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 Hauer plays the eccentric composer Richard Marlowe who has withdrawn to an old mansion from the 10th century to compose a final symphony there.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
Vivarium: An Intriguing Movie With An Exceptional Set-up
And far enough.
Just the right distance.
During this Corona crisis, watching a movie was an impossible task for me. Let alone that I could write down a sensible word to form an opinion. But now three weeks later, the urge to watch a movie once again came back. And I could focus on the movie without my mind wandering off to some disaster scenarios. Apparently, my doom thinking disappeared. And hurray. Even the traditional formulation of an opinion was possible again. Only the choice of film was a bit unfortunate. “Vivarium” isn’t exactly a movie that’ll make you happy. It has many similarities with the situation people in the world are in today. Isolated and tied to one specific living space. No contact with others. And a feeling of powerlessness, fear, and despair. However, it’s not a deadly virus why Gemma (Imogen “Green Room” Poots) and Tom (Jesse “The Social Network” Eisenberg) are in this situation.
It looks like a painting by Magritte.
Let me warn you first. “Vivarium” isn’t exactly an everyday film. It’s very confusing and probably boring to some. Not only because of the painfully slow pace. But also because of the repetitive character of the film. And mainly, because of the completely surreal and absurd theme of this film. To be honest, from the start I had the feeling that I was looking at a surreal painting by Margritte. Those artificial, unnatural looking perfect clouds against a clear blue sky. The identical row houses in a distasteful green color. Everything looks artificial and unreal. As insignificant and abstract as the name of the neighborhood itself: “Yonder”.
How do we get out of here?
Gemma and Tom, a young couple that wants to settle down and are looking for an affordable home, end up at a real estate agency one day. The eerie-sounding and unworldly-reacting real estate agent invites them to visit a house in a suburb that’s just been built. At first sight a well-kept neighborhood. But at the same time a frightening neighborhood where all houses and gardens look identical. While Gemma and Tom visit the house, with house number 9, they’ve actually made a decision already. While viewing the nursery, bright blue and therefore already intended as a boys’ room, they suddenly realize that the real estate agent Martin (Jonathan Aris) has vanished into thin air. And after a while they discover that they’re not getting out of this maze of identical houses in any way. They have to accept that they are forever trapped in this artificial world.
What an annoying and strange little boy.
From then on, “Vivarium” becomes an uncomfortable film. As a viewer, you feel the despair and watch the youthful and lively couple evolve into an apathetic and indifferent duo whose daily routine consists of eating tasteless astronaut food and caring for a bizarre child. They found the boy at their front door in a cardboard box. Raising this child would be an opportunity to escape, as the message reads on the box. Only this toddler creates a conflict between Gemma and Tom. Not only does the boy’s behavior create tension. Their relationship with this strange little boy is also different. The little fellow seems to be not of this world, as well. His growth pattern isn’t normal. His behavior and way of communicating (he speaks with the voice of Gemma and Tom) are both absurd and annoying. The psychotic shouting until he gets his way would make me go ballistic for sure. And that’s how Tom responds. While Gemma, as a kindergarten teacher, creates a stronger bond with the nasty little boy, Tom reacts hostile and turns to digging a bottomless pit. Probably to find a way out.
I thought it was a captivating movie.
Don’t expect a conclusive explanation at the end of the movie. To be honest, there were as many open questions at the end of the movie as there were at the beginning. The final message was not really clear to me. Is it about the colorless and monotonous, routine life that some of us lead? Is it an indictment of our modernist and materialistic society? Or a satirical view of that society? Or are aliens using humanity to breed their species in an infinite cycle? Like the cuckoo at the beginning. Maybe I expected a little more. But in the end I thought “Vivarium” was an intriguing movie with an exceptional set-up, kind of unusual images and yet some admirable acting. In particular Imogen Poots left a lasting impression. However, I fear that not everyone will share the same opinion.
My rating 6/10
Guns Akimbo: This Film Is Simply Top-Notch Entertainment
I would have shot you in the dick,
if the target wasn’t so small.
“Guns Akimbo” is simply too absurd for words. It’s absolute nonsense and you shouldn’t take it too seriously. It’s simply “over the top” pulp and looks as if it’s based on some Asian comic strip. But believe me. This film is simply top-notch entertainment. A roller coaster that slowly takes a very steep run-up and then crashes into the depth with a breakneck-speed, shaking you back and forth. And this crazy, hyperkinetic ride lasts until the end. The action scenes with Nix (Samara Weaving) are equivalent to those in “John Wick“. Flashy editing. Blood splattering when bullets rip apart human flesh in slow motion. And all this under the guidance of an energetic soundtrack where you will hear amongst other “The Ballroom Blitz” from The Sweet. In short, I greatly enjoyed this film for an hour and a half.
Once again respect for the actor Radcliffe.
I have infinite respect for the actor Daniel Radcliffe. This guy could have benefited all his life from the “Harry Potter” stamp that they have tattooed on his forehead. It would have been possible to come up with a few sequels without any problems and without hesitation they could have exploited the success formula of the book series and film versions. He could also have demanded to be part of the “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them” franchise. But no. Instead, Radcliffe opted for not so obvious projects such as “Kill your Darlings“, “Horns” and “Swiss Army Man“. A homosexual-tinted film, full of literary blabbering on the one hand. And on the other hand a film about a friendship between a castaway and a corpse. It’s hard to say that these were commercially safe films that suit the fantasy-loving Harry Potter fans. And to avoid any misunderstanding. I was also enchanted by the Potter films (at least the first four anyway).
Where did these freaking guns come from?
So no magic formulas, mythological creatures and a Radcliffe with a wizard hat showing a boyish, shy smile. Nope, he’s a nobody in this flick. A nobody with a futureless job, who empties one beer bottle after the other while playing violent video games at home. And as a notorious online troll hunter, Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) cannot resist posting derogatory comments on the “Skizm” website and provoking supporters of this obscure platform. “Skizm” is an illegal website that organizes duels in real life where opponents try to eliminate each other. And this is thrown on the internet and followed by hundreds of thousands of fanatic fans and bettors. Obviously, the first movie that came to mind was “Death Match“. The organizer of all this is an ugly tattooed guy called Riktor (Ned Dennehy) who’s obviously completely nuts and is accompanied by a gang of weirdos whose muscle mass is noticeably heavier than the weight of their brains. And Riktor isn’t happy with the muscular language Miles places on his forum. And before the latter realizes it, he lies in bed with two automatic guns bolted to both his hands. And furthermore, he himself is a candidate for a duel between him and Nix.
With this film, Daniel Radcliffe leaves his comfort zone for the umpteenth time and tries to show that he’s more than just Harry Potter. A bushy beard, constantly covered in blood and using a portion of self-mockery and humor, ensure that. Not to mention his clothing: a checkered dressing gown, boxer shorts, and fluffy giant slippers in the shape of tiger claws. For Samara Weaving, this is a little bit an extension of her role in “Ready or Not“. The same bloody and over-the-top situations. But here she got more of a Harley Quinn attitude. A disturbed, fearless person who’s extremely effective in terms of eliminating opponents. That her insane behavior was caused by an incident in her youth is briefly mentioned, but in fact, has no impact or significance. This mindless action film has only one goal in mind and that’s to show chaotic and limitless action. And all this topped with a sauce of humor à la “Deadpool“. There are quite a few hilarious moments in this film. The hand-mounted guns that cause problems for Miles to accomplish daily routines. Like for instance opening a door. Or making a phone call. And peeing is even a hazardous thing to do. The Australian-sounding hobo (Rhys Darby) was simply hilarious with his advice on suicide techniques and his Cypress Hill imitation. How he got Miles in that coat, however, remains a mystery to me.
Wtf is Akimbo?
If you can’t stand a chaotic storyline and you get annoyed when it’s a movie that’s plain predictable and that looks more like an exaggerated comic, then I recommend you avoid this one. Or you don’t take a too critical attitude and you simply undergo the film. Perhaps then you can appreciate the vibrant pace, the screamy images, the creative camera techniques and the complete insane undertone of this movie with a limited budget. “Guns Akimbo” is certainly not a film for everyone because of the video game-like mood and the raw sense of humor. And for those who want to know what the film title actually means: Akimbo is a combat technique in which two weapons are used, with one in each hand. Well, I had to look it up myself.
My rating 7/10
Colewell: A Realistic Character Study, Without Frills
The thing about getting older is looking back,
it doesn’t matter how old you are,
life always feels the same length.
Like both forever and not very long.
You’ve just seen “Uncut Gems” and you feel the nerves raging through your body after watching this ultra-nervous film? Well, I recommend you to watch the film “Colewell“. Believe me. After watching this film, you’ll feel completely relaxed again. There are no situations full of agitated behavior. No feverish activity. Everything is calm and peaceful. This cozy and pleasant film progresses at a leisurely pace. Like the gently rippling water in a quiet stream. Just about the pace of someone in old age who performs the same ritual every day and eagerly awaits his well-deserved retirement. Only Nora (Karen Allen) was not yet ready for that well-deserved rest that is now being forced upon her.
The same routine every morning.
Nora is an older lady who runs a local post office in the small village of Colewell, somewhere in Pennsylvania. And trust me on this, when I say you can admire her morning routine several times. A morning where she will check the chicken coop for freshly laid eggs. And every time she checks the state of one of the laying hens because it’s upset because of newly added fellow hens and thus refuses to squeeze such a fragile object through her poopybutthole. Then it’s time for breakfast (with a firm omelet made with fresh eggs) and a getting dressed ritual before she opens the door of the post office (located at her place) to welcome the villagers. Everything is performed dutifully and meticulously. And I’m sure she did this from day one.
A changing world.
“Colewell” is about aging and the preservation of certain values of life. At the same time, it’s also about the fear of losing these certain values. And the rapidly changing world around us. When a decision is made to forget about certain post offices and integrate them into the larger whole, Nora sees those values disappearing like snow in the sun. The day after she’s being confronted with this terrible decision at the US Postal Service headquarters, she sinks into an emotional pit and consciously skips her daily rituals. As if it all no longer matters. The choices that were proposed to her are both not adequate solutions for her. Relocating to a larger city to work there at the post office. Or retire. Both are alternatives that Nora disregards.
The post office has a social function.
The post office in Colewell has an additional function. It’s the meeting place for the local population. There’s gossiping, stockings are knitted, food is exchanged and life stories shared. In short, it’s the heart of a community. And the members of this community are heartbroken when they are told that their beloved assembly point is about to disappear. Initiatives are being taken to turn the tide and efforts are being made to safeguard Nora’s workplace. But as soon as they realize that this is a futile effort, everyone accepts the situation and the social contacts move to other locations. To the dismay of Nora.
Do you want an action-rich movie? Skip this one.
“Colewell” is endearing, serene and melancholic at the same time. A subdued drama about how it feels to grow older and then suddenly realize that your functional role has been played out and two arrogant younger people say this without hesitation in your face. Or you’ll be flexible or you pack it up and make room for the future generation. A realistic character study, without frills. But not entirely. The moment Ella (Hannah Gross) shows up at Nora’s place, realism turns into vagueness. It’s not really clear whether this is Nora’s free-spirited daughter or a figment of Nora’s imagination representing the younger Nora. Anyway. Do you like action-rich movies that are nervewracking exciting? Well, I suggest skipping this one. The easy-going nature of the film may well get on your nerves.
My rating 5/10
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