Midsommar

July 1, 2022 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(dir. Ari Aster) (2019) Midsommar performs poorly on The Babadook Horror Movie Scale. Rather than dark mansions and creepy children, Aster has set his nastiness in sunny meadows (although it still looks cold) peopled by beatifically-smiling blond Swedes.  But the story is familiar.  Nice, naive, clean, modern-day American kids are blindsided by evil, sophisticated old-worlde types.  Maybe there’s witchcraft.  (See Henry James, add The Lottery, stir with Rosemary’s Baby).  While we’re at it, let’s get the rest of the obvious comparisons out of the way: The Wicker Man, Get Out, The Village and Hereditary (Aster’s previous feature). Our innocents, Christian…

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The Unlikely Murderer

A nice night in

(Dir. Charlotte Brandstrom and Simon Kaijser) (Netflix, 5 Episodes) Unlike another recent Netflix offering set in Sweden (Midsommar), the natives in The Unlikely Murderer are not beautiful; nor do they dance among the buttercups. Rather, these Swedes are generally jowly, live in flimsy brown apartments and are spared nothing by the close-ups of their pores and the 1980s fashions (did such a high proportion of Swedish women really suffer under mushroom haircuts?) The Unlikely Murderer is based on the true life assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme (Peter Viitanen), below, in the town of Täby, north of Stockholm.  After the…

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Spiderhead

(Director Joseph Kosinski) (Netflix, 2022) Spiderhead, a 107 minute TV movie from a short story by George Saunders (see our review of Lincoln in the Bardo here) is a bit too long. About 100 minutes too long. Saunders kept the story short for a reason. It starts interestingly enough and maintains the tone of a Black Mirror episode throughout, (not a good Black Mirror episode though. Not like San [sob] Junipero [sob]). Steve Abnesti (A Hemsworth) is the governor (sort-of) of an island prison facility called “Spiderhead” (the name is not explained in the film and don’t bother Googling it,…

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Nitram

March 28, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | AUSTRALIANIA, Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Untethered

(Directed by Justin Kurzel) (2021) Suspense need not be a mystery. Out of the so-called 7 plots, the dramatist’s art is to finesse the selected one. As with Shakespeare, it matters not that we know the ending. In Nitram (‘Martin’ backwards, as is Martin), the story (about Martin Bryant, going ‘postal’ in April 1996) is notorious. Here, the director creates an intimate, very private background to a very public tragedy, and does it with great depth of feeling and beautiful pacing. It is a small town saga (the south-east coast of Victoria standing in for Port Arthur, probably for political…

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Spencer (dir. Pablo Larrain 2021)

February 24, 2022 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Pablo Larrain’s fiction about an imagined few days in the life of Diana, Princes of Wales at Sandringham Castle, Christmas 1991 will make you feel really sorry for that woman. Not Diana. Heavens no! But Kristen Stewart.  The poor thing does very well in portraying Diana despite a poor Sloane Ranger accent and a script as leaden as the lining of a butler’s sink. Stewart gives Spencer’s Diana just as much weight as she merits – none.  Spencer’s Diana is a whiney, entitled, disrespectful, self-centred fool. She’s world-weary and heartily sick and tired of the demands that those nasty Windsors…

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