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Review: Insomnia (2002)

Insomnia (2002)

Directed by: Christopher Nolan | 118 minutes | drama, crime, thriller | Actors: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Martin Donovan, Paul Dooley, Nicky Katt, Larry Holden, Jay Brazeau, Lorne Cardinal, James Hutson, Andrew Campbell, Paul Shaw, Crystal Lowe, Tasha Simms

After his successful film ‘Memento’, director Christopher Nolan has made a very successful successor with ‘Insomnia’. It is not an original script on two counts. In ‘Memento’ the story is told from back to front. Not so in ‘Insomnia’. In addition, we are dealing with a remake of the Norwegian film with the same title from 1997.

‘Insomnia’ is a psychological thriller in which loyalty and human emotion are central. The number of main characters is limited to four, but the character developments are very strong. The characters each have the necessary baggage that they carry with them. This is made clear to the viewer during the course of the film.

Both Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) and Ellie Burr (Hilary Swank) remain loyal to Will Dormer (Al Pacino) in his unorthodox way of investigating. The only question is how far can he continue with this. The characters undergo, whether or not in combination with the continuous daylight, the necessary emotional phases, which are played in such a way that it comes across as natural.

Cinematographically, the film has beautiful shots that are a feast for the eyes. The fact that we are dealing with twenty-four hours of daylight is also shown in a sublime way. A good example of this is that Will (Al Pacino) wants to investigate, but Ellie (Hilary Swank) points out that it is evening and the school the victim attended is closed.

The role of Will Dormer is superbly played by Al Pacino. Martin Donovan, who plays the role of Hap Eckhart, gives Al Pacino all the space to shine. He knows exactly the right interpretation of his character, so that Al Pacino continues to grow in his role. For a change we see Robin Williams in the role of the villain, who still manages to get the necessary sympathy from the viewer. He shows that he is capable of a lot when it comes to acting. It’s a shame that Hilary Swank can’t match the level of her fellow actors. She is unable to give sufficient shape to her character development. The chemistry between Al Pacino and Robin Williams actually makes it almost impossible for her to intervene.

‘Insomnia’ is a fantastic film, which fortunately will not give you sleepless nights.

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English Reviews

Review: Time Lapse (2001)

Time Lapse (2001)

Directed by: David Worth | 88 minutes | thriller | Actors: William McNamara, Dina Meyer, Roy Scheider, Henry Rollins, Barry Lynch, Adoni Maropis, Endre Hules, Cassandra Hepburn

Agent Clayton Pierce works for the government and has infiltrated a Russian/Iraqi drug trade. At least that’s what he thinks. When the briefcase is about to be handed over, he discovers that it contains a nuclear weapon. He does not change his mind for a moment, but starts shooting at random, is shot himself, but manages to flee. Just before he falls down, he can tell his colleague, Gaines, what’s going on and give him the briefcase to get to safety.

When he regains consciousness, a doctor friend wants to examine him, but reveals that his memory is still top notch. The doctor lets him go, with the proviso that he does not go kickboxing and does not drink alcohol for the time being. Less than a minute later, his boss, La Nova, offers him an anisette, a drink that tastes like liquorice. And then the trouble begins…

Clay wants to go home, but walks to the wrong car. The doctor reminds him of this fact. Even when he has arrived at home, his house key does not fit, but he still manages to find the spare key flawlessly. In the bedroom he meets his wife Kate. However, she is stunned that Clay is at her house, as they have been separated for three years! Clay can’t remember anything about this and wants to get to the bottom of the matter, with Kate’s help.

If you don’t know what the movie is about, the first twenty minutes are very confusing. The film opens with a scene where we see Clay win a chess game from a computer and then have ten seconds left to leave the premises. A huge explosion ensues and Clay jumps out the window just in time. Then time jumps back six days and we see Clay again engaged in a game of chess, this time with a Russian. He is undercover and involved in a drug deal between Russians and Iraqis. At the time of closing the deal, Clay discovers that the contents of the briefcase are not drugs, but a nuclear weapon. The film then continues until we get the opening scene again, after which the film continues again. The reason for the double showing of this scene is not clear to me. The director probably thought it was artistic.

There is not much to say about the film in terms of acting. Lead actor William McNamara looks so silly that it is absolutely not credible that he “speaks five languages, can ride a motorcycle in everything, has a photographic memory and has never said he does not understand anything” (quote from his ex-wife Kate). He looks like he can’t even “don’t annoy you” – let alone play chess! Roy Scheider has also played in better movies. The role of Kate is played by Dina Meyer, also known from ‘Starship Troopers’ (1997) and she stands head and shoulders above the rest. Henry Rollins also plays a small role as Gaines remarkably well.

‘Time Lapse’ isn’t exciting, because you already know who the bad guy is from the start. The use of chess terms and scenes seems artificial. It seems as if the director wanted to make a more intelligent film than it ended up being. Also, for example, the scene in which Clay is helped by Suzie Lee, a computer expert, who can scoop up the requested information in a few seconds, is very much sought after. For the fun of it, Suzie Lee is only made to be a lesbian, and of course Clay enters just as she is about to make love to her mistress. For the fans among us: it is a film for 12 years and older, so don’t expect an interesting scene!

‘Time Lapse’ is occasionally reminiscent of ‘Memento’ (2000), but of course this level is not reached anywhere. It’s a far cry from a B-movie, but if you’re in the mood for a time lapse, you can definitely watch this movie.

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Review: Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh | 112 minutes | thriller, comedy, crime | Actors: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Bernie Mac, Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Shaobo Qin, Carl Reiner, Don Cheadle, Holly Marie Combs

‘Ocean’s Eleven’ is a remake of the 1960 film of the same name. Just like in 1960, the director now has an impressive star cast at his disposal in 2001. At the time it was Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., who had to pull the cart, now mainly George Clooney and Brad Pitt are the eye-catchers. These stars have to get the audience excited for the film.

The story itself is not interesting, but of course the renowned names create high expectations. Fortunately, the expectations are fulfilled. The actors, who by the way play for a pittance of their usual salary, are clearly looking forward to it. Julia Roberts cashed no less than $20.00, which was paid by George Clooney out of his own pocket. The fun splashes off the canvas.

The absolute star is George Clooney, who clearly knows how to inspire the other actors with his acting. Unfortunately Andy Garcia is a bit out of tune. He doesn’t come across as mean enough as the “bad guy”, Terry Benedict, but that shouldn’t spoil the fun. In addition to Andy Garcia, the makers also had Warren Beatty, Michael Douglas or Ralph Fiennes in mind for the role of Terry Benedict. There were several well-known stars, such as Luke and Owen Wilson, who fell by the wayside due to their commitments with ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’. Originally, Matt Damon was also not supposed to participate. His role would be played by Mark Wahlberg. Fortunately, the viewer does not notice the lack of all those actors at all.

In addition, the lack of story is compensated by the razor-sharp dialogues and the film looks flashy due to swinging camera work under the direction of Steven Soderbergh. The movie is over before you know it and leaves a crushing impression. It almost goes without saying that after the success of the film, the makers are willing to take a chance with a second part, which saw the light of day in 2004.

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English Reviews

Review: Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick | 159 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Madison Eginton, Sydney Pollack, Todd Field, Jackie Sawiris, Leslie Lowe, Peter Benson, Michael Doven, Sky Dumont, Louise J. Taylor, Stewart Thorndike, Randall Paul, Julienne Davis, Lisa Leone

Almost thirty years before ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ premiered, a journalist friend bought the rights to Arthur Schnitzler’s book “Traumnovelle” at the behest of Stanley Kubrick. So Stanley Kubrick has had the idea for this film for nearly three decades, and this is indicative of the film’s shooting and reshoots. Stanley Kubrick is an incredible perfectionist, some scenes had to be re-shot eighty times. Even after Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman filmed the final scenes, Kubrick asked them to come back, partly because the roles of Victor Ziegler, William’s patient, and Marion Nathanson, daughter of William’s patient, initially starred Harvey Keitel. and Jennifer Jason Leigh were played. Harvey Keitel was replaced by Sidney Pollack, because the bathroom was not luxurious enough for Kubrick’s taste. A new bathroom had to be built, and Harvey Keitel did not have the time that would take. Jennifer Jason Leigh meanwhile was filming ‘EXistenZ’, so her scenes couldn’t be re-shot either, and she was replaced by Marie Richardson. All in all, it took two and a half years for the film to be shot.

Stanley Kubrick has managed to create a sultry atmosphere and the sex scenes between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are not even to blame. It’s more the mystery of the story, at the beginning of the movie you have no idea where it’s going and then when it finally becomes clear it’s like it was inevitable all along.

The meeting with William’s former classmate, Nick Nightingale, for example: at the beginning of the film it seems like a separate scene, but this later turns out to be one of the most crucial moments in the film. There is no scene in the film that is redundant. The scenes in the mansion are breathtaking, very bizarre and impressive. More macabre than erotic. In America, these images have been digitized, so that the film passed the inspection. The film is full of symbolism and of course, one of Kubrick’s trademarks, references to (his other) films. The name Bowman can be seen as William walks through Soho, Bowman is the name of a character from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. The name Kaminsky from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ also appears in this film, because one of the patients with whom William cancels the appointment is called that. Also on William and Alice’s bedside table is a VHS of ‘Rain Man’, featured in the marijuana scene. This is obviously a reference to the movie starring Tom Cruise.

Although the film is a bit slow here and there and lasts longer than the average film, you are unnoticed in the story and want nothing more than for the mystery to be unraveled. It is a fascinating film that you will not easily forget.

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English Reviews

Review: Big Daddy (1999)

Big Daddy (1999)

Directed by: Dennis Dugan | 95 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Stewart, Rob Schneider, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse, Steve Buscemi, Kirsty Swanson, Josh Mostel, Leslie Mann, Allen Covert

‘Big Daddy’ is a typical Adam Sandler movie. He has some very funny moments now and then, but they are too rare to make it a real hit. The story is simple and unbelievable, but that doesn’t matter much in such a comedy. The role of the boy is played by the twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse, Cole is best known as Ross’ and Carol’s son Ben from the comedy series ‘Friends’. There are scenes where the twins’ acting doesn’t seem convincing. Makes sense, they’re only six when the film is shot, so what can you expect. But unfortunately you can clearly see, for example, that the scene where Julian cries heartbreakingly is not real.

Apart from that, the actors are well cast. Joey Lauren Adams plays nice, only her voice irritates now and then (reminiscent of Jennifer Tilly’s hoarse voice). However, the role of Steve Buscemi is masterful. He does many supporting roles in Adam Sandler films, including ‘The Wedding Singer’, ‘Billy Madison’ and ‘Mr. Deeds’. In ‘Big Daddy’ he plays a homeless person and he has nice one-liners. Allen Covert has also worked with Adam Sandler before.

The way Sonny deals with Julian is not very educational, but sometimes funny. For example, he knows how to use a newspaper in various ways and teaches Julian that cans of Spaghetti O’s are cheaper if there is a dent in them (by dropping them yourself). He also thinks that tripping skaters is the height of humor, but opinions will be divided on that. The film occasionally gains momentum, as seemingly insurmountable problems are solved in one scene. The ending of the film is less predictable than you’d expect, which is a plus.

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English Reviews

Review: The Assault (1986)

The Assault (1986)

Directed by: Fons Rademakers | 144 minutes | drama, history, war, romance | Actors: Derek de Lint, Marc van Uchelen, Monique van de Ven, John Kraaykamp, ​​Huub van der Lubbe, Elly Weller, Edda Barends, Ina van der Molen, Frans Vorstman, Casper de Boer, Wim de Haas, Hiske van der Linden, Piet de Wijn, Akkemay, Cees Coolen

Filming a novel with big thoughts is not easy, especially because film is above all a visual language. As soon as the spoken word predominates through explanatory dialogues, a film quickly loses its power. Film students learn at the beginning of their screenplay course that using a voice-over is a mortal sin. It is therefore this point that stands out in Fons Rademaker’s adaptation of Harry Mulisch’s book. Mulisch’s film is about searching for the truth in a past and Rademakers was forced to explain the many jumps in time with an old-fashioned voice-over. Apparently Rademakers and his screenwriter Gerard Soeteman had little faith in the historical consciousness of the Dutch film audience, and perhaps with good reason. It is therefore the transitions to the different phases of Anton Steenwijk’s life that seem wooden. Within each episode, Rademakers shows his great craftsmanship and pushes the actors (particularly Van Uchelen as the young Anton, De Lint as the older Anton and John Kraaykamp as the resistance fighter Takes) to great heights. The only dissonant in the cast is De Dijk singer Huub van der Lubbe, who tries his best, but gets lost in it.

Camera work and art direction are of exceptionally high quality, making the film a joy to behold. Unfortunately, the ear has to make do with somewhat pompous music. Soeteman copied Mulisch’s literary discoveries with sufficient subtlety, so that the heavy symbolism of, for example, a dice (coincidence!) is not too imposed. The story is told in powerful lines and skilfully works towards some gripping climaxes as parts of the mystery of the past are revealed to Anton. As his father teaches his sons at the beginning of the film: Only those who know their past can understand their present.

The attack won numerous awards, most notably the Oscar for Best Non-English Language Film. It’s just a shame that Rademakers couldn’t concoct more from the award ceremony at the time than a somewhat embarrassing puppet show with the Oscar statuette as his hand puppet. Ah, those weird Europeans, the members of Academy must have thought.

Despite the minor flaws, ‘De Aanslag’ is one of the best films in our Dutch film history and perhaps the most important in the maturing of our film culture and film industry. It is therefore a pity that Rademaker’s role was almost over after the film and that ‘De Aanslag’, despite the films that followed it, can be seen as a magnificent final chord of a great career.

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English Reviews

Review: cube (1997)

Cube (1997)

Directed by: Vincenzo Natali | 91 minutes | drama, fantasy, science fiction, horror, thriller | Actors: Nicole De Boer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Maurice Dean Wint

In the beginning of ‘Cube’ we see a man waking up in a square room. This room has six doors. These doors form the entrance to the next “room”. The man goes through a door to another room and is killed there. Then we see six people awaken in different square rooms. The rooms have different colors of light. They go to investigate. It is not clear to them why they are there and how they got there. Eventually they meet in one room. Not all rooms appear to be safe. A death trap has been built in some rooms. This means that they must always find out which room is safe and which is not.

The characters of the main characters are chosen in such a way that they each have a specialty. We have a police officer, a mathematician, a social worker, a student, a mentally handicapped person and an ex-convict. They must work together to solve the cube puzzle. Naturally, tensions run high when the group faces setbacks.

It is an original story written and directed by Vincenzo Natali, who filmed the low budget. During filming, only one cube was used, where everything takes place. He has either exposed the cube differently or added attributes to the cube so that it seems that you are always dealing with a different cube.

The film starts off slow, but as the film progresses, it picks up speed. Unfortunately, the script is killed by mediocre acting by almost all unknown actors. Except for the interpretation of the mathematician by Nicole de Boer, the characters are portrayed quite one-dimensionally. The cube itself already has more depth. Incidentally, the observant viewer will quickly realize that the names of the main characters are all names of prisons. The original script certainly deserves attention. The way it was filmed is also commendable. We have to take the level of the acting for granted, because viewed across the board it is a fine film.

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Review: Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)

Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)

Directed by: Andrzej Sekula | 95 minutes | science fiction, horror, thriller | Actors: Geraint Wyn Davies, Kari Matchett, Matthew Ferguson, Neil Crone, Barbara Gordon, Lindsey Connoll, Grace Lynn Kung, Greer Kent, Bruce Gray, Philip Akin, Paul Robbins, Andrew Scorer

In ‘Cube’ (1997) we saw a group of six people awaken in cube-shaped spaces. The sequel to this, ‘Cube 2: Hypercube’, starts in the same way, only the number of people has increased. Eight strangers come together in one room. They all do not know how they ended up in the “hypercube”. During the film they find out that they are all somehow connected to a well-known American company called Izon, which makes weapons. Although the goal is to unravel the secret through cooperation, the different characters of the characters prove to be a stumbling block.

The cube in the first part is three-dimensional. Now this cube appears to have a fourth dimension, which cannot be explained rationally. This means that the events in the various rooms take place at different times. So the main characters appear more than once. So it may be that the main character is still alive in one dimension and already dead in the other.

The filmmakers have added this original aspect to the film and left out the gory horror aspect from the first part, making ‘Cube 2: Hypercube’ more of a psychological thriller than a horror film. In itself this is a huge improvement. Add to that the better acting performances and the film now remains exciting until the end. The viewer is much better in the story and empathizes with the ups and downs of the main characters. The characters come to life. The only drawback is that the camera is occasionally visible because the connecting doors between the various rooms are glossy black. Apart from this minor flaw, ‘Cube 2: Hypercube’ is a film that you should see just for its originality and its adaptation.

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English Reviews

Review: Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Directed by: Gus Van Sant | 125 minutes | drama | Actors: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Stellan Skarsgård, Minnie Driver, Cole Hauser, John Mighton, Rachel Majorowski, Colleen McCauley

Up-and-coming actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck break through with their self-written script of ‘Good Will Hunting’. The film yields no fewer than seven Oscar nominations, but ultimately only wins two: Damon and Affleck receive recognition for writing the script and Robin Williams for best supporting actor. The message of ‘Good Will Hunting’ is not original, but it has been given a nice new look. The fact that you have to live your dreams and seize the opportunities that arise is not new. The packaging that the gentlemen have come up with does.

Now a good script alone is no guarantee for a good film. The interaction and chemistry is clearly present between the actors, who feel exactly how the scenes should be played. Thanks in part to the merits of Gus van Sant, who has a tight control over the directing and who translates the script into a catchy film, ‘Good Will Hunting’ knows how to captivate you until the end.

Where the film starts as a drama, it turns into a feel-good movie as the end approaches. A good choice, because this reinforces the message in this film. It is not entirely unjust that Robin Williams has won an Academy Award for his performance. He will surprise many with his performance. He plays on the edge every now and then, but convincingly manages to portray the frustrated psychiatrist who must get Will (Matt Damon) into line.

That Matt Damon and Ben Affleck succeed in creating their characters should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, they wrote the script themselves. The other actors play well and leave the shine to the aforementioned. ‘Good Will Hunting’ is a beautiful film that makes you think about the choices you have made in your life.

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Review: Resident Evil (2002)

Resident Evil (2002)

Directed by: Paul WS Anderson | 100 minutes | action, science fiction, horror, thriller | Actors: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, Martin Crewes, Colin Samon, Ryan McCluskey, Oscar Pearce, Indra Ové, Anna Bolt, Joseph May, Robert Tannion, Heike Makatsch

‘Resident Evil’ is an action/horror film written and directed by Paul WS Anderson, based on the computer game of the same name. The film begins with a scene in which we see a poisonous gas being spread through the air ventilation system. The computer that runs the company, called Red Queen, goes haywire. Sprinkler installations are switched on, all doors are closed and the employees of a company are locked up. Everyone drowns or suffocates. Original or not. The ideal situation has arisen for an old-fashioned horror film.

Milla Jovovich plays Alice, a woman who suffers from amnesia and wakes up on the floor of a bathroom. She doesn’t know what she’s doing there or how she got there. Alice carefully investigates. Now and then she sees images from her past in her mind, but she is not yet able to make connections. Soon she meets a man who is at the house where she is. He impersonates a police officer but is captured by a group of soldiers immediately after their meeting. Alice is recognized by the military as a security guard. The situation is further expanded because the main character suffers from amnesia. This creates an additional fear dimension. After all, the film is mainly experienced from the main character’s point of view.

It turns out that under the house is an underground train station. They take the train that is there and drive to the company that is located deep underground. During the ride they are confronted with a man on the train who is also recognized by the military as a security guard, but just like Alice, suffers from amnesia. It turns out that a poisonous gas that can be used for war purposes is secretly developed within the company. The task of the group of soldiers is to restart the computer and search for survivors. The script could have been created by horror king George A. Romero. Just take a look at his unsurpassed Dead trilogy.

To make things even more exciting, there is a time limit. If they fail to complete the job within that time, the underground company will be permanently cut off from the outside world. There is no going back for them. It will come as no surprise to anyone that a seemingly simple job does not run smoothly.

The film is exciting from the first moment and has several scares, although some moments are predictable. In addition, it becomes clear during the course of the film what actually happened. Of course Alice gets her memory back on the basis of what she is experiencing now.

It is clear from the environment where everything takes place that it is based on a computer game. The locations are made as if they were copied from the computer game. This is not to the detriment of the film, by the way. Despite the fact that we are dealing with zombies, which are excellently made up, the film is not gory, as is to be expected in this genre.

Acting performances are of course subordinated to the special effects and zombies. This is also common in this genre. Only these points, however, are not so well taken care of that the film does not rise above the level of an average zombie film. That’s a shame because there might have been more residents.