Archive for January, 2013

Shadow Dancer – **

Posted: January 28, 2013 in 2012, Thriller, UK, XX

Just like Steven Spielberg assumes you know the history of the civil war and the legacy of president Lincoln in his latest movie, James March assumes that you know who the IRA is/was and what their legacy has been in the recent decades. But contrary to Lincoln, the lack of background information isn’t as harmful for Shadow Dancer. 

All you need to know is that an IRA terrorist is arrested after having placed a bomb in the London underground. She gets an offer that she can’t refuse: a new identity and a new life for her and her son. All she needs to do is become an informant and help crack down the terrorist network (in which both her brothers are active as well). She reluctantly accepts the offer, is released faster than expected and gets back to Belfast to join her family. But is she really going to snitch on her brothers?

The thriller element lies solely in the performance of the terrorist, an impressive Andrea Riseborough(who was great in W.E. as well). Of course, it’s the writers who came up with the character of Colette, but it’s Andrea who makes her interesting to watch. You can feel her fear, her guilt, her doubts, … And you never know what she’s going to decide. But also kudos to the director who focuses the camera so long on this character that you can only be drawn to her. The scene in which she places the bomb seems long and tedious at first, but when the same style is repeated throughout the rest of the movie it’s quite remarkable. Long, almost slow motion shots of this woman walking to a certain destination, aware of her surroundings and in conflict with her inner thoughts. It’s very stylish in all its grimness.

Clive Owen and Gillian Anderson are in it too, but their characters are underdeveloped. There are a few surprises in the plot, but it’s all a bit predictable. However, in the end, it’s an interesting production that you don’t necessarily have to see on a big screen.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1770734/

First trailer was shown 7 months ago or so. 7 months of anticipation. And then: finally: the release! And it’s AWESOME!

This is a VERY cool movie, like you can only expect Tarantino to make. It’s long and the last 20 minutes or so aren’t as good as the 140 preceding, but still: this is GREAT CINEMA.

Highly controversial, Django Unchained tells the story of a slave (Jamie Foxx) who is bought by a bounty killer (Christoph Waltz), makes a name and some fortune by shooting all kinds of bad guys and ultimately tries to get to his wife back, who is the property of a feared plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). The controversial part isn’t so much in that short synopsis, but more in the excessive presentation of the story. You can only be warned. If you are offended by racial slurs and shocked by heads being blown to pieces, then this movie is not for you. If you want to see historically accurate movies without action and humor, check out Lincoln. And if you think it’s inappropriate to add humor to a serious matter as slavery, then you may just want to skip this one as well.

However, if you want to be entertained for almost three hours by an amazing cast, an awesome soundtrack, dozens of cinematic surprises and much more, then go see this. On the big screen!

Christoph Waltz is amazing. Jamie Foxx is impressive, Leonardo DiCaprio is phenomenal. Samuel L Jackson is outstanding. Don Johnson (!) is hilarious. The dialogues are exquisite. The jokes are daring and funny. Even the violence is funny because it so excessive. The homages and references to other movies are plenty. But most of all: everyone is talking about it and it does make people think about the atrocities that were done during slavery times. So in Tarantino’s defense: Django Unchained will have a much longer lasting impact on people’s opinion about the slavery period than any school book or documentary will.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1853728/

Life Of Pi – ***

Posted: January 25, 2013 in 2012, Adventure, Children/Family, Fantasy, USA, XXX

LIfe Of Pi is one of the rare movies that I decided to see because of its acclaimed visual beauty. I’m normally more attracted  to an interesting synopsis first and then an intriguing name on the billboard. Either a director or a member of the cast. Not with LIfe Of Pi. The director Ang Lee may be well acclaimed, but apart from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I haven’t really seen any other master piece by his hand. So his name on the bill isn’t a trigger. Nor is the story. A kid spends more than 200 days on the ocean in the company of a tiger. How can that be compelling? But friends can be persuasive and pushy…  And I thank them.

LIfe Of Pi is the best 3D movie I have seen so far. In fact, it’s the only 3D movie that I’ve seen where I actually liked the extra three-dimensional effect. It starts with the opening scene at the Pondicherry zoo, which is fun to watch in 3D, and that ‘fun’  is consistent throughout the movie, often becoming exciting as well. So, good job, Ang Lee!

Then there’s the story. Before the kid gets stuck with a tiger on the ocean there’s an entertaining tale about a young kid in India who is interested in learning about life in all its forms. Surprisingly enough, there’s a lot of humor in the first part of the movie, which makes you really like the main character. So when he gets stuck on the ocean with a tiger, you root for him and you accept the crazy situation. The story is one huge reminiscence of an older Indian emigrant who tells his tale to an author who wants to make a novel out of it. The movie goes back and forth between the memories and the interview, which only turns out to be effective at the end.

Just go see it. In 3D. A lot of scenes are only shot for your 3D pleasure, so it doesn’t make sense to watch this in a 2D version. And then discuss the ending with your friends.

(there’s an interesting blog about the end: http://screenrant.com/life-of-pi-movie-ending-spoilers/)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454876

Lincoln – **

Posted: January 25, 2013 in 2012, biopic, Historical, Political, USA, War, XX

A tip: read up on your history before you go see Lincoln. Even if you think you know a lot about American history, institutions and politics, you’ll still have a tough time following this political tale of the most popular president of the USA. It’s not an easy biopic, it’s a political drama about the passing of an important amendment to end slavery. There are dozens of characters to focus on, there are plenty references to lesser known historical facts and it’s geographically challenging for those cinema goers who’ve never heard about states like Missouri.

This is probably the first movie that makes me regret not having read any reviews beforehand. If only someone had told me to refresh my knowledge of the era, I would have enjoyed it more. Spielberg just assumes the viewer knows the story, which millions in the world won’t. So again: google ’13th amendment’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘slavery’ and ‘civil war’ before you go see this movie. Then maybe, you’ll appreciate this movie as much as the academy of motion pictures, who give it 12 Ocar nominations.

I was not impressed. I understand Spielberg didn’t add an introduction, because that would only have made the movie longer (and it takes 150 minutes already). But why did he make it such a boring watch?  I missed action and humour. There’s only one battlefield scene (and it looks as if it could have been directed by anyone) and when Lincoln makes a funny remark, I heard nobody laugh, so it wasn’t that funny.  I felt like I was watching a stage play with dialogues that sound so theatrical that they are annoying. I’m sure Lincoln was a great speaker, but did he really talk to his wife, children and closest allies as if he was giving them a momentous speech every single time?

To be honest, the only Oscar it should win is ‘best costumes’. It’s nominated in several other categories and may probably win a few acting awards, but the best performer of the movie (David Strathairn) isn’t even nominated. Daniel Day Lewis is good, but not exceptional. Sally Field is great too. But why everyone is raving about Tommy Lee Jones’ performance is beyond my understanding. The directing isn’t exceptional either. Nor is the script. The music is not memorable. And all the make up artists had to do was glue fake beards on the actors. I was even disappointed in the set designs. But then again, there are no noteworthy sets to speak of. Unless you consider the House of Representatives an exciting setting.

It’s not a bad movie. It’s just leaves you indifferent, which couldn’t possible have been the aim of a great movie director like Spielberg.

I wish I had read this: http://www.empireonline.com/features/lincoln-need-to-know

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443272/

The only thing I knew about the The Big Bang Theory was that it was a popular sitcom about nerds and a pretty girl. Oh and that one of the main characters has Asperger and the actor who interprets him won a Golden Globe and was outed as being gay.

A series about nerds with Asperger? Really?

A friend of mine gave me the first season on dvd and I was hooked after two episodes. The pilot is a typical pilot, introducing the characters and trying to impress the viewers with too many jokes. You just have to persevere. Once you get to know the characters it’s a riot!

What made it great for me was the consistency in the humor. Apart from a few exceptions, all episodes are funny as hell. I haven’t laughed this much in ages. I really didn’t think discussions about scientific experiments would ever be funny. But this scriptwriting team delivers excellent dialogues! I also never thought I would sympathize with nerds, but after 17 episodes I have embraced my inner nerd. I’m actually really fond of these guys.

Sheldon Cooper (the Asperger guy) is the most irritating sitcom character ever, but he is the star of the show. Again, all respect to the team who have created this crazy persona. His best friend Leonard is the most sane of them all and the perfect antipode: one of the nicest sitcom characters ever. They both work as physicists and share an apartment and get a new neighbor: Penny, who works as a waiter in a Cheesecake Factory. Add to that two more nerds: a sexually obsessed jewish engineer who still lives at his mother’s place and an Indian immigrant who can only talk to girls when he has drunk alcohol or when he’s on medication.

A lot of the setting reminds you of  Friends. There’s two apartments across the hall (which never seem to be locked either) and they gather around in a few standard locations like the Chinese restaurant or the Cheesecake Factory. It’s not annoying, it’s just not unique. But fortunately all the rest is very clever and original. Like the elevator that doesn’t work for the entire season. They just have to walk up the stairs all the time. You’d think that being smart as they are, they would have fixed the problem already. But then again, they are not handy and don’t have that much money.

Anyways, there’s a lot of references to science that I  – nor many other fans of the show – understand and there’s even more references to video games, comics and fantasy fiction that I’ve never heard of. But it somehow entertains incredibly. The episode with the purchase of an original time machine from the classic sf movie is one of my favorites. It somehow doesn’t make sense that emotionless nerds can be so creative in their fantasies, but it does in The Big Bang Theory. 

Now I just have to find the other seasons on dvd and the time to watch them.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898266

Offline – **1/2

Posted: January 22, 2013 in 2012, Drama, Flanders, Social Drama, XX1/2

The trailer (with English subtitles) is very confusing. It doesn’t really entice people to watch the movie. But it also doesn’t give away that much about the actual storyline. It kind of leaves you wondering why on earth you would want to watch it.

Well, I did because it’s apparently the best Flemish movie of 2012.

I haven’t seen that many homegrown movies last year, but I personally liked Tot Altijd better.

The movie deals about a guy who just got out of prison and who tries to reconnect with the real world. Along the ride you get to learn why he went to prison and what his obsession is for a young student who’s financing her studies by seducing men through a webcam site.

The acting is really good and the script is perfectly set up according to Syd Field’s theories. Introduction, turning point, exploration, turning point, finale. I hadn’t expected the first turning point at all, so that was cool. But I didn’t think the second turning point was all that interesting. And the finale isn’t a finale. However, the built up of the story was really clever and kept me interested for the entire movie. Oh, did I mention that the acting was really good? Especially by Wil Willaert and Anemone Valcke, but also by Patricia Goemare.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2327453

Watch the trailer. If you have laughed at least two times, try watching the movie. You’ll laugh maybe two times more.

What a disappointment.

The idea is SO cool though. British reporter goes to New York to mingle with the rich and famous. I was really in for some satire. but NO! It’s a bad romcom with lousy jokes and no satire at all.

Kirsten Dunst is good though.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0455538/