Movies of the Week #2 (2023)

Capra cu trei iezi (2022): This has to be the first Romanian (folk) horror movie I’ve ever seen and I’m glad to say that it stands as an equal to modern horror movies all around. Victor Canache has taken Ion Creangă’s fable and turned it into a haunting tale of family, solitude and pure evil. But like the best of pure evils, the story always retains a connection with reality, which makes it even more sinister. It tells of a lone mother in 19th century Romania, who lives an isolated life between valleys and forests, while taking care of her three children. Alas, living alone makes them vulnerable to the whims and dangers of the world, none greater so than fellow man – a wolf of a man, as it were, preying upon them. With a haunting atmosphere and one of the best villain performances I’ve seen recently, by Marius Bodochi, Capra cu trei iezi is a must-see for any fan of Romanian cinema, any fan of horror movies and any person fortunate to be found at the intersection of the two. Long review here. 8

The Best Man (1999): With the recent release of The Best Man: Final Chapters (which I consumed in a couple of days), it was as good a time as any to revisit the two movies that established this epic circle of friends. Four best friends (Harper, Lance, Quentin, Murch) and their current or soon-to-be better halves (Jordan, Mia, Robyn, Shelby and Candace) gather as one of them is about to get married. It’s obvious the maths doesn’t add up and their reunion is thrown off course by revelations of indiscretion that Harper makes in his freshly released debut book. It’s a bunch of likeable if not fully flesh out characters that I liked being around, with all the expected twists and turns of the genre. 7

The Best Man Holiday (2013): The follow-up reintroduces faithful old characters in the prime of their lives, with children filling their houses, but past indiscretions still haunting them. The movie feels different, yet does justice to the original – except that it feels a tad drawn out and melodramatic. Then again, it’s still mostly fun to see how time has shaped their friendship, something that’s never a given in TBM universe, nor in life #truthbomb. 6

About Fate (2022): A quirky comedy starring every German’s favourite namesake, Thomas Mann, alongside Emma Roberts, this is quite the holiday fairytale about two people finding love in unexpected moments. That’s a new one, isn’t it? But it mostly works, thanks to the leading duo and a few standout scenes. I might also add that the question of fatefulness does arouse my curiosity and AB does touch on some of my musings, but never really drills down – phoning in a happy end, as seems to be the approach these days. 6

Teambuilding (2022): I’m sorry to be that guy, but the (now second) highest earning movie of all times in Romania is a steaming pile of bad taste. Poking “fun” at the corporate lifestyle, it’s easy to understand why it proved relatable to so many people. Glad some enjoyed it, but it definitely wasn’t for me, as I barely sketched a smile, not to mention a laugh, throughout the movie’s runtime. While the occasional throwaway line can be cutesy, the overall humor is bad, the gags are basic, it reinforces the cheapest of stereotypes and the editing and structure make it feel like a low budget Hollywood knock-off. One of the rare movies that I simply can’t stomach. 3