Frankenstein

Frankenstein
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Nick Dear
Based on: Mary Shelley‘s novel
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller, Ella SmithKarl Johnson, Naomie Harris
[I saw the version with Benedict Cumberbatch as Victor Frankenstein and Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature way back when. This time I saw the vice versa version.]

Plot:
Victor Frankenstein (Jonny Lee Miller) experimented around and managed to create a man (Benedict Cumberbatch). Horrified by what he’s done, he leaves the Creature to his own devices. As he stumbles through the world, utterly forsaken, the Creature tries to find his place in the world, a place that is inexorably connected to the man who created him.

It was fascinating to see both versions of the play – and to notice the way my perception shifted just by switching the roles and even though everything else stayed the same. But seeing the play for a second time also made its faults much clearer to me – and that is especially the way it treats its women.

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Dracula Untold (2014)

Dracula Untold
Director: Gary Shore
Writer: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Based on: Bram Stoker‘s novel (in the loosest sense of “based”)
Cast: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Thor Kristjansson

Plot:
When Vlad (Luke Evans) was a child he was enslaved by the Turks, despite being a prince, to ensure his father’s allegiance. He was raised to be a soldier and became such a good one that people nicknamed him The Impaler and he is finally allowed to return home. But when the Turks call for slave soldiers again, Vlad cannot consent – which means war. To be able to defend his family and his country better, Vlad makes a deal with a monster (Charles Dance) in a cave: for three days he will have the strength and abilities of a vampire while still alive. If he can resist the temptation to drink human blood in that time, he’ll even return to being human. But will three days be enough to defet the Turks?

I know going in that Dracula Untold was going to be the kind of film where I’d need vodka, so I wisely packed it. Rarely have I been so glad about my foresight because I needed every damn drop of it. In short, the film was really, really bad.

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Tras el cristal [In a Glass Cage] (1986)

Tras el cristal
Director: Agustí Villaronga
Writer: Agustí Villaronga
Cast: David Sust, Günter Meisner, Gisèle Echevarría, Marisa Paredes

Plot:
After a suicide attempt Nazi doctor in hiding Klaus (Günter Meisner) is paralyzed and dependent upon an iron lung. His wife Griselda (Marisa Paredes) wants to hire a nurse when teenager Angelo (David Sust) shows up and offers his services. After blackmailing Klaus into into insisting on hiring him, Angelo completely takes over the household and uses Klaus’ dependence for his own purposes.

Tras el cristal is a fucked up film with fucked up people in it – and that’s exactly the film’s point. One that it conveys effectively and in a tense atmosphere. I was enthralled the entire time.

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SF-paraati [SF-Parade] (1940)

SF-paraati
Director: Yrjö Norta
Writer: Tapio Piha
Cast: Ansa Ikonen, Tauno Palo, Aku Korhonen

Plot:
Ansa (Ansa Ikonen) is a tour guide in Helsinki, Tanu (Tauno Palo) is a cab driver and they both flirt a lot with each other as they drive around the city. But suddenly both of them find themselves unemployed. In a burst of creativity, they end up writing a song together – Tanu the melody and Ansa the lyrics. A song that proves increasingly popular and that could mean an end to their financial problems – if only they manage to keep their relationship together as well.

The film was shown at the Filmmuseum where it’s description promised that the light musical comedy covered way more critical subtext and showed all the problems of Finnish pre-WWII society. To be honest, I did not see that subtext – but I did enjoy the main text.

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The Ugly (1997)

The Ugly
Director: Scott Reynolds
Writer: Scott Reynolds
Cast: Rebecca Hobbs, Paolo Rotondo, Paul Glover, Christopher Graham, Roy Ward, Jennifer Ward-Lealand

Plot:
Karen Schumaker (Rebecca Hobbs) is a renowned psychologist who wants to get to the bottom of Simon Cartwright’s (Paolo Rotondo) psyche and his sanity or lack thereof. Simon is a confessed serial killer who spent the last five years institutionalized in a mental hospital that obviously mistreats him. Schumaker is appalled by the treatment and is bent on finding the truth of Simon’s behavior and help him if she can. But that might not be possible.

The Ugly was an engaging film with some very strong moments but altogether it fell in the “trying too hard” category. Still, I liked watching it.

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Vargtimmen [The Hour of the Wolf] (1968)

Vargtimmen
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Writer: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Gertrud Fridh

Plot:
Johan (Max von Sydow) and Alma (Liv Ullmann) had planned to have a nice vacation on a remote island where Johan would get to paint and they both got to get over a bit of a crisis before their baby is born. But it appears that their island is not quite as empty and calm as they both had expected. It becomes clear that Johan has some kind of breakdown. He keeps seeing strange people – he calls them demons. And then an old lady fitting Johan’s description of one of the demons comes to Alma and tells her to read Johan’s diary.

Vargtimmen is a moody film, full of atmosphere and interesting imagery, but rather low on plot. I enjoyed it, but I would have wished for a little more done with the demons.

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Re-Watch: Carrie (1976)

Carrie
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Lawrence D. Cohen
Based on: Stephen King‘s novel
Cast: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley
[Here’s my review of the 2013 remake.]

Plot:
Growing up with her ultra-religious, mentally ill mother (Piper Laurie), Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is an outcast at her school who lacks vital information. Like what a period is. So when she gets it, she’s understandably distressed, a fact her classmates use to bring the bullying to the next level. But what they don’t know is that Carrie also has strange powers that she’s slowly getting the hang of.

Carrie is just a fantastic film that has it all – great cast, great director, great camerawork, great writing. I loved it. Again.

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Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Writer: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer
Based on: Michel Faber‘s novel
Cast: Scarlett Johansson

Plot:
A woman (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland, randomly picking up hitchhikers and bringing them home where she kills them. She is always shadowed by a man on a motorbike, until one day she breaks free.

Under the Skin didn’t work for me at all, despite Scarlett Johansson being an attention magnet and the beautiful visuals. But especially for a film about a (probably) female being, it just lacked a female perspective.

UnderTheSkin

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Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Gillian Flynn
Based on: Gillian Flynn‘s novel
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Carrie Coon

Plot:
Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) used to be in love. But as their fifth anniversary approaches, things don’t look so good anymore. There’s been a lot of tension between them recently. And then Amy disappears after what looks like a break-in into their home. Nick seems upset but he’s also obviously hiding something – and the police are quickly narrowing in on him as a suspect.

I really loved Gone Girl. The story, the cast, the pacing – I was completely into it the entire time, even after having accidentally read a spoiler that could have potentially ruined the entire thing but turned out to be not quite as major as it appeared at first. Everything about the film just works completely.

gonegirl

[SPOILERS]

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