Alternative Cinema Festival: 5 movie reviews

Once every 3 months, our cinema has an alternative cinema festival, where they show five alternative movies which haven’t been released in cinema’s yet in the Netherlands. This time they showed Her, Ain’t them bodies Saints, August: Osage County, Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Keeper of Lost Causes.


IMBD abstract (very light spoilers):

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce. When he’s not working as a letter writer, his down time is spent playing video games and occasionally hanging out with friends. He decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system, “It’s not just an operating system, it’s a consciousness,” the ad states. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1 (Scarlett Johansson). As they start spending time together they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others hadn’t, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an OS?

My opinion

This movie has 5 Oscar Nominations and I understand why. The genre of this movie can best be described as a comical drama (or dramatic comedy). I struggled with to fully gasp this genre until I saw this movie. It shows us a bizarre but maybe realistic image of the future and it’s interesting to see how both Theodore and Samantha each have their own problems and struggles with a relationship between an human and an OS. This movie is a must-see if you are a person who can laugh because of the bizarreness of situations, even if they’re sad. Or maybe just because you want to hear Scarlett Johanssons voice being sexy.

Ain’t them Bodies Saints

IMDB abstract (no spoilers)

The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met.

My opinion

Well, that is a short abstract. You know why? There is nothing more to tell about this movie. A guy and a girl commit crimes, he gets caught, she gives birth while he is in prison. She manages to have some kind of a normal life with her daughter, but he escapes and want to be reunited with his girlfriend and daughter. There is some shooting, that’s it. Characters show no emotions whatsoever and nothing is explained about the inner thoughts, motivations or back stories of the characters. Don’t go see this movie unless you like long movies where noting happens. Also, I don’t understand the title (but maybe that’s because English isn’t my native language).

August: Osage County

IMDB abstract (no spoilers)

A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

My opinion

I really enjoyed this movie. The catch-line of this movie should be ‘it’s funny because it’s sad’. This family gives the word dysfunctional a deeper meaning, although I’m afraid that there really exist families like this. This movie has a star cast of, among others, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and, dumdumdum… Benedict Cumberbatch! I was really surprised to see him here because I didn’t check the movies before going to the festival. I only know him as Sherlock, so it was nice to see him in a totally opposite role (a shy, unsure, and maybe slightly mentally disabled man). Anyway, go see this movie if you like Benedict Cumberbatch, go see this movie if you like good movies. From now on, whenever I am irritated because some of my family members, I will remember this movie and think it always can be worse.

Grand Budapest Hotel

IMDB Abstract (no spoilers)

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

My opinion

Before this movie started, we were told we are normally not allowed to make recordings, but with this movie, we were extra not allowed to make them. Because we got the honor of seeing a world premiere of Grand Budapest Hotel, and they were only allowed to show us if they extra warned us and checked with night vision goggles during the movie. With this announcement, expectations were raised, and they were double met.

This is by far the best movie of the day and the other movies set the bar high already. The movie starts with a flashback in a flashback in a flashback and that sets the type of humor for the rest of the movie. The type of storytelling and humoristic logic used makes me think of the first part of Life of Pi. There is also a hint of dark humor that reminds me of Tim Burton movies, but the overall setting is a chaotic and cheerful. The background and scenery in this movie is beautiful, but really you should just go see by yourself when it is in cinema’s.

Some deeper thoughts: The story takes place in a non-existent Eastern European country called Zubrowka in a village called (if I remember correctly) Lebensbad. Although, the architecture of the hotel and the fact that they mention hot water springs strongly remembers me of Carlsbad, a spa village I once visited in the Czech Republic. So I wonder if Lebensbad is based on Carlsbad.

The Keeper of the Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret)

IMDB Abstract

The Keeper Of Lost Causes tells the story of chief detective Carl Mørck and his assistant Assad who become involved in a five-year-old case concerning the mystery of politician Merete Lynggaard’s disappearance – a journey that takes them deep into the undercurrent of abuse and malice that lurks beneath the polished surface of Scandinavia.

My opinion

A Danish movie to close the day. This movie made me wonder what the requirements for alternative cinema are. I have the feeling that if this movie wasn’t Danish spoken but English, it would’ve been a mainstream movie. Now I usually don’t like crime mystery movies, but I kinda liked this one. The plot was exiting and I really wanted to know how it ended. But compared to other movies of the same genre, I would say this one is mediocre. There are some much used tropes (good cop-bad cop, rogue agents, rooky agent-experienced agent, among others), which makes the story predictable. You can clearly see that this movie is based on a book, because certain plot elements are inserted  but have absolute no added value at all (like the step-son of the main character). So, you can go watch the movie if you’re a fan of the genre, otherwise, you’ll miss nothing if you stay home.