Rose, you do know if this is your father’s final work, it could be a huge sensation.
Yes, well, that much had occurred to me.
And if this score was more important to him than I was, I’d like to know why.
Do you like a dash of classical music? And are you a fan of Gothic horror movies such as “Crimson Peaks” for example? Well, then you’ll certainly enjoy yourself with this movie “The Sonata“. However, if you are looking for a scary and nerve-racking horror, then it would be best to ignore it. Because it really isn’t creepy at all. Only the background music tries its best to make it all a bit more exciting. Even worse. In this film, classical music is even the means par excellence for opening the gate to hell so the Prince of Darkness in person can walk amongst us. All quite mysterious but the film just didn’t make it to the “horror” category.
Music soothes the soul… Well, not in this flick.
The most unique thing about the film is the fact that Rutger Hauer shows up in it. Most likely his last achievement in the field of acting. But don’t get too excited. The number of times he appears on screen is fairly limited. He may be the central figure in this mystery, which mainly takes place on French territory, but still, he plays a minor role. Hauer plays the eccentric composer Richard Marlowe who has withdrawn to an old mansion from the 10th century to compose a final symphony there. Marlowe may not have been a famous composer, but he was a notorious one. “A trendy composer” as Charles Vernais (Simon Abkarian), the agent of the talented violinist Rose Fisher (Freya Tingley), claims. The Syd Barrett of the classical music scene, as it were. When Richard Marlowe dies, his daughter Rose (her father disappeared out of her life when she was 14 months old) inherits the estate and his notorious past. And when the wayward Rose travels to France to view the dilapidated estate, she finds, miraculously, the latest creation of her deceased father. A violin sonata that, according to her agent, could cause quite a stir in the world of classical music. Did they know that this bundle of scores full of musical notes and mysterious signs would become a completely different source of misery?
“The Sonata” is not really a movie to remember. There are too many flaws to be discovered in it. First of all, there’s the acting part. This was generally acceptable. But at times it was simply bad. As if the actors weren’t able to empathize with their character suddenly. The only one who continued to act on the same level was Freya Tingley. Not only she’s a natural beauty. Her acting as the somewhat emotionless and resentful Rose is absolutely splendid. The most disappointing thing about this film was the CGI. I haven’t seen such outdated special effects for a long time. Most probably the budget must be blamed. Especially the graphics at the end of the film was laughable. And as said before, there’s also the total lack of tension or creepiness. Apart from a single “jump scare”, this was a rather weak aspect. And many will complain about the denouement. A “That’s it?” sigh won’t be far away. And some things didn’t make much sense either. For instance. Despite the alienation from her father (even being ignorant of whether he’s alive or not), Rose doesn’t hesitate for a second to travel to France and move into a ruin that looks like a haunted house. Weird.
Possessed things but still nothing special.
Naturally, you expect a film about a possessed house where restless souls roam around. In a sense, that’s true, but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s rather a film about obsession and the power that lies in music. The most positive thing about the film is the overall atmosphere they managed to create. And this mainly due to the set-up. An age-old country house with dark, drafty rooms full of cobwebs. Where people still have to use such a medieval-looking candlestick at night. But the soundtrack also contributed to the mood. Something I don’t really pay attention to normally. But I have to admit that classical music is extremely suitable to give it a more spooky touch. Only the music wasn’t enough to make it a scary movie. A nice attempt. A pleasure to see Rutger again. But unfortunately, nothing special either.
My rating 5/10
Uncut Gems – This Was Actually Worthy Of An Oscar Nomination
That’s a million dollar opal you are holding.
Straight from the Ethiopian Jewish tribe.
Are you in the middle of a nasty divorce? Or are you at home on sick leave because of burnout due to your stressful job that demands too much from you? Or are those two revolting teenagers at home, who go through puberty right now, making you so much upset that you almost have no fingernails anymore? Good advice! Ignore this movie and look for another soothing movie. Because “Uncut Gems” will certainly not be ideal for your peace of mind. I’m afraid that after 20 minutes you’ll be throwing snacks at the screen out of frustration while pulling your hair out of sheer desperation. Because it’s the most stressful film ever. It drives up the tension throughout the whole movie in a merciless way to an extreme level. Believe me, at the end of the film my heart rhythm was proportional to that of the exhilarating rhythm of this tragicomic film.
Nerve-wracking at an absurd high pace.
Not only is it a nerve-wracking film. The pace of the film is also absurdly high. A movie like an out of control high-speed train. It seemed as if everyone is running from pillar to post at an inhuman pace. From the beginning of the film, it looks like you are being thrown into a centrifuge that’s spinning at a dizzying speed and where the speed never diminishes. Up to and including the denouement. Then the emergency brake is pulled swiftly and the tumultuous life of jeweler Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) abruptly comes to a halt. And if you are annoyed by the use of the “f” word, I warn you already. There are a few hidden in every dialogue.
Frankly, I’m not a Sandler fan.
I’m not at all an Adam Sandler fan. The few films I saw with him (“Click“, “Blended” and “The Cobbler“) were disappointing in my eyes. Maybe it’s the humor used by Sandler. Maybe it’s the person Sandler himself I have a problem with. And to be honest, I always avoid movies with his name on the film poster. It surprised me when I read somewhere that he’s the best-paid actor in Hollywood. But after seeing “Uncut Gems” I have to drastically adjust my opinion about the actor Sandler. It’s not a real comedy (in a reasonably morbid way you could see some kind of humor in it) although you could say that the character Sandler is playing here, is kind of a caricature. Howard, a Jewish jeweler in the metropolis of New York, tries to get his chaotic life back on track. An Ethiopian opal should take care of that. An uncut diamond that according to Howard could muster a fortune at an auction. A fortune with which he can pay off his debts to pawnbrokers and underworld figures. Debts incurred due to his uncontrollable gambling addiction. Until the famous basketball star Kevin Garnett (Kevin Garnett himself) steps in his diamond shop and asks if he could borrow the precious thing because he feels it exudes a primal power. A power that could bring his performance to an unprecedented height during the upcoming important match.
Oscar nomination worthy.
Well, and when KG doesn’t return the precious good to Howard at the agreed time, it’s the start of a nerve-racking race. A race in which Howard’s life is turned into a hell by nasty people, debt collectors, his wife (Idina Menzel who hates him wholeheartedly and calls him the most annoying person in the world) and his mistress Julia (Julia Fox). Even though Howard is indeed a highly annoying person without scruples or any kind of courtesy, you still feel sorry for this man whose life is collapsing like a house of cards. And even though I got nervous because of the Mr. Bean-like character of the film where Howard screws up every time he makes a decision over and over again, this film still managed to entertain me. I could never have imagined that I would ever say this, but Adam Sandler is simply playing his role in an exceptionally excellent way. This was actually worthy of an Oscar nomination. Hopefully, Sandler developed a taste for serious movies now and will make another attempt with a serious role (in a hopefully less hectic setting) in the future. However, I’m afraid that we’ll be seeing a load of comedies (filled with offbeat, childish humor) before that’ll happen.
My rating 7/10
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.