Archive for April, 2012

Boy Culture – **

Posted: April 15, 2012 in 2006, Dramedy, LGBT themed, romcom, USA, XX

The trailer isn’t promising, but as it was a 99 cent rental on iTunes, I decided to at least start looking at it. Well, surprise surprise, I really liked this one. It had my attention for the 80 minutes it lasted, even though I didn’t care for the end that much.

One of the reason that it kept my attention was the fact that it was narrated directly to me (as the viewer). It’s one thing to have a voice over, it’s better to have the narrator talk to you like you’re listening to a private tale (with images), interacting with what you may think or feel while listening and watching. I’ve seen movies where that tactic doesn’t work at all, but here, it was perfect. During the narration you see flash backs in which the narrator does all the voices. Which makes total sense. That’s how you tell a story! You imitate the voices of the people who you are talking about.

The narrator is a male escort, called X in the movie, who is totally ok being a prostitute. It’s not like someone or something pushed him into the oldest profession of the world, even though some traumatic (though very common) experience in his youth made him believe having sex for money is just less of a trouble than falling in love with someone who may just dump you the next day. I like people who think like that. Put the ration before the heart. Of course, that’s an ideal situation, as we all know that in reality the heart does take over some times. Such is the case in this movie too.

Derek Magyar, who plays X, does a good job. He’s great at pretending to be emotionless. You can actually see him pretend, which makes the character sympathetic. It could also be bad acting, but I didn’t see it that way. I personally liked his character a lot, a prostitute with a certain moral!  Is what he does worse than what the majority of the (gay) people do in the weekends? Spending hundreds on dollars on expensive jeans, exclusive perfume, high-end drinks, long taxi rides only to have sex with a guy once and then start all over again the next weekend. Yeah. I recently had a conversation with a (female) friend who said she never pays for drinks when she goes out and makes sure the date will pay for her dinner if he wants to end up in her bed. “So, you’re a prostitute”, I replied. End of the friendship.

But this movie isn’t so much about prostitution as much as it is about confusion. X is perfectly okay being an escort. He’s just afraid that a partner would disapprove of his job. He’s too afraid to getting really hurt, so he focuses on his job and avoids having sex with other people than his clients. One of them is Gregory, who only pays him to open up emotionally. Those reverse shrink moments make the most interesting plot line. The other plot line is less interesting because it isn’t scripted and acted well. It focuses on X’s relationship with his roommate Andrew, who clearly is boyfriend potential and who has shown interest in him as well but who doesn’t want to be in a relationship with a hooker.

Okay, that sounds very cheesy and boring. But I’ve seen enough heavy drama on the screen lately. So this was a welcome change. I actually wasn’t annoyed at all by the portrayal of gay people in this feature movie. There is of course a stereotypical flamboyant character, but he’s only in the story to counter balance the quieter protagonist. It’s the other roommate,  a runaway kid who starts exploring the gay scene, being the easy slut that a lot of gay people seem to have been at one time in their life. But as an antagonist the portrayal worked. And he wasn’t too camp. There’s a lot of right-on remarks about the difficult (sad?) life of single gays in a big city.

Just too bad that the soundtrack of the movie is terrible. X had my sympathy until he goes on a road trip and puts on an incredibly bad gay disco house track and then actually explains why he likes it. From there the movie went downhill sliding in unbelievable scenes and a predictable ending. It still had my attention until the end, but it faded.

Having just seen Winter’s Bone, I decided to go see The Hunger Games as well. It stars the same actress and it keeps on attracting more and more viewers, so it couldn’t be all that bad, right? The synopsis didn’t appeal to me at all and I don’t really belong to the target audience according to some media. But even though the story is sick (24 kids get dumped into a monitored wilderness and only one can survive) and it really is a movie for teenage girls, I actually quite liked it overall. It’s well scripted with enough interesting (yet predictable) turning points in the plot to keep the story moving. Jennifer Lawrence is able to carry the whole movie (the other actors are just mediocre). And fortunately there is no gore or cheap sentiment.

I read that the movie referred to dark teenage fables like the Twilight trilogy or the Japanese horror classic Battle Royale, but I failed to see the comparison. It’s not the most original story, but I had not quite seen anything like this before. What I really appreciated was the fact that the movie does make you think, which is rare for a blockbuster movie for kids. I saw it as a critique against all these reality tv shows we see, where tv producers push the contestants to say and do things they would normally never do. I think there are more similarities to The Truman Show really.

Even though the story is set in an undefined future, it did look quite similar to the world we live in today. Actually the future as it is shown, looks like the future shown in movies of the nineties. I had to think of The Fifth Element when I saw the colourful but quirky costumes and hairdos of the well-off. The poor (of whom 24 children are selected) look like they live in the late 1800s. Very strange contrast. But that didn’t bother me that much. I actually taught the idea was quite believable, until the tv show manipulators started to created monsters. It’s one thing to create fire, storms, rain, etc… It’s another thing to create monsters out of nothing. Sorry. That’s when I lost some interest and where the movie lost half a star in my rating.

I thought it was interesting to have watched Winter’s Bone just before seeing this. Cause that movie almost feels like a prequel. A young girl stuck with a little sister (and brother) in a poor area out to beat the environment around her… Yeah, pretty similar. 😉

Winter’s Bone – **1/2

Posted: April 11, 2012 in 2010, Drama, USA, XX1/2

Jennifer Lawrence is a rising star, especially now that The Hunger Games is such a phenomenal success. But a few years ago she kind of blew everyone away in a small independent movie that did receive a lot of awards, but wasn’t really shown in many theaters. I totally missed it at the cinema’s. Last week I mixed up Frozen River with this movie, which felt strange though. So I had to watch it before I’d forget. And I’m glad I did.

I just wished I had rented it with subtitles. The movie takes place in some remote town somewhere in the midwest I guess and the characters either speak with a heavy accent or they just mumble. Very difficult for a non-native English speaker. But I wouldn’t be surprised if many native speakers had issues with it as well. I think I missed out on a lot of dialogue and certain details. That was a bummer.

This is the story of a girl who learns that her father didn’t show up for a court hearing. If he doesn’t show up by a certain date, the girl, her mother and her little brother and sister will be evicted from the house they live in. Can you understand how I mixed up Frozen River with this one? She promises the police officers that she will find her father, but the more she starts looking, the more she realizes that her father may just be dead, murdered even. But that is also something she needs to prove to be able to keep the house.

It sounds like a detective thriller of some kind, but it is more of a social drama set in one of the poorest environments of the USA. (again, very similar to Frozen River). I think two of those movies are okay for now. I need to see some superficial Hollywood dream world now. The town seems filled with crooks, almost like the towns looked like in the mid 19th Century. In that sense you could call this movie a western almost. The girl is poor, I mean really poor. So poor she goes out to hunt squirrels and teaches her little brother to skin one and take out the intestines. But she’s also very brave. At age 17 she manages the household. She’s smart, not un-goodlooking, knows how to cook and shoot a riffle and isn’t afraid of anybody. If the movie would have been set in Beverly Hills or even New York, it would be very far-fetched to have a young girl be so mature for her age. But with the setting of this movie it’s totally believable what this girl achieves.

Part of that is the acting of  Jennifer Lawrence of course. She is really phenomenal in this movie. But many other characters are performed well, like the one of John Hawkes who plays the brother of the runaway father. It’s the kind of actor you’ve seen before in other movies, but who always plays the loser or freak of some kind. Here he plays a different character, both helpful and mean. Quite interesting. The story is really grim though and a lot of scenes are set at night-time in the dark. It’s not an uplifting movie and there are some moments where you feel like shit watching them. But all in all, it’s a very remarkable movie experience.

Try and watch it (with subtitles). It’s slow, but it keeps you glued to the screen.

Having been a big fan of the Little Britain series, I kind of forgot about the two abroad episodes. Finally watched them after all these years and was still able to laugh a lot. Not all is funny though and some characters get a bit tedious. But others make up for it. Carol Beer is awesome as a rep in Spain. The only scene from the abroad episodes that I knew was the one where she’s guiding on a bus and says: “to the left you see Spain, to the right you see Spain”. As a tour guide myself, this is a classic!

Little Britain Abroad is only 58 minutes long. So the dvd has two great extra’s on it as well.

Comic Relief Does LIttle Britain Live (**1/2) is a special version of the LIttle Britain stage show with all kinds of special appearances, like Kate Moss and Jonathan Ross and so on. Quiet funny.

Little Britain Down Under (***) is a great documentary about the stage tour in Australia. It’s both entertaining and informative. you get to see the creators from a different side. And you get to learn a bit about Australian pop culture too. Made me take a plane and finally visit the country. They did a cameo in Neighbours. See the scene below.

Romulus, My Father

Posted: April 10, 2012 in 2007, Australia, Coming Of Age, Drama

I tried to watch this movie a few times. First time I made it almost half way through hoping something would actually happen that would keep my attention. The second time around I still wasn’t the least interested in the main characters and I fell asleep. The third time I just thought: this is NOT a movie for me. It may have won several awards, I just didn’t feel it.

Based on a memoire by philosophical writer Raimond Gaita, the movie tells the story of a young kid who’s Rumanian father and German mother moved to Australia for a better life, but end up living each their own life. The mother is a mental disaster who ditches her family to start another family with someone else. The father seems emotionless about all of this, even though he has his passionate and aggressive moments. So this kid got a lousy upbringing and loves his father above all. Great for him, but I couldn’t care less. Can’t rate the movie as I didn’t even like the acting of two of my favorite actors: Franka Potente and Eric Bana.

Eight Legged Freaks – 1/2

Posted: April 10, 2012 in 1/2, 2002, Comedy, Horror, USA

I counted the amount of dvd’s I have in my collection that I haven’t watched yet. 38! Can you imagine. I’m trying to at least watch a bit of them before I put them in a box to give them away. Some movies are really bad, even though they look promising. Like Romulus, My Father with Franka Potente and Eric Bana. Others are really bad, but are actually pretty fun to watch. Just because the makers didn’t take their movie all too serious. Like Eight Legged Freaks, a horror comedy made ten years ago.

It’s bad. But as an homage to the bad science fiction monster films from the fifties, it’s good. Just because it’s as bad as those movies back then. The special effects are stupid. There isn’t really any suspense or horror. Nor is there any humor. Which kind of sucks for a horror comedy. But the acting isn’t all that bad. Hey, Scarlett Johansson is in this movie. So that was a nice surprise. I need to see more action comedy things, because all these dramas make me depressive.

Frozen River – **

Posted: April 8, 2012 in 2008, Drama, USA, XX

You don’t often get to see movies produced in the United States that feel more like a European art house movie than anything that was made to make profit. This one made 2,5 million us dollars and it only cost 1 million. So it was pretty successful. Thanks to an Oscar Buzz. Lead actress Melissa Leo surprisingly, but righteously got an oscar nomination for her amazing performance in this simple, but touching indie flick.

Set in and around a Mohawk Native Reservation on the border between New York State and Quebec, the movie tells the story of a woman who gets involved into the world of human trafficking.

(more later)