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The book of Henry (2017)



SThe Book Of Henryummary

With instructions from her genius son’s carefully crafted notebook, a single mother sets out to rescue a young girl from the hands of her abusive stepfather.

Genre : Drama/Thriller
Country : USA

Cast :
Jaeden Lieberher: Henry
Naomi Watts : Susan
Jacob Tremblay : Peter

Director :
Colin Trevorrow

My opinion on “The book of Henry”

“Violence isn’t the worst thing in the world.
What is then?

I’m sure that some movie critics of reputable newspapers (“The Guardian” and the like) and magazines are awful, out-of-touch guys, who pine away on a dusty attic avoiding any contact with other human individuals. Pessimists who cringe at the sign of a bit of emotions and sugar-sweet feelgood moods and hide like a slug that encounters a grain of salt on her path. The result is an allergic reaction of disgust and aversion, after which they begin to spit their guts and criticize the targeted object. Is “The Book of Henry” really overly-sentimental? Is it so sugary that your blood glucose levels suddenly go berserk? Is it so un-freakin-believable that a Jerry Springer show looks like a realistic show? And does the second part of the movie about revenging a child molester feel extremely exagerated? Maybe yes. However, calling this film the biggest crap of the year, demonstrates short-sightedness and empathy similar to that of a mummified Egyptian pharaoh.

The Book of Henry

Amiable and entertaining.

Whatever they claim, “The Book of Henry” is an amiable and entertaining evening filler. Something I’m yearning for after an endless series of nerve-racking or extremely serious movies where you need to stay focused, so you won’t lose the thread after another plot twist. I admit I watched the first chapter with more pleasure than the second chapter. Not because of the acting. But contentwise it was sometimes a bit too much and after a while it lost a bit of its credibility. For instance. I doubt you can buy a high-tech sniper rifle in the U.S. just by saying some obscure name and waving with a bundle of dollar bills. Let’s skip the formalities! And someone calling the authorities after seeing an emotional performance of a ballet dancer, was quite bizarre. Especially when bruises and the timid behavior of the girl herself (plus Henry’s testimonies) didn’t ring any bells before.

The Book Of Henry
Teenage fun, drama or thriller. What’s it gonna be?

You can say the film is kind of bizarre. Not only because of the family situation in which the Carpenter family finds itself. That’s already extremely strange. Also the sudden twist in the middle of the story is bit of uncommon. Not often a main character leaves the story so early. Even though he isn’t completely out of the picture. And that’s why I’m talking about two chapters. The “pre” and “post” Henry period. Perhaps the mix of genres is a cause for criticism. At first, it looks like an innocent youth movie. Then it goes from a melodrama to a thriller with a revenge motive. Granted, that might be too much as well.

The Book Of Henry

First class acting

I enjoyed the acting the most. Jaeden Lieberher as bright Henry. A young boy looking at the world with very different eyes due to his unimaginable intelligence and at the same time he’s still like an average, everyday boy. The way in which he confronts his classmates with the real facts is both sobering as extremely funny. Lieberher plays this with seemingly little effort. A brilliant mind but played in such a way that he remains human. Only I thought that his cartoonish machine he designed, using wires, hammers and wooden mechanisms, was quite contradictory to his high intellectual abilities. Naomi Watts (gorgeous role in “Demolition” by the way) is a known quantity, although she’s acted of the screen a bit by her dominant son and all she seems to be doing is hitting the buttons on her PS4 controller. Even in the second chapter, Henry is holding her hand and is in charge of everything. But especially Jacob Tremblay, as the younger brother Peter, really surprised me. Not because of his impact on the story. But the professionalism he displays in shaping his personality. A likable and highly amusing character. Maddie Ziegler knew how to play the emotionally broken neighbor girl in a sublime way. A rendition in which the repressed emotions impressed more than Henry’s occasional hyperkinetic behavior.

The Book Of Henry

A dumb thing to do?

Perhaps it’s my age that makes me more melancholic and I’m touched much faster. However, I think most viewers approach this movie in a wrong way. I read somewhere that Henry’s preconceived plan (which he has worked out in detail in his red booklet) is the opposite of his intellectual ability. A burst in his wisdom because it’s revenge he’s after. However, perhaps this was the only solution he could come up with after deductive and analytical reasoning. How does anyone react when witnessing that a criminal offense goes unpunished? And legal measures don’t have the desired effect? Perhaps it takes more time for average intelligent people to come to the same conclusion.

The Book Of Henry

I’m a fan of the underdogs.

I’m afraid I’m the only one with a positive opinion about this movie. Apparently, I like to root for the underdogs among movies. I’m sure that critics and opponents of “The book of Henry” will say that Trevorrow, after this cinematic adventure, delivered better work in the more realistic blockbuster “Episode IX“. Even if he would add a scene with Chewbacca, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker dancing the can-can, these experts of stories on celluloid will probably approve it and claim that the man has added a willful interpretation to the Star Wars story. But he mustn’t give in to willfulness when it comes to other movies (grinding teeth intonation). I am pleased that rebellious movies like “The Book of Henry” are made in Hollywood and not only the sometimes saltless crap that’s being released. Because those are the movies where I say “Well, this was a great movie” when it’s finished.

It’s not my policy to draw attention to someone else’s opinion, but I couldn’t resist now. Although I don’t fully agree with it, I surely could appreciate the cynical tone of this review. Read it here

My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

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The Zone Of Interest Is A Bleak Reminder of the Horrors of Holocaust



Zone of Interest [credit: A24]

The Zone of Interest is Jonathan Glazer’s latest feature loosely based on Martin Amis’ novel of the same name. It stars Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller in the lead roles. The German-language feature was a major breakout from the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it also won the Grand Prix award. It is based around one of the darkest chapters in human history and serves as an important reminder of how brutal and evil humans are capable of being.

Glazer is known for having carefully crafted frames with plenty of nuances which is the case here as well. He intricately designs each and every scene for maximum impact. Before we enter the first scene, the screen fades to black with a chilling score in the background that sets the viewer up for everything they are about to witness. Black is also the colour of evil which hints at what aspects of human nature this story will explore. The cinematography is also top-notch. The use of natural lighting works really well to complement the setting of a warm family atmosphere. Also, there are a few moments where the visual style changes and those scenes are thoughtfully captured as well.

Zone of Interest [credit: A24]

Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller are both fantastic in their roles. Friedel is absolutely convincing as Rudolph Hoss, the commander of the Auschwitz concentration camps, and Huller plays his wife Hedwig, who steals a lot of scenes with her emotional range. The editing is also careful and patient. Each scene gets time to breathe and settle properly resulting in a lot of extended scenes of the daily life of the family. The background music is minimal, but whenever it kicks in, it makes sure to elevate the scenes with creepy and ominous sounds.

The plot may seem basic and simple on the surface level, but we gradually see the layers unfold as the narrative moves forward. The story gets darker and darker with time and can be utterly shocking and horrifying at times, especially in the third act. It is no doubt a slow burn In terms of its pacing and takes its own time to set things up and we keep getting to see more sides of the characters in the second half of the movie. 

Zone of Interest [credit: A24]


It is utterly shocking how a family man who reads his children bedtime stories and loves his wife wholeheartedly can do the things that Rudolph Hoss does. But that level of brutality and faithfulness to reality is among its biggest strengths. The movie doesn’t have too many weak aspects, but it is slow and takes a while to get going. Also, it will turn out to be difficult to follow or comprehend for general audiences and it might be difficult to follow for some. It demands patience and attention.

The Zone of Interest is a kind of movie that subtly and slowly horrifies you with its brutal and harrowing storytelling. Jonathan Glazer is at the top of his game. The lead performances are top notch and the conclusion leaves a heavy impact on the viewer. It won’t work for everyone, but will certainly find the appreciation it deserves.

The Zone of Interest will release in cinemas on December 8.


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‘Past Lives’ Review: A Transcendent Cinematic Journey



Greta Lee and Teo Yoo in a still from 'Past Lives' (A24)

Hollywood has a knack for producing extraordinary movies year after year, but there comes a time when the industry exceeds all expectations with a gem of a movie like ‘Past Lives.’ A mesmerizing film directed by the talented Celine Song takes audiences on an unparalleled journey of self-discovery and the exploration of our interconnectedness through time. This thought-provoking movie connects various lives, blurring the boundaries of reality and immersing viewers in a transcendental tale.

The romantic drama showcases Song’s remarkable storytelling ability, presenting a narrative that delicately balances emotion and intellect. ‘Past Lives’ starts with Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), Nora (Greta Lee), and Arthur (John Magaro) sitting at a bar. An unseen couple watches and tries to guess their relationship. We are taken back in time and get all the vital details about the relationship they have been sharing throughout various parts of their lives. One of the best aspects of the movie is how Son interconnects the lives of diverse characters across different periods and unveils the secrets that bind them together. The film’s nonlinear structure allows for a gripping exploration of multiple storylines, ensuring an engaging and enthralling experience.

Greta Lee in a still from ‘Past Lives’ (A24)

Visually, ‘Past Lives’ is an absolute feast for the eyes. The poignant visuals heighten the emotional resonance of the narrative, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. Accompanying the stunning visuals and sound design is an enchanting score that perfectly complements the film’s ethereal quality. Beyond its visual and musical splendor, the movie invites viewers to contemplate profound themes and philosophical questions. The film raises thought-provoking inquiries about the nature of existence, the way people’s lives are connected, and the impact of our actions across time. The script forces the moviegoers to reflect on the concept of destiny, choices, and the ripple effects they create.

Furthermore, the performances in ‘Past Lives’ are nothing short of extraordinary. The ensemble cast, led by seasoned actors, delivers nuanced and heartfelt portrayals, breathing life into their respective characters. Greta Lee is enchanting as Nora and delivers a performance that is undoubtedly going to give her all the buzz during the awards season. Meanwhile, Teo Yoo is just as brilliant. The talent on display evokes genuine empathy, enhancing the overall experience.

A still from ‘Past Lives’ (A24)

Even though the awards season is far away from where we are, we have already got a strong contender for Best Picture and top acting categories in the form of ‘Past Lives.’ It is quite rare these days to see a romantic story that provides such an immersive experience and we are glad that Celine Song’s film has given us a movie that makes us wonder why such romantic movies are not made anymore.

‘Past Lives’ is a modern masterpiece.


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A Kind of Kidnapping – Dark Comedy with Politics



Written and directed by Dan Clark, this fairly star studded independent film follows a young couple who are stuck in a financial situation, and decide to kidnap a sleazy conservative politician in order to receive a ransom, that will allow them to escape their static lives.

Patrick Baladi (The Office) plays Hardy our creepy politician, Kelly Wenham (Double Date) plays Maggie, a complex woman who seemingly is always drawn to the “bad boy”, Jack Parry-Jones (The Crown) plays Brian our voice of reason within all of this, or is he?

A Kind of Kidnapping [2023]

The character development is well written and allows the space for character arcs, unlike a lot of small films, where there isn’t that room in the script. The three main leads feel very grounded and familiar, everyone knows someone like this in their life or perhaps public figures in the media.

The performances of the main three lead actors are great, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think this film would work as well. Alongside the strong performances, the editing of the film helped to navigate this non-linear plot and allowed the film to peel aways the layers of backstory which all helped to create a stronger character driven piece.

A Kind of Kidnapping [2023]

As the film was nearing the final act,  it felt as though it was dragging a little. Dan Clark mentioned in the Q&A after the screening how this was a short film before and I can definitely see how it could work in a confined setting really well. Maybe there was a bit of padding in second to third act to reach that feautre length requirement that didn’t aid certain character moments.

If you want to hear my full thoughts, the best thing to do is check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

When independent film is fighting for its life, A Kind of Kidnapping is the light in the dark. This is one of the better British produced indie films I’ve seen in a long time. 

A Kind of Kidnapping is out on digital on 24th July on iTunes, Amazon, Google and Sky.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the [series/movie/etc] being covered here wouldn’t exist.

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