Film reviews often tell you what would be commercially attractive or to the common expectations. Therefore these descriptions of non-cliché latest movies you might want to see but did not decide about yet.



The latest films.
(Dutch movies are discussed in Dutch)

27- June.2001 - 20 Aug.2002




High Crimes

Seen: 20 Aug '02. Directed: Carl Franklin, with: Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, James Caviezel. Military justice is another thing, says this movie about a man who is suddenly taken out of his nice life with his nice wife being accused of war-crimes. The question for this story is, did he or didn't he kill the nine people that died in El Salvador in a military raid. First we are led to believe that the man is innocent, but later on with things not adding up in the trial he turns out to be guilty as hell. That's the story, and what did we come to know? Freeman plays an alcoholic lawyer hanging loose to be replaced by the wife of the accused who is also a lawyer. They fight the power and authority of military-style justice in a cookbook plot. Everything seems to be a cover-up for crimes committed by other military personnel. Witnesses bought need to be framed with wired visitors and such. One is reminded of Vietnam drama's of soldiers killing civilians. America was also wrong in south and middle America and now we may see the stories to cope with this guilt-complex. If Hollywood goes on like this we visitors might ask a fee for hearing their confessions. The strange taste that one gets on exploiting ones own guilt is typical in this movie. The story itself is construed with a pretty forced plot that makes it rather incredible as a real life thing. As such a prefab thriller the movie must not be judged. It is relevant for the way Americans deal with their warcrimes. We think of their resistance against the international tribunal in Den Hague and the strange Bush law that permits Americans to free American soldiers held captive in Holland. How odd all this squirming about the ways of a superpower in its defense of political-economic interests that were not as legally defended as was pretended. How to overcome our bad past we do not really learn from this kind of cinema though as it is lacking in philosophy. Having been bad and not to know how to do it better is the real problem. That would invite hell and the chastising in retribution that the main character in this story has to undergo. Not a positive statement thus as there is no God to propitiate and be redeemed by. Appreciated is his movie for the goodwill to confess, but as a psychologist I'd say, with your being entangled in the profit motive and the wars about it, try another session more conscious about your karma. I don't buy clientele, I buy philosophy. (website)

Eight legged freaks

Seen: 20 Aug '02. Directed by: Ellory Elkayem. With: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra. Paul Verhoeven in 1997 filmed in Starship Troopers spiders as species from another planet. They had gigantic proportions and were tough opponents in a real war. This time the danger is from earth but presented as a comedy it is more fun than science fiction. The spidy-boys moan and scream humanlike when things go wrong. They are led by a gigantic tarantula that as a bulldozer does the heavy work of breaking through steel barriers and such, just to eat all those damn humans. It is really good entertainment more to make one laugh than to be horrified. Not a moment one is really scared by the spiders. It was more the amusement of seeing people who always kill spiders small as they are to be killed being relatively small themselves by a freak of nature. That's karma folks and laugh about it [although according the Hindu's there is a special hell called Andhakûpa for the retribution for people killing insects]. They grew that big because of selective breeding combined with toxic waste. The computer animations are credible and the characters make it a real comedy. So for laughs go, for the animations, go. For horror stay home, for science fiction stay home too and for the philosophy be afraid, as this kind of hell just might be the reality to meet after death, in limbo of being guilty of pestering insects. (website)

The Sum of all Fears

Seen: 20 Aug '02. Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson  With: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell. We see the Tom Clancy hero Jack Ryan [see also Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger] this time caught in the hysteria of an almost nuclear war set up by Tjetsenian terrorists. To drive the Russians and Americans against one another detonate the terrorists, defending themselves against russian-american hegemonism, a small atom-bomb in a stadium packed with people including the president of the USA. Tom Ryan is this time the young talent in the Pentagon, an historian called in to analyze the character of a new Russian president. Things go wrong with the change of power in Russia as the rebels take advantage of the unrest to set up the great powers against one another. They use an atombomb found in the desert where an Israeli fighter armed with one was shot down years before. Researching on the cause of the atomic explosion, analyzing the origin of its nuclear material, does Jack retrace the evil genius behind the attack and just in time saves our hero the word from a nuclear war delivering proof of the conspiracy. The sensation this time is the actual detonation of the bomb. Half a city is wiped out and the president and Jack himself narrowly escape thanks to the warnings of our hero. There is hardly fallout as the wind is blowing seaward. The surprise of being the victim of terrorists outdoing the reality of the 9-11 disaster seems to be set up to ward off the sum of all fears of a nuclear attack by them. As long as we can act it out in the cinema we may hope it never happens. But exactly that scenario is still open we're afraid. We maintain that acting out fears with the cinema as an alternative defense system is not the way to cope with the arguments of the fundamentalist Muslim in suicide-terrorism. We think that the only way to ward of the danger is to assimilate the essence of the lunar order of the Islam and thus defeat the psychology of estrangement between the cultures that has risen throughout the history of our present time management. Once we have overcome our own repression of our own former roman lunar order, will Islam be pacified as a reaction to christian ignorance in time-management, Not by movies like these it will be accomplished, however nicely acted out and filmed. But for discussions like these, can fantasy and commercial exploit of fears be a hindrance in actually arriving at a successful coping strategy (study the demands of terrorism and the articles on the needed time-conscious politics). (website)


The 51st State

Seen: 13 Aug '02. Directed by: Ronny Yu, with: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Sean Pertwee, Rhys Ifans. We may know that England is the 51 st . state of the USA and that the drugscene rules the world. The hero against it is a flunked sixties far-out chemist who tries to sell a new party-drug to the drug-lords. The drug is called POS 51, praised in superlatives. Nobody thinks that a very good name for such a highly wanted thing but o.k. interesting enough to have the whole world fighting about it, including some freaky skinheads against the backdrop of Liverpool. To get the formula, the city turns into an american hellish warzone of racing cars and guns fired, but that doesn't matter. It is meant as a comedy to ridicule the whole stupid business. In the end the acronym of the drug turns out to mean power of suggestion. It was a placebo and all the ravers freaking out on it had to be fooled to believe in their own natural high. The confrontation of the american with the english crime-style is amusing, including elements like the stupid bodyguard, an english one of course, killing by accident and shooting at his own people. There is even a little love-story sideplot for the english side of crime. The american hero runs off with the greater share of the money of course - what else would the american talent be - just to prove what he was wearing his kilt and golf clubs for the entire movie: to become a real scottish lordship with a golf-course and a castle. Luckily enough his final statement is to show the nude of his beautiful black behind to make his final point. To be in the royal house is, whatever cheating of the crime led that way, to return to the natural state. That is the final state after the 51 mocked by this fast running, tempting and spirited comedy. Thus we speak of the United State of America (England plus) from now on.. (website)


Long Time dead

Seen: 13 aug '02. Directed by: Marcus Adams, Joe Absolom, Lara Belmont, Melanie Gutteridge, Lukas Haas. A group of youngsters looking for a thrill have a ouija bord session. Things go dramatically wrong as they turn out to be visited by a very bad evil spirit: a fire demon called a djinn. One after the other gets killed when in fear they try to run away without reaching proper closure to the session. The killing against the backdrop of a raving music-scene continues to the extreme of delusional psychotic, partly drug-induced fears, until at last the guy that the demon took possession of is killed by the last participant remaining so it seems. But as usual with this genre evil nor spirits can be physically killed so that in the last scene we see it unexpectedly continuing. Apart from this simple classical horror-plot we see this time not a christian exorcist wrestling with the devil, but bored youths trying some spiritism. The paranormal sceance is indeed a dangerous ritual starting as a person ignorant in spirituality. Calling for spirits and talking to them may seem nice for starters but also in reality it is not free from danger. People get possessed. Think of Adolf Hitler e.g. to name a famous case of misinterpreting spiritual truths, or Madame Blavatski who was caught red-handed in cheating this way. As such the film warns rightly. Of course is it a pity that the Rama and Durga pictures at the wall of one of the places pictured remained pictures only. Saying a few mantra's for them would have done the spiritual job of reversing the process much more easily. But that's the lesson here for the ignorant: just a picture at the wall or in the cinema is not enough to ward of the evil that lurks from the beyond also. We actually have to sing the song for it. (website)


Birthday Girl

Seen: 6 aug '02. Directed by: Jez Butterworth, with Nicole Kidman, Ben Chaplin, Vincent Cassel en Mathieu Kassovitz. John, a bank clerk in a small english town meets with Nadia, a russian internet-bride who to his disappointment doesn't seem to speak English at all. Although being cheated to begin with he tries to make the best of it with giving her a dictionary and trying to live with her. They stumble with trouble into a sexual bond that doesn't really follow the normal course. It is driven by the fear of him rejecting her. She figures out that he has some kinky interest in bondage and gives into that. But things run out also different another way. Someday she says to have her 24th birthday. That's allright, but unexpected two russian friends, nephews or something, turn up at the doorstep that day. From then on things go wrong, The guys settle there for longer and John decides that they have to leave. The response is aggression: the guys freak out taking Nadia for a hostage forcing John to rob his bank for them. Strangely enough he believes in Nadia's innocence and doesn't go to the police. In stead he throws his whole life away giving in to the crooks who immediately after the crime turn out to be accomplices with Nadia in a scam that they pulled off many times before. He is just one of the many victims who they robbed that way. But Nadia is pregnant of one of the guys and wants to get out. As trouble, and cutting in the share, she is left behind bound in ropes just as John. Together they are now against their will bound by fate. From their sex they have some sympathy left, John thought to have found his woman but is now flipped; she too is not so sure either of her feelings and what to do next. They are sought by the police and have to leave their car behind. They decide to go for the airport to escape the country, but there they discover the other two who left them behind. She falls into their hands again unwillingly, but John manages to free her from them taking the money also. Together they leave the country with the love and with the money. The problem with movies like this is that love and attachment wins from malice as well as from righteousness. Nor the righteous society is good, it is square and a drag, nor the malice against it of course that is treacherous. To escape from the hell of attachment into another attachment elsewhere with a take the money and run solution, has of course little credibility or moral value, nor makes it much of a literary contribution. Nevertheless is the movie entertaining with, humor, originality, fine acting and a nice cast. I'd say, nicely up standard, a seven on a scale of ten for this genre. (website)

Men in Black II

Seen: August 6 2002. Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. With: Kevin Cotteleer; Tommy Lee Jones; Will Smith; Lara Flynn Boyle. Originally Men in Black was supposed to answer to the fears about an alien conspiracy on earth or the cover-up operations of the government on UFO-phenomena like Roswell. Now we have the strange effect of forgetting this original fear by means of exposure to a comedy about it. In the movie people who witnessed something alien are neuralized with a flashlight to wipe their memories. Now the whole audience is neuralized by being flashed with a movie so manipulated that one must believe it is all illusion. Bet they are subsidized by the american government for it... Anyway, the movie begins with a clumsy sixties version of a t.v.-show introducing the subject of the Light of Zartha. Incredible as the show looks makes the power of digital control the credible of the rest of the movie. Now it is for real and all our S.F. is true, that is, not of course. Nice try, but stay alert seeing how this time Jones is re-neuralized to resume his duties to catch another nasty alien who took the form of a lingerie photo-model. In fact it is a gruesome monster with lots of tentacles taking over the complete MIB-offices to find the light of Zartha that once was hidden on earth. What the light exactly is we may not know, but it has something to do with a shining bracelet around the wrist of an accidental witness so it seems. But that witness turns out to be the central character that takes the light away from the earth thus saving the planet. But that storyline seems pretty irrelevant. What it is all about is the attitude of heroic indifference and humor with which the aliens are fought. It is the recipe of the first MIB-movie and it is just as entertaining, although not as surprising anymore. We as said are supposed to forget our fears for the alien reality of ufo-phenomena and cropcircles this way. Entertaining as it may be one may doubt whether this will solve the real problem of being exposed collectively. At least the novelty of this antidote is wearing off and the fear for the real thing was only hidden just like the light of Zartha. And now a real plan to really cope with it. (website)



40 Days and 40 Nights

Seen: July 29 2002. Director: Michael Lehmann. With: Josh Hartnett and Shannyn Sossamon. Matt works at a .com company with lots of male and female friends around him. He is addicted to sex being a wanted bachelor, and he gets tired of it fearing the 'emptiness after' that he recognizes as a 'crack in the ceiling'. That existential fear of materialist sex leads him to his brother who is a priest. It is the time of lent and he vows from that to seize control over his life and not to have sex anyway he knows: no kissing, fucking, petting or whatever touching of a woman for the full 40 days and nights. Then the game begins. He becomes an object of speculation betrayed by his friends over the internet. They close bets on the date he would fall. The woman encroach hotter and more fanatic on him than ever telling him that he is a threat 'to their power' and that they are willing to do anything with him to get back the control over the horny penis-guys they were used to. But he has met a charming girl that has sufficient patience with him and enough love for the game of discovering what is all possible with a flower only, to pull him through the 40 days. A jealous ex though manages to conspire against his celibate exercise and mounts him just the last night. His girl insulted and sad runs away from his defeat and leaves him in misery. Ten days later though he is still crazy enough about her to win her back. End good all good, movie over. The story is a nice mix between the serious problem of sexual uncontrol and the fun about it. It challenges just enough to think a little about it, but is that explicit in its scenes of weakness and fun that one never feels the brother's sermon too much (he too falls for a sweet little beauty of a nun). Of course one should go and enjoy all the jokes in and about the 40 days. Bottomline the movie might be saying: the more you try to forget about it the harder it becomes. Yes, we believe indeed, is the way to freedom, but you better know when and how to say it right then. (website)



Seen: July 29 2002. Director: Tom Shadyac. with Kevin Kostner. The movie contributes to clearing the vision on a possible afterlife. When we die we lose the material capacity of a personal body and continue merely existing in the memory of oneself making a good or bad dream of hell or heaven before one comes down again for resuming ones material activities in the material world. Sometimes though there is unfinished business with people left behind. In those cases there can be paranormal phenomena as apparitions and telekinetic effects. This true to life story finely told and acted demonstrates such a case. We witness how a female pregnant physician doing charitable work crashes with a bus somewhere in south America. She deceases but her body is not found. Her husband, another physician is left behind alone without even having seen her body. At first he tries to forget working hard , but then realizes something is going on about her. Children with terminal cancer she formerly treated report, being brought back from death, that she was there at the other side with a message. At first the message is just a peculiar symbol that he doesn't recognize. Later on he learns that he has to go to her where 'the rainbow' is. He doesn't understand and tries to forget the oddness of the paranormal experience believing with his friends that it is trauma of grief that drives him nuts. But trying to get out on a wildwater raft-expedition, he discovers his house really haunted by his former wife. Strange things happen to things of her: clothes mysteriously return to their closet, the cherished parrot goes crazy and a dragonfly paperweight returns in its old place. He then finds out among the tourist maps a map of the region where she died. On that map there is the strange symbol indicating waterfalls. Waterfalls often have a rainbow. So he decides to check out and finds there in the jungle the place where his wife drowned and was buried by native indians. But unclear which grave she is buried in he doesn't believe and runs against the instruction of his guide into the village of those natives forbidden for tourists, where he suspects the indians to know more. Indeed they recognize her from the picture and explain that they could 'save her soul'. They lead him towards a baby that he recognizes as his own: it has, just like the mother and his wife the typical family birthmark of a dragonfly. End of the movie is a happy man with a daughter that looks exactly like his former wife. Morals: believe in your intuition and find your way with the inner drive in loyalty to your love. There is more between heaven and earth we directly materially can know of and indeed there is sufficient proof of paranormal phenomena relating to this credible scenario of people wrestling before and after death with the clutches of fate. Go see and never follow the materialistic filmcritics that say that this is a weak follow-up to the Sixth Sense, The Others or The Mothman Prophecies. No it is an important most realistic contribution with indeed little concession to sensation-seeking disbelievers. This is real life stuff, accept it. (website)




Seen: July 21 2002. Director: Richard Eyre. With: Kate Winslet , Judy Dench, Jim Broadbent. The movie describes the life of Irish Murdoch, an excentric english novelist of the philosophy of free living. Her husband wrote the biography that was filmed. The actors got oscars for their accomplishments, all in good friendship and culture we presume, but for the cimema the movie is of little content and importance. The main portion is taken by the description of the demise of Iris and not by her glory and adventure, which is a regrettable thing. Miss Murdoch was a philosopher/writer who pleaded the free life and duty of selfrealization. Although she had little discipline in her own life so it seems, was she nevertheless an accomplished writer of profound thinking. The movie is more set up as a reminder of what free-style living with all its excitement drama, sexual confusion and sadness can do to a person at the end of life. In order not to go to hell with it, it is pretty hard atonement so the story proves. Iris had to suffer hard for her sins loosing her brain before she died with Alzheimer. Only a few flashbacks give a hint to what her thinking was about and surely that was too little justice done. Apparently her husband was so impressed by the burden of caring for her with her disease that he forgot to stress the full extent of her personal drama, love and thought. Not objective to the complete of her life, he seems to be crying out for only really having had the sad part of her life. She had no children; nothing is told about what she thought and felt about it. About her lovers we also may know very little, nor about her motives of attachment or separating from them. We may witness only a few lines of her wisdom but many of her in her confused state. It reeks of revenge as if her husband would be the Lord of Retribution. With the mission of remembering the good of the dead I'd say intellectually an unimportant movie about an important personality of literature. There was more to make of it than this medical report of downfall in old age. (website)


The Man Who Wasn't There

Seen: July 14 2002. Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen. With: Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand. From these brothers we discussed before Fargo and O Brother Where Art Thou. They have a keen interest in picturing the absurdity of crime, the ways of justice or injustice and the narrow-mindedness of civil attachments. This time we witness, in ancient black and white, the drama of a hairdresser in the small town of Santa Rose, California in 1949. The man called Ed Crane is a silent type leading a boring life as a hairdresser. He feels caught but is no rebel. He is nicely married to a nice but dominant and unfaithful wife that co-owns a big warehouse. They have no kids. Someday from Sacramento an obscure salesman comes in to have a haircut for under his toupet and tells him about the newest technology of Dry Cleaning. Ed believes to have found the opportunity to make something of his life and gives him 10.000 dollars as a downpayment to set up the business being a silent partner. But the man is a cheat who meanwhile blackmails his brother in law who also runs the warehouse. Ed, beforehand hearing of it gives his so-called business partner the money that his brother in law laid down to get rid of the same smalltime crook. From then on everything goes wrong. The sin of cheating his brother in law makes him the target of an attack by him. He kills him stabbing him in his neck with a brief-opener, but gets away with the act having his wife accused of the murder. His master barber-colleague freaks out and drops out of business, He gets the business, but has to hand it over to the bank for paying his wife's solicitor. The wife though commits suicide before she was proven innocent. Money gone, business gone, wife gone, brother in law gone, business partner gone. Now he is factually a man not really there anymore. And more comes. God is Justice and so does he alone now try to get on top of things helping out a talented pianoplaying girl from town. He takes her to a professional, but is turned down for the effort of presenting such a polite typist of the piano. The girl tries to make it up giving head to him behind the steering wheel and so he drives himself to heaven crashing with his car, to have a chat with his deceased wife: still the same boring life. But he has to return to the now very real of life where he upon awaking from his coma is being told that he is under arrest for murdering the salesman who was found dead in some water nearby. Thus in the end wrongly accused he still dies on the electric chair missing the lawyer he couldn't afford anymore being broke. God has won, the story is over. Like in the other movies we learn to know american justice as an absurd soap-opera-like system of guesswork and false accusation completely corrupt and illusioned for the money. The civilian is of course the guilty one who - blue eyes and all- goes to hell with clumsy attempts in crime based on a hate for the narrow-minded boring bourgeois life. Will one ever find out what exactly their bad time is? The mission of the Coen brothers is clear: get disgusted with the narrow-minded attachment and hate for life of the so-called adapted square people who are by accident and stupidity in fact clumsy ignorant criminals. As we also saw with 'Monsters Ball', we may know the problem, share in desperation, but if the cinema is the solution for having the right time... or would we need the right time for having the cinema? (Website)



Seen: July 6 2002. Director: Sam Raimi. With: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, James Franco, J.K. Simmons. The old comic-book hero Spiderman brought to the screen makes for a nice cinematographic experience. Now three-dimensional the successor of Superman does it right as a hero should, winning the love of the girl next door. He can even do without the gothic of Gotham City. Manhatten suffices, be it with for the movies digitally wiped out WTC-buildings (9-11 delayed). Still he has a classical vicious adversary called the Green Goblin and not so much a bad system. Badness is still the person and not his product, so we have a personalized sun and shadow of morality and power, questioning what we should with the perfect middle except being bored. Goodness this time is a modest guy called Peter Parker in his normal life not very popular, who works for the newspaper as a free lance photographer. He mutated being bitten by a genetically altered spider and now he has special abilities. From building to building he jumps held up by web-threads he shoots run to run from his wrist. His adversary is a freaked out scientist called Norman Osborn, who became victim of his own performance enhancement drugs. As the father of his friend Harry is he out for revenge and pure destruction. To dream of heroism is nice, especially having superpowers, but the initial objective to fight the scum of the earth stays two-dimensional. There are so many movies where the poor en dropped out turn into demons resorting to crime and where the civilians and the police turn into Gods and Supermen to defend God, wealth and peace. Maybe a bit more Robin Hood with a better culture of respect for professional peacekeeping on the dole leads to a more mature vision of a secure society than having frustrated bums and drop outs as the evil that must be fought with dreams of superpower which only really work in the cinema. Those idolized 'Supermen' may weave their spiderwebs better in governement buildings defending there 'Peacekeeping makes the wealth, not the greedy person', as it is there where the responsibility for the original social injustice and defense of the karmic society lies. So for the 21th century being a pretty naive and outdated story about heroism, is Spiderman for the retro-feeler and the old-fashioned american comicbook dreamer a superfine experience. I had fun, but also a critical brain. Next time I'd say: fight the system, not so much the people dropping out of its royal badness; to prevent is better than to cure. (website)



Seen: June 27 2002. Director: Adrian Lyne, with: Diane Lane and Richard Gere. Constance and Edward, a married couple get into trouble as the bored housewife seeks adventure and novelty with a bookseller of french blood. Slowly the woman falls down and equally slowly does her husband find out with a detective and photographic proof. As he finds out, the small-minded square materialist aggression takes over for a moment and thus he kills in passion the lover of his wife with an air of natural justice. He dumps the body, the police finds out, but they cannot figure that he did it, despite of all modern forensic techniques. How come? Are they in the bourgeois plot of false justice in favor of the attached? They never suspect the couple as only the phonenumber and no fingerprints were found. Dumb police? Since when Uncle Sam? The movie ends with them in front of a police station doubting to escape to Mexico and start a new life, continuing undetected or turning themselves in. The movie is a kind of remake of Claude Chabrols La Femme Infidèle. What is stressed here is the escapist nature of the adultery and the narrow-minded attachment that wins over the promiscuous of the tempting lover. Is that the new morality or the old problem? Should we be rather attached than be in the hell of unbound promiscuity? What moral lead is that? Without further cultural reference is the movie a peculiar product: what's so interesting to see a couple falling down in adultery and ending up guilty having solved the problem with violence? Marriage before all? Love conquers, or would it be a negative: attachment is hell, boredom is the devil and violence wins from love? Why could the lover not be shared in a tantric exercise? Why murder? Where did we meditate? Has Gere lost the Buddha missing the Tantra? Why was the nice marriage in fact betrayed out of disgust for the rut of material happiness in the first place? We know tantra guru Rajneesh was expelled from America later on dying inexplicably in 1990 in his ashram in India with too much thallium in his body. We know the materialistic rut is the counter-natural conditioning of standard time. But why do we still think in America to come away with murder for attachment and continuing with the civil hypocrite of the unnatural standard time of household routines? Should the older couple not realize that the middle age mission is to meditate the sexless natural of time and to take more responsibility for spiritual fulfillment and representation of wisdom? What has been learned in America, or are we dealing here with an american guilt complex so that we only witness the perversion, the attachment and the murder, but not the analysis, the legal consequence, the penance and the unselfish of tantric realization? There is a warning of lusting about problems and not living solutions. Those stories end unfortunate, Repression and denial collapses says the psychiatrist. As such, however professionally pictured, is this movie an ignorant exposition of hopeless guilt. (website)






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