The South African entry for the Academy Awards of 2018 is quite a controversial movie in its home country. If focuses on the ritual tradition of the Xhosa to send their young men up to the mountains where they stay for a few weeks to be ‘initiated’ into manhood. This also means they get circumcised and need to heal. It’s a practice which still occurs these days, even though a lot of modern families send their sons to a hospital for a safe medical ‘cut’. It’s a cultural tradition and a personal affair. So, yes, this movie takes away the secrecy and brings the story to a larger (international) audience. Apart from that, the movie also focuses on three men with homosexual desires. Another controversial topic in South Africa, where being gay is legal, but doesn’t get the support from the majority of the population.

For Europeans, this is a fascinating movie. But it is voyeuristic. It’s not a movie made by and for the Xhosa people. It’s a movie made by a white director for an international crowd. Luckily, this thought only comes to mind afterwards. During the movie, you are soaked up in the story, mesmerized by the acting and in awe of the beautiful setting. The interaction between the three main actors and their characters is the best feat of the movie. The end result is quite respectful for the tradition. And the homo-erotism is very present, but not as sensational as in other movies.

Calling it the African Moonlight doesn’t do the movie justice. It’s actually sad that the latter movie won’t the Oscar last year, because now voters may not give this one a fair change because it’s again about black homosexuals. If the movie had been released a few years ago, it would have made a great chance of winning the Academy Award for best foreign picture.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6333070

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Trevor Noah is a bit of an overconfident arrogant dick. But he gets away with it, because he’s also really good. This documentary follows the stand up comedian during the months leading up to his first one man show. It’s a fascinating documentary. It shows a lot of Trevor Noah, who’s being interviewed one on one and who’s being filmed as he prepares for gigs, visits the places where he grew up and goes on stage for the first time in LA. They also let other people speak. Some of his family and friends, but also some of the older generation of comedians in South Africa who absolutely hate his guts.

Worth the watch.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1671547/ 

We Bought A Zoo – **

Posted: November 15, 2017 in 2011, Drama, Dramedy, USA, XX

A young widower leaves his adventurous journalist life for what it is and buys a zoo to start all over again with his two young children. The youngest kid loves it (she’s 6 or so), the oldest one hates it (he’s 13 or so).  If he hadn’t bought the zoo, all animals would have been displaced and the animal keepers would have had to look for another job. He’s in for the biggest adventure in his life…

The story seems a bit far-fetched. A good excuse to make a movie with big stars and a lot of animals. But it’s apparently based on a true story.

It all feels a bit silly though. The script isn’t strong. It’s a kids’ movie. The kind you can watch at 2 pm in the afternoon. After a (more exciting) BBC nature documentary. Scarlet Johansson is in it, but her role could have easily been played by someone else. Nothing special. Matt Damon is okay in the lead role. He seems to really be having fun. He has some good scenes. Especially the “I Need Help” conversation with his son. But then the movie is over and you’re shrugging.

The use of great indie college rock tracks on the soundtrack is of course the director’s idea But it just doens’t work here.

Check the dvd extra on training animals.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1389137 

 

Four great actors stuck in one setting. It’s almost like a theatre play on stage. But it’s not. It’s a movie. And even though the idea is good, the execution kind of bores. Two factory workers break into the house of their boss and take him hostage. They thought they had planned it well. But things start getting all messed up when his (secret) mistress arrives unexpectedly. Who turns out to be the daughter of one of the attackers! Moreover, because of an electricity power outage, other plans can’t be executed and the four are stuck in the house for the entire weekend! So it seems.

It’s over before you know it. So, it’s not that bad. Just proves that a good idea does not necessarily make a good movie. But the acting is good. And some one-liners are fun. If you understand Flemish. The dvd has English subtitles though.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443352 

 

Ae Fond Kiss – **

Posted: November 14, 2017 in 2014, Romance, Social Drama, UK, XX

For a movie made in 2004, this Ken Loach film still functions well in 2017. Nothing has changed in 13 years. A sad conclusion. The premise still intrigues these days. Can a catholic, female music teacher and a muslim accountant find happiness as a couple in modern-day Western society? Yes? No? Maybe?

Ae Fond Kiss feels like it was made by a debutant graduating from an unknown film academy. Which is not a bad thing, apart from the fact that it’s made by an experienced and award-winning director. The script is so predictable. Of course the catholic school environment will be depicted as being as old-fashioned as the Pakistani tradition of arranged marriages. The social commentary is too gentle. If you want to confront viewers with racism, don’t do it by just mentioning it. Go for the uncomfortable feeling! Some scenes don’t make sense. Like the moment where the guy discovers a tattoo on the body of his new girlfriend, which he has been licking and kissing all night long a few days before. Duh! The acting of most of the cast is non-professional. Which is fine. Eva Birthisle is quite remarkable as the teacher. Atta Yaqub looks lost as the Pakistani accountant. But playing the character as a bit of a shy loser, makes him more sympathetic. The rest probably didn’t even get paid for being extras with lines.  It has a terrible end. Totally opposite of what any rational person would conclude. But the whole experience is worth the watch. A Scottish movie to recommend!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0380366

 

 

 

Now this is a fun and entertaining superhero movie! It’s not set in the future nor in an American metropolis for a change, which is great. This Gal Gadot is quite the performer. She looks good ánd she can kick ass. Not sure if there’s much acting, but hey, The action scenes are impressive. It’s directed really well… Bring on the sequel! Finally a box office hit that is worthy of being a box office hit.

The movie introduces Wonder Woman, a demi-goddess raised by the Amazones, who considers it her destiny to destroy Ares, the God of War. When she hears from an American pilot who entered their world (via a weird time warp wall) that The Great War is going on, she decides to leave her protected, women-only resort and face the real world of humans. As she’s never a) hung out with men before and b) has never visited the world where humans live, she’s in for a real treat! The humor is good. The set designs are great. And there are several surprises, one of which is Said Taghmaoui in a very small supporting role.

Another surprise is the Flemish dialogue from locals. The scene and soundbite do not make any sense, but it’s just fun to hear. It’s just bizarre. According to the plot, an evil German officer is stationed in Belgium and Wonder Woman needs to get to him. So, according to the script and the dialogue, they go to ‘Belgium’. But later in the movie, they talk about a village called ‘Veld’. They show an actual map where the village is mentioned on. However, it’s a map of Northern France. So NOT Belgium, but French-Flanders (the part from Flanders that Louis XIV claimed for France). I checked on google maps. There’s no ‘village’ called Veld (which means field) in between Hazebrouck, Moerbeke en Oud-Berkijn (as seen on the map in the movie). The only village there is De Walle. There is a village called Veld in Belgium, but it’s close to Torhout and Brugge. Anyways. Whatever. Then somehow the locals talk Flemish and French. The café where they dance advertises in Flemish (Bier & Tabak), but the photographer speaks with a French accent. The one scene where Wonder Woman kills a sniper by blowing up a church tower, is followed with locals saying What happened? Did you see what she did? in Flemish. BUT, it’s said with an Antwerp accent, and that’s a total different dialect. Regardless if it’s Hazebrouck or Brugge, the locals would speak West-Flemish. Anyways. It’s the linguistic nerd writing right now. How do these scenes come about at the production table? It’s all filmed in the UK anyways. Nothing is filmed in France or Belgium.

dav

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0451279

 

Battle Of The Sexes – **

Posted: November 11, 2017 in 2017, Dramedy, Romance, Sportsdrama, USA, XX

Back in 1973 Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs at a demonstration game in tennis. Maybe you shrug your shoulders and think: big deal. But it was at the time. Billy Jean King was the best female tennis player in the world and Bobby Riggs was a has-been Wimbledon champion who only played demonstration games to finance his gambling addiction.

A lot of things were at stake. Billy Jean King had started her own tennis circuit out of anger because the tennis association only paid her 1/8 of what the male tennis players were getting. A previous (less advertised) game had been a disaster for women rights activists (because the female player lost). The event drew 90 million viewers around the world (most of them probably in the US). It was a big deal. Up until now it’s still quite relevant. Women still don’t get equal pay in a lot of profession and sports. There are still quite a lot of chauvinist pigs around. People still believe the game was a fraud and Riggs lost on purpose…

But all this information isn’t necessary to go see the movie. It’s not that serious. It’s very light-hearted. It’s fun. Emma Stone is good as Billy Jean King. Steve Carell is excellent as Bobby Riggs. There’s a golden globe coming up for this guy! It’s a very easy to like movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4622512