The Northman (2022): Action/Adventure/Drama

A Viking prince devises an elaborative plan to avenge his father’s murderer.

Vicious, challenging, and visually compelling! Whoever follows Robert Eggers’ films, The Witch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), knows he’s famous for surrealistic acting, expressionistic photography, protracted shots, and idiosyncratic vernacular. And The Northman is no exception.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that Eggers worked closely with historians and archaeologists to meticulously visualise the medieval Scandinavian legend, namely Amleth. And if you are aware of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, I’m sure you can put two and two together. The Northman is Eggers’ first studio-level film, and, reading the interviews he gave, one can tell that it is not the film he initially had in mind, but its final cut is not a result he is disappointed with either. That old story in Hollywood’s book where the studios always interfere with the creative processes…

The dialect used, even though not easy to write or speak, will not blow your socks off like it did in his previous films. The reason is that the gore and the violence take the torch and lead your senses to a medieval spectacle where the slaughter of men, women, and children was the way to resolve differences and show superiority. While the film represents a specific historic era and should serve as a reminder that civilisation has evolved, today’s far-right decided to perceive it as a reminder that this is how things should be. Maybe, let them be the reminder that comparing two totally different eras and peoples is a historical fallacy, and their way of thinking is a representative example of unfathomably bottomless buffoonery.

Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and all the rest of the cast give stupendous performances! Give it a go, it is an amazing cinematic experience you will not regret!

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Solidarity for Ukraine 🇺🇦 🙏

Stay safe!

Dead Poets Society (1989): Comedy / Drama

A group of students of the most prestigious boarding school in the country forms a secret poetry society after meeting their eccentric but inspiring teacher, Mr. Keating.

What makes Dead Poets Society such a memorable film? Peter Weir’s directing? Tom Schulman’s writing? Robin Williams and his teaching of “Carpe Diem”? Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and the rest of the gang?

Dead Poets Society will always be a classic due to the aforementioned reasons individually, collectively, but for so much more. If you ask ten people what the film is about you’ll probably receive eleven different answers. Is it about poetry and its meaning? About questioning authority? Consequences? About parents who have kids only to tell them what to do and how to do it so they can feel “big”? Is it about love? How about seizing the day as the first step to pursuing your life’s dream?

The “O Captain! My Captain!” scene is the film’s narrative epiphany. Every step and every risk those kids take is meant to lead to that moment. But the way you will have perceived the film until then, what the film will mean to you until then, it will evoke different emotions inside you. It might be seen as a “white-rich-boys-problems” movie nowadays, but, for a couple of hours, pretend it’s you in that age and wonder what your dream was back then, how hard did you try to achieve it, and, ultimately, where are you now?

It is not a Christmas film but this time of the year I always flashback to inspiring films that made me fall in love with cinema as a kid. A film like this needs not my review. Just a reminder that it still exists and it still inspires.

Stay safe!

P.S. “O Captain! My Captain!” was sorely remembered again by the media in 2014 amidst the unfortunate death of the acting giant Robin Williams.

P.P.S. Robert Sean Leonard who was the leading actor (next to Christian Bale) of another favourite film of mine while growing up, Swing Kids (1993), never became the A-list actor he deserved to be like Bale and Hawke did. Shame really…

Adopt a Highway (2019): Drama

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A man is released from prison after many years and while trying to figure out how the modern world works, he stumbles upon a baby dumped in the trash.

I’ll start with the fact that this is a drama from Blumhouse – the king of low budget-that always-turns-a-profit horrors. A quite insightful and existential I might add, surprising in the nicest possible way. My next stop is Logan Marshall-Green, who put on, for the first time, the director’s hat after having penned the script as well. Did that come as a surprise? Not at all. Why? Because the guy is a natural. Marshall-Green is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors – now turned director/screenwriter. His talent needs to be finally acknowledged and get the spotlight he deserves. Then, Ethan Hawke… is something else. Always has been, always will be. He’s one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors and a man who very thoroughly chooses his next project. Since Dead Poet’s Society (1989), he hasn’t stopped to amaze. Last stop, the sound department where its work in this instance stands out for its perfection. From the opening sequence’s ‘voices montage’ to the letter’s reading.

Not everyone is made for this modern world. The full of emoticons, fast-typing, communication, the online slang that ‘infiltrated’ our every-day vocabulary, the mass behaviour that, should one decides not to adopt will become a pariah, and so much more make people who step out of the crowds to develop case studies. Adopt a Highway looks life in the eye and gives us a bittersweet hope with a twist and says… ‘Through every dark night, there is a bright day after that’ – 2Pac.

Well, my heart goes out to the ones who only got to experience the darkness…

First Reformed (2017): Drama / Mystery / Thriller

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Tormented by his own past, a minister of a local congregation, in the outskirts of New York, counsels a young couple with deeply unsettling results for everyone.

Paul Shrader, writer of “Taxi Driver” (1976), “Raging Bull” (1980), and more, comes back with yet another provocative film which he also directs. “First Reformed” is not for the average viewer. It is for the patient one and the one with the sheer will to understand that actions trigger incalculable reactions, be it on the planet or on the human psyche. Very slow-paced with no intention of impressing or pleasing anyone, “First Reformed”, becomes judge, jury, and executioner, standing up for the environment and God opposite religion and mankind. A character-driven story, with directing that clearly defines the editing pace and acting that shows you without telling you. And the few times it does, it shocks!

Rationalizing it might not be the best way to approach it as, other than the aforementioned, “First Reformed” puts under the microscope and subliminally scrutinizes sanity and how, unbeknownst to us, everything is connected.

You can find it here: https://amzn.to/2QpKltU