Thale (a movie review)

[credit: IMBD]

[credit: IMBD]

I love folklore and mythology, they have always been a passion of mine. So when there is a different spin on a fairy tale or a myth from another country I’m not familiar with, I get all excited and want to watch it. Thale is something I just happened to stumble upon by accident, the image alone making me curious. I’m happy to say that what I found in this short film was well worth watching. I’ll begin with a summary below and delve deeper into this film. It is based subtitled by the way, since this is a Norwegian Folklore.

Quick Summary:  This film starts off with two men who are part of a crime scene clean up crew. It is a messy business that someone has got to do, though only one really seems to have the stomach for it. Elvis is a fill in for the day to accompany Leo, who seems unfazed by the blood and body chunks that they have to clean. This job requires them to try and find the other half of a missing body of an elderly man, as well as clean out the shed to try and find any other missing pieces. While poking around, Elvis happens upon a hidden door much to his surprise. Leo tells him to leave it alone until their superiors show up, but Elvis has too much curiosity and ignore Leo’s requests. Upon entering, the two discover something most unusual and their lives are suddenly put on the line.

Leo and Elvis are two very different people. Leo is rather unassuming, easy going, nothing really seems to get too much of a rise out of him no matter how strange it seems. Elvis on the other hands is a little more nervous, cautious, and curious. The two different personalities play off each other really well, I actually love how Leo just shrugs his shoulders slowly chewing his gum when Elvis is freaking out (understandably so). Thale, the mysterious woman, speaks with her facial expressions and body language. The actress pulls this off very well with the emotions that emit from her eyes, the way she positions herself when feeling fear, curiosity, and empathy. For a bit of the film she is nude, but it is very tasteful in the portrayal. The nudity makes sense with her character, it is a part of who she is, and for this I am grateful. I can’t stand nudity when it seems unnecessary or just for “shock” factors.

The film is actually rather short (a little over an hour) but they pack a lot into it. The lore they use is a little different then what you normally read which is fun, (no I am not telling you the exact lore, it would take away from the film!). There aren’t many locations in the film, the majority of it taking place in the shed, but there is so much in there with significance that there isn’t any lacking of scene changes. Each room has a story, and with each place or important item you learn more about Thale and the two male protagonists as well. It all slowly unfolds, each new reveal keeping you around to find out more. I do wish they talked or showed more about the history of the folklore it is based off of, but I think in my own opinion the director wanted it to be more about Thale then what the lore behind the movie was. So on that note, it was a little disappointing.

This is portrayed as a horror type film, but I take it more as a drama with a touch of thriller. The surprises didn’t really frighten, and I know they didn’t have a huge budget so the CGI was limited (though not too bad with what they had to work with). I didn’t feel too much tension building or jumping out of my seat, but it did keep my interest peaked. The emotions of Thale and her tale really are what kept me going, I just couldn’t help but sympathize with her as the movie progresses. The main antagonist you get to hear about through a series of narration and tape recordings, which makes him all the creepier because he is intangible. The other antagonists in the movie seemed just a little cheesy, but it does have a bit of fun action in it. Also what they are trying to do makes sense and the lines delivered are minimal in a good sense.

Overall I give this a 3.5/4 for a movie. Interesting, a fun twist on a folktale, and characters you want to care about.

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Neverwas (A movie review)

[credit: Wikipedia.com]

[credit: Wikipedia.com]

Quick Summary: Zach (played by Aaron Eckhart) is a psychiatrist who leaves his esteemed position at Cornell to begin work at a small psychiatric facility called Millwood. His father, who wrote a popular children’s book- Neverwas, was once a patient there when Zach was a child, and do to this past connection (and other reasons I shall not spoil) he chooses to begin work here to put some missing pieces of his childhood experiences together. While there, he meets a long-time resident schizophrenic Gabriel (played by Ian McKellen) who has his own secrets and mysterious about Zach’s father, and how important the children s story he wrote really is.

This story really pulls at the heart strings due to the incredible acting and story line that plays out. Little by little you learn of Zach’s past and what his father had gone through, what the children’s book meant to him, and eventually how he grows as a person after everything is said and done. You see Gabriel is so many different lights and views as the movie goes on, learning more and more about him and why he needs Zach so much. There is a main story here, but there are also smaller story lines that twist and weave wonderfully with the main one. It reminds me a little of Alice in Wonderland, mixing fairy tales and reality, childish whimsical feelings with real adult situations that are tough or scary.

Sometimes the story can seem to drag on a bit slow, or be a little too disjointed in trying to remain mysterious, which can draw you out of the drama that is going on. If you enjoy more fast paced with many highs and many lows, this may not be quite for you. It tends to move a slower pace and rolls gently up and down instead of having sudden high impact drama scenes that make you gasp. Not so say there aren’t surprises and dramatic moments, because there are. There are also a few characters who I feel could have had more screen time, such as the Head doctor of the facility, and maybe Zach’s mother who is quite eccentric through the whole film. The romance between Zach and Maggie (played by Britney Murphy) was a little too convenient, and maybe a little too forced feeling. On Zach’s part, for not having seen this person for so long, he seems too eager to want to be romantic. However, this could also be attributed to his own mental state and personality, which we see is a little flawed through different scenes in the film. It still has a bitter sweet feeling to it, but doesn’t quite feel real. Though Murphy is adorable and wonderful is this as she was in everything.

So a little bit of negativity, but more positive from this bloggers point of view. It seems people either love or feel kind of “meh” about this film. It’s very artsy, fantasy-esque, feeling too it dealing with mental illness, family relationships, and how powerful ones imagination can be.

Overall I give this film an 8/10.

 

Dream House (Movie Review)

[credit: Wikipedia.com]

[credit: Wikipedia.com]

So dream house is a 2011 film coined as a “psycological thriller” starring Daniel Craig and Naomi Watts.

Quick Summary: Will leaves his well to-do job and moves his wife and two daughters out of the big city into a small town. The home seems like everything they dreamed of, a bit of a fixer upper with plenty of charm. His wife paints on the walls to give them a unique feelings, his daughters play happily and even discover a small hidden playroom behind their closet. Everything seems perfect. Until hearing whispers in the town and in the neighborhood about something that went on in the house before they moved in. The previous occupants were involved in a brutal murder, the whole family was killed, and the culprit is in a mental institution not far from the house. No one in town seems to want to talk about it straight out, and soon strange and disturbing things begin to manifest within the home.

I had high expectations for this film, expecting a nice level of creepiness & suspense, trying to solve the mystery of the house and murders, etc. In the end, though the acting was alright and the music score was nice, I as left wanting a bit more.

[Warning! Possible Spoilers Ahead.]

There was a certain level of creepiness in the beginning of the film as it laid down the ground work and introduced the characters of the story. Yet, after you really begin to learn about the murders and the house, it takes on (in my opinion) less of a psychological thriller aspect and becomes more of a serious drama. I ended up being more sad and feeling empathy for characters then jazzed up about the back story and the mysteries happening. Nothing to do with the acting, because as I said it was done really well, it was the story and plot line that made it fall short for what I was expecting from what it was portraying.

I also found the mysteries behind everything too easy to solve. I had near the entire twists and back story figured out before the half mark of the film, and only got confirmation as the story went on. Perhaps I have just seen too many stories of the same style, but I was expecting a little more. Something a little more surprising or deeper maybe. Also, I thought the ending was a touch weak. Sure it wrapped everything up in a nice little bow, but I found it a bit unrealistic in relation to Daniel’s character. It also came of as way too cheesy for me as well, and overly cliche sadly.

[End Possible Spoilers]

The acting was good, not fabulous, but still good. It was nice to see Daniel Craig in something other than action, and I liked how Naomi’s character actually made sense as a worried mother and wife. The strange neighbor across the street who avoids the house and its occupants I have mixed feelings about, she just doesn’t quiet seem rounded enough even though she is actually an important character in the story. I am judging this all though on a drama sense. As for thriller, well I just can’t judge the acting on thriller. I will say though bravo to the child actresses, because I thought they did a bang up job in the serious and sadder scenes. 

If I had gone into this movie as a more mystery drama, then I may not have found it quite as disappointing. Though some of the ending flaws I mentioned above would still lower its rating for me. If you watch the movie as a mystery drama, enjoy the acting and music, because the over all story could use a little more love then it has to give. Sorry for the shorter review, my heart just doesn’t seem into it today.

Overall I would have to give this a 6/10 as a drama, but a 4/10 as a thriller.