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One Hour Photo (2002)
Verenigde Staten
Drama / Thriller
95 minuten

Photo developer Sy Parrish (played by Robin Williams) is a very lonely, shy and isolated man who starts to create an obsession with the private lives of the Yorkin family, long time customers of the photo developing store where Shy works. Sy doesn’t really have a life, his work is his life. Through the years of developing pictures for this family Sy starts to develop an imagined personal bond with them in his head, he believes he’s a member of the family himself but the family barely knows him, they only know him as ‘the photo developer’. The thin line between Sy’s fantasies and reality begins to blur as he secretly pushes himself more and more into the family’s lives. When the family is facing a breakup because of the cheating father, Sy desperately tries to keep his picture-perfect image of the family in tact. But when he gets fired by his boss his link to the family is suddenly cut off and at this point Sy’s (fantasy)world begins to collapse.

The story starts off with a scene in a mental hospital where we see Sy Parrish in a converstation with inspector Van Der Zee (Eriq LaSalle). Through a voice-over Shy tells us how he ended up there. The voice-over immediately sets the tone of the film. It’s a very cold and emotionless voice, just like the film itself. At this moment Sy tells us how it all ended up like this. The art direction of the movie matches the tone of voice of the story in an excellent way because of the tight, heartless and clinical white decors. Also the slow shots of the mall where the photo developing store is located at and the paranoid soundtrack are reinforcing the uncomfortable feeling of the whole ambiance.
The film is not really easy and laid back to watch, it arouses a very uncomfortable feeling and the subjects; isolation, loneliness and the individualism of our society make the viewer think.
Also the fact that this film is rather slow in its progress may be a reason for people to pull out.  The same goes for the character that Robin Williams plays. Sy is a lonely and desperate man in any ways possible, he lives an anonymous , empty life and doesn’t have any relitives or friends. The only thing he has is his job and his desire for a family. A picture perfect family like the Yorkins. As his obsession for this family starts getting bigger and bigger he begins to make mistakes at his work and gets fired. When he discovers that the father of the Yorkin family is cheating on his wife he loses control, he must protect ‘his’ family.

Sy Parrish is not a regular ‘movie hero’ , Robin Willams plays this shy, introvert character in an excellent way and you wouldn’t tell that he is also a very good, exuberant comedian in movies like ‘Flubber’ and 'Mrs. Doubtfire'. Robin Williams plays this Sy character so good because in spite of all the bad things he’s doing and his paranoid behavior you’ll still be on his side. You’ll have sympathy for him and it’s not hard to understand why he does all the bad things, although you know they ain’t right. The only downside of the movie is that the other characters are completely overshadowed by the brilliant acting of Robin Williams and they are rather one-dimensional. Without Williams this film would be nothing so it’s actually a kind of one-man-show for him, a damn good one-man-show…


Otesánek (Little Otik) (2009)
Komedie / Drama
125 minuten

Otesánek (Little Otik) is based on a Chech horror-folktale and shows us the life of a middle aged Czech couple which is despirate to have a baby, but the infertile wife, Bozena (played by Veronika Zilkova) is not able to bare one. One day the husband, Karel (played by Jan Hart) is working in the garden and he digs up a wooden stump that looks a bit like a new born baby. He shows this piece of wood to his wife hoping to comfort her a little bit and to his astonishment she starts to treat this thing like a real baby. They dub the ‘wooden baby’ Otik. Bozena manages to nurse Otik into a real living baby with a wooden body and an outrageous appetite. Pretty soon after his ‘birth’ Otik devours the family cat and the postman and with this bizarre behavior he brings Bozena and Karel in big trouble. They try to hide their wooden child from the outside world, especially Karel who is really ashamed for his fake child. But then one day, Alzbetka, a young girl that’s living next door to the couple discovers their secret by reading a Chech folk tale that parallels the strange things that are happening next door, so she knows how this story will end.. Otik grows bigger and bigger and so is his appetite..

The main theme of the movie seems to be unfulfilled desire, this theme is shown in all kinds of forms; There is Otik’s tremendous appetite, Bozena’s desire for a baby, Karel’s desire to keep it all a secret as he is ashamed for his wooden child,  Alzbetka’s desire for a playmate and the desire of a very old pedofelic neighbor for the young Alzbetka, he always puts on his glasses and stares underneath Alzbetka’s skirt when he is underneath her on the stairs.  But Bozena’s obsession with having a baby at all costs is the most important ‘engine’ that keeps this movie running. Bozena is a mad woman, but actually she only comes across abnormal because she’s treating Otik as a real child, how would her behavior come across if Otik was a real human child? We go a little deeper into the Bozena-character when Otik has grown bigger and seizes her hair. She has no control over him anymore and her ‘motherhood’ begins to break down. Otik is not a little baby boy for her no more but an actual being with all kinds of demands that she cannot fulfill anymore, she can’t handle it and starts to realize that things are terribly wrong. She realizes what her obsessive selfish desire has brought about. From this point everything goes out of control and Otik is now really ‘the monster’ in this movie.

There are a lot off small details in the movie that are used for character explanation. For example the family cat; the way Bozena treats the cat after and before she get’s Otik is quite different. Before Otik she was always nice and sweet to the cat and afterwards she neglects him and treats him unkind. This explains her selfish character and the fact that the cat was maybe only a substitute for the child she wanted so bad. She shows the same behavior towards the little girl next door and towards her husband. When Otik is there, she only gives him all of her attention.

Otesánek is not really a horrormovie like all the others with the well known scary noises and bloody slasher scenes but it has a really frightening ambience to it because of the bizarre surrealistic story and the way it’s filmed; unexpected close-ups and focusing on weird small details. The film is partly stop-motion animated (Otik is a stopmotion character) and partly ‘normal’ filmed and shows a really distant, cold and isolated world in which food (disgusting looking food) seems to be very important. There’s a lot of attention for people eating and a lot of close-ups on the details of nasty looking food and eating mouths.

Little Otik is a really outstanding and memorable movie with a strange unknown creepy ambience, not just because of the story but more because of the way it’s filmed and the fact that it happens in the unknown, distant, cold looking Chech family-culture. It lights deeper and other kinds of themes then your regular horrorflick and if you’re into something ‘different’ I would really recommend this one.



Taken (2008)
Actie / Thriller
93 minuten

Brian (played by Liam Neeson) is a former CIA -Spy with a set of very special and dangerous skills.
The movie starts of with the explanation of Brian’s situation and a brief explanation of the characters.  We learn about his relation to his daughter Grace.  Brian is living on his own and Grace is living with her mother and the rich new boyfriend of the mother but Brian is trying to keep his relationship with his daughter in good shape and is a bit overprotective towards her. When Grace takes a trip to Paris with her friend Amanda, to visit Amanda’s cousin his worst nightmare comes true.  Shortly after Grace and Amanda arrive in Paris they get kidnapped by a bunch of east-european ‘womentraders’.  Bryan hears the kidnapping take place when he is on the phone with Grace and he tells the kidnappers that he has a particular set of skills and will do anything to hunt them down and kill them, by any means possible. This is when the movie really starts.

Taken is not a very difficult movie, the storyline is as simple and basic as it can be for an action-thriller; we have a good guy that’s chasing the bad guys because they stole something very important from him that he must get back by any means possible; his daughter. There is no underlying story to it, nor are there multiple theme’s to be worked out; revenge seems to be the only one. This could be a main ingredient for a cliché action movie that’s not really interesting and original to watch, but Taken is different.


First of all Liam Neeson plays his part in an excellent way, very convincing because of his good acting; every line he says comes along with an impressing, threatening facial expression and you can really ‘feel’ his desire to take revenge.  He is a normal looking man which a lot of people can indentify to, but he has an abnormal set of skills that make him a real hero.  Other then that, everything in this movie is about how it happens, not what happens. Every single detail contributes to the tension. For example the kidnapping-scene. Grace is on the phone with Brian when first Amanda gets kidnapped, Grace watches it happen because of the design of the apartment (Grace is in the back of the apartment in another room and see’s how Amanda gets taken away because of the windowconstructions inside the apartment. The kidnappers can’t here Grace on the phone but Grace watches it all, and she knows she will be next because she can’t escape from the building. The fact that this is all happening while she is on the phone with her father (who can’t see anything but hears Grace being in panic) really builds up the tension and excitement. You can really feel how Brian must feel, completely impotent and worried, you really want him to get there as fast as possible to help his daughter.


From this point on, the whole movie is like a rollercoaster ride that goes from A to B in which you’ll be on the edge of your chair for every single second questioning yourself: will he make it? Will he be in time to save his daughter? The over-the-top but convincing fighting scenes and the way they are shot in combination with the well-working hyped up music underneath it must be a real ‘drug’ for action movie lovers. Brian destroys everything in his way and shows no remorse because he realizes that he may never see his daughter again, so all his actions feel righteous to the viewer.


If you like fast movies with fast shots and a lot of good tension and convincing acting you’ll really enjoy this movie. Don’t expect something deep to think about, but don’t expect a regular, simple action thriller movie either although it has a storyline like that. The bad guys stay bad and the good guys stay good, no transformation in characters.  Taken is all about how it’s worked out and shot, and they did an excellent job with that.






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