First Man – **

Posted: November 13, 2018 in 2018, biopic, Drama, Historical, USA, XX

Ryan Gosling is a great actor to look at. But he has become Ryan Gosling in whatever role he plays. So here, it’s Ryan Gosling doing Neil Armstrong. It isn’t Neil Armstrong. Which isn’t bad. It’s just not particularly great. Claire Foy however IS Mrs Armstrong. She steals the show. But that’s because Mrs Armstrong had a stronger and more fascinating personality than her husband, who is a quiet and reserved man. A boring nerd really.

If only they would have decided to tell the entire story from Buzz Aldrin’s perspective! Maybe it can be a sequel: Second Man. That guy’s story is so much more fascinating and his personality is so much more outspoken. It would have given the movie the energy that it needed.

That said. It’s a nice tale about a man being chosen to become the first man to walk the moon. It’s quite technical and detailed at times. It’s slow. But it works.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1213641

 

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Kursk – *(*)

Posted: November 13, 2018 in Uncategorized, Drama, Belgium, X1/2, Disaster, Luxemburg, 2018

Kursk is an ambitious movie about a Russian submarine disaster that happened not that long ago. It focuses on the crew that survived the initial blast and got stuck at the bottom of the sea waiting to be rescued. It also shows the despair and frustration of the family members waiting for news about their loved ones. And it’s a big critique to the malfunctioning Russian marine. So far so good.

However, this is a Belgian movie (!) with an international (European) cast who all speak English with an accent. They don’t even try a Russian accent. No, they speak English with a French, Swiss, German, Danish, Swedish, Flemish, Dutch accent. Oh, there are some British actors too, but they play  British navy staff so that’s ok. It’s initially very difficult to accept. Especially during the (overlong) character introduction. Here you have a bunch of Russian marines and their wives at a wedding in a remote Russian village and they all sound like exchange students speaking English as a common language.

But then the story moves forward as the submarine experiences a first explosion, which happens faster than expected once the ship sails out. Several crew members manage to survive the blast and are locked up in a small compartment trying to figure out how to get enough oxygen. Outside, the Russian navy is trying to figure out how they are going to rescue the survivors with their malfunctioning equipment. Further outside is the British navy offering help, to no avail.

The appreciation of the storytelling depends on your knowledge of the outcome of the events. The appreciation of the actual movie experience depends on what your expectations are of a disaster movie made with a budget of 20 million euro.

It’s not such a bad movie really. It’s not going to get a wide release though.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4951982

Girl – **

Posted: November 6, 2018 in 2018, Coming Of Age, Drama, Flanders, France, LGBT themed, XX

Lara is a teenager with some serious issues. She wants to be a ballerina and is admitted to a ballet school, but lacks the experience of other girls in her class. She is also born in the body of a boy and is about to start a hormonal treatment to finally become a woman. These two ambitions are just too much for a sixteen year old. Becoming a ballerina is already very tough. Becoming a woman is even tougher! Doing both at the same time just isn’t particularly healthy.

Girl is an award winning box office surprise about a serious issue that’s getting more and more media attention. It’s a movie worth watching and it’s filmed really well. But it’s a challenge. You never really get to know the main character. It’s an emotionless being with an aloof smile that is hard to read. It’s interesting because this robotic performance is intentional. It’s like the director wants the audience to not understand the character at all. Halfway through the movie there is a medical specialist who literally tells the main character to stop hiding emotions and start showing them. The psychologist doesn’t seem to be able to reveal thoughts and feelings either. Nor does the father. Or the class mates. Or anybody. This is one mysterious character. Which is quite intriguing and unique. Plus: the camera just follows this main character from upclose.

However, because the character doesn’t give anything, you’re just left wondering. And then the appreciation of this movie all depends on how understanding you are willing to be when it comes to transgenders. It’s very easy to think: boy, just embrace your femininity, wait until you’re an adult to make drastic decision about changing your gender and focus on something else than becoming a ballerina. But that’s not really the point of the story. Girl is the kind of movie that leaves plenty of questions unanswered. Which is great in a time when movies seem to be over-explanatory. But some background info about the character would have been nice.

In recent news (end of 2018) Tanzania is hunting down all gay people and the American government plans to invalidate the existence of transgenders by making it only legal to be a man or a woman based on how you were born. And then there’s this movie, which only shows a little bit of incomprehension or disapproval. The father is super supportive. The doctors are doing their utmost to help with the transition. In school none of the boys have an issue with the fact that one of the girls they need to lift in ballet performances has a penis. The girls initially also don’t seem to mind at all. It’s confusing. The world does not accept transgenders as well as portrayed in the movie.

www.imdb.com/title/tt825455

The Commuter

Posted: October 23, 2018 in 2018, Action, Hijack, USA

You can’t really blame anyone for making this crap. Apparently there are people out there who want to watch this bullshit. You have to give credit to studios for producing these things, ‘cos they make money out of it. This is probably how it went at the producers’ desk: “Hey, people dig Liam Neeson in the everyday hero part going to extremes to protect his family. Let’s put him on a train this time. Don’t spend money on the script and get a cheap director who doesn’t look at details and only needs a few days to shoot. Oh and release it in Europe, Russia and some other international markets and maybe we’ll get some money out of it at the US box office as well.” “Deal”.

This is terrible. Back in the late eighties this movie would have gone straight to vhs. It’s the kind of movie you expect on a long bus ride in central america, dubbed in Spanish. Everything in this movie in unoriginal and a total mess. This story has been told so many times before. Or at least it feels like it’s been told so many times before. Everything is done by the handbook. First ten minutes: introduce the character. Explain to the audience why he will do what he’s going to do. EXPLAIN his past, his financial problems. SHOW his family and the bond he has with them. Also introduce a few vague characters that will end up being the bad guys at the end. Then: introduce the characters that will ‘matter’ in the rest of the movie. SHOW each and one of them a la Murder On The Orient Express. Then add the random stranger who gives him a task that is so ridiculous that nobody, even with a past in the police force or in financial need, will even try to attempt. Then let him execute the job and fill up an hour with random encounters on the train. Add a few fights. Try to deceive the audience with focussing on people that have nothing to do with the story at all, but look ‘suspicious’. Add a murder, done so terribly well that nobody notices on a busy commuter train. Oh, make sure the train derails as well. And come with a surprise in the end that’s already obvious from the very first minutes of the movie.

NO, motherfuckers, NO.

Now, this all could have been okay, if the details had been correct. But no. There is no consistency. The main character finds 25.000 dollars, puts it in his shoulder bag and then LEAVES the bag on a seat to go make a phone call. Then does all kinds of things without the shoulder bag and then suddenly wears it again. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.

What a waste of time.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1590193

An improvement to Season 6, but still too much talking. Blablabla. The story stopped making sense a long time ago. It never did really. But now it’s just the details in the story that don’t make sense at all. For six seasons long, the territory behind the wall seems very far away, yet in this season a raven can get a message across the continent in no time and the response to is delivered even faster! Really?

There are fewer main characters killed this season. There aren’t that many left, to be fair. But still…. However, finally, the one that should have been killed in season 1 already, gets his throat sliced. Hooray!

It’s an okay season. It only has seven episodes. The battle scenes are awesome. Lord of the Rings awesome. There’s some sexiness. Some humor. Some excitement. Even some scary moments. It’s just okay though. One more season and then we’re done with it.

Niet Schieten – ***

Posted: October 21, 2018 in 2018, Belgium, Drama, Flanders, XXX

On November 9th, 1985 several people got shot at a local supermarket in the Flemish town of Aalst. It was the last of a series of attacks that were allegedly done by a gang called ‘De Bende van Nijvel’ (in Dutch) or ‘Les Tueurs de Brabant’ (in French). After all, this happened in Belgium, the bilingual mess it is.

Thirty-something years later, they still haven’t figured out who this gang is and the victims of the attacks still haven’t received any financial help whatsoever. It’s a disgrace.

A young boy survived the attack. He saw how his parents and sister were killed. He saw one of the attackers, but was never questioned by any authority. He himself was shot and learned how to live with a disability. He was raised by his grand-parents who lived across the supermarket and also had some important information that could have been investigated more thoroughly.

That kid, became a man who wrote a book about his struggle and the frustration about the failure of the justice system. That book has now been made into a movie. It’s a good one. It’s well-directed and very well acted. The main character isn’t the boy (played by three different actors at three different periods in their life), but is the grandfather, played by one of our best actors: Jan Decleir. He’s phenomenal. The movie is quite captivating and doesn’t shy away from showing the actual killing. It’s never sensational though and it’s brought with a lot of respect to the victims. Some emotions are told by images rather than dialogue, which works great.

By the end of the movie though, the frustration felt by the characters also transfers to the audience. This is a story without an end. A crime without a punishment. A killing without a murderer’s name. This isn’t Hercule Poirot solving a crime. This is a family learning to accept that they will never know who took the lives of their beloved ones. There is no happy end here.

Watch it. And feel upset and angry. That’s exactly the goal of this movie.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7534314

Cargo – *

Posted: October 14, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Flanders, X

The trailer is promising. Really promising. The setting (fishermen at sea and in the harbour) looks like a visual treat. The drama looks gripping (brothers arguing about the future of the fisherman’s ship). The thrills look exciting (there’s even a fire!). The soundtrack is very accompanying.

However,

this movie is one rotten fish.

It’s a visually interesting movie. But scenes are cut short. Less dialogue! More longshots! The dialogue is terrible. Maybe West-Flemish isn’t the most poetic of all languages (it’s mine) and maybe the sons of a fisherman aren’t all that educated, but still…that’s no excuse to have people bark out ridiculous lines. Better not have them speak at all. The best scenes are mute. The touching of the hands between father and son, the mesmerizing glare into the north sea… There are only a few characters, but half of them are annoying and all them kill every scene once they start talking.

If you make a movie in West-Flemish, you’ll always come across the same actors. Sebastien Dewaele and Sam Louwyck show a different side to their acting and make it kinda work. The latter may stop playing unsympathetic characters though. The former is the best thing in this movie. But somehow they don’t get the chance to fully explore their characters. They are both sons of a dying fisherman. They clearly don’t like each other. One has been in prison and has a drug addiction. The other has been working as a fisherman all his life and had no idea that the family business had been in debt for years. This clash could have been documented much better.

But the storytellers decided to add a third brother, a closeted gay character, who goes to a Berlin-like gay dungeon club (In Oostende??? Please, they don’t even have a club like that in Antwerp or Brussels) to have anonymous sex. He also has an affair with a transmigrant waiting to get across the Channel to England. Wim Willaert does such a terrible job depicting this character. He acts just like he acts in Eigen Kweek, with the same whining voice, the same gestures, the same sensibility. It’s annoying. There’s no need for this character. I get it, it’s a way to introduce the transmigrant story, but still. They could have found a different way.

This movie had so much potential, but the script and the dialogue ruin it all. But at least they got enough funding! Make a movie about a declining historical regional profession –> funding. Make a movie about a hot topic –> funding. Add an lgbt character –> movie festival selection. Add a French actor –> international funding.

Disappointing

www.imdb.com/title/tt5492502