Movie review: Divergent: Insurgent( 101 % special)

Tris is Divergent.

Not ten percent.
Not forty percent.
She is one hundred percent Divergent according to the Divergent scanner.
We are halfway into Insurgent when this is established for a fact by the bad guys who capture and subsequently scan her. What Divergent exactly is remains a mystery, but it has something to do with the ability to survive a set of trials in a computer generated world whose sole purpose seems to be to kill people when they fail the tests. These trials allow her to unlock the key to a secret power her mother died for. Not that Tris(Shailene Woodley ) volunteers for these tests. Not at all. Tris is forced by the nefarious Jeanine Matthews(Kate Winslet) who makes all Divergent people, mostly young girls on the face of it, go through these trials, thus making her a cold hearted killer.
Whatever Divergent is doesn’t really matter, what is important is that Divergent makes Tris different(and you saw that coming don’t ya?). And 100% Divergent makes her 100% different.

Insurgent is the second installment in a series of three I read afterwards. I just picked it because I wanted to see a movie like this and the picture on the cover looked the most interesting. I happened thus to pick the second one in a trilogy. So I might have missed some important knowledge and unfortunately I cannot find much explanation on the internet. Why, for instance, is almost everyone in this movie twenty something? Even Kate Winslet, playing the head baddie, has her face plastered over so the age gap between her and the rest of the cast and notably Shailene Woodley doesn’t stand out to glaringly.
At first I thought there was a kind of Logan’s run theme underpinning this story but it is not even remarked upon as curious that everyone in the movie is young, with only one or two people looking to be middle-aged. For a while I was fooled in thinking that this movie had a kind of Inception theme:, with the world that Tris thinks is real actually being a virtual full of young people like Second Life is filled with young avatars and as virtual as the computer generated world she undergoes her trials in.

There is actually a case to make for this concept, as almost the whole movie is filled with features that feel trite so to speak(some would say: lame), which made me think that at some moment in the movie it would be revealed that it is all an illusion and Tris is actually hooked up to a machine producing fantasies for her, like happened to humanity in the Matrix.
There is the ‘Amish’ theme, where people are dressed in more simple and rougher clothes. There is the ‘hippy’ theme were the peaceful faction, with long gowns and long hair for them ladies, including flowers in your hair, denounce all violence and ask Tris to leave cause Tris isn’t like them. There are the science guys, cold and arrogant. There are the bad guys, dressed in black leathers and sufficiently cruel. There is a group of factionless on a train headed by a guy with a punk haircut and a leather coat and offensive attitude.
We get dished one run-of-the mill character after the other, all as cardboard thin as the next one. Tris in comparison looks all the more real when surrounded by these staple characters, which make the movie feel like a setup to some grand twist. It never happens.

What is left is a kind of replacement anger for a group of people that apparently thinks so low of their audience as to serve them plot that lacks any originality with characters that are as unoriginal as can be and dialog that is trite. The movie feels like a drag which is compounded by the fact that it is actually longer than your average feature.There is nothing memorable about this movie, hence it is utterly inconsequential. It fades from memory already.

Henry and Kristl met The boys from Brazil (1978)

For movie posters there is the advantage(or disadvantage) of being able to use imagery from the movie. This one is Spanish.. I thought it was more fitting in relation to the title.



“I confess that I am prejudiced,” Kristl said as she turned to Henry.
She had to blink a few times before she refocused, because the lights had flooded the theater and temporarily blinded them. Henry had yet to fix that. He meant for the light to gradually increase in strength with the music, but instead it suddenly bathed in a blinding white light. He had however managed that the music would start softly and then rise to an acceptable level. Acceptable meant that they both could hear each other. Normally they would start talking when the credits started to roll, but on request of Kristl they had sat in silence until the black at the end of the credit roll would show.
“Why is that? Because it is an old movie?”
“No… It is because it got some of the best actors from around that time in it. Laurence Olivier, James Mason and Gregory Peck. I can not help to like movies which contain the latter two. I am a bit so-so on Olivier, but he is considered by most to be one of the best actors to date.”
“Is it insulting when I say that it’s an old men movie?”
“It depends on what you intend. Is an old man movie, something bad? It is true, that it is a remarkable movie in that way. It stars people who are well into the sixties.”
“Yeah. That fight at the end had something funny. Those two old men beating each other up. ”
“Oddly enough, I found that struggle quite unsettling. Shocked me more than fights from action movies. Maybe because I had not expect it.”
“And bloody to.”
“So.. no scantily clad ladies waving swords about.. did you like it?”
“It was okay. The story has an interesting angle. Actually you know what the bad guys are doing and how, but you don’t know why. And you follow Lieberman, Olivier that is, trying to figure it out. I bet a lot of people figured it out halfway through..I didn’t. Although it wasn’t much of a surprise in the end..”
“Only an very implausible plot. It is impossible to recreate the same conditions that shaped the people in the early twenty century, in the second half. The world was just completely different. Just to name a few important changes: you got cars, airplanes and television. This alone changed the world. Totally impossible.”
“Yeah, but fun.Besides, maybe they thought: let’s give it a try.”
“If you are a fanatic you do not even to think that. You just do it..”
“Right. And Nazis are fanatics… just look at Raiders of the Lost Ark…”
“Yes.. or you can be a scientist obsessed with a project.”
“Like Mengele.”
“A fanatic and a scientist.. a dangerous combination. They can make the world go boom just because they want to.”
“And it is fun just seeing them old actors act. Peck seems very there in every scene he is in. And his boisterous overbearing personality contrasts with the down on his luck old Olivier. Yet these nazis can not touch the vulnerable Olivier because then other people will get on to them. Publicity has its advantage,” Krisl said.
Henry nodded.
“It is a nice movie.. based on a story of Ira Levin. Yet again.”
“And there was this German guy in it.”
“You noticed?”
“Yeah.. that guy from that German movie we once saw. Der himmel uber Berlin.. and the one that played Hitler in Downfall.”
“Bruno Ganz.”
“Ah, that is his name?”
“Another movie about Nazis and that Hitler guy.”
“It is an infinite source for stories,” Kristl nodded.
“Yeah.. he sure casts a long shadow over Germany.”
“It is a sad thing… It sure is.” Kristl sighed.
“We call that..FUBAR!” Henry said.


One of the many book covers.. Most of the book covers are more abstract and stylized than the movie posters.

Henry and Kristl travelled to Solaris(2002)



“It’s a George Clooney movie, so I bet we get lots of women wanting to see this,” Henry grinned, “Clooney smiling; Clooney sleeping; Clooney talking; Clooney looking hurt..Women will get a meltdown watching this movie.”


“Unless you’re a hardcore lesbian, I guess.” Henry continued and then glanced at Kristl, with her short cut spiky white hair, her firmly built frame, roughened black leather jacket, covered with buttons from demised eighties punk bands, worn black jeans, a tank top with some anti-establishment shout written across it and battered high laced combat boots., “Or a nun.”


“All this because of Clooney? Like you like to watch kickass babes in scanty clothes waving swords about?,” Kristal turned towards Henry, raising an eyebrow.


“You know, Kristl,  a movie is eye candy, why else watch a movie?  If it’s not eye candy, you better of reading a book, or listening to an audio play. Make up your own images. Have your own Clooney version.”


“It is not all about eye candy.. I mean it has to have something going for it, like a gripping story and characters that you care for, or at least are interested in. What is the expression: to root for?”


“Sure, but movies have a huge eye candy factor built in to them. Just like television series like CSI, filled with these eye blinding pretty people. Not one ugly, fat, old or decrepit  person around.  Who wants to see ugly people if you can watch pretty people. You suffer though, knowing you  never be as pretty as they are.”


“Like the female lead, Natascha McElhone. Eye candy too? With her vaguely British accent, her slender frame and her bedroom eyes. Although aloof and distant at the same time.”


“I was guessing you would mention her ,” Henry smiled.


“Well, there aren’t that many people in the movie. About four and two are women. ”


“It’s why it’s a George Clooney movie. You can see it even on the poster: George Clooney’s name is above the title, almost in the same large and bold letters as the title. Heck, they could have scrapped the title and called it Clooney.”


“ Would that work? I wouldn’t go to a movie just because Clooney is in it. Although, I would also not not go because Clooney is in it.”


“Not not go?”


“Stay away.”




“But maybe you are right, maybe it’s a Clooney movie, for it hasn’t got much else going for it. I vaguely recalled having seen the first movie and even read the book and these were things filled with mystery and longing. Like they attempt in this movie, but the actions of the people are so odd,” Kristl said.


“Like killing his  wife?,” Henry said.


“That scene is strange. You meet your long dead wife and the first thing you come up with is putting her in escape pod and ejecting her into space. Like who would ever do such a thing? You must be a complete cold hearted bastard to do that. Maybe that is why he is called Kelvin in the movie: as in cold? It is like someone remaking Solaris, but with some action movie in mind. Instead of wondering, you kill, cause it must be malevolent. Ejecting her into space.. is kinda cruel, ” Kristl said.


“Whatever floats your boat, eh,” Henry grinned.


“And the reason why they send Clooney to Solaris is so contrived. We need you to go to the space station at some planet called Solaris, because we lost contact with it and the military team we send, but we know that you have special skills to deal with the situation. So we send you, one guy, off to take charge of a situation that  a group of scientists and a group of soldiers could not handle. One wonders what those special skills are.”


“Well, he is a looker, that is what he is.”


“And then they ruined the movie at the end. Of course, they couldn’t let a mistery be a mystery, they had to put in some kind of closure.  So in very blunt scene George is absolved of all he has done towards the fake Rhye and the real.. Do not worry George, all is forgiven.”


“Why is that bad? I mean..”


“Because it’s totally at odds at the idea. Solaris is a mystery, nobody knows what is going on. Solaris does something to the people, for good or bad. It puts our humanity in the front, it is not something specific to absolve people of their sins..  Soderberg basically took the idea, twisted it about and then made something that resembled the previous movie and the book, but diverted from the essence by trying to take away the mystery, the strangeness. And he finally kills it by having the Solaris created Rhye expressing forgiveness.”


“I still liked the movie, actually.”


“Well, it’s not a bad movie, really. I think that it is just not a good remake. Had it been called Clooney, a movie inspired by Solaris, it would have been a good movie, but now it’s something like: Solaris, a lost love found in space: having nothing much to do with the original and the book at all.”




“You know, you resemble Clooney a bit,” Kristl said.




“If you build up some muscle, add some weight to that wiry frame of yours, shaved properly – instead of running around half shaven, and cut your hair shorter, then you do.”


“I shall take that as a compliment.”


“Whatever makes your boat float.”


“You were waiting to say that.”


“I bet I do.”


“No worries though. I won’t hold it against you..”


“Thanks. Want to take a look at my brand new escape pod?”


“Offering me a free ride?”


“A grande tour de l‘espace.”


“Sounds sophisticated.”


“It is, but it’s no trouble at all. Just have to find the eject button.”

Henry and Kristl tucked in for The Big Sleep(1946)

“You know.. I just love these film noir movies. I can not help myself,” Kristl said.

“’s an old movie,” Henry said.

“And don’t you find Lauren Bacall marvelous! I mean. Remember she was very young at the time and she easily dominates every scene she is in. She is born to be an actress. An amazing person on the level of say Katherine Hepburn.”

“Yes.. I know, but the movie is a bit slow on the action.”

“And it’s just about as great a movie as it is as great a film noir,”Kristl did not let herself stop and continued, “Don’t you see it.. I mean.. In a hundred years.. when the like of a Steven Seagal and Charles Bronson have been nearly forgotten, this is one of those movies

people will still like to watch. It is like head and shoulders above the likes of a Seagal or a Bronson.”

“I mean really there is no comparison. It is better acted, better written, better shot, better whatever,” Kristl said enigmatically, “This is how you make movies…”

“Yeah… still slow and a bit..boring. Except for these girls who play around with Bogie. I mean the librarian is really.. cute. Even without glasses.”

“Gosh.. it has to be about sex.”

“Like you do not get all bothered by Lauren Bacall?”

“That’s because she is a great actress!”

“Yeah… Right.”

“Listen.. this is a an great movie both as a movie and as a film noir movie. Both Humprey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are at their best here. I mean the combination of them makes this movie. Of course some of the cast helped.. but it was their interaction that makes this movie.”

“Okay.. still it’s a slow movie… kinda boring,” Henry repeated.

“I grant you that.. it is slow for nowadays.. but.. if..”

“.. you are as old as you?” Henry grinned.

“Okay.. as old as me.. you start to find these movies great for what they are. For the story, the acting and what not.”

“But not for their speed.”


“Good we agree on that,” Henry said.

“It’s not bad to take time..”

“Maybe.. but it’s more fun when it all goes in a rush and has some cool but kicking guys or girls in them.”

Kristl snapped her mouth shut.

Then Henry grinned at her and said, “I liked it. That Bacall girl is one sassy broad.”


“Just teasing you.”

“So you liked it too?”

“Sure.. there is this amazing woman in it.. why should I not like it?”



“Just wanted to say one thing..”

“Which is?”

“I like this movie.. but I still like the Maltese Falcon better,” Kristl said.


“Yeah. Marlowe/Bogart seems to be much more cynical in that movie, which seem to be at odds with the romantic overtones in this movie. I sort of feel it’s not quite right.”

“Hold on.. are you now saying you did not like the romantic relation between Marlowe and Vivian Sternwood? Eh Bacall and Bogart?”

“Well.. I did like it, but it was a bit too romantic..”

“Oh I see.. Damned by love..”

“More or less.. I think it should not be that happy for a film noir,” Kristl said.

“It has to be a negative thing..”

“Well not exact.. it can be a happy thing, just with a dark edge,” Kristl said.

“Hmm,” Henry said, “Why can’t it just end with love?”

“Well.. it can.. but it’s not film noir to me.”

“Ah well. As long as it ends nice,” Henry said.


Book review: Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Rules of CivilityRules of Civility by Amor Towles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Think thirties – with the linger touch of the roaring twenties -, think mystery, think romance, think New York in grey with the Empire State building looming in the background, think high life, think jazz, think autumn in New York, think smoky bar with an attentive crowd silenced enough to hear the pensive tune of the crumpled jazz trombonist over the background noise.

That sort of thing.

Rules of Civility is the lingering remembrance of a time that perhaps never was but is served up tasty, steamy and hot by Amor Towles. The prologue is the bait. It is set in 1969 and ends, a handful of pages later, with a cliff hanger: “A case of riches to rags,” says Val, the husband of our protagonist about one Tinker Grey. “Not quite,” our protagonist Katey Kontent answers. Or rather, as is written,: -Not quite,. Because in my version of the tale the ” ” denoting speech is replaced by a single – at the start of a sentence. It sometimes leads to confusion when the spoken sentence continues after the comma.

Towles baits us in another way to: a man arranges his live according to the rules of civility set forth by George Washington. Rules that are that old? So how is that going to work out in a more modern setting with different morals? I was curious.
So it is fast backwards towards 1937. We are with Katey again, but now she is twenty five years old and with her roomy Eve hitting downtown New York to celebrate the closing of the year. They run into Theodore Grey; Tinker to friends.

And friends they become. It is a bit of a mystery why this man, who obviously belongs to the well-to-do, should associate himself with two women of the working class type. But hey.. he is a nice guy and they are nice gals.

And why not?

At first it looks like Katey and Tinker are the couple, but Eve intervenes and Tinker and Eve fade into the background from which an occasional update informs us and Katey of their budding romance. A party here, a vacation there. It seems all to be sunshine and roses.
In the meantime Katey has nothing to complain. Her association with Tinker gets her an association with Wallace. And later on she bumps into Dick. All three men belong in one way or another to the affluent layers of society. Katey is hot with the bon ton and, as irony will have it, she doesn’t even realize it.

Another storyline splits off at some point. Katey is a second generation Russian immigrant who works as a white-collar worker. Her task is to neatly and precisely type out contracts for third parties. She does so to the satisfaction of her employers. She even gets promoted.

But Katey has ambitions and while waiting for an interview with a possible new employer she meets an older man running a publishing company, who gives her a job. Cause that is what older men are for. A chapter later it is his referral that lands her a job by a starting high society magazine named ‘Gotham’. Gotham…. Wait? Isn’t that? It might be, but I am probably missing the point.

Katey is either one lucky broad, or a very talented one or very pretty one. Probably she is all three. If I was only told.
But what happened to the mystery? You know, the one that the book starts out with? The riches to rags thing?

We are coming to that about two thirds or so in. So after Tinker we have Wallace and after Wallace we have Dick. And we get back to Tinker again because the affair between Tinker and Eve was just make believe. In fact it was a string of disasters from the start, so Eve tells Katey.


After Eve is out of the picture -she takes a train trip into the sunset and we never hear from her again- Tinker and Katey hook up.

Are you still with me?

Time for a little romance then, but we hit another bump in the road: Tinker has something with Anne. Yup.. it turns out that all the time Anne was his sugar mommy. Poor Tinker is actually only rich with someone else’s money: Anne’s money that is.


So Katey, wounded in the heart, disassociates herself from Tinker and now we finally get to that other cliffhanger. The one from the title: the rules of Civility.. Tinker lives according to them, but it is all pretense. At least that is what Katey thinks in her anger. He is a fake gentleman, but a better man than most.. According to his painter brother.

At this point in the book I lost patience.

I had a hard time believing the fortunes of Katey. She is white collar girl who gains access to social stratum where millionaires abide. Now I do not doubt that this is possible, but it is never made plausible in the case of Katey.

If Katey was portrayed as an intelligent capable beautiful woman (Katherine Hepburn springs to mind) who stands out, then it might have been understandable for her to do the socially upward mobility thing, but Katey is a nothing.

For instance: Katey exists in a void. Despite the fact that she actually lives in her hometown we never get to meet any of her friends and family. Her father is dead, her mother is missing and she has an uncle who is only mentioned in relation to the death of her father. Eve does not even count as friend as she is her roommate. Otherwise she seems to have no relations from her past at all.

In her hometown?

Is New York so big that she looses contact with the people she knew from her childhood? Does anyone have a clean break like that from the past?

But what makes her upward social move itself so implausible is her passivity. You might expect her to be of an ambitious nature with an intelligence and a drive to match, but Katey is simply not pictured that way by Towles. Instead she retreats most of the time to her apartment to read Dickens and Christie and only sallies forth to partake of parties when invited by others. And her dalliances with the men who are infatuated with her, is on their invitation and not hers.
But why her.. why not any of the other girls? Why Katey? She is a docile party animal at best and a social climber by accident.

Towles entices with a mystery and a complication but both sizzle out in the end. They are promises, but little is delivered. What is left is cute but implausible romance with a sad ending.
It is a bit too forced and unbelievable.

A pity.. it seemed to promise more.

However: Extra points for the catchy dialogues though. Towles does not hold back.

View all my reviews

Henry and Kristl spaced out on The Road(2009)


“Bleak, bleaker, bleakest. Is there a word that would top bleakest?”

“Sunshine,” Henry said.

“Sunshine?” Kristl’s jaw dropped and she gave Henry a look of incredulity.

“Yes. It certainly would top bleakest.”

“I am somehow missing…”

“After the rain comes sunshine. Every dark cloud has silver lining. Come winter, come summer. So despair will inevitably result in..?”

“I am not sure that..”

“Sure you are sure.. look at yourself,” Henry beamed


“Well, you are not hesitant to point out that you do not like war, while having spent a lot of time reading about it, watching war movies and writing about it. What would you say would be the lesson from all of that?”

“That war is hell and a waste of time and lives?”


“So what does that say about this movie?”

“That bleak movies suck, can be turned of f and one goes to watch a bunch of nice movies that have uplifting nice endings and then you suddenly feel a lot better about watching films like,” Henry paused for a moment, “like…romantic comedies.”

“Those would top bleakest to,” Kristl shivered and then continued, “They make me feel down. Like this movie does.”

Henry suddenly rose, walked out of the viewing room and returned a few minutes later with a cup of tea which he handed to Kristl, “Have this yourself a nice cup of tea.”

Tea, Henry knew, was something handy to hand out. Even the most dedicated addict would not turn down a cup of tea and it gave you a nice feel to drink something warm.

“How come you are so..”


“Yes, I mean. Geez,  this movie is.. I mean, well the world turns to shit and everyone is dead or dying and the only livestock that is left to eat are other humans. And even when they are not trying to have you for dinner they want to rob you or profit in another way from you.  And this in a landscape drained of color except for sepia and grim gray. The only thing that is positive is the dedication of the father to the son.  But that is even more depressing as it is either naive or totally at odds with what is happening. So what is the point ? At some they finally end up at a place where we hear the father says that at the other side of the ocean a father and a boy, just like them, are probably sitting and wondering if there is a better place to go? If there is no hope, why not take the gun and shoot your son and yourself before you run out of bullets? If you love him, would you not do that to spare him the suffering that lies ahead? I do not even understand why they would drag on when..,” Kristl swallowed hard.

Henry sat down next to Kristl and put his arm around her and for once she did not stiffen the first few seconds, “Gosh, Kristl it is just a movie.”

“A well acted movie. Well shot. I mean.. look at the cinematography, but in the end it is  not much different from say a movie like…. ‘The hobbit, the desolation of Smaug.’ Or one of the Lord of the Rings movie  for that matter,” Henry said.


“Well, it is about a make believe world, with make believe people, undergoing make believe experiences and acting in a make believe manner.”

Kristl smiled thinly at that, “You can not compare…this to.. It is in a whole different category.”

“Or say.. ‘Go west’, by the Marx Brothers,” Henry continued.

“But that is even… I mean that is an absurd movie.. With absurd people in it..totally wacky.. That is what a Marx brothers movie is..”

“Remember the train station scene you showed me once? It is from that movie”

“Yes.. That is very funny, but…”

“Totally silly over the top nonsense.”

“Yes.. but…”

“Did it make you laugh?”

“Well.. yes.. it..”

“Does it make you feel better thinking about it?”


“Some people have that with romantic comedies.”


“And so… wait.. Listen to this little story?”


“A guy is hitting himself on the head with a hammer and in comes another guy who asks him.. why do you do that? Well.. he says, it feels so nice when I stop doing it.”

“That is absurd.”

“So there is your answer.”


“I feel so undepressed because the movie ended. Somewhat cheerfully than expected. But it is done.”


“In one movie one actor concludes a process by throwing a ring into the fires of the mountain after being beset upon by evil beings while wandering through a desolate landscape. In this movie they do the same, more or less, except the ring is now a boy and they do not throw him into the fires.. well not literally.”

“That is some comparison.”

“Yup, except this movie is more bleak because no doubt we are in a depression, so movies like these get made, just like we had this upsurge of disasters movie in the seventies of the last century, with earthquakes, meteors and global nuclear war threatening earth. And now we have that again. As sign of the times. But it’s just as much nonsense as any other movie.. including ‘Go West.”

“That one is at least funny.”

“So let’s watch that as an antidote to the bleakness of movies like The Road.”


Henry and Kristl saw the Warriors (1979) march

“So why are you smiling?”  Henry.. looked at the faintest of smiled that made Kristl’s lips curl.

“Because I find it somewhat funny that someone lectures the general public and then get’s it wrong himself. Double funny, when all he needs to do is check what he is saying against general accessible information.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, here is someone who tells how he notices that of all the reviewers at IMDB who had written a review of  The Warriors at that time,  just one other mentioned the Anabasis reference.”

“Anabasis? Uhmmmm… like that part they start the movie of with?”

“Yes.  The march of a Greek mercenary army through enemy territory. And then he mentions that it was a reference to the Spartan Xenophon, who led 10.000 Spartan mercenaries, hired by the Persian emperor Cyrus,  out of Asia Minor after a defeat.”


“Which is funny as Xenophon was an Athenian and not a Spartan, albeit he was very pro Sparta and eventually settled there and fought for Sparta against Athens. So maybe this was meant in a general way. But that there were 10.000 Spartan mercenaries in service of Cyrus is wrong. They were Greek mercenaries and there might have been a body of Spartan soldiers amongst them, but there were no 10.000 Spartan mercenaries. And they were not hired by Cyrus, the persian Emperor but by the pretender Cyrus the younger. And the Greeks were not defeated, but actually won the battle, but had to flee because Cyrus was killed in that battle.”

“Okay… which brings us back to The Warriors… I hope.”


“So did you like the movie?”

“It was okay. Perhaps somewhat dated. The gangs are just a bit  too neat and clean for my feeling.”

“Well, other then that it was cool right? I mean the fighting is a bit bland, but at least we some nice fights and action. Which is cool.”

“The Motown music was a nice touch. “

“I like the girl, she got them in a fix, but demanding they hand over one of their jackets. Which they do not, of course.”

“Yeah, but a bit strange that they take her along all the way. A bit strange.. but at least it allowed for some development with the main guy. “

“Solid movie?”

“Maybe. There are some things that I wondered about, like how did the Riffs know where on the beach  the Warriors (and what was that other gang?) were. And the ease with which people accepted that the Warriors were to blame for the murder.. and the ease it was refuted again. Also a bit strange there were so few Warriors at the end, when they say that the Orphans with like thirty people are a small group and thus implying the Warriors have to be larger, because the latter were deemed important enough to be invited to the meeting and the Orphans not. Yet at the end confrontation you would expect that there would be a large group of Warriors available as they were back on their home turf, but there were none around.”

“Hmm yeah.”

“Also a bit odd they never bothered to phone any of their home boys. I mean they could have phoned them to be picked up by car.”

“And after all that.. you still liked it.”

“Well, yes, because it intrigued me somehow.. and I liked the music and the way they merged it with these cartoon overflows.”

“So all eye candy.” Henry said.

“Yep.” And Kristl smiled.

“I am glad even you can appreciate that.” And Henry smiled too.

Henry and Kristl have a brush with The last stand (2013)

“That was an explosive movie.” Henry gave Kristl a broad smile knowing full well from her face where this review was heading, “Never mind about the plot holes and the lack of anything that resembles a coherent plausible story, but that is the beauty of the thing. Bang away!”
“Is it me or has scrip writing of late become a redundant profession? Like: who needs a script anyway when a movie is nothing more than a series of scenes strung along? Nonsensical scenes actually.” Kristl said.
“It isn’t that bad.” Henry said.
“Not bad in comparison to all the other nonsensical action movies?”
“That is what I mean.”
“It’s actually truly bad.”
“Oh come one.”
“It is an utterly shameful white male supremacist movie.” Kristl said annoyed.
“Huh? You might have to explain that.”
“Well. Note this. The bad guy is latino. The federal agent that is corrupt is latino. The federal agent that is fooled is black. When Arnold and his crew decided to make a last stand at the town the only two who protest are the mexican and the girl. All the white guys are of one mind : they will stop the bad drugs lord even if it means that the whole town is burned down.”
“ The bad guys are mostly white.”
“True, but look at the women in the movie. The only woman cop can not shoot straight and she has to be saved all the time by the men and I can’t recall her ever killing anyone. Why she is handling a sniper rifle in the end battle is beyond me as she never ever hits anything with it but one sniper guy and then she only hits him in his arm. And the only other woman of note is a corrupt cop. Oh and there is this girl who runs across the street just when the last battle commences just to show how perfectly dumb women are.”
“You know, you are just overreacting. I am sure it has not be done on purpose.”
“Either whomever calls the shots in this movie has done this deliberately and then it is utter shameful to portray women and non-whites this way or it has not be done on purpose, which is as much shameful as apparently when people are not thinking they start discriminating people.”
….I still like the mindless actions scenes..Like that scene at the end where a guy is sneaking up the stairs to shoot the women cop and he gets cornered between her and one of the male cops.”
“And who shoots him?”
“Uhmm well.”
“A guy. See!”
“The only thing that really bothered me was Arnold. He is just getting too old to make a believable action hero. And he simply can’t act and should just face the fact that he is getting grey.” Henry said.
“Funny thing is that he reminds me of Clint Eastwood.”
“They both are more less started out as a kind of action figure and became known by that. Arnie with Conan and Terminator. Eastwood as that no name cowboy and dirty harry.”
“That is a rather strange comparison.”
“Yeah, but the big difference is the Clint Eastwood outgrew those shabby roots and became a great director and finally even played characters that were the opposite of those earlier ones.”
“While Arnie…”
“Is still a shabby actor that never will get any better.” Kristl said.
“No redemption for his poor soul?”
“He is old enough to know better.”
“He is too old to change.”
“Eastwood changed.” Kristl said
“Yeah, he did, but Arnie will not change because he lacks the talent.”
“Right. You know what I liked about this movie the best?”
“The end titling. Where they show the images from the movie in a kind of arty way.”
“Well. At least you should be happy to have seen that.” Henry grinned.

Henry and Kristl are awed by The Great Dictator.

“Chaplin’s masterpiece?” Henry asked.

“Uh. Modern Times is a good movie too. There are also others. Like The tramp and I belief…eh”

“City Lights?”

“That one.”

“The Kid?”

“Oh.. I guess.”

“Figured an commie like you would name Modern Times.” Henry smiled.


“You mentioned Modern Times. A commie would like it. The movie is just an attack on capitalism.”

“Uhm. Commie? Well.. let’s talk about that in due time.”

“On with Hitler.. eh The Great Dictator.” Henry said.

“I bet he couldn’t laugh about it, but I wonder.. would Mussolini have laughed about it?”

“I bet not. I bet that people who are dictators can’t laugh about themselves, if they could they wouldn’t be dictators.” Henry said.

“Wow.. that is an observation of life.”

“ I can observe life as well as anyone else can.”

“I bet.”

“So a masterpiece?”

“Yes and no.”

“Yes and no?”

“Well it’s a masterpiece in the way it is made and what it is about and the statement Chaplin makes. That makes it an unique movie.”

“But it is also a long slapstick movie, which has it’s moments at times, like when Hinkel and Napaloni meet, but still feels like a bit old fashioned even in the 1940. Like those chase scenes when the Schulz troopers are after him.”

“Schulz.” Kristl laughed.


“It is a funny name as it means guilt. It is an apt name because Schulz saves the jewish barber because he owes him for saving his life, but later on he feel guilt because he has supported Hynkel. I wonder if Chaplin was deliberate in that.”

“Might be.” Henry said, “I found most of the story somewhat dull and sometimes strange. Like when nobody sees the similarity between Hynkel and the jewish barber. Also it has a nice feel about it. Like those Nazi were not nice people, but the it is probably meant as a slapstick. So it had to be nice.”

Kristl nodded, “The story has it’s odd twist and turns. Like that Hynkel and the jewish barber switch roles. It is as if he mixed two kind of movies. A serious movie and a slapstick movie.”

“It might be.. I found it a bit long in the tooth.” Henry yawned.

“Still it remains a masterpiece.”


“It is a tribute to the belief that we are all humans, each and everyone of us, and that we could live in peace. The end speech is often felt as an awkward long statement.. but it is here that you feel Chaplin shoving aside the movie and directly addresses the viewer. It was of course not done and it must have felt embarrassing by many to be directly talked to. As a method of movie making it was seldom seen in a normal movie. It clearly brought out the idea that you can invoke a strong emotion by directly talking into the camera and the audience.”

“And that makes it a masterpiece?”

“That and his direct appeal to humanity.”

Henry and Kristl trembled before Stalin (1992)

“This Stalin was not a very nice dude.”  Henry remarked. He was having a bud, because he always had budweiser in his fridge, which was  a huge red contraption from the firm Northstar that was a remake of those older refrigerators from the fifties.

Kristl might have also had a bud, but then she felt that the west was already over Americanized, so instead she drunk triple X.

“Why on earth would you drink an Australian beer as a German?” Henry had remarked, when Kristl ordered the six pack via the internet.

“Austrian.” Kristl corrected.

“Eh.. Triple X is Australian. Oh wait. Sorry. You meant you are Austrian.” he grinned, “Don’t they have Ger.. eh. Austrian beers?”

“Yes, but I like Triple X.” Kristl had said.

“No, he wasn’t even though the movie is more focused on his private life than I would have expected. It seems to sort of make him look more favorable than I imagine him to be, but even then he remains a scary individual. The way he can be very jolly with you and then suddenly have you ordered to death. Like that moment when one of his old friends is about to be arrested by secret police and Stalin ‘happens’ to call at that very moment and orders them to leave.The sadist laughs at it. It just pictures him as madman.”

“Yeah. I think everyone he knew ended up dead eventually. And when he tosses his burning cigar down his wives shirt: what a nasty thing to do. ”

“There a lot of things that they had to skip it seems. Like there is a part missing at the beginning of World War II where the Sovjet-Union invade Finland, had a kind of shadow war with the Japanese and signed a pact with Hitler that gave him control over the baltic nations and the eastern part of Poland. Also skipped is the part where a thousands of polish officers were massacred on his order. The list could be extended. Like the way the west tried to dispose of the communist regime at the end of the first world war. Like in the twenties there was a kind of alliance with Germany. Or the Ukrainian uprising at the end of the Second World War. All things that must have influenced this man and his decisions. “


“The pity with this movie is that you somehow does not get to grips with the person of Stalin.. Even though Stalin is the subject of the movie, it feels like you are watching him from the outside, but never get in his inside.Never find his motivation or his side of the story.  In that I find the move somewhat sterile. You never get to know what moved this man and what possessed him. Why he did those things?“

“I think that might be because of the makeup. It looks like Duvalls is wearing a mask. His facial expression is almost non-existent.”

“I like Robert Duvall, he is a good actor, but they hamstrung him with that mask and thus the movie suffers. You are watching a statue.Still even then Duvall is marvelous because he tries to invoke emotions with that part of his face that is not cloaked with wax.”

“Yeah, I am left with the feeling that Stalin was a homicidal nutcase surrounded by nutcases, most of whom were as Homicidal as he was..” Henry said.

“And it leaves me with questions. Like how can a nutcase rule a big country like that for decades on end. It seems to beyond belief. Too simple an explanation to assume he is just a nutcase.”

“Also the movie suffers a bit because his wife  kills herself halfway. Basically the story is told by following her and then she dies  and that leaves the story suddenly without a focus and it never gets a focus again even though the story is told by his daughter..”

Kristl nodded.

“So leaves you a bit unfulfilled?”


“That is why we have beer.” Henry grinned and he opened another bud.

“Oh, to get fulfilled?” Kristl said.

“Yes and to forget we are not.” Henry burped.

“And forget about him.”

“That too.”