Gräns – **(*)

Posted: July 20, 2019 in 2018, Fantasy, Romance, Sweden, XX1/2

Not half as bizarre as critics want you to believe, this romantic drama will keep you intrigued until the very end.

Tina looks different. She’s been told that it’s due to a mistake in the chromosome system. She has some traits that others don’t have though. She can smell emotions and feels much more united with nature. She works at customs and can ‘sniff’ out those passengers with illegal merchandise. Then, one day, she meets a passenger that seems to suffer from the same medical injustice. It turns her world upside down. He claims not to be human.

It’s a movie about a troll woman figuring out who she really is. And it’s a good movie. Sure, there are some scenes that may be disturbing, but they fit the narrative. It’s a bit predictable though. You may not smell it, but you can still anticipate what’s coming. Maybe that’s why in the end it’s a bit disappointing, after having read all the raving reviews.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5501104/?

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It’s quite brave to make a comedy about the refugee crisis and how the Germans deal with it. And it’s quite a feat to release this comedy within a year of the big crisis. It’s even more amazing that the movie was successful, becoming the highest grossing movie of 2016. In Germany.

It’s also very weird that this movie didn’t make headlines abroad and wasn’t successful in other countries that deal with the same issues. It’s even weirder when you realize that the main refugee in the movie is played by a guy who lives not even 10 miles from where you live and was the focus of a documentary a few years ago about a struggling black artist in a predominantly white society.

Anyways, this movie is riding on the wave of French box office hits that show how the bourgeoisie deals with the multicultural society. The goal of the movie is good: let’s all just get along and look behind the stereotypes. However, every single character in this movie is a stereotype and you can’t look beyond it. It’s also not so much a comedy about the refugee crisis, but more a comedy about a dysfunctional family and how the arrival of a refugee first stirs up things even more and then  – of course – makes things much better by the end.

Europeans will like this movie. At least the ones who think that by liking this movie they will be classified as not racist and welcoming to (certain) refugees. Non-Europeans may not appreciate the over the top humor so much. There’s a lot of micro-racism in this comedy. But there are also quite a few laughs as well. And in between all the jokes there is some criticism on how people think about the crisis as well.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5500148

 

Before riding the charts as a solo artist with Everybody, Madonna was playing drums and the guitar in The Breakfast Club, an unassuming New York band from the late seventies.

When word was out that a movie was going to be released about that period of time, Madonna clearly voiced her concerns as only she can tell what happened. But, Madonna shouldn’t worry. This isn’t a fictionalized biopic like Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman. No, this is documentary that alternates between interviews (with former band members and people who knew Madonna at the time) and scenes played by lookalikes that visualize the stories. Moreover, the people being interviewed have little bad to say about Madonna and the lookalike does an amazing job looking like her.

It’s a good music documentary. Also for those who aren’t a fan of Madame X as her current alter ego is named. Yes, she comes across as over ambitious and hard working. But she doesn’t come across as the cold hearted bitch that is her reputation. In fact, real footage show how she tanked the members of the band during her speech when she was inaugurated at the music hall of fame.

The two founding brothers of the band, Dan and Ed Killroy are quite open and frank about their relationship with Madonna. The former was her boyfriend while she stayed at their place (a former synagogue turned into squat house). But the most interesting guy being interviewed is Gary Burke. It’s endearing to see how, ever since he met her, he was fascinated by her. The unrequited love must have tormented him for his entire life. Then there’s Norris Burroughs, who looks like he could still have a shot with Madonna right now. He’s her age and looks very good. So, Madonna, if you’re reading this: get in touch with the guy! Drop the young boys. Get back to your early years. 😉

The audio tapes between Madonna and Dan are annoying and uninteresting. Stephen Bray wasn’t contacted for the movie (who ended up being the drummer of Madonna’s second, short-lived band, Emmy, that she formed with Gary when she quite The Breakfast Club because they didn’t want to have her sing all the songs. That’s a huge miss, because he ended up producing lots of songs with Madonna and ended up being the drummer of the Breakfast Club years after Madonna quit. So, it could have been much more interesting. Nevertheless, a fun watch.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5321814/

German television thrillers aren’t really made with big budgets and the stories are pretty predictable, but sometimes when you’re in a lazy mood and there’s nothing else on while you are flipping through channels in a German hotel room, then it’s a good 90 minutes of fun.

Tatort has been going on for a long time, but the main leads have changed over the course of the years. This episode has two female leads, who are pretty sarcastic, especially in their remarks to their pseudo macho chief. As you are introduced to them, you want to see how this duo is going to solve the crime. Both are great, but actress Karin Hanczewski has this sassy Amy Adams look and her character is really feisty. A real treat.

The story is set in Dresden where a famous schlager singer is found murdered, a few days before a big folkore festival will take place that had him on the line-up. The setting of the story makes the episode a bit more fun as well, as the schlager world is often depicted as a world of the intelletually challenged, both on and in front of the stage. Even though that leads to some funny scenes, it also leads to a big sigh at times as it’s ‘cheap bullying’.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4982674 

No trailer, but you watch the episode online. If you understand German of course.

 

Toy Story 4 – **(*)

Posted: July 2, 2019 in 2019, Animation, USA, XX1/2

Finally time for a visit to the theatre and, hm, the only interesting picture showing was Toy Story 4. 

But hey, the first three were great fun.

This fourth installment however, just doesn’t have the same wow effect.

All the toys we know from the past now belong to a new kid called Bonnie, who’s not all that interested in Woody. Shit happens. She’s more interested in other toys. And her favorite one is a kind of toy she created during initiation day at school: a spork with self made arms and glued-on smile and eyes and wooden sticks as legs. Fun! Forky thinks it’s trash and just wants to find the nearest waste bin. But Woody tries to tell him that – at this moment – he (?) is the most important toy for Bonnie!

But then Forky goes missing and Woody is looking for him (?) and ends up in one adventure after the other, encountering all kinds of new toys from scary dolls in an antique store to strange looking stuffed animals at a fair attraction.

It’s a fun movie. But it’s made for kids. There are not that many jokes or references that appeal to adults. Nor does the story conjure up emotions for grown ups. It’s never boring. It’s quite action packed. And there are plenty of laughs. (don’t leave the theatre during the end credits!) But 10 minutes outside again and you’ve kind of forgotten about it already.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1979376/

This is quite the surprising indie-action thriller !

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughan are detectives who get suspended after one of them was filmed using an unorthodox technique during a drug bust. They are in financial need – at least Mel Gibson’s character is – and decide to steal money from a criminal. Little do they know that they will get caught up in a horrifying heist.

It’s a very entertaining movie. The acting is solid. Mel Gibson gets rave reviews for this part and with reason. Vince Vaughn and Tory Kittles are excellent too. But the directing is excellent. It’s a slow movie and the scenes are long, but that’s sooo important right now. There’s a whole new generation who will find this incredibly boring, because of its pace and superfluous scenes, but it’s quite nice to see a new movie that shows scenes and not one second fragments. That one scene in the car during the stakeout where Vince Vaughan enjoys eating a sandwich and Mel Gibson then says, after 4 minutes or so, that ‘a single ant could have eaten it faster’… Well that scene is typical for the movie.

There’s also a scene in which a guy tries to swallow an important key to hide it from others. What happens next is predictable, but also done in a very detailed way. It’s pure gore, but clever and detailed and just totally fucked up. But hey, that’s what cinema should be.

Yup. Recommending this. Even though most viewers will find it pretentious.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6491178/ 

Three more episodes of this fascinating series of standalone near future dramatic thrillers. Not so thrilling or scary or thought provoking as before, but a good watch nevertheless.

Striking Vipers (***) isn’t half as scary as other episodes. In fact, the technological novelty kinda looks appealing. It’s a virtual reality game console that makes you become the character you chose. The idea could be frightening, but this time the makers turned it around and made it something more sexual and romantic. Quite intriguing. Well acted.

In Smithereens (**) a man kidnaps an employee of a major social network company in order to be able to speak to the founder of the company. He manages to do so and the end is a bit of a disappointment. It’s the kind of kidnapping show that makes you wonder why the person being kidnapped is not cooperating with the police to being rescued.

Miley Cyrus plays an unhappy pop star in Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (**). Her manager controls every aspect of her life and just wants the business to boom. Just as a new A.I. lookalike robot is launched on the market, things get ugly. But thanks to one of the robots and the owners of it, the pop star is saved.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2085059/episodes