Film review: A Man Called Ove (2016)

This Swedish comedy was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign film though it did not win. It tells the story of Ove, a 59-year old man who lives in a housing complex. He is the type that we are all familiar with, someone who is grouchy and knows all the rules governing the immediate community and takes it upon himself to vigorously police the place to make sure everyone else is following the rules and upbraiding them when they do not. He is generally regarded as a pain, the one redeeming feature being that he is very handy at fixing things.
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Film review: The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013)

The premise of this utterly hilarious Swedish film is right there in the title. On his 100th birthday, as the staff of the nursing home where he lives are getting a cake ready for the celebration, Allan Karlsson decides that he has had it with nursing home life. So he climbs out of the window of his room, wanders down to the local bus station, and buys a ticket for as far as the little money he has on him will take him.
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Film review: The Brand New Testament (2015)

As we all know, the big theological problem that theologians try to explain away but never succeed is that of theodicy, why a loving god would allow so much evil in the world. Well, this French film, one of the most wildly imaginative comedies I have seen in a good while, answers that question. God turns out to be a real bastard who enjoys deliberately creating wars and setting people against each other. But he is even more wicked than some of us imagined. He actually creates all the laws that really annoy people, such as the phone ringing just when you start to enjoy a bath, the line next to you moving faster in the supermarket, and the bread with the jam side falling on the floor.
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Frank Oz talks about his work with the Muppets

Long time readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of the Muppets when they appeared on Sesame Street and in the TV shows and films. I was particularly fond of Grover, Cookie Monster, Fozzie Bear, Bert, Ernie and Kermit, and the first four of them were the creations of master puppeteer Frank Oz who later went on to be director of feature films while still keeping his hand (literally and metaphorically) within the Muppet world. He was also Yoda in the Star Wars films.
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Film review: 13th (2016)

I recently watched the powerful Netflix documentary 13th that deals with the scandal of mass incarceration in America. Directed and co-written by Ava DuVernay (who also directed Selma), it is a searing indictment of the war on black people that has been conducted by the criminal justice system. The numbers are staggering. With just 5% of the world’s population, the US has 25% of the prison population. 2.3 million people are locked up and in addition another 3.5 million are either on probation or on parole, meaning that about 2.5% of the entire US population is on the wrong side of the law.
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Film review: Arrival (2016)

I just watched this critically acclaimed film and have to admit that I was highly disappointed. The central plot line is something that really appealed to me, as to how the world might react if spaceships were to suddenly arrive on Earth. What would the extra-terrestrials look like? What might their intentions be towards us? How could we communicate to find out? What science and technology do they have that enables them to overcome the massive barriers to interplanetary, let alone interstellar, travel that we face? This is a topic that is a staple of science-fiction writers, in classics like Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End.
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TV review: Mr. Robot

I have just finished watching season 2 of this gripping series that was initially shown on the USA Network but both seasons are now available on Netflix. It is the story of Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a young computer hacker, a total genius at it, who spends most of his spare time using his skills to routinely hack into the computers of people, either out of idle curiosity or a desire to help them. He also acts as a kind of vigilante, and in his hacking if he finds someone engaged in some kind of heinous crime, he will inform the authorities. He finds it hard to talk with others or reveal anything about himself, but lives in the rich world of his own mind where he analyzes things and shares his thoughts with you, the viewer, often by directly addressing you.

The series begins with him working for Allsafe, a company that provides computer security to companies and whose biggest client by far is the world’s biggest financial-industrial corporation known as E Corp. Because of his skills, he is recruited by a mysterious figure known as Mr. Robot, who is the leader of an anarchic group called fsociety who seek to destroy the capitalistic system by hacking into E Corp and erasing everyone’s debt records, thus throwing the world’s financial system into total chaos. Like the real-life group Anonymous, they use a mask in their videos to hide their faces and also create a brand identity. The series deals with this plot and the aftermath. The catch is that Elliot, the person who had the ability to pull off this major hack, woke up three days after it happened and cannot remember what he did during the three days when the hack took place and what the next stage that he supposedly set up was. He frequently finds himself unable to recall events that he was supposedly involved in.

Here’s the trailer for season 2.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD! Only those who have seen the series and want to discuss it or do not care about knowing some plot developments in advance should continue.
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