Archive for July, 2010

Seen at home on dvd.

As I am about to start a tour that takes me to Bonn, I decided to watch Copying Beethoven, a fictitious account of the last year of the German composer. I stopped watching after 70 min.

The acting is mediocre. Beethoven is just Ed Harris with a huge wig. And Diane Kruger is a gorgeous German gal, but isn’t doing much more than reciting lines. It also seems like she did it in German and got dubbed afterwards. After all, this is a German-Hungarian-American co-production. ¬†And as is the case with almost all co-productions, this one also looks like a mess that needed to be finished fast before the money really ran out. The story is thin and becomes even weaker by the end of the movie. A girl gets a job copying the scores of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, is supposed to be horrified by him, but then really starts caring. Big deal. So many things don’t add up. She complains about him being brute, but you never see that brute side of the composer. You see him yell and shout and hit objects, but you never see him that brutal that she would complain about it. Then of course Beethoven is deaf and even though they try to stick to the rule that he can only hear someone if that person is standing in front of him, they ‘forget’ about it quite often. Very strange. Again, probably no money for someone to review the movie for inconsistencies.

Anyways. Didn’t finish the movie. Couldn’t care less. Amadeus it most definitely is not.

Les Choristes – ***

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Children/Family, Drama, France, XXX

I recently bought Les Choristes for my parents, a French movie about a music teacher who takes a job in a school for socially abandoned children anno 1949. It got nominated for an Oscar in 2005 and I believe it ran for quite some weeks in the cinema’s of Brussels. My parents absolutely loved the movie, so I gave it a shot too. Guess what. I loved it as well.

The story isn’t all that original of course. There are several movies about teachers trying to find an alternative way to get close to troubled children. What makes this movie better is the setting of course (remote school in the area of Lyon, just after the war) and the acting (the main actor is brilliant and the kids act very natural). The movie never bores, even though it’s a tough cookie to listen through the choral songs, which I personally couldn’t stand. But they were part of the story, so I wasn’t annoyed (that much). It’s well-directed and the cinematography is top-notch. Pretty flawless movie with some memorable scenes, which I can recommend to everyone.

Gomorra – **

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Crime/Detective, Documentary, Drama, Italy, XX

Seen at home on dvd

If everyone writes how great a movie is, I should see it right? Do I have to think it’s great too? No.

Gomorra really isn’t the master piece I thought it would be. It actually bored me. Not to death, but to almost falling asleep. NOT a good sign. I do like crime movies. And I do like reality pictures. But the combination didn’t work for me.

Why? Not sure. It’s a very depressing movie. There’s absolutely no hope in the story. There are no heroes. There aren’t even anti-heroes. There’s really no-one you feel sympathy for, apart from the fashion designer maybe. It is shocking to know this is the reality in the region around Naples, but I didn’t care about it at all. The main reason why I wasn’t that impressed by the movie is simply the lack of emotion. It has its merits to just show plain facts and to de-glamorize the mafia lifestyle. But I want to care for characters. I want to be moved when a character dies. ¬†There’s nothing wrong with showing the lesser parts of our society, but try to involve the audience.

The movie follows five stories and jumps from one to the other and back. It’s not confusing, but it does slow down the entire experience. The actors are non-actors. That can work great (Entre Les Murs), but it can also become annoying, which was the case here. The two punks who think they can take over the local mafia on their own are overacting. The scene where they go to a strip club is one of the best scenes of the movie though. And there are several scenes that are noteworthy.

A winner of several awards and critically acclaimed it only drew audiences in some European countries. People want to see The Godfather. I want to see The Godfather again. It’s interesting to see how the local mafia kids prefer to watch Scarface. It really is the anti-Godfather movie as the dvd inlay explains. Judge for yourself.

Religulous – 1/2

Posted: July 29, 2010 in 1/2, Documentary, USA

Seen at home on dvd

Bill Maher is sometimes funny. He is also an atheist. The idea of him making fun of religion kind of appealed to me. I’m in between an agnostic and an atheist. And I like to laugh. I hoped to hear jokes like ‘free ham: a jewish dilemma’. However, there’s nothing funny about this documentary at all. If you put a pun in the movie title, you should deliver. I did not laugh once. In 90 minutes.

Instead, it made me incredible annoyed by Maher’s inability to tell a good story. The documentary has NO script at all. It’s a collection of single elements that are sometimes nicely edited by old footage from tv shows or movies. But even that isn’t creative. It’s totally unclear what Bill Maher wanted to achieve with this movie. Again, the title assumes he wants to make fun of religion. That fails. In the beginning it kind of seems he wants to find out why he does not believe and why others do. But he never is interested in any of the interviewees’ explanations. He asks them questions in the hope they will make a mistake, but never lets them finish talking. He acts like an arrogant asshole. He definitely does not want to teach the viewers anything, because he’s right and the others are wrong. Well, Bill, sorry but you are not right either. You haven’t done your research and you are incredibly narrow-minded. What a waste of time and money. Maher, you kind of made me have sympathy for the believers!

1/2 stars because I did finish the movie

Seen at home. On dvd.

The set up for this series is great. I’m sure there are millions of stories to tell about life in a five-star hotel. I’m sure there’s even more stories to tell in a three star hotel, but the series had to look fancy I guess.

The storylines are okay actually. They are not far-fetched at all, apart from the ‘horror’ episode where they think there’s a serial killer in the hotel and the episode with the top criminal. Ok, two far-fetched episodes out of eight is not SO good. But, it’s the first season of course and the show needs to be introduced and so need the characters, who are all incredibly stereotypical though. You’ve seen them before: the (female) manager who has cheated on her husband, the newly appointed assistant manager who seems to have a fraudulent past, the bitchy head receptionist and her camp gay colleague, the conscious concierge, the italian bar tender, the multi-ethnic illegal staff…

I actually don’t know why I wasn’t more charmed by this series. It has actually a lot of things to go for. Plus it’s from the UK, which makes it more interesting than a similar show from the US. I guess there just wasn’t any character I sympathised with. Maybe that’s the writers fault. Or the actors. Who knows. None of them were acting that bad really. I’m sure they did the best they could. But it was kind of obvious that this is a tv production where they don’t make several takes and then choose the best one.

Not sure if I want to see the second season, but I’ll give it a try. There’s definitely potential.

no trailer of the show on youtube, but a clip of my favorite characters: the bitchy head receptionist and her gay colleague. she spent the night with a guest and then finds money on the night table, which of course makes her assume that he thought she was a prostitute…