Tu vuò fà l’americano

Here's one of my favourite scenes from 1999’s "The Talented Mr. Ripley": Tom’s first peek into the good life as Dickie and his friends are having an absolute blast in a Naples nightclub1 and performing Tu Vuo' Fa l'Americano (alternative).

I seriously wonder how the productions of Patricia Highsmith's novel inevitably ended up being so… glamoruous. There's nothing remarkable about Tom, apart from his insidious, innate drive to claw his way up the top of the bucket of rats. Neither is Highsmith's spiteful and contemptuous writing - yet I find myself quite pulled toward her Novels, be it the full Ripliad, "Strangers on a Train" or "Cry of the Owl", or dramatizations such as the excellent BBC ones or "Carol" (The Price of Salt).

The films, however, are a sight to behold. The Talended Mr. Ripley's cast is riveting. Quite the difference to view them as young as they were back then:

  • Jude Law, a charming young philanderer, as opposed to the creepy old philanderer he now seems to be,
  • Gwyneth Paltrow still interested in acting (and being great at it!) instead of hawking poison to the most gullible of affluent suckers,
  • Matt Damon still possessing enough edge to hide his immense charisma and charm behind the mask of Tom's shifty, untrustworthy, barely-hidden malevolence,
  • and Philip Seymour Hoffman, well, being alive.

So, please enjoy this blast from the past with Tu Vuo' Fa l'Americano as performed by Rosario Fiorello and the Guy Barker International Quintet. Or perhaps you'd enjoy the song as performed by the Gypsy Queens?

The rest of the soundtrack is also swell, with Sinead O'Connor’s Lullaby for Cain eerily setting the mood, and composer Gabriel Yared building great soundscapes as well.

  1. Well, the supposed "Vesuvio" nightclub was apparently really in Rome 


Music: Gerry Rafferty - As Wise as a Serpent

Calming, late-night highway music. Great for finding your inner peace in case you've lost track of it.

So we sit in empty rooms and dream our lives away
While the spirits come and go without a sound
Yeah just like you and me, they're tryin' to find a way, find a way, find a way home.

Official Video - Lyrics


Music: The Dead South - In Hell I'll Be In Good Company

I'm beginning to warm up to Bluegrass music. Damn shame the Banjo's so heavily associated with red-state hillbillies when in actuality it is a very demanding and soulful instrument. The lyrics are wandering into darker territory, a welcome change from Country banalities.

Official Video


Recent films 

Ad Astra

I’d rather re-watch 2001…

So much attention to detail, but fails on the larger points. It took me a while to understand what the story was even about.


Recent Films 

Once upon a Time in the West

Solid, but forgettable.

First Tarantino movie that made me realize he's actually still a child. Not because of violence fantasies or lazy non-/racism or whathaveyou, but because he can't let anything in his movies have an emotional impact. Even when a character dies, he just makes you go “huh”, shrug, and carry on.


Recent films 

Human Flow

Even lazier than vice news. I understand the circumstances of the creation might've been difficult, but what an insult. As Jackie Chan says: “Will you go into every theater and tell the audience how hard the shoot was?”

First man

Kinda mesmerizing, mood-based rather than story-driven. Ryan Gosling is so bland, but somehow his movies always end up being very enjoyable, and his "character" somehow remains interesting.

Das Ende der Wahrheit

Who would have thought the German film industry could produce a proper thriller? Quite nicely done. A bit outmoded in terms of plot - “Agent uncovers shady weapons deals with evil country, weapons industry and politics/spooks are conspiring, he wants to get the truth out” - but the pacing is good and the actors are performing well (for German standards).

It's got some good shots. The action and combat sequences were great, but the aftermath of the café bombing had the best one: An aerial shot of the city with a plethora of blue lights blinking in the near distance, an understated way to emphasize the state of emergency. The lakeside location was a good touch, and you immediately know it was in Bavaria because the onion-domed tower managed to squeeze into the shots. Another nice one: Behrens paying Lemke a visit in his flat. Lemke just wants his cigarettes, unperturbed by the threat of physical violence, and seems so happy to find them stashed on the ledge. Only when both men have calmed down does the exposition start - that's good pacing.

Scenes of military operations, drone footage, the intersection of the civilian, politics and military, high-ranking civilians involved in military operations - seems we as a society collectively have a hard-on for these things since Sicario. But then again, I also always think “Sicario did it better” with regards to the atmosphere of dread portrayed.

What I didn't like: How the characters were just thrown at the viewer in the briefing scene. You didn't really know who was who, and to the end I still was not clear about Rauhweiler's, Vossmeier's, Schilling's or Grünhagen's position, I thought they were all some medium-ranking underlings in the section. Only after the thing (no spoilers) happens to Grünhagen and did I realize he was the president of the BND, and it seems Rauhweiler was a hotshot on some government committee on weapons oversight with real influence.
Also, German films have a tendency to use disheveled appearance and lacking personal hygiene as a shorthand for toughness, and it's not working at all. Give your protagonist a proper shave at least.
Having Global Logistics be the mysterious cabal steering everything was lazy (and having it be only German seemed even lazier), but the reveal of it being just a cog in the global security machine worked well. Sadly, the resolution and Lemke’s explanations were rushed.

But all in all, very enjoyable. And finally a mature ending! Instead of the family-friendly “evildoers brought to justice”, some proper, believable devil’s advocating and then - revenge instead of “the truth”. That's grown-up cinema. Well done.


Recent films 

Local Hero

Charming, but tame. Essentially a children's film from a story point of view. It's odd that until quite recently they were making almost only those… maybe cinema used to be more of a "family experience" back then?

Barbarians at the Gate

James Garner is incredibly charming. So much so that he makes you forget what a type that "Simple Newspaper Boy from Winnipeg" really was. That 80s infatuation with all things "business" really hasn't aged well either. Go watch Support your local Sheriff instead.


Recent films 

The Guilty (Den skyldige)

Broken dirty cop with a heart of gold. Nice execution, I liked the limited space idea. The twist toward the end is great. Be careful with the dub, since the movie hangs on the voice actors.

Todos lo saben

On its own, a great movie. If you're familiar with the Farhadi formula, you wish he did try something different sometimes. But still, riveting.


Homeland cinema: Better than I expected. Not very educational, kinda small-minded.

2001: A Space Odyssey



I have the feeling it could have been more cohesive without studio influence. Mediocre. If you're not plugged into current Yankee politics, it will be even less interesting.





I’ll start this review with a few kind words: At least Leo DiCaprio’s dumb face isn’t in it for once. That’s all the good that can be said about ‘Silence’.

The basic premise is of two young priests searching for their master in 17th-century Japan, eventually bonding with the locals and bringing enlightenment to the supposed savages. With no established background or convincing motivation whatsoever, these two knuckleheads decide on a whim to begin their voyage to a different continent. ‘Cuz Liam Neeson was nice to them once, I guess? Their names are irrelevant, and one of them(I’ll give you a clue, one of ’em ain’t white) is almost immediately forgotten, only to resurface as a prop in a later scene.

There’s a wild-card sidekick who guides them, but then, shocker, betrays Garfield to the local inquisitor. And here comes the real treat: This ‘inkwisitaaah’ and his overbite would have elicited tears of joy from a 1944 American propaganda cartoonist, and that accent… convincing that actor to debase himself that gravely must have eaten up most of the budget, which perhaps is the reason the CGI is such utter shit.

If the movie hadn’t tried to be so sophisticated, it might have gotten away with the shoddy execution. But because Scorsese’s name is on the cover, you are promised some smart and thoughtful two hours. Well though luck, all you get is lingering shots of nothing, way too intense close-ups of Garfield’s face, trying desperately to make you forget he’s essentially a bearded child.

Every single shot could have been ripped out with no discernible consequence. Every single opportunity to salvage the movie is ignored. You’re in Japan, time to show at least some Zen-esthetic shit. Or show the plight, the daily struggle of the villagers instead of having Garfield’s squeaky voice tell us about it.
This movie has a commitment to fuck up every step of the way.

It takes Scorsese over one and a half hours to finally get his pathetic point across: “And in his silence, I heard his voice”, which is an exceedingly pointless statement; even a Jehova’s witness would have laughed you out of court for this. Good, at least the gospel is finally spelt out, time to pack up and go home.
Except, it doesn’t mean shit and Garfield immediately abandons his (carefully constructed) newfound faith and becomes “one of them”.

I can recognize some attempts to insert gravitas into this mess, intentional or not:

  • Towards the end, some amateur-level PSYOPS and kitchen-table psychology gets thrown in. You gotta appreciate the effort to make the villains affably evil. Poisoned lands, nothing grows here, a plant that thrives in one place whithers in another, the usual. I’d have expected more imagination in respect to torture methods; refuse to believe feudal Japan had only those wussy vanilla ones - You got the R rating anyway, so why pussy out? Clearly, Scorsese has a torture fetish, just not the balls to go through with it.
  • You could construe this as a tale of how an unjust system breaks even the purest of minds. Except Garfield possesses not a single shred of willpower, and his captors don’t even really try.
  • The Katana death ended up being quite funny, an interruption of the constant wallowing and pretend seriousness.
  • Some philosophical musings, maybe the message is that the poor village souls need Christianity for daily survival while the uppity city dwellers are better served by Buddhism? But then again, the movie is way too dumb for that intellectual leap

In the end, it’s just gnawing your teeth at the lackluster conclusion. The rest of this is mostly bullet points, because why even bother.

  • A German merchant(?), in addition to whatshisface-Garfield’s whining, out of nowhere, gets to lend his useless voice to narrate the ending. Why? No one knows.
  • The “end of an era” sob story about Christianity vanishing from Japan with the death of the last priest.
  • You realize you’ve wasted almost two hours and still no end in sight.
  • Are they ‘Padres’, ‘Priests’, ‘Jesuits’? Is Buddhism good or bad? Is their goal to find Ferrari McScottish or help the persecuted locals? To spread 'krishtan'? The movie cannot decide on anything.
  • The half-assed history lesson about isolationism, with no attempt to explain or justify the policy.
  • The Jesus/God voice: Subtlety, you fuck, ever heard of it?
  • Making me watch those drawn-out scenes of pain and suffering, but to no point. The villagers’ sacrifices are completely devoid of consequence.
  • Andy Garfield can’t act for shit.
  • The Spanish/Portuguese(can’t remember and again, why bother, it doesn’t matter) characters are played by a goddam yank and some Irish(?) guy. Garfield makes an effort to fake an accent for about five minutes before just giving up.
  • Just because this senile prick picked up a 5$ book in an airport bookstore, thousands of people had to waste their time on making this self-indulgent cheap Passion-of-the-Christ knockoff

Know your target audience. This is a sob story for catholics, but they’re not very heavy on the new testament and no one in Russia or Latin America is going to see this film. It’s not for Europeans either, the Japanese won’t care and it tries to be too didactical for Americans to enjoy it.

There’s so much pandering going on. If you watch these useless children priests and their piss-poor local subordinates and you’re weeping, then you’re a fucking rube.

So, what’s left? Some nice cinematography, but these days any fuckstick with a gopro can make nice-looking moving pictures. I remain astonished that I managed to write this using only four ‘shits’ and six instances of ‘fuck’.