I have been in this well of loneliness, this black hole.
Maybe it drove me a little mad.
We were meant for love, Frances,
not this terrible isolation.
If you see the film “Greta” pass by on your favorite streaming platform or on some VOD network service, it’s certainly not a bad choice to fill up an hour and a half of your spare time. The film itself is certainly not groundbreaking or breathtakingly innovative. This Hitchcock-like thriller provides temporary entertainment. And the only thing you’ll remember of it is the acting. Unfortunately, an important clue is given away very early at the beginning of the film, making it extremely clear which direction it’s going to go.
Let me get straight to the point. Isabelle Huppert is simply fantastic as Greta. A friendly-looking widow, living somewhere in New York in a lovely little house stuck between apartments, who spends her lonely days with everyday things. Her husband has died and her daughter is studying at a conservatory in France. The other main role is taken in by Chloë Grace Moretz. She plays Frances. A young adult who works as a waitress in a chic restaurant and leads a carefree life together with her best friend Erica (Maika Monroe). She’s an adorable girl and sincere. And just like Greta, she has to deal with the sorrow of a loss. Her mother died of cancer the year before.
Let’s be friends (Chuckle, chuckle).
It all starts with Frances finding a handbag on the metro. Since she’s as honest as the day is long, she decides to return this precious item to the rightful owner. Despite the loud protest from her friend Erica (“Okay, this is Manhattan. You find a bag, you call bomb squad“) who would rather pay for a wellness weekend with the money found in it. However, Frances doesn’t realize that she will soon end up in a spiral of psychological intimidation and outright stalking. A maddening, unlivable situation that will convince her that when she comes across such a handbag once again, she’ll kick it in the Upper Bay. It starts as a close friendship between two soulmates. And that includes going for a walk together, getting a dog and doing some cooking. Afterward, it seems to be nothing more than a charade. A scenario sprouted from the mad brain of Greta.
A psychological joust.
The storyline, on the other hand, isn’t of the same level. In terms of style, it’s not too original and the film follows the laid path made by several films from the past. Even the attempt, in the end, to send you off in the wrong direction, wasn’t clever enough. So don’t expect a thriller that can be compared with “Single white female” for instance. You’ll witness a psychological joust between the two main characters. It’s brilliant to see how such a lovely, old lady can turn into an ice-cold, crazy and sadistic woman. And this with the same facial expressions. For that alone, it’s worth giving this average film a chance.
My rating 5/10
Giant Little Ones: Narratively Speaking, It’s An Excellent, Almost Brilliant Film
It never would have happened
if we weren’t wasted.
Just like in chemistry class at the start of the film, there’s a lot of intense experimenting among the youngsters in this movie. Especially sexually. However, when this experimenting turns out bad for Ballas (Darren Mann), he starts losing his mind. Because it could be detrimental to his reputation as a tough stallion who prefers to brag about the number of times he did it with his girlfriend. His blood brother, friend for life and partner in crime Franky (Josh “Walking Out” Wiggins) suddenly becomes the feared enemy. Franky is treated as a purebred pariah whose proximity causes paranoid reactions. As if he’s the carrier of disgusting STDs. From one day to the next, Franky belongs to the camp of the outcasts in a youth community where popular teens, who measure up to the ideal of beauty, are in charge and seem to lay down the standard rules for acceptance.
A sensitive topic.
“Giant Little Ones” belongs both in the category of “Coming of age” films and the category containing films with a gay/lesbian theme. Now about that last item. The film deals with that topic in a clever way. And this by not explicitly revealing anything about the actual sexual orientation of the persons involved. At the end of the film, we still don’t know whether Franky or Ballas should come out of the proverbial closet. And that makes “Giant Little Ones” a film that feels authentic. As in reality, some people need a lot of time to discover their sexual preferences. The only personage in this film who does this coming-out is Franky’s father (a limited but defining role played by Kyle “Twin Peaks” MacLachlan). A situation that causes conflicting feelings for Franky. On the one hand, there is a love-hate relationship between him and his father. Its the opinion of Franky that Ray has disrupted the ideal family portrait and that he abandoned them. On the other hand, Franky starts to have doubts regarding his sexual orientation. There’s the question of whether or not he has inherited genetic material from his father.
A not so innocent sleepover.
The whole fuss starts when Franky and Ballas go to bed and sleep there together after a hellish birthday party, during which excessive alcohol and probably other mind-altering drugs are consumed. Initially, it all looks like a perfectly normal idea. Two friends sleeping in the same bed. Although, they both are in a questionable state. And all this because the plans Franky had with his so-called girlfriend Priscilla, failed that evening. That’s why they ended up together, instead of fooling around with their girlfriends. Anyway, it’s abundantly clear that their friendship reached a completely different level that evening. Blurred images of someone tossing and turning plus one of the two fleeing the scene early in the morning, are both good indications to back this up. When afterward Ballas takes a distant demeanor (or even better, an aggressive, hostile attitude) and visibly doesn’t want any contact with Franky anymore (and other fellow students as well), you know that shit hit the fan.
Jocks and bimbos. Fascinating stuff.
Josh Wiggins’ acting is outstanding. A fresh young man who on the one hand effortlessly is invited to the club of popular boys and at the same time has an attitude as if this reputation doesn’t really interest him. Darren Mann also played a convincing role and was the perfect choice to play the role of Ballas. He has a charisma that fits such a guy who makes peers’ lives miserable because they are less fortunate when it comes to appearance and heritage. Such a kid who must uphold his reputation with his fellow confreres and therefor degrades himself to harassment and play that annoying tough-guy routine. And of course, such a person is idolized by members of the opposite sex who practice the same standards. Let’s try and describe such a girl. A blond bimbo with a shockingly low IQ whose sole purpose in life is to open her well-shaped, slender tanned legs wide open as quickly as possible in such a way that this popular jock can get his kicks. A victory for the young lady in question whose reputation goes sky-high among like-minded female souls. And finally, I think Taylor Hickson’s role was the most moving.
Visually, “Giant Little Ones” isn’t really spectacular. But narratively speaking, it’s an excellent, almost brilliant film. The film shows how fake a part of American youth is. A plastic payment card has more character and charisma than most of those mannequins from posh circles. Not only these cartoonish fake persons with their derogatory and homophobic behavior are being presented here. But also those who stay true to themselves, are put in the spotlight. The message “Be yourself” is extensively displayed here. The hilarious lesbo Mouse (Niamh Wilson) in particular loudly proclaims this message by doing things the way she likes it. “Giant Little Ones” has both emotional and funny moments. And what it mainly did, was surprise me. In a positive way, that is.
My rating 7/10
Inherit the Viper: Isn’t A Masterpiece, But Still It Fascinates
Josie… promise me something.
Protecting this family comes first.
When it’s time to quit, we quit.
No questions asked.
Everyone knows the principle of the “American Dream”. The ideal image of a hard-working American who, regardless of his origin, can reach the top through hard work and commitment. “Inherit the Viper” shows the other side of the coin. A film about American citizens who experience the “American Nightmare”. They are part of agglomerations located in remote areas where poverty prevails and survival instinct is a necessity. An additional problem in recent years in the U.S. is the opioid crisis that causes an unprecedented number of victims. This widespread addiction is the Conley family’s important source of income. Apparently they inherited the business from their deceased father. Although, the storyline about what happened to him wasn’t really clear to me.
More a family drama than a crime story.
“Inherit the Viper” is primarily a crime thriller in which the Conley family, consisting of sister Josie (Margarita Levieva) and her two brothers Kip (Josh “Pearl Harbor” Hartnett) and Boots (Owen “IT” Teague), try to make ends meet by running a thriving drug-dealing business somewhere in Appalachia (especially the opioid pills OxyContin) and to sell pills to the locals massively. Even though the subject lends itself to the elaboration of a solid crime story, this film is rather a family drama in which the dynamic between the different family members is central. A family triangle with opposite character traits.
Josie is the tough little cookie from the family whose numbness has reached shocking proportions. Without hesitation, she puts a freshly sold pill back in her pocket that she finds next to the body of an addicted old woman who just died. Self-interest has more priority to her than compassion for a fellow person. Hence the explanation for a later initiative she takes and which shows how numb she is. Kip is an ex-soldier. A hardened and fearless gut-eater who knows the tricks of the trade. Yet he’s the one who would prefer to stop with the family business in order to build a safer future with his heavily pregnant girlfriend. And finally, you have Boots, the benjamin of the family. This impetuous teenager wants nothing more than to get into the family business as quickly as possible. Because this is still being put on hold by brother and especially his sister, it’s Boots who takes an initiative. Unfortunately, things are not going the way he’d hoped.
Not a masterpiece but still fascinating.
“Inherit the Viper” isn’t a masterpiece, but still it fascinates. It’s a gray, dark (literally and figuratively) portrait about despair and how to survive in a run-down and soulless corner in American society. A life without a future that requires the protagonists to make unworthy decisions. No shred of compassion is shown. It’s all about supporting the family. Although you feel the tension constantly and the Conley family is slowly but surely confronted with threatening situations (a police investigation is in progress resulting in an accusing finger pointing at them and revenge-seeking city dwellers who have lost someone thanks to the Conley’s threaten them) there are very few action-rich or criminal scenes. This is largely compensated by the interesting interactions and the realistic appearance of the film. The most colorful role is that of Bruce Dern as the obscure, critically ill bar owner where Josie deals pills. A local character who isn’t amused with the fact that corpses are piling up in his bar and whose metaphorical story actually uncovers the essence of what this film is about. And also it’s an explanation of the film title. Although I am not 100% sure about that either.
Worth a watch.
The denouement managed to surprise me in a certain way. And I was also pleased to see that Josh Hartnett hasn’t slipped off the grid. If you come across “Inherit the Viper” on a VOD service, I recommend to give it a chance. This dark film is worth a watch.
My rating 6/10
The Professor: Succeeded In Transforming This Tragic Fact Into Something Humorous
What kind of cancer is it?
It’s, uh, it’s lung cancer.
You don’t smoke.
No. I can now.
Let me start in a cheeky and derogatory tone. Let’s take Jack Sparrow, promote him to be an eloquent university professor teaching literature and tell him that he’s terminally ill. If you watch the movie “The Professor” (the original movie title was “Richard says goodbye“) with a dismissive attitude, you could utter such a statement. Well. Johnny Depp may have the tendency to use the ever-drunk pirate character. But otherwise, this entertaining tragicomedy doesn’t have much in common or many similarities with the Caribbean pirate spectacle. Even if the film is steeped with dark humor, a deeply tragic subject can still be discovered. A message about acceptance and an attitude of resignation. Though, Richard’s (Johnny Depp) way of acceptance and resignation can be called very rigorous.
The bad news is life-changing.
Instead of a tough treatment against the proliferating ailment, Richard decides to let things carry on as they are and completely change the course of his life (the subtle Sparrow-references come to mind spontaneously). That means enjoying life to the full. In short, exploiting the saying “Carpe Diem” in an extreme way. Richard gets dead drunk continuously, smokes pot on a regular basis and ventures into unabashed free sex. In fact, with both sexes and with the approval of his wife who confessed she’s having an affair with Richard’s boss. So you can say that the bad news told by his doctor, caused a groundbreaking turn in his personal life. For the bystanders, however, it seems as if he has become completely insane.
This is without a doubt one of the most successful interpretations of Depp in years. Here this energetic actor shows he can act for sure. I fully understand that he was given this part. The rebellious character of the egocentric figure Richard fits effortlessly with a figure like Johnny Depp. Perhaps his personal private situation provided the appropriate state of mind to play this indifferent intellectualist. His sarcastic view on life produces amusing scenes. The recklessness with which he plunges into adventures, causes others to frown. As a viewer, you understand this turnaround much better. As a result, Richard finds himself in some fairly bizarre situations in which his wife Veronica (Rosemarie DeWitt), daughter Olivia (Odessa Young) and best friend Peter (Danny Huston) are involved. By the way, I didn’t think the acting performance of these last actors was that bad either. Apart from the theatrical drama of Danny Huston.
It should go out with a bang.
“The Professor” probably won’t appeal to a younger audience. It’s not really a movie that will make you happy. I guess it applies to all films that deal with this terrible disease. Yet “The Professor” succeeded in transforming this tragic fact into something humorous. That the end would become more emotional (you could use the expression corny as well) was of course inevitable. Serious films where you are confronted with the concepts of finiteness and death clearly does something with a person. It makes you think about the meaning of life and what you have achieved. And I agree that as I grow older my thoughts sometimes drift away into that area. After seeing this film, I think I will drastically revise my opinion and also take a “Je mon fou” attitude like Richard. So I can fully enjoy everything in the time that’s left. That seems a more pleasant way to end my earthly journey.