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Drama

Please stand by (2017)

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Please stand byA young autistic woman runs away from her caregiver in an attempt to submit her manuscript to a “Star Trek” writing competition.

Genre : Drama
Country : USA

Cast :
Dakota Fanning : Wendy
Toni Collette : Scottie
Alice Eve : Audrey

Director :
Ben Lewin

My opinion on “Please stand by”

“Like Spock, for example.
He’s half-human, half-alien.
He has trouble dealing with his emotions.
Where did it say that?
That’s just how he is.”

Although “Stand by me” is a fairly predictable film and unrestrainedly endeavors to strike a sensitive nerve, I’m all for such a type of film. The number of films about individuals with a disability, who try to survive in our society where perfection is the standard nowadays, and who succeed in making great achievements, is endless. “I am Sam“, “Forrest Gump“, “Rain Man“, “The theory of everything“, “Still Alice“, “X + Y” and “Who’s driving doug“, to name but a few. These are all films where one feels sorry for the main character first. And after a while you realize that these persons surpass all expectations and amaze themselves about their own abilities. Just like Wendy (Dakota Fanning), who suffers from a severe form of autism so that communicating with her environment is a huge obstacle and her daily life is determined by a strict schedule. Handing in a self-written script for a “Star Trek” episode, however, ensures that this well-ordered and well-defined life is shaken up.

Great acting by Dakota Fanning.

All due respect to Dakota Fanning. The way she played this complex character deserves all praise. She distanced herself from all the possibilities available to portray Wendy with all possible tics and ridiculous rituals. Also the phenomenon of autism was not unnecessarily enlarged by her. Apart from the compulsive writing down of all kinds of facts in her notebook and the pattern of colorful sweaters she’s wearing on specific days, she seems to function reasonably normal. Not as Freddie Higmore who plays a similar character in “The Good Doctor” with a forced intonation making him sound  like a voice computer with incorrectly installed software from Lernout & Hauspie. And yes, I know the spectrum of autism is fairly broad. But I appreciated the modesty with which Dakota Fanning played the person Wendy.

Beam me up, Scottie.

Also ToniMiss you alreadyCollette played a not so bad part as Scottie who leads the home where Wendy lives. A patient and passionate person who guides each individual in this center and tries to point these individuals the right way towards a bearable personal life. It wasn’t immediately clear to me whether Scottie was her real name or a kind of joke because of Wendy’s passion for the television series “Star Trek“. Frankly, I felt that all other characters fulfilled their job in an orderly manner. The fact they came across as plain add-ons is entirely due to the beautiful acting of Dakota Fanning of course. The entire film shows how Wendy’s trust grows and she shifts her own boundaries (even if it’s just crossing a specific street).

An adventurous quest.

Please stand by” is not primarily about how autists handle themselves and how confusing their view on life is. The subject isn’t really thoroughly explored or explained in this area. I can’t even remember the word autism being pronounced once. Only a brief remark by a devout, old female about her grandson who displays an identical behavior. It’s actually a kind of adventurous quest with the ultimate goal of delivering the filmscript. And so Wendy needs to follow a path, completely normal for average people, where she meets a lot of people with bad intentions. And each time she’s saved by caring persons. Almost something like Frodo and that damn ring he had to throw in Mount Doom. Also a risky quest full of obstacles and devious creatures. But then without the autism phenomenon.

Someone get that script !

Finally, a big applaus for the dog Pete who accompanies Wendy the whole way. They looked like Dorothy and Toto heading for the Wizard of Oz. Fortunately, the duo wasn’t as annoying as Reese Witherspoon and her little pooch in a pink outfit in “Legally Blonde“. And the most surprising moment was when a policeman talked to Wendy in a very remarkable way. But you have to discover that yourself when you watch this engaging and charming film.

P.S. If the script “The many and the few” really exists, I hope it’ll become a real film. The fragments of text that were read, sounded intriguing!

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

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Crime

The Untouchables – A Retrospective Look

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I watched this in honour of Sean Connery who sadly passed away the day before. It must be 10 years since I have watched this, and I had forgotten how brilliant it actually was.

What is often overlooked with ‘The Untouchables’ is just how emotional it is in parts, from Ness (Kevin Costner) meeting the mother of a girl blown up by a cafe bomb to the touching climax between Ness and Stone (Andy Garcia). It is a film that is genuinely upsetting to see the end, you would be quite happy to spend more time with these people.

It is also undoubtedly a film about friendship and that is where the late great Sean Connery stands out from the cast. As supposedly past it beat cop Malone, he strikes as a man of lonely isolation, just trying to get through every shift alive. He is at first suspicious of Ness but soon warms to what Ness is trying to achieve and there the bond between the two starts. Malone’s relationship with Stone gets off to a less auspicious start but by the end of the film, the relationship produces one final emotional wallop that we all deeply feel. Throw in accountant Oscar Wallace, played for the comic relief by Charles Martin Smith and we have four disparate men bonding over their end goal, to catch and see justice brought again crime lord Al Capone, (played with menace by Robert DeNiro).

There is so much to admire here, some of the setpieces are simply astonishing, the stakeout and subsequent battle on the Canadian border are sensationally choreographed, and a homage to the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin is nerve shreddingly executed. The violence is brutal and shocking at times and as stated previously the deaths are graphic and in one particular case deeply moving.

Kevin Costner was a star on the rise at this point, with big hits like ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘Dances With Wolves,’  ‘JFK’ and ‘Robin Hood’ to come, he is excellent as the clean-cut family man Ness. A young Andy Garcia is impressive as the sharpshooting Stone, but this is Connery’s film. It’s an exceptional performance filled with guile, wisdom and what is apparent from the get-go, anger. He would win an Academy Award for this film and few could argue against it.

Its an incredibly neat and tidy film, it never outstays its welcome or gets too bogged down in courtroom showdowns. It’s gritty and powerful and a reminder of just how good an actor and phenomenal screen presence Connery was. It doesn’t get much better than this.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Sir Sean Connery 25/8/1930 – 31/10/2020 – A true screen icon

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Comedy

On the Rocks (2020)

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You know what’s great about her?
She doesn’t talk. She just listens.
That sounds perfect for you.

 

Life is full of unexpected turns. As an 18-year-old, I rented the adult cartoon “Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle” just for fun. Probably because of the titillating vamp on the cover, lying naked on a huge platter and carried by figures that looked like penises. No one could suspect that a voice actor in this cartoon would become one of my most popular actors. If there’s one comedian who manages to make me chuckle without any problem, it’s Bill Murray. Like in “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters”. Or the incomparable film “Groundhog Day”. However small his role may be in a feature film, he always manages to create an unforgettable scene, such as in “Zombieland” for example. Put Murray in a horror, and his typical way of acting makes it a completely different experience. Just watch “The dead don’t die” and you’ll know what I mean. In short, a versatile actor who takes a film to a higher level with his contribution.

 

 

Lost in Translation.

This year I came to the conclusion that I had never seen the movie “Lost in translation”. A film directed by Sofia Coppola (daughter of) with Bill Murray and the very young Scarlett Johansson in the leading roles. Even though there was something slightly comical lurking beneath the surface of this film, the subject matter was far from comical. A film about two individuals who are right in the middle of an identity crisis. A film about love and loneliness. Loneliness not only because of the life situation they both find themselves in, but also because of the fact that they are in a country where they don’t understand the language, culture, and general way of life. Two lost souls who discover, sense, and encourage each other. I admit, I was moved after seeing this masterful film. Finally, after a long time a film that rocked my socks off. A thought-provoking film that’ll resonate for a pretty long time. Yes, some movies do that to me.

 

 

A wild search for the truth.

And then 17 years after the release of this magisterial film, we get a renewed collaboration between Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray. “On the Rocks” is not as magical as “Lost in Translation“. But somewhere deeply hidden it does have points of contact with the latter. Here, too, Laura (Rashida Jones) is in the middle of a crisis. Both in terms of her marriage and her writing career. The suspicion that her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) just pretends to have lots of work since starting his own company, just to cover up an affair, grows stronger. And writing a new book isn’t easy either. The day she tells her father Felix (Bill Murray), a charismatic wealthy art dealer with an untameable flirtation habit, about her suspicions, he throws himself wholeheartedly into the case with full dedication. Before Laura realizes it, she is embroiled in a wild search for the truth.

 

 

Murray nails it.

On the rocks” isn’t such a depressing and melancholic story as “Lost in translation“. There’s more humor in it. How another mother at school tells Laura every morning about her love life. The interesting facts about human behavior and the evolution of relationships between men and women Felix tells about every time unexpectedly. The wild chase in a “not so suspicious-looking” red, noisy convertible through the streets of New York. Perhaps it’s rather light, uncomplicated humor. Still, it’s subtle at the same time. The chemistry between Laura and her father feels unforced and authentic. And this won’t come as a surprise: Bill Murray nailed it once more. He demands full attention every time he comes into the picture. His characteristic acting and the way in which he can charm random people with his smooth talk is simply superb. And it’s not just the female population that falls for his smooth-talking. The way he manages to turn a police officer’s mood from being reprimanding to being helpful is just sublime.

 

One more time.

“On the rocks” is about marital troubles, a complicated father-daughter relationship, and also about how people get lost in the turbulent and chaotic society in which they live. It’s not another masterpiece of Coppola, but surely it’s another successful cooperation between Coppola and Murray. I quietly hope that they will work together again in the future.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

The Craft: Legacy | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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Genre:

Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Release Date:

October 27, 2020

Director:

Zoe Lister-Jones

Cast:

Michelle Monaghan, Cailee Spaeny, David Duchovny, Gideon Aldon, Lovie Simone, Hannah Gordon, Nicholas Galitzine

Plot Summary:

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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