Monday, 14 February 2022

Let the Right One In (2008)

This is a little Swedish film (
Låt den rätte komma in) from 2008 which is a thriller/drama come vampire film. Now I usually shy away from any mention of vampires when selecting a film but when I started watching this I didn't know it was - and am pretty glad that I stayed on the bus!

It's set in Stockholm in the middle of an inner-city/town housing complex in 1982. Our central character is a 12 year old boy who's dad has left home and living with his mum he's a bit of a social outcast with everyone he knows including people at his school, some of whom pick on and bully him.

A man and 12 year old girl move in next door to him and we're first introduced to the new people as we see him stringing up a man in the park and draining his blood. He's caught in the act and scarpers but this sets the scene for the town to be wary of some fruit-loop on the loose doing strange things to people and killing them.

Why does he want the blood is the question - and it turns out that yes, the girl doesn't eat but lives on the stuff. Who he is and why he's serving her needs, we don't really know. Anyway, back to the 12 year olds and we see a cutesy relationship growing between them as she tries to help the boy fight back at the bullies - and they develop a bond. Eventually the secret comes out and the boy has to face the truth of what he's dealing with, empowered by her as he may have been. There are a few scenes which follow demonstrating more grizzly murders, blood-sucking stuff and some other quirky behaviour - such as she having to be invited into a room - and what happens to her if she goes in uninvited!

At one point she accidentally makes herself another vampire by only partially draining a woman and getting interrupted. We're then shown the impact of that (and what the woman does to resolve her position too). By this time in a film with this kind of storyline, I tend to be laughing along as it's all so absurd but this is presented in such a mixed-focus kind of way that it presents itself as a love story intertwined with a revenge yarn - with vampires on the side.

The two kids act their parts terrifically well and the whole set puts me in mind of something from a Polish set from Kieślowski's DekalogAs we reach the finale there's some surprises to consume for the audience, resolves for the other threads of the storyline and a view of what might be likely going forward for the pair of these kids. There really aren't any silly jump-scare moments, which is probably another reason I really enjoyed this film, which I did.

The director is actually Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy man Tomas Alfredson who does a great job creating that atmosphere, making use of super camera angles, lighting and general photography in this bleak and dour snow-covered locality. I don't know any of the actors, the two leads seeming to have had pretty short careers and dropped off the radar at a fairly early age.

It's a super atmospheric but intelligent thriller without a lot of the usual clap-trap from the genre. It might be another one of those find-a-DVD outings though as attempts to find it otherwise seem a bit tricky. I did see that it was £1.79 on AmazonUK however!

Friday, 11 February 2022

Dark Blue Girl (2017)

It's funny how we often stumble into films because we follow an actor having admired them in other work. Same is true here as I much admired 
Helena Zengel's performance recently playing against Tom Hanks in News of the World. She was excellent in that and looked to me like she was a talent waiting to spring.

So yes, that's how I uncovered this German indie family drama come indie psycho thriller originally titled Die Tochter. She was (even) younger here and this directorial feature debut by German Mascha Schilinski has some dark and menacing undertones which are alluded to, suggested and teased but fall short of exploding onto the screen. But in lieu, there's so much to admire and consume.

The basic story is about a couple who split up two years before our film starts when their daughter was 5, so she's now 7. Mum and dad are living separately and the girl, Luca, lives with mum and sees dad frequently. Mum is seeing other men but nothing is working out and she is short of cash, with the suggestion of her being an actor trying to find work. Dad comes over frequently and Luca loves him dearly, the start of the audience beginning to wonder if there's something odd about the father-daughter relationship. When he's around she plays up to him somewhat inappropriately and generates situations where she can cuddle up to him in bed as she drops off to sleep, for example, instead of mum.

Anyway, the parents decide to sell their holiday home in Greece to make ends meet and the three of them set off there to clean, tidy and show to a potential buyer. When they get there, mum and dad start to fall for each other again and eventually start creeping around the house to bed each other - and not let Luca see. She does though. And she's not happy. She then does everything she can think of to drive wedges between this rekindled relationship, going to quite some lengths. She has sight of losing her central role in the lives of both of them.

There's slightly too much underwear/swimwear footage of the kid for comfort and I'm interpreting that as being a framework for the suggested psychology behind the father-daughter thing and (at one point) rejection of mother. The picture is painted around daddy's girl and less-than-perfect physical appearance of mum. At one point, mum looks at her own nude body in the mirror, clearly unhappy. There's also a disturbing scene as the three of them share a bed and mum and dad are all-but naked french-kissing with Luca alongside.

It goes from odd to spooky really as we follow Luca in the central role and see the story from her eyes, often. There's also flashbacks to the disturbing scenes from two years previous when they told Luca about the split, which she dreams about still (and was also on this island), where the beach, rocks and cliffs are presented in eerie tones with supporting music. Incidentally, I thought the music and soundtrack was great - apparently a (relatively) unknown German outfit called AnnAgemina. I thought it was Bjork during watching!

The cinematography has been excellently thought out and there are great visuals throughout including selective use of close-focus and de-focus, with long lingering shots of unhappy, conniving, scheming Luca's face. To add to the spook, Luca also creates this kind of bubble (imagines) around dad (to protect him from harm, it seems) especially after he has a funny turn one day and they talk about heart attacks. In fact, throughout the film there's cuts to a beating heart in a body which could be interpreted as his, or maybe a reflection on her birth and the history of all their relationships. Later on birth is referenced via footage of a pregnant cat giving birth outside their house. As you can see, it's a bit arty-farty and confused here and there.

It's a question, at the end of the show, of how successful Luca is in keeping/getting them apart - or whether they pull together as a family to get past it. It's pretty much a three-actor show and they all do their jobs admirably well and convincingly oddly. And that's what the film is really. Just odd. With some very uncomfortable undertones but also a forward drive that makes for compelling viewing. It's that European cinema thing again which is so good at taking what, on the face of it, could be an ordinary tale - and turning it into an extraordinary, entertaining feast to consume.

I would recommend it very much for Helena Zengel's performance if nothing else. That's the second time now that I've been very impressed with her child-talent acting and I think we'll see more films with her popping up soon. You might find it hard to get, however. It is on some streaming services but you might not get subtitles. Or you can scour Amazon Germany for a DVD etc. I enjoyed it very much, but it is a bit odd and disturbing.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

My Son (2021)

This little Brit thriller is apparently a remake of the French film 
Mon Garçon which the director of this one, Christian Carion, was involved with as well, back in 2017. I haven't seen that but I'm hoping the original wasn't so full of plot-holes as this!

A boy goes missing from a camp-site in the Scottish Highlands. We join the action after all that's already happened and the police are on the scene. Mother calls in the boy's father (who she's no longer involved with) who leaps to action in order to try and save the day. There's a side issue going on with the wet lettuce new boyfriend of hers, which our hero doesn't take kindly to and at one point confronts him, rather out of control!

Anyway, he gets arrested for his dastardly deeds but wet lettuce doesn't press charges so our man is out and about again on the trail of his missing son. James McAvoy (Shameless, Victor Frankenstein) plays the father, presumably as told, making him a man willing to take the law into his own hands to do what's right. Especially when the police are told from the powers in London to back off the whole case. The first hole, that was never explained.

McAvoy does a decent enough job with the material (in a Liam Neeson type way) alongside mum played by Claire Foy (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, The Crown) who equally does what's asked of her - well, by the filmmakers, if not her ex-husband! Another gaping hole in the plot is what he does for a living (he says he works in oil) and the relationship between a kidnapping of one of his staff abroad and this story?! And why kids are being kidnapped? Never explained - not even in a 101 Dalmatians kind of way! But never mind - on with the thriller!

And it does turn out to be quite a good edge-of-the-seat thriller as we come towards the finale and what reveals there are, are revealed! The winner here is probably the Scottish countryside and earthy feeling of rural muck, rain and isolation. The scenery is lovely. Ignore the miniscule involvement of the local police and get stuck in with our dynamic duo as they fight the baddies!

I'll leave it there, I think, so that the ending is not spoiled for you, should you want to watch it. It won't take you long at only an hour and a half and you can catch it on Amazon Prime Video at time of reporting, along with other streaming services. It'll win few awards, but it's a tidy little thriller.

PodHubUK Podcasts for the Month of January 2022

...a roundup of our month of podcasting. Links to the team, communities and podcast homes on the net at the foot, so scroll down!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 1st January
Steve and I bring you our New Year's Day offering in the form of a podcast featuring Jeremy Harpham! We natter for an hour about all things mobile phone of course looking back at 2021 and predicting what's to come next! Happy New Year!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 2nd January
We're back! After a seasonal break Gareth and I are back just in time to bid farewell to the DSLR, 2TB microSD and Museletters, and welcome the Amiga A500 Mini! We talk TikTok, sensible new hardware, daft new hardware and in Gareth's case, daft old hardware! Loads of stuff, so get stuck in!

Whatever Works
Episode 153 - Skydiving Fish Detritus!
Friday 7th January
Aidan and I are here once again to Badger you for hour with another deluge of drivel - as we consider Whatever Works for us and you! Oodles of oddities including organisers, trainers, old Microwaves, word games and neck fans!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 8th January
Yes indeed, something different and more interesting than the normal phones out there. Steve and I have a great chat with Marek Pawlowski about that very thing - and come up with some options. We also announce the Photo of the Month and look forward to Photo of the Year!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 9th January
It's Sunday again, which means Gareth and I are back with more tinctures of tech - including much that caught our eye in Las Vegas. (Not that we were there!) Loads of stuff from all the big players including TCL, Samsung, Acer, Asus, Razer...the list goes on! Highlights galore and we pick up on some of the week's other news too.

Projector Room
Episode 104 - Silent Afterlife
Wednesday 12th January
Gareth, Allan and I are back again this fortnight with a delve into what we, and you, have been consuming in film, cinema and TV. Loads of goodies as usual including Parisian Treats, a trip to the moon and New Blood from old ideas - all from the 3 Idiots!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 15th January
Steve and I are back this weekend with guest Juan Carlos Bagnell tagging along for a natter for an hour about all sorts of hot phone-related topics. Plus all the usual features of course, including the winner of Photo of the Year for 2021

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 16th January
Another deluge of dung this weekend now available via the link here or your podcatcher! Join Gareth and I as we murder Moto, ridicule Realme, mush Meta, Zoom into Stream Deck and go Monster Blasting!

Phones Show Chat
Saturday 22nd January
Steve and I back again this weekend with a catch-up on all sorts of stuff, including my first look at the Pixel 6 Pro and Fairphone 4 with Steve pushing the Duo 2 further. We both take a swipe at RCS and much more.

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 23rd January
Gareth and I discuss the sighting of the S8 Ultra on Amazon, Microsoft purchasing Activision Blizzard, new Chromebooks, Dimensity 10000 and more in our weekly tinker with tech.

Whatever Works
Episode 154 - The Clock Watch!
Sunday 23rd January
Aidan and I are here again to consider once more Whatever Works for you and us! Loads of goodies as usual, from Karaoke to Kronaby, bread to eggs, hooks to threaders and Samson to stands. All here in amongst the usual plethora of chaos, fun and jingles!

Projector Room
Episode 105 - Star Wars Below
Wednesday 26th January
Gareth, Allan and I are here again with our regular fortnightly roundup of what we, and you, have been watching in film, cinema and TV. Plenty to talk about as usual - we head for Mumbai in Themed Treats, consider The War Below in Private Screening and leap from Chinatown to Brooklyn as we don Antlers for some big scares!

Phones Show Chat
Episode 678 - Stunning Redmis
Saturday 29th January
Steve and I return this weekend to natter about all things phone as we welcome back Mike Warner. We find out what he's been using, his disaster, his solution and what's en route! Plus all the other usual stuff, news, foul-ups and fixes!

Tech Addicts Podcast
Sunday 30th January
Gareth and I are back with another couple of hours of tech twaddle as we hover over the headlines and précis our picks. We Bond with flying cars, Pedal Streaming and Steaming, meander through Magic and clamber through Chrome. We even have time to rifle back through painful experiences!

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 (a year late)!

I'm always keen to look at the latest technology, especially in the smartphone world, but more often than not these days, I'm priced...