There’s little drama in this family tale, set in the vineyards of Burgundy, but it’s still a great treat. Just because there is so little drama maybe. The situations that occur are real. The feelings that are expressed are real. The images are real. It doesn’t feel like fiction at all. It feels this family exists and you are part of their inner circle. It’s excellent.

Jean comes back to Burgundy, after having been away for ten years. He left the vineyard that his father runs to explore the world. He settled in Australia, where he operates a vineyard with the mother of his son. The irony! But now he’s back. His brother and sister are surprised by his return, especially since he didn’t even bother coming back for the funeral of his mother five years before. It’s an awkward, but pleasant reunion. And the siblings’ bond gets stronger once their dad passes away and they can mourn together. The harvest is about to happen and all help is needed… But what with the vineyard? Their dad left the estate to ALL of his children. Jean cannot just sell his share of the land.

I’m in Burgundy quite a lot, more specific in the region that the movie is filmed in. It’s a beautiful region of France and its beauty is well documented in this motion picture. You get to learn a lot about the winemaking process. Not so much about the technical stuff that is explained in guided visits, but more about what happens behind the scenes. It’s interesting to learn about all the dilemmas that these family owned businesses have to face.

This movie has some of my favorite scenes of the past cinematic year. Simple images, without dialogue, but very telling and moving. There are quite a lot of them. And the dialogue is also well written. The flashbacks add to the story. And the atmosphere is light hearted. Again, this is no heavy drama. This is drama light. But Cedric Klapisch, makes it entertaining for the entire two hours feature. 55 on Metascore. 6,9 on imdb. Bull. There is something wrong with these review sites. This is a great movie. Period.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5247704

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Premiers Crus – (*)

Posted: August 4, 2018 in 1/2, 2015, Drama, France

A Burgundian winegrower is on the edge of bankruptcy after he lost his appetite for the business once his wife and children left him. A Japanese company is willing to take over the vineyard and so is a rivaling neighbor. But luckily his oldest son, the successful and influential writer of a yearly wine guide, is willing to help his dad out. In fact, he’s willing to take over the business, but on his own terms.

The concept is interesting. The setting is gorgeous. But this movie falls flat. It’s like the region of Burgundy hoped to get a soap opera a la Dallas on tv, following the adventures of a wine growing family, but no network was interested in it. So instead of filming material for 12 episodes or more, they decided to shorten it to a 90 minutes television movie.

It’s terrible.

The amateur editing doesn’t help either. Each scene is abruptly ended. Like each scene is a trailer to a future episode in a (non-existing) series. It’s sad. Because there’s enough material to make it an interesting soap. There’s the family conflict and also some failed/unrequited romances. There’s the competition between winegrowers. It could be a great tool to learn about the winemaking process. Each episode could focus on dramatic events within the family AND explain one aspect of the viticulture.

A missed chance.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4796568

Jessica Chastain is excellent as Molly Bloom, a former freestyle ski champion who started running illegal gambling nights. First in Los Angeles (with tons of celebrities) and later in New York (with several mobsters). Two years after she quit the gambling game, she gets arrested by the FBI, who wants to put her in prison or at least get information about the gamblers that visited her games. Molly refuses to co-operate and wants to plead guilty. No lawyer is interested in backing her, apart from one man who is intrigued by this powerful woman.

Apart from the lawyer, played impressively by Idris Elba, all of the previous paragraph is based on true facts. Which is amazing. This woman did exist. She did run those games and did encounters lots of celebrities and several mobsters.

It’s an entertaining movie. Captivating as well. The dialogues are brilliantly written. They are tough to follow as they contain so much gambling/court/FBI vocabulary, but they are uttered with such an ease by the aforementioned stars that it feels like this is really how they talk on a daily basis. Remembering those lines and saying them out loud in a convincing way deserves all possible credit.

It’s a fast paced drama. Until the last 20 minutes or so when the story drags on a bit. There’s a lot of dialogue throughout. There’s no time to just enjoy the images. But the editing of the movie is well done and it’s visually interesting as well. Worth the watch!

www.imdb.com/title/tt4209788

 

Suburbicon – *

Posted: July 31, 2018 in 2017, Thriller, USA, X

A 99 cent rental on itunes directed by George Clooney (!), written by the Coen brothers (!), starring Matt Damon (!) and Julianne Moore (!) and Oscar Isaac (!) plus that kid that seems to be in every movie nowadays: Noah Jupe. What a team!

Unfortunately the movies falls flat. Already after 10 minutes or so. And it just never becomes exciting. Not even when the violence erupts in the second half.

It’s a classic written script. With original plot twists, when read at home in the couch. But pretty boring on the screen. It’s not that the directing is bad, nor the acting, nor the cinematography. No. There is just zero humor. Which is quite important if you make a dark comedy. Not one single scene makes you laugh. None. Oh, maybe the scene with Matt Damon on a kid’s bicycle.

And then there is the superfluous ‘socially critical’ side story that doesn’t make any sense at all. The events take place in a suburban white village where a black family comes to live, which creates panic amongst the locals. That’s how the movie starts. Interesting. Later in the movie you see people protest and put up fences around the family’s home and you see shop tenants clearly indicate that black customers are not welcome. But that’s about it really. It’s clear. People are panicking because of the arrival of different newcomers, but close their eyes for the trouble in their own society. It’s clear. It’s 100% clear. If that’s ‘socially critical’, it’s lame. It distracts from the real story.

The main drama takes place in the home of one of these new arrivals’ white neighbors. The family of Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) is visited by two mean burglars who put all of the family members to sleep with chlorophyll. Two of these family members are played by Julianne Moore. She both plays the devoted wife of Gardner and the twin sister, who turns out to be the mistress of Gardner. When the wife dies of an overdose of chlorophyll, it’s clear that this visit of the burglars wasn’t random. This is also 100% clear from the beginning. As it’s witnessed by the young kid in the story.  There is absolutely no suspense either.

This is not a good movie, but if you want to watch it, watch it without looking at the trailer. Because it creates expectations of something thrilling, funny and good (and hardly mentions the racial conflict side story).

www.imdb.com/title/tt0491175/

 

Samantha! – *(*)

Posted: July 28, 2018 in 2018, Brasil, Comedy, TV series, X1/2

Emanuelle Arujo is excellent in this short netflix sitcom about a former child star who decides it’s time to relive her fame again. She’s extremely ambitious in her attempts to become/remain famous/popular, trying all the strategies that are currently being used.

The series starts when her husband, a famous footballer, is released from prison and decides to come home to her and their two kids. Suddenly there’s rekindled media attention. But the press seems to be more interested in her husband than in her. Wrong!

It’s a good concept. There are some social comments about reality tv, youtube influencers, etc… But the execution isn’t always so good. The children are interesting side characters, but the husband (Douglas Silva) isn’t. He’s really not acting well at all. Which is sad, because he was so good as a kid in Cidade De Deus. Or maybe it’s because all the focus is on Samantha ! (with exclamation mark!) She was a terrible child star (traumatizing everyone that used to work with her) and she doesn’t realize that a new generation thinks of her as passé. Yet, that ambition is so hilarious.

The humor is very Brazilian and not to everyone’s liking. But the idea is very international. Try it. You may like (part of) it.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6626676

Fleuve Noir (Black Tide) – *

Posted: July 28, 2018 in 2018, France, Thriller, X

In #metoo times, it’s quite interesting to see the main character of a police thriller (an alcoholic inspector) violate the mother of the disappeared child in the case he’s investigating. It’s a weird scene. It’s comical, especially in the aftermath – when they continue talking as if nothing happened. But it’s also shocking. It does have a purpose though. Somehow. The violation isn’t rape, because the woman allows it and even craves for it. Still, she initially says no. So keep your penis in your pants, motherfucker!

The scene does represent the movie though. Many scenes are both ridiculous and intriguing. It’s a tough sit-through. Vincent Cassel is over the top as a Columbus-like inspector in trench coat, looking like he sleeps under a bridge in Paris and talks like he constantly has a piece of a baguette in his mouth (drenched in alcohol). If you’re not a native French speaker, wait for the release with subtitles! Although they should read like ‘grmfflzmr trmflife feeszzee’. Romain Duris plays the literature teacher and upstairs neighbour of the missing boy. It’s so obvious that he’s the prime suspect that it’s not a surprise when it turns out he’s not. No spoiler alert necessary. In fact, the obsession by which the wannabe writer is co-investigating in the case is well acted.

In the end, it’s not really worth recommending. It’s like the director watched several non-classic police thrillers from the late seventies and thought: I can do the same! By 2048 this movie will be a challenge question in movie quizzes. Name the obscure thriller with Vincent Cassel en Romain Duris from 2018 that features two of the shortest sex scenes ever. (the first one is the 1 minute violation, the other is another ridiculous/shocking 1 minute in the forest. No spoiler there.)

www.imdb.com/title/tt6009104

Ocean’s 8 – **

Posted: July 18, 2018 in 2018, Crime/Detective, Heist, USA, XX

It’s quite remarkable to make a heist movie with an all-female cast that is quite entertaining without ever being funny, mesmerizing, action-packed or thrilling. Maybe it’s just the speed at which the story unfolds and the clever editing. The soundtrack is good too and it all just looks like pure fun. It’s definitely not the story itself. A bunch of women decide to steal a century old necklace during the Met Gala. Mission impossible, made possible, by making it look easy. It’s also not the great acting. Apart from Anne Hathaway maybe, none of the stars really convince. No, this is a movie, which doesn’t annoy, even entertains at moments, but is so easily forgotten.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5164214