December 2018


Can´t wait for the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic – Boston Bruins vs Chicago Blackhawks on January 1th. Go Hawks!

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Love this version.

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In the middle of the southern Pacific Ocean, a thousand feet below the surface, what is believed to be an alien spacecraft is discovered after a ship laying transoceanic cable has its cable cut and the United States Navy investigates the cause. The thickness of coral growth on the spaceship suggests that it has been there for almost 300 years. A team made up of marine biologist Dr. Beth Halperin (Sharon Stone), mathematician Dr. Harry Adams (Samuel L. Jackson), astrophysicist Dr. Ted Fielding (Liev Schreiber), psychologist Dr. Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman), and U.S. Navy Capt. Harold Barnes (Peter Coyote) are tasked with investigating the spaceship. The team (along with two navy technicians, Fletcher and Edmunds) are housed in a state-of-the-art underwater living environment called the Habitat during their stay on the ocean floor. Upon entering the spaceship, the team makes several discoveries. The first is that the ship is not alien, and that it is in fact an American spaceship. They assume, due to the years of coral growth and advanced technology, that the craft is from the future. The last date in the ship’s log, 06/21/43, does not indicate the specific century. The last entry in the log details an “Unknown (Entry) Event”, which depicts the ship apparently falling into a black hole, resulting in its trip through time. The ship’s mission apparently involved gathering objects from around the galaxy to bring back to Earth. An item of particular interest is a large, perfect sphere in the cargo hold. It is suspended a few feet above the ground and has an impenetrable fluid surface which reflects its surroundings but not, for some undetermined reason, people. Harry concludes from the classification of the event which sent the ship back that the Habitat crew is fated to die: it would not have been an “unknown event” if they had lived to report about it, he reasons. Harry soon sneaks back to the spaceship, and finds a way to enter the Sphere. Soon after, a series of numeric-encoded messages begins to show up on the habitat’s computer screens, and Harry and Ted are able to decipher the messages and converse with what appears to be an alien (which calls itself “Jerry”), which has been trapped in the Sphere. They soon discover that “Jerry” can hear everything they are saying aboard the Habitat. Harry’s entry into the Sphere prevents the team from evacuating before the arrival of a powerful typhoon on the surface, forcing them to stay below for almost a week. A series of tragedies then befalls the crew: Fletcher is killed by aggressive jellyfish. Later, Edmunds’ corpse is found drifting near the station, her body completely pulverized by what turns out to be a giant squid, which returns to attack the station. In the chaos that ensues, Barnes is cut in half by a computer-operated door, and Ted is burned to death. Sea snakes attack Norman, though he is not injured. Jerry is suspected to be the cause of these incidents. Eventually, only Harry, Norman, and Beth remain. At this point, they realize that they have all entered the world of the perfect Sphere. The Sphere has given them the power to manifest their thoughts into reality. As such, all of the disasters that had been plaguing them are the result of manifestations of the worst parts of their own minds…

“Sphere” was a Box office bomb in 1998 when it came out, it grossed only $37 million at the North American box office, far below its $80 million production budget. And the critical consensus was that “Sphere features an A-level cast working with B-grade material, with a story seen previously in superior science-fiction films.” In one way that criticism really hits the nail on the head, but at the same time we get this pseudo-philosophical extra terrestrial story that still asks questions that lingers in limbo and stays there after the movie is over. Is it confusing? Is it intriguing? Can our fears become real via our thoughts? Yes, yes and who knows. Dustin Hoffman didn´t feel the movie was ready to be released when it was. There were many more issues that needed to be addressed but they didn’t have the time to cover them all. They had to deliver what they had for the release date, which he felt was an incomplete film. This is something I can agree with, pieces just seem to be missing and Levinson doesn´t tie it together. All involved (Stone, Hoffman, Schreiber, Jackson and Coyote) does their best to keep up the tension, but they need a material that works full on as well. That is not the case here. In the end we know less than we did in the beginning so it seems, not that everything needs to be explained, but this is just to lose in the plot. And in terms of environment and main story, we had already seen some similar movies like “The Abyss” (1989), “Leviathan” (1989) and “DeepStar Six” (1989) with various result. “Sphere” ends up in the middle somewhere. However, I do need to mention how extremely attractive Sharon Stone is in this one. She looks absolutely stunning in her short hair. What a beaut she is. (3 out of 5)

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MI6 agent James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) meets a Swiss banker to retrieve money for Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon and friend of M (Judi Dench). Bond tells the banker that King was buying a report stolen from an MI6 agent who was killed for it, and wants to know who killed him. The banker threatens Bond, but Bond overpowers him. The banker is killed by his assistant before he can reveal the assassin’s name. Bond escapes with the money. Back in London, Sir Robert is killed by the booby-trapped money inside MI6. Bond gives chase to the assassin – the assistant again – on a boat on the Thames to the Millennium Dome, where the assassin attempts to escape via hot air balloon. Bond offers her protection, but she refuses. She detonates the balloon, killing herself. Bond traces the recovered money to Renard (Robert Carlyle), a KGB agent-turned-terrorist. Following an earlier attempt on his life by MI6, Renard was left with a bullet in his brain which is gradually destroying his senses, making him immune to pain. M assigns Bond to protect King’s daughter, Elektra (Sophie Marceau); Renard previously abducted and held her for ransom, and MI6 believes that he is targeting her a second time. Bond flies to Azerbaijan, where Elektra is overseeing the construction of an oil pipeline. During a tour of the pipeline’s proposed route in the mountains, Bond and Elektra are attacked by a hit squad in armed, paraglider-equipped snowmobiles. Afterwards Bond visits Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) at a casino to acquire information about Elektra’s attackers; he discovers that Elektra’s head of security, Davidov, is secretly in league with Renard. Bond kills Davidov and boards a plane bound for a Russian ICBM base in Kazakhstan. There, Bond, posing as a Russian nuclear scientist, meets American nuclear physicist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) and enters the silo. Inside, Renard removes the GPS locator card and weapons-grade plutonium from a bomb. Before Bond can kill him, Jones blows his cover. Renard steals the bomb and flees, leaving everyone to die in the booby-trapped missile silo. Bond and Jones escape the exploding silo with the locator card. Back in Azerbaijan, Bond discloses to M that Elektra may not be as innocent as she seems, and hands her the locator card as proof of the theft: an alarm sounds, revealing that the stolen bomb from Kazakhstan is attached to an inspection rig heading towards the oil terminal. Bond and Jones enter the pipeline to deactivate the bomb, and Jones discovers that half of the plutonium is missing. They both jump clear of the rig and a large section of the pipe is destroyed. Bond and Jones are presumed killed. Back at the command centre, Elektra reveals that she killed her father as revenge for using her as bait for Renard. She abducts M, whom she resents for advising her father not to pay the ransom money. With M missing Bond must work quickly to prevent Renard from destroying parts of Europe…

“The World is not Enough” was Brosnan´s third Bond movie and this time around we get a slightly better Bond movie compared to “Tomorrow Never Dies”. The plot is a no brainer more or less, we´ve seen it before within the Bond universe, but with the new structure of having a Bond girl being the bad guy and as well meeting her maker via Bond. However, yet again we get a scattered bad guy set up, this time we have both Elektra and Renard and neither are that intriguing. I did enjoy the first hour of the film, almost giving me that old sort of old Bond vibe with a great boat chase on the Thames and as well a nice ski chase involving paraglider-equipped snowmobiles. Then everything becomes slightly out of focus and Brosnan ends up not fitting the tuxedo yet again (by now I can unfortunately confess to myself that I simply just don´t like Brosnan as Bond all that much). A lot of the action sequences in the latter part of the movie feels so random and not that exciting, almost like the script ran dry and they had to fill it up with something. Robert Carlyle is almost a shadow of his normal greatness, Sophie Marceau is not evil enough in my book and the lovely Denise Richards just don´t fit in at all as the scientist Christmas Jones. Richards was criticised as not being credible in the role. She was ranked as one of the worst Bond girls of all time by Entertainment Weekly in 2008, which is a bit harsh, but unfortunately she doesn´t work in the role. Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution disliked the film, calling it “dated and confused”. Negative criticism was focused on the execution of the plot, and the action scenes were considered excessive. Entertainment Weekly picked it as the worst Bond film of all time, saying it had a plot “so convoluted even Pierce Brosnan has admitted to being mystified”. Norman Wilner of MSN chose it as the third worst film, above A View to a Kill and Licence to Kill, while IGN chose it as the fifth worst. I have one more Brosnan Bond movie left to re-see, and then I can archive his Bond. (3 out of 5)

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Erika (Alicia Vikander) has it all: a good job, lots of friends and a secure relationship with Oskar (Simon J. Berger). Until the day it all falls apart after the premature birth of her son. Suddenly this perfect life means nothing, and the feelings she once was able to control are no longer within reach. She starts going to group-therapy and meets other people suffering from various forms of trauma. Eventually she form a bond with some of the participants within this group; Rikard (David Dencik), who has severe mother issues and a fascination for Mayaindians, Pernilla (Anna Bjelkerud), a lonely middle-aged woman with an extensive self hatred, Ann-Sofi (Mira Eklund), a young woman suffering from bullying and abuse and Peter (Henrik Norlén) who has in reality a structured life with a wife and kids, but feels only emptiness and alienation. One day Erika and this eclectic group of four people decide to take matters into their own hands and heads off together in search of a way out. They start checking into hotels – a place of complete anonymity where one can wake up as a different person…

“Hotell” concerns topics such as postpartum depression, abuse and selftherapy and has a dark structure with a comic sparkle that comes to life in several scenes. Director Lisa Langseth is balancing on the line between the gripping reality and goofball comedy when she wants to show the tragic comic balance within each character, but she manages to keep the balance act together. All the main actors go all in with their characters, they are all sad and reduced as humans, but yet so full of life. However, the lead actress Alicia Vikander is the one that stands out as the depressed Erika. She is vulnerable, beautiful, depressed, hurt, confused and in pain, but yet selfoccupied, cold and pitiful for not being there for her newborn son and boyfriend. Her facial expressions says so much and you can feel her pain through the screen. Her full on breakdown in the hotel room in the end is intense and moving. David Dencik is as well in good form as the Mayaindian loving man child, but Alicia Vikander stole my heart in this movie. She is already in Hollywood and with her talent and absolute beauty she will go really far in Tinseltown. Mark my words. (3 and a half out of 5)

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Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a member of a close-knit Danish community and works at the local kindergarten. Divorced, he struggles to maintain a relationship with his teenage son, who lives with his ex-wife, but enjoys wholesome interaction with the children at the kindergarten. His coworker Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport) makes advances towards him and eventually moves in as his girlfriend. One of the kindergarten pupils is Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the daughter of Lucas’ best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen). Drawing on memory of a pornographic picture her brother showed her, she makes comments that lead the kindergarten director to believe Lucas indecently exposed himself to her. When interviewed with leading questions, Klara gives unclear testimony against Lucas. The adults in the community believe the director’s story of abuse, dismissing Klara’s later contradictions as denial. Lucas is shunned by the community as a pedophile sexual predator. His friendship with Theo is destroyed, the pressure causes him to break up with Nadja, and his son is publicly ostracised. Lucas finds his life being shattered to pieces by an innocent little lie…

“Jagten” is based on the mass hysteria that can be created easily in todays insecure and paranoid society and ruin lives literally. This is by no means an easy subject and should be handled in a very delicate and proper manner, but what Vinterberg is also communicating is that children doesn´t always tell the truth and their imagination might connect things that hasn´t happened. With that said, yet again, this is not an easy subject to talk about, let alone handle. We have seen far too many examples the past years concerning sexual predators and the horrific acts they have done. But, it´s a topic that needs to be discussed from other points of views too. Thomas Vinterberg has always been good at bringing difficult topics to the screen, and he aces this one as well in my book. This is however Mads Mikkelsen movie, and he plays Lucas in such a minimalistic, but truly brilliant way that this role will stick in your mind for a long time. It´s a lot about his facial expressions and movements. Well deservedly he won the Best Actor Award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for this specific role. The film was also selected as the Danish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, making the final nomination. It was nominated in the same category at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards. But, without the fantastic cast from Annika Wedderkopp as Klara to Lars Ranthe as Bruun this wouldn´t have work as brilliantly as it does. Vinterberg has managed to assemble a great cast that brings everything they have to the plate to make this film come alive. Despite the quite slow, but not overly slow, pace there´s a magnificent intensity throughout the movie and I love the fact that Vinterberg keeps you wondering how it will end until the final frame, when you get the idea what will happen. “Jagten” is a hard one to watch at times and the emotional platform goes straight into your heart and brain. And you will keep thinking for sure, what if you would be wrongfully accused for something you hadn´t done? (4 and a half out of 5)

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In 1975, 12-year-old Christiane Felscherinow (Natja Brunckhorst) lives with her mother and little sister in a small apartment in a typical multi-story concrete social-housing building in a dull neighbourhood in the outskirts of West Berlin. She’s sick and tired of living there and has a passion for singer David Bowie. She hears of Sound, a new disco in the city centre, labelled as the most modern discothèque in Europe. Although she’s legally too young to go there, she dresses up in high heels, wears makeup, and asks a friend from school, who hangs out there regularly, to take her, too. At the disco, she meets Detlef (Thomas Haustein), who is a little older and is in a clique where everybody experiments with various drugs. At first she takes pills and LSD, and goes to a David Bowie concert in which she meets Babsi, a girl of her same age and tendencies, and tries heroin for the first time by snorting it. But soon after Christiane falls in love with Detlef, and in order to be closer to him begins using heroin on a regular basis, gradually delving deeper into the drug and ending up as a full-blown addict. As her time at home is replaced with time spent at her cohorts’ unkempt apartment, she is also drawn to the seedy Bahnhof Zoo scene, a large railway and subway station notorious for the drug and sex trade in its underpasses and backalleys…

Both the movie and the book acquired cult status in Europe immediately after release, raising awareness of heroin addiction. The popularity of the movie was greatly boosted by David Bowie’s participation as both himself (portrayed giving a concert early in the movie) and as the main contributor to the soundtrack. Bowie’s music from his albums made in Berlin during 1976-77 is heavily featured throughout the picture, and as he was at the very peak of his popularity during the late 1970s-early 1980s, his presence helped boost the film’s commercial success. The film shocked European audiences. The heroin plague that swept Western Europe between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s had yet to become apparent to the public, and it did just after the film’s release, with the epidemic killing a significant number of European youth. The film depicted in very realistic detail all the proceedings of heroin addiction: hustling and scoring, shooting up, the effects of heavy drug withdrawal and heavy drug usage, the thinning of the body and the shootup scars, the socialising in rundown neighbourhoods such as peripheral train stations, back alleys, often too high to keep one’s eyes open and dropping onto the floor in a stupor, scenes all too familiar to urban citizens in West Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and France in those years. The movie, shot with a low budget in 1980 and released in 1981, but set between 1975 and 1977 in West Berlin, in what was then West Germany, is much leaner than the autobiographical book it portrays. It skips altogether the beginning and also the end of the book, and concentrates on the main central part starting when Christiane begins her nightlife in Berlin at just around 13, and stops rather abruptly after her suicide attempt by mentioning she recovered. Christiane F. (born Vera Christiane Felscherinow on 20 May 1962) an actress/musician and in real life never fully recovered nor her woes ended with her being carried away to Hamburg to begin withdrawal, but the movie focusses on the main addiction portrayal. The cinematography is very bleak and livid, depicting a dilapidated, working-class Berlin with rundown structures and unclean, unkempt settings. Berlin today is rather different and the majority of landmarks from the movie (the station, the Bulow street stalls, the Sound discothèque) are either gone for good or completely remodeled. The film is played mainly by first-time actors, the majority of which were still in school at the time and have not pursued acting careers since. Only Natja Brunckhorst remained in German movies and television, starting with 1982’s Querelle by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, another lurid-themed film. Most of the extras at the railway station and at the Sound club were in fact actual junkies, prostitutes and low-lifes rounded up by producers just for those crowded scenes. In a special scene where Christiane runs the alleys of the station to find girlfriend Babsi before learning she is dead, the camera lingers on several last-stage junkies leaning along walls of the underpasses. In a 2011 interview, Thomas Haustein, who plays Detlev and was still in school at the time, recalls being severely frightened by being surrounded by all those real-life addicts but that he also successfully copied their behaviour for his character. Most shootup, nudity and sex scenes involving such underage actors in such graphic detail would not be permitted by today’s legal standards; at the time, however, it only required a written letter of consent from the parents to proceed with filming. “Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” is one of those movies I reckon you should´ve seen and it´s been on my list forever. Maybe due to everything I have heard about it, I have had an uneasy feeling about seeing it. We get an ugly, gritty, dirty and very unglamorous look upon the heavy drug scene in West Berlin in the late 70´s and it´s not pretty. Christiane F. wants something else in life than living in an plattenbau housing in the outskirts in Berlin and sees the nightlife in the city centre of Berlin as her saviour to something more glamorous and maybe a step closer to her musical hero David Bowie. Berlin is showed in the movie more or less like a runned down colourless city with zombielike people with a compulsory need to use each other in all sorts of ways. Despite the fact that most of the actors are first time actors and that their acting is maybe not on the spot all the time, it creates almost a documentary feeling and what you see feels “real”. Natja Brunckhorst does a great job as Christiane F. with her doe eyes, straight hair and lanky looks. The real Christiane F. was as well quite an attractive girl back in the early 80´s. The participation of David Bowie and his great music is vital for the movie and it gives a great lift to the storyline. And I reckon with his own drug experience in Berlin in the mid 70´s he would´ve been able to contribute with his life stories to the movie. “Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” should be shown in schools to get young peoples attention to what drugs can do to your life. “Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” is still of big importance in 2013. (4 and a half out of 5)

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