Some unhappy families are unluckier than others

Looks like A24, founded in 2012 and quickly becoming a major player in movie distribution, is pulling quality horror flicks out of a hat with disquieting regularity: they brought us The VVitch in 2015, It Comes At Night and The Killing of a Sacred Deer last year. Ok, for some, Sacred Deer is not exactly a horror movie, but like the others, it features a family in distress. And so does Hereditary. And if you find an unhappier, unluckier family than the Grahams anywhere in film or literature, you were looking maybe too hard. Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Looper (2012)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Bruce Willis has made far more stinkers during his career than really good movies. Time travel is often just a gimmick for action-loaded sci-fi flicks, and used in a wrong or physically impossible manner. If you are certain of these things, then obviously, you haven’t seen Rian Johnson’s Looper. And I think you should. I am not much of a sci-fi or fantasy fan, but Looper lets a few of my pet peeves come together and turns them into a pretty good flick. Continue reading

Soldiering on

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is a textbook example of diminishing returns. What is missing most of all is Kate Macer, the Emily Blunt character from Denis Villeneuve’s original Sicario (2015), who provided us with an entry into the seriously skewed ethics of clandestine missions across the US-Mexican border in the unwinnable war on drugs. Also missing is Roger Deakins’ excellent camera work. Soldado, again written by Taylor Sheridan, and directed by Stefano Sollima, an Italian director with experience in crime stories (the Gomorra series), focuses instead on the two characters we already know: Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), the US government’s go-to guy for unsavoury operations and unusual footwear, and Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), the vengeful hired gun. This time round, the US government finds that terrorists disguised as Mexicans have crossed the border. That makes the crossing a terrorist act in their eyes, and so they are allowed to retaliate. See what I mean by skewed ethics? Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Halt and Catch Fire (2014)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Whenever there is something technical to be done about this site, it’s not me. I don’t have it in me, and I need constant technical advice and supervision. So the joke is probably on me when I tell you that I really like the first season of Halt and Catch Fire, an AMC series that started in 2014 and ended last year with its 4th season. HaCF is about a small Texas computer hardware company called Cardiff Electronics in the 1980s, where three employees go rogue and secretly want to beat giant blue chip IBM in building a better, affordable computer. Continue reading

It’s not just all in your head if it’s contagious

It Comes At Night made me realize that some horror movies have too many ingredients. This one here contains: a family of three in a boarded-up, but otherwise intact, creaky house in the woods, banks of fog, sleeplessness and nightmares. That’s it. There are no aliens, knife-wielding loonies, supernatural catastrophes, magical-realist occurrences, ominous messages from beyond, or ghosts of any kind. There is no longer any electricity, and there is also no nonsense about someone sabotaging the generator in the middle of the night because there isn’t one. Paul and Sarah and their teenage son Travis have to make do with camping lanterns. That sounds slightly arthouse-y and intellectual for a horror flick, but it’s way better than any other genre exercise I’ve come across lately, with the exception of A Quiet Place.

Continue reading

The Rear-View Mirror: Swiss Army Man (2016)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

Swiss Army Man is one of those movies that I didn’t think much of at the time, but my mind kept going back to it a surprising number of times, even now, two years later, and I am not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s because in my teenage years, I had big problems walking over to a girl and starting a conversation. Hank (Paul Dano) has the same problem, and he seems to be able to create an imaginary friend just when he wants to hang himself on a deserted island. The imaginary friend is a washed-up corpse, dressed in a wet and rumpled suit and played by Daniel Radcliffe. Sometimes quirky is just what the doctor ordered. Continue reading

Combing the beach for joie de vivre

Marie Bäumer has been compared to Romy Schneider for so long that it was really only a question of time that she would play her. Emily Atef’s black-and-white 3 Days in Quiberon uses that likeness to great effect, so much so that when I picked the stills for this post, I had to check twice which actor I was looking at. The movie revolves around Schneider’s stay in a rehab resort on the French coast in March 1981, where she wants to give an interview to journalist Michael Jürgs from the German magazine Stern. It seems to be shot at least partly in its original locations. There is history between her and her favorite photographer Robert Lebeck, and she asks one of her friends, Hilde Fritsch, to come and keep her company. For Schneider, any interview was a double-edged sword because she inevitably would be asked about leaving Germany for France, the suicide of her first husband and the custody battle for her son, and of course about the Sissi trilogy. On the other hand, she was eager to go on making movies. Continue reading