Do I look like some kind of monster? “Barbarian” (2022)

directed by Zach Cregger
© 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Do I have some horror fans over here? For sure I do. Aren’t you tired of all those predictable films where a bunch of people find an old house in the middle of nowhere and come up with a wonderful idea to stay there, even though they know how bad such decisions are? Me too. And that’s why I’d like to recommend you “Barbarian” because I feel like it may satisfy you on many levels. We get to know Tess (Georgina Campbell), a young woman who’s going to have a job interview, so she came a day before and is about to say at a rented Airbnb house. When she gets there, a strange man named Keith (Bill Skarsgård) opens the door and claims that it’s him who’s renting this house now. What are you thinking? Red flag, huh? Obviously, he’s a psycho killer or something. But considering the neighbourhood, weather and late hour, Tess decides to come inside, yet does her best to stay safe – she doesn’t take anything from him, checks his documents and makes sure not to show any interest in the guy. Searching for a new place is pointless right now and he offers her to stay in the house for a night, which is another red flag, but he really seems to be just a random man in the same situation as Tess – both of them booked the same house and it’s just a mistake. And if you think you know what may happen next – trust me, you have no idea. Because I was shocked myself, and I’ve seen lots of horrors, so it’s usually easy for me to predict the ending. I honestly enjoyed this film because it’s funny, it’s scary, it’s mysterious and quite fresh, I’d say. I can tell the director (who’s also the screenwriter) is, just like some of us, tired of those stereotypical moves being used in horrors. He even said that while writing he wanted to make sure he’s surprising himself – because if he manages to surprise himself, he may as well surprise the audience. Well, good job there! I also have to praise the cast, especially choosing Bill Skarsgård for the role of Keith, because considering his experience in “IT”, he already has this kind of label saying “I’m an actor who does well in creepy roles”. Personally, he didn’t get my attention in “IT” (sorry Bill), but in this one – cannot imagine a better match. Thanks to him, the audience may get tricked even more, which in this film is a huge plus. I’d love to see some sequel, because for sure there’s potential there. Hope you’ll share my enthusiasm about this horror.

My rating: 7/10
S.

Are you feeling lonely? “Rent-a-Cat” (“Rentaneko”, 2012)

directed by Naoko Ogigami
© 2012 Suurkiitos. All Rights Reserved.

The film I’m about to recommend you today is probably the most adorable story I’ve seen this year. It is believed that pets are wonderful companions, especially for lonely people. But what can a person do if they are not ready for such commitment? When their job is too much time-consuming or because of their old age they know it would be irresponsible to adopt any living creature? Well, here comes Sayoko (Mikako Ichikawa) with her wonderful idea. She’s a young woman who’s always been on very good terms with cats. More and more have been coming over and instead of letting them go, Sayoko has started her own little business: Rent-a-Cat. Since you can rent a car whenever you need to drive somewhere, why can’t you rent a cat whenever you need a fluffy companion? Exactly! However, the cats are not for adoption, so anyone can take one for as much time as they need. If they are no longer able to provide care, they may always call Sayoko and give the pet back. Before I tell you more about my feelings after seeing the film, I have to mention one thing: cats have never been my kind of animals as they seem to be very independent and rather indifferent about anything happening around them. And obviously I’ve seen lots of videos of cats being silly and playful on the Internet (who hasn’t, right?), yet nothing has influenced me as much as today’s film. Surprisingly, all the cats presented in the story are as I described them – stereotypical lords of their own lives. However, the more clients of Sayoko we meet, the more we may understand the real purpose of her little business. She doesn’t want to earn big money, especially since she always refuse taking anything extra for her service. Sayoko wishes to provide lonely people with the feeling of being supported. Because perhaps cats are little fluffy I-do-want-I-want tasty food eaters, but they brighten up people’s days with their presence. Sometimes people don’t need to run in the park with a dog or have someone to talk to – sometimes all they need is a cat laying on their thighs and warming them up. What I also liked about this film is how it presents various types of loneliness. No matter what we do or who we are, we all may be struggling with this horribly overwhelming feeling of being lonely. Let me just mention that Sayoko herself is living alone, missing her family and hoping to find real love. However, she seems to have found her own way of dealing with such situation and she wants to share it with others. So if you’re feeling lonely, perhaps you’d like to rent a cat?

My rating: 7/10
S.

A bartender is the aristocrat of the working class. “Cocktail” (1988)

directed by Roger Donaldson
© 1988 Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t you need a relaxing comedy from the 80s? I do. So hoping you do as well, I’m recommending you “Coctail”. We get to know Brian (Tom Cruise), a young man who decides to find a job. Everyone likes having food, right? Unfortunately, as much has he hopes to start doing some big business, it’s difficult for him without having finished any studies. That is why Brian takes up a job as a bartender. There, he meets an older colleague, Doug (Bryan Brown), who becomes his teacher and very good buddy. Both men are very much liked by clients, especially for their flairing skills (all those tricks that bartenders do to entertain us). However, at some point those two start competing and, as you may be guessing, it’s all because of women. If I tell you more, you’ll end up knowing the whole plot, so I’ll stop here. As I said, it’s a very simple comedy, perfect for a lazy Saturday, because even if you look away for some time, you’ll still get the point anyway. I guess I like this film because of what I know about its background. The story is actually based on a semi-autobiographical novel and the author, Heywood Gould, used to work as a bartender himself. He met a lot of different people who were sharing similar ambitions as the main character of the book, yet still searching for their purpose in life while dealing with the reality. And I guess this is what this film is about – no matter what you do or where you work, it’s important to find the answer to the question “who am I?” and stick to it. Also, it’s a lovely story about growing up and realising what your priorities in life are. Or maybe it’s about letting everything be and just going with the flow. Watch “Coctail” and decide yourselves. Adorable young Tom Cruise guaranteed.

My rating: 6/10
S.

A virgin girl looks beautiful with a necklace. “Yuni” (2021)

directed by Kamila Andini
© 2021 Fourcolours Films. All Rights Reserved.

Such films like “Yuni” keep reminding me how blinded we may be living in our realities and not aware of what’s happening in other countries. Personally, I’m from Europe and, despite being rather well-educated, I still can’t believe in things I learn everyday. Today, I’d like to recommend you an Indonesian drama about a girl who simply wants to experience life. Yuni (Arawinda Kirana) is an incredibly bright high schooler hoping to continue her education at university. However, considering her family’s financial status, she has to apply for a scholarship. Therefore, the girl works hard to get the best grades and only one subject seems to be a problem – literature. Luckily, Yuni has a secret admirer – Yoga (Kevin Ardilova), who’s a quite shy student willing to help his crush in understanding poetry better. While fighting for her dreams, Yuni has to also deal with numerous limitations and traditions that may stop her from achieving what she wants. As for her education is a priority, for her family it’s way more important to find a good husband. There’s a belief in Indonesia that if a woman refuses three marriage proposals, she becomes unlucky and may never find a husband. Imagine being a teenager, going though all typical life dramas that teenagers have to deal with, and yet, live in a country where being a woman significantly hinder achieving anything but becoming a housewife. I could write you more about the plot, but since others had spoilt me most important parts, I simply can’t do the same to you, my dearest readers. All I can say is that it’s a very calm production that lets you reflect on this madness in a peaceful way. Yuni herself is not a rebellious type – instead, she accepts her reality and silently works on improving it. Perhaps she is a rebel deep inside, just not showing it to us. This film doesn’t only talk about gender inequality in Indonesia, but also about the horrible pressure teenagers have to experience, probably all around the world, just in varying degrees. I will always support such productions, because I believe young people, especially women, should be heard and seen more often. Fun fact – Yuni is obsessed about the colour purple. Perhaps you’ll say I’m a typical film critic who tries finding things that even the director or screenwriter didn’t have in mind, but let me just say that this colour is associated with royalty, power and ambition. Maybe I’m overanalysing, but to me, this symbolises Yuni’s determination to change her life despite the given circumstances. Has she managed? It’s for you to see.

My rating: 7/10
S.

Listen to her own world. “The Queen of Silence” (2014)

directed by Agnieszka Zawiefka
© 2014 HBO Europe. All Rights Reserved.

Documentary & musical in one? Voilà. Have you ever wondered how the deaf hear music? Today’s film may explain quite a lot, but also shock you in many ways. We get to know little Denisa, who’s a 10-year-old gypsy living in Poland. Just like her whole family and the camp’s community, she’s in this country illegally, yet there’s not much authorities can do about it. Or maybe there’s another explanation, but I wouldn’t like to go political in this post because it’s totally not about it. The main star here is Denisa and we should focus on her. She was born with a hearing disability and has never received any medical support, so she’s been living in silence all her life. Before you start judging her parents, remember that gypsies generally live a very different life than we may know. Considering their situation, they are deprived of any support, including the medical one. So they try to stay away from any institutions and deal with anything that happens. That is why Denisa’s disability has never been taken care of and the girl simply had to accept her reality. However, that didn’t stop her from becoming a real sunshine. She’s an incredibly energetic and social person, and her biggest passion are Bollywood films, as she enjoys watching and dancing together with the actors. She “hears” music in her own way and makes the best out of it. This film shows her everyday life and also first meetings with specialists who may help her manage her disability. Due to the hearing problem, she also hasn’t developed in speaking, so with a hearing aid, she will have to make her first steps in communicating verbally. I have to say I was incredibly touched by this story and impressed how much a little girl can handle with absolutely no support from her surrounding. And it only made me reflect about numerous children from different communities and places in the world who are neglected because of very different reasons, while there are children in more developed countries who may actually live a quality life despite their disability. Denisa, deprived of such chance, has created her own beautiful reality, which only made her stronger as a person. As a little girl. As a child. Very interesting documentary full of Bollywood songs, so I’m more than satisfied and happy to recommend it.

My rating: 7/10
S.

To all those whose brains will decompose before their hearts. “Vortex” (2021)

directed by Gaspar Noé
© 2021 Wild Bunch. All Rights Reserved.

Gaspar, Gaspar, Gaspar… He’s a real mystery to me and I thought I already saw through him, but seems like I was wrong. If you expect, as I like calling it, a “WTF” film quite typical for him, then it’s definitely not “Vortex”. This time Gaspar Noé decided to sit down, have a cup of tea and express himself in a more intimate way, I’d say. We get to know a couple of elderly people (Françoise Lebrun & Dario Argento), who are living together in Paris. They are struggling with typical physical difficulties for their age, yet it seems like the woman’s dementia is their biggest problem. The man is no longer able to protect his wife as he also needs to take care of himself. He asks their adult son (Alex Lutz) to help them, yet the young man has his own life and issues to manage. And that’s it. That’s what the film is about. Pretty simple, right? Not for Noé. He doesn’t use cinema to cover the reality, quite the opposite. Using cinema, he makes us realise that our reality is even uglier and worse than we thought. In “Vortex” we have a chance to see what it’s like to be old, helpless, powerless and left with no expectations. What he presents in this film is the most horrible, yet the most common waiting for death. You may notice the film is incredibly slow, which in this case I find on point. To me, making everything take a lot of time shows how long old age lasts. How long people have to suffer before saying goodbye to this world. You may see that this film is full of real emotions, especially since Noé himself was dealing with his mother’s dementia and it surely impacted him as an artist. To me this film was incredibly touching, perhaps because of personal experiences, perhaps because Noé is a fantastic director, perhaps because he had a wonderful film crew. Everything in this film is real and hideous, but that’s why it’s so interesting. I’m very curious which way Noé will go next, but seems like he’s doing what he wants and needs, and I’m buying it.

My rating: 7/10
S.

No worries, kids, it’s just fake blood. “Terrifier 2” (2022)

directed by Damien Leone
© 2022 Bloody Disgusting. All Rights Reserved.

Since a lot of you are still living Halloween, I’ve started feeling this vibe again and today I’ve got a horror for you – because why not? And as you can see, it’s a sequel to “Terrifier”, about which I wrote you before this year’s Halloween. If you want to learn more about the first part, check out my post about it and get ready for some spoilers here. Or actually… there’s not much, because the only spoiler is that Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) is still alive. Somehow. Horrors – don’t ask, just accept. So we’re having another Halloween with our adorable clown, who hasn’t changed much and still enjoys cutting people into pieces in the most brutal way possible. And since we have a wild murderer, we also need to have a lot of victims and a semi-smart protagonist who will fight against the clown. Here, that’s Sienna (Lauren LaVera), a teenager whose brother gets a chance to meet Art the Clown and somehow doesn’t die, just gets covered in a dead opossum’s blood. Again, horrors – don’t ask, just accept. And as you may be guessing, Art the Clown runs around and kills whoever he wants, while Sienna is trying to figure out a way to catch the guy and protect herself and others. This horror has been considered one of the most disgusting films ever, since people were literally passing out or vomiting during the projection. Yummy? Well, I must say it is pretty disgusting, but I guess I watch too many films to forget that it’s just silicone with fake blood. Although, if I was a bit more sensitive and after lunch – yeah, a bag would be definitely needed. If you’ve read my post about the first part, you know I’m a big fan of Art the Clown as he’s just adorable in his way of being. He is a psycho, no doubts, but when he’s not killing anyone, he’s actually quite goofy and awkward. Thanks to him, I had a good laugh and I enjoyed the film, although it was definitely too long. But I’m giving a big plus for not changing Art the Clown and letting him be exactly as he was in the first film. I’d say that in the world of sequels, this one is doing very well. And please let me know where I can get such flower sunglasses?

My rating: 6/10
S.

HBO, no ABC. “Madame” (2017)

directed by Amanda Sthers
© 2017 StudioCanal. All Rights Reserved.

Friday has come, so I guess we all need a decent comedy to chill to. Today, I’ve got an adorable film coming from France, yet almost fully in English. We get to know Anne and Bob (Toni Collette & Harvey Keitel), a wealthy couple originally from the US, who are currently living in Paris. They are about to organise a dinner party for friends, which Anne specialises in, but nothing goes the way she planned. At the last moment before guests start arriving, the couple gets surprised by an unexpected visit by Bob’s son, Steven (Tom Hughes), who obviously joins their dinner. In order not to have an unlucky number of people at the table (13), Anne decides to find one more guest. Therefore, she asks one of her maids, Maria (Rossy de Palma), to pretend some fancy aristocrat from Spain. Maria’s task is to look rich, doesn’t speak much and just survive the dinner as a guest that will be quickly forgotten. Unfortunately, she gets noticed by David (Michael Smiley), a British aristocrat, who enjoys her company very much. So much that their relation doesn’t just end with the dinner. But still, Maria is a maid and her new friend doesn’t know about it, yet there’s a visible chemistry between those two. Will they manage to stay so close despite their differences? Especially since Anne is not thrilled about this situation, because, in the end, her friends might find out about her big lie. All that is for you to see. Personally, I relaxed a lot watching this film and I guess that’s the main point of comedies, isn’t it? I’m a huge fan of Toni Collette, so it’s always pure pleasure to see her on the screen. However, I think that Rossy de Palma gets the spotlight in this one. She’s fascinating as an actress and as her character, which makes you sympathise and cheer for Maria even more. Except a lot of funny gags and sometimes inappropriate jokes, it’s also a drama worth reflecting on. We get to see two different worlds, two different classes, that in fact are able to co-exist with each other without putting any labels on anyone, as long as they all have clean slates. I feel like sometimes we divide ourselves on purpose, missing out on meeting people with different backgrounds and perhaps more interesting stories to tell. What I liked the most about Maria is that she didn’t want to change at any point. She remained herself because she knew who she is and didn’t see any point in pretending anyone else. And that’s exactly what I wish you, dear readers. Enjoy the film and being yourselves, no matter what language you speak, where you come from or what your shoe size is.

My rating: 6.5/10
S.

Mind your keys, will ya? “Dial M for Murder” (1954)

directed by Alfred Hitchcock
© 1954 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.

Recently, I’ve heard that Tuesday is the most depressing day of the week, so perhaps you’ll enjoy a good thriller counting hours till the next weekend. Today, I’d like to recommend you a classic by Alfred Hitchcock, the father of amazing thrillers, which perhaps isn’t his most famous production, yet definitely worth watching. We get to know a lovely couple of Tony and Margot (Ray Milland & Grace Kelly), a retired tennis player and a very wealthy, famous lady. Right at the beginning we find out about the main issue of this story – Margot is having an affair with a writer named Mark (Robert Commings). The best part about this little romance is that Toni is aware of what’s happening between those two and he wishes to get revenge. And what’s a sweeter revenge (especially in Hitchcock films) than a murder? Yes, exactly! Toni wants to kill his wife and inherit all her money, which is a wonderful vengeance for the betrayed man. He asks an old friend (Anthony Dawson) to do it since he actually has some criminal background, but the perfect plan doesn’t go exactly as it should… I’m a big fan of Hitchcock, so obviously I’ll always recommend his films with pleasure, but this one I like because of two main reasons. First, everything is happening in one flat, which has always fascinated me. Some filmmakers think that they need huge budgets and thousands of spots to shoot a good film, while there are artists who create masterpieces in one room. But the key to that is a magnificent idea, and that’s my second reason – the whole story is very well-written and you can see how the screenwriter paid attention to all the details that in the end make a lot of sense and you don’t feel like watching a cheap thriller. Plus, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t surprise me with the ending, but they actually did, even though the film is rather slow and allows you to process all the steps very carefully. It’s pure magic that only Hitchcock can do, so if you’re having a blue Tuesday, feel free to make use of my today’s recommendation.

My rating: 7/10
S.

Stop crying and pack your things. “A House Made of Splinters” (2022)

directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont
© 2022 Final Cut for Real. All Rights Reserved.

Today, I’d like you to learn about a documentary that stopped my heart several times. I’m not an overly sensitive person, at least I think so, yet when it comes to seeing anyhow neglected children, I can’t stay indifferent. This documentary is coming from Ukraine, but it was shot before the beginning of the war. We get to know children from the city of Lysychansk, who are currently staying in a temporary foster home. As we find out, they can stay they up to 9 months, during which their parents may fight for the right to take them back home, someone may adopt them or the authorities decide about their next steps. I’m sure we’re all aware of the fact that there are numerous orphanages or such foster homes all over the world, but I guess we rarely speak about the actual situation of those little humans staying there. Way too rarely. In this documentary, we get a chance to experience such place from the perspectives of the children. Children who have been left alone, neglected, abandoned and forgotten. Children who have become unwanted and pushed away. Children who have seen things nobody should ever see. What crashed me the most while watching was the fact that those children didn’t cry that often – they’ve accepted their situation and reality. Being asked about their parents, they simply admit that there’s no chance for those adults to change anything in their life so all those girls and boys are ready for taking care of themselves. Or perhaps they are not ready, yet they just have to do that. All the phone calls between the children and parents, all the conversations between the children and their caretakers in the foster home – those are words that you should all hear from them. I felt incredibly empty inside and I guess I still do. As I said before, this documentary was filmed before the war and I can’t find any information about their situation right now, but I can only imagine what a horror those children and people helping them are going through. It’s a film that should be watched and should be shared. It’s full of pain, but I believe we have to be reminded that this is the world we’re living in, even if we don’t see it on a daily basis.

My rating: 7/10
S.