Archive for October, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love – *

Posted: October 30, 2010 in Drama, USA, X

After having seen The Social Network, which my company hated, we decided to see another movie on the same evening. We wanted to see The American, but somehow realised as the movie started that we were in the wrong theatre. No George Clooney on the screen, but Julia Roberts. Fuck. However, we decided to give it a try.

Well, can’t say I’m happy to have seen this movie. But I can say that I’m happy to have finished it, because the best part is definitely at the end. The movie is based on a travel novel from a writer who decides to leave everything behind and go to eat in Italy for several months, pray in India for several months and live in Bali for a year, where of course she falls in love. With a Brazilian. Played by a Spaniard. In the meantime she’s searching for balance in her life. Empty her head. And just search. A noble thing, but also pretty boring to look at.

I was just annoyed about several things in the movie. First the photography. There’s just too much light. There are NO blue skies. Everything is just like one big flash. Horrible. The camerawork is amateur. The dialogue is silly. Especially compared to The Social Network. Julia Roberts does her annoying cry/loud laugh thing all the time. etc. Too tired to write a real review for this movie. It just wasn’t all that good. But Javier Bardem and Bali saved it. 😉

The Social Network – ***

Posted: October 30, 2010 in biopic, Drama, USA, XXX

Seen at Kinepolis Kortrijk

This movie ends with the main character waiting for someone else to accept his friendship request on Facebook. It’s a great end scene, especially since the main character is the founder of Facebook. Or better, the creator of it. And there are plenty more great scenes in this biopic of someone who nobody had heard of seven years ago, but is already immortalised by this flic. WOW.

The trailer tagline ‘you can’t have 500 million friends without making some enemies’ fits the bill perfectly. You have this smart guy who doesn’t really have a lot of friends, which I’m sure he thinks is frustrating, and he creates thé most powerful friendship tool online. He does it after having been inspired by an idea of three guys who later claim he ‘stole’ the idea and start sueing him. He also does it after having been given start-up money by his best friend who later gets financially dumped and also sues him. The story of this movie is the version of the latter kid. And even though it’s a biased and even revengeful, I do believe it might just be the correct account of how things happened. Contrary to a lot of reviewers of this movie, I do not think the image of the facebook founder is that much damaged. I still have respect for him. Just like I have respect for the co-founder who came out with his book.

You’ll either like this movie or you won’t. I just happened to have watched it with someone who didn’t. When the end credits started to roll and before I even could express the ‘wow’, my company made very clear what she thought of the movie. She pressed an imaginary button on her seat and said ‘delete’. All within the atmosphere of the movie. She’s not on facebook. She hates computers. And she doesn’t want to see young people make money. She wanted to see the movie (because of all the buzz), but already lost interest after ten minutes. I on the other hand loved it, wasn’t bored at all and also saw beyond the story line.

First, the soundtrack is excellent. Composed by Trent Reznor of NIN it really captivates you and drags you into the scenes. Second, the build up and the dialogues of the story. I hope the screenplay gets an Oscar nomination. It could have been such a dull movie, but the writers added humor and great dialogue in it to keep it all a bit more alive. And third, some scenes are really good. There’s this scene during a rowing competition which I totally loved. No dialogue. Just close-ups, great editing and a brilliant version of Grieg’s ‘In The Hall Of The Mountain King’. The acting is okay. The main character is really good. Justin Timberlake however is Justin Timberlake. The others are just okay.

but in the end: really good movie!

Forgetting Sarah Marshall – *

Posted: October 29, 2010 in Comedy, USA, X

Seen on iTunes

I have this movie game app on my iPod that’s called ‘Scene It’. I’ve had several questions about Forgetting Sarah Marshall with some funny scenes. ‘From the makers of The 40y Old Virgin and Knocked Up‘ drew my attention, as I kind of liked those two movies. So hup, another rental. And hup, another piece of crap. MY GOD! Why do I still believe that Hollywood can make comedies. Just because I had to laugh with Hangover last year? That was the only good comedy that came from the States since ages. What a waste of money and time again. Not that the movie is that bad. it’s just not good. There’s absolutely nothing unique about this rom com. Next!

Mad Men – Season 3 – **1/2

Posted: October 28, 2010 in Drama, TV series, USA, XX1/2

Watched Season 3 and wasn’t all that amazed. Season 2 got me glued to the screen. Season 3 just paddled along. I even did the dishes during an episode. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched the season so soon. Maybe I should have waited a few months. But the anticipation was too huge.

What made Season 2 so great was the story and character development. There is nothing of that here. There is no growth. It’s a stand still. Moreover, it becomes soap-like. You don’t really get to know the characters better. So you lose interest. Their lines even become predictable. They aren’t in any interesting situations and if they are, they are written out of the show. I’m thinking of the gay art director Salvator. I would have loved to see more of how he deals with that struggle. But he leaves the show halfway through the season and that’s it. There’s no tension between the characters either. No chemistry at all. Don Draper has a new girl toy, but gone is the passion on the screen. Betty Draper also has her eyes on another man. But the sparks are missing as well. Still, she’s thé star of the show. January Jones is excellent. An Emmy. Fast!

And when it comes to talking about society. There’s the death of Kennedy of course. Interesting to see the reactions. But there’s also the speech of Martin Luther King and that gets little attention. I kind of hoped the creators would tackle the segregation issues a bit more. They try to incorporate it, but it could have been done better. That said, the setting in an advertising company may still sound very boring, but it’s actually incredibly clever. The advertising world does tell you a bit about how people see society. And for that, this show is a must.

Reads like a bad review, but the final episode is as good as any episode of season 2. Top notch. So I will watch season 4. But maybe in a few months or so. Or maybe tonight.

Here’s a clip that is so unlike anything else in the show. Horror slapstick. It’s funny. But it’s so not like the rest of the show. It doesn’t make any sense. Lois doesn’t even get fired after this.

Les Petits Mouchoirs – **1/2

Posted: October 24, 2010 in Comedy, Drama, France, XX1/2

Seen at the UGC Brouckere

Marion Cotillard. What an actress! She performs with such a natural easiness that it doesn’t even seem like acting. A bit like Kate Winslet. She’s the absolute star of this French comical drama about ‘friendship’ and how we all live a few lies. In fact, she’s so good that all the other actors in this ensemble cast look like amateurs, which they aren’t of course, but still. After watching this movie you will want to see all the other movies she’s been in.

She plays Marie, a cannabis smoking and red wine drinking Parisian who goes on a holiday with some of her best friends while her ex boyfriend and still the love of her life  was brought to intensive care after a bad accident. She does doubt about going on the trip, but the others – who are also friends of the hospitalised guy – can convince her that there’s nothing she can do on the spot. And so they go to some place near the ocean with all of their doubts and secrets and they have laughs and cries and that’s basically all you need to know.

Cotillard’s boyfriend Guillaume Canet is the writer and director of this movie. Maybe it’s just me, but during the first half of the movie all I could think of was why this movie ever got made. It just seems like Guillaume sat together one night with Marion and some other friends when the idea popped up to go together on a holiday. Maybe they were short of cash. Maybe they just didn’t want to spend too much of their own money. So it appeared very possible to me that Guillaume came up with a script to get a movie financed filmed at the holiday spot of the group of friends. Because there’s really nothing happening in the first half of the movie and it’s filled with scenes that add nothing to the story but just show the actors having fun (doing water sports for instance and drinking a lot of wine).

After a while though you get more interested in the characters even though their situations are just every day situations and aren’t all that dramatic. And you continue to be curious to know what will happen to them and their relationships. But a few hours after leaving the theatre the interest is long gone.

That said, there are a few things that made the movie better than the average dramedy crap we see. Marion of course. But also some great directorial ideas that I really liked. The soundtrack was interesting and was also used to the fullest in certain scenes. There’s this scene where someone gets dumped and you see them talk but you only hear a song. You hear nothing of their conversation. And that’s a merit typical for this movie. You get to know more about the characters by looking at the screen, rather than listening. And in the end, that’s why we go to the movies. To LOOK.


Mad Men – Season 2 – ****

Posted: October 17, 2010 in Drama, TV series, USA, XXXX

Just as expected, season 1 of Mad Men was just an introduction to the amazing Season 2 which is almost entirely flawless. It’s bascially more of the same, but just better. The details about the period in which the story take place are beyond perfection. It’s not only a historical account, it also reflects on its difference to and its similarities of today’s society. The art direction is better detailed than any of the recent Oscar-winning motion pictures and is incorporated in the story. Even becomes a non talking character, like the first big copy machine that gets introduced in the Office. And then there’s the character development, which is outstanding. Characters you remotely cared for in the first season continuously grow to be fascinating. Few new people get introduced, so the focus is on the known ones whose development is always logical (apart from Mr Sterlinger maybe).

Probably the most intriguing person in the show is Mrs Draper who not only visually steals every single scene she’s in, but who also captivates by her confusing, yet very understandable behaviour.  The way she deals with the cheating of her husband is powerful. Mr Draper himself loses his main character status and gets pushed in the background a little, which is compensated by necessary flashbacks to his past. Peggy Olson and Mr Campbell on the other hand get a lot more attention. And to their benefit. They are not particularly likeable at all, but they manage to keep you thinking about them. Even hours after watching an episode.

Mad Men is the kind of show that appears in your dreams. The kind of fiction that sneaks into your own imagination. And that is perfect television.

There wasn’t really a trailer for season 2, but here’s a recap of the two first seasons. It’s better if you don’t watch it. The best is just to be surprised by the story.

Des Dieux Et Des Hommes – ***1/2

Posted: October 3, 2010 in Drama, France, XXX1/2

Seen at UGC Antwerp

A winner at the Cannes film festival. Rave reviews in the magazines. It’s not always a guarantee, but this time it is! What an amazing movie. The plot line may look like a bore and keep the crowds away, but if you go see this movie, you’ll be happy someone recommended it.

I knew very little about the movie. Only that it dealt with monks who lived in an Algerian mountain town and got confronted with muslim extremism. Nothing more. I advice not to know more about the movie either and just go and enjoy. I had no idea the movie was based on true events. So I absolutely did not know how the movie would end. And that ignorance added to the excitement.

There are some amazing scenes in this movie. My favorite one is the moment where the monks are singing a Gregorian chant as a helicopter is hovering over their monastery. The reoccurrence of the Gregorian chants is a bit tedious, but just as you think ‘oh no, no more singing please’, it flows into an incredibly powerful and positive image of faith and camaraderie. There you have a group of men who live together in a hostile environment and they find faith in each other (besides having faith in God). The presence of faith may scare people away from this movie, but it’s so well done and so realistically told that you cannot but appreciate these men’s courage. You feel with each of the monks. They each have different doubts. And you believe them all. The actors ARE monks. This is by far the best ensemble cast ever. All of the monks are so well portrayed. And that’s not just because they act it well. It’s also because director Xavier Beauvois tells the story the best way possible. With little dialogue, but with amazing shots. The one scene where the camera jumps from one monk to the other and always zooms in closer to see their expressions of doubt is amazing.

Honestly, this is maybe the best movie of the year.

Turquaze – **

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Drama, Flanders, Turkey, XX

Seen at the UGC Antwerp

Turquaze is the most hyped movie in Flanders at the moment. For the very simple reason that it’s the first Flemish movie that deals about immigrants in Flanders directed by someone whose parents were immigrants as well. The director and his brother who plays the main character have been in every tv show. They ‘ve had interviews in every newspaper. And all the comments and reviews are extremely positive. The PR campaign itself deserves an Oscar. If you haven’t heard about this movie, you haven’t been in this region for a while.

However, I’ve just seen the movie and it’s just a decent piece of cinema. Nothing more and nothing less. There’s nothing original about the movie. There’s nothing intriguing about it either. It’s just an above average movie that would never attract a tenth of the crowds it attracts now, if word of mouth would have been the only way of advertising.

Leaving the theatre it puzzled me why I felt totally untouched by the whole experience. Nowhere in the movie did I feel empathy or apathy for any of the characters. Nowhere in the movie was I excited or curious to know what would happen next. I just enjoyed watching it.

Hands up for the director whose cinematic vision translated well to the big screen. It is a beautifully shot movie and you never have the impression that it’s made with a low budget. Pure class. The story on the other hand is very simple and predictable. It’s not half as fascinating as it could have been and the dialogues are silly. Actually, the best scenes in the movies are those scenes in which nobody talks. Those scenes are very impressive and it shows the talent of the actors who really can express a lot with their behaviour and their look. But again, the dialogues are just too silly and ruin the whole experience.

The story, by the way, follows a few weeks in the life of a Turkish-Flemish musician after the death of his father. He has a Flemish girlfriend, but hasn’t introduced her to his family yet. Nor has he been introduced to her family. He has two brothers: one conservative older brother and one lost teenage brother. Yeah, that’s basically the story. 2 hours long.

Again, it’s a good movie. But it’s slow. And it’s never funny. Nor does it ever make you feel emotional. If you want to see a good home made movie about intercultural relationships check the Brussels drama Au-Dela De Gibraltar ***.

O Homem Do Ano – *

Posted: October 1, 2010 in Action, Drama, X

Seen at home on dvd

Being a fan of Brazilian movies, I had to see O Homem Do Ano (Man of the year), which is considered one of the bst of the last decade. Well, check, I’ve seen it. Next!

It’s not all that bad, but it just isn’t all that good either. The directing is very good (some shots are really clever), the acting of the main character is great (very subdued) and the sneer at modern-day Brazilian society is effective. BUT there’s just something terribly wrong with the story. It doesn’t captivate. It’s even silly at certain moments. It’s the story of an ordinary guy transforming into a succesful hit man financed by the local rich to kill the street criminals. It sounds believable on paper, but it just doesn’t seem believable on-screen.

The main problem is that you just don’t care about the characters. You don’t really get to know the main character and you definitely do not get to know any of the other people in the movie. His friends, his girlfriends, his victims, the guys who give him the assignments. They are just extra’s, underdeveloped stereotypes. There’s not one single supporting character you care for. Nor do you care for the main character. The only character you care for is a pet pig of which the squeals are some of the best dialogue of the movie!