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Drama

Euthanizer (2018)

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Everyone has to pay for the pain that they’ve caused.
Pain needs to be balanced.

Armomurhaaja (original title)

Every detail was just perfect in this Finnish low-budget indie. From the first second this film intrigued me and managed to hold my full attention. Not only the magnificent acting of Matti Onnismaa and Hannamaija Nikander, as the bitter and sinister person Veijo and the strange figure Lotta whose sexual preference is also rather lugubrious, caused that. The narrative and the message that simmered under the surface also fascinated me. Yet it’s not an easy, everyday film. On the one hand, there’s the language. Finnish isn’t something I’m confronted with on a daily base (well, for everything there’s a first time), so I understood absolutely nothing. On the other hand, the story itself is rather unorthodox with the euthanizing of pets as a central topic. Not exactly cheerful material, even though it sometimes felt comical.

After ten minutes I knew this was an extraordinary movie.

Veijo is the local freelancer who offers his services to help pets out of their misery in an inexpensive way. He’s, therefore, a not so well-liked competitor of the local veterinarian. To be honest, nobody likes him. Veijo thus creates its own Pet Sematary. Dogs are simply shot in an adjacent forest, after which their necklace is dangling from a branch as the only remembrance. Cats and other minuscule creatures from the animal kingdom are gassed in a pimped station wagon. A cat carrier graveyard next to his meager shed is the final result. The first ten minutes alone made it clear an extraordinary film was presented to me.

Pain needs to be balanced.

Euthanizer” is a film about pain and suffering. And according to Veijo, pain needs to be balanced. And that’s something this pipe-smoking anti-social person applies in his life. Also on himself. The owners who bring their sick, disobedient or simply annoying pets can expect a psychological analysis first. Veijo apparently has the gift of being a dog whisperer. And some of those owners get a similar treatment as their pet. In the same way, he approaches his dying and suffering father. An alcoholic who apparently treated Veijo very badly and brutal during his childhood.

Not just an odd couple. It’s a bizarre couple

The moment Lotta enters Veijo’s life, a life in which human contact is quite an obstacle for Veijo, I can vividly imagine his confusion about his feelings towards her and at the same time about her reasonably perverted fantasy. The reason why she feels attracted to Veijo was unclear to me. Was his aloofness or morbid profession something she related to? Or did she have suicidal thoughts for herself? Is she fascinated by death in a macabre way? It was a mystery to me. But they certainly go down in history as the most bizarre couple.

Let the singing begin …

The weakest element in the whole film was for me the would-be Finnish neo-Nazi club “Soldiers of Finland”. Notwithstanding that Petri (Jari Virman), who is only too keen to be part of this gang of jackasses, has an important part in the denouement, I thought it was a laughable fact. Apart from stealing some car tires and some provocative behavior, they seem far from being dangerous. And when they are singing as four choir boys for a karaoke machine, the image of these pseudo machos changes into purebred sissies. There’s even one of them who can’t control his emotions during that musical moment.

It’s cruel. It’s rough. It’s non-mainstream.

“Euthanizer” is a cruel and filthy film. Filthy in multiple ways. A film that shows how cruel people can be. A film with contradictions as well. Gasifying animals with the exhaust fumes of an old station wagon is, in my opinion, not a peaceful and pleasant way. And yet Veijo is an animal lover who wants to put these poor creatures out of their misery. “Euthanizer” is breathtaking. A gem. Fans of small-budget non-mainstream films will enjoy this. I did for sure.

Thanks to Uncork’d Entertainment for sending a Movie Screener link.
Euthanizer will play in L.A theaters (other cities to be announced) from July 20, with a VOD release set for August 7.

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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