Archive for January, 2012

La Guerre Est Déclarée – *1/2

Posted: January 19, 2012 in 2011, Drama, France, X1/2

Watched this movie on the plane on a small screen with a very bad sound system. Not the best circumstances, but as a flight movie that was ok. It didn’t do it for me though. I tried to figure out what the makers wanted to achieve with the movie. Was I supposed to watch it as an homage to the French movies for the seventies with their awkward editing and even more confusing musical score? no idea. The editing was interesting, but the music really started to bother me after a while.

There’s actually not much of a story really. A young couple hears that their son has a serious tumour and they deal with the problem in a very artsy fartsy way like only French wannabe artists who moved to Paris do. And that’s it. It didn’t leave me totally unmoved, but I was not impressed.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows – *

Posted: January 13, 2012 in 2011, Action, USA, X

Hm. Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr have managed to destroy the perfect image I had of Sherlock Holmes, one of my favorite characters in fiction. I don’t really know why I bothered seeing this new episode since I wasn’t really impressed by the last attempt of the director and actor to make Sherlock Holmes cool and hip again. But it’s Sherlock Holmes! And the trailer promises a battle with Moriarty!

Halfway in the movie there was an intermission, which I hadn’t experienced in ages. Yet for some reason it helped me appreciate the movie a little bit more. If there hadn’t been an intermission I would probably have fallen asleep. What a boring first half! There’s little action, few special effects and absolutely no humor whatsoever. But the second half has some clever scenes and the story kind of develops into something that you might call a plot. You finally understand WHY Sherlock Holmes is in this adventure, because that’s really not clear at all in the beginning.

Robert Downey Jr plays Sherlock Holmes as if he wants to rival Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: totally out of control. Jude Law just appears in certain scenes as Dr. Watson. He might have well just been furniture. And  Jarred Harris who plays Moriarty just doesn’t impress at all either. Also, Holmes DIED in Switzerland and in this movie he survives. But I’ll skip part 3 of this new franchise.

Basil Rathbone is turning in his grave. And Sr Arthur Conan Doyle is already haunting Guy Ritchie at the moment. This is really not good cinema! But people seem to like it as it’s a huge blockbuster. Hm. I didn’t. Just that you know.

The best thing about this show is the perfect balance between comedy and drama. I watched the whole series in one big view and laughed quite a lot, but also got touched as many times by the constant presence of death lurking around the corner. This is a really brave show. It makes thinking and talking about dying quite acceptable. It’s an incredible feat to make a series about a woman who is dying not melodramatic, but they pull it off.

Season 2’s are quite often equally good or even better than the first season because of the character development. Also in this show. Suddenly characters that you didn’t like that much in the first season become interesting. And the characters that you loved in the first season become even more interesting. So you’re more open to the introduction of new characters as well.

Not all was good though. There were several plot lines that didn’t really develop the way they were intended to. Even though they had a purpose, they most of the time left me thinking they were superfluous. Like the relationship Adam has with an older woman whose dad has cancer. Some story lines were very predictable as well, like Andrea getting a Ukrainian boyfriend. And several scenes were a bit too much. But in general this was very entertaining fare and very well acted. Plus there’s a scene in a gay bear bar! And Bruges gets mentioned as a romantic place to fantasize about!

Yeah. Great series and a killer finale! Really want to see season 3 now.

Date Night – **

Posted: January 11, 2012 in 2010, Comedy, USA, XX

Phil and Claire Foster are an ordinary couple. They have been married with children  for a while and now and then go on a date night to just spend some time together. One night their date goes wrong when they show up at a fancy restaurant and have no reservation. In stead of just going somewhere else, they ‘steal’ the reservation of a couple that never showed up and pretend to be two other people who’s names are being called out. What they don’t know is that these two individuals are in the possession of an important flash drive that both investigators and criminals are after. So soon they have to start explaining things… And so their unexpected adventure begins…

Tina Fey and Steve Carell are funny people, but they are Tina Fey and Steve Carell. They are at their best when they play goofy characters that lean towards the loser/nerd side who fall into all kinds of awkward situations. So in that sense, they are just excellent in this comedy. It looks like this motion picture was written for them, which it probably was. So they are entertaining and since they are in almost every single scene, the whole movie is entertaining as well. Plus you get so many guest actors that it keeps fun to watch. Mark Wahlberg is in there and Mark Ruffalo and James Franco and Mila Kunis and Ray Liotta.

But in the end , the movie is over and you’ve forgotten it all within the next hour. However, some lines were funny though.  After a chase, Steve asks Fey: “Are you still breathing?” and she replies: “Only in”. Okay, it probably doesn’t read like something funny. But it was.

I Am Because We Are – **1/2

Posted: January 9, 2012 in 2008, Documentary, USA, XX1/2

Just saw the documentary that Madonna ‘made’ about the struggle of life in Malawi, her favorite African country. I’m sure Madonna means well with raising awareness for the problems of Malawi, but for some reason it bothered me a lot that she presented it. First of all: her voice. I love Madonna as an artist and a self-made woman, but she has a very monotonous and nasal voice that annoyed me to death. Secondly:  you hear Madonna tell her personal views and stories and you’re thinking: where did she sleep when she visited the area? which malaria pills did she take? why did she chose David and not any other boy to adopt?

What I’m saying is: you think too much about Madonna and not about what the documentary is all about: a country bound to just really stay one of the worst places on earth.

The documentary is over and you’re left with a bad feeling. “I Am Because We Are” is a Malawian expression that basically means that we are all united in this world and we can only solve its problems if we all work together. Well, I’m a pessimist, so I know that won’t work. You can try, but it won’t work. So why try? This is a necessary documentary and people will be upset after seeing it, but will the viewer start doing something? I don’t think so. And are we really all connected? If so, than we should question our every day life and that of others around us. I’m sure Madonna is surrounded by people who take cocaine on parties and don’t realize that taking cocaine is indirectly causing several people to get killed in the drug wars in Mexico and Columbia and so on. That has nothing to do with Malawi, but it crossed my mind. I’m sure a kid who lost his parents in a drug shoot out thinks the same ‘I am because we are’. The situation in Malawi is fucked up. I already knew this before this documentary. Is this documentary going to solve anything? Probably not. It will bring more awareness, but it’s 2012 and the country hasn’t really changed that much since the movie was shot.

I wasn’t so touched by this documentary as I should have been. It intrigued me and I stopped doing whatever I was doing to actually sit down and watch it. But I remember a documentary like ‘Promises’ about children in Israel and Palestine and I remember having really been upset when that documentary finished. Maybe I’ve become too cynical and unable to get touched by all the miseries in the world that I can’t solve anyways. Or maybe the documentary maker just didn’t edit it well enough so that I’d really be hit hard. That said, I did appreciate a lot that it’s not a good news show and it’s also no cheap emo awareness bs. Plus it tackled several subjects that I wasn’t aware of before, like the mutilation of children in name of superstition. t really respected the fact that the makers decided to also show that some people just love being the victim and don’t want to make something better of their life because they don’t want to admit that they have a problem. And I also appreciated that Madonna makes the viewer clear that we (from the West) shouldn’t think in terms like ‘it’s all better in the Western world’.

However, as she’s saying things like ‘people are happy here regardless of the diseases and people in Beverly Hills are sad regardless of their wealth’ you can’t help imagining her getting off the plane in LA from Malawi and heading straight to the Gucci store. So Madonna, in all her efforts, ruins this documentary.

You can actually see the whole movie on youtube:

Lagaan – **1/2

Posted: January 9, 2012 in 2001, Drama, Historical, India, Sportsdrama, XX1/2

I planned to go to India, but the voyage has been delayed. In the meantime, I thought of finally watching a Bollywood movie as some kind of preparation and the first one I could think of was this award winner. Sure, I’ve seen other ‘Indian’ movies like A Passage To India, Ghandi, Slumdog Millionaire, The Guru, Monsoon Wedding, etc… But Lagaan is my first real Bollywood production and… I liked it! At least the first half.

Lagaan is a synonym for a tax that was introduced in India some hundred years ago by the British occupiers. In one particular area the British consul decides to double the lagaan just for the fun of it as he challenges the local raj to eat some meat knowing very well he’s vegetarian by religion. When he refuses to do so, he raises the tax. The villagers are in despair as it hasn’t rained for ages and there is no harvest. When they march to the consul to ask him to reconsider, the consul comes up with a new challenge. One of the villagers was heard saying that cricket was a ‘silly’ game, so if the villagers can defeat the British in a game of cricket, they don’t have to pay the lagaan at all. If they lose however, the tax will be tripled in stead of doubled.

It goes without saying that they will win the game of course. So why watch a movie for four hours if you know how it will end?

Well, the interesting thing about this movie is that it’s all very accessible. The story is very universal. The humor as well. There’s obligatory romance and treason. The setting is relatively exciting. And the typical singing and dancing scenes that make Bollywood movies a turn off for some, are actually well incorporated in the movie. Yes, the whole village suddenly starts dancing and singing when they see clouds appear and hope for rain. And the voices from the songs don’t correspond with the voices of the actors who are supposed to sing it. But it’s fun.

The movie is way too long however, especially the second half when the game of cricket starts. It made me lose interest. But in the end: worth checking out!


Seen at Kinepolis Kortrijk

Oops. I notice now (april 15) that I never wrote a review for this movie. Doesn’t matter. this is great popcorn action fun! From start til end. What an action movie should be like. Over the top, but with a smile. Impressive images, great special effects, thrilling moments and some suspense. Yeah! Tom – me me me – Cruise, wasn’t even so much the centre of the movie this time.