January 17, 2022

The Worst Person in the World: This 2021 Norwegian film is a character study for a young woman searching for her direction. Played by Renate Reinsve, she is a refreshing, likeable, engaging young woman who in the role is a brilliant student who can’t seem to finish anything. She shows tremendous promise but then finds ways to justify taking an exit ramp. From looking to initially become a doctor, her thoughts and desires change. So too in her relationships. She meets an older young man, played effectively by Anders Danielsen Lie. They begin a relationship. They move in together and they start their lives, he as a comic book writer of an edgy counter culture character. But it is starting to get traction. She is working in a book store as a salesperson, nowhere reaching her potential. The story is set into twelve chapters, showing aspects of her life over a four year period. Things happen for her that given what she is shown in her character so far are not altogether unexpected. So why the title? There are moments in her where you can see from where the title comes. Not only does she act in her own self interest, she can be quite callous. I like both of the lead characters. It turns from a more light review of a young woman’s life to something much more serious than I expected. It meets this challenge head on and with quality performances, especially by Danielsen Lie.

Everyone brings different things to their viewing experience. For me, there are traits in me and that others have seen in me that are reflected in this young woman. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed this movie more than many I have seen in the past year. There aren’t many memorable films for this year, but I enjoyed this one. The Europeans I think make relationship movies that are more real. The characters aren’t caricatures looking for a simple laugh, and a predictable end game. Rather, they are more real with possible situations and exploring real feelings and emotion. I won’t get into the ending, but it wasn’t in any way what I was expecting. So if you can find this, it is worth checking out.

The Worst Person in the World - Clip 1 [ov st fr] - Cineuropa
The primary characters in the engaging Worst Person in the World

Stay Close: I finished watching this series. After finishing it I realized that I had also watched Safe, which was another Harlan Coben story. This was a who dunnit with its own twists and turns. The characters are colourful and somewhat predictable. Coben follows a fairly predictable path but it has some surprises. Although it took longer than it should in this series to reach the end, the last couple of episodes picked up speed. The ending made sense. There are moments where the main Irish detective has things happen that are laughably fortuitous. Things happen that you just have to accept. Is this memorable TV? Not really. But it was alright, and there were some good scenes.

Dune: I re-watched this movie, and as expected without having the focus on who was who and the underlying plot, I enjoyed it more. I think that the performances are very good. There are excellent scenes with remarkable visuals with these amazing spaceships. It is an epic film with bold vision. Director French Canadian Denis Villeneuve has put together a much better representation than done earlier by David Lynch. It reflects the source material well and is a great launching point for the rest of the story. This is truly a theatre film because of the visuals are so stunning. On the small screen it is effective but not to the same extent. I look forward to the Second installment and how he will show us some of the scenes that I am expecting as the worms become more important and Paul transforms into the leader of the Fremen people. This, much like Arrival which I have seen a few times since my in-theatre viewing, and Blade Runner 2049, are films that can reveal more upon multiple viewings which make it richer and deeper. So it is one that I was glad to spend some more time with.

Dune movie review & film summary (2021) | Roger Ebert

January 10th, 2022

Get Back: I finished Peter Jackson’s three episode multi-hour documentary of the Beatles working for the month of January 1969 in preparation for a new album, and potentially a movie or TV special. The structure is footage from each day as they strike off the days in the calendar towards a performance. There is music to be created. For me, the fascinating part is seeing how musical geniuses work. McCartney early on is the driving force and wants to get to work. He is working on most of the memorable tunes of what becomes the Let It Be album. John is working on I’ve Got A Feeling. I was amazed to see Paul at the piano and bringing forward Let It Be and The Long and Winding Road. John seemed fixated on Yoko earlier and lounged in whenever he pleased. George in the first episode quit quite suddenly, as he was feeling left out. He is a third wheel often with John and Paul crafting the songs they are working. But at the same time, he is considerable talent in his own right. In the third episode, we see Ringo working on very rudimentary Octopus’ Garden, and George adds tremendously with his suggestions on the structure. It seems the Beatles generally are music first and then the lyrics come after. As a viewer, we know these songs well, and seeing the alternate language and suggestions are fun to see. Songs are efforts over time and change from day to day. George can speak of struggling with a particular song for months. After three episodes some general observations: I think that the boys in the band do enjoy themselves, they have fun. John not only is able to break the ice with some good quips and jokes, he also later on focuses on valuing George and his songs and contribution. There was, at times, and underlying tension between Paul and George as George resents being told what to do. Paul is a perfectionist for his songs and he has much of it formed in his head. But he works hard and wants to be productive. The lack of focus with these guys is interesting. They don’t have a set agenda each day and often times are just jamming with various tunes (theirs or others). The introduction about the midpoint of keyboard player Billy Preston adds an energy to the rest of them, and some creative juices flow as a result. I am in awe of people who can just play. Sit down with an instrument and just play. The end of episode three has the famous outdoor concert on the rooftop of Apple Studios. I hadn’t realized that they only played about 5 or 6 tunes. A few like Get Back multiple times. So while the crowds gather for the lunchtime performance, there are bobbys who are gathering to shut it down due to complaints about the noise. Little did they realize they were interrupting the last performance in front of an audience that the Beatles will ever do. Perhaps had they known that, it wouldn’t have been so disruptive requiring a phone call to the police. The London police are polite, but they have no sense of the moment or history. This is must viewing for Beatles fans, and for casual fans of music and creative process.

Harry Potter Reunion Show: For those who are Harry Potter fans, you, you may be surprised to learn that the first instalment of this series was released twenty years ago! Feel old yet!? Young Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were unknowns and were given lottery tickets for this series. It was a tremendous success. Along the way, the acted along side some of the Who’s Who of British theatre and film. Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter, Kenneth Branaugh, Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes among others. They learned, developed and grew before our eyes. This reunion brings them face to face with these actors, the directors and the sets. There are some fun stories. You learn that Emma Watson had some consideration about whether she wanted to carry on with it. The young actors obtain fame and wealth as the multi-billion dollar franchise. We learn that Tom Fenton (Draco Malfoy) and Emma Watson (Hermione) have a connection. And there are other little tidbits. This is on Crave. Funnily enough Emma Watson played Belle in Beauty and the Beast, but otherwise none of these primary young actors are doing what lesser lights like Robert Pattinson or Alfred Enoch have had done in other projects. Radcliffe has played some quirkier small roles but isn’t a box office draw it seems.

Stay Close: This is a new series from the UK on Netflix. I am halfway through the ten episodes for Stay Close. It is a murder mystery with characters living in a seaside town on the British coast. It seems to be a relatively quiet, uninhabited place. There is a strip bar (Vipers) which is the focal point. A woman is trying to restart her life, getting away from the stripper life after a creepy guy was stalking her. All the while men seem to be disappearing annually. The local detective is a colourful Irishman who was formerly married to his present police detective partner, and seems to have various other people he is involved with. Among them are the older female barkeep at Vipers. The story is from the book Harlan Coben, who is well known writer, unknown by me but familiar in the genre. The plots twists and turns back onto itself. There are of course inconsistencies and stupidity as characters do things that don’t make any sense. But if you ignore it, then it can be entertaining. If this is the type of story you like, then the British can do this pretty well.