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East of Eden

A modernized story of Cain and Abel
The story is about two brothers, one of whom is a favorite of a single father, and the other a problematic rebel without a cause (pun intended). Believing that their mother is dead, Aron grows up in the image of his pious and self-righteous father, while Cal is a typical rebellious teenager who tries to win his father's love and attention in all the wrong ways, sinking deeper into despair and anger.

When Cal discovers that their mother is alive, who she is, what she is, and why she left the family, he sets off on the road to Hell that's paved with good intentions, which makes him even more estranged from the family and results in a tragic outcome. However, in a typically Hollywood manner, the end is disguised as a happy ending.

"East of Eden" is a partial adaptation of the eponymous novel by John Steinbeck. Paul Osborn was nominated for an Oscar for this screenplay, but although the story is pretty well written, I wouldn't rate it that high.

Cal was supposed to be played by Marlon Brando, who dropped out because he was too old for the role, so it went to seven years younger James Dean, who, ironically, doesn't look any younger, and I couldn't identify him with a teenager. In addition to this visual barrier, Dean's overacting was extremely irritating to me, and this film only confirmed the opinion, gained after "Rebel Without a Cause", that his and his film's reputation were caused more by his untimely death than by objective quality. From my perspective, comparing Dean to Brando is blasphemy.

Raymond Massey and Richard Davalos, in the roles of father Adam and brother Aron, gave good performances, but they did not leave a special impression, mostly because they did not have much space to show what they got. Jo Van Fleet won an Oscar and her only nomination in a three-decade-long career for her debut role on the big screen, inspired by the biblical Eve. And there is Julie Harris, in the role of Abra, a girl next door, torn between the brother she was promised and the other she secretly loves. To me, Abra is the only likable character in the film who is easy to sympathize with.

This cult Kazan's drama is considered a masterpiece and belongs to general culture, but apart from interesting biblical references and allusions in the construction of characters and their names, I have not been able to find anything worthy of attention here and experienced it as just another in a sea of melodramas of its time.


Dinner at Eight

"Oh, sure, honey. Friday. A week from tonight. Dinner at eight."
A gala dinner on the occasion of the visit of English nobles will be held in the house of the great New York shipowner. Many dignitaries from high society were invited to the dinner. In addition to the host and hostess and honorary guests, there will be an actor who became famous in the era of silent film, a retired theater actress who used to be a big star, their daughter's fiancé, a famous doctor, as well as a new tycoon and his wife.

At first glance, this is the dinner of New York high society, but this is the period of the Depression and things are not as great as they seem. All these people are burdened with problems, hide secrets and have hidden intentions, which are gradually revealed in the week before the gathering, as well as on the eve of the event.

"Dinner at Eight", Cukor's melodrama with a dose of humor, is based on the development of the characters and their relationships, almost exclusively through well-written dialogues, presented to us by a great cast. The film puts high society down to earth and shows us that their lives are not fundamentally different from the lives of ordinary people, also showing the social changes caused by the Depression.

I am not able to see this film from the point of view of its contemporaries, but from my perspective, although it is nothing spectacular, it is quite a solid choice for a lazy winter afternoon relaxation.


Pete's Dragon

"Just 'cause you don't see something, doesn't mean it's not there."
In a serious car accident, somewhere in the American wilderness, both parents die, while a five-year-old boy is saved by ... a dragon! Six years later, loggers go deeper into the forest than usual, find Pete, and take him with them to civilization. But Pete does not want to go to the city, the dragon will worry a lot if he is absent for a long time.

I haven't watched "Pete's Dragon" from 1977, so I can't compare, and I don't even know if this is a remake, a reboot, or a completely new story, just inspired by the old one. Although I was definitely interested in watching the original film.

As for the script, "Pete's Dragon" is a classic Disney story, childishly emotional, sweet enough to provoke a tear without going into pathos. There is also a darker, more aggressive, action episode, which is well performed but, in my opinion, unnecessary and inappropriate for a children's film.

The story is good, the music is adequate, and the film is visually quite beautiful. How could it not be, when it was filmed in the forests of New Zealand.

The cast and their performances vary a bit, but to be honest, apart from the boy and the dragon, no one else is particularly important. Except perhaps Robert Redford, whose role, although small, spiced up the film quite a bit.

The star of "Pete's Dragon" is Oakes Fegley, and the kid played the role of a forest child so well that I would love to see him as Mowgli. And the dragon is played by CGI, pretty good too. Although Elliott has fur instead of scales and a head that reminded me of his lame cousin from "The NeverEnding Story", I have to admit that he is impressive both visually and with his tame emotional nature. Even the scenes when he is infuriated are quite convincing, if the dragons from "Game of Thrones" didn't raise your standards and expectations too much.

However, I have one, perhaps quite subjective, objection. I think that explicitly showing the dragon from the first scene is premature and missing the opportunity for a potentially much more impressive film. Since Elliott has the ability to camouflage that makes him completely invisible, it might have been better if they kept him hidden at least for the first half of the film, and let us guess whether he was real or just the fruit of Pete's imagination. So, when he finally shows up in all his greatness, he leaves a much stronger impression.

All in all, a great pastime for the youngest, quite acceptable and interesting for their parents, if they have not completely lost their inner child.



"Sometimes you have to lose yourself 'fore you can find anything."
Four city men go kayaking in an American wilderness, to say goodbye to the river just before the construction of the hydroelectric power plant that will turn it into a lake. This kind of confrontation with untamed nature is in itself risky, and when local primitive and aggressive hillbillies are involved, the film, which begins as an adventure with an ecological subtext, turns into a psychological thriller spiced with horror.

"Deliverance" begins in a relaxed and fun way, gradually introducing us to the protagonists, showing us both their good and bad sides, which makes them more real and convincing.

The adventure turns into a thriller abruptly, the atmosphere almost instantly changes, and the culmination takes place in the first third of the film. The most controversial scene, which probably contributed the most to the cult status of the film, is not something the story unfolds towards, but the moment the plot begins.

Until today, we have had the opportunity to see much more morbid and shocking things in the world of film and television, and modern audiences have become quite used to explicit violence, but in the early 1970s, when censorship was a thing of the recent past, this film was very controversial.

While "Deliverance" provoked resistance and disgust among many, others experienced this scene, as well as the entire film, as an allegorical depiction of the attitude of modern society towards nature and nature's response to this abuse. The film has a message, but you need nerves and a strong stomach to recognize it.

"Deliverance" is a very powerful and impressive film, not only because of the shocking scenes. The story is simple, without unnecessary digressions and complications. Director John Boorman (Point Blank, Zardoz, Excalibur) decided to shoot in a natural environment, and scenes in the woods were shot on the banks of the Chattooga River (between South Carolina and Georgia), and the actors really did canoeing down it. Ned Beatty almost drowned, and Jon Voight really climbed the cliff.

Due to the risk of this kind of filming, some of the actors who were offered turned down the roles. The choice eventually fell on Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox, and Ned Beatty, for whom this is a film debut that opened the door to a rich career. Burt Reynolds is somehow always Burt Reynolds to me, and it's hard for me to see him as the characters he plays, but the other three presented their well-written roles perfectly naturally, and convincingly. The casting of the locals for the roles of hillbillies additionally contributes to the convincingness.

In addition to a powerful story, "Deliverance" is visually beautifully shot (except for the lame fake night in the scene when Jon Voight climbs the cliff) and nominated for three Oscars, for best film, directing, and editing. Unfortunately, the same year as "Godfather" and "Cabaret".


Raya and the Last Dragon

Just another in a series of Disney princesses
"Raya and the Last Dragon" takes place in the fictional land of Kumandra, inspired by Southeast Asia. This kingdom consists of five united tribes, living in harmony with dragons whose magic brings them prosperity.

500 years ago, Kumandra was overwhelmed by demonic beings who turn everything they touch into stone. The dragons defeated the demons with joint magic, but they were all petrified in the process. Or almost all ...

People were saved, but in the absence of dragons, human distrustful and greedy nature came to the fore and Kumandra was divided into five smaller countries in a quarrel with each other. A parallel can be drawn with Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia, as inspirations for these newly formed states.

The magic crystal with which the dragons defeated the demons is kept in the Heart, at the site of the decisive battle. The remaining four tribes, Spine, Talon, Tail, and Fang, believe that the Heart is the most prosperous because of the possession of this magical artifact, and they are all trying to reach it.

When the ruler of the Heart gathers representatives of all the tribes, in an attempt to reunite Kumandra, the negotiations turn into a battle for the crystal and it ends up shattered. The demons are returning to Kumandra, but now there are no more dragons.

Raya, the princess of the Heart, sets out in search of the last dragon, in order to save the world together. During her adventure, she gathers a group of diverse and quite interesting characters, who guarantee good fun.

The animation is great and the visual aspect of this post-apocalyptic fairytale adventure is the main trump card of the film. Everything else is a classic Disney cliché.

In the last century, Disney movies have been as diverse as possible and have brought us different characters in different life situations, with at least somewhat different teachings. And then the new millennium took the helm and I have the impression that most of the newer Disney cartoons are essentially the same story with variations on the theme.

The Disney princess is destined for one thing, but she wants another. She makes a mistake, puts everything in danger, but then she matures and grows up, takes matters into her own hands, and steadfastly saves things. A couple of supporting characters, mostly on the same mold, help her in that, at least one of which must be an animal. And of course, in line with current trends, there is more girl empowerment, racial and religious diversity, and even sexual diversity can be mixed in, although not so obvious (Raya and Namaari?).

No more of that natural authentic atmosphere, emotion, and charm that adorned Disney movies of the last century. I don't remember the last time a Disney work brought me to tears. Now it all comes down to a visual spectacle and stenciled stories and messages. Beautiful, but quite shallow. "Raya and the Last Dragon" is no exception.

If you don't mind the lack of essential originality and quality and you are just looking for an opportunity to rest your brain, while enjoying fireworks of colors and shapes with your child, you are in the right place. If you are looking for something more, stick to Disney's achievements from the years starting with 19.



"Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!"
Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler are university doctors of psychology and parapsychology. When the university decides that they are a disgrace and a waste of university money, our heroes move to the private sector and establish "Ghostbusters", a company that will deal with capturing and safely storing ghosts.

Initially, the Ghostbusters were on shaky ground, but over time, the number of calls and jobs began to grow and reached apocalyptic proportions. It seems that some forgotten evil god is trying to penetrate our dimension, and someone has to stand in his way.

"Ghostbusters" is a cult classic of the eighties, the highest-grossing comedy of all time until the release of "Home Alone", six years later. Is this status justified? Well, it depends on the angle we look at things from.

The special effects are funny from today's perspective, but they earned an Oscar nomination at the time. Since "Ghostbusters" is a comedy, these effects contribute to the film today perhaps more than at the time of its creation. As for other technical aspects, there is nothing worth mentioning.

The story itself is nothing special. On the one hand, we have a mediocre scenario. In "Groundhog Day" and "Analyze This", Harold Ramis showed that he can do much better. On the other hand, the fantastic cast mostly saved the movie with improvised remarks and gags. A film with a crew like this just can't fail.

Most of the film was carried out by the genius Bill Murray, whose charisma, facial expressions, and witty remarks are in themselves reason enough to watch "Ghostbusters". When you team up Bill with Dan Aykroyd, the screenwriter and lead actor of "The Blues Brothers", one of the best comedies of all time, who also collaborated on "Ghostbusters" screenplay, you get chemistry that doesn't lag far behind the one Dan had with Belushi. The remaining two Ghostbusters are played by Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.

As if this wasn't enough, two more big names were added to the cast. To open a portal that will bring the demon god to Manhattan, his followers must possess two people. The first client to the newly founded "Ghostbusters", for whom the character of Bill Murray totally went crazy, was none other than the heroine of "Alien" and "Gorillas in the Mist", an actress of great talent and beauty, Sigourney Weaver. The other one is Rick Moranis, a comedian we remember from the eighties' films such as "Streets of Fire", "Brewster's Millions", "Little Shop of Horrors", "Spaceballs" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids".

And finally, we must not forget the legendary song of the same name by Ray Parker Jr., probably the most recognizable and unforgettable detail of this film.



Quite a different angle of looking at a zombie apocalypse
A new drug has appeared in Seattle and it is becoming increasingly popular. What neither distributors nor users know is that, in combination with a certain energy drink, it turns consumers into zombies. The problem is even bigger when you consider that it is enough for a zombie to scratch you to turn you into one of them.

But if you expect a classic zombie story of the horror genre, you will be disappointed by the fact that the living dead differ from us in only a few details. Their hair turns white, their skin pales, they gain increased strength and endurance, their injuries heal quickly and only a serious head injury can kill them. They also have an overwhelming appetite for human brains. As long as they feed properly, zombies are the same as they were in life, but if you leave them hungry long enough, they will gradually turn into well-known monsters without personality and with only one instinct - to eat your brain.

Olivia Moore is a medical intern, beautiful, successful, and happily in love. When she is scratched by a zombie at a party, her life radically changes. In order to keep this a secret, she distances herself from family and friends, breaks off the engagement, and finds a job in a police morgue, which provides her access to brains.

Soon she discovers an interesting side effect. Zombies have occasional visions of the memory of the last brain eaten, and Olivia finds new meaning in her life in helping police inspector Clive Babineaux solve the murders.

Each episode of "iZombie" brings us a new case, which Olivia and Clive, with the help of several other main characters, successfully solve. Initially, "iZombie" is just another in a sea of similar crime series, such as "CSI", "Bones", "The Mentalist", only with a zombie twist. The background story deals with Olivia's adjustment to the zombie way of life, combining drama and humor in a way typical of comic book adaptations. Nothing spectacular, but very charming and watchable.

But, in later seasons, the story deepens and expands and falls into the trap into which most series, which push beyond two or three seasons, are caught. It begins to complicate and entangle itself too much and involves topics more serious than it can deal with properly. The relaxed and witty series, reminiscent of a sitcom, gives way to a more serious drama with elements of action, thriller, and horror, and now it can't rely on charm anymore. Fortunately, the authors and the cast managed to push this through quite nicely, although sometimes on the muscles and through the needle's eye.

This is one of those series in which almost everyone is pretty. Olivia is played by New Zealand actress Rose McIver, for whom I am not quite sure if she is really a versatile actress who manages well in various situations or is just so cute that her flaws go unnoticed. There are also Malcolm Goodwin who plays Clive, the incredibly charismatic Rahul Kohli in the role of the main pathologist, Olivia's fiancé Robert Buckley, Aly Michalka in the role of Olivia's roommate, and other interesting characters.

However, despite a fairly large selection of nice and interesting heroes, the series was stolen by the bad guys. In my opinion, the undisputed star of the series is David Anders, who perfectly revived the main villain Blaine. It is difficult for me to weigh whether this character is more unscrupulous or charismatic. Although he is a monster that I did not support to succeed in his intentions (of course, I knew he would not), I was still afraid for him and hoped that he would stay unharmed. And my favorite character, without competition, is his infinitely likable assistant played by Canadian actor Bryce Hodgson.

"iZombie" has something for everyone. From romantic melodrama, through sitcom humor and witty references to pop culture, solving murders in the autopsy room and on the field, culinary sequences in which Olivia finds new recipes for preparing the human brain in each episode, to horror moments that explicitly show "full-Romero" (one of the better references in the series) zombies that devour brains directly from the victim's skull, and even some political satire and conspiracy theories.

I'm not sure if the allegorical subtext of the "iZombie" series is real or I see something that is not there, influenced by the current COVID situation, but you have to admit that intentional causing of a viral epidemic and then turning people into zombies (literal zombies in the show, metaphorical zombies in real life) by mass vaccination is too good a satire to be accidental.


The Day the Earth Stood Still

Gort, Klaatu barada nikto!
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is a cult SF classic by four-time Oscar winner Robert Wise (The Sound of Music, West Side Story).

The film begins with extremely short opening credits for its time, followed by an equally short introductory part, and then immediately gets to the point, so the flying saucer lands in Washington in the fifth minute. The spacecraft brings us an envoy from another planet, who came to convey a clear message to humanity. Nuclear weapons, combined with the development of a space program, pose a potential danger to other planets, which have long since overcome aggression, and will not allow Earthlings to disturb their peace.

"It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration."

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" begins as a classic SF of its time, but we soon realize that this is just the basis for criticism of the Cold War and nuclear weapons. Atypical for Hollywood at the time, the film does not blame the Soviet Union and communism, but distances itself from any choice of parties and condemns humanity as a whole for its unnecessarily distrustful and aggressive nature, a civilization ruled by greed and fear.

"I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason."

The American army, which is in the American cinematography of that time, and to some extent to this day, as a rule, peacekeeper, and fighter for justice and democracy, in this movie is the main villain. The film criticizes the military and state leadership, which, with its arrogance and stupidity, endangers the survival of humanity, and shows confidence in intellectual scientific circles. This was an extremely brave move in the 1950s, and such a subtext would be difficult to pass in a more serious and literal form, so SF is a rather ingenious way to pass anti-right wing messages to a wider audience.

"I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it."

The special effects are outdated, but in their simplicity, they are quite satisfactorily convincing from today's perspective as well. However, the costumes of the alien and especially the robot are a bit silly, as if they were drawn by a child.

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is adorned with excellent directing and black-and-white photography, which, with the use of light and shadow atypical of the SF genre, evoke an atmosphere that is somewhat reminiscent of film noir. The tense musical background of Bernard Herrmann, best known for his collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Marnie), but also for composing for many other cult achievements (Citizen Kane, Jane Eyre, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver) also contributes to this feeling.

The film, unfortunately, passed without nominations from the American Film Academy, because the competition was fierce that year. Bogart took the Oscar for the lead role in "The African Queen," Karl Malden, Vivien Leigh, and Kim Hunter for "A Streetcar Named Desire," and there were also "An American in Paris," "A Place in the Sun" and "Strangers on a Train." However, unless you are adrenaline junkies addicted to modern blockbusters and everything before the 21st century is lame to you, don't miss it. I think it definitely belongs in the domain of general culture.


American Gods

"It takes the story of the book, turns it upside down, shakes it, reconfigures it, and makes it many things, including funnier, more televisual and broader in scope."
The only thing that gave Shadow the strength to get through the prison days was the beloved woman waiting for him at home. When he was released prematurely, so that he could attend her funeral, that freedom meant nothing to him anymore. This mental state of his was used by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, to win him over to his service.

We soon find out the circumstances under which Shadow's wife died, and the nature of his new job is slowly being revealed and the series "American Gods" turns into a crazy adventure, full of violence, sex, and creatures from various mythologies from all over the world.

I read Neil Gaiman's eponymous novel, on which the series is based, back in 2004, so I'm not sure how much "American Gods" conveys the events from the book, and how much of the script is original material, but many changes are more than obvious.

Much of the series is tailored to modern trends of racial, religious, and sexual diversity, and the flow of politically colored messages.

The most obvious example is the choice of Ricky Whittle for the role of Shadow. Nowhere in the novel "American Gods" did Gaiman clearly indicate Shadow's racial affiliation. It has been suggested that he is dark-skinned and of mixed origin, which could be black, but also Gypsy or Indian. The choice of a black actor opened the possibility for the series to deal more seriously with racism, which the book does not deal with in such a direct way, but which is always a current topic in America.

Female characters are given much more space than in the book, and some of the female characters mentioned only along the way got some of the most important roles here. Especially Shadow's wife, who has one of the main roles in the series "American Gods", side by side with the main characters of the novel.

Although politicization in adaptations of books, which originally don't bother with it, is really going on my nerves, these changes and scenes are quite nicely integrated into the original story and, in my opinion, they more contribute to Gaiman's universe than they turn the series from his way.

The series also includes homosexual characters of both sexes, which I don't remember from the book (although I allow the possibility that I am wrong) and, unlike many films and series that force them just to respect the norm, here it is done somehow naturally, and even some slightly more explicit scenes were shot with style and taste. The only exception is an episode almost drowned by an endless scene of rather explicit homosexual orgies, which has neither a substantive nor an aesthetic place in "American Gods".

The story is original, weird, and holds attention. The show is visually fantastic and the choice of actors and their performances are excellent. I can't say that I'm thrilled, but I really liked the series and I don't understand how it is possible for its ratings to drop to such an extent that they cancel it.

The third season ended with a very impressive scene that can be a cliffhanger for the continuation of the story, but in a way, it rounds off the previous story and gives the series, although a bit depressing, a satisfactorily meaningful ending. So, even if we don't get the true ending in the form of the fourth season or maybe a feature film (both possibilities are still in circulation), feel free to embark on this adventure, because you won't waste time, as is the case with most canceled series.


Dark Victory

The Broadway show on which "Dark Victory" is based was short-winded, but the film filled the box office, is considered one of Bette Davis' best roles, and was nominated for three Oscars. Far from being a bad film, but how mediocre melodrama managed to break through to the nomination for best picture, in the competition as it was in 1940, is a mystery to me. Of course, against "Gone with the Wind", "Dark Victory" didn't stand a chance.

A rich spoiled heiress in her twenties finds out that she has a brain tumor and undergoes surgery, while, of course, she falls in love with her surgeon. The operation temporarily returns her to normal, but a complete recovery is impossible and she has less than a year to live. The doctor and the best friend decide to hide this from her, but when the truth comes out, the girl goes totally wild. But, in time, she realizes her mistakes and tries to put her life in order and leave this world in peace with herself.

The main theme and all the motifs in the film would be tearjerker clichés today, but I believe that in the 1930s the script for "Dark Victory" was quite original and had a much stronger effect on the audience, especially its female part. Still, I think that the script is quite weak and that all its aspects are subordinated to achieve the most effective melodrama. The most ridiculous is the medical aspect of the story.

George Brent, who plays a surgeon, presented his role as a lover as if he has a stick in his ass, a role played by Ronald Reagan is quite redundant, and if you are a fan of Bogart you will be disappointed because his role is very small. However, that is a good thing in this case, because it is his worst performance I saw so far.

I see Bette as a quite unattractive woman face-wise, which is usually covered by camera angles and great acting. But this time the camera was not her ally, so it was hard for me to experience her as a 'femme fatale' for which almost all the male characters in the film sigh.

Still, I think that she is the only thing that is really worthwhile in "Dark Victory", which she practically carried out on her own. Some may not like her style, which borders on overacting, but it is indisputable that she showed us a whole range of emotions and psychological states in a rather effective way. For this role, Bette Davis was nominated for an Oscar for the fourth time (a total of 11 nominations in her career, two of which won), but, as with the nomination for best picture, the competition was unattainably better, and Vivienne Leigh deservedly won.


Black Mirror: Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
Episode 3, Season 5

"You can do anything if you believe in yourself."
Ashley, a young pop star, has outgrown the music and image that made her famous, but she is stuck in the machinery of the pop industry, which makes her more and more depressed. When she finally takes steps to get out of that story and take control of her life, her manager does not hesitate to do anything to keep her in the system and continue to get rich at her expense.

At the same time, they are launching a robotic A. I. doll inspired by our heroine, in whose memory the whole of Ashley's mind has been copied. One of the puppets becomes self-conscious and sets out to save the original.

The leading role is played by Miley Cyrus, who, for the most part, plays herself. She may not be a spectacular actress, but she is quite likable and convincing. There's also Angourie Rice in the role of a shy 15-year-old girl, obsessed with this pop star, as well as Madison Davenport, who plays her older sister, a rebellious rocker. They are typical representatives of two different worlds, turbulently opposed in Ashley herself.

The technological aspect of this story has already been seen in earlier episodes of "Black Mirror", and there is no plot twist, so do not expect to be surprised and shocked. Before you is a mediocre SF drama, nicely written and filmed, with good tempo and atmosphere, whose linear story naturally leads to the expected end. With a duration of about 70 minutes, it would be a decent feature film, which targets the female teenage population, but, at least in my opinion, it has nothing to do within the "Black Mirror" series.


Crimes and Misdemeanors

"If it bends, it's funny. If it breaks, it's not funny."
Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" is a film about people, without embellishments or caricatures. A film whose plot serves only as a background for a thorough characterization of various characters and interpersonal relationships, as well as a good part of the films of this eccentric author.

It is based on dialogues and monologues, convincingly and naturally presented by an excellent cast, which, together with dialogues from Allen's other films of this type, put together a puzzle of his life philosophy.

There could be a lot of discussion about the situations, characters, and their relationships in this film, but any analysis would require serious spoilers, which I usually try to avoid wherever possible. I will only say that the situation, psychological development, and actions of one of the main characters irresistibly remind me of Raskolnikov, the protagonist of "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky, who, judging by the title, was probably the inspiration for this film.

When it comes to Woody Allen, I think, you either like him or you don't, there's no middle ground. If you are one of the first, be sure to check out "Crimes and Misdemeanors".


Finally, a few quotes that made a stronger impression on me:

"We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions. Moral choices. Some are on a grand scale. Most of these choices are on lesser points. But! We define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are in fact the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly, human happiness does not seem to have been included, in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love, that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying, and even to find joy from simple things like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more."

"Honey, you're the one who stopped sleeping with me, ok. It'll be a year come April 20th. I remember the date exactly, because it was Hitler's birthday."

"God is a luxury I can't afford."

"We must always remember, that we, when we are born, we need a great deal of love, in order to persuade us to stay in life. Once we get that love, it usually lasts. But, the universe is a pretty cold place. It's we who invested with our feelings and, under certain conditions, we feel that the thing isn't worth it anymore."

"I couldn't go on living if I didn't feel with all my heart a moral structure with real meaning and forgiveness and some kind of higher power. Otherwise, there's no basis to know how to live."

"What good is the law if it prevents me from receiving justice?"

Black Mirror: Smithereens
Episode 2, Season 5

"People don't look up anymore. The sky could turn (beep) purple and you (beep) wouldn't notice for a month!"
Chris is a taxi driver who takes rides exclusively in front of the headquarters of the company "Smithereen", which controls the largest and most popular social network (like "Facebook" in our reality), persistently trying to get in touch with some of the company's executives.

When he finally thinks that the person he needs has entered his vehicle, he moves on to the next stage of the plan, unaware of how much things can go wrong. But he is persistent in pushing it through at all costs.

For the first time, the episode of the "Black Mirror" series is, instead of in the future or the present, placed in the recent past, in order to further emphasize the actuality of the message it conveys. Unfortunately, the message itself is old news. Do we really need another screenplay "Don't drink/look at the phone while driving" ?! As much as this message is of existential importance, I think it does not fit in with the "Black Mirror", which, at least so far, has tried to attract attention on less covered topics and open new vistas for the potential negative effects of modern technologies.

Technically, "Smithereens" is a well-done episode, with interesting characters and great acting. The pace is a bit slower, so the quite simple and linear story is stretched almost to the duration of a feature film. But this doesn't matter much because the drama of our heroes is convincing, and the tension is at a decent level. However, both in content and form, "Smithereens" is a mediocre crime thriller, not a futuristic SF drama with a shocking twist that makes you think and re-examine yourself and the world we live in, which is a feature that made "Black Mirror" famous.

This would not be a problem for the viewer who sat down to watch an episode of one of the many crime series, but this is not one of them. Charlie Brooker has set high standards over the years, and "Smithereens" doesn't come close to meeting the expectations of people who have been eagerly awaiting the new "Black Mirror" episode.


Black Mirror: Striking Vipers
Episode 1, Season 5

Is porn cheating?
Opinions are divided. Some consider porn to be a form of infidelity in serious relationships, while others consider it a harmless way of giving vent to oneself that no one should be blamed for.

But what if the development of VR technology makes pornography interactive content that provides a complete physical experience without physical contact? This is one of the questions that the "Black Mirror" episode "Striking Vipers" asks us.

However, this episode is not about pornography.

The two roommates, who were actively playing a video game similar to "Tekken" or "Mortal Kombat" in college, meet again after eleven years. One started a family, while the other still refuses to grow up, and, as a birthday gift for his old friend, he brings the most modern VR version of the game that they enjoyed in their boyhood days.

The game, as expected, involves a chip on the temple and completely puts you in a VR environment, where you have a complete experience of brutal fights, but without consequences for your real body. The two take the same avatars they used in college, but as one of the avatars is female, they soon discover that "Striking Vipers", in addition to fighting, provides other physical experiences.

Given that they are both men, does this make them gay, even though one of the avatars is female? Is a man who uses a female avatar a transsexual? Is their virtual sex a relationship or just playing a VR game among friends? Does this mean that the married one cheats on his wife? How many men would like to live through the experience of a female orgasm firsthand?

In addition to the obvious question of how much the escape from reality into virtual life is a harmless break from everyday life or a dangerous addiction, there is a bunch of questions that lead to thinking and introspection, while we wait for some shocking outcome, to which the series "Black Mirror" accustomed us. What will be the message/lesson/social critique this time?

A very intriguing and controversial premise, which opens up countless possibilities for a striking episode. Unfortunately, although it is excellently filmed and acted, with good characterization and overall atmosphere, "Striking Vipers" is not going anywhere. Instead of a shocking plot twist, we got a disappointingly lukewarm compromise outcome, which leaves a bland taste in the mouth.


Black Mirror: Black Museum
Episode 6, Season 4

Tales from the Black Mirror
With its structure, story, and most of all its atmosphere, the "Black Museum" irresistibly resembles the cult anthologies of the eighties, such as "Creepshow", "Tales from the Darkside", "Tales from the Crypt", and to some extent Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone".

A young black woman rides an old-timer on a dusty road, which suggests a retro episode. But when she stops at a gas station, we see her plugging a car into a solar panel. This kind of charging will take quite a while, so she decides to explore the nearby facility, to pass the time.

The building in question is the Black Museum, which, with the black woman in the lead role, again leads to wrong assumptions. It is a museum of various technological achievements related to crimes. We had the opportunity to see a good part of the exhibits in previous episodes of the "Black Mirror" series, but this episode does not focus on them, so they can easily go unnoticed and represent the "easter eggs" of this episode.

The Black Museum focuses on three exhibits we have not encountered so far. The curator of the museum, a person of a very suspicious character, tells our heroine the history of these exhibits, so in this episode, we have a triptych of short, but powerful and quite shocking and morbid SF dramas. Each of these stories opens new questions about human psychology and attitudes towards technical achievements and makes us think, and each for itself would be a worthy episode of the "Black Mirror" series. And when you finally, through the final twist, see how all three stories are connected, to each other and the background story, the episode becomes even more striking.

Although the twist is quite unoriginal and towards the end it becomes more and more predictable, and there is no tension typical for most "Black Mirror" episodes, everything is so nicely blended and works perfectly that the shortcomings are negligible. And in my case, the similarities with the anthologies of my childhood add another nostalgic star to the final rating.


Black Mirror: Metalhead
Episode 5, Season 4

Nowhere Fast
Nowhere Fast

A group of people moves through a post-apocalyptic landscape in search of something. They are cautious and frightened, all the while waiting for something to attack them. They soon find what they were looking for, but at that very moment they are attacked and from that moment this "Black Mirror" episode is in survival mode.

Well-directed action scenes alternate with tense moments of calm, keeping you in anticipation. The post-apocalyptic atmosphere is further enhanced by the fact that the episode is in black and white. We don't know who our heroes are, what actually hunts them and why, or what kind of apocalypse has befallen humanity. Along with the tension, curiosity grows. And then the episode ends without revealing almost anything.

With a duration of just over half an hour, this is the shortest episode of the "Black Mirror" series. Half an hour is not enough to thoroughly work out a story, but that doesn't matter in this case because they didn't even try. While that little we got is acted out, filmed, and directed great, the overall impression is disappointing.

The story has no introduction, but throws us directly into action. I had the feeling as if I turned on the TV and bumped into the middle of some tense SF. Technically great and very tense, but I had no idea what it's about. I hoped to understand it by the end, but when it was over I still had no idea what I watched. Protagonists without characterization with whom we have no time or reason to connect and a story that comes from nowhere and leads nowhere.

I suppose we all saw "Terminator 2". Imagine that you did not and someone shows you the scene in which Edward Furlong on a motorcycle is chased by Terminator. Just that scene, nothing before, nothing after. And that's the whole movie. Although in the context of the film, that scene is one of the best in the history of the genre, standing alone, it is meaningless and cannot represent an independent whole. Well, that's the impression "Metalhead" leaves.

Besides, I didn't accidentally take the Terminator as an example. "Metalhead" can seem original only to those who have not watched even the greatest classics of the genre. The only original thing in this episode is the final twist.

"Black Mirror" is known for unexpected closing twists with a strong message. This episode also has a twist, and it is one of the most unexpected so far, but not because it carries a strong message, but because it is totally insane and unconvincing, and although I can guess which message it wanted to convey, it failed terribly.

After watching the "Black Mirror" episode "Metalhead", I don't have the impression that I saw a short movie, but a long trailer or an insert from some good movie. Unfortunately, we didn't get any context, and all the qualities of this episode are overshadowed by this shortcoming.

If the story was on a level with the camera, directing, acting, atmosphere, this would be a strong eight, but because of the story (or lack of it) that does not deserve more than four, my rating is


Black Mirror: Hang the DJ
Episode 4, Season 4

Future of dating
The old-fashioned dating, flirting, and relationships that eat up a lot of our time and nerves, and too often end in unhappy marriages, quarrels, adultery, and divorces, in this "Black Mirror" episode are a thing of the past. Here, people are placed in pairing software.

The system pairs you a seemingly random number of times with seemingly randomly selected people, for a time that varies from a few minutes to a few years per "relationship". You cannot refuse an assigned partner, nor end a relationship before the time allotted by the system has expired, but what you will do in that relationship is up to you. The system monitors and records all events and your reactions to all situations you go through, and when the data collected about you matches the information of one of the other participants, the system pairs you in a perfect pair, with a success rate of 99.8%.

But what if the system sentences you to years with a person you can't stand or you fall madly in love with a person assigned to you only for a short time ... Does everything you go through happen for a good reason or is the system not as perfect as it claims to be ...

"Hang the DJ" is another futuristic episode of the "Black Mirror" series, which deals with the positive aspects of modern technologies and the negative consequences of over-reliance on them. As usual, it takes some modern trends as a basis and takes them to the extreme. Whether today's dating applications will grow into the system brought to us by this "Black Mirror" episode remains to be seen, but we can certainly recognize ourselves in some aspects of this story today.

One of the most interesting premises so far, a well-written story, great tempo, and actors who perfectly evoke their characters, with a very charismatic leading couple, and a totally unexpected final twist, make "Hang the DJ" one of the best episodes of the "Black Mirror" series, and my personal favorite.

And no, I'm not going to tell you what the name of the episode has to do with a story like this. For that, you will have to see it through. WTF reaction is guaranteed.


Cabin in the Sky

"How am I gonna reform if I don't remember what a mess I was in when I was dead?"
The compulsive gambler was caught cheating and took a bullet. Because of his wife's strong faith, big heart, and sincere prayer, he was given a chance to return to the living and redeem his soul within six months, so that he would not go to Hell. Of course, when he returns to life, he does not remember death and encounters with angels and devils, who now follow him and fight for his soul with various tricks.

From today's perspective, the story is quite unoriginal, but as "Cabin in the Sky" is from 1943, this cannot be taken into account. It is simple and a bit naive, but captivates with its fairytale atmosphere and a good balance of drama and comedy.

It is based on a theatrical musical, so the film, although not a musical in the strict sense, is full of song and dance. I was, honestly, a bit bored by the amount of singing in "Cabin in the Sky", but his musical quality cannot be disputed. Ethel Waters, as the leading actress, sang most of the songs, of which "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" was nominated for an Oscar. There are also Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, and in a smaller role, Louis Armstrong, whose music was unfortunately dropped from the film.

Out of the context of the time in which it was created, "Cabin in the Sky" is a mediocre romantic humorous musical with a shabby moral-religious message that money leads to vices, and vices to Hell, while fidelity to women, devotion to family and God, hard work and sacrifice provide a ticket to Heaven. Only Ethel Waters' warmth and emotion and good music would stand out.

But in the context of 1943, it is important to note that this is one of the first films with an all-black cast. You won't even see a white man accidentally walking down the street. At the time, it was a very bold and controversial move by the MGM studio.

But as positive as the popularization of black culture is, so much the complete absence of white people in the film is, in my opinion, counterproductive, because it supports segregation as much as strictly white movies. I have the impression that it is sending a message like: "Okay, we can no longer pretend that black people don't exist, and as a sign of good will we will give you media space, but we will still not mix with you." Confirmation of that is the fact that blacks and whites had separate restaurants on the set.

Also, this is a film about black people, but it is also a film about black people and with an all-black cast, written and shot by white people. Much of the humor is based on racial stereotypes and prejudices, which also diminishes the value of initial good intentions.

Of course, I do not believe that all this was done with bad intent. Perhaps it was spontaneous racism of well-meaning filmmakers who were not even aware of all the implications of the film they are making. Simply, those were other times, segregation was in full swing, so it is unrealistic to expect MGM to prevent the above-mentioned objections. It is fairer to give them credit for the step they have taken in the right direction.


Cordelias Kinder

Imagination over budget
After the excellent romantic horror comedy "Warum Hans Wagner den Sternenhimmel hasst" (Why Hans Wagner hates the starry sky) from the previous year, Lars Henriks returns with the surreal thriller "Cordelias Kinder" (Cordelia's children).

Cordelia is the mother of two teenagers and since recently a widow, who runs a successful "intermediation" agency. We observe Cordelia trying to run a business and normal daily life, while the ghost of her late husband hangs around the house and interferes in everything. Meanwhile, the older daughter, who works for her, suspects the mother of killing the father, while the younger son starts a relationship with one of the mother's employees. There is also a secret door that leads to a surreal dimension, whose role in the story remains unclear to me.

The film looks pretty cheap, because it is, but for its budget, it was surprisingly well shot. What he lacks in production, Henriks makes up for with his versatile talent. He wrote the script himself, directed and wrote the original music for the film, and he did well in all those fields.

"Cordelias Kinder" is a family drama that develops into a thriller, with a touch of horror. But it's not the drama, thriller, and horror we're used to. The film is full of surreal moments, both in the plot and visually, and the most surreal is the atmosphere, which flirts with Lynch and Lovecraft. The story is not overly complex or complicated, but it is unusual, unexpected, and quite morbid.

The psychology of the characters is very interesting and quite successfully presented by the cast. Cordelia, played by Elena Meißner, is a seemingly strong, determined, unwavering woman, more focused on work and herself than family. Inside, she breaks down, and I think the husband's spirit is actually a reflection of her conscience. The daughter, played by Anna Berg, is cold to mother because she suspects her of killing the father. This seemingly typical capricious teenager will later show her true face, which is one of the strongest assets of the film. The son is, in my opinion, the weakest written role, and also the weakest played. There are also several supporting characters, and they are all written and played at least decently.

Until the end, I failed to grasp the significance of Lovecraftian elements. Honestly, those scenes seem to me to have strayed from some other movie and in no way contribute to the development of the story. However, I have to admit that they significantly contribute to the overall atmosphere, so even if that is their only purpose, I take my hat off to the original director's trick.

Although the film is very low-budget, the technical aspects of "Cordelias Kinder" are good enough not to spoil the enjoyment of a well-written story and an even better atmosphere. Recommendation.


Black Mirror: Crocodile
Episode 3, Season 4

Mercylessly over the edge
An insurance agent is investigating a minor car accident, using a device that reads the witness's memory. But one of the witnesses inadvertently reveals to her a dark secret from the past, which she must now cover up at all costs.

I have a lot to say about this "Black Mirror" episode, but a deeper analysis requires specific details that would spoil the story, and for a full experience, it is best to enter this adventure with as little prior knowledge as possible. For the most part, it is predictable enough that the additional information I would present here would completely ruin it.

Many resent its unconvincingness, in the sense that it is not in human nature to choose the path that the protagonist took, and that on that path she could not physically perform everything she does in the episode, and on top of all that she does it so nonchalantly and still no one caught her in the act.

True, the story has holes and illogicalities, but it is not so naive, because this is not about the average person, but about someone driven into psychopathy by fifteen years of guilty conscience combined with the urge to protect the family. The drama of a mentally unstable mother, who struggles with a guilty conscience and tries to keep the family together, sinking deeper into madness and eventually turning into a monster, is shown strong and impressively enough to distract you from the holes and illogicalities.

Many also blame it for not being in the spirit of the "Black Mirror" series. And I agree with this too. While "Black Mirror" deals with the positive and negative impacts of technology on the individual and humanity as a whole, basing plots on specific examples of (mis)use of technological advances, this episode is based on the characterization of the protagonist, while the Sci-Fi element is there just to push the story in the desired direction and provide the final plot twist.

If not a particularly representative episode for "Black Mirror", viewed outside the context of the series, "Crocodile" is a great psychological drama-thriller. With a well-balanced pace and duration, a great choice of scenography, a tense atmosphere, and a story that gradually transforms from a drama into a thriller and pushes further to the edge of horror, it held my undivided attention until the final twist, which serves as both a shocker and a comic relief.

All this, along with the fact that the protagonist is so skillfully brought close to the audience that I sympathized with her all the way, and even at times cheered for the monster to get away with her crimes, is reason enough for me to disregard all the clichés, holes and illogicalities in the story.


Black Mirror: Arkangel
Episode 2, Season 4

I expected much more from Jodie Foster and Charlie Brooker than the unimpressive "homage" to King's "Carrie"
A single mother is overly protective of her daughter. After the girl is briefly lost in a local park, the mother includes them in an experimental program, where a chip is implanted in the child's head. It sends the child's current location and vital functions to the parent 24/7, as well as live transmission of everything the child sees and hears, with the additional option of scrambling everything that could be stressful for the child.

From the start, it is clear that this approach to parenting can not only go wrong, but inevitably have to go wrong, which makes this "Black Mirror" episode a story about bad, even disturbed parenting, more than the (mis)use of futuristic technology.

A child who is unable to see and hear anything ugly, scary, violent, sexual, vulgar, is a child who cannot grow up and become able to face the everyday reality in which she lives. And when this practice continues into adolescence, counterproductiveness grows into a disaster.

The premise could have evolved in multiple directions, with much potential for a powerful episode. Unfortunately, they developed it into a predictable melodrama, with a boring slow-paced story and a twist that is both predictable and so over-the-top to the point of nullifying even the little credibility that the episode had.

Instead of a futuristic mindfuck drama or thriller with a strong message that makes you think, we got a lukewarm teenage melodrama, with an ending that seems to have escaped from some B horror of the eighties and a chewed-up lesson. The whole episode leaves an outdated impression, and that does not fit in with "Black Mirror".


Bus Stop

"Bo, you have a terrible habit of overdoin' everything!"
"Bus Stop" is the story of a twenty-one-year-old young man who spent his entire life on a ranch where there are no women. Now, with his friend/guardian, a man who is a kind of replacement for his father (the nature of their relationship is not explained in the film), he goes to Phoenix for a rodeo. Bo is naive and childish, without real life experience, but at the same time a capable, strong man, used to adapting things to himself, even by force. When he sees a pub singer in Phoenix, he recognizes the woman who is destined for him and decides to marry her, without stopping for a moment to ask himself if that desire is mutual.

Chérie is a girl who decided to escape from the nowhere where she grew up, and set out for Hollywood in search of a career and happiness. On the long journey to Los Angeles, she had several stops along the way, where she did side jobs that she is not really proud of. But Chérie is determined in her intention and ready to do anything to reach her goal.

Phoenix is a place where the paths of these two intersect into an unusual romantic comedy.

Opinions about this achievement of Joshua Logan are divided. While some believe that Marilyn Monroe's performance, with a forced southern accent, would have been tragic if it had not been overshadowed by Don Murray's catastrophic overacting, others consider this film one of her better achievements, and Don was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

I could agree with the former if this were a serious drama, but this film doesn't take itself seriously, so why should I. This is a comedy and it is more than obvious that the acting is as it is intentionally and purposefully. And, at least in my case, that goal has been achieved. I had a lot of fun, and at times I burst out laughing.

I can't judge Marilyn Monroe's performance with confidence, because apart from "Some Like It Hot", I haven't seen any of her films so far. But Don Murray's performance is so over-the-top that it is literally impossible that it is not intentional, and then, by analogy, it follows that the same is true for Marilyn. Their mutual chemistry is fantastic, and their overacting and insane behavior are hilarious.

However, it is not clear to me how an actor who plays the main character, around whom the entire film revolves, and whose performance is his strongest asset, can be nominated for a supporting role. It would be logical for Marilyn to play the main female role and Don the main male role. And if I had to choose, I'd rather say that Marilyn plays support for Don, than the other way around.

I found "Bus Stop" on Filmsite's list of 300 Greatest films. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a masterpiece, because this film is not top-notch in any of its technical or essential aspects, but the mass bashing in reviews on film sites is really unfair. Rating a film one or two out of ten just because you don't like a certain style or its sense of humor doesn't match yours is pretty lame.

If you embark on this adventure without excessive expectations and prejudices, a solid and, on top of that, very unusual and original film awaits you, a real refreshment in a sea of similar romantic comedies of its era.



"Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here."
With his filmography, and especially the Batman trilogy and the film "Inception", Nolan earned the reputation of one of the greatest directors of today, as well as complete freedom in shooting his next projects. I fully understand the trust placed in him by the studio, but, unlike most, I don't think he really justified it.

"Interstellar" is considered one of the best SF films of all time, and many perceive it as one of the best movies overall. From my perspective, it's not even Nolan's best. "Dunkirk", "Inception", all three Batmans, "The Prestige", ... all of his movies I've seen so far are at least a class better than this.

Its aesthetics and atmosphere reminded me a lot of Kubrick's "Odyssey", but even with half a century more modern technology, it is not nearly as fascinating and impressive. While "Odyssey" is mostly breathtaking, even regardless of the time of its creation, "Interstellar" is visually beautiful, at times even fascinating to the eye, but it did not touch me emotionally, nor did I have that gooseflesh feel along the spine that does not let you sit still while watching Kubrick's masterpiece.

Speaking of the comparison with "Odyssey", I noticed that many complain about the excessive duration of Nolan's film. No, the problem doesn't lie in the three hours duration, or even in the pace at which the story unfolds. "Odyssey" is also a long film and at a much slower pace than "Interstellar", but it has a mesmerizing atmosphere that nails you to the screen, which "Interstellar" unfortunately does not have.

While I'm still at the visual aspect of the film, I must also mention the great opportunity that this film missed. Visits to the planets in another galaxy were the perfect moment to let your imagination run wild and to engrave this movie in the memory of viewers with striking scenes of distant worlds. Instead, we've got two completely uninspiring and unoriginal scenes of the spacecraft's immediate surroundings, so there's no exploration of the new worlds and enjoying never-before-seen scenery. I don't even know why they used CGI, they could easily shot those scenes somewhere in the Arctic and get the same effect.

As for the scientific aspect of the story, I understand physics and astronomy so poorly that I am not in the least competent to judge how much the film respects known physical laws, let alone those that go into theoretical assumptions. Still, as the film progressed, this aspect too seemed more and more unconvincing, until the very end and the scene in the multiverse of the daughter's room, which, at least for me, drove the last nail into the coffin of the scientific foundation of this film.

The very end of the film is the biggest minus to me, because I think that the "happy" end (if it can be called happy at all ...) is inappropriate and breaks the atmosphere that the film had built until then. In addition, it remained unexplained how such an end came about and how it is possible at all, which is also the biggest hole in this story.

The dramatic aspect is something I can discuss and it is one of the strengths of this film, although the characters were not particularly convincing to me, and many of their actions seemed unnatural. As if they are not in line with the characters, but there only to push the story in the desired direction.

The only truly convincing character, perfectly written and acted, a character who shows the true human nature of an individual faced with the dilemma between self-preservation and the well-being of humanity, is a character masterfully played by Matt Damon. Some of us will find ourselves in his fear and submission to completely natural human instincts, others will strongly condemn him (many of them very hypocritically), but it is indisputable that he stands out among the other characters in this film as Jordan in "Space Jam".

If you want an atmosphere of space that freezes the blood in your veins or unsurpassed metaphysical depth, you can always go back to "Odyssey", for space action there is "Star Wars", and there are plenty of post-apocalyptic dramas with a stronger emotion. To be clear, "Interstellar" is far from being a bad film, it's an above-average pastime to watch, but I think its reputation and cult status are more a consequence of the name Christopher Nolan than the quality of the film itself.


Black Mirror: USS Callister
Episode 1, Season 4

Cogito, ergo sum
"USS Callister", the episode that opens the fourth season of the "Black Mirror" series, came from a good idea for a premise, but the premise is poorly set and realized even worse.

I like spoofs on the Star Trek franchise and its fanatics. I like the set design and the overall retro approach to the aesthetics of this episode. I also like the futuristic technology of virtual reality, although practically the same thing has already been seen in the episode "San Junipero".

"USS Callister" raises moral issues related to artificial intelligence and (mis)use of modern technologies, typically for "Black Mirror". It also brings us a study of the character of a macho bully, behind whose self-confident machoism and misogyny hides a difficult form of a lower value complex of a Trekkie nerd, a frightened and immature, but successful programmer and owner of a VR company.

On the other hand, it is all very badly packaged in a story that had the potential for a serious and tense mindfak drama, and it turned out to be linear and unconvincing, like a children's picture book. Even the victory of good over evil in this story does not work well, because almost all the characters are more or less "villains", and our "heroes" are in fact villains overly punished for their "crimes" by a mentally ill person, who also does not deserves an end like this.

Although promising at the start, the episode "USS Callister" has developed into a story full of completely incredible logical and technological holes and omissions, which we might be able to ignore for the sake of convincing characters with whom we can connect, cheer for them and fear for their destinies, or for the sake of strong moral. But when the "heroes" of the story are two-dimensional and just as repulsive as the "villain", and the moral message crap itself, then the only thing that can pull out a film is a powerful and well-written story, which this one certainly isn't.

Technically well done, with an interesting aesthetics, but hollow in both the plot and the essence, this "Black Mirror" episode left me with a bland taste in my mouth.


Bull Durham

A major league love story in a minor league town
I'm not interested in sports at all, so I'm not a fan of that film genre either. Also, baseball is almost exclusively an American game, which is rarely followed in Europe. Still, I enjoyed watching "Bull Durham," one of the few sports films that left a strong impression on me.

"Of course, a guy will listen to anything if he thinks it's foreplay." - Annie Savoy.

"Bull Durham" follows a small minor-league losing baseball team, which is trying to get back on its feet, receiving in its ranks a promising young pitcher, played by Tim Robbins. His momentum leaves you breathless, but precision and maturity are not his strong points. To get him in order, the manager brings a minor-league veteran (Kevin Costner) to be his catcher and tutor. These two are so different in character, that it is seemingly impossible for them to ever function as a team, and things get even more complicated when a local baseball groupie (Susan Sarandon) gets involved.

"Bull Durham" is sports and romantic drama, imbued with a life philosophy and a healthy dose of humor, and it works great in all these fields. If you are a sports fan, "Bull Durham" will easily interest you in baseball, and for romantics, a love story will hold your attention from beginning to end.

Although Tim Robbins is the main character in the part of the film that follows his sports career and appears in most of the scenes, he is also comic relief, while the focus is more on Kevin and Susan, whose outstanding acting skills and experience are further enhanced by strong chemistry. The expectedly good performances of the leading trio are supported by well-written dialogues, which range from witty remarks to life's wisdom, balanced so that they do not lose their strength for a moment, nor do they go into cheesy exaggeration.

"Honey, would you rather I'd be making love to him using your name or making love to you using his name..." - Annie Savoy.

The overall atmosphere of the eighties, my favorite decade in film and music, brings "Bull Durham" at least one additional star on my scale. The camera and directing are outstanding, and accompanied by a top soundtrack without any weak points. John Fogerty, Dr. John, Joe Cocker, Edith Piaf, Bill Haley and the Comets, The Dominoes, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tina Turner, are just some of the names that make this film even better.


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