DUNE (2021)

October 21, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. It’s been nearly 40 years since David Lynch directed DUNE (1984). The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound, and has since been a cult favorite, though not one I’m particularly drawn to. All these years later, Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel (there are 5 sequel novels) has been re-made by acclaimed writer-director Denis Villeneuve (ARRIVAL, 2016) and his co-writers Eric Roth (Oscar winner, FORREST GUMP, 1994) and Joe Spaihts (PROMETHEUS, 2012). The new version looks absolutely fantastic, even if the story is a bit convoluted and the characters don’t always make the best, or even logical, decisions.

The year is 10191, likely the most futuristic movie we’ve seen. Oscar Isaac is Duke Letto Atreides and Rebecca Ferguson is Lady Jessica Atreides, though the story mostly focuses on the son, Paul, played by Timothy Chalamet. The story revolves around the protection of spice, the most valuable resource in the universe/galaxy. However the real focus is on politics and power plays … so I guess not much really changes over the next 8170 years – except, of course, the colonization and travel between multiple planets (surprisingly, none of these planets is named Elon or Bezos). There is much talk of “the plan” with emphasis on whether young Paul is “the one” mentioned in their legends. Paul does have some special abilities, but Chalamet’s understated (and mostly monotone) portrayal makes everyone, even Lady Jessica, a bit unsure of whether he’s the leader they need.

The supporting cast is impressive and all do their part to drive the action and story forward. Jason Mamoa is Duncan Idaho, the warrior who humorously belittles Paul’s fragile physical frame. Josh Brolin is Gurney Halleck, the bodyguard to the noble family, and Charlotte Rampling plays the Reverend Mother (a creepy nun). Oscar winner Javier Bardem is under-utilized as Stilgar, while Zendaya shines as Chani, one who bonds with Paul. Of course the most outrageous role finds Stellan Skarsgard (with some heavy make-up and special effects) as the grand emperor of Harkonnen, with Dave Bautista as his brother, the Beast.

For me, the movie’s technical aspects are what stand out. It deserves awards consideration in multiple categories, especially Sound, Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Score. Oscar winner Hans Zimmer really delivers a score that compliments and enhances what we see on screen. Cinematographer Greig Fraser has been involved in numerous high profile projects, like ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016) and the highly anticipated THE BATMAN (coming in 2022).  The effects are special and include the sandworms, as well as dragonfly choppers that are quite impressive. It was a bit annoying to see the desert sand blowing constantly, yet goggles and masks are hardly ever used. I guess these faces are too expensive to cover up!

Familiarity abounds as some bits recall MAD MAX, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, STAR WARS, and THE MATRIX. Director Villeneuve shot the film in Norway and Jordan, and to answer the question from fans of the original … no, Sting does not make a cameo appearance. The film looks stunning and will likely satisfy the target audience. Whether it’s enough to expand the audience is something we will know soon enough. The film ends with “This is only the beginning”, and Mr. Villeneuve has Dune Part Two in the planning stages.

The film will be released October 22, 2021 in theaters, on IMAX, and streaming on HBO Max

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THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN (2021)

October 21, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. If you fancy yourself a cat lover, you’ve likely seen his drawings, or at least some of the many ‘copies’ that other artists have produced over the years. Louis Wain was a prolific British illustrator, best known for his anthropomorphic paintings and drawing of cats (think of the kitschy paintings of dogs playing poker). Writer-director Will Sharpe and co-writer Simon Stephenson have delivered a biopic of Wain that focuses less on his art, and more on his gradual mental breakdown.

The film opens in 1881, and Louis Wain (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is a young man, whose life has just drastically changed. The death of his father has forced Wain into the role of breadwinner for his five younger sisters and their aging mother. Initially, we aren’t sure what to make of Wain. His stern and demanding sister Caroline (Andrea Riseborough) is unforgiving of his whims and demands that he find steady work to support the family. An interview with an editor/publisher played by Toby Jones allows us to see what a gifted illustrator Wain is … and his speed is substantially due to an incredible ability to draw with both hands simultaneously.

Wain’s eccentricities include a belief in the electrical currents that drive all life forms. The film doesn’t spend much time on this, but it seems to be a cog in his mental illness – deemed schizophrenia (though that’s been debated). Wain overcomes his insecurity around his cleft lip and marries Emily Richardson (Claire Foy), the governess to his sisters. For the times, this was quite a scandal, given the differences in age and social standing of Louis and Emily. However, it seems as though she was the only one who understood and encouraged him as an artist.

When tragedy strikes, Wain becomes inspired by their pet cat, Peter. In fact, Peter becomes Wain’s muse, and leads to thousands of drawings for publication in newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, and just about every other platform. Olivia Colman provides some lively narration, and Taika Waititi and Nick Cave both have brief cameos. Cumberbatch is a bit over-the-top with his tics in the first half of the film, but his talent is clear as he portrays a man whose mental health deteriorating, and one who must rely on his special skill to find purpose. Wain spent the last 15 years of his life in a hospital, illustrating right up until the end. While Wain’s legacy lives on in his work, there is also a message here – embrace your weirdness!

Amazon Studios will release THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN in theaters on October 22nd, 2021 and on Prime Video on November 5th, 2021

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BECOMING COUSTEAU (2021, doc)

October 21, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. For anyone under age 35, it may be difficult to imagine a world where high-definition cameras don’t blanket every nook and cranny of our planet. These days, there are multiple channels serving up nature and oceanic documentaries, many with stunningly clear and colorful underwater photography. Each of these owe a debt of gratitude to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and documentarian Liz Garbus is here to make sure we all know it.

Jacques Cousteau trained as a Navy pilot, but a serious accident drove him to swimming as therapy for his broken body. It’s there where he became enamored with free-diving and spear-fishing, and Ms. Garbus includes some archival video clips to show those early days. He was soon driven to dive deeper and stay under longer, which led him to co-invent the regulator for Aqua-lung, the early device that eventually allowed for scuba diving and breathing underwater. His co-inventor happened to be the father of his wife Simone, whom he married in 1937. Simone, along with their two sons, spent a great deal of time on the Calypso. The crew referred to her as “The Sheperdess”.

This unique underwater access meant Cousteau and his cohorts could perform research never before imagined. Soon they had re-commissioned a boat as “Calypso” and turned documenting the sea into their mission. Cousteau’s love of cinema meant that he had to develop a camera that would function underwater so he could film all activities. In fact, it’s Cousteau’s own video archives that make up much of the clips used by Ms. Garbus here. In 1956, Cousteau and young French filmmaker, Louis Malle, finished their film, THE SILENT WORLD, and the underwater photography was so groundbreaking that the film won the prestigious Palm d’Or at Cannes, and the Oscar for Best Documentary. Cousteau claimed his films were not documentaries, but rather “true action stories”. Malle, of course, went on to direct such acclaimed films as ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (1958), ATLANTIC CITY (1980), and Au Revoir les Enfants (1987).

Ms. Garbus does a nice job of chronicling Cousteau’s work, and for the many of us who were dedicated followers of his TV series, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau”, that red stocking cap remains a familiar visual. Actor Vincent Cassel reads passages from Cousteau’s journals, and we learn that “Diving is the most fabulous distraction you can imagine”, and that he was “miserable” out of the water. This matters because he transformed from delivering spell-binding underwater photography to an activist and educator, trying to make the world understand how humanity was destroying the ecosystem and what that meant to our world. All of today’s discourse on the topic was indeed started by Cousteau, who proclaimed, “You protect what you love.”

Liz Garbus is one of our most talented documentarians, as evidenced by her work in such films as WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?, 2015 and THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA, 1998, and ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY, 2020. The first two earned her Oscar nominations, and here she pays tribute to Jacques Cousteau – an explorer, researcher, filmmaker, and activist. She focuses on his professional life, and also touches on his tangled personal life – one that resulted in two additional kids (producers of this film) with Francine (while he was married to Simone), one of the divers on Calypso. We learn of the tragedy in Cousteau’s life, and that he and his crew discovered the oil in the Persian Gulf while raising funds for their expeditions. Cousteau is shown at the Earth Summit in 1992, where he is treated as an international rock star. Ms. Garbus’ film shows how Cousteau’s work helped educate us as he tried to make the world a better place, by giving us an appreciation of the underwater world he so treasured.

Opening in theaters on October 22, 2021

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Ray Peterson interviewed ‘yours truly’ (2021)

October 16, 2021

Ray Peterson is a Canadian writer, blogger, music expert, dedicated reader, and lover of cinema. He recently interviewed me about my movie watching passion/addiction. His questions forced me to slow down and think through many aspects of why I enjoy watching and writing about movies.

LINK TO THE INTERVIEW

If you’d like to contact Ray:

https://mewe.com/i/john_raymondpeterson

Twitter: @Pete_Ray


DARK SHADOWS AND BEYOND – THE JONATHAN FRID STORY (2021, doc)

October 15, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. Director Mary O’Leary’s cold opening replays the scene in the “Dark Shadows” TV series where Barnabas Collins, a 175 year old vampire, makes his first appearance. Fans of the gothic soap opera that ran from 1966 through 1971 know Barnabas first appeared months after the series premiered. The reminiscing is welcome and smile-inducing, but we must also recall that this vampire changed everything for those involved … especially actor Jonathan Frid.

This documentary plays like a loving tribute to Ms. O’Leary’s friend, colleague, and former business partner, and by the end credits, we fully understand why. We learn Mr. Frid was not only popular with fans, but well-liked and respected by his fellow actors in a career that spanned 70 years, considering he began acting in high school. We hear from his Yale Drama School classmate (renowned Talk Show host) Dick Cavett, as well as many from the “Dark Shadows” production, including: David Selby, Lara Parker, Kathryn Lee Scott, Nancy Barrett, Marie Wallace, James Storm, John Karlen, and series creator Dan Curtis. Additional insight and recollections are provided by fellow Shakespearean actor Anthony Zerbe, and Christina Pickles, Frid’s castmate from Oliver Stone’s first feature (horror) film, SEIZURE (1972).

Many only know Dark Shadows from the 2012 Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, but the original series ran for 1225 episodes and still enjoys a cult following even today. The series was responsible for spin-offs including theatrical movies, an additional series in the 90’s, novels, comics, radio broadcasts, and even a board game. Jonathan Frid’s final appearance was at the 45th anniversary festival, which co-star David Selby remembers fondly here.

While the focus is understandably on Mr. Frid’s iconic portrayal of Barnabas, director O’Leary (a producer of the 2019 documentary, MASTER OF DARK SHADOWS) also provides us a bit of his family tree with interviews from his nephews, and a recap of his life: his stint in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII, drama school (with Cavett and Katharine Hepburn), voice lessons, and the personal letters Frid wrote to his parents – read here by actor Ian Buchannan. We also see some terrific photos and clips of Frid’s early work on stage … where he felt most at home.

Much of the archival footage finds him sporting the infamous ring from the show and the wolf’s head cane that became a highlight on its own. Although Frid had very few screen credits, we see what a full life and career he had, including years of ‘Reading Theater’ where he utilized that magnificent voice. Jonathan Frid passed away in 2012 at age 87, but his legacy as Barnabas Collins seems eclipsed only by his life of grace and kindness.

Arrived October 5, 2021 on Digital Platforms, DVD and Blu-ray

from MPI Home Video

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HARD LUCK LOVE SONG (2021)

October 14, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. The opening credits inform us that the film is based on Todd Snider’s 2006 song, “Just Like Old Times”. This caused me to stop the film before it ever really got started. I was initially stumped … other than Christmas and Elvis movies, what others were based on a song?  I spent a few minutes thinking and came up with ALICE’S RESTAURANT (1969, Arlo Guthrie song), THE INDIAN RUNNER (1991, based on Springsteen’s “Highway Patrolman”), ODE TO BILLY JOE (1976, Bobbie Gentry’s song about that Tallahatchie Bridge), and of course, CONVOY (1978, CW McCall’s annoying song). To my surprise, It turns out a movie based on a song is uncommon, but certainly not rare. I’m sure you can come up with others.

Director and co-writer (with first time screenwriter Craig Ugoretz) Justin Corsbie grew up in Austin, the live music capital of Texas, so it’s only fitting that he would deliver a movie about a dreamer who never realizes his dream of songwriting and performing. In fact, Jesse (Michael Dorman, THE INVISIBLE MAN, 2020) probably would be considered a “loser” by most. He certainly drinks too much. Drugs are not off limits. He tells lies with ease in social situations. And he ruined the best relationship he ever had, although he was too drunk to remember how it happened. Despite those “flaws”, Jesse is a pretty easy guy to like – quick with a smile and a hug.

Jesse doesn’t work as hard at songwriting as he should, but he does have a knack for hustling games in pool halls. One particularly big score puts him at odds with local baddie Rollo, played by mohawked and grilled-out Dermot Mulroney, looking about the roughest he’s ever looked. Once he slides out the backdoor to escape, Jesse immediately calls Carla (Sophia Bush, “Chicago P.D.”), his one-that-got-away. When they meet up at his room at the Tumble Inn (as cheap as it sounds), he tells her he’s on a lucky streak and “I’m doing good now”. They fall into a natural and familiar rhythm of old habits that include booze and drugs. Carla knows Jesse better than he knows himself, but she can’t help the attraction.

Of course, Jesse and Carla never have a smooth evening. First, Officer Zach (Brian Sacca, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET) knocks on the door after a noise complaint, and searches the room. It’s another Jesse interaction that pays off later. Next, while visiting the bar where she works, Carla and Jesse cross paths with her boss Skip (Eric Roberts playing Eric Roberts) and bartender Sally (the always great Melora Walters (MAGNOLIA). And yet we knew it was only a matter of time until Rollo and his crew would track down Jesse.

The confrontation gets ugly and violent and noisy, and we meet our final key character in Louis (RZA, AMERICAN GANGSTER, 2007), who is Carla’s boyfriend with a certain talent that comes in handy for Jesse. It’s an odd ending befitting the characters. Filmmaker Corsbie has a feel for the underbelly of music towns like Austin, train wreck characters like Jesse, and bad seed relationships of the ‘can’t live with him – can’t live without him’ type. Extra points are scored for the FIVE EASY PIECES nod, and Ms. Bush and Mr. Dorman perform admirably. A clip of Todd Snider performing his song plays over the closing credits, and we can’t help but chuckle at how the lyrics mirror what we just watched. A nice final touch.

Roadside Attractions will release HARD LUCK LOVE SONG in theaters October 15th, 2021

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CAT DADDIES (2021, doc)

October 14, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. There are so many ways to divide the world, but few lines of demarcation are clearer than ‘dog people’ versus ‘cat people’. Being firmly planted in the former group, while being confounded by the latter, it was for edification purposes that I agreed to watch Mye Hoang’s documentary. We got off to a rocky start when a Mark Twain quote popped up: “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.” Nope, Mr. Twain and I will simply disagree on this.

We are all too familiar with “crazy cat lady” syndrome – an often reclusive, usually elderly woman, whose love of cats has resulted in a veritable feline zoo in her home. The memes are all over social media, and they are usually good for a chuckle and a cringe. But what about the stereotype of men and cats? In the 1970’s and 80’s the catchphrase was “Real men don’t eat quiche”, and there was even a (comical) best-selling book by that title. But men with cats … well that’s a stereotype that never needed a book. Even many women shy away from the guy with a cat. It’s this baggage and history that inspired Ms. Hoang to explore the topic. Well that, plus her own husband’s personality shift associated with a cat.

The filmmaker first introduces us to “Nathan the cat lady”, which is how he’s known to his 300,000 Instagram followers. He’s an actor and has 4 cats, each of whom play into his popular, often humorous posts. But it’s not all fun and games for Ms. Hoang. As she shifts from California to New York City, the camera turns to David, a homeless immigrant and former construction worker. David’s story is the most poignant, and actually seems a bit out of place with the other 8 subjects in the film. In fact, David and his cat and his story could easily have been the focus of an interesting documentary short.

“Real men” and their cats make up most of the rest of the film. A fireman, long-haul trucker, trainer/stuntman, and avid hiker are included. Each offers up a tale of how their own mental well-being was transformed by their pet cat. There is also a segment on a non-profit cat rescuer whose mission is to minimize the number of stray cats strutting aimlessly. Perhaps these stories resonate a bit more as we approach two years on the pandemic calendar. One thing is certain, in a purr-fect world, cat ladies will now share the market with cat daddies.

The film had its World premiere at the 2021 Dallas International Film Festival, and will be featured at several other film festivals prior to year-end.

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NO TIME TO DIE (2021)

October 10, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. Bond 25 is here, and it’s quite a curtain call for actor Daniel Craig. The film’s release has been postponed numerous times since September 2019, which has caused expectations and anxiety to build amongst Bond fans. It’s been almost six years since SPECTRE (2015), and this is Daniel Craig’s fifth and final turn as 007. This production faced challenges even before the pandemic hit. Cary Joji Fukunaga (best known for “True Detective” and BEASTS OF NO NATION, 2015) was hired to direct after Danny Boyle stepped down (or whatever happened), and Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought in to spice up the dialogue on the script from Fukunaga, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade (the latter two having been involved in writing all five Bond movies for Craig). Of course, it’s Ian Fleming to whom we stand eternally grateful for the original characters.

For those accustomed to the James Bond cinematic formula, you’ll notice quite a few differences – beginning with the opening scenes. Traditionally, breathtaking action kicks off the film; but this time a shift in tone and style serves up a tension-filled opening that occurs a few years prior to the rest of the story. It takes a few minutes before we get the first true action sequence. Of course, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with a “retired” James Bond (don’t worry, it’s not like “fat Thor”) … in fact, there’s already a replacement 007 and she (Lashana Lynch, CAPTAIN MARVEL, 2019) packs quite an attitude and skill set.

It’s his old CIA buddy, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who draws Bond back into the espionage game, and of course, the reason is to save the world (what else could it be?). This year’s world-domination-seeking villain is the cleverly named Lyutsifer Safin, and he’s played by Oscar winner Rami Malek (BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, 2018). Safin is a low-key baddie whose weapon is a DNA-altering chemical that’s probably a bit overly complex for a Bond movie, and it’s also a bit strange that Safin/Malek only has a few substantive scenes. For those who saw SPECTRE, you’ll recognize many of the faces, including Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann, Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Rory Kinnear as Tanner, and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny. Also back for a terrific scene is Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as Blofield. The new faces include the aforementioned Lashana Lynch as Nomi, Billy Magnusson as Logan Ash, and Craig’s KNIVES OUT co-star Ana de Armas as Paloma. Ms. de Armas brings a jolt of energy and some smiles to the proceedings, and it’s a shame her appearance is so short.

It’s unusual for a Bond song to win its Grammy before the movie is ever released, but that’s exactly what happened for Billie Eilish’s achingly somber title song. Oscar winner Hans Zimmer (THE LION KIING) delivers a wonderful score in his first Bond outing (you’ll hear how he incorporates the Eilish song), and the cinematography from Oscar winner Linus Sandgren (LA LA LAND) is everything we could hope for in the action sequences (there is no shortage of bombs), as well as the quiet moments.

Speaking of the quiet moments, this is undoubtedly the most sentimental and emotional of all Bond films. Sure, we get the amazing set pieces, the crazy stunts, the awesome Aston Martin (until it isn’t), the cool gadgets, the wisecracks, and the shootouts – but we also get Bond at his most reflective and personal. There is a line in the film, “Letting go is hard.” And it is … both for Bond and for us. So welcome back and adieu, Mr. Bond. Craig. Daniel Craig.

The film opens in U.S. theaters on October 8, 2021

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MASS (2021)

October 8, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. A normal life is no longer possible. The question becomes, how does one go on in the aftermath of an unimaginable (yet all too common) tragedy that takes the life of one’s child? This the feature film debut of writer-director Fran Kranz. He’s an actor you’d likely recognize from JUNGLELAND and THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. Rather than choose some lightweight project to kick off his filmmaking career, Franz serves up a gut-wrenching confrontation that would work just as well (if not even better) on stage in live theater.

It’s an awkward and maladroit opening as two church volunteers (Breeda Wool and Kagen Albright) and another woman (Michelle N Carter, who’s either an attorney or a therapist), are preparing an isolated room for what is clearly a high-stakes meeting. The room will have a table and four chairs, and enough refreshments for 20 people. Almost the entire movie will take place in this room, around that table and away from the church choir practice.

The four anticipated guests arrive, and it’s two couples – four people uneasy and unsure about the meeting. After some initial small talk, we finally learn Evan, the son of Martha Plimpton and Jason Isaacs, was shot by Hayden, the son of Ann Dowd and Reed Birney. It’s been six years since the Columbine-like school shooting and both couples are seeking closure to the immense grief they’ve carried. There is also the overwhelming burden of guilt and the weight of blame.

These are four recognizable and accomplished actors working in ways we typically only see on stage. The always superb Ms. Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and the often villainous, yet always effective, Mr. Isaacs (“The OA”) are truly at the top of their game, which is to take nothing away from the performances of Mr. Birney (“House of Cards”) and Ms. Plimpton (Keith Carradine’s daughter, and from a child actor in THE GOONIES to a series lead in “Raising Hope”). Their interactions mostly feel grounded in emotions, and we as viewers find ourselves dragged right into their personal misery.

A flower arrangement, a box of Kleenex, bagels, piano music, and a Christmas photo all play a role, but this is an actor’s showcase, and director Kranz gives each their time in the spotlight. These are four people who consider themselves good parents, and one has the fortitude to say it aloud, “I raised a murderer.”

This is couples therapy re-imagined, and it’s a necessary but painful step for four people who have endured more than any parent should endure. Both sides of the table highlight our worst fears as parents, but equally as important, is the need for forgiveness – of others and ourselves. This one will likely stick with you for a while.

Bleecker Street will release MASS in theaters on October 8th, 2021

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LAMB (2021, Iceland)

October 8, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. The opening sequence is surreal and a bit creepy, and with it, first time director Valdimar Johannsson accomplishes a couple of things. First, we witness the rugged beauty of rural Iceland, and second, he sets us up for a bizarre tale, as we follow a heavy-breathing unseen creature (or being) that frightens some wild horses before making its way into the sheep pen. Johannsson co-wrote the script with Sjon, the renowned Icelandic novelist, poet, screenwriter, songwriter, and composer.

Noomi Rapace (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, 2009) stars as Maria, and we watch as she and her husband Ingvar (Hilmer Snaer Gudnason) work their remote sheep farm mostly in silence. There seems to be no joy and little connection between them as they go about their chores and duties. The seasons pass until its time for the sheep to give birth (as you might have guessed from the title). It’s at this point where I simply must be careful about what I write, as the less one knows about this one going in, the more effect it’s likely to have. Personally I knew nothing ahead of time, and had not even watched the trailer. Because of that, this easily rates as one of the most bizarre movies I’ve ever watched.

Remember the old margarine commercial, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature”? Well, Maria and Ingvar interpret one strange occurrence as “a gift” from nature and the key to their re-discovered happiness. When Ingvar’s troubled brother Petur (Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson) shows up, his first question is “WTF is this?” That’s as close to a spoiler as I’ll come here, but there are multiple interpretations to be had: the power of nature, loneliness, the challenges and rewards of parenting, commentary on those who treat their pets as kids, and the devastation of grief followed by the hope of redemption.

There are moments of irony with wool sweaters and entrée selections, as well as some dark humor in regards to bath time, an observant cat, a loyal and smart dog, and one specific irked ewe. This is a remote farm in rural Iceland and the setting adds to an already unorthodox story … one which is pulled from Icelandic folklore. Johannsson is to be commended for his initial work. It easily could pass as a project from the creative mind of Yorgos Lanthimos (THE LOBSTER) or Robert Eggers (THE WITCH). In fact, the film’s co-writer, Sjon, is also writing Eggers next film, THE NORTHMAN, slated for April 2022.

Beyond the setting, the atmosphere, and bizarre aspects of the story, what makes it work is how the characters play it straight. These aren’t talkative folks and we believe they could exist in this environment. Ms. Rapace delivers a strong performance, and that shocking ending reminds us not to mess with nature.

A24 is releasing the film in theaters beginning October 8, 2021

WATCH THE TRAILER (if you must)