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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Bleak. That is the first word that came to my mind after seeing the film. The last time that happened was after finishing reading “The Road”, and it is no coincidence that some reviews take on that parallel. This, actually, is more bleak. While The Road depicts bleak life after a catastrophic fictitious event, here we find bleakness right in front of our eyes, in our everyday life, in an area somewhere in Missouri, among families who can hardly survive. A girl who needs to raise her two siblings and take care of her mother “who went crazy to get away from all this”, financial woes, survival techniques. How many films have I seen where a kid is taught how to skin a squirrel? Zero, I think. As if this was not bleak enough, her father (perennial drug cook and dealer) put in their farm house as security for his prison bail, and now he is nowhere to be found. That moves Ree (the fantastic !! Jennifer Lawrence) out on a quest to find him, so that they can keep that little bit of world that they can call home, bleak as it may be. Along with her, we meet the most terrible characters the American hinterland has to offer, and only through great persistence does Ree manage to collect the information about her father’s whereabouts, piece by piece.

The star of the movie is that piece of land where the story takes place: it oozes frostiness and hostility, and I would not be surprised to find a warning sign upon arrival “enter the world of despair and violence”. The action taking place in this land is slow, everything seems like slow motion. Still, it moves forward, and the script manages to get some hope into the last scenes.

Update: I just tried to come up with a list of my favourite films for the last couple of moths, and it seems Winter’s Bone is way up there… odd…

Update 2: I watched it again Sept 2011, almost 9 months later, and it is getting better! what I realized this time more than last time is how subtly the script weaves in the “quest”, or “task” the heroine has to complete – there is actually a motif of  a thriller, a riddle to be solved, and this allows the atmosphere, the tapestry on which all this is painted to be all the more bleak, because there is a thrilling story that drives you forward and holds you gripped. There are good guys and bad guys, even though you have to stretch the definition of “good”. Survival instincts have taught  Ree great skills both in terms of cooking stew out of nothing and in talking back to bond hunters, this is a really well written script, like a desperately realistic counter-version of “Juno” for grown-ups.

Everything you want from a book or a film: kings and swords, magic and dragons, sex and incest, eunuchs and whores, dwarfs and ghosts. A refreshing abundance of nudity, violence and juicy language.

It was an odd experience: while reading the book (vol 1 of the “increasingly inaccurately called trilogy” … no that was another one), I could not resist the temptation (I can resist anything but temptation… no, yet another one) to have peek at the tv show. It made me read faster, because I needed to finish reading before I could watch, watching seemed to be such a pleasure. And it remained so: through the careful drafting of the screenplay, obviously under very strict instructions by co-producer   and novel author George R.R. Martin, and through well-advised and slight modifications to the original plot and dialogues, I found “Game of Thrones” to be a fabulous tv experience. Opulent production design, voluptuous women, vicious men, fabulous settings (only sometimes a bit heavy on the cgi backdrops),

They adjusted the setting in just the right ways: making the children older on average to have more credible acting and character faces on screen (I assume that was the reason), adding segments to clarify the roles of the abundance of characters. This works even better than in the book at times, HBO authors surely have some techniques at hand to create a decent mix of complexity yet understandability. A few of the faces may be a bit too clean and mainstream, such as Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister – initially I wondered whether there really can only be one actor playing “dwarf parts” – I wished for somebody more ugly and crooked. However: the longer the show went on, the more I liked what he did and how he did it – he carries the part of secret hero with short legs with gravity, slyness ruthlessness – all you may wish for.

Lord Eddard suspiciously looks as if they originally wanted to give the part to Robin Hood Gladiator, `Khal Drogo looks like Conan (I wonder why?) and the Dragon lady Daenerys was mostly wooden, even when naked (at least her brother will not bother us any longer) – but most of the actors are doing a great job in looking rotten (Petyr), cunning (Petyr… well, everybody and the Queen), obnoxious (Joffrey) or overwhelmed by events (the whole Stark/Snow family, really).

If I read very fast, I should make it through volume 2 of the books until season 2 starts  … only 1000 more pages to go!

Michael Moore at the height of his game. He is stunned by the American affection for violence, and starts off from some particularly violent incidents such as the murders at Columbine High School in Littleton and the murder of a primary school girl in his home town of Flint to find explanations for this. He manages to show his own surprise at the result, and he shares his inability to find answers. Having the large number and free availability of guns as one starting point was good, but leads to nothing – the Canadians have an equal number, and they just refuse to shoot each other. He finds traces in the news media, how fear is being sold at any time, and how large industries have very good reasons to keep feeding the existential fear against your neighbours. This path he does not explore to the end, actually he does not follow through with any path, but being with him when he desperately looks down yet another alley and yet another statistic where he could find hints of an answer is very impressive. There are touching moments such as the footage of the mother of the 6 year old shooter and the police investigator who interviewed him after he shot the girl, there is a somehow spectacular success when K-Mart caves in and agrees to not sell ammunition anymore. There are pointless effort at drawing the celebrity card with the owner of the restaurant where the kid’s mother works, and an ambiguous success in exposing Charlton Heston’s role as a gun advocate. The latter has drawn the most attention, and there has been some pity for the old Moses. I am slightly ashamed to say that I was happy to see him shamed, because he has built a nice and generous after-career career with the Rifle Association, and he is feeding off the fears and paranoia of a sick society.

Michael Moore has invented a new genre, I believe, and that may be called the “Michael Moore-umentary” – it is not neutral, not at all, it is emotional and biased in its approach, but it does not hide that fact. It is like a conversation with a friend in a bar going emotional: it will not convince you if your opinion was different to begin with, but it will require you to listen and to talk, which may be a good step into the right direction.

This may be the weirdest Ken Loach film I have ever seen. It comes along pretending to be yet another reflective and unexcited look into the minds of simple folk, and then all of a sudden it’s a political thriller, and then it’s an action war drama, and then it’s a reflective and unexcited look into…  this film takes its motives from “Lions for Lambs”, but also from “Hurt Locker” in that it takes us back into the blunt, hostile and violent reality of fighting a war in Iraq. Most of it is characterized, however, by not being there anymore, by trying to cope with other realities, the post-war intercultural shock back home, and the fact that trust has been destroyed for good. The “hero” ends up not being a hero at all, but merely a man who was deceived first by others, then by himself, and must pay the price for trying follow heroic role models. He learns that life would be terribly easy if we let Hollywood write the script, but is fatally complicated when reality kicks in.

“Route Irish” is not a perfect filom, but it has perfect moments and perfect intentions – and it a Ken Loach film, and that is more than most other film have going for themselves. Watch!

Ken Loach channel on Youtube, with some full-length features:

Isn’t Joe Pesci the most crazy mobster you have ever met? And Ray Liotta the most naïve? And his wife the most corrupt? And Christopher Moltisanti the most… no, wrong film, but there are so many astounding moments where the life of the wise guys in Goodfellas and the happy family of the Sopranos seem like two segments of the same world, with the same habits and rituals and values and delusions and ill choices that “The Sopranoes” could have been called “Goodfellas TV” without doing anybody injustice.

I had not seen the films in many years, and the first thing that I realized I had forgotten is that the main narrator Henry actually makes it pretty high up in the Mafia ranks, but being Irish stays an outsider all the same.  He romaticises his life, but he also conveys what is so great about this family system – being part of a warm-hearted machinery that protects you and catches you if anything happens. Unless you become a liability, which will lead to immediate termination of the relationship and everything else. This cozy family atmosphere makes a lot of the beauty of Goodfellas, especially contrasted to the sometimes ghastly everyday business of producing and getting rid of human bodies, coercing business partners into fulfilling their contractual obligations or just finishing off people who apply the wrong kind of humour at the wrong time. I have to admit that there were a couple of minutes towards the end where I was checking the clock to see how long it would go, it is not woven as tightly as I remember, and certain stylistic elements (like the use of pop music on the soundtrack or the freezing of frames) are slightly overdone. Still a classic that will probably never cease to be fascinating and gripping.

This was Michael Moore’s first film that I did not like too much. Watching it again today confirms my impression that making the film was rather driven by the urge of making a film about what was called the War on Terror rather than having something specific to make a film about. Moore picks up some aspects here and there, some are more convincing, some less. I am not sure whether he wants this to happen, but one of his main characters, an excessively patriotic woman who takes pride in raising the flag every morning and having had half of her family in one war or the other, is the most worst witness of the prosecution against an illegitimate war. She only starts re-considering her opinion about the war when her own child gets killed in Iraq, never flinched when others got killed. All she has to offer is the mourning about this child, she never understands the larger point of wars maybe being questionable in principle and takes this whole thing as a completely self-centered effort of somehow coping with this single death, not giving a damn about all the others, especially on the Iraqi side. Maybe the most terrible person  I have ever seen depicted in a documentary. Then there are nice Moore moments where he tries to convince congressmen into enlisting their own children for a war they have confirmed. There are interviews with US soldiers in Iraq explaining how you best get pumped up for combat by attaching a nice rock CD to the intercom system. Pictures of wounded and dead, of children playing and women crying. The images are powerful, but they have to be interpreted as a provocation, because hardly ever is there a balanced “documentary” approach to the editing, the film is more a provocative and angry op-ed, exaggerating the visual means to get a point across. That point is understood, and probably even accepted these days in most parts of the world, but when you watch Fahrenheit 9-11 today, it seems like a lot of visual and narrative effort to get that message across. Still an interesting watch today.

The second old Luc Besson film in as many days, and one with a lot more charme and local flavor. Here, as in Leon, you also have crazy criminals, shoot-friendly burglars and ruthless police officers. You also have a certain vulnerability of the lead, however, as Nikita, the girl who turns from drug addict come murderer, becomes this special agent killing and following orders machine. She can do that, but she retains the tension of the girl who only wants to be liked and loved and who does not want to grow up. Yet she has to bear the responsibility of an unforgiving job and while she knows that dragging a man into this life will not do good to anybody, she cannot resist the temptation – and suffers from it.

Jean-Hughes Anglade has a great part here, he is completely humble and quiet, not daring to push Nikita into any direction or revelation for fear of losing her, and it is the strong composure of both male lead roles that make Nikita a great watch even today. The culminating anti-climax between the two is still one of my favourite endings of a movie ever, as they have to deal with their loss and grief.


If anyone had a doubt that Luc Besson has lost his touch, watch the recent Columbiana … but it made me nostalgic for the good old days when he was perceived to be an original re-inventor of violent thrillers, with his very personal style. I wondered whether that was a phenomenon of its time, or whether these films hold up a reality check today, so I came back to watch two of them: La Femme Nikita and Leon. And the first thing that I realized with surprise was that Leon is an English-language film… I always associated Besson with that very special flair of French-ness, but of course the film takes place in the US, so no surprise here. And maybe that is the reason why watching it today it loses quite a bit of its flair. It is in a way just another action flick that stands out only because of its actors, the story is completely generic and the production design and atmosphere do not have a lot to contribute.  So it is about Jean Reno in his prime, against Gary Oldman in caricature mode (he should have watched Die Hard before taking on that part, Alan Rickman shows you how to play crazy villain in style). And all decorated by Nathalie Portman who – at least I perceived this to be the case much more now than I did at the time when the film came out – is presented as a forbidden sex fantasy, hotpants, voluptuous lips and all.

There are some nice sequences in the film, and the action has a nice and down-to-earth tangibility to it. At the end of the day, Leon did not sustain its quality through the ages they way I had wished it to.

I am not sure whether “Hunger” is an excellent movie, but it is definitely excellent. A counter-concept to other Northern Ireland-related productions like Paul Greengrass’ frantic “Bloody Sunday”, “Hunger” is a very calm film at most times.  It is more a series of impressions, actually, than a film with a narrative. The focus on the main characters shifts, from some newly arrived IRA prisoners to Bobby, played by Michael Fassbender, who is a leader figure and decides to organize a hunger strike to protest against the imprisonment conditions for the IRA members and fighters.

You could direct this as a dramatic build-up to the resolution of the government caving in (which happened), but McQueen is not interested in this form of drama, he seeks to find and show dramatic situations that do not need historical context to be powerful. The forms of creative and artistic protest in the prison cells, the meetings of the inmates with their families and the well-trained handover techniques of contraband, the courageously long and calm centerpiece of the movie where Bobby tries to defend his hunger strike plan against a priest, the process of dying by deprivation. All these elements are not really related by anything other than they happen in one place, a prison specializing in taking in, torturing and degrading IRA terrorists.

How strongly both sides rely on rituals to continue their fight behind the prison walls is stunning: choreographed beating of prisoners, dedicated beaters to treat the prisoners while they get a bath and a haircut, coordinated prisoner action to flood the corridors with whatever kind of liquid they can produce. Finally a crass process of watching a “leader of man” die, with a little bit of grace, but really hunger strikes do not leave much room for that. The collapse of every single organ is not a process leaving the person a glorious liberation fighter – it leaves them ugly and dead after long suffering.

Fassbender’s transformation is frightening, I very much hope he had some contractually guaranteed excessive meals after the shooting wrapped. He plays Bobby not with outbursting leadership attitude (no inspirational “Braveheart” speeches to be found here), but as someone who silently does what he needs to do, only very rarely losing his composure. With him and Viggo Mortensen around, who can be worried about modern cinema?

Hah! The de-glorification movie of the century. It has all the ingredients of the classic John Wayne vehicle: the Oregon trail, settlers lost in the desert, the shady guide, the perilous Indian… but it is all so different. The desert is spectacularly ugly and hostile in a very beautiful fashion, the settlers hardly talk, and if they do, only the necessities of the trail are discussed. The women look like witches floating across the barren soil when they are walking next to their carriages in their vast gowns. The guide (Mr Meek) is  most likely useless, but always full of good advice and preconceptions about the world, men, women, Indians. Is this what a documentary would have filmed during the trail? There is certainly not much glamour to be seen, but the sheer will of the settlers to just survive the damn thing and get to the other side – or at least to the nearest water hole.

Michelle Williams’ character is the only one that is allowed to break out of its walking coma a bit, with her trying to retain some form of humanity and reflection. We can imagine her to become the tough leader of the settler pack once they have arrived at their destination. But they are not there yet, and might never manage.

Barren, bleak, Kelly Reichardt. “We’re not lost, we are just finding our way.” Great film.

If you are looking for the definition of a non-Rom-Com, the words “Kelly Reichardt” will yield good results. I have recently seen “Old Joy”, I have seen clips from “Meek’s Cutoff”, and now I have seen “Wendy and Lucy”… life is grim in Reichardt’s world. For Wendy, played with an interesting mix of stern dedication and vulnerability by Michelle Williams, life is not a happy place today: her car broke down, she got arrested and fined for shoplifting dog food, and that dog Lucy disappeared from where she had been parked in front of the supermarket. Every step is a step down a spiral that brings about more bleakness, and Wendy does not even know what she would do if she reached the next level (was it Alaska?). This desperation makes even an 80-minute film a bit hard to watch at times, because the despair we witness is not even dramatic, it is just bleak. What makes it still a remarkable film is the fact that Wendy’s character balances so dedicatedly balances on the verge of surrendering (even though we cannot really see how you could do that – just lie down on the road and cry?), and that Michelle Williams portraits her in such a marvelous way: pretty fragile, a bit tough, still able to make tough decisions, and we neither believe she will end up dead in a ditch nor that she will strike luck at the bingo table. She seems to be cut out to be not particularly lucky, but a somehow good person, and it this normality (actually not seen too often in real life) that creates the audience’s affection for her.

And a word on Michelle Williams: I was wondering – is she maybe the only really well-known actor who draws her fame exclusively from arthouse productions? I cannot think of anybody else. Astonishing.

Now I am looking even more forward to “Meek’s Cutoff”!


I read the book a short while ago, after observing how long it stuck to the NYT bestseller list and wondering what the fuzz was about. The plot description sounded quite intriguing, promising exotic adventures in the peculiar parallel world of travelling circuses. It was quite a nice read, good enough for three plane trips, but I felt all in all a bit underwhelmed. The author never really fulfilled the promise of how strange and exotic this parallel world would be, and focused on a bit of a love story that was rather straightforward and conservative.

The film repeats and even heightens some of these problems, fixes others. Most interestingly, it does away with one of the main characters of the book, or rather merges the two most important protagonists (expect the narrator) into one, played by Christoph Waltz. Whoever does anything with a script and has Waltz play it cannot go wrong, same here: he is charming and evil, violent and romantic, and obsessed by whatever he does. His primary aim is to maintain the circus, and he will do this at whatever cost. Compared to him, all other characters are pale. The narrator actually is particularly pale, he is a bit like Harry Potter, mostly standing around passively, waiting for others get the story going. The female lead (played by Reese Witherspoon) is a bit more edgy, but it is not really clear how she becomes so adored by all these men around her (actually, the stripper in the side tent looks much more fun to be around with!).

It is a straightforward film giving you almost exactly what you expect when you read the plot outline, with the exception (here even more than in the book) that they miss out on the opportunity to overwhelm you with stunning and enchanting images of circus performances. They show almost nothing of what is happening inside the bigtop tent, actually, which I can only explain by wondering how expensive it is to get those great performers to act on film. The narration is very conventional, with the annoying twist of the framework narration, where our friend the hero tells the story of his life from the perspective of being an old man stumbling over a circus in town (Hal Holbrook, actually, still with the same hairdresser at age ca. 90). That was just too conventional, sorry, both in book and film. If not for the cute elephant, I would have already forgotten about the film altogether.

What a blast! Best angry troll documentary ever! Well, mock documentary, and not about trolls, but about some Norwegian film students trying to get a scoop on a supposed poacher in the Norwegian woods. Turns out it is a troll gamekeeper, who hates the loneliness of his job, the bad pay and lack of overtime, and who is really pissed whenever an angry one-armed troll bashes him about (“I sometimes really hate being here”). Among the greatest bits are the Norwegian government’s efforts to cover up the whole embarrassing troll thing: bear carcasses imported from Russia (or Croatia , when delivery gets it wrong), fake bear footprint appliances that get left and right foot wrong, to the astonishment of the local media. The heroes, of course, are the trolls. No wonder they are so mean spirited, they are all ugly as can be, and have too many heads, not enough arms, or too long noses to be terribly angry about. There are in ill humour when people flash UV light at them, and either petrify on the spot or explode with spectacular gore.


Excellent original entertainment. The film about a girl raised to be, let’s say, a proficient and efficient weapon of self-defense shows that there are many conventional elements of action thrillers that can be done differently. The slightly weird international setting, with plenty of local flavour from Finland, Morocco, Spain and Germany, without the tourist board appeal that featured e.g. in the last Tom Cruise vehicles. Excellent locations were scouted, stone deserts and snow forests and the bewitched gardens of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales (I have no idea whether such a garden really exists in Berlin, I very much hope so!). Eric Bana plays the nicely understated father of Hanna, composing her home schooling basically from one big dictionary. He features in a very interestingly choreographed fistfight scene in an underground station, which I had to watch twice to understand why it looked so very differently from the millions of other fight scenes seen before. Hanna grows up to become charmingly naïve, which paired with her ruthlessness and lack of empathy for most opponents makes for a different kind of heroine. I learned in the closing credits that Cate Blanchett played the opposing side, I realize I have not seen her in ages. She is all elegant witch, with nice details such as her (bloody) obsession with tooth hygiene.

This is no arthouse film, there is no message or deeper meaning – it is just a highly successful effort of a filmmaker who obviously was as bored with all those chase scenes and gunslinging superagents as I am. Joe Wright has a good run, it seems, with “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement” both being very well received, and “Hanna” also being at least a critics’darling. One of the more exciting young directors. Well done – more!


Some interesting and disturbing editing towards the end. Before that, the house where the mental ward was located was the star. The story moves about between “The Shining” and “Shutter Island”, but struggles to really develop very tightly towards the finale. There are plot twists, but they are a bit undeserved and arbitrary, so they do not really cause stunned awe, but rather shrugging indifference. Could have been the other way round, but well, somebody had to be the bad guy. As the script is weak, the location and the production design had to carry all the weight. A lot of semi-transparent plastic to cover the asbestos-infested walls and ceilings makes for creepy lightning, plus some interestingly familiar faces, with David Caruso’s eerie presence and Scottish actor Peter Mullan (who has a disturbing resemblance to George W. Bush) at the center.

Altogether a slightly over-produced horror-thriller, that never really manages to get the audience attention to nail biting level. After writing this, I checked director Brad Anderson’s other films, and realized that almost the same could have been said about his “Transsiberian”, which almost never realized the potential of the setting and story outline.


This is a very weird and fun film. An alien invasion of the slightly different kind falls down on South London in the form of giant porcupine-like beasts that rain down in fireballs and start eating people. Or they would, if they did not meet with the local street gangs, who  do not even blink with an eye before offing the creature and pulling the ex-alien, now local corpse through their hood, into the giant weed rooms of the apartment block that is their world, and show it off for hope of reputation and maybe some dope (I kept waiting for one of them to pull the obvious Will Smith quote “That’s what I call a close encounter!”). Moses and his gang of bonanza bike riders on one side, Hi-Hatz the dealer-DJ for some reason  obscure to me on the other, and all mostly somehow against an increasing number of creatures with greenishly illuminated glass teeth. It plays out funny not just because these dudes are ridiculous when you just observe them being themselves (not so much when you meet them at night on the streets, I understand), but also because the script allows them some nice cinema verite injections with the kids frequently checking in with their moms or taking out the dog.

This is not a big budget blockbuster, but a cute little English oddity that mixes monster movie and local flavour.

What was that? I still don’t know… it was not “The Thing”, even though the setting and setup of characters has to ring that bell. It was not “The Day After Tomorrow”, even though there is a not so subtle undertone of all the bad things happening being self-inflicted by a ruthless earth population trying to rip even the latest bits of organic life out of the Earth’s already tortured body. It is a bit of those, and then again, it turns out to be a thriller-like film about some guys losing their minds after being locked up under high pressure in an Alaskan research and test drilling site. Or maybe they do not lose their mind, but there is something out there that seeks revenge? The film leaves this open up until a certain  point, and I would have preferred if it had stayed on this level of ambiguity. As the director seems to decide towards the end which way he leans, the whole setting became more ordinary and less interesting to me. All in all, it is a film with a fragile dramatic arc anyway, I had my moments when I was wondering whether the not very long playing time was a misprint and it was actually much longer. No, only felt like that at points, because not too much is happening, and the increase in tension is not always successful.

Still, snow and arctic stations usually are a combination, and Ron Perlman is in it, so there is no way of failing completely.

How embarrassing: I have neither read the book nor ever seen a film version. That is quite a good starting point to judge the film, however, because I do not need to compare with Orson Welles or whoever else was involved before. The (as I read in Wikipedia “feminist or proto-feminist”) story of Jane Eyre is not particularly interesting out of itself (I assume the richness of detail in the book and the language makes it a classical read, not so much the plot development), so a lot depends on really cinematic aspects:  production design, selection of story elements, location, actors. From the very beginning, director Cary Fukunaga gets that right: he sets off with a dramatic scene of Jane running agitatedly though the hills, with the weather building up and the clouds towering, to reach the cottage of some priest and his family soaked to the bones. That is from the middle of the book, and the choice is great, because it allows for a new approach for those who have seen it a hundred times and know the story by heart, but it also gives the audience that is merely  interested in this isolated piece of work an impression of the forthcoming drama. The actors are great, even though my man-crush Fassbender definitely looks better without the beard (see “Fish Tank”!). The other actors I do not know, but they all felt natural enough, not overburdened by the responsibility to finding yet another new note on an organ played so often before. Must remember to watch Fukunaga’s “Sin Nombre”, which I remember got great reviews when it came out.

I pushed watching that film ahead of me for a long time, suspecting it to be very good, but also a tad boring. It is a tad boring, but very good. It has clear references in film history, “Silent Running” most obviously, which is not a bad thing, as these older films have already established the loneliness of the long distance space traveler, or rather long-time moon squatter, and “Moon”does not take a long time to establish this situation moon digging supervisor Sam Bell is in. There seems to be almost something like a genre of “alone and pretty depressed in space”, and I warmly remember my first encounter with “Dark Star”, which I so much must watch again. Anyway: some of the expected turns of events turn into less expected turns, and this is where the film has its strengths. It is very well written, and makes the situation of Sam Rockwell’s character plausible despite terribly implausible things happening. He has to face this implausibility, and he does, and he accepts, and takes action. And when I say “he”, I do not really mean that, but that is exactly the point. The general premise of the film should not even be mentioned, because it is great, I am sure, to go in there not knowing anything and then trying to cope with the developments that shatter the foundations of the astronaut’s life. An excellent film debut by Duncan Jones, with tiny flaws, and after already having seen “Source Code”, it seems he sticks to his ambitious approach of not deciding on which side of the blockbuster-arthouse divide he sees himself. I’d rather he would move his next project back toward the smaller and more intimate “Moon” side, which is the more interesting of the two.

An odd combination of Brazil and Wings of Desire and probably Time Bandits , Dogma, The Game,  Dead Zone, and … I don’t know what else. The script feels as if there an afternoon of research could bring about some 20 reference point in movie history to which “The Adjustment Bureau” owes its story. Not necessarily in a clumsy way, I quite appreciated the general  proposition of a group of adjustment agents fixing ripples in the world’s development through slight intervention and, well, adjustment. However… it’s not really done well. There is no credible way to convey how that system could ever work with the many minute plan deviations and accidents that happen every microsecond, and you would need this kind of framework to make the story’s drama work. As it is, the men with the hats chasing Matt Damon and his British dancer girl seem mightily bare-footed, so to speak, as a force to keep the whole world under perfect control.  Matt Damon as such is pretty good at what he does, he is bulky and energetic, while preserving the boyish charme he needs to be a good political candidate. He is sufficiently torn between his love for a girl and the supposed consequences this would have for himself and the world at large. Still, there is no consistency in what the film tries to achieve, sometimes it is a thriller, a mystery, sometimes a goofball comedy with men in grey suits falling over each other, then a bit of romantic comedy. I believe it should have been more serious about its mystery, more uncompromising Philip K. Dick. Still, quite solid entertainment with a fun cameo cast, such as Jon Stewart or Wolf Blitzer. All that by what I think is a directorial and production newcomer, a rather impressive feat.

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