One-day film festival with Oscar nominees

Last weekend I went to another one-day film festival at one of the large Pathé cinemas here in the Netherlands. The PAC (Pathé Alternative Cinema) festival is held twice a year and I try to get to at least one of these each year. My friend and I went last Sunday. The line-up was as follows (and as of yesterday, 4 of the 5 movies here have garnered Oscar nominations!):

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I’m not going to go into detailed descriptions and criticisms of each movie, just giving quick impressions of what these movies did for me. I can tell you straight off that I liked all of them (yes, even Green Book!) but that I think my fave of all these 5 movies was the first one called Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the true story of an author who has fallen on hard times and by chance discovers that faking letters from famous authors can earn her a lot of money.

canyoueverforgiveme-catI loved the story and I loved the character of Lee Israel; Melissa McCarthy portrayed her beautifully. I loved seeing a character in a lead role who isn’t all skinny and pretty (although I do find, and have always found, Melissa McCarthy to be pretty and cute), someone who seems dowdy, caustic and even unlikable. She is someone who is pretty much invisible to the world around her and yet, she is so rich on the inside and yes, despite her flaws and sarcasm, she is lovable, maybe because of the very real struggles she is facing. Also, anyone who loves their cat as Lee Israel does has something good in them, regardless. 😉 Richard E. Grant plays Jack Hock, someone who is down on his luck as well and becomes her best friend and he too plays this role beautifully. What I liked most of all was that these characters are layered, they aren’t all good or all bad, they are all only human. What seems drab and maybe even evil on the outside isn’t necessarily all that on the inside.

canyoueverforgivemeI was tickled pink to discover that both Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant have been nominated for Oscars for their roles. They so deserve it!

Next up was the movie If Beale Street Could Talk. It’s about a young African-American couple who are in love. After Tish’s (Kiki Layne) fiancé Fonny (Stephen James) is unjustly arrested, she looks back on their relationship and does everything in her power to get him released. The two young lead actors beautifully portrayed their characters. They were so gentle and sweet, very poetic in a way. I loved Tish, such a sweet, open and innocent face, starting out grown up life in such difficult circumstances…

beale street… and I loved Regina King who plays Tish’s mom. She almost stole the movie for me. She too has been deservedly nominated for an Oscar.

The film was almost other-worldly, dreamlike, and felt very poetic. That also made it quite a slow movie, almost too slow. My friend even nodded off for a bit there. I loved the feeling of goodness trying to overcome evil and prejudice in this film and I liked that the ending wasn’t glossed over happy, but the movie was too slow in parts and so for that, I can’t give it the highest marks. It did feel very topical and gives food for thought, though, which is always excellent.

The next movie we saw was Vice. It’s a comedy-drama film, dripping with sarcasm, about Dick Cheney who was the former vice-president under George W. Bush. Cheney is played by Christian Bale whom you hardly recognize as Bale. He is excellent in the role…

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… as is Amy Adams in her role as his wife Lynne.

vice01While I was very aware of George W. Bush as president (and truly hated his presidency), I only recalled Dick Cheney by name. I knew virtually nothing about the man, other than that he had been vice-president and that he had been Secretary of Defense under papa Bush, where he pushed for a war on Iraq on what I recall as flimsy or even false evidence. The film is very polarizing, I can imagine Democrats in the US loving this and Republicans hating this and after seeing this I still don’t know what’s really true or not. I tend to believe he must have been a sleaze, as I also truly hated the George W. Bush presidency and from the beginning felt the war on Iraq was more about oil than about Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein, but I don’t know if this movie does justice to Cheney or not. The movie clearly does state that they are not sure everything played out as they show it, and even have someone during the end credits claim the movie is liberal bullshit, which I thought was a very nice touch. Regardless of how polarized it is, the sarcasm made me laugh at times and I especially loved the scene between Dick and Lynne in their bedroom, doing a Shakespearean dialogue. That alone is Oscar-worthy. And yes, these two actors have also been nominated for Oscars! So, yes, I did like the movie, even though I was very aware of it being a one-sided, liberal stand-up show which also had some surprising twists and turns. My friend isn’t so much into politics, especially not US politics, and didn’t like it so much. Some of it went over her head, I think, as I think it did to a lot of the Dutch audience. I was laughing in places where I noticed no one else around me laughing… So, I’m thinking this movie works best in the US and for people who are interested in politics.

After this came Green Book, which I was very curious about after having read Servetus’s criticism of it. I really like both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali and the story interested me too. Mahershala Ali plays classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley, who is doing a tour in the Deep South of the US in the early 1960s and hires Italian Tony “Lip” Vallelonga to be his driver.

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I get the criticism of the film, and especially the fried chicken running joke felt off, and for a while there the idea of Tony ‘educating’ Don on what black people should like felt off as well. But I also saw this movie as a story mostly about Tony who has to face his prejudice against African-Americans and through actually becoming friends with an African-American, learns the error of his ways. This movie is mostly aimed at a white audience, I think, but is it really so bad to address this from a white point of view? To me African-American Don felt in no way inferior to Italian-American Tony and it was nice seeing the African-American character as the eclectic, more-cultured and learned man. He was the main educator to me, rather than the white man. Yeah, Tony tried to ‘teach’ Don about African-American music and about letting other people in, but in the end the lessons Tony learned from Don where more profound than the other way around. Not only the lesson of racism but also the lesson of learning to express yourself more eloquently, the importance of dignity and learning that not all African-Americans love the same things. Don didn’t need to change so much, except for maybe letting people in a little bit more, Tony did need to change and this was mostly Tony’s story. I’m sure there was stereotyping of African-Americans in this, but I have a feeling there was Italian-American stereotyping as well. Maybe I’m missing nuances here but from an outsider’s point of view on racism in the US, this to me didn’t feel so very biased against African-Americans. It was not a very surprising movie, however, and did feel a bit like a story that has been told before. It also never really dug deep into the psyche of these two men, it remained a little shallow overall. So, in that sense, this wasn’t the best movie of the day for me. It was pretty enough but lacked depth. Viggo and Mahershala have both also been Oscar nominated for this and while I thought Viggo did really well (and I would be happy for him to win, though maybe not for this role), I liked Mahershala even more. He’s up in the same category as Richard E. Grant for the Oscars, it’ll be a tough call. Although, in hindsight, maybe it isn’t so tough, as I think the depth of Richard’s character was more developed than the depth of Mahershala’s.

The final film of the evening was Arctic starring Mads Mikkelsen, he of Hannibal fame to Richard Armitage fans.

It’s a movie about a man surviving on his own after his plane crashes in the Arctic. You don’t see the crash, you just have this story of this one man trying to survive. At first he stays put but when he rescues an unconscious woman from a helicopter crash (a team of pilots who tried to save him had crash landed) he decides he needs to move and find safetly with her in tow, pretty much unconscious for the whole movie. Not much dialogue and a lot of hardships are endured and yet it still was a good watch. Again, like Green Book, it wasn’t the most surprising movie, especially not after having seen The Mountain Between Us a year or so ago with Kate Winslet and Idris Elba also trying to survive such a freezer climate together (although Kate is not unconscious for too long). Still, it was never dull, the story moved along nicely and my friend, although it was the last movie of the day, never once dropped off to sleep. 🙂

All in all, I enjoyed all the films and some more than others. If I had to put it in order from fave to least fave of the day, the list would be:

  1. Can You Ever Forgive Me?  – Everything was right in this movie – story, characters, depth and the way it all looked and felt.
  2. Vice – The storytelling in this movie surprised me several times, different from any other movie I know, I really liked that. Also, I can really appreciate sarcasm.
  3. If Beale Street Could Talk – The most sympathetic characters in this one, with a dreamlike quality and food for thought. However, also a little slow.
  4. Green Book – Mainly liked it for the two main actors in this and it looked good. The movie overall didn’t have that much depth, though, and didn’t feel very new.
  5. Arctic – well-acted by Mads but I felt like I’d seen it all before.
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Depressing & loveless film festival

Once every 6 months the Pathé cinema chain here in The Netherlands organizes a one-day film festival where 5 new movies are shown back to back, simultaneously in several cinemas throughout the country. It’s always on a Sunday, starting at 10.30 am and ending around 11 pm. I’ve written about previous PAC festivals here and here and have also been to one or two more before I started blogging. I can safely say that the one I went to yesterday was the most depressing of all! My friend and I had gotten tickets before we knew the complete line-up and yeah, we may not do that ever again. Next time, we wait for the line-up first. The line-up this time was this:

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I ended up going to this thing alone without my friend as she called the night before to tell me she was really sick (a suspected kidney infection) and really couldn’t go. She urged me to go on my own, as the tickets were already paid for, and after a little hesitation I did.

The morning started at 10.30 am with a Russian movie called Loveless. In hindsight, I found this to be the best movie of the day. It’s about a married couple (actors Maryana Spivak and Alexei Rozin) who are about to divorce. They are so caught up in their own lives (with new lovers each) and hating each other, they ignore their 12-year-old son (Matvey Novikov). The effect that this planned divorce has on him is heartbreaking to see and is so well acted by the young boy! Then one day the boy is gone and the couple must team up to search for him…

This movie is bleak! And Loveless is a very fitting title. There is no love lost between the divorcing couple, no love for their son, a loveless relationship is hinted at between the mother and her mother and also briefly shown. Basically the main players are incapable of love and the little boy is the victim in all of this. The movie has a matter-of-fact calmness to it, with some very nice cinematography and very good acting by all, but so bleak and cold, it left me depressed at the end. Even so, it was a good movie! I read that it’s being submitted to the Oscars as a Best Foreign Language film, and rightly so, I believe.

If I had hoped for something a little lighter for the second movie, which was shown after lunch, then those hopes were quickly dashed by You Never Really Were Here with Joaquin Phoenix. It’s about a man named Joe who used to be in the army but is now a tormented and brutal enforcer and lives a lonely life. He goes on a mission to rescue a missing young teenage girl, leaving a lot of bodies in his wake. The rescue mission then takes an unexpected turn…

I read that in Cannes the movie got a 7 minute standing ovation, it’s also getting very good reviews. While I thought the movie was quite good, I wouldn’t go so far as giving it a standing ovation (not even for one minute). Maybe it was just too dark and violent for me, I don’t know. What I can say, however, is that Joaquin Phoenix really is very good as Joe. He won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for this and I can see why. He is a very good portrayer of a tormented soul. And I guess, you could see this movie as a continuation of the loveless theme of the first movie – Joe does live with his old mother and there is some love there, but his life is mostly loveless and lonely. I could sort of deal with the bleakness, the violence less so.

After these two movies I was more depressed than ever. Then came a 15 minute break after which the movie The Glass Castle was shown, with Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts. The Glass Castle is based on a true story, to quote from IMDB: “A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.”

It’s a childhood spent running away from debts, living in utter poverty and squatting in homes. While there is a lot of love there, it also shows that only love really isn’t enough. Jeannette, the second daughter, after many disappointments, decides to get away and make a better life for herself. Again, I liked the movie alright but couldn’t love it. It was really mostly a portrait of a daughter and her father. I could relate to that and because of that, at the end I did wipe away a tear, but I was left with mixed feelings. In the end, it felt like that which wasn’t right was brushed under the carpet. We see the parents neglecting the kids, almost starving them at times, they gave them no ounce of security, they for a long time refused to send them to school ‘because real life is the real school’, they once left them with an abusive grandmother for a week and the kids literally had to escape to get away and make their own way in the world. But hey, the parents really loved them, so in the end it was no big deal and all OK, right? Nah, that really didn’t do it for me! It was a typical American feel-good ending and glossing over all that had gone before. Again, the acting was very good but the movie itself was not so great.

While I was a little less depressed after this movie, I was left with a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. Luckily it was time for dinner. There was 90 minutes for that, so I took a walk to clear my head before I got myself a quick bite to eat. The cinema is right near a river and it felt good to be in the air and moving around a bit. The boat in the picture on the right is called ‘Grace Kelly’, by the way. Very fitting name to come across on a one-day film festival.

The first evening film was Stronger with Jake Gyllenhall about the aftermath of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. It’s a true story about Jeff Bauman who loses both his legs (below the knee) in the blast and has to deal with building a new life with his disability amidst all the media attention that comes with role of survivor and ‘hero’.

Again, great acting by Gyllenhall, Tatiana Maslany as his girlfriend Erin who forces him to grow up and Miranda Richardson as his mother. I liked the way it was filmed, it had a real look and feel and it was different from other ‘inspirational’ true stories. Jeff’s struggles looked real and especially the scene where his bandages come off really stuck with me in its no-fuss portrayal. The thing I didn’t that much like was the end when he basically succumbed to American heroism after finally finding peace in his situation. There is a bit of an American patriotic streak in all of this (as in very many movies coming from the US) and I have always had iffy feelings about that. Because of that, I think this movie may be more powerful for US audiences than it is for European ones.

After another 15 minute break, the final film was Good Time with Robert Pattinson. It’s a heist movie about two brothers. They rob a bank, which goes awry and the mentally challenged brother, Nick (Ben Safdie), gets arrested. Connie (Pattinson) in the night that follows tries everything he can to free his brother

While Pattinson really was excellent, this movie did absolutely nothing for me! The gritty feel was alright, what I really didn’t like was the close up, jerky filming style. It was so tiring to look at that I found myself closing my eyes occasionally. I didn’t quite nod off to sleep but I could have. While commendable that Connie tries everything for his brother, he just sinks deeper and deeper into shit. How these brothers came onto this track is never explained, why Connie thinks therapy is bad for Nick, I don’t know. I really did not like this movie and almost regretted having stayed for it. I had stayed for Pattinson, I generally find him to be quite a good actor and he really was good here, but he couldn’t save the movie for me. That whole world was just too gritty and ugly and, except for the brothers caring for each other, it felt very loveless and grim as well. Why it’s called Good Time is a little beyond me, Pointless might have been a better name. Maybe I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been the last in a line of loveless and depressing movies…

My ranking for the movies I saw at the 17th PAC Festival would be:

  1. Loveless
  2. Stronger
  3. You Never Really Were Here
  4. The Glass Castle
  5. Good Time

I had to take public transport (tram and train) followed by a 10 minute bike ride home and as it was night, there was less public transport available. What normally would have taken a maximum of an hour, took me an hour and a half. It meant I had time to catch up on news on my phone, with the whole #TakeTheKnee Trump versus NFL confrontation in the US (seriously, how can this man STILL be president??) and the devastating news that Nazis have made it into German parliament for the first time since WWII. I do realize 87% did not vote for them, but still they got enough votes to get into parliament! Seriously, after those 5 movies and the news, I felt like the world was coming to an end… When I finally fell into bed at 12.45 am my brain was so fried, I thankfully quickly fell into a deep sleep.

This sickly feeling, though a little lighter now than last night, has prevailed throughout the day today and I hope that writing all this up helps lighten the load. And a word of the wise: don’t ever watch all these films in one day!

One-day film festival: true stories!

Like last year, a friend of mine and I again went to a one-day film festival this year. It was held this past Sunday in several Pathé cinemas across the country, with each cinema running the same programme. The day started at 10.30 am, ended at 11 pm and we could hog our seats in the same theatre all day. We saw 5 movies in that time and there seemed to be a theme this time around (although it wasn’t advertised as such): true stories!

The first movie we saw was Jackie (see trailer).

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The movie is about the aftermath of the John F Kennedy assassination, told from the viewpoint of his widow Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman). She is interviewed shortly after the funeral by a journalist (Billy Crudup) and that interview is the thread throughout the whole story. The portrayal by Portman is fascinating, a woman filled with grief and mixed feelings, struggling to honour her dead husband properly, a woman who is insecure but at the same time she knows exactly what she wants and will take no crap. Billy Crudup really struck me as the interviewer. I vaguely knew his face and when I checked his credits later I realize I have seen several movies with him in it but I had never noticed him until now!

billy-crudup

Portman was very good as Jackie Kennedy and Crudup did things to my insides with his intent gaze. The recently deceased John Hurt played a small, lovely role and when he came on, tears sprung to my eyes! I hadn’t realised he was in this and I loved him (and his voice).

JACKIE (2016) John Hurt, Natalie Portman CR: Bruno Calvo

However, I was never actually blown away, for some reason (although I did develop a little crush on Crudup in the movie). Maybe this is something more ingrained into the US psyche than the European one and therefore feels a bit distant? I don’t really know what it was, but it was a good movie, even though it wasn’t great, in my humble view.

We had a lunch break and then went on to the second movie called Their Finest (see trailer).

gemma-arterton-sam-claflin-their-finestTheir Finest Hour and A Half Directed by Lone Sherfig

A young woman (Gemma Arterton) in WWII London thinks she is being hired as a secretary but is hired to write women’s dialogue for a British propaganda film. She teams up with two scriptwriters where she works especially closely with one of them (Sam Claflin). Bill Nighy plays the older has-been actor who gets a part in the propaganda film. This movie is not necessarily a true story but it certainly could have been! The movie is a bit of a romantic comedy, Bill Nighy has the most comic part and does it brilliantly but Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin are great too. I know Sam Claflin and already like him (though melodramatic, I thought he was great in Me Before You) but my friend really discovered him on Sunday and has fallen a little bit in love. 🙂 The movie is feel good and light, champions women, but also has some darkness and yes, even tragedy, which even made me gasp at one point. Yep, I loved this movie!

After a 20 minute break, it was on to the next one. This time a German movie called Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben (see trailer, sorry couldn’t find one with English subtitles).

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This is based on the true story of a young man (Kostja Ullmann) who dreams of training and working in the best hotels. There is, however, a problem: he only has 5% vision, so is virtually blind! No hotel will take him with his handicap and so he decides to apply for a hotel traineeship at an exclusive hotel without telling anyone he can’t see. With the help of his family and the friends he makes at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel that hires him, he is able to do well! Until, at some point, everything threatens to unravel because of his bad eyesight… This was another light-hearted movie, with some sad elements as well, and all the more amazing because it is based on a true story. At the end the real man who inspired this movie is also briefly shown. Yes, we enjoyed this one!

After the German movie we had a one and a half hour break for dinner. We went to a nearby Sushi restaurant which was delicious. Service was quick and we made it back just in time for the 4th movie, Hidden Figures (see trailer).

hidden-figures

This was the movie I was most looking forward to! It’s the true story of three African-American women struggling to do work that challenges them at NASA in the early 1960s. The movie centres mostly around mathematician Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson) who struggles to show what she really is worth in a white man’s team of scientists. Janelle Monáe plays Mary Jackson who struggles to become an engineer at NASA and to do so must get her qualifications from an all-white college. Her speech at the court is one of the highlights of the movie. And then there is Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), smart mathematician and shrewd supervisor who fights for her women’s team and must stand up against white supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst). While I really liked Katherine’s geekiness and Mary’s spunk, I loved Dorothy’s humourous fierceness. And when at the end of the movie Vivian finally treats Dorothy with the respect she deserves, that was the one part of the movie that made tears spring to my eyes. This movie was pretty much exactly what the trailer promises and I loved it.

After another 20 minute break, we saw the last movie called Gold (see trailer).

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This was the movie I was least looking forward to because I really don’t like Matthew McConaughey very much. It’s a movie about a sleazy mineral prospector digging for gold in Indonesia and getting investors on board to help make the dream of finding gold come true. This movie is also based on a true story! McConaughey is sleazy, and not just because of the way he looks in this. I really do not understand how he could get such a good-hearted girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard). The story was well told but I just hated that seedy, greedy feeling throughout the movie. While McConaughey really acts very well (and dares to look awful!), I just could not warm up to this movie, just like I could never warm up to The Wolf of Wall Street for the same reason, which received all sorts of accolades a few years back. Still, because it was well acted and well-told it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

The movies last year had been more harrowing (especially Room which had literally made me sob), the movies this year were a little lighter and my friend and I had a really great time! We certainly want to do this again next year. 🙂

And just to shake off the McConaughey feeling I now have, here are some lovely pictures to look at of my latest crush, Lucas Bryant (click on images to enlarge). 🙂 These are all stills from his latest project Shoot the Messenger, where he plays an investigative journalist and which is really quite good! I hope a follow-up season will be made!

One-day film festival

I haven’t been to the cinema a lot these past few months, but I guess I corrected that situation yesterday. Yesterday, at a chain of Pathé cinemas here in The Netherlands, there was a mini film festival showing 5 movies back to back. The day started at 10.30 am and ended at 11 pm and my friend and I decided to go… It ended up being a very good albeit harrowing day and I find I really need time to process the 5 dramatic movies I have seen…

We started with Brooklyn.

Brooklyn-Poster

Synopsis: “An Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) in 1950s New York falls for a tough Italian plumber (Emory Cohen), but faces temptation from another man (Domhnall Gleeson) when she returns to her homeland for a visit.”

It was a beautiful film to look at, compelling story, within 20 minutes we were wiping away the first tears! Saoirse Ronan is absolutely wonderful and I have to say I really liked Emory Cohen, who I had never heard of before. He is just heartwarming and so lovable! This movie was a great start to the day.

We had a lunch break and then saw Room which for me turned out to be the most harrowing movie of the day.

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Synopsis: “Held captive for years in an enclosed space [by a man they call ‘Old Nick’], a woman (Brie Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time.”

The two leads, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, were absolutely amazing in this movie! It had me on the edge of my seat, the movie really hit home, I think I cried through at least half of it and by the end I was literally sobbing! Even when I got home late at night and told my husband (who was still up) about it, I burst into tears again… The story was told from the point of view of little Jack. We first see his life in this tiny room with his mother, which for Jack is really quite happy. They then manage to gain their freedom (that part of the movie really had my heart thumping!) and then Jack, in his innocence, must come to terms with living in the big world he has known nothing of for the first 5 years of his life. It is about the close bond between a mother and her son and how they really need each other. The movie affected me more than it did my friend, maybe because I am a mother myself? In any case, it was harrowing and beautiful and touching and sweet and it will stay with me for a very long time yet…

I didn’t have long to recover, as after a 25 minute break the next movie started, called Demolition.

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Synopsis: “Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis’ letters catch the attention of customer service rep, Karen (Naomi Watts), and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.”

This movie I also really liked, Jake Gyllenhall was excellent in it! As were the other actors! The demolishing of his old life that he needs to do before he can build a new one was shown figuratively as well as literally and I loved it. He even gave some great parenting advice on how to effectively use the word ‘fuck’, which I will definitely keep tucked away for future reference. 🙂

We had a dinner break then, went out for a quick bite to eat and returned to watch the fourth movie called A Bigger Splash.

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Synopsis: “The vacation of a famous rock star (Tilda Swinton) and her boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts) is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old producer boyfriend (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson).”

Due to the actors this was the movie I was most looking forward to but I have to say that, of all the movies I saw, this was the least impactful one. It was good, I am always blown away by Tilda Swinton and was so again here, Schoenaerts and Fiennes were excellent too (and both quite sexy!), but somehow I didn’t find it so easy to really sympathize with these people. Perhaps, because I saw it after the other three movies, it seemed more… I don’t know…trivial maybe? Great acting but not something I’d necessarily have to see again.

The final movie was a Danish-German production called Land of Mine (Under Sandet). Actually my friend suggested we skip this last movie after all the harrowing movies we had already seen, and I was considering it, but then said I was curious enough to stay. We had held up so long, one more movie couldn’t hurt. It’s the one movie we knew absolutely nothing about and I suggested that movies like that sometimes turn out to be little gems. And I turned out to be right!

 

Synopsis: “In the days following the surrender of Germany in May 1945 a group of young German prisoners of war was handed over to the Danish authorities and subsequently sent out to the West Coast, where they were ordered to remove the more than two million mines that the Germans had placed in the sand along the coast. With their bare hands, crawling around in the sand, the boys were forced to perform the dangerous work under the leadership of the Danish sergeant, Carl Leopold Rasmussen (Roland Møller).”

The blind hatred against the Germans right after the war is very apparent and the sergeant suffers from this too. Then he starts to see that these are just young boys and things start to change for him. This movie has a calm pacing to it and yet has you at the edge of your seat throughout! After all, a bomb can go off at any time and kill anyone and it does happen – several times! It’s a bit like Russian roulette – who will survive and who won’t? You are torn between feeling it justified that the Germans themselves have to tidy up this landmine mess that they left behind and also feeling for these young boys who can hardly really be held responsible. Great movie, watch it if you can, it really gets you thinking. It makes me feel the need to ask my mother about this. I wonder how it was on the beach in Scheveningen (Den Haag) here in The Netherlands where she lived before and after the war…

During my travel home again I didn’t know which movie to think about first. All sorts of images and feelings were jumbled about and hurtling through me. I got home by midnight but didn’t get to bed until 2 am, as I really needed to decompress after such a day with such films! In my dreams last night several of these movies melted into each other… I think I also need the rest of today to recuperate!