 26 May 2018      

       Germany during the war. France has just been defeated. Otto (Gleeson) and Anna (Thompson) are informed that their only son has been killed in battle. They grieve but life as subjects of the Führer goes on.
       They start distributing cards with texts like ‘The Führer murdered our son, he will murder yours’ and ‘There is no peace in Hitler’s fiendish war machine’ and ‘Hitler and Nazism mean violence’.
       The cards are turned into the police and Inspector Escherich (Brühl) starts looking for the culprit, which he gives the name Hobgoblin. Clues are collected as hundreds of cards are turned into the police. Sadistic SS officer Prall (Persbrandt) beats him bloody and orders him to find the Hobgoblin.
       It’s slow moving but suspenseful in its grimness. It’s a simple story of a simple form of resistance. It probably didn’t make any difference, but it was bravely done.
       Based on a true story.

4 * of 5


Lucy 2014
  • Director: Luc Besson
  • Based on the book: no
  • Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Scarlett Johansson – He’s Just Not That into You, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Prestige, The Island, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Manny & Lo
    • Morgan Freeman – Transcendence, Oblivion, The Dark Knight Rises, Invictus, The Dark Knight, Wanted, Gong Baby Gone, Batman Begins, Million Dollar Baby, Bruce the Almighty, Levity, Nurse Betty, Amistad, Moll Flanders, Seven, The Shawshank Redemption, Robin Hood, Driving Miss Daisy, and others
    • Amr Waked – Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Contagion
  • Why? Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Luc Besson
  • Seen: 25 May 2018      

       Lucy (Johansson), a hard-partying student, is forced into the nightmare situation of being kidnapped into a smuggling ring. A bag of super-meth is operated into her body. When beaten by sadistic guards the bag leaks and the drug seeps into her body, increasing her brain’s capacity.
       Meanwhile Professor Norman (Freeman) lectures, with sensational nature films, on the evolution of human brain capacity. A student asks, ‘What if humans could use 100% of their brain?’ Professor Norman: ‘I have no idea.’
       Super power, super violent Lucy escapes and stalks the world, feeling and remembering everything. Everything. And controls…. everything. She knows this is going to kill her, probably within the next twenty-four hours. She meets up with the professor and the action starts.
       The car chase, the silly vampy high heels and the violence all add up to minus one star but it’s an interesting concept with handsomely visual filming. Johansson and Freeman are always good, and it definitely has the Besson feel.

4 * of 5   

21 May 2018


Rupture 2016
  • Director: Steven Shainberg
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare, Lesley Manville, Michael Chiklis, Kerry Bishé, Ari Millen, Percy Hynes White
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Noomi Rapace – Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows, Svinalängorna, Luftslottet som sprängdes, Flickan som lekte med elden, Män som hatar kvinnor, Tusenbröder
    • Peter Stormare – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Brothers Grimm, Chocolat, Dancer in the Dark, The Big Lebowski, Fargo
    • Lesley Manville – River, Mister Turner, Another Year, Cranford, Sparkle, Vera Drake, Rose and Maloney, David Copperfield, Topsy-Turvy, Secrets and Lies, Sammie and Rosie Get Laid, Dance with a Stranger
  • Why? Noomi Rapace, Peter Stormare
  • Seen: 20 May 2018      

       Single mother Renee (Rapace) and her son are being tailed and filmed and spied on. Then she is kidnapped by a whole gang including Dr Nyman (Manville), and driven far away from Kansas City. She is brought to some kind of hellish lab for experiments. Her captors are not unkind, but she is chained to an operating table beside a tray of scalpels and things. She is told nothing but they all smile and tell her things will be fine. She hears the screams of other prisoners and talks to some of them.
       She has a knife in her boot. Will it do any good? Are they government? Medical researchers? Aliens?
       I think they’re aliens.
       She manages to escape and witnesses other prisoners being tortured, confronted with their worst fears and being told they will be returned home with increased understanding and insight.
       It’s too farfetched to be credible but it’s creepy and rather exciting. And then the ending drags it down, leaving me with the general feeling that despite the good actors the whole film should have been better.

2½ * of 5


Happy-Go-Lucky 2007
  • Director: Mike Leigh
  • Based on book: no
  • Cast: Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Eddie Marsan, Stanley Townsend, Samuel Roukin
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Sally Hawkins – The Hollow Crown, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, Never Let Me Go, An Education, Little Britain, Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky, Vera Drake
    • Eddie Marsan – Their Finest Hour, River, Filth, The World’s End, Snow White and the Huntsman, Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows, Merlin, Sherlock Holmes, V for Vendetta, Vera Drake, 21 Grams, Gangs of New York
    • Stanley Townsend – The Hollow Crown, Quirke, One Chance, Sherlock, Flawless, Hustle, Inside I’m Dancing, The Libertine
    • Samuel Roukin – The Hollow Crown, The Decoy Bride, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Bright Star
  • Why? Mike Leigh. Good film.
  • Seen: 19 May 2018      

       Knowing Mike Leigh, this isn’t as happy-go-lucky as the title. The starting music is upbeat with Poppy (Hawkins) biking jauntily through London. Even in the face of a grumpy bookshop assistant, a stolen bike, a crowded tube ride she retains her chirpy cheer. Even with the bitter, racist, resentful paranoid driving instructor Scott (Marsan).
       She has endless energy for the kids in the primary school where she works, for partying and boozing with her friends, for dancing the flamenco. She has compassion for the mad tramp she encounters on her way home at night, with the abused boy in her class.
       So it’s not all cherry. She’s not dim. She sees the dark side. And makes her choice.
       This is, after all, Mike Leigh.

4 * of 5

La isla minima (Marshland)

La isla minima (Marshland) 2014
  • Director: Alberto Rodrigeuz
  • Based on novel: no
  • Cast: Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Arévalo
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Neither of them
  • Why? Good reviews.
  • Seen: 18 May 2018      

       Two teenage sisters disappear from their rural Spanish home in the 80’s. Two Madrid cops are given the case, one a Franco supporter, the other a democratic activist.
       The girls’ mutilated sexually abused bodies are found. Murder mysteries/police dramas are not my favourite genre. This one has the usual ingredients: disillusioned cops with health/marriage problems, suspicious characters, misogyny, vicious serial sexual killing of young women, drugs, police brutality, even a car chase.
       Good acting, atmospheric filming of the bleak landscape and Spanish politics lift this just a bit above the banal. But it is still just a cop movie.

2 ½ * of 5

14 May 2018


Arrival 2016
  • Director: Denis Villeneuve
  • Based on story by Ted Chiang
  • Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Amy Adams – Man of Steel, Sunshine Cleaning, Junebug, Catch Me If You Can, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Jeremy Renner – 28 Weeks Later, North Country
    • Forest Whitaker – The Butler, Repo Men, The Great Debaters, Panic Room, Smoke, The Crying Game, Bird, Good Morning Vietnam, Platoon
  • Why? Sci fi. Good reviews.
  • Seen: 13 May 2018      

       Language professor Louise Banks (Adams) has just lost her teenage daughter to cancer when twelve unidentified objects appear in different places on Earth. Security officer Weber (Whitaker) approaches her and reminds her that she still has clearance because of some Farsi translations she had done and tells her she is needed to translate what the aliens are saying. Together with the theoretical Physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner) she is taken to the nearest spaceship.
       Around the world there is panic, looting, frantic research. The aliens do not seem hostile, in fact they are as cooperative as they can be, but still some countries, including groups in the US, want to attack with military force. Communication is established but only very slowly and sketchily. Louise is bold and clever but it’s almost impossible for humans and aliens to understand each other. The weeks pass. Threat of violence from the humans increases. Memories of teaching her daughter gives Louise ideas on how to reach the aliens.
       It’s detailed, matter of fact and realistic. As a language teacher I say hurrah for a sci fi film in which linguistics is a main character. The only minus is the somewhat soapy ending. Otherwise it’s utterly fascinating.

4 ½ * of 5

Heroes & Demons

Heroes and Demons
  • Director: various
  • Based on book: no, but the one with Kirsten Dunst is based on a short story by Haruki Murakami
  • Cast: Andrew Garfield, Mark Strong, Kirsten Dunst, Michael Sheen and others
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Andrew Garfield – Never Let Me Go, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Boy A, Doctor Who,
    • Mark Strong – Before I Go to Sleep, The Imitation Game, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Eagle, Sherlock Holmes, Young Victoria, Stardust, Sunshine, Sunshine (the other one), Fever Pitch
    • Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Mona Lisa’s Smile, Levity, Virgin Suicides, Little Women
    • Michael Sheen – Passengers, Far from the Madding Crowd, Frost/Nixon, Blood Diamond, The Queen, Kingdom of Heaven, Bright Young Things, Wilde, Mary Reilly, Othello
  • Why? Sci fi, Andrew Garfield
  • Seen: 11 May 2018   

        Hmmm, as we start watching, this seems to be a collection of short films, not at all connected to the DVD cover which shows a kind of apocalyptic future city. Well. Here they are:
  1. Michael Sheen is a nerdy scientist working in a sperm bank, unrequitedly in love with a doctor in the fertility clinic. Creepy
  2. An American Jewish family is having dinner. Nerdy genius son has invented a time machine and they keep repeating the dinner as he tries to get rid of the Nazis. Sci fi, absurd, amusing.
  3. Custody conflict. Mark Strong has his two kids on an outing to the sea before their mother moves with them to the US. Tragic ending.
  4. Andrew Garfield is Tom, wandering in the Texas desert. He’s a geology student. He encounters a strange young boy who, it turns out, is a ghost. Tom, it turns out, is a ghost too.
  5. Kirsten Dunst is half of a newlywed couple who wake up hungry so decide, in order to break an old curse caused by husband’s previous crime, to rob a bakery. No bakery is found so they rob a hamburger joint.
  6. A man rescues fragile people. When a new one shows up, the previous ones are jealous.

        This is so not at all what we had planned on seeing this evening. For the same reason I’m not keen on short stories, I’m not a great fan of short films, but these are very well done with good acting and strong stories throughout.

3 ½ * of 5