• Cold War (2015)

    Cold War is a short film with a length of eight and a half minutes that can be categorized as drama or thriller. It has been directed by Australian filmmaker Richard Gray who has been involved in movies such as Summer Coda, Broken Ghost and Robert the Bruce. This short film has been released on DVD with the film Sugar Mountain set in a similar environment and featuring a similar tone. This short film features Yulia Klass as mysterious woman who also has a cameo as a nurse in Sugar Mountain. The only other character in this short movie is a quiet Soviet soldier played by Robert Patrick who is known for films such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Wayne's World and Gangster Squad. This short film tells the story of a Soviet soldier who makes his way across Bering Street in order to defect to Alaska. As he arrives on the coast of an isolated island, he gets surprised by a mysterious woman. Without being able to speak English, he tries to communicate his intentions to her.

    This short film is based upon historical facts and comes along with a very short but twisted story. Not one single word is spoken in the short film which makes the gestures of the actor and the actress even more meaningful. The atmosphere is tense, mysterious and even dramatic at times. The gloomy natural landscapes provide further dark vibes. The moody soundtrack blends in perfectly. Despite its restricted length, this short film feels almost plodding which goes along with its overall smooth pace.

    In the end, Cold War is a good short film and an interesting tribute to Alaskan and Soviet history. The actor and actress manage to impress without uttering a single word which is quite unusual. The story is overall simple but has one minor twist that is quite intriguing. If you have purchased the very good drama and thriller Sugar Mountain, make sure to check out this similarly solid short movie in the bonus section.

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  • Random Acts of Violence (2012)

    Random Acts of Violence is a highly experimental low budget pseudo-documentary satire that I've picked up for three bucks some time ago. The story revolves a young adult of British origin living in New York City who is getting tired of gentrification. In order to introduce some changes in this boring city, he randomly start killing people while being filmed by some associates. His sinister actions soon start to interfere with his personal social life. However, the rest of society, politicians and even the police don't seem to care. The young adult tries to go one step further as he decides to assassinate a candidate running for mayor to finally get some attention.

    The story itself is already quite unusual but there are many more things that will get your attention. The movie is an experimental low budget effort with almost no special efforts that gives it the vibe of a self-made documentary. The lead character, while being a complete lunatic, is quite charismatic and played quite uniquely by lead actor Ashley Cahill who is fairly unknown and deserves more attention. The quirky locations show the diversity of New York City in a unique way as they explore trendy bars, new restaurants and elegant apartments. The movie's ending comes around with an absurd but fitting twist that makes you laugh and think at the same time. This is certainly a movie you won't forget anytime soon.

    Obviously, this type of movie is an acquired taste. The story is rather shallow. The movie portrays brutal violence in random ways that make it look like ordinary events. Even though pretentious reviewers seem to see a profound meaning behind the movie, there actually isn't one. This film feels like an experimental art house project by some nonconformist film school students.

    In the end, Random Acts of Violence is unlike any other film you have ever seen and will ever watch. It's experimental at all costs. Some people are going to hate it with passion, others are going to adore its unconventional style without any compromises and then there are going to be people like me who are situated somewhere in between. This film is like a guilty pleasure because I like it despite its gruesome random violence. I would however only recommend this movie to people who like experimental movies and aren't afraid to push their boundaries.

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  • Through the Never (2013)

    Metallica's Through the Never was a commercial failure but is a very interesting movie that would have deserved more recognition. The movie revolves around a roadie who is sent on a mission to fuel a stranded truck in order to deliver a crucial item for a concert. While this mission sounds simple, the quiet protagonist named Trip gets caught in a violent confrontation between demonstrators and the police in downtown Vancouver. As if that weren't enough already, a mysterious black rider is hunting the roadie through town for mysterious reasons. Trip must fight for survival and deliver the item as quickly as possible.

    About one third of the movie tells the story described above. It's a mysterious fantasy story that mixes actual locations with supernatural events. The story asks more questions than it answers. It actually offers some food for thought and is everything but conventional. Metallica certainly took a few risks here but intellectual and open-minded audiences will appreciate the experimental and surreal approach.

    The other two thirds of this film show Metallica playing a show featuring songs from all their records except Load and St. Anger. The band offers fast-paced garage rock anthems such as ''Hit the Lights'', atmospheric epics like ''Master of Puppets'' and heartfelt ballads in the key of ''Nothing Else Matters''. The set list combines popular classics such as progressive thrash metal milestone ''One'' with overlooked fan favourites such as the experimental instrumental ''Orion''. New and old fans alike will appreciate the diversified and unique set list. As if the great music weren't enough, there are numerous interesting things happening on stage thanks to impressive special effects. The climax is certainly the crumbling of a gigantic statue of Greek goddess Themis during "...and Justice for All'' and the intense blackout that follows immediately after ''Enter Sandman''.

    In conclusion, both the actual concert recorded in Edmonton and Vancouver as well as the mysterious side story are intriguingly connected in this experimental movie that shouldn't only fascinate thrash metal fans but also cinephiles who like to think outside the box. It wouldn't be exaggerated to compare Metallica's Through the Never to Pink Floyd's The Wall thirty-one years earlier. This movie is worth being watched over and over again and purchasing its diversified soundtrack is also highly recommended.

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  • Midsommar (2019)

    Midsommar is a movie that unfolds long after you have actually watched it. Its rich cinematography might grip right from the start but the numerous allegories will make you think days after you have experienced this film.

    This movie is quite an experience indeed. It makes me think of a mixture of The Village and Mandy. It makes me think of the former because this movie is falsely advertised as a horror movie and could rather be described as a tense drama. Both films take place in secluded areas involving traditional societies and their rituals. Both movies have a slow pace and are controversially received. It makes me think of the latter because the visual aspects are quite vivid. Especially the use of colours has psychedelic elements that make viewers think of uneasy drug trips. Both movies slowly intensify and end rather grislily.

    The story is quickly told. Three anthropologist students are invited by their Swedish classmate to assist Midsommar festivities in his secluded hometown but what starts as a fascinating trip soon becomes a horrifying experience.

    The characters in the film are quite intriguing. Lead actress Florence Pugh plays an insecure young woman suffering from panic attacks who has to cope with the grisly fact that her bipolar sister killed their parents before committing suicide. Her boyfriend played by Jack Reynor has a hard time dealing with his girlfriend's negative moods but doesn't want to let her down and actually invites her to the trip to Sweden to help her change her mind. Another loud-mouthed student played by Will Poulter resents her coming with them and feels that she has a negative impact on her boyfriend and is spoiling everyone's anticipation. The third student played by William Jackson Harper keeps a lower profile and is the more intellectual type who gets into a heated conflict with the young woman's boyfriend because he wants to steal the idea for his thesis. Finally, there is the Swedish student played by Vilhelm Blomgren who seems to be very calm, compassionate and friendly but actually has a love interest in the young woman and feels that her boyfriend doesn't treat her correctly. All those underlying conflicts surface as the characters face extreme situations in Sweden.

    Revealing you anything more about the movie would spoil its mezmerizing enjoyment. There are a few negative elements to point out however. The movie has a very slow pace and slightly overstays its welcome which might be frustrating for less patient viewers. The plot is relatively simple and predictable even though many critics try to interpret too much into the movie to forcedly fill the void. Let's mention that the movie features some gore and nudity and shouldn't be watched by anyone who isn't eighteen years old.

    In the end, Midsommar is a unique experience that deserves to be watched on multiple occasions and discussed with friends in order to be fully appreciated. The unique atmosphere, intriguing characters and stylish cinematography make up for some lengths and an at times simplistic plot. As someone else has pointed out, this movie might give a blow to the Swedish tourism industry as grisly horrors unfold in bright daylight which is once again quite unique for such a drama.

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  • Climax (2018)

    Caspar Noé's latest movie Climax is an experimental combination of a musical, drama and horror film.

    Climax is a musical because it revolves around a group of young French dancers who get prepared for their new show over the course of three days in an abandoned school building. The movie starts with interview sections as the different dancers talk about their motivations to join the group. The second scene shows the elaborate dance choreography. The third scene is the party after the last practice when you can see the characters dance to electronic music. The entire first quarter of the film focuses on dance moves and electronic music to portray how the characters express themselves artistically.

    The movie slowly shifts towards a drama. Someone has poisoned the sangria with LSD and the dancers start acting erratically, emotionally and aggressively. We observe a brother who overprotects his younger sister who is longing for more independence. We get to know that one of the female dancers is pregnant and she doesn't know who the father of her child could be. We come across a nervous mother who is desperately trying to protect her son from the dancers.

    The film ends as a horror movie as the situation escalates. Prejudice, rape and murder occur as the drugs bring out the worst in each and every single character. The film's second half and especially its final third are certainly hard to digest. This movie should only be watched by adults with an open mind and a strong stomach.

    The cinematography of the film needs to be pointed out. There are almost no cuts as the camera randomly follows characters throughout the fateful night which gives the movie a quite fluid vibe. The fact that the movie values music and movements over an actual plot or even dialogues is also particularly outstanding. The film starts with the credits, introduces chapters like silent movies used to do and the camera sometimes turns around to portray a world that has been shaken upside down.

    As nightmarish as the film might seem, Climax is actually based upon true events. Without pointing fingers, the movie certainly includes a lot of social criticism. It shows how partners, friends and even family members turn against each other once a drug has eliminated their self-control. The film also uses a lot of stereotypes that may be shocking at first contact but that turn out being more realistic that one might be willing to admit. It leads the viewers to question their societies and their values.

    In the end, Climax is a mindblowing experience unlike any other film. It's not easy to digest because of its explicit violence, thin plot and absence of dialogues but the aesthetic aspect, vibrant atmosphere and underlying messages pardon for its minor flaws. If you are an adult, have an open mind and strong stomach and like experimental cinema, this might become one of your very favourite movies.

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