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Drama

Painless (2017)

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Every once in a while, nature makes a mistake.

The beginning explains a lot. First, footage of an adorable-looking 2-year-old, growing up and having one injury after the other. And again and again, you get this emotionless stare because he turns out to be numb to pain. In addition, there’s an increasingly desperate-looking mother. And finally, that picture of a little boy in plaster staring sadly ahead while in the background children enjoy themselves in a playground. Perhaps this little boy realizes at that moment that his life will be very different from that of an average person. And that’s how you’ll see the grown-up Henry (Joey Klein) afterward. A person who lives completely isolated and who moves carefully through society every day. Taking with him a backpack stuffed with attributes to take care of injuries. The only thing he’s trying to produce in his as a lab equipped apartment is a medicinal product. Not to treat pain. But something so he finally can feel pain. A vital signal that the human body passes on to indicate that something isn’t right physically. A medicine so Henry has the feeling he’s really alive.

It feels like watching a science programme.

Painless” is not SF, even though I don’t know whether there are people in the world who suffer from the same condition as Henry or not. I’d rather call this film a drama with a scientific undertone. Because believe me, a lot of Chinese sounding medical terms will be fired at you. Technical terms about chemical compounds and genetic stuff are used throughout the whole movie. No idea what education Henry has followed. But it’s clear he’s a genius in the field of science. He also appears to have an unprecedented gift that allows him to diagnose a person’s condition with a single glance. This all makes this film rather boring sometimes and too intellectual. It feels as if you are looking at some scientific program. Something only real nerds like to watch. And they get excited about every scientific term that’s being used. Yet there’s something else to be enjoyed for ordinary people without a master degree. Someone like me for instance. And that’s the wonderful acting.

The acting is absolutely superb.

Joey Klein delivers a great performance. The way he shapes Henry is simply brilliant. The unworldly loner who looks shyly around and who avoids any contact with other individuals. The only one he has regular contact with is his doctor Dr. Raymond Parks (Kip Gilman). Probably someone who took care of Henry countless times after yet another incident. He’s also Henry’s confidant. So regularly Henry storms into his office without asking, just to argue about a new theory. In my opinion, it’s also the only one who fully understands Henry. And then one day Henry meets the graceful Shani (Evalena Marie). A painful encounter (there’s hot coffee involved) after which he comes to the realization that there’s more to life than his eternal search for a cure. It’s painful to see how clumsy he is when interacting with others who don’t have a medical background.

A scientific drama with a romantic twist.

Painless” is about the absence of physical pain. It’s also about the numbing effect this had on the emotional part of Henry. He’s just as insensitive when it’s about emotions. The way he responds to certain situations shows a social ignorance and a lack of experience in the field of human interaction. For him, everything is a distraction that prevents him from finding a solution for his ailment. “Painless” is certainly not an action-packed and adventurous blockbuster but still an interesting film. It shows how persons with a disorder still can function in our society. And even though you usually don’t understand what they’re talking about (thanks to the frequent use of medical and scientific terms), you can understand Henry at the end. “Painless” is about perseverance and determination. But at the same time, it is also about loneliness and sorrow. In short, a scientific drama with a romantic touch that surprised me.

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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