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Drama

The book of Henry (2017)

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SThe Book Of Henryummary

With instructions from her genius son’s carefully crafted notebook, a single mother sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather.

Genre : Drama/Thriller
Country : USA

Cast :
Jaeden Lieberher: Henry
Naomi Watts : Susan
Jacob Tremblay : Peter

Director :
Colin Trevorrow

My opinion on “The book of Henry”

“Violence isn’t the worst thing in the world.
What is then?
Apathy.”

I’m sure that some movie critics of reputable newspapers (“The Guardian” and the like) and magazines are awful, out-of-touch guys, who pine away on a dusty attic avoiding any contact with other human individuals. Pessimists who cringe at the sign of a bit of emotions and sugar-sweet feelgood moods and hide like a slug that encounters a grain of salt on her path. The result is an allergic reaction of disgust and aversion, after which they begin to spit their guts and criticize the targeted object. Is “The Book of Henry” really overly-sentimental? Is it so sugary that your blood glucose levels suddenly go berserk? Is it so un-freakin-believable that a Jerry Springer show looks like a realistic show? And does the second part of the movie about revenging a child molester feel extremely exagerated? Maybe yes. However, calling this film the biggest crap of the year, demonstrates short-sightedness and empathy similar to that of a mummified Egyptian pharaoh.

The Book of Henry

Amiable and entertaining.

Whatever they claim, “The Book of Henry” is an amiable and entertaining evening filler. Something I’m yearning for after an endless series of nerve-racking or extremely serious movies where you need to stay focused, so you won’t lose the thread after another plot twist. I admit I watched the first chapter with more pleasure than the second chapter. Not because of the acting. But contentwise it was sometimes a bit too much and after a while it lost a bit of its credibility. For instance. I doubt you can buy a high-tech sniper rifle in the U.S. just by saying some obscure name and waving with a bundle of dollar bills. Let’s skip the formalities! And someone calling the authorities after seeing an emotional performance of a ballet dancer, was quite bizarre. Especially when bruises and the timid behavior of the girl herself (plus Henry’s testimonies) didn’t ring any bells before.

The Book Of Henry
Teenage fun, drama or thriller. What’s it gonna be?

You can say the film is kind of bizarre. Not only because of the family situation in which the Carpenter family finds itself. That’s already extremely strange. Also the sudden twist in the middle of the story is bit of uncommon. Not often a main character leaves the story so early. Even though he isn’t completely out of the picture. And that’s why I’m talking about two chapters. The “pre” and “post” Henry period. Perhaps the mix of genres is a cause for criticism. At first, it looks like an innocent youth movie. Then it goes from a melodrama to a thriller with a revenge motive. Granted, that might be too much as well.

The Book Of Henry


First class acting
.

I enjoyed the acting the most. Jaeden Lieberher as bright Henry. A young boy looking at the world with very different eyes due to his unimaginable intelligence and at the same time he’s still like an average, everyday boy. The way in which he confronts his classmates with the real facts is both sobering as extremely funny. Lieberher plays this with seemingly little effort. A brilliant mind but played in such a way that he remains human. Only I thought that his cartoonish machine he designed, using wires, hammers and wooden mechanisms, was quite contradictory to his high intellectual abilities. Naomi Watts (gorgeous role in “Demolition” by the way) is a known quantity, although she’s acted of the screen a bit by her dominant son and all she seems to be doing is hitting the buttons on her PS4 controller. Even in the second chapter, Henry is holding her hand and is in charge of everything. But especially Jacob Tremblay, as the younger brother Peter, really surprised me. Not because of his impact on the story. But the professionalism he displays in shaping his personality. A likable and highly amusing character. Maddie Ziegler knew how to play the emotionally broken neighbor girl in a sublime way. A rendition in which the repressed emotions impressed more than Henry’s occasional hyperkinetic behavior.

The Book Of Henry

A dumb thing to do?

Perhaps it’s my age that makes me more melancholic and I’m touched much faster. However, I think most viewers approach this movie in a wrong way. I read somewhere that Henry’s preconceived plan (which he has worked out in detail in his red booklet) is the opposite of his intellectual ability. A burst in his wisdom because it’s revenge he’s after. However, perhaps this was the only solution he could come up with after deductive and analytical reasoning. How does anyone react when witnessing that a criminal offense goes unpunished? And legal measures don’t have the desired effect? Perhaps it takes more time for average intelligent people to come to the same conclusion.

The Book Of Henry

I’m a fan of the underdogs.

I’m afraid I’m the only one with a positive opinion about this movie. Apparently, I like to root for the underdogs among movies. I’m sure that critics and opponents of “The book of Henry” will say that Trevorrow, after this cinematic adventure, delivered better work in the more realistic blockbuster “Episode IX“. Even if he would add a scene with Chewbacca, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker dancing the can-can, these experts of stories on celluloid will probably approve it and claim that the man has added a willful interpretation to the Star Wars story. But he mustn’t give in to willfulness when it comes to other movies (grinding teeth intonation). I am pleased that rebellious movies like “The Book of Henry” are made in Hollywood and not only the sometimes saltless crap that’s being released. Because those are the movies where I say “Well, this was a great movie” when it’s finished.

It’s not my policy to draw attention to someone else’s opinion, but I couldn’t resist now. Although I don’t fully agree with it, I surely could appreciate the cynical tone of this review. Read it here

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

Comic Book Movies

Joaquin Phoenix Stares Into Your Soul As The Joker Via “il venerdì di repubblica” Cover

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“Cinematic achievement on a high level.”

Director Todd Phillips has gone on the record stating, his film is going to piss off hardcore comic book fans. The upcoming ‘Joker’ movie will not follow any comic book plot lines or continuity for the villain, and will in fact be its very own stand alone film. With that being said, the movie is already garnering praise from select audiences. Cameron Bailey, co-head and artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, went on record with Toronto Sun, hailing the film as “Cinematic achievement on a high level.” Bailey continued on, saying:

“First of all it’s terrific. So it should play on our largest stage. But it’s a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular. It’s not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived.”

Bailey, also went on to say, the film is “Very cinematic,” for a low budget feature.

“Has an interesting tone and approach to it. It’s set in the late ’70s, early ’80s and it feels like it was made then. It’s gritty in its look, it has references to Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it’s working with very populist material, it has great ambition. That’s why it’s a Gala.”

Check out the newest ‘Joker’ magazine cover via il venerdì di repubblica.

‘Joker’ hits theaters October 4, 2019

 

 

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Drama

Bullitt County – A Film About How A Pleasant Situation Can Turn Quickly And End In A Tragedy

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Anything buried out there,
is meant to stay buried.

Bullitt County” isn’t really an easy film. To be honest, I had to control myself not to give up after half an hour. It wasn’t very exciting, so to say. On the contrary. It was painfully slow and meaningless. The story is situated in the 70s as you can see from the colorful printed shirts and the Woodstock-like attributes. A reunion of grown-up school friends who wanted to break the monotonous existence as a responsible citizen. A trip to Kentucky is planned where they’re going to recreate a pub crawl past their favorite distilleries. The only person who isn’t voluntary participating is Gordie (Mike C. Nelson) who’s about to get married. He’s being kidnapped, thrown in the suitcase and taken to the destination. Apparently, this is his bachelor party.

 

Bullitt County

 

A dark secret.

It is only when Gordie hears there’s a hidden treasure, the “Bullitt Treasure”, in these regions, the pace is going up. Apparently, it’s a considerable sum of money (profits from illegal moonshining) that the Bullitt family has hidden in the local forests during the Prohibition. At the same time, it turns out that their favorite bar has been taken over and the new owners turned it into a wine bar. So the plan of a boozing trip is pushed aside. Also, Gordie appears to be a recovered alcoholic who has not drunk a drop for 10 years. So nothing prevents them from entering the woods, armed with spades and camping equipment. So they’re off on a treasure hunt. Apparently a very cozy venture, which in turn leads to impressions of four aged hippies who, while playing guitar, smoke a few hash cigarettes and consume quite a bit of liquor. Not really fascinating, but there’s already this slight feeling that something sinister is coming to the surface. A secret that this close circle of friends has been dragging along for years. And apparently, no one feels the need to bring it up again.

 

Bullitt County

 

And suddenly it’s a different movie.

The moment they are invited by a friendly couple to eat something in their cabin, my expectations regarding the film was already low. “Bullitt County” won’t be more than a psychological drama in which a cozy getaway leads to emotional outbursts which bring out deeply hidden traumas from the past. And then all of a sudden hell breaks loose. And before I realize it, I am watching a completely different movie. A movie about survival, cheating, blame, and guilt. Slowly it becomes clear that Gordie’s emotional backpack gradually got heavier. Not only has he successfully got rid of an alcohol problem. He’s also a Vietnam veteran and didn’t go through this war completely unscathed. This results in a person plagued by PTSD who can’t control himself during confrontations. And then there’s an event in the past that weighs the most. It’s being revealed through some flashbacks as the film progresses.

 

 

Splendid acting by Nelson.

Robin (Jenni Melear), Keaton (David McCracken) and Wayne (Napoleon Ryan) were also involved in this incident but apparently processed it. Gordie also blames them for that at a certain moment. The indifference makes him mad. I also noticed that caring about others isn’t their strongest side. Who goes on a pub crawl with an ex-alcoholic? What follows is a burst of pent-up frustration that degenerates into a nerve-racking and bloody denouement. Mike C. Nelson plays a terrific role. The way in which Gordie’s personality (also thanks to a momentary relapse) changes from a good-natured person with issues into a revenge-taker driven by madness and rage, is simply wonderful to see. A solid piece of acting. The share of Dorothy Lyman and Richard Riehle was short but powerful.

 

Bullit County

 

A successful low-budget indie.

No, “Bullitt County” isn’t a memorable movie. And maybe it would have been better to shorten the intro where we meet those four characters. And the number of sudden twists in the story was a bit overwhelming. And have we not seen that one twist in another movie before? Anyway. The film managed to pleasantly surprise me when the second half of the film announced itself. A film about how a pleasant situation can turn quickly and end in a tragedy. “Bullitt County” shows how someone goes through life, marked by guilt feelings and what impact this has on his personality. Despite Gordie’s mistakes and aggressive behavior, you still feel compassion for him. In short, a successful low-budget indie. Just the way I like them.

 

 

My rating 6/10
Links: IMDB

 

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Crime

The Outsider – The Only Thing That Tries To Break Through This Darkness Is The Sometimes Bright Neon Lights

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When you dishonor your boss
and you want to show remorse,
you give your finger.
It’s called otoshimae.
I see you’ve got all your fingers.

Even though I don’t have any affinity with Japanese culture as such and mostly ignore Asian films, I couldn’t resist giving “The Outsider”  a chance. Not only because of the fact that Jared Leto is playing in it (a colorful actor who reminds me of Johnny Depp and because of his role as The Joker in “Suicide Squad” can join the club of quirky Hollywood actors), but also because of the central theme of the Yakuza families. I wondered if this could be another successful Netflix original.

I don’t know much about Japanese culture. Only the term Yakuza is known to me. You can see it as the Japanese version of the Italian Mafia. The only difference with their Italian counterparts is that the Yakuza members are an epitome of inner calmness and adopt an intimidating attitude by using ice-cold, angry looks and a threatening, non-loud tone during their conversations. Quite different from the Italian mafia members, who usually want to make an impression by shouting and intense gesticulating while making their point, after which a rival gets a concrete pedestal and they dump him in some Italian river. So I prepared myself for a Japanese-colored “Godfather“-like movie.

 

The Outsider

 

Extremely slow pacing.

The first thing you could criticize is the pace of the film. “The Outsider”  is extremely slow at times, indeed. But doesn’t that suite the entire Japan concept? After all, members of the Yakuza families themselves use a certain pace in their conversations by using impressive silences between sentences. On the one hand to show respect. On the other hand maybe also to increase the impact of used words. Have you ever seen a Geisha passing by? They aren’t exactly a paragon of speed. And to be honest, if this movie had lasted an extra hour, I wouldn’t have minded that either. And that’s because of the other positivities you can find in “The Outsider” .

 

The Outsider

 

A white Yakuza member. Possible or not?

First of all, I thought the acting of the entire cast was marvelous on all fronts. The mix of authentic Japanese who speak their own language for most of the film instead of constantly using broken, bad-sounding English and the acting of Jared Leto was simply stunning. How Nick Lowell ended up in an Osaka prison, remained a mystery to me. He’s the only English-speaking prisoner and is surrounded by mainly Yakuza gang members. Rescuing the Yakuza Kiyoshi (Tadanobu Asano) from a perilous, life-threatening situation gives him a ticket to freedom. And that’s when he chooses to gradually integrate into the Yakuza family. Not an easy task since the members of this Yakuza family aren’t really hospitable and are rather resentful towards white strangers (a Gaijin). However, I wonder if, in reality, a Westerner would get a chance to be included in such a Yakuza-family. I doubt it.

 

The Outsider

 

Sublime cinematography.

The used cinematography in ‘The Outsider’ was also generally sublime. Maybe a little too dark at certain moments, such as the prison scenes, for example. But in general, the setting in this post-war Japan is really impressive. A mysterious metropolis with dark, narrow alleys, clubs where Sumo wrestlers compete and smoky night clubs. The only thing that tries to break through this darkness is the sometimes bright neon lights.
Expect some violent scenes too. You can’t do without it in a gangster movie, I guess. There are quite a few victims. Lots of gunshots and knives carving around. Even a self-mutilation scene where a few fingers are sacrificed isn’t missing.

 

The Outsider

 

The acting of Jared Leto was superb.

My limited knowledge of Asian film material and Japanese customs made sure everything came across as fairly authentic to me. Others, who immersed themselves in this matter, may have noticed imperfections. And perhaps the content has all been done before. I even read somewhere that there was a lot of fuss about casting Jared Leto. And the term “whitewashing” came up. Didn’t we have the same discussion about Matt Damon’s contribution to “The Great Wall“? By the way, I thought Jared Leto was suitable for this role as the silent (probably because he doesn’t speak the language), cold-blooded and emotionless Nick. He reminded me a bit of Keanu Reeves in “47 Ronin“. Only the speed with which he was accepted in the Shiromatsu Yakuza clan, seemed greatly exaggerated. And the emotional relationship between Nick and Miyu (Shioli Kutsuna) felt like a mandatory item.

 

The Outsider

 

But just as I scoured the internet for information about “The Zodiac Killer” after watching the movie “Zodiac“, I couldn’t resist consulting Wikipedia about the Yakuza phenomenon. That means this film also left an impression. If slow crime movies about the Mafia interest you, and this in a Japanese environment, then I can definitely recommend this movie to you.

You can watch The Outsider on Netflix now!

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

 

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