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

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The Happy Prince – **(*)

Posted: October 12, 2018 in 2018, biopic, Drama, LGBT themed, UK, XX1/2

Oscar Wilde was quite a fascinating man. A popular playwright sentenced to prison because of his homosexual behavior. He was married with two children, but the lust for young men and one man in particular landed him in jail for two years. It was Victorian England and homosexuality was the worst of all sins. Once released he went into exile across to France and lived the last years of his life in poverty and illness. He reconnected with the lover that made him go to prison. He constantly dismissed the advice of his agent. He had no money, yet spent it all on drugs (coke, absinthe) and prostitutes.

Yes, this is what you get to see in this biopic. Misery with capital M.

Yet, it’s a well-directed movie. The late 19th Century atmosphere is well reproduced. The production design is awesome. Costume details as well. Attention to detail is great. And the performance of Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde is quite exceptional. It’s clear that he’s know a lot of man he portrays. In fact, he’s the director of the movie. It’s worth mentioning that he doesn’t show Wilde as a hero at all. This is a flawed man, with a complex character. The complexity isn’t explained, but shown. Too bad you don’t really get to see what his talent was. It helps if you’ve read a book or play by Wilde before watching this movie. Otherwise it’s just a movie about a sad old queer. There are a lot of references to his life and work and period of living, so it also helps if you have some background when watching this drama.

Still. Worth watching.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2404639

Lovelace – *

Posted: October 10, 2018 in 2013, Drama, USA

(sigh)

The star of the infamous porn movie Deep Throat didn’t have such a nice experience making the movie. Surprise!

Girl meets aggressive, addicted pimp, falls in love, runs away from home, marries the douch, learns how to give him a blow job, gets beaten by him, is forced to do porn and recounts her story.

There you go. No need to watch the movie really.

Sharon Stone is pretty impressive though. As the mother, to be clear.

The original porn movie is available online, but sucks. Literally and figuratively. It may be a ‘cult’ classic, but it’s hard to watch the entire thing. The porn actors sure were ugly back in the early seventies.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1426329

The Post – **

Posted: October 10, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Political, USA, XX

After the death of her husband, Mrs Graham (Meryl Streep) is in charge of the Washington Post, a local newspaper with an editor-in-chief (Tom Hanks) that thinks he can rival the New York Times. The newspaper is about to go public, but just as that’s about to happen, the staff receives information about a major cover-up in the white house. Several presidents have lied to the American people about the progress that the US troops made in Vietnam. Should they publish the story and risk it all?

Steven Spielberg decided to make a movie about these true events at a moment when freedom of press is again being questioned. The references to the current situation are a bit too obvious. The acting isn’t particularly great. And the story isn’t particularly gripping (you know the end before you start watching). But it’s well-directed.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6294822

This Is Us: Season 2 – ***

Posted: October 4, 2018 in 2017, Drama, TV series, USA, XXX

Ah!

Watching season 1 after having lost a parent was really therapeutic. It was the right show at the right time. There were tears and smiles and good memories. Every episode was a great joy and comfort to watch.

Watching season 2 almost two years later wasn’t therapeutic at all. There were again tears and smiles and good memories. But not every episode was a great joy to watch.

It’s a highly addictive show. Some of the characters are very intriguing. And the way the stories are set up, makes you constantly want to know what happens next.

Three siblings need to deal with the death of their beloved dad. That’s a constant in the show. As we learn about the siblings in their current life, we also get to learn about the siblings in their childhood and in their young adulthood. We also learn about the life of their parents and in season 2 it’s finally revealed how their dad died.

Luckily the producers have introduced other characters than the parents and the siblings and in season two we get to learn much more about them and their past.

As in season 1, the least interesting character in the show is Kate. Adult Kate is a whiner. Kid Kate is awkward. But there’s something really cool about teenage Kate (and a lot has to do with the acting performance). Her brothers Randall and Kevin are the real stars of the show. Their relationship as kids and teenagers and as adults is a joy to watch. And the acting of all of them is great. Kid Kevin is such a hoot. Teenage Randall is so fascinating. The storyline of their parents is less dramatic than in season 1, apart from the death of course. But showing the romance and love between them so often creates for more drama when it ends.

The coolest character of all though is Beth, Randall’s super patient, but incredibly wild and confident wife. Season 3 needs to be all about her.

In the final there are hints to what’s coming next and it does NOT look promising. They will now use storylines in the future? Noooooooo!

It’s a very American show. It works for me. It doesn’t work for many other Europeans. This is soap material. It’s emotional and cheesy. It seems very contradicting that in times where the US is so divided when expressing their political views, there’s a popular tv show in which all of the characters constantly have to talk things through, explain their feelings, explain their actions… and get rewarded for it.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5555260

Classic: Giant – ***

Posted: September 24, 2018 in 1956, Costume Drama, Drama, Romance, USA, XXX

Time for some Old Hollywood Classic!

The most remarkable thought after watching this 1956 epic, is that some of the issues addressed are still issues in 2018!

Elisabeth Taylor is absolutely stunning as Leslie, the daughter of an east coast horse breeder, who gets married to a Texan, who owns hundreds of thousands of acres of land. But apart from being gorgeous, her character is such a feminist voice! In 1956! When her husband and his men want to debate politics and want her to go drink tea with the other women, she just goes off at them. And there are more scenes like those. This is one hell of a strong female character. Wow. She also addresses the backward way of how the Mexicans are treated on the ranch and in the entire state. It’s really remarkable. When she meets the Texan for the first time, she reads up about the history of the state and then tells him the Texans stole it from the Mexicans. Wow. Bam. Also kudos for the director, who dared to show this segregation between the Texans and those ‘other kind of people’.

What if this movie would have been made in 2018? Would this be a hit? would this even be allowed to be shown in theaters? It would create controversy and Texans would still be offended about the way they are depicted.

It’s a good movie though. The direction is excellent. A lot is shown rather than explained. There are a lot of jumps forward in time, but it somehow works, thanks to the clever editing. George Stevens won the Oscar for best directing even though the movie itself lost big. But he really deserves the win. It makes you want to watch all of his work.

Rock Hudson is great as the macho Texan. James Dean is just okay (what’s the fuzz really?) as a former ranch worker discovering oil in his small piece of land. The feud between these two men on screen also existed off screen. There are hundreds of articles focussing on that rivalry between these two leading men. Which adds to the joy of watching this movie.

The last part of the movie doesn’t quite reach the same level as the first two hours (yes it’s a long movie), but persevere! It’s worth it. It’s all very entertaining. There are even some funny scenes (the thanksgiving scene with the kids, the diner fight at the end).

 

Back in 1975, Roy Scheider had a blockbuster hit with Jaws. But that year he also performed in an indie movie that bombed at the box office and got incredibly bad reviews. I always wanted to see this movie as a kid (being a fan of Roy Scheider), but it was such an obscure title that it was never shown on tv. Nor did I ever see it in a rental store. But now, anno 2018, it’s available on itunes!

It’s actually not all that bad. It’s a great trip back to the early seventies, when everyone smoked everywhere. At work, at parties, inside the living rooms. The movie is darkly lit and the soundtrack has only a few tracks that keep being repeated over and over again. It does feel more like a stage play than an actual movie as it’s set in only a few locations and the dialogue is important. It’s about a girl that comes from out-of-town to find a future in the big city. She ends up sharing an apartment with a messy wannabe actress, who encourages her to go party instead of cleaning up. At the party she meets a doctor from a nearby hospital who manages to get her into his bed. Bam. She’s in love! But he just sees it as a one night stand. Bam. Her heart is broken! Moreover, a few days later he’s going on a date with her crazy roommate (what are the odds!) and she needs to confront him again. But she grows stronger out of the experience!

It’s a silly movie. It’s about a girl discovering herself in the big city. It’s like Girls (never seen that show though) or Sex And The City, but then 4,5 decades ago. Jeannie Berlin is quite good as the quirky main character. Roy Scheider is just okay. Being a romantic lead has never been his thing.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0073698

there’s no trailer as such, but a clip on youtube: