Archive for November, 2010

Hairspray (1988) – **

Posted: November 26, 2010 in Comedy, USA, XX

Seen on dvd

I recently found the original Hairspray dvd for 2,5 euro at a street sale. 2,5 euro! That’s cheaper than a Duvel in a bar in Brussels!

I really liked the remake with John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer and I kind of appreciate the weird world of John Waters (whose Serial Mom and A Dirty Shame were pretty hilarious at times), so I had to see this comedy. And it’s fun. The story is almost completely the same. It seems like the remake was done scene by scene. But there’s one huge difference. The actors in the remake act. The actors in this original version don’t. The acting is so poor that it becomes funny. There’s a lot of over-acting, which is typical for John Waters’ movies. And that over-acting is entertaining, just because you know that it’s not meant to be serious. But there’s also over-acting in the remake and that just was more convincing. This is just pulp. Entertaining pulp. But pulp.

Buried – **

Posted: November 26, 2010 in Spain, Thriller, XX

All good reviews for a clever movie with only one actor on only one location! I had to see it. Ryan Reynolds plays a guy who’s buried alive in a coffin somewhere in Irak. I’m claustrophobic. I had to see it. I once talked to a movie freak many years ago (1997) about how cool it would be to have a pitch dark screen in the cinema for several minutes. This movie has it. I had to see it!

I’ve seen it and I am not sure what to think. Yes, it’s a clever idea and yes the script writers did an awesome job by keeping you entertained for 90 minutes with just one guy on just one location. That alone is really note worthy and worth the ticket. However, I was never ever scared watching this movie. Nor was I thrilled and excited. I did think about what I would do in a similar situation, but I didn’t feel like I was trapped in a coffin. And some elements weren’t all that plausible. I’m doubting between ** and **1/2. Because it is, like it or not, an accomplishment to make a feature film about a clever but very simple idea .

Unstoppable – **

Posted: November 20, 2010 in Action, USA, XX

Seen at the Kinepolis in Kortrijk

Was invited to go watch a movie at the local cinema. They didn’t show Potich or Buried or The American, so we had to choose between Sint or Unstoppable. We picked the latter. Brain function on zero and seatbelts fastened for a crazy train ride. Your typical standard Hollywood action flic with happy end and a lot of superfluous drama. Yeah, sometimes it’s just okay to see a movie like that.

Had never heard of the movie, so it was a nice surprise. Ridley Scott makes okay movies. Denzel Washington is a cool guy. And the idea of a train on the loose was appealing. Again, the end result is okay. A few days ago I took a 8 hour train ride from Basel to Brussels. The two hours of this movie’s train ride were much more exciting than any two hours on that journey.

The story is simple (and apparently based on true events). A train gets unmanned and rides in full speed through the Pennsylvania landscape. There’s some explosive goods on the freight train and there seems to be no way of stopping this monster. Moreover, another train is riding up the same track and is about to collide with the unmanned one. Fun!

I can imagine guys re-playing this movie with their set of Marklin miniature trains. Should be fun. It’s also great to see a train be the main character of a movie. A bit like the truck in Spielberg’s Duel. I kind of hoped the train would crash and a lot of people would die, but you already know from the start that this is going to have a happy end. After all, it’s Hollywood. Denzel Washington is doing a good job as one of the three heroes that finally make the train stop. He can be really fun to watch. The older he gets the more he reminds me of an acquaintance of mine. But that’s just a personal note.

I absolutely hated the cheering of the friends and family during the attempt to stop the train. None of those scenes were realistic. I can’t understand how Ridley Scott even considered filming those scenes. A must from the producers? The end is also to syrupy. Really too much heroism and too much drama. During the first half of the movie they focus a bit on the marital problems of one of the heroes and then of course at the end all is forgotten. Really? Who believes that shit.

But the action scenes are impressive. And I want to visit Stanton now.

Away From Her – ***

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Canada, Drama, USA, XXX

seen on iTunes

Just watched Away From Her, a (first long feature) movie by the Canadian actress Sarah Polley, who’s starred in great movies like Go, The Sweet Hereafter and My Life WIthout Me. The movie deals about love and Alzheimer. And even though you do get to learn a lot about the disease, the main focus lays in the love part. This is not just another disease movie. It’s a movie about loving and letting go.

Julie Christie was nominated a lot of her role as the Alzheimer patient, but personally I think her performance isn’t al that exceptional. Gordon Pinsent, however, who plays the tormented husband is brilliant. Maybe it’s because I’m a man and maybe it’s because as a viewer you can only relate to the healthy character, but I could totally relate to his feelings of love,  misunderstanding, frustration, guilt and doubt. Olympia Dukakis is also impressive, even though she only appears a few minutes in the movie.

The story is simple. A woman realises that she has Alzheimer and decides to go live in an assisted environment. Her husband does not like the idea that much, but agrees for her to be admitted. The intitute has a policy of not letting the patient have any visitors in the first month of their stay. That may sound silly and it probably is, but apparently is ‘good’ for the patients to adapt to their new environment. This however entails as well that once the husband is allowed to visit his wife, she has no recollection of who he is AND she is feeling very comfortable spending time with a male Alzheimer patient that she’s been taking care of.

BAM! What an ingenious dramatic plot point!

This is of course a drama, but I watched it as a thriller. At one point the husband starts to doubt if she isn’t pulling his leg and it’s all some kind of vengeful act for his cheating in the past. Even though you know that’s not the issue, you can totally understand why he would feel that way. Alzheimer is a terrible disease. Just imagine that you’re together with someone for more than 45 years and then all of a sudden he/she does not remember anymore who you are. Aaargh!

It’s not all perfect though. The principal and the nurse of the intitute are not really interpreted convincingly and there’s too many scenes where they just want to show symptoms of the disease (putting a pan in the fridge, having trouble finding the name of certain simple things, etc…). They also didn’t invest in a good soundtrack and there’s too many boring readings out of books. But in the end, it’s a remarkable movie with, as mentioned before, great acting and some tension. There’s not much humor in the movie (apart from a few effective scenes like some patient who used to give commentary to sports events and still does that about what he sees in the institute). There are also several good quotes in the movie, like when Olympia Dukakis’ character needs some attention and says: “It would be easier for me, if you could pretend a little”. But that will all make sense when you watch the movie.

Public Enemies – *

Posted: November 12, 2010 in Action, USA, X

A gangster goes to jail. Then escapes. Then goes to jail again. Then escapes again. Then gets hunted by the FBI. And then dies. In the meantime he falls in love and robs banks. All set in the early thirties in and around Chicago.

Two thirds into the movie I almost gave up. During yet another shoot out. This time set at night in the dark. In a forest. You have no idea who’s shooting at who and you also don’t care. What a bore! Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard and Christian Bale are three of my favorite actors, but they failed to capture my attention.

There’s nothing interesting about this movie. I did finish it, hence the one star. But I wasn’t entertained at all. Not historically, not visually, not dramatically. It’s based on true events, but sometimes the script doesn’t make sense at all. I know the world doesn’t make sense at all, so some of the scenes could well have been true accounts of what happened. But again, I didn’t care less.

Boring. Next!

 

Jes – ***

Posted: November 10, 2010 in Comedy, Flanders, TV series, XXX

no trailer found. ;-(

seen on dvd

A few years ago a great Flemish ‘Friends meets Sex and the City’ was shown on television. It flopped. Because of the time slot maybe. Because of the network it was shown on. Because of it’s location in Brussels. Who knows. I only saw a few episodes, but liked the story lines and the performances. And now I own the series on dvd.

Another reason why this series flopped may just be the reason way I liked it so much. I guess a lot of people can’t relate to the city adventures that the main character and her friends are going through being single in their thirties and still confused about what life has in store for them. It’s a comment I read a lot in the newspapers and that I also heard from some people who didn’t finish watching the show. I hear them. It’s all very unconventional. But to me it’s very recognisable. So I liked it. A lot.

The main character is a confused somewhat naive girl/woman who decides to start a new life in Brussels. As a main character she’s a bit too shallow and actually also a bit too boring. But that’s also the case with Carrie in Sex And The City. And that was a great show. Jes – as she is called – does grow in the series and by the end of the show you start to appreciate her a bit more. However, in this series it’s all about the side kicks, all of whom are a riot. Pascale Platel is hilarious as the crazy arty roommate of Jes; Johan Heldenbergh is excellent as the promiscuous ironic gay taxi driving friend, Koen De Graeve is very convincing as an unambitious lawyer friend and Kader Gürbüz is smart and sexy as Jes’ older sister who’s in a midlife crisis and frustrated by the lack of attention from her husband. Other characters are also entertaining, especially the cranky neighbour/love interest of Jes played by Wouter Hendricks. And Brussels never looked more attractive than in this tv series.

The storylines are indeed far-fetched. THey are primarily meant to be funny, so filled with over-exageration. Especially when the crazy roommate Sophia comes on-screen.  Often you’re just thinking: WTF? But in the end a lot of situations are recognisable and make you feel like you’re not the only weird guy in this world. How crazy the stories may be, they are all saved by the dialogues. Unlike other series, Jes has some of the most accurate dialogue on television. This is how thirtysomethings talk. It comes out very natural. As our language is a mix of Dutch, English and French, it’s great to hear it the way we speak it. Very silly though is to make a series in Brussels and have Flemish people play French-speaking Belgians. Honestly, how stupid is that? And some of the scenes are shot in Flemish towns with Flemish policemen and so on. Also pretty silly. But I’m sure hardly anybody notices that.

Too bad this series won’t get a sequel and too bad this will never be shown outside of Flanders. Get this to Germany or Scandinavia or the US. Hey, get it to Wallonia and French Speaking Brussels. Fast!