Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Dec 06 2016

Westworld (The Series)

Published by under Movies

This is going to be very, very brief: Watch it!

There were a few exceptional TV series, or seasons of TV series, this year. Sometimes it’s even a stretch to call these things TV shows or series, because it does not describe what they really are. Westworld was a ten hours long movie, stretched over ten episodes. You can say the same about The Expanse or even the last season of The Strain. (I admit that The Strain is only a feast for fans, but I absolutely love it.) These seasons are just long movies, and they break with the traditional concept of TV series.

The Expanse already pushed everything to new heights when I watched it in the end of 2015. This “show” (which is a stupid, unfitting word in this context) really redefined the concept of Science-Fiction series. It had great characters, a great environment/universe and a great story to tell, along with good acting and, for TV, great cinematography, great directing and very, very good special effects.

Westworld, in direct comparison, which is allowed since they share the genre, blows this entirely out of proportion. Westworld features a cast and acting out of Academy Award winning Hollywood blockbusters. The cinematography also has the smell of Oscar-winning movies. It doesn’t need pure Science-Fiction-style special effects like The Expanse or, let’s say, The Martian, thanks to its simpler setting. But Westworld knows how to tell a great story, it knows how to respectfully pay homage to other great representatives of the genre; it even knows to respectfully bow to the original Michael Crichton movie. Remember the blurry “Yul Brynner”-lookalike gunslinger in the background? Or the unbelievable shooting in the first episode with the symphony orchestra cover of Paint It Black in the background? And, to top it all off, it also has a story with a deeply human message, slowly but thoroughly developed in a mysterious, intriguing plot.

Westworld isn’t TV. It’s the best of classic cinema that somehow got lost on its way to the big screen and accidentally appeared on TV.

This is the one release of 2016 that you need to watch.

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May 03 2016

High-Rise (The movie)

Published by under Movies

For the record:

I’ve already watched my share of “difficult”, “artistic”, “socially critical” and “not for the masses” movies before I made my Abitur – and that was more than two and a half decades ago. So let’s just say I’ve done my homework and studied cinema and movies enough to be entitled to my own opinion.

I’ve watched the 1973 movie Themroc with Michel Piccoli as a teenager, actually liked it and got the message. Why do I bring up the classic Themroc in this context? Because at least on paper, Themroc and High-Rise with Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons and a rather respectable catalog of other interesting actors have a lot in common. In execution, however, Themroc still is a watchable movie with a coherent narrative while High-Rise simply is not.

High-Rise is a disgusting pornographic snuff picture that tries to present itself as art. As if all the random, insane cruelty between the human population in the film is not enough, it also needs to butcher and roast dogs on an open fire to wipe out even the last bit of decency that might have been hidden somewhere in this sick orgy.

No, this movie is not a metaphor or an allegory of any kind anymore. It’s been a worrying trend for quite some time now that today’s audiences apparently have been brutalized to a point that they are not bothered by cruelty anymore. And I actually mean cruelty, not “simple” violence. The line between cruelty and violence is not even blurred anymore; it has become normal business even in TV series to show in explicit – and, yes, pornographic – detail how people are violated and hurt, without adding anything meaningful to the plot, story or message. It’s just there to keep people watching.

I don’t mind watching gory horror movies or hard action flicks — as long as the violence does not sink to a level of sheer cruelty, sadism or torture porn,  as long as it is comic-style violence or as long as it actually adds something to the picture.

But lately, a lot of the things that are shown in new productions are just sick, cruel and twisted and only serve the purpose of catching the attention of an audience that must be suffering from an unbelievable emotional numbness and that cannot be reached with normal means anymore.

High-Rise is one of those productions, and directors (and authors) who need to put dogs on a barbecue shouldn’t be allowed to publish their excrement and pretend its art.

And no, I am not opening this for discussion.

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