I guess everyone knows what Pornhub is, whether they use it or not. This is one of the most popular porn sites that provides its users with professional videos produced by porn studios and studios, and also allows the publication and viewing of amateur videos. The website is active in social media, and the greatest attention of the world media is attracted by annual lists of the most popular thematic searches on the website in a given year. Pornhub also supports various initiatives and charitable activities.
Despite this, the website is not spared the controversies arising around its activities, as well as confirmed cases of unethical activities, such as the distribution of illegal films depicting sexual violence against women and children. That’s what Netflix’s latest documentary Money Shot: The Pornhub Story is all about, directed and produced by Suzanne Hillinger.
Pornhub has dramatically changed the way pornography is created and distributed online, giving its users access to vast amounts of both free and paid, amateur and professional content. Thanks to the large amount of content, the service earns a lot of money from advertising. The film tells how Pornhub became the hegemony of pornographic content, Netflix or YouTube of pornography, leaving its competition far behind. The service also became a place where individual creators could earn money by uploading their own films to the platform. Pornhub’s reach gave them a chance to stand out, appear in the porn world and earn enough to support themselves.
Hillinger talks to such creators as Siri Dahl or Gwen Adora, showing how, willy-nilly, they began cooperation with the market-monopolyping Pornhub. However, it was there that they developed a loyal audience and gained a steady source of income. Until allegations of Pornhub distributing child pornography and rape videos came to light.
It happened thanks to the great article Children of Pornhub by Nicholas Kristof published in “The New York Times” in December 2020, which took a look at the way the site is managed and focused on the stories of women and young girls who have been trying unsuccessfully for years to force Pornhub to removal from the website of videos showing their use. The problem turned out to be insufficient control of the materials – you did not need to be a verified user to upload a video to the platform, which meant that anyone could upload whatever they wanted to Pornhub. As a result, the site was full of videos of rapes and sexual violence against children. Service staff did not respond or reacted too slowly, and even after removing a video, it often reappeared on the platform. The reason was the lack of security and more restrictive restrictions, as well as an insufficient number of moderators for such a huge amount of content.
After the widely publicized article, payment operators such as Mastercard and Visa withdrew from cooperation with Pornhub, which meant that creators making money on the platform, such as Dahl and Adora, had no way to earn and withdraw money. They are the focal point of Hillinger’s interest – due to the insufficient activities of the website, they have become, in a way, victims of this situation. It’s a non-obvious point of view and very often overlooked, so it’s interesting to hear their point of view in the documentary.
On the other hand, the director focuses almost exclusively on the side of the performers, and thus the essence of this terrifying and shocking affair is lost somewhere in the background. I missed, for example, interviews with the other side, i.e. with activists who publicized the case and gave it momentum, such as Laila Mickelwait mentioned in the film.
After watching the documentary, it’s a bit hard to determine which side its creators really stand on. Of course, Pornhub’s operation is clearly stigmatized here, but it’s hard not to get the impression that there is an attempt to whitewash the porn industry a bit. And yet it is its existence that indirectly often reinforces rape culture. I missed a clear, strong criticism of Pornhub’s actions. Since they are a platform that distributes such sensitive and abuse-prone content, they should be particularly sensitive to their meticulous and thorough moderation.
I would love to see this documentary in the form of a miniseries, each episode of which would present the case from the point of view of those involved – victims, activists fighting for women’s and children’s rights and those working against human trafficking, Pornhub employees, moderators managing the site or pornographic creators. Each of these threads seems only superficially touched upon, but it is clear that there is great potential in these stories, a lot of emotions and nuances. Money Shot: The Story of Pornhub is an interesting documentary that explores the unknown side of this global porn industry.
The Shadow and Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo quickly hit the best-seller list, becoming one of the most popular young adult series. It is not surprising, therefore, that it was decided to adapt it, the second season of the series has just appeared on Netflix.
After a confrontation with the cruel Kirigan, Alina Starkov, accompanied by her beloved Mal, sets off in search of another amplifier. Her goal remains to destroy the Fold – a band of shadow inhabited by dangerous volcras that destroy Ravka. Meanwhile, the Crows return to Ketterdam, where an inhospitable reception awaits them.
The second season of the popular series leads the Sun Summoner into the final battle with the seemingly invincible Darkling. It seems that the action is linear, through successive amplifiers and locations – like in good old RPGs – but there are so many threads in Shadow and Bone that it’s not boring. Although all the numerous characters have their eyes turned in one direction, their separate stories keep the viewer in suspense. A great solution here was to combine the story of Alina and Wron – only the first one would not give the series its wings.
It must be remembered that Shadow and Bone is a young adult production, which means that the main plot of Alina Starkov is the weakest plot for a slightly older viewer. There is a focus on the emotional dilemmas of the main character, characteristic of this genre, which – both in terms of the script and acting – can give a toothache to a viewer who has gone through his teenage years. As usual, Alina (Jessie Mei Li) falls in love with almost everyone who looks at her – or at least those who mean anything – which causes a number of indigestible complications and some overly long and overly exalted scenes. Particularly problematic are those involving the main couple, i.e. Alina and Mal (Archie Renaux), who have been successful in a relationship based on friendship since childhood, but the romance thread in their performance is weak and unreliable. There’s a lot more on-screen chemistry between Alina and Alexander (Ben Barnes), and there’s a lot more sympathy between Jesper (Kit Young) and Wylan (Jack Wolfe).
Fortunately, not only Alina is important in Shadow and Bone. It is much more interesting to follow the actions of the Wrons, where Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) shines in confrontation with his nemesis, Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly). Carter does what he wants with his character, he is believable in every move and gesture, which makes his plot perhaps the most engaging this season. It is also his character who leads the viewer through various places, from the dangerous Ketterdam to the picturesque Shu Han. And I must admit that in this respect the series is refined almost to perfection. One would like to see such attachment to costumes, set design, and tasteful details also in other Netflix productions. In just eight episodes, we can admire the splendid imperial palaces, nasty casemates famous for organizing illegal fights and colorful local markets. What captivated me, in turn, was a steampunk flying ship. beautiful thing.
Unfortunately, there is also a blot in the landscape here. Some scenes (it was visible especially in the final episodes, during the attack of Kirigan’s grishas) look as if they were shot for the needs of Turkish series, which are currently so popular on our native television. Too much light, clumsy cuts, too sharp contours. At times, in the middle of a really entertaining action, such a glitch creaks, snapping the viewer out of his trance. Fruzsi’s (Rachel Redford) comically vampiric make-up and her exalted acting don’t help either.
Regardless of these minor details, the series is very good to watch. There are so many characters and threads that it seems that everyone can find someone to root for. In turn, the number of episodes guarantees that the action will go fast enough that lengthy episodes – which, of course, appear – will not discourage the screening. And the conclusion of the series – well, it’s expected, as well as the dramatic twist and denouement that precedes it – gives a nice opening to season three. Which, of course, I’ll be waiting for.
It’s surprising how easy it is for Matt Ruskin to add more components to his new film. After just a few minutes, Loretta McLaughlin – a reporter for “Boston Record American” – smoothly advances from the social column to the first league of racial investigative journalism. As if by magic, the editor knows how to talk to officers, what to ask and where to put her ear. And although the story of finding the truth about a serial killer is based on facts, the way the director invites us to this case triggered the first of several red flags in me.
Keira Knightley stars as Loretta McLaughlin. She is partnered by Carrie Coon as the experienced and down-to-earth Jean Cole. The ladies take on the task of writing a series of reports about a prowling murderer of women who decorates his victims in a terrifyingly creative way. Interestingly, the whole thing seems to have quite a lukewarm effect on our heroines. They are where they are supposed to appear. When necessary, they hit the typewriter or smoke another cigarette. They collect evidence. They’re questioning witnesses. These tasks, however, are devoid of moments of doubt or the purest anxiety resulting from their ever deeper involvement in the intrigue. There are moments when a screw should be tightened. For example, Ruskin, on the one hand, comments on the non-existent equality in the ranks of the police. On the other hand, he does nothing to prove to us that there is no difficulty in making your way through the testosterone-filled police station. A few verbal scuffles with the law enforcement officers, pulling strings here and there, and here’s another point on the criminal map of Boston is ticked off.
There are many more similar approaches to difficult topics in Ruskin’s narrative. Knightley herself – although she does her best, receiving extraordinary attention from the operator – is not very engaging. The creators clearly want to squeeze her creation to the maximum, which means that the British woman has to put out a fire every now and then on several screen-boring fronts. The fictional blockages, like the scene with the mother, are nothing more than a distraction from the diligent collection of evidence, which is the heart of the film. As a result, as soon as the curtain falls, we do not have the impression that the journalistic work of our heroes has been properly rewarded by the filmmakers.
There is one reason: the director uses half-measures. He also does not waste time on unnecessary commentary on the 1960s. The era will make itself known sooner or later in the multitude of more or less important (but most of them less), conventional plots of the Boston Strangler. And these are used by the author to show off his own perceptiveness and knowledge of the canon, which inhibit creativity in telling this story. Therefore, if the main character is obligatorily subject to the police, entering their competence with boots, we can be sure that they will repay her with harassment and proven rudeness in a moment. Another case: problems at home, which are necessarily filtered by the scene of putting the child to sleep. Unfortunately, somewhere in this accumulation of narrative patterns, the danger of the identity of the strangler is diluted.
The other characters, who often act as pushers or messengers of weariness, do not help in getting to know her. They often lack the on-screen chemistry that fosters on-screen relationships. The personification of this deficiency is exaggerated and sometimes scolding, sometimes praising – albeit always welcome – Chris Cooper. Even when there is room for touching the psychological layer – let’s take Loretta and Jean’s platform of friendship, which is a bar and a glass of scotch – we are forced to listen to banalities about life, which we and our heroes collectively forget in a moment.
There can be no major objections to the technical side. Captured in the lens of Ben Kutchins, Boston is shrouded in an aura of depressing grey. The accuracy of the production can be seen in the sets and costumes. It must be admitted, however, that the role of music by Paul Leonard-Morgan remains a mystery in The Boston Strangler. In a setting full of tension, the composer forgets that there is no cure for this tension in the film. It only lasts for a few scenes, so the pathos-filled inserts overwhelm the picture. They become an unnecessarily noticeable obstacle, instead of a building material that completes the whole.
Boston Strangler would love to share a table with David Fincher. However, he is a few lengths short of that honor. Instead of an engaging thriller, where the director constructs a multi-layered story about female reporters elbowing each other in the men’s world through the panorama of the 1960s, we get a well-executed, but still genre-based lecture.
Of their many conquests, the Vikings have had the most trouble conquering cinemas and television. But they’ve had some notable successes in the past decade. After the six-season-long series Vikings (2013-2020), the subject was taken up by one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of modern cinema, Robert Eggers (The VVitch: A New-England Folktale, The Lighthouse). His The Northman was another artistic success for the director, but with a budget of more than $60 million it turned out to be a commercial disappointment. Historical pictures, even those of the highest quality (e.g., Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel), are not what most interest the mass audience these days.
From the Fury of the Northmen, O Lord Deliver Us!
Movies about Vikings are a very narrow strand of cinema (especially when compared with swashbuckling pirate movies), so Eggers’ new film hasn’t very strong competition. But there are a few special cases that can compete with it, although they are not more widely known (here I’m thinking primarily of Icelandic productions from the 1980s, because if any nation can be considered specialists in Viking climates, it’s Icelanders). This summary isn’t in the form of a ranking, but a chronological list of the 10 most interesting film adaptations of the legends of the Normans, as the Vikings were called in Western Europe (or the Varangians – in Eastern Europe). For the record, the word Vikings accurately means warriors going overseas to plunder, rape and murder, and can refer to more than just northerners (for example, in the 1967 film The Viking Queen, this term refers to the Celts). For obvious reasons, this article considers only stories about Nordic warriors.
A film produced by Herbert T. Kalmus, president of the Technicolor corporation that revolutionized cinema. The days of color pictures came after the sound stage, but as early as the silent cinema era there was experimentation with color. One such groundbreaking work is The Viking, directed by Roy William Neill, which was first (in 1928) released as a silent film, but when MGM studio executives were impressed by the innovative visuals, they decided to distribute the film in sound. The new edition premiered in 1929 and wasn’t fully audio – viewers still had to read the boards with descriptions and dialogue, but other sounds (the roar of the MGM lion, the music recorded on the disc, the sounds of the crowd, the sounds of sword duels) could be heard in the cinema. However, it was the use of color that made an electrifying impression at the time – already in one of the opening scenes we have red blood stains dripping onto the book after a Viking murders one of the Englishmen.
The intrigue was taken from Ottilie Adelina Liljencrantz’s book The Thrall of Leif the Lucky: A Story of Viking Days (1902). The story begins in England and continues in Norway, then Greenland, to end with the discovery of America. Lord Alwin (LeRoy Mason) of Northumbria is abducted and taken into Viking captivity. He is bought by Helga Nilsson (Pauline Starke), an orphan in the care of Viking Leif Ericsson (Donald Crisp). An important theme of the picture is the conflict between the pagan beliefs espoused by Erik the Red (Anders Randolf), the explorer of Greenland, and the Christianity professed by his son, Leif. Of course, there is more legend than truth here, the Vikings wear horned helmets, and the construction of the stone tower in Newport, which still stands today, is attributed to Leif according to the theory propounded by Danish historian Carl Christian Rafn. The breakthrough made by the film is no longer very significant today and the film has disappeared somewhere in the abyss of oblivion. Also working against it’s the not very convincing side of the plot – it’s a story with a banal message about the power of love supported by faith in the “only right” religion.
In the 1950s – as part of a series of historical dramas shot on a grand scale – there was, among others, Prince Valiant (1954), directed by Henry Hathaway and based on a comic strip by Harold Foster. However, it received mixed reviews and ultimately failed to recoup the production costs put into it. The making of another Viking film thus came under question, but a risk was taken when Edison Marshall’s book The Viking (1951) reached the desk of Hollywood producers. Adaptation, under the direction of Richard Fleischer, was shot in a modern Technirama system, so the colors were enhanced, emphasizing the beauty of the locations: Norway, the Lima Fjord in Croatia or Brittany in France. This time the effort paid off – it was a hit both in the U.S. and abroad. And although critics accused it of being closer to a fairy tale or western than a racial historical production, it became for many years a model of how films about Vikings should be made.
The Norman invasion led by Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine) and the resulting death of the Northumbrian king become the pretext for the usurper and tyrant Aella (Frank Thring) to take the throne. The widow of the previous king, Enid (Maxine Audley), is expecting a child – a potential future claimant to the throne of Northumbria. The child’s real father, however, is Viking chieftain Ragnar. After twenty years, a meeting occurs between the slave Eric (Tony Curtis) and the Viking Einar (Kirk Douglas), who share the same father, but do not yet know that the same blood flows through their veins. From the first glance, they feel hatred for each other – Eric attacks Einar with a predatory falcon, which deprives him of an eye, as a result of which Einar and his father condemn the slave to a slow death – he is thrown to the crabs to eat. The conflict is exacerbated when they both fall in love with Princess Morgana (Janet Leigh).
In a way, it resembles a fairy tale in the style of Greek myth with a fate weighing down on the characters. One also senses an affinity with classic westerns – conquests of western lands, fraternal conflict culminating in a duel, a main character resembling a western good bad guy who, despite his evil deeds, isn’t the murderer type, but an honorable man. The final duel between the brothers is magnificent in terms of choice of location, realization and choreography by French classical fencing master Claude Carliez. In the wake of the film’s success, the Tales of the Vikings series (1959-1960) was created, telling the adventures of Leif Erikson. The series was co-produced by Elmo Williams, editor of Fleischer’s film and second unit director (responsible for the action scenes). In turn, the cinematographer of the work in question, Jack Cardiff, shot the colorful show The Long Ships (1964) in Yugoslavia. The production has its fans, although the person writing these words isn’t one of them. On the wave rising Viking ships also benefited the Italians – in 1961 alone they were made in Italy: Erik the Conqueror (1961) by Mario Bava, The Last Viking (1961) by Giacomo Gentilomo and Tartars (1961) by Richard Thorpe, where the Vikings are the opponents of the titular barbarians.
Like many Italian genre filmmakers, Mario Bava defended himself against being pigeonholed into one type of movies. After the success of Black Sunday (1960), he became a master of gothic horror, and while he confirmed this by returning to the genre, he also tried to experiment with other types of entertainment. Often these were cinematographic experiments, as in the case of Erik the Conqueror (1961), Bava’s first film about Vikings. The plot and some of the ideas were stolen from Richard Fleischer’s The Vikings (1958), but visually it is an exceptional work – you can see that it was shot by an artist who can work wonders with camera and light. By plot, however, I think Bava’s second Viking picture, Knives of the Avenger (1966), is a much more interesting show. This doesn’t mean that it’s an original work – one can still sense the influence of American cinema, this time the western Shane (1953) by George Stevens.
A woman named Karin (Elissa Pichelli) and her son listen to the forecast of an old prophetess invoking the name of the god Odin. There is both comfort and warning in her words. She heralds hope, for the woman’s presumed dead husband, King Harald (Giacomo Rossi Stuart), is alive and will soon return to her. But it also warns that the devil doesn’t sleep, so it is advisable to flee, keeping close to the sea so that the water will wash away the footprints. Their enemy is the cruel Hagen (Fausto Tozzi) wishing to marry Karin to take over her clan. Hagen’s men quickly find the woman’s hideout, but their struggle with the helpless lady is interrupted by a mysterious “horseman from nowhere” (Cameron Mitchell), who is particularly good with knives. The stranger is plagued by demons of the past – in a murderous rampage of revenge he once killed innocent people, and his name Ator inspired fear. Now he longs to right the wrongs, and the gods give him that chance by putting Karin and her son in his path.
Interestingly, Leopoldo Savona was hired to direct the film, but he was not up to the challenge. Mario Bava was pulled in to rescue the project, and he wrote the script from scratch and completed the film in short order. Fast and cheap are not words one associates with an epic historical or adventure production, so on the surface it doesn’t sound promising. And if anyone expects spectacular battle scenes and conflicts pulled from the pages of medieval history, they will be disappointed. And yet the film defends itself perfectly, offering a fascinating tale bordering on a dark fairy tale and an intimate story about attempts to atone for past sins. Knives of the Avenger is an example of Mario Bava’s genius – proof that to make a good film you need: a solid workshop, the soul of an artist, creative energy, and only on the next money are needed.
The biography of one of the most eminent English rulers was made by Clive Donner, who had no experience in making big-budget pictures. The result was an unconventional work based on the relationships between the characters, rather than showy battles. However, it managed to avoid an annoying theatrical manner and enter the battlefield as well. Scenes showing soldiers in a Spartan phalanx are impressive, but in addition to the historically confirmed clashes between the English and the Danes, human attitudes in the face of crisis situations were also important to the filmmakers. Instead of a sword in his hand, Alfred would rather hold a cross and raise prayers, because he felt his destiny was to become a priest. But when his country is attacked by northerners, he is forced to change his life plans and takes on the role of a war strategist, a role in which he excels. As king of Wesssex, he doesn’t stray too far from the priestly ministry, because religion is everywhere. The conflict between two countries with different customs is also a battle between two demiurges: the Christian God and the Nordic god of war, Odin.
The screenplay is an adaptation of Eleanor Shipley Duckett’s book. Screenwriter James R. Webb and producer Bernard Smith co-created the successful historical westerns How the West Was Won (1962) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964), made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This time they reached into European history, and set the film in County Galway, Ireland. Unlike the great Alfred, the filmmakers failed miserably. Both in the clash with critics and the public, the film didn’t stand a chance. Although today it can be singled out as an interesting representative of the British costume drama of the 1960s, one must also admit that it has its weaknesses, evident, for example, in the underdeveloped dialogues. It’s interesting to note that the film featured the wife of playwright Harold Pinter, Vivien Merchant, who doesn’t speak any lines here – she refused to deliver sentences from the script due to their low quality.
Gísli Súrsson is the protagonist of an Icelandic saga set in the 10th century, telling the story of blood ties that are cut by hatred, jealousy and the harsh law of revenge. Gísli, along with his brother Thorkell and two brothers-in-law – his wife’s brother, Vésteinn, and his sister’s husband, Thorgrímur – try to make a blood pact, but a conflict arises that destroys the relationship. Vésteinn is killed in his own pallet, and Thorgrímur is accused of the murder. Soon death also befalls Thorgrímur, and because of this, Gísli becomes an outlaw man, pursued like a wild animal. When the Viking isn’t participating in a looting expedition or taking part in a battle, he seeks conflict within his own clan. Lacking a common enemy, blood ties cease to matter, as the blood of the warrior flows through the Viking’s veins.
When the Icelanders took on the Nordic sagas, the result was a remarkable, almost naturalistic work, providing an interesting counterbalance to Hollywood super productions. In addition to fairly realistically depicted rituals (mainly funerals), there are also ideas that have little to do with attention to realism, such as an ice hockey match. The Icelandic outdoors is shown amid both greenery and snow, which is also meant to emphasize that relationships between people change as quickly as the seasons change. The film brings out the best in the sagas for portraying a credible story from the ancient, already semi-legendary history of the North. Ágúst Guðmundsson’s picture could have become a model for many filmmakers interested in this fascinating period of history, but actually only one filmmaker decided to follow this path. This was Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, author of the excellent The Raven Trilogy.
When Harald Fairhair after the unification of the Norwegian tribes became ruler of all of Norway, many of his opponents took to the sea in search of refuge. Iceland proved to be an ideal hideaway, where they could raise a family and farm in peace, away from big politics. However, the warrior’s past has earned him many enemies and it’s not easy to escape revenge, and a flying raven heralds a brutal and dishonorable death. Thord attacked Ireland twenty years earlier, plundered treasures (mostly silver) and killed many of the inhabitants. The son of one of those killed arrives in Iceland without revealing his name – he is simply called Guest (played by Jakob Thór Einarsson). His goal is to avenge his father and find his sister, who was kidnapped by the Vikings. The Guest’s plan is to decides to play two rival groups against each other – Thór (Helgi Skúlason) and Erik (Flosi Ólafsson).
The raven of the title is a Norse mediator between the human and divine worlds, bringing news to Odin, the greatest of the gods. The director drew inspiration from the films of Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone, and an association with the plot of Yojimbo (1961) and A Fistful of Dollars (1964) is immediately apparent. But the style is also far from Hollywood’s depiction of the darkness of the Middle Ages. Leone’s western inspiration is most evident during the final duel, when Guest, clad in armor, tries to approach the enemy and is attacked with arrows. The classic, not to say banal, plot has been ingeniously adapted to the realities of medieval northern Europe and enriched with local folklore. The atmosphere is brilliantly built by the Icelandic outdoors and the film’s seemingly incongruous repetitive music (Sigvaldi Kaldalóns’ piece Á Sprengisandi was used as the main theme). Hrafn Gunnlaugsson capitalized on the film’s success and the audience’s interest in Iceland’s medieval history by making two more Nordic stories. These works are also worth including in this article, because despite their similarities they differ a lot and complement each other perfectly.
Soviet-Norwegian co-production based on Yuri Vronsky’s novel Extraordinary Adventures of Kuksha from Domovichi. Bright-haired young man Kuksha (Aleksandr Timoshkin) is taken prisoner during an attack by Norwegians on Gardarika. Thorir (Thor Stokke), the leader of the invaders, however, sees in him the makings of a warrior, so he adopts him. The boy harbors hatred for the Danes, who slaughtered his relatives before the Norwegians arrived. But the motive of revenge turns out to be less important than the motive of longing for the homeland, also important are the themes of freedom and happiness, their meaning, appearances, using them to enslave people. Kuksha is given a new name, Einar the Lucky, falls in love with a beautiful royal daughter named Signy (Petronella Barker), and his rival becomes the battle-hardened berserk Sigurd (Thorgeir Fonnlid).
Russian medieval anthropologist Aron Gurievich, among others, was a consultant on the film, and there was some effort to do justice to the era. But it is largely a youth production – a tale of love and learning about a foreign culture, visually beautiful and simple-hearted, but able to surprise with unconventional plot plays. The visual layer is inspired by Russian painting, primarily the works of Viktor Vasnetsov. To help with the fight scenes, sportsmen practicing the Russian martial art called sambo were hired. When necessary, film is showy and brutal, as during a naval skirmish between Norwegians and Danes. But when it’s essential, the atmosphere changes to intimate and idyllic.
Trees Grow on the Stones Too cannot compare to Stanislav Rostotskiy’s previous masterpieces (The Dawns Here Are Quiet, 1972; White Bim Black Ear, 1977), but it’s another successful film by this director. Certainly, co-financing from the Norwegians helped, resulting in a fuller picture of the old era, while successfully competing for financial benefits (eventually the film was a hit, but unfortunately didn’t live to see a sequel).
Among Icelandic filmmakers, Hrafn Gunnlaugsson made the greatest contribution to the genre of medieval adventure stories. He made three films that are part of a variety of entertainment cinema popular mainly in the US and Italy. The first of these pictures is internationally titled When the Raven Flies (1984), more on the last part of the trilogy – The White Viking (1991) – later in the text, and now a few words about the middle film of the series, known internationally as Shadow of the Raven (1988).
The plot is taken from the Celtic legend of Tristan and Isolde, but also from Scandinavian tales of blood feuds between clans. The thing takes place in 1077, when Iceland was already heavily Christianized, but the old customs were still alive. The protagonist is a young traveler Trausti (Reine Brynolfsson), who studied theology in Norway and, although he has pagan ancestors, is already largely imbued with the Christian faith. When he returns to his native Iceland, he becomes an unwitting participant in a quarrel over a stranded whale that is a real treasure for surviving the harsh winter. As tribesmen and enemies are gripped by rage, hatred and a lust for revenge, he thinks in terms of Christian forgiveness and love. Perfect in this context is the scene in which Trausti plunges a Viking knife into the ground as a sign of peace, and behind his back the tribesman Grim (Helgi Skúlason) throws his knife, killing his neighbor and incurring the wrath of his daughter Isolde (Tinna Gunnlaugsdóttir, the director’s sister).
That’s not all the important elements of the plot, because when the bishop (Sune Mangs) enters the village with his son Hjörleifur (Egill Ólafsson), the plot gets even more complicated and another conflict is created. What we have here is a thrilling, dynamic performance that holds you in suspense and draws you in with its frighteningly cold and bleak atmosphere. The aura created around the characters heralds the lack of hope for a better tomorrow. The middle, somewhat calmer act is followed by a squalid and unforgiving final chapter, where the prayerful formula Kyrie eleison is merely an act of desperation, not a true profession of faith, for the world has been overshadowed by the shadow of the infernal raven – a symbol of war and death – and no God will open the gates to paradise for man.
Mankind has developed many weapons, but the sharpest of them is a certain book called the Scriptures. Christianization proved more effective than the Vikings in conquering the world, and Odin eventually had to succumb to the Christian God. The White Viking is set during the declining reign of Norwegian King Olaf Tryggvason (between 999-1000), who sought to eliminate pagan temples and replace them with Catholic churches. The primary source of inspiration for the screenwriters was Ari Thorgilsson’s The Book of Icelanders (Íslendingabók), written in the 12th century.
The main characters in the film are Askur (Gotti Sigurdarson) and Embla (Maria Bonnevie) – names from Norse mythology denoting the first humans created by the gods, and therefore the pagan counterparts of Adam and Eve. This alone shows how the two religions are similar, as each is based on the same principles. Embla is the daughter of the Norwegian jarl Godbrandur, while Askur’s father is the lawspeaker of the Icelandic Althing, Thorgeir Thorkelsson (an authentic character played by Helgi Skúlason). In the opening sequence, they participate in a nuptial ritual along the lines of traditional Nordic ceremonies, but the ceremony is interrupted by supporters of Christianity led by King Olaf (Egill Ólafsson). Askur is forced to convince his fellow Icelanders to embrace the Christian faith. To make sure he takes the task seriously, Olaf takes Embla hostage.
The film exists in three editions. The most popular is the two-hour producer version with Askur as the main character. In the second edition, the film takes the form of a four-part mini-series with authentic scenes of animal sacrifice. Meanwhile, the third release, made available in 2007, is a director’s version titled Embla. It’s shorter than the original one, because the director removed many scenes with Askur in order to better show the character of the female protagonist (this treatment was probably not only a result of the director’s vision, but also the fact that Maria Bonnevie, for the first time on the screen, performed much better than her film partner).
When the protagonist catches a spear in flight and throws it towards the enemy, and then, together with a small squad of warriors, with frenzied fury written on his face, pushes through the walls of the city – and this is realized as a mastershot – it’s already clear that we’re dealing with a film whose director knows exactly what he’s doing. Robert Eggers based the script for his third feature-length film on the Danish legend of Prince Amleth, son of Horvendill, lord of the Jutes. The legend is best known from the accounts of Saxo Grammaticus (Deeds of the Danes / Gesta Danorum, 12th/13th century), and today is associated with William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The film begins with King Horvendill (Ethan Hawke) returning to his family nest, where his wife Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) and 12-year-old son Amleth (Oscar Novak) are waiting longingly for him. The battle-hardened ruler wants to pass on his inheritance to his son, but shortly after the initiation ritual he is killed by Fjölnir (Claes Bang), his brother. Witnessing the murder is Amleth, whose purpose in life from now on is to avenge his father.
Eggers interprets the motif of revenge as a rejection of humanity and an entrance into the soul of a wild animal. The protagonist transforms from an innocent child into a berserker named Björn-úlfur (Alexander Skarsgård), a bear-wolf in whose heart smoulders a never-quenching flame. The result of this heat is an unbridled madness that makes the main character an anti-hero figure – someone who has become a beast more cruel than the one who contributed to his harm. But even the beast has human reflexes, and they are most evident in his relationship with the Slavic slave Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy). The life of the northman resembles the barren, volcanic soil of Iceland – no beautiful fruits flourish, only bitter, hallucinogenic, sometimes even poisonous weeds.
British archaeologist Neil Price, an expert on the Viking Age, was a consultant on the film, but the director, together with Icelandic screenwriter Sjón Sigurdsson (Dancer in the Dark, Lamb), treated with respect not only the history of Iceland at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, but also its mythology and animal symbols (ravens, bears, wolves). In addition to the historical realities – most believable in the visuals, which are full of dirt, blood, extreme violence, surreal rituals and Iceland’s natural settings – viewers get a large dose of mysticism and psychedelia. The lead role is based on physicality, but the challenge for Skarsgård was not easy, as it required bringing out his animal nature. Robert Eggers has prepared another successful film feast that will be remembered for a long time. And while the production in question is be among my favorite pictures of the year, I place it lower than Hrafn Gunnlaugsson’s The Raven Trilogy in the category of Nordic stories.
Franco, a Mexican director who has been respected by the jury in Cannes for several years, disturbs the viewers’ vision of Roth in his latest drama Sundown. Franco uses Roth as a silent actor – this marriage of silence with the director’s slow style gives us a demanding yet exhausting study of a man suffering from depression in his middle age.
“The content of Sundown is devastating from the start – Neil Bennett, played by Roth, is vacationing in Acapulco with his sister Alice (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and her two children. He is a man who values peace: he doesn’t say much in the first scenes, which leads us to categorize him as an “introvert”. One day, the whole family receives the news that Neil and Alice’s mother has just passed away. Sadness quickly turns into panic – the heroes immediately pack up and go to the airport. Only Neil decides to stay in Mexico and continue his vacation. Although he says he left his passport at the hotel, he does not board the next plane. Using a lie, he completely cuts himself off from his loved ones and starts a “new life” in one of the Mexican hotels. He doesn’t answer the phone from anyone, goes to the beach, sunbathes, walks and pretends every day as if nothing has happened. He’s withdrawn – it seems to be his way of coping with the loss.”
Here’s the interview with Polish subtitles:
Can you imagine Forrest Gump in space or a sequel to No Country for Old Men and further “adventures” of Anton Chigurh? Or a continuation of the fate of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood, where he fires up a new business… perhaps silkworm farming? I can’t imagine either.
Some roles are so flawlessly written, are such a perfectly closed whole, that adding, subtracting or changing anything in their performance without disturbing the perfectly woven structure is simply unthinkable. Casting such a character in a sequel or prequel can only strip them of their aura of mystery / awesomeness, trivialize them, grind them to dust. For the strength of these characters remains unsatisfaction, and their greatest enemy is over-saturation, such as in the case of Jack Sparrow, after his Oscar nomination, from part to part of Pirates of the Caribbean losing its momentum and turning more and more into the realm of cheap buffoonery. Interestingly, even such iconic characters as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman seem to have their place and time only (!) in the Breaking Bad series. All of their later guest or episodic appearances (Better Call Saul, El Camino) have only been moderately successful attempts to relate to their former glory. The Joker, interpreted by Joaquin Phoenix and conducted by Todd Phillips, not only falls into such “disposable” characters, but is their flagship. Phoenix’s concert performance consisting of mannerisms, tics, obsessive neurosis, fits of laughter and the success of it all as a compelling explosive whole, is a rarity in world cinema, with no chance of successful repetition.
Not only is my personal answer to the above question a definite no. It is backed up by dry facts and figures, on which we can analyze whether and why a repeat of the entertainment titled Joker: Folie à deux has a chance to be at best… a successful sequel, but without the “spark of God” that characterized the original film. Yes, there have been instances in the history of the Oscars of an actor repeating a role and winning a statuette for it only on his second or subsequent attempt (see Paul Newman and an Oscar for The Color of Money, Stallone and a nomination for Creed), or in general the upward trend of an actor from part to part (Al Pacino and his brilliant performance in The Godfather II). But in these cases, there was always still room to climb higher. Instead, in the history of the Academy Awards, we’ve had as many as 10 instances of an acting Oscar winner repeating his award-winning role, where each time it was a qualitative downward slope, both in terms of the ratings for the role (no subsequent nomination) and the sequel itself, always rated lower than the original film. Gene Hackman – Oscar winner for The French Connection – tried to replicate his memorable performance in the sequel, but unfortunately it was closer to overacting, and the film itself registered much lower ratings than its Oscar-winning predecessor. Shirley MacClane and Jack Nicholson – Oscar winners for Terms of Endearment – did not rise to their former level in the sequel either; MacClane’s character was stripped of her characterization, and Nicholson appeared in literally a few minutes episode, probably only to play a reenactment of the famous car ride on the beach.
Neither did the attention of the audience or the Academy go to Michael Douglas repeating the Oscar-winning role of stock market shark Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, nor to Jack Palance – Oscar-winner for his supporting role in City Slickers, who tried to repeat the award-winning role with very mediocre results in City Slickers II. Hannibal Lecter’s Oscar-winning character in Silence of the Lambs was perfectly butchered a decade later under the wing of Ridley Scott by Sir Anthony Hopkins himself in Hannibal. There was simply too much of his character, so that his magnetism and charisma were effectively murdered, and the “oki doki” uttered by Lecter nailed the nail in the film’s coffin. Tommy Lee Jones in U.S. Marshals attempting to reprise his Oscar-winning role as Samuel Gerard from The Fugitive, this time in the foreground, was lost with a thud in the very first minutes of the sequel, masquerading as some Big Bird-style weirdo. Kevin Kline and an Oscar for A Fish Called Wanda were supposed to be turned into a success for the sequel, Fierce Creatures, but both the film and the recurring roles were just very poor. Don Ameche, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in Ron Howard’s Cocoon (I really don’t know what even a nomination is for here), repeated his role without success in Cocoon: The Return, a film that was completely unnecessary and rated much lower than the original. Only John Wayne, who in Rooster Cogburn repeated his Oscar-winning performance from True Grit, came out of this clash with a shield, because both his role stood at a very similar high level, and the film itself was really successful, although neither one nor the other even rubbed shoulders with the Oscars. This exception, however, seems only to confirm the rule that there is no chance to rise not only above the level presented by the Oscar-winning performance, but even to match it or stand a worthy sequel.
Todd Phillips is a filmmaker until recently associated with the rubbishy, often unsavory humor with which he filled the comedies Road Trip, the remake of Starsky & Hutch and, of course, the flagship product in the form of the iconic Hangover and its two less glorious sequels. Along the way he scored yet another sensational drama with comedy elements titled War Dogs, and the next project was to be unlike anything the director had created so far. We are, of course, talking about 2019 and the amazing Joker, already strictly a drama, a dark, gloomy film, where even if there was humor, it was extremely tart and pitch-black. After the spectacular success of Joker and the rain of awards for Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, both the director and actor strongly denied the possibility of a sequel. What’s more, Phillips even immediately cut off all online discussions about a possible director’s version, putting the matter straight: the world will never see any additional scenes or shots of the Joker. The director and Phoenix were well aware that (according to point one of this article) here there is nothing more to add, to expand, because you can only spoil the overall impression of the film and the character. As you already know, unfortunately, shooting for the sequel is underway. There is one concern here, as far as the person of the director is concerned, will Todd Phillips, who has never managed to make a sequel better than his original film (see the Hangover trilogy) be able to make something better – or at least as good – as Joker? Will he be able to maintain the masterful level of the original?
Is a duet with Lady Gaga a good idea? Will the actress, despite her Oscar nomination for A Star is Born and her lauded performance in House of Gucci, manage to keep up dramatically and acting-wise with Phoenix, one of the best and most appreciated contemporary living actors? The filmmakers will have to decide in which direction to push the character of the Joker and his friendship with Harley Quinn at all. Will both of them, in accordance with the title, share the same delusion, supporting each other in this belief, and that’s what the plot will focus on, however, offering us the same dilemma a second time (if and what really happens)? From the first leaks, it seems that the bulk of the action is to take place in the Arkham Asylum, where Arthur Fleck is staying (which speaks to the fact that there was no revolution in the Joker), and the main fiddle in the film is to be played by Lady Gaga, whose perspective (musical) is to be the perception of the world and the Joker. To sum up, for the sequel, nevertheless… I’m looking forward to it, because although it may not be outstanding anymore, I hope it will be interesting and surprising. I would like Todd Phillips to shock the world again, for Lady Gaga’s performance to be at least successful (maybe an Oscar nomination?), and for Joaquin Phoenix to get his second Golden Knight nomination for the same role, making him the first actor in history to do so.
Joker was a depressing tale of a sick, sad, reality-broken, socially isolated man that left us questioning whether the killings and revolution happened only in his imagination, and whether it happened at all. I can’t imagine this hapless individual escaping into a delusional world in the original film, dueling with Batman in the sequels, or setting up any criminal scheme or life alongside Harley Quinn. Not only the role, but the film itself is therefore fraught with enormous risk. Expectations are gigantic, every viewer will want similarly intense experiences of the main character, similarly great acting, such iconic scenes. It is already known that the sequel is to have the character of a musical, and here I would actually see a chance to show the Joker in a new light (stage?). In conclusion, you yourselves know how it is with these sequels, we seemingly always want to see our hero again; we want a repeat of the experience of the original… but not parroting it, we want it to be the same, well, but different. If the convention of the second part changes too much from the first film, will it be what we expected? Will Joaquin Phoenix jump over the bar he suspended? I don’t think so, despite the enormous confidence I have in this extremely talented actor. Because if you start by reaching the summit – and as it is the summit, there is nothing higher – the second attempt to reach it will never be as exciting and the success as loud. And more often than not, it ends in a painful fall, and let’s hope Phoenix hurts as little as possible.
A space ship under the command of Captain Mills (Adam Driver), a resident of a distant human civilization, crashes on our planet from 65 million years ago. The entire crew is killed except for Mills and a nine-year-old girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt). A huge disaster, but there is still a chance for rescue. At a distance of several kilometers, there is the second part of the ship, with an undamaged rescue capsule. Our protagonists can expect anything, and we want everything. Except for a postcard walk from point A to B.
The site of the unfortunate landing is deadly territory. With constantly hunting predators, with quicksand, disgusting vermin, debilitating humidity and volcanic geysers. Endless ways to die painfully. Mills has nothing to wait for, and there is not much time to prepare a specific plan, because a giant meteorite is already clearly visible in the sky approaching the Earth. A rifle in your hands and a handful of useful gadgets must be enough for many hungry T-Rex. We have to hit the road. Inaction is rather a guarantee of failure.
The directorial duo of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods undoubtedly succeeded in a few things in 65. First of all, it’s a completely fulfilled and faithful adaptation of a non-existent FPS game. Simple action, limited equipment (rope, bullets, grenades), corridors, dead ends and a few bosses to defeat before reaching your destination. Alternate stealth missions (step carefully!) with others that require reflexes and an accurate eye when using a rifle. For this environmental task: climb a tree to catch a signal or get out of an underground maze. With an hour and a half of 65, any player should feel right at home. When you go to the cinema, put the pad in your backpack.
Mills and Koa are not just markers on the map. The creators sparingly enrich their CVs and make sure that they are driven by credible motivations. For Mills, a two-year space journey is not an exploratory adventure, but an opportunity for a lucrative contract. Necessary to start treating his sick daughter waiting for him at home. Koa, who needs care, still hopes that her parents survived the disaster and are waiting for her in the second part of the crashed ship. A strong and convincing bond develops between Mills and Koa. The first finds himself again in the role of father-guardian, and the second receives some substitute of parental warmth. In building this relationship, the creators do not take shortcuts, because the language barrier of communication stands in the way. So they both learn each other, gestures replace words and step by step they gain trust in each other.
Beck and Woods do not deconstruct either catastrophe cinema, horror cinema, or cinematic survival. 65 is rather a set of known tricks, bogeys and a proven method of building tension. We get one more interesting staging scene (with the use of a scanner) and rarely surprising camera work. Sometimes the back of some monster will emerge under the feet of Mills as he flounders in the puddle, at other times he will notice a lurking velociraptor behind a layer of leaves or come across an ominous tyrannosaurus paw print. Some distinguishing feature or characteristic feature of 65 (in favor or not) may be a bizarre accumulation of threats and a mixture of genres. An epochal cataclysm in the form of a meteorite approaching the Earth, significant elements of Jurassic Park, the narrative framework of a video game and classic interstellar sci-fi. Even if 65 isn’t technically a revelation at all, and occasionally has some manufacturing shortcomings (I suspect the pretty high budget is due in large part to Adam Driver’s lavish check), it remains quite satisfying popcorn entertainment. Should we always expect more?
Watching horror movies alone? It’s worth a try, provided you choose the right movie. For obvious reasons, it’s better to avoid all horror movies where the hero or heroine is in a situation similar to ours, so they are at home and experience terrible events in it – so movies like Paranormal Activity (2007), Strangers (2008), Sinister (2012) or The Ring (2002). If you don’t have a companion or just like to watch horror movies alone, here are six suggestions for you.
A good old classic! Watching movies alone is a great time to catch up on the classics of horror cinema – it is unlikely to scare the modern viewer and will give you a chance to appreciate the artistic craftsmanship of these films. The cult film based on the famous novel by Mary Shelley is a perfect proposition for the evening. Frankenstein can be successfully exchanged for another film from the Universal studio. It was this studio that in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s produced a series of horror films based on the classics of horror literature, shaping the iconography of the genre for many years. The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), The Werewolf (1941) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) are other Universal movies and great suggestions for lonely horror movie night.
Horror blaxploitation? Sounds like a great idea for a lonely evening with a horror movie. African-American cinema of exploitation was born in the 1970s on the wave of movements fighting for the equality of black people. The main characters of blaxploitation are African American men and women who are causative, independent and in control of their destiny. This subgenre broke stereotypes about black people, showing them in a way that cinema, especially that made by white people, never did. Blacula is just such an example – the vampire Dracula, known from literature and horror movies, here becomes Blacula – the first black vampire in history. Locked in a coffin for hundreds of years, he is awakened in Los Angeles in the 1970s, where two interior designers have moved a purchased sarcophagus. Because the cinema of exploitation is a low-budget and amateur cinema, so is Blacula, therefore it is a good idea for a light, lonely screening. The film does not scare, but it has a sense of humor and great, soul-funk music that will make the screening more pleasant.
Brian de Palma’s film based on Stephen King’s novel is a great proposition for a solitary screening. The protagonist of the film is 16-year-old Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), who has telekinetic abilities. She is shy, withdrawn, and bullied by her peers at school. Carrie is raised by a religious mother (Piper Laurie) who does not make life easy for her teenage daughter. When the heroine is humiliated, her telekinetic powers will get out of control. Carrie is a good idea for a lonely screening, because apart from being a horror film, it is also a bit of a typical high school movie that takes up many different threads – adolescence, social ostracism or religious fanaticism.
The plot of Cabin in the Woods follows a typical horror film pattern – a group of teenagers decide to spend the weekend in a cabin in the woods. It turns out that bloodthirsty beasts lurk around. And although in the introduction to this text I wrote that it is better not to watch movies about heroes locked at home alone, contrary to appearances, this is not a typical horror film. It turns out that the teenagers are subjected to a mysterious experiment that they have no idea about. The filmmakers dress their film in traditional garments, but what lies beneath their surface is something completely fresh. Their film is both a horror film and a satire on excessive violence in horror cinemas. For this reason, A house in the depths of the forest is a good proposition for a solitary screening.
A great choice for a solitary screening is simply a daytime horror movie. We have a lot to choose from – I suggest a film by Ari Aster (director of Hereditary). It tells the story of a young American, Dani (Florence Pugh), who visits a Swedish village with her boyfriend and his friends on vacation. Its inhabitants are practically cut off from the world and lead a peculiar life devoid of the comforts of the modern world. They are preparing for the traditional festival of the summer solstice – Midsommar. A group of heroes will be involved in bizarre and increasingly terrifying rituals. Midsommar is not only an original folk horror, but also a story of trauma and mourning, and attempts to work through them.
John Krasinski’s film is another film that takes place mainly during the day, and in addition in complete silence. A Quiet Place is a post-apocalyptic horror film about a world overrun by sightless monsters with above-average hearing, who murdered most of the human population. At the center of the film is the Abbott family – parents Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee (John Krasinski) and their three children. They live on a farm isolated from the world, located near the forest. The family tries to live as quietly as possible – they use sign language to communicate, and their home is properly secured. A Quiet Place is suspenseful and scary, but it’s perfectly fine to watch alone.
The film, apart from providing us with a lot of entertainment, sometimes brazenly uses our inattention. For the comfort of the creators or actors, it often uses small screen lies. One of them is the presence of doubles. Nude scenes, sex sequences are not easy even for experienced actors. As it turns out, body doubling is not uncommon in the film industry. The services of understudies were used by such stars as Mila Kunis, Emilia Clarke, Keira Knightley and Willem Dafoe. However, the reasons why artists decide to use replacements are different, sometimes extremely different. The most important thing is that this change of roles is imperceptible to the viewer. So it’s worth checking which movie deceived you, because you melted over the body of a given actor or actress, and in fact it belonged to a modest understudy.
Farmiga, the actress known from the horror series The Conjuring, has decided to fill in Jason Reitman’s Oscar-nominated drama Up in the Air. Her body double appears in the buttocks-exposing shots of the bed scene that the actress shared with George Clooney. Thanks to the skillful assembly, however, you can’t see the reversal of roles. In her opinion, Farmiga had a very good explanation. The erotic scene in the 2009 film was shot just weeks after the 36-year-old gave birth to her son. According to her, it was not the right time to parade in front of the camera naked. Her figure, especially from behind, was not satisfactory in her opinion. However, the woman did not seem disappointed, as she proved by joking that “the milk flowing from her breasts would not be appropriate there” and that “what viewers want to see the most are George’s buttocks, anyway.”
Men, though less often, sometimes also need a body double. Willem Dafoe himself tried to get one on the set of Lars von Trier’s controversial Antichrist. Still, he didn’t do it out of prudishness or shame. On the contrary, he had no reason to. This decision was made by the director, who – as he confessed in “Boston Phoenix” in 2009 – said that the American actor’s penis was too big. He also added that “everyone on set was very confused when they saw him.” So the director decided to invest in a double from the porn industry, who replaced Dafoe in scenes that emphasize male genitalia. All this so that the actor’s genitals, generously endowed by nature, do not attract too much attention from the viewers. If you think about it longer, you could come to the conclusion that the fact that the actor took his first steps in the industry by shooting amateur porn is not that strange at all.
“I have a rule about the films I’m in – I can show the top but not the bottom,” the actress confessed in an interview regarding her role in Tony Scott’s Domino. And that was reason enough to hire an understudy to replace Knightley in some parts of the sexy striptease scene. The heroine of Domino Harvey performs a sensual dance in underwear in front of a group of excited, aroused men. There are also some subtle close-ups of her buttocks, but these are no longer the actress’s buttocks. The woman also recalls what the casting for the understudy looked like: “So I went to the room with the director Tony Scott, when three girls came in and just lowered their pants in front of us. The director then said: »So which one do you want?«. […] I tried to choose buttocks that have a shape similar to mine, but a little better. […] The girl we chose had a beautiful ass.” Two years later, the artist also used the services of a body double – on the set of the 2007 film Atonement. This time, the replaced part of the body was not the buttocks, but the feet.
Eighteen-year-old Barrymore decided to abandon the roles of little girls, thanks to which she gained fame, in favor of erotic cinema. Although the actress takes part in really bold erotic scenes, the breasts that belong to her character Ivy are not the breasts of the actress, but doubles. Barrymore recalls that she was not thrilled with the prospect of revealing her charms in front of the camera. The fact that the film was aimed only at a European audience helped her make her decision. Ultimately, however, the film went to the American market, which Drew Barrymore sourly summed up in an interview for “Movieline”: “Well, no offense, but I have prettier breasts than that girl. I’m appalled that America will think those on the screen belong to me.”
Playing the role of the silver-haired dragon queen Daenerys, Emilia Clarke quickly became an on-screen symbol of beauty and seduction. Interestingly, however, until the fifth season of the famous Game of Thrones, the actress often used the help of her equally beautiful and, more importantly, surprisingly similar double Rosie Mac, who replaced her in nude or erotic scenes. This decision is related to Clarke’s approach to on-screen sex scenes. “I don’t like intrusive sex that throws you in the face. I’ve always believed that the suggestion is more arousing than the actual act of sex,” she told The Daily Mail. She also argues that sex scenes in movies should be more subtle. Well, given how sex in Game of Thrones sometimes looks like, the comments of the British woman seem to be in place. Although there are actresses in the series such as Carice van Houten, who is not ashamed to reveal her nudity in front of the camera, Clarke was not alone in her attitude. Lena Headey also decided to use the services of an understudy in the famous scene of the penitential march. But let’s get back to Emilia Clarke: Rosie Mac just after the fifth season announced that she was leaving the series. The actress playing the role of Daenerys then decided to focus on her own body, resigning from the help of doubles. Her first scene in which she clearly exposes her nudity is a sequence from the sixth season, from the episode Book of the Stranger – tongues of fire envelop the naked body of the heroine emerging from the fire, but not doing her any harm. “It’s all me, proud and strong. It’s my body, not doubles,” Clarke told Entertainment Weekly.
Sequel to Shazam! is at least as successful and entertaining as the previous part. Everyone who liked the “first superhero movie about the mutation” (as Shazam! is jokingly called) will also like its sequel.
I’ll try without giving away too much of the plot. Shazam! Fury of the Gods understands why number one was successful and repeats the same recipe. The combination of the story of slightly awkward, not feeling well in their skin teenagers with superhero cinema once again gives a light, pleasant, family film. The young heroes are played here not by the model Zendaya and the handsome Tom Holland, but by normal-looking actors, believable in the roles of school outsiders. Shazam! Fury of the Gods has a youthful wink and nice humor (often self-referential), as well as something from the New Adventure cinema.
In the sequel, Billy (Asher Angel) will not only continue to learn his new superpowered adult form (played again by Zachary Levi) – he will also have to learn to be a good leader to his adoptive siblings, part of his newly formed team of heroes. In addition, like every teenager, he faces everyday school life and complexes, as well as the imposter syndrome, i.e. with the feeling that he is not good enough to achieve the goals set. Accustomed to constant changes of adoptive homes, Billy is also unsure of his “here and now”. All this together becomes too heavy for a teenager’s shoulders… and this mess is joined by the Daughters of Atlas, very powerful and very malicious beings whom the main character carelessly and unknowingly hurt, which made him the center of their vengeful interests.
We watch with tenderness how the teenagers from the first part turned into young adults after three years. Freddy is still my favorite, Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays him, has also led his career so far in the most interesting way – the young actor has, among others, appearances in the series It and the main role in Luca Guadagnino’s series, We Are Who We Are. The youngest in the cast, Faithe Herman, or Darla, is also exceptionally characterful. All relationships in the patchwork family are interestingly outlined. We like these kids, we want to be with them as much as possible. The film manages to capture both the carefree charm of teenage years and more serious dilemmas related to this period: the uncertainty of tomorrow, the need for social acceptance, the choice of a professional path, first infatuations and rejections. One of the characters will fall in love with each other, which is one of the most charming themes of the film. With a slight surprise, however, I observed that the writers clearly create the foundations for the love relationship of Billy and Mary, i.e. adoptive brother and sister … Quite a slippery thread.
The fantastic layer of the story uses Greek mythology in a creative way, we will see many monsters from various legends, often in quite perverse incarnations. Helen Mirren as the villain is – as expected – great. It’s a pity that she didn’t get more space to deepen her character, but maybe the next parts will create an opportunity for that. Also her partner in crime, Lucy Liu, with the role of Calypso reminded her of her acting talent (and the fact that she does not age at all). In turn, fans of the character of the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) from the first part can count on getting to know this enigmatic hero from a slightly different side. A cameo of a certain character from the DC universe came out very elegant, with a nice irony in relation to the lazy plot solutions used in popular films.
It’s the kind of movie you can go to with your kids, younger siblings, husband and grandma, and they’ll all be happy. As a cool proposition for a spring screening and an antidote to the superhero pathos of Shazam! Fury of the Gods will work more than well. Probably in six months I won’t remember much about the plot, but that’s the charm of the genre. Lightness is the strongest strength.