ATM – No deal

Sitting in the auditorium of a Dutch cinema, awaiting that day’s choice for the sneak preview, there is only one thing you are hoping for (unless you are capable of speaking Dutch fluently): May it be an English film production, may it be true that the Dutch never translate English-based movies, may it not, not, not be a Dutch production without any English subtitles. After casually paying attention to the Dutch ad clips, eating dazzlingly coloured sweets, washed away by some kind of apple spritzer, you hold your breath the moment the film sets in. ATM – a 2012 American horror film production. Hurrah – or not?

Now, there’s so much to dwell on concerning this movie that it seems to be a good one at first sight. To begin with, you might be asking yourself in what way the genre horror film is able to help you on – if at all. You pay money, eat some terrible junk food stuff, gulp litres of  soft drinks, tolerate peculiar filmgoers, just to let some freaks emotionally terrorise you with their worn and blood-thirsty ideas of how the world could be even more brutal, unsettling and unnerving (at least at nights). In reference to that, the genre arouses questions like why people like to be entertained by cruelties in films like that. Which side effects of living in today’s (western) societies make people strive for artificial and exaggerated shocks? Next, you could argue what exactly the expression “films like that” might mean. Certainly, not all horror films are shoddy, which actually leads this review back to reviewing the film ATM (so far there hasn’t been a 100 % execution of this original plan).

To leave minor details aside and get serious again: The film ATM is crap. Some annoying guy called Corey accompanies a nice but shy guy David, who has offered a ride home to his colleague Emily, who he is secretly  in love with. The whole plot sets in after the company’s Christmas party, at which – I apologise for having to mention it – Corey has been equally annoying all through from the first minute of the film. So, “absolutely annoying” Corey decides he is hungry in the middle of the night and in the middle of their joint ride in David’s car. Of course, “absolutely annoying” Corey does not carry any money with him to pay for the desired food, which is actually also the reason why he couldn’t travel home on public transport in the first place. “Obviously too nice” David agrees on enabling Corey to take out some money from a cash machine. Therefore, he stops at a deserted parking area in front of a supermarket. Up to this point, I felt relaxed because of the fact that the sneak preview did have an English film in store which – as I thought – seemed to be evolving a romance between David and Emily.

However, the mood changes when annoying Corey beckons “definitely too nice” David to borrow his cash card because – of course – Corey’s does not work. Which leaves Emily in the car alone, who decides to join them because she feels scared all alone at this deserted parking area. When they turn around to head back to the car, they are confronted with a hooded figure, who remains a hooded figure from start to finish. This hooded figure, and this is my biggest point of criticism, has got into his head to kill them all for no obvious reason. I mean, not that annoying Corey has not deserved some kind of punishment for his aggrevating behaviour. But who is the hooded figure to know that Corey is such a dork? The rest of the film basically is realising that none of the three carries a mobile phone with them to call the police, then running out of the ATM booth in order to reach the car, failing, being bashed by the hooded figure, running back to the ATM booth, freaking out inside the booth, being killed by the hooded figure as well as by each other and being accused of committing four murders. Yeah, wow. Especially because it is not the hooded figure who is accused of them but David.

To put it all in a nutshell, there are 5 minutes you don’t understand at the beginning but only at the end of the film, then 5 minutes of an evolving romance, then approx. 70 minutes of mental and emotional terror and finally 5 minutes of showing that the hooded figure starts to plan his next act of violence. There is no answer to the question why he does it or what for he does it, which is what I absolutely dislike about the film. At least, I would like to understand why and what for some cranky madman randomly kills people. Otherwise the film is senseless to me. If I just wanted to see some atrocities, I could turn on the news or watch some reports on wars in whereever on this planet. But that’s not what I want. I would like to understand why people act in a certain way and what outcome they expect from doing so. Otherwise I’d just learn not to halt at a deserted parking area, taking money out of a cash machine. And this can’t be it.

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The Hunger Games – Hungering for more

It might not be the best precondition if you know in advance how the piece of writing you’ve destined to read is going to end. Imagine you happened to see the film The Hunger Games, the film adaption of the first part of Suzanne Collin’s trilogy, which you partly enjoyed but also criticized for various minor reasons. In addition to that, imagine you had a friend who blurted out that the next part of Collin’s work was going to end in inversing the whole scenario – the Hunger Games were going to be conducted by the poor people so that the rich would have to fight for their survival from then on. Now wouldn’t that sound extremely interesting to you?

This is exactly what has happened to me. Instantly, I changed my mind about the film adaption I saw from “okay but outgrown” to “critical and realistic”. If the inversion of the whole situation was going to be the ending of the story, I wanted to find out how exactly this was reasoned in detail. The mere abolition of the Hunger Games by a successful uprising  of the poor would have seemed too idealistic to me anyway. Why should poor people generally be better human beings than the rich? Don’t get me wrong on this, it would be wonderful if all the oppressed people in this world could just make a difference by overcoming their miserable situations and establishing a better world in which no one would have to suffer from abolition anymore. But all I have witnessed so far in this world, sadly enough, is just the opposite: People who come into power mostly change their attitudes towards newly inferior ones. Crawling to the bigwigs and bullying the underlings, that’s a widely-used justification for all sorts of anti-social behaviour. Worse luck!

So, what I did was running into the bookstore, grabbing the second part of The Hunger Games, entitled Catching Fire, devouring it. Well, not exactly. Actually, I was just about to finish the read of Little Bee by Chris Cleave on my holiday in The Hague, facing a long trip back home without anything decent to read. So, I ran into a Dutch department store (because it was raining outside and I had no umbrella with me), straying from here to there, trying on a few dresses that looked nice and fashionable, finally finding a bookshelf with mainly Dutch as well as a few English books in the last corner of the store. After scanning a few novels which were out of question, Catching Fire fell into my hands. I remembered the above mentioned scenario, with my friend railing about the trilogy and thus sparking my interest in reading the story in detail, and eventually purchased it.

Without exaggerating, I can say the novel is absolutely enthralling. It took me three days to read through the 472 pages. I have already ordered the third part, Mockingjay, and I know I am going to devour it as fast as Catching Fire. What I particularly like about it is the combination of actions rapidly carried out by a handful of interesting characters and the inwardness created by the first-person perspective of Katniss that allows a number of almost philosophical questions to arise. How, for example, can you distinguish between friend and foe? What is trust and how does it grow between two people? How quickly can it develop and still be justified? While rushing through the plot, the author nonchalantly interlarded her story with thoughts worth dealing with for a while. Thus, the reader feels constantly challenged to decide whether to pause, committing himself to an interesting thought brought up between the lines, or to go on reading, taking a note and coming back to it later.

I am looking forward to reading the third part asap, which I will certainly write something about here, too – not last because my all-embracing question, whether the author managed to plausibly elaborate on the idea that the poor overcome the intimidating rule of the rich in this dystopian society and inverse the whole situation to the worse of the formerly rich, needs to be answered.

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Hello world!

Ok, this isn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be. Still I am sure I am going to make a quick way through initial difficulties which are probably awaiting every new blogger at first… 🙂

It’s such a shame that this is no philosophical blog (it might at some or the other point become one, though). Because if it were a philosophical one, I could dwell on the activity of blogging in the first place. I would never have thought that I would ever be blogging whatsoever. Why should what I want to say be of such public relevance? Yes, I have friends who keep blogs on various subjects, and yes, I like to read what they write occasionally. But me? Blogging? No…

Yeah, and this is how consistent I finally am. Tahtahtahtaaaaaaaah – here is my new blog: Irini’s review. Naming the baby was the first hurdle to pass. I decided to call it “review” and not “book club”, which was my original plan, because I don’t want to restrict myself to books only. Moreover, I plan to write about every piece of literature, film, songs even, as well as plays, musicals, or operas (the latter probably absolutely rarely……) that inspires or aggravates me enough to reflect on it. And that’s about it.

As to the philosophical touch of it, I guess I have to warn you. I might be asking and discussing tiny little details some time (soon). You are very welcome to launch into it!

Happy blogging!

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