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Drama

A prayer before dawn (2017)

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I don’t know
what you’re fucking saying,
I don’t understand.

What an impressive film. You won’t get a feeling of excitement or relaxation after watching it. It’ll rather leave a bad taste in your mouth. It was as if the smell of blood, rancid food, vomit, and sweat has nestled itself in my nostrils. I had this annoying, uncomfortable feeling afterward. I’m convinced there are other places in this world where you don’t want to end up and which aren’t good for your health, both physically and psychologically. But the Thai prison Klong Prem seems to me the most damned and inhumane place on our planet. A place where you stop being a person and where you try to survive in any way you can. I’m strongly in favor of setting up an exchange program for prisoners worldwide. In such a way that prisoners from wherever, get the chance to taste the prison climate of these regions. I’m sure many will start realizing how privileged their treatment is in this part of the world. Who knows, maybe even a few will come to their senses.

 

Is there a translator in the house?

A prayer before dawn” feels like a documentary. It’s as if the camera is filming over the shoulders of Billy Moore (Joe Cole) all the time, a Brit who’s a boxer in Thailand and is being arrested for selling drugs. The nightmare in which he’s imprisoned for three years and the daily struggle in this hell hole is the basis for his book that he publishes later on. It’s titled “A prayer before dawn: A nightmare in Thailand“. Don’t expect long dialogues. Or you are someone who understands Thai quite well. That alone would drive me crazy already. The endless whining and shouting of those tattooed, golden-toothed Thai criminals. You have no idea what they are talking about. You can only guess whether they ask a very ordinary question or threat you.

Brutal, intense and realistic.

The number of films that take place in prisons is almost infinite. But there are none so realistic and painful to behold as “A prayer before dawn“. Even “Brawl in Cell Block 99” doesn’t seem to be so brutal and intense, despite the extremely violent images. Why? Because “Brawl in Cell Block 99” is a fictional story. The story about Billy Moore shows an unambiguous, unvarnished picture of his struggle for survival and his perseverance to maintain himself in this barbaric environment. A story about how an individual has to push his limits both physically and psychically. A black and white portrait with a thin dividing line between life and death. One moment you see how Billy almost kills a fellow prisoner at the request of a corrupt guard. The next moment you see a tender moment between him and the transvestite Fame (Pornchanok Mabklang). A moment to catch your breath after all the brutal violence.

Top notch acting. Even from those ex-prisoners.

The acting of Joe Cole is extremely convincing. You can simply feel his fury, despair, and fear. Cole’s acting is purely en simply physical as there is practically no dialogue to be heard. A shrill and threatening “Fuck off” is the main thing that comes over his lips. You are witnessing how the accumulated tension and frustration suddenly flares up during confrontations and his Thai boxing. And at the same time, you see Cole fighting against his addiction. The Thai inmates are all amateurs in the field of acting but apparently, a large number of these side characters actually have spent time behind bars. Maybe that’s why it all feels so real.

Just go watch this top-notch movie.

No, “A prayer before dawn” is no fun to watch and will certainly still haunt you the next days after. If you expect a detailed story, you will certainly be disappointed afterward. The narrative is reasonably straightforward and concise. It’s nothing more than a report of Billy’s stay in this hellish place on earth and his constant fight to get out of it unscathed. But, as I said, this film will certainly stay with you. It’s, as it were, beaten into you.

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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