Archive for September, 2011

Outsourced – *

Posted: September 25, 2011 in 2006, Comedy, USA, X

Comedies that focus on cultural differences are either hit or miss. The ‘hits’ like Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis are rare, the misses are abundant. And this movie joins the latter group.

Outsourced is all about an American guy who reluctantly moves to India to help improve the sales done by an outsourced call centre. It’s a good idea and we all want to learn a little bit about the differences between India and the USA, but it fails to deliver real insights. It’s standard script writing to start with all the prejudices and then have the main character appreciate the differences and criticize his own culture, but it is just makes for a boring story.

I wouldn’t want to be an Indian watching the first 40 minutes of this movie. The way India is portrayed is pretty negative and belittling. Again, that’s necessary in the script for this kind of movie, but still. We all KNOW the prejudices. The holy cows in the way, the funny accent of the Indians, the spicy food, the hectic traffic, the head shaking, etc… I really don’t think it’s necessary to show them so directly. You can also just add that in a subtle way. The movie just looks like a collection of scenes based on books like The Xenophobe Guide to India. I’m sure the producers wanted to have an audience appreciate Indian culture a bit more after seeing this movie and I’m sure they wanted Americans to re-think their opinion about outsourcing, but I’m just not part of that target group. This basically is a movie for Americans who are a little bit interested in India, but only from the couch at home. They will never travel to India, probably never consider it and feel very happy at the end of the movie that they live in the USA.

But I finished the movie. Hence the one star. If it would have been a hard dark sarcastic comedy where they really would take the piss of the Indian, I probably would have appreciated it more. This is neither fish nor meat.

Bought this dvd in Denmark, because I wanted to get see some typical Danish movie that isn’t known outside of Denmark.  Just watched (with subtitles) and I didn’t quite get it. Sure it’s a dark comedy and maybe a manifest against greed. But it didn’t work for me.

Two butchers decided to open up a butcher shop on their own. When they accidentally forget someone in the meat cooler, they aren’t sure what to do with the dead body. Until a customer needs a large amounts of steaks and one of the butchers, starts to, well, cut of steaks from the dead guy’s thighs. Very predictable.

I smiled maybe three times because of the absurdity. But I never laughed.

Damn, I just see that they have the whole movie online:

The Beginners – ***

Posted: September 18, 2011 in 2011, Comedy, Drama, LGBT themed, UK, USA, XXX

What a great movie. The trailer promises good things and it delivers! It’s not funny, but charming. There’s drama, but it’s not dramatic. It’s a well-balanced take on someone’s view of ‘love’ and his inability to believe it can be true and lasting.

Not really sure why I liked it so much. Just the combination of it all. The storytelling isn’t that special and it jumps back and forth which normally gives me a headache, but worked fine in this movie. I liked the fact that the main character doubts so much about ‘love’. Just the thing I needed to see at the moment. And hey, when was the last time you saw a movie in which the main character’s 75y old father ‘becomes’ gay? The directing also isn’t all that unusual either, but there were several scenes that I really liked. Simple funny ones like the one in which the main character leaves his dog behind at the lover of his deceased father. Just double checking if the dog doesn’t miss him, he stops and waits to hear if the dog is barking or not. He not only does it once, but four times. It sounds silly written here, but it worked in the movie. However, I enjoyed the acting a lot. I’m a big fan of Ewan McGregor anyways. Especially when he plays a sweet, honest, good-hearted, somewhat naive thinker. When will we ever get to see him as a bad character? Doesn’t matter. Christopher Plummer is good too. Even though I thought he was a bit overacting the gayness of his character. And Mélanie Laurent is a revelations! Wow. That’s someone to look out for!

Just a nice movie. Really deserves only **1/2, but I personally liked it a lot, so there you go: ***

Not quite the movie I expected to see, but one that has a lot of merits. I went in to see an action movie with some political comments, but I got to see a political manifest with some action. I felt disappointed when the end credits rolled, but only because I missed the ingredients that made the first one so good. But come to think of it, this was also a tour de force.

The first movie dealt about the drug war in the favela’s of Rio de Janeiro, from the point of view of a special police unit that just goes in and kills the drug dealers. Quite controversial when it was released as the audience really loved the tough tactics and the support for a squad like that became even bigger.

This movie must have received controversial reviews as well in Rio, as this time the director questions the unit and its tactics itself. Sure, the leader of the elite squad still thinks it’s the best way to get rid of the drug dealers, but getting rid of the drug dealers does not stop the corruption in the favela’s. Just like in the top series The Wire, this movie digs deep into the corruption and political games. The tough approach against drugs helps politicians win elections, so they have to make sure that there are dealers to lock up… Scary thoughts.

Provocative movie. Probably not as much a blockbuster as the first one. But definitely food for thought…

Oh, if you hope to see attractive Brazilians in a charming setting of the marvelous city Rio, go see another movie…

Keinohrhasen – 0

Posted: September 15, 2011 in 2007, Comedy, Germany

This German comedy was a  big hit in 2008, directed by the Brad Pitt of Germany.  Well, half way into the movie I still hadn’t laughed. Which is of course pretty sad for a comedy.

The story is as boring as any rom com from Hollywood. A selfish yellow paper journalist needs to do some communal service in a day care center where he encounters a woman who he used to bully when she was young. it’s her time to take revenge! But of course, they end up in bed with each other. Totally unbelievable.

I don’t like Til Schweiger, which doesn’t really help because he not only stars in the movie, he also directed it. I did all kinds of stuff while watching this movie and I could still follow what was going on. And for those who think I didn’t watch it until the end, I did. Because there’s a funny taxi driver prank at the end that has no influence on the story whatsoever, but that made me smile. 100 minutes of being bored for one smile at the end.

Total crap. But hey some Germans loved it.

Hasta La Vista – ***1/2

Posted: September 14, 2011 in 2011, Comedy, Drama, Flanders, XXX1/2

This is really a great movie. There’s really nothing wrong about it. Well, apart from the end maybe and some unnecessary jokes. But overall, it’s flawless. There are actually a few top notch scenes. The one in which Lars takes the bold fisted hand of his father. Or the sequence where they all seem to be cured from their diseases. Up for best scene of the year.

The story? Three disabled guys want to have sex before and decide to go on a road trip to the south of Spain where there is a whorehouse that specializes in sex with ‘guys like them’. It sounds terrible, but it’s really not disrespectful at all. It’s melodrama of course, but there is enough laughter. Some scenes are really hilarious and the one liners are at times very sarcastic, but funny. The acting is perfect. Each and every one of the characters is credible. They really must have spent hours watching people with a handicap interact. The way they interact with each other and with other people is incredibly truthful. there is not one moment in the movie that you think is farfetched. And the script is a perfect example of how scripts should be like. A short and strong intro, great character development and some plot points that may be a bit predictable, but don’t annoy at all.

Yeah, probably the best movie of the year so far.

Vision – **

Posted: September 13, 2011 in 2009, biopic, Germany, XX

On almost every tour in Germany, I mention Hildegard von Bingen. I talk about her when we pass Bingen during the Rhine commentary where her monastery was. And I talk about her in Boppard and Koblenz where you can see references to her in the churches.  But, to be honest, I didn’t really know that much of her.

But now there’s a movie! And it’s actually not a bad one. It’s a historical movie and if you’re not interested in a feminist nun with visions who lived 900 years ago, then this is not the movie for you. If you have heard about her, you’ll appreciated this low budget movie.

So who is this Hildegard? Well, she was a very innovative and influential abbess who had visions and wrote them down. She also composed music and wrote books about medicine. A real feminist as well, who stood up to the abbots. She founded her own monastery and corresponded with the most important people of the time, such as Barbarossa and Bernard de Clairveau.

My only problem with the movie is that it was too much 2010 and not that much 1010.  It’s of course difficult to re-create the atmosphere of a time so long ago, but still. I felt like she just wore too much make up for the time when she lived. I did like the fact that they don’t show her as a saint, but as a human with several issues. She’s represented as being very dominant actually and eager to shine and be respected. There are even moments of lesbo-eroticism in it and a big focus on envy. It makes you wonder why Madonna didn’t make this movie?

But again, I only recommend it to people (like my colleagues) who want to know a bit about her life and don’t feel like reading a biography.

Oorlogswinter – **

Posted: September 3, 2011 in 2008, Children/Family, Drama, Netherlands, War, XX

As a kid I loved all the books of Jan Terlouw en Thea Beckman, so you can understand my nostalgic excitement about all the movies that are recently produced based on their more popular stories. The first one I wanted to watch was Oorlogswinter (Winter in Wartime), which got good reviews and deals with a period of time that I talk a lot about to my passengers.

The biggest surprise to me after having watched the movie is how I had recollected nothing at all about the storyline. I remember having read the book, but had no idea it entailed so much hardcore drama. I mean, this is no enjoyable family flic, it’s a harsh flashback to very different times. It’s set in January of 1945 when the Netherlands are still occupied and the country suffers from the coldest winter ever. A young kid ‘discovers’ a British soldier and wants to help him get back to England. His father however is the mayor of the town and acts friendly towards the German occupiers. His favourite uncle on the other hand seems to have sympathies with the resistance. The more the kid gets involved in the war, the more casualties fall…

I did like the movie and I do think it’s a must for every young person to watch how different live at 14 was in 1945. But it’s definitely not flawless. The first half is intriguing, the second half confusing, especially because the director wants to tell as much as possible in a very limited amount of time. As with many movies these days: they could much better have made television series out of this. There’s so much more to show and tell about this story and the many characters. I don’t like it when the movie starts with two kids who experience something quite unique for them and then you only get to know what happens to one of the kids. The other one appears again at the end of the movie, but what did he do in the mean time? Also the relationship with the father and the uncle gets confusing. Is the father a collaborator? Is the uncle with the resistance. I understand you want to create some tension and you don’t have to explain every single thing, but I would have wanted to learn more about these two father figures. And all the others…

The kid is played by Martijn Lakemeier, who’s a real pleasure to watch. I hope he gets some other assignments to act. He also outshines all the others, who act kind of wooden and just recite their lines. Again, their characters were not well developed, so you can’t really blame the acting. But they are just there in the scenes, just like you have trees and plants in other scenes. A pity.