Tag Archives: Carice van Houten

Domino (2019) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

Domino Review

Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Petter Skavlan
Starring Mikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten, Guy Pearce, Eriq Ebouaney, Nicolas Bro, Paprika Steen, Thomas W. Gabrielsson.

Once upon a time, Brian De Palma was an indelible brand name. Arguably the most polarizing director of the so-called “New Hollywood” (which included the likes of Scorsese, Coppola and Friedkin), his work was identified by glorious excess. Not just sex and violence – though there was often plenty of both – but a Hitchcock-influenced visual flair.

That Brian De Palma is long gone. In his place is a hired gun whose name still has some market value, but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it anymore.

That’s not to say Domino isn’t a decent film. It’s a watchable little thriller with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Christian Toft, a Danish cop trying to avenge his partner, murdered by suspected terrorist Ezra Tarzi (Eriq Ebouaney). However, Tarzi himself is forced by CIA agent Joe Martin (Guy Pearce) to hunt for a vicious ISIS leader, Wold, which is convenient since Tarzi wants the man dead, too. Meanwhile, Wold engineers a horrific attack at a film festival and plans another one during a bullfight in Spain. It becomes sort-of a race against time as Tarzi hunts for Wold while Toft hunts for Tarzi with the help of Alex (Carica van Houten), who was having an affair with Toft’s partner.

Domino is fairly well-paced with a story just interesting enough to keep our attention, punctuated few bursts of violent action (the mass shooting at the film festival is actually pretty disturbing). The performances are also uniformly decent, Pearce being a particular stand-out. But other than a knock-out rooftop chase that epitomizes classic De Palma, the film could have been directed by anybody.

So while Domino is definitely better than some of Brian De Palma’s recent films, it’s kind-of a shame it isn’t more memorable. Enjoyable enough in the moment, there’s nothing about it that sticks with the viewer for too long afterwards.

Valkyrie (2008) Movie Retro Review by John Walsh

VALKYRIE

Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander
Stars: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Carice van Houten

A tense, taut film about a group of German conspirators who attempt to murder ‘Der Führer’ on the 20th July, 1944. That’s the setting of Bryan Singers Valkyrie, a film that features an excellent cast and by Hollywoods standards, a reasonably accurate depiction of the plot itself.

It follows Claus von Stauffenberg, a German colonel and aristocrat who, along with other conspirators, came the closest during WWII to successfully assassinating Adolf Hitler at his notorious Wolf Lair in East Prussia.

I’ll get the negative out the way early. I was slightly disappointed at it’s tendency to shy away from bringing attention to the intricacies of Von Stauffenberg and the others motivations, not to mention chequered backgrounds . It felt like a deliberate attempt to create a distinct black and white, good versus evil story. This is perfectly understandable, especially when marketing it to mainstream, non-war buff, audiences, but it was an annoyance nonetheless. I feel like a large part of this may have been down to Cruise’s inability to play anything other than a heroic character.

For instance, von Stauffenberg, the lead conspirator, was an active solider, an aristocratic and, despite not officially joining the party, a staunch nationalist who happily championed Hitler in the early stages of his chancellery and indeed of the war. A devout catholic however, he soon became disillusioned with the Nazi regime when evidence of their cruelty became apparent, hence the decision to try and topple them. He was no second coming of Gandhi though and I feel a smidgen of context like this on the backgrounds of these men would’ve added so much more to the film and their development.

It’s a predominantly English spoken film, which usually grinds on me. A German dominated cast with subtitles would’ve been preferential, but I’ll give them a bye on that, especially with the cast they assembled and the fact it opened in German before switching.

The plot is pretty self explanatory really. It opens with von Stauffenberg serving in North Africa, before his jeep takes fire from an enemy plane, leaving him minus a hand and an eye, and with a new found desire to topple his leader. The rest of the film pretty much follows his attempts to recruit co-conspirators to his cause, lay the groundwork for the regime coup, including a tense scene with Hitler signing a document (didn’t happen in real life, but hey, artistic license), with it all culminating on the fateful date of July 20th. The final half hour or so focuses on the aftermath and the growing realisation of their failure.

Tom Cruise isn’t known for playing these type of characters, usually playing it safe and plumping for action roles instead, but I have to say the resemblance was uncanny and he did a pretty decent job for the most part. Bill Nighy was excellent as Freidrich Olbricht, the man who’s dithering played a large part in the failure of the coup. Terence Stamp as Ludwig Beck and David Schofield as von Witzleben were equally impressive, whilst Kenneth Branagh was decent enough without ever really imposing himself on any of the scenes or film. Tom Wilkinson’s Friedrich Fromm was a treacherous git and annoying, so credit for that, unless he’s equally annoying in real life, in which case I reserve the right to withdraw.

One real strong point in Valkyrie is the visuals, costume design and set design. They managed to perfectly capture the feel of 1940s Berlin. I’m aware of issues they had filming on location at some of the historical sights in the German capital, but thankfully they were eventually given permission and it’s a nice touch. The Wolf’s Lair scenes were very cool and gave an insight into a notoriously secretive location.

In the end, I enjoyed Valkyrie. It was a very well cast film and an enjoyable watch. It had moments of real tension and the final half hour is an excruciating watch. You find yourself willing them to succeed despite knowing they ultimately fail. There is some issues in there for sure. Most notably the 2D characters on the conspirators side, who could’ve been developed better and that were often made out to be heroic angels fighting for world peace when the reality was decidedly more complex.

Still, I’d recommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in WWII.

Rating: 3/5

Incarnate (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

INCARNATE

Director: Brad Peyton
Writer: Ronnie Christensen
Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Carice van Houten, Catalina Sandino Moreno

Plot: A scientist with the ability to enter the subconscious minds of the possessed must save a young boy from the grips of a demon with powers never seen before, while facing the horrors of his past.
Running Time: 1 hour 31 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 15% Audience 23%

Why I watched it: It’s a horror film, but I will say I’m always nervous about possession and exorcist films cause I find them the most cliched and badly done horror sub-genre but I watched it with crossed fingers and the cast.

Random Thoughts: Here’s a big thing they list it has a 2016 film but it stayed in the can for almost three years, I can only assume they final released it because of director Brad Peyton’s success. Before going into the whole review I want to make a comment on Aaron Eckhart, he’s a good actor but he has what i call the bride’s maid career, great in support but not great as a lead. He’s done a lot of genre that sadly are pretty bad, he keeps trying.

What I like: I’ll give Incarnate a little credit they try to to do a traditional possession story by trying to down play religion and go with more of a “Dreamscape” approach. So they use wacky science, Eckhart who’s in a wheelchair goes into the mind of the person possessed and tries to get them out of the state. Not perfect but at least it’s a twist on the ordinary. Eckhart is fine here, he’s rumpled and of course has a tragic backstory. The idea isn’t bad taking two movie sub genres and throwing them together sometimes that works. All the tech stuff is fine, it’s shot pretty well and all that. The film moves pretty well at just over 90 minutes.

What I didn’t like: Just not a very involving film, I blame a few things first Brad Peyton is not a pure genre director and it shows here, he’s not great a horror, it moves well and the action is handled alright but we’re not invested in the characters and the tension isn’t their, he hasn’t built up the stakes enough. The other main problem is the script it relies on horror cliches and once we find out that the demon is really after Aaron Eckhart we know where this is going, this is a second rate movie of films like Insidious, and many others. We have characters we should care about, the boy that they’re trying to save his mother but they’re not fleshed out, we don’t know them or care for them.

Final Thoughts: This good have been a decent B-Movie a horror film version of Dreamscape I would have been fine with that but it didn’t have me invested and at times it’s boring and silly.
Rating: 4/10