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Hammerle On… 'A Man Called Ove,' 'Doctor Strange'

November 16, 2016

bob hammerle movie reviews“A Man Called Ove”

A subtitled Swedish film, “A Man Called Ove” is a film that will charm you while repeatedly bringing you to the edge of tears. While we all know that death waits for us around some unknown corner, how do we embrace the value of life without succumbing to anger and bitterness?

Rolf Lassgard plays Ove, an aging widower who has given up on life. While he visits his wife’s grave daily, he infuriates residents of his regulated neighborhood by arbitrarily enforcing neighborhood rules that are all but ignored. He is a bitter and angry old man, and he pursues a series of misguided attempts to commit suicide in his home.

rating-ove.gifDirector Hannes Holm centers his film on the simple fact that life will not end well for anyone. You watch flashbacks of Ove as a young man watching his beloved father killed by a train after being joyfully distracted while reading his son’s sensational grades from school. Subsequently, while Ove is on a vacation tour through Spain with his very pregnant wife Sonja, she ends up being confined to a wheelchair following a horrific vehicular crash. Sonja, played with warmth by Ida Engvoll, does her best to recover even though she and Ove know that they will never be parents.

Following her subsequent death from cancer and Ove’s mutation into a joyless human being, he slowly finds a reason to live when a family moves in next door. In particular, the mother is an Iranian immigrant named Parvaneh (Bahar Pars), and Ove’s exposure to her sense of humor allows him to rediscover that life is worth living. In addition, her two energetic kids find a way to soften Ove’s hardened heart.

As I sat entranced through this fine film, I couldn’t help but relive my fondness for having pets in our home. Though Mo and I had to watch three beloved little spuds be put to sleep over the past several years, that has not stopped us from bringing other rescue dogs into our home. Despite the agony of watching these little creatures eventually meet the end of life’s road, one of the rewards in life is giving them a caring existence during their short time on this planet.

This film has many strengths, not the least of which is Ove beginning and ending each day with thoughts of his departed wife. There is a significant scene involving the moment that Ove met Sonja on a train, first noticing the shoes she was wearing. He never forgot that moment, and all of you will remember the significance of falling in love.

“Doctor Strange”

Filled with a cast of great actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swinton, “Doctor Strange” appeared to be an enticing Marvel film. Unfortunately, it spent most of its time spinning its wheels in neutral, and like Anthony Weiner, it petered out by the end.

While I know that this film will be a big hit at the box office, it is a movie that you will quickly forget after leaving the theater. Aside from the acting talent, the only reason to see it is its magnificent special effects, and I urge you to hunt it down at an IMAX for that very reason.

rating-strange.gifCumberbatch plays Dr. Strange, an arrogant surgeon left with terribly damaged hands following a traffic accident. For reasons that are hard to explain, he ends up in Nepal seeking some type of medical salvation. He quickly falls under the guidance of a sorcerer played by Swinton, and she guides him into a third world where life on Earth is threatened by a Dark Force.

Cumberbatch alone saves the film, and it is worth remembering his Oscar-nominated role in the sensational “The Imitation Game” (2014). On top of that, in this film he teams up with Mr. Ejiofor, an ally called Baron Mordo, and it brings to mind their contributions to the Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” (2013).

While I know that there are many critics falling over each other to praise this movie, I’ve got to admit that it has some moments of fine humor. However, it falls well short of the raucous fun found in the engaging “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) and this year’s “Deadpool.” Additionally, Dr. Strange’s love interest is another doctor played by McAdams, and she continues to find time for him despite his narcissistic selfishness. In a sense, they resemble a weaker version of the old Clark Kent/Lois Lane duo (George Reeves and Noel Neill) seen decades ago on TV.

What I found most disappointing with this movie is that there is so much repetition. Though Mads Mikkelsen does a fine job playing Kaecilius, the lead villain, the chase scenes through collapsing buildings and streets leave you more weary than inspired.

But if you are seeking a bit of hope, you will see a moment during the final credits where Dr. Strange will again hit the big screen. It is clear that he and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) will appear together, so hopefully the quality of that film will provide a bit more excitement.•

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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