Archive for the ‘Thriller’ Category

Dark is a German netflix original. It’s riding on the hyped wave of Stranger Things. It has some similarities. Events take place in a small town, surrounded by a forest, close to a well-secured nuclear energy plant. Kids get missing, locals all seem to know each other and a large part of the story takes you back to the eighties. But that’s about it. The atmosphere of the series feels more like Twin Peaks. It’s darker, more mysterious, more dramatic, more philosophical and messier.

The story takes place in 2019, 1986 and 1953. This is important information, because that’s not really clear in the first two episodes, which take place in the present and feel messy. As of episode 3 you feel this series may be worth the watch. Several characters that are introduced in that episode are younger versions of the characters that you already familiarized with. It’s intriguing. A kid gets missing in 2019 and somehow ends up in 1986. But this is no Back To The Future. There is zero humor. Zero romance. Just a lot of dark negativity.

The kid who gets missing in 2019 starts a new life in 1986. So, by 2019 the kid has lived a lie for 33 years! This is pretty unsettling. But intriguing. A lot of questions arise. But only few get answered. The series keeps on introducing subplots and new characters, but never focuses on the main question: how on earth did a guy live for so long next to a younger version of himself? It’s not a plot spoiler. It’s a key element to attract viewers to the show.

By the end of the series pseudo-philosophical and neo-scientific theories are uttered and explained concerning time and space. That’s all intriguing, but it doesn’t really help you explain the plot. The writers must have had fun preparing the script. The preparation desk with all the written-out biographies of each character must be tremendous. All these characters are all intertwined. Some are even related to each other. It’s fun.

BUT… the story doesn’t make sense. Yes, it’s about time travel and yes, it’s (science) fiction. But in the end, it should still feel logical. Which is far from the case here.

But the atmosphere is excellent. The long shots are great. The sun never shines. It rains a lot and it’s always ‘dark’. The soundtrack is creepy. The acting is fine. The concept is brilliant. Time travel isn’t a new theme in cinema. But this time they focus more on the thought: if you could change the past, would you? and what would it mean for the present and the future?

For you to binge-watch and get disturbing nightmares…

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5753856

 

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The Foreigner – (*)

Posted: April 20, 2018 in 1/2, 2017, Action, Revenge, Terrorist

This is a mess. A real mess.

The title is deceiving. This isn’t about a ‘foreigner’, it’s about a series of attacks by a new radical IRA.

Jackie Chan, who plays an Asian restaurant owner who loses his daughter in one of the attacks, is out for revenge. He’s a well-trained soldier and determined to find and eliminate the bombers on his own.

Ok. Good premise.

But then somehow, Jackie Chan disappears in the story and Pierce Brosnan’s character becomes a central figure. He plays a politician, with links to the old IRA and is now not only dealing with a mad ‘Chinaman’ who’s haunting him, but also with his political friends, who are betraying him and with the British PM, who’s accusing him of the attacks.

Then Pierce Brosnan disappears from the screen and they focus on the bombers and their next attacks and the British who try to stop them. Oh and on a hitman who Brosnan’s character hires to kill Jackie’s character.

It’s a mess. A real mess.

And the IRA, really? Why make a movie about fictitious IRA terrorists? We finally kind of forgot they (still) exist. No need to bring paranoia back.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615160

Review after three episodes (six more to go) – *(*)

Part fantasy horror film, part mystery thriller. The first three episodes are confusing. Which is the whole point. The main character has amnesia, but is the key witness in the disappearance of Thomas De Geest. She’s been interred into a psychiatric hospital and gets questioned by both her shrink and a detective. She’s an odd woman. She claims to have amnesia, but the viewer gets to see all kinds of memories in flashback. Why? She’s clearly lying to the shrink and the detective as she remembers snippets of what happened to her in the past and then claims to not know anything. But why?

There are nine episodes. It was a big success on television. It has a lot of renowned actors in the cast. And it is somehow intriguing. Maybe it’s worth watching it until the end. But my god, is it boring. And slow. And the set design is terrible. Several scenes don’t make sense. Give me realism over fantasy anytime. There is no suspense, just weird scary scenes stolen from the vast catalogue of horror movies. Even if you’re not a fantasy film lover, it all feels like it’s been done before a zillion times. A haunted house, a devilish child, electricity blackouts, cape wearing figures, scary dolls, a mysterious man in the forest. Add a cheating husband, a sexually comfortable sixty year old, a foreign looking caretaker/gigolo, weird patients in the psychiatric ward, etc… It’s a mess.

Review after nine episodes – *(*)

So yes, it’s worth watching the series until the end. The final episode does have some surprises in store. But you can’t really talk about a plot twist. The actual plottwist happens at the end of episode 5. It’s not a big surprise for the viewer, but it kind of changes the series from a fantasy thriller to a regular detective drama. The flashbacks are no longer memories of the main character, but rather added for the viewer’s benefit. Which feels like an inconsistency. The acting is ok. But it’s so boring at times. And all these hyped kudos to the director for showing a) depth to the characters and b) beauty in the visuals. Bull. The characters are pretty one-dimensional and the scenes look messy. Also, the way psychiatry is depicted here, is terrible. It’s stereotypical and unoriginal.

Sometimes, a hype is only a hype if you want it to be.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5197860/

Big Little Lies – ***

Posted: February 28, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Thriller, TV series, XXX

It’s quite a feat to make a tv series about rich, married mothers of first graders that can appeal to single, middle class men without kids. The synopsis helps: someone gets killed at a fundraiser event, but nobody knows who and by whom until the very last quarter of the series. The stellar reviews and the many awards help to trigger interest. The amazing cast is also a very strong selling point. And hey, it was definitely worth the watch. This is a great show. The acting is phenomenal and the character development is even better. This a very well written series. There is tension. There is some humor. There’s lust. There’s a lot of DRAMA. But it’s the female characters that make it all work great.

The men on the other hand are stereotypes and of lesser importance. Some side stories are irrelevant (the secret project of Abigail was a bit too much) and the misleading editing doesn’t make sense. Especially those tidbit showing statements from characters that hardly have any importance to the main story. The soundtrack is good, but it’s very unlikely that children and adults actually listen to tracks chosen for this series. One soundtrack choice was really good though: Papa Was Rolling Stone. The end disappoints a bit. But the seven episodes pass by before you know it.

Great television!

And it’s very clear why Nicole Kidman wins all the awards. It’s sad to see Reese Witherspoon miss out on so many awards, but there is no doubt about it. Kidman is the absolute best. Although Shailene Woodley is excellent too. Not sure why she gets nominated as a supporting actress. She’s a main character !

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3920596/ 

 

Another weird movie from the guy that brought us The Lobster. It’s so weird, it’s cool. It unsettling. It’s funny. It’s thrilling at times. It’s a visual treat. The story is again not that strong. (A heart specialist gets jinxed by the kid of a former, deceased patient of his. Now his family has to suffer as well.) But that doesn’t matter. It has a very remarkable opening shot. Go see it. It’s creepy. It sets the tone right. This is Francois Ozon meets Michael Haneke meets Ulrich Seidl. Colin Farell is great at these kind of roles. He’s really the only actor you can imagine playing this part. Nicole Kidman is also doing well. Even though she does all kinds of things you don’t want her to do really. (Get naked, play dead, smoke, hit children,…) There’s that scene where she jerks off a guy to get information. She does it so well. It makes you wonder whatever she did with Harvey Weinstein to get where she is now. Nevertheless. Great acting. Raffey Cassidy is one to watch out for as well. And that Barry Keogh kid kills it! Just go see it and then feel like WTF.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5715874

Some series are worthy of binge watching. Others aren’t. Forbrydelsen isn’t. Of course, once you start watching this 20 episode Danish crime series, you do want to know how it will end. But you do want to know it as soon as possible.

However, this is a 20 episode series! 20 episodes of an hour each. 20 hours to find out who killed a 19y old girl. 20 hours to dig into the secrets of the girl’s family. 20 hours to look into the troubled life of the female detective in charge. 20 hours to figure out what the link is between this girl’s death and the mayoral election campaign. 20 hours of interesting and exciting, but often irrelevant plot twists. 20 hours of chasing and clearing the wrong suspects. 20 hours of listening to Danish. 20 hours of watching pretty incompetent police detectives make mistakes over and over again. 20 hours of watching politicians and their staff talk and talk and talk about clearing their names in the campaign. 20 hours of people changing their story all the time. 20 hours of thinking: why the f*** can people not just tell the truth from the start? (really, it would make everything so much easier, especially for the suspects!) 20 hours of trying to be a detective yourself and shouting at the detectives on screen to stop making mistakes! 20 hours of often thinking: this just doesn’t make sense ! (for instance: when – on two occasions – a character asks the identity of the main mayoral rival, who is in the news all the time as the potential new mayor and as a suspect to the murder.  20 hours of hoping for a surprising end. 20 hours not entirely wasted.

Sure, solving a crime isn’t as easy as what shows like C.S.I. want to make you believe. It takes a while. And cops can fail. Situations can be deceiving. Politics and pressure can play a part. It’s nice to add dept to the story and the characters. It’s nice to show realism. It’s nice to show failure. It makes it all the more believable. The acting is great. That Sofie Gråbøl is phenomenal. But a lot of questions remain unanswered. A lot of plot lines fade away and seem forgotten after a few episodes. Several scenes don’t make sense. And the end is disappointing. If only the series would have been 10 hours. But no. 20 hours. Twenty hours!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0826760/

La Fille De Monaco – *

Posted: July 30, 2017 in 2008, Drama, France, Romance, Thriller, X

A lawyer receives protection from a body guard, sent by the son of his client in a murder case. It takes a while, but after a few days there is a connection between both men who like each other’s company.  And just when you think the story will evolve into a gay romantic adventure in Monte Carlo, a young fresh actress appears on screen who steals the heart of everyone. She has her eye set on the lawyer, but dated the bodyguard in the past…

Intriguing plot synopsis.

Poor execution.

Roschdy Zem (the bodyguard) is quite impressive, as always, but he looks lost in the bizarre dialogues and the crazy story that leads to nothing good at all. This was probably set up as a mix between a romantic comedy and crime thriller, but there’s is no romance, no comedy, no crime and no thrilling element….

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1139800