Getting the job done the easy way,
is like running away from the problem.
Because dealing with the problem is…
It takes hard work.
I have a preference for the more unknown movies that are released weekly. The indie film world is lively and inexhaustible. The sad thing is that there’s also a lot of crap to work through. And then you come across such a film as “A dark place” (Original title “Steel Country“). It doesn’t have a subject that’ll blow you away or impress you the very first instance. You expect the same, routinely story as told in countless other films. But as the film progressed, I became more overwhelmed and excited. And this because of (unknown to me) actor Andrew Scott. My sense of shame increased by the minute while I admired his acting performance. How the hell is it possible that I didn’t know this actor? If you think that Dustin Hoffman is fabulous as Tom Cruise’s autistic brother in “Rain Man“, I’m sure you’re going to appreciate Andrew Scott’s interpretation as the mentally retarded Donald Devlin. Equivalent and Oscarworthy are two words that immediately come to my mind. A moving and at the same time inspiring character. At the same time, the film was also fascinating enough and the guesswork continued until the end.
Once and a while I write that a film is a must-see. This time it’s mandatory to watch this movie. And especially (I can’t emphasize it more) because of the actor Andrew Scott. Reward this guy with all sorts of prizes and hopefully, he’ll get offered other movies that reach a wider audience. In any case, I have viewed his filmography and will certainly view more work from his oeuvre.
PS. Don’t confuse this film with the movie that has the same name, starring Luke Baines.
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.
Ad Astra: A Film Full Of Philosophical Musings And Impressions Of Weighty Loneliness
Colonel, for what it means,
I think my father is dead.
I can fully understand that when you haven’t heard from a friend who lives a few blocks away for a long time, you get prepped and plan a visit to the person in question. Just like that. Just to find out why he or she hasn’t been in touch all this time. And to check whether everything is still alright. In most cases, you’re actually not going to experience anything exciting or breathtaking along the way. Now, extrapolate this situation to a much greater distance. From Earth to Neptune, for example. That’s an enormously long time that you are on the road. And if you’re lucky, you won’t come across any life-threatening or perilous situations either. In short, you are on a spaceship, feeling at ease and try to kill some time. Maintaining your ecosystem daily. Going through your huge pile of magazines full of crosswords that need to be solved. Or you give your spaceship a decent scrubbing every week. All sorts of things so as not to get mad out of boredom. I’m afraid that many home viewers will do the same things while watching “Ad Astra“.
Navel-gazing in space.
Claiming that there’s really nothing happening in “Ad Astra” is, of course, a bit exaggerated. For example, there are space pirates on the moon targeting the convoy, with Brad Pitt among the travelers. Apparently, building a high-tech space station on the moon is a piece of cake. But a solid defense system to throw naughty space pirates back into the infinite galaxy (far, far away) was apparently too much to ask. Next, there’s also a run-in with a crazy primate on a space ship in distress. And the end of the film is also provided with some fragments that are more action-rich. But most of this two-hour-long SF is nevertheless filled with a lot of complaining, staring at an undefined point and moments of self-reflection. To be honest, I’d call it a demonstration of navel-gazing among the stars.
I confess. I expected something completely different. Let me put it this way. I would have preferred “Ad Astra” to be more in the corner of films such as “Interstellar” or “Gravity” (although I wasn’t a big fan of the latter). The first is a more scientifically oriented SF about black holes and dimensions and whatnot. While “Gravity” wanted to be the most populistic one. And this by having George Clooney and Sandra Bullock make a round dance in space. I link “Ad Astra” to a movie like “High Life“. This was also such a film where the aspect of human psychology and conflict situations between individuals took center stage. And just like the other listed movies, there are some amazing visual highlights in this movie. Those images of space looked impressive on the large silver screen despite their minimalistic character at certain moments. But then again, I wasn’t waiting for a story about an intergalactic father-son relationship with all its ups and downs.
A stunning acting performance by Brad Pitt.
The most impressive thing about the film? The acting by Brad Pitt. The way he plays the astronaut Roy McBride is simply stunning. An autistic character whose numbness and phlegmatic nature make him a suitable candidate for carrying out such an expedition. The way he performs the psychological evaluation tests bears witness to total body control and lack of emotions. Roy McBride is a person whose heart rate never exceeds 80 beats per minute. Not even in a life-threatening situation when he tumbles out of the atmosphere. And the way he shows how emotions slowly seep into his system is simply admirable. After “Once upon a time … in Hollywood” this is also a rendition with which he could receive a well-known award. They also managed to bait star actors such as Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, and Tommy Lee Jones. The roles of the first two, however, have little to no impact.
I can feel it. A nomination is in the air!.
“Ad Astra” is not an epic space story full of sensational space battles or creatively worked out aliens. Apart from some sporadically added action-rich scenes, this is a film full of philosophical musings and impressions of weighty loneliness. I fear that the opinions about “Ad Astra” will be divided. Some will regard it as the most moving film of the year. In general, the Film Press has words of praise for it. So trust me, it’s a film that will be loved by the connoisseurs of the “better” film. Others are more likely to call it plain boring. The message about the loss of a parent and the search for that parent is kind of obvious. There’s even a theological theme to discern. The result, however, is an end-product that looks long-winded with a denouement which isn’t really satisfying. Well, I’m sure that an Oscar nomination will be in place next year. But for me, it remains an honorable mention.
My rating 5/10
Ready or Not: Ultimate Entertainment Was The Main Goal Here
So, at midnight you have to play a game.
It’s just something we do when someone new joins the family.
I have to revise my opinion about the horror/comedy cross-over urgently after seeing “Monster Party” and “The dead don’t die” this year. “Ready or not” is yet another film that pleasantly surprised me. Really. I had a great time watching this movie. And not only because the lead actress Samara Weaving looks appetizing, but also because of the entertaining content. I appreciated the morbid black humor as well. It’s not such absurd humor as in “The dead don’t die“. But the slapstick-like events that were used in it, resulted in a spontaneous chuckle sometimes. There were also quite a few bloody scenes in it. In short, it was fun watching this horror flick.
She had to draw that particular card.
And all because of playing an innocent game of “hide and seek”. Grace (Samara Weaving) chose that on her wedding night by pulling a card out of a wooden box. Apparently, the Le Domas family, who made their fortune in the board gaming world, has a recurring family tradition at weddings. So the moment Grace got a wedding ring from Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), her brand new husband, she unknowingly became part of this tradition. So instead of playing a game of hanky-panky and frolicking in the old-fashioned-looking four-poster bed, the wedding couple is requested to go to the family room to play an old-fashioned board game. What Grace doesn’t realize is that there’s one special card that can have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the evening. Guess what. Yep indeed, she draws the card in question.
A beautiful old Victorian house.
It was not only the course of the story I found enormously fascinating and ingenious. Also, the setting where it all took place was beautiful to see. A huge Victorian house, full of dark corners and niches. Such a huge villa that suits a wealthy family like Le Domas perfectly. Full of wood paneling, majestic staircases, and richly decorated corridors. As a child, you could easily get lost there. And that’s where the innocent “hide and seek” takes place. At the beginning Grace enthusiastically participates. Until she realizes that nobody from the Le Domas family starts the countdown and starts shouting “Ready or Not, Here I come” (hence the film title). Instead, this insane family has armed itself with old, primitive weapons and starts hunting her.
The most hilarious thing about the film is the family members themselves. All of them are cartoonish, caricatural characters. From the authoritarian somewhat empty-headed paterfamilias Tony (Henry Czerny) and his wife Becky (Andie MacDowell) to the scary-looking, shrewish aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni). The latter is the most extreme character. She looks as if she’s a member of a satanic cult with her purple suit, black nail polish and upright Cruella de Vil hairstyle. And when you see her running through the corridors, screaming frantically and waving with a huge lumberjack’s ax, the picture is complete. Add a bunch of other family members to it, such as the alcoholic son Daniel (Adam Brody) and his cheeky wife Charity (Elyse Levesque). The coke-addicted daughter Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) and her cowardly husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun). And of course the butler should not be missing. Together they form a colorful “Adam’s Family” -like collective.
A successful horror/comedy.
Finally something about the horror part. Even though the overall atmosphere is rather lighthearted and caricatural, the hardcore horror fanatic will enjoy certain moments. This gothic horror is filled with a few gory and bloody scenes while maintaining an exciting pace. I found the part in the barn particularly successful and at the same time extremely funny. You see the nail. You see the hole in a hand. And you immediately know how these two facts will be linked. Sublime. And even though you know where it’s going, I was surprised by the denouement. A denouement that would make Quentin Tarantino jealous. And I suppose they wanted to show how huge the gap is between rich and poor. In the end, this was just a minor side issue. “Ready or not” is perhaps the cruel version of the Cinderella fairy tale. But ultimate entertainment was the main goal here. And they certainly have succeeded in that for me.