Archive for November, 2013

Paradies : Glaube – *

Posted: November 25, 2013 in 2012, Austria, Drama, Social Drama, X

The middle part of Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy focusses on Anna Maria, the pious sister of Teresa (who goes to Kenya in the first movie to find herself some exotic love). It’s a different type of woman. She got married to a muslim once, but after he got paralyzed and went away to Egypt for a while, she converted to a very strict Opus Dei-like Catholicism. She gathers with other believers to pray for Austria to become catholic again. She goes from door to door with a statue of the virgin Mary to convert sinners. And she has a perverted sexual and sadomasochistic obsession with Jesus. When her husband returns, she gets all confused and her faith becomes even more extreme.

If this sounds TOO MUCH, don’t bother watching. The voyeuristic and humorous aspect of the first movie are gone. So what’s left is a depiction of a very sad lady who lives a very sad life. Even the shocking scenes (an orgy by mentally disabled people in the city park and a masturbation scene with a catholic cross) are sad. That said, it’s well acted again. Both by Maria Hofstätter (an experienced actress) and Nabil Saleh (a random muslim who’s never acted before). And the photography is again awesome.

The Counselor – *1/2

Posted: November 25, 2013 in 2013, Action, Crime/Detective, USA, X1/2

“Don’t go see it, it’s crap;” “The worst movie I’ve seen this year.” “What a waste of time and money. And talent.”

The comments of some friends only intrigued me more to see this drug traffic movie. Hey, it’s a Ridley Scott movie. And it has a stellar cast. It couldn’t be that bad now, could it?

Well, yes and no. The acting and directing is great. But the story and the dialogue suck. The script was written by a novelist who filled it with simplistic sex talk, difficult metaphors and philosophical monologues. It’s so confusing and pretentious that after a while you give up trying to figure out what this movie is all about. Actions don’t always have to be explained, but it wouldn’t hurt a story if by the end of its account you have an idea of what just happened.

That said, it’s great to see Cameron Diaz as a villain! Penelope does nothing more than look pretty and starry-eyed. Javier Bardem is weird as usual. Brad Pitt is Brad Pitt as usual. And Michael Fassbender, who plays the main character, has the same emotional expression for the entire movie (smile quirkily) until the end when an emotional outburst of a different kind ruins his character. But the cinematography is really good. And Scott does know how to film a scene. The ones without dialogue are excellent.

Don Jon – *1/2

Posted: November 25, 2013 in 2013, Dramedy, USA, X1/2

I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He was great as Tommy Solomon in 3rd Rock From The Sun and he’s been excellent in some recent neo-classics (Inception, Looper, …). So, I had to see his directorial debut.

It starts off great. It’s funny and quite refreshingly edited. Some of the repetitive humor is hilarious (the sister texting in every scene she’s in for instance) and the use of (equally repetitive) music sounds is original. It feels like a parody and it works. Joseph plays a successful womanizer who prefers watching porn then having real sex. Even though he gets plenty. When Scarlett Johansson become his first real love interest, his lifestyle changes. Yet, he can’t give up watching porn. The stereotypes abound (Tony Danza is funnier than Robert De Niro as the average Italo American dad and Johansson is excellent as the high maintenance bitch). This is all really funny and it’s a joy watching the actors play their characters.

However, after 45 minutes or so, all humor is gone and it becomes an annoying coming of age drama. This is the story of an adult who HAS sex all the time, watches porn all the time and still needs to discover the true values of intimacy. (thanks to a mature widow, played by an unremarkable Julianne Moore). How boring is that?

By the time the end credits roll you’re wondering why Joseph Gordon-Levitt wanted to write (and direct) this story. It’s meaningless. It’s pointless. It’s redundant. Unless you’re in love with Johansson and can’t get enough of her hotness.

Whoever finishes the first season of Homeland will start watching the second one.

My review of the first season was very brief: I liked it. I wasn’t impressed by the acting and I didn’t find it that suspenseful either, but all in all it was okay.

My review of the second season will be brief too: I LOVED it! I’m still not impressed by the acting, but there were a lot of intriguing twists throughout the season and at times it was really suspenseful. I watched the 12 episodes straight! And yet, it won’t get ****. Just because there are several implausible scenes and the last episodes drag on too long. Plus: it should be a terrorist thriller series and not a romance between a bipolar and a schizophrenic.

Modern Family – Season 1 – ***

Posted: November 19, 2013 in 2009, Comedy, TV series, USA, XXX

Started watching Modern Family for a second time and managed to get through the first three episodes. The pilot is tough. It’s not funny and stereotypical and just too weird to be believable. BUT, persevere! After a while  it gets GREAT! Really. I never thought I’d like this show so much. Okay, I don’t like ALL of it, but every episodes does make me laugh several times and that’s the point of a comedy show right? And once you get to know the characters, you start to really like them.

The ‘Modern Family’ exists of a ‘patriarch’ who has two adult children, got remarried to a much younger wife who also has a kid on her own. One of the adult children is married with three children. The other one is in a gay relationship and adopted an Asian baby. It’s a weird family of 11 people who have to get along.

It’s still a sitcom of course. Just like Family Ties and The Cosby Show, with the only difference that the ‘normal’ family of five is extended with a ‘multicultural’ and a ‘gay’ family. Some of the characters are great. And some of the acting is awesome. But it’s the dialogues and the funny – though predictable – situations that make the show a hit! But I do have my favorites.

Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) is the chubby, sportive and festive partner of the gay son. His character is so much more interesting that what you get to see in the (bad) pilot. Sure, he’s a stereotypical Barbara Streisand loving chattering queer who gets all emotional and dramatic at times. But he can also KICK ass! And he’s funny.

Gloria Delgado (Sofia Vergara) is the hot-tempered, beautiful and sexual new Columbian wife! Sure, she’s stereotypical latin, but she’s hilarious. She is good in every single scene.

Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) is the father of three who is introduced as the biggest loser possible in that bad pilot. And sure, he IS a loser, but a funny one. He is as child like as any cool late thirty year old father of three should be. He’s a wimp, he has NO brains. But he’s so funny!

Alex Dunphy (Ariel Winter) is the middle child of the ‘normal’ family. She’s the only smart person on the show. Well, the only real smart person. She doesn’t get many lines and that’s sad, because her remarks are the best. Her sarcasm is excellent.

Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) is the most conventional person on the show. And that’s exactly what makes her so good. She’s concerned as a mother, daughter, sister and wife. She’s the sane center of the show.

Manny Delgado (Rico Rodriguez) is the chubby, smart but awkward Columbian kid. He acts and talks like a grown up at times. But he’s not that funny.

Haley Dunphy (Sarah Hyland) is the 16-year old teenager who does the typical teenager thing. She’s okay. But her situations aren’t really that funny. Because, well, it’s not like we haven’t seen 16-year old be 16-year-old.

Luke Dunphy (Nolan Gould) is her 10-year-old brother. He’s stupid. He’s SO stupid it’s funny.

Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Ferguson) is the gay son. He’s the boring character. A lawyer. And not funny at all. Maybe I’ll get to like him later. Who knows.

And the least interesting character of the show is the main character Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill). This guy is so boring. You just want him to die of a heart attack and see the other characters deal with it. Exit!


Tribe – **1/2

Posted: November 13, 2013 in 2005, Documentary, TV series, UK

At my local library: the BBC/Discovery Channel series Tribe! 

I am very skeptical about any tv show that takes a camera team into remote ‘unknown’ territories, but there’s something trustworthy about this program. Bruce Parry is the very likable guide in this documentary series. He goes to several tribes around the world to learn more about their ways of life. And he does so by spending a month in their village, not only observing their culture, but also participating in their customs. He eats their food and joins them in their festivals.

I personally think a lot is scripted and the scenes are directed like the episodes of any other reality tv show.  It isn’t fake and I don’t think they make people reenact scenes so it looks  better on the screen. But I do think there is manipulation. That’s okay. It’s not disrespectful. In the end it’s a tv show and it should entertain. He may have spent a month with the tribes, but I guess he did that before the camera crew joined and filmed enough material to fill an hour per episode.

However, not every episode is as compelling. The introducing episode takes him to northeastern India where he lives with the remote Himalayan Adi people who eat a lot of rat. It’s like an episode of bizarre foods. More fascinating are the Suri people in Ethiopia who prepare for a stick fighting festival. The most likable, funny and exciting encounter is with the Kombai people in Papoea who take him hunting. It’s the episode that looks enacted the most, but it ironically also feels the most genuine. The most interesting is perhaps the visit to the Darhad nomads in Mongolia. It’s definitively the most cinematographic episode. (those landscapes!) Two episodes focus more on Parry than on the tribes and that’s a bit of a shame. On both occasions he experiences a hallucinating trip. A strong one with the Babongo bush people in Gabon and a boring one with Sanema in the Venezuelan Amazone.

Damn, all episodes are on youtube. Apart from the best one.

Actually, episode 3 is online too (and it is more elaborate!):

an interesting article about the show:

Divinidylle Tour – **

Posted: November 12, 2013 in 2008, Concert Movie, France, XX

I missed the concert of Vanessa Paradis in Brussels last week and totally forgot that I hadn’t even watched her Devinidylle concert movie yet.

It’s an interesting background concert documentary, the kind you can watch/listen to while doing other things. The songs are from her Divine Idylle album, which has two of her best songs (the title track and Dès Que Je Te Vois). But you also hear some of her other hits. It’s not a full concert in one location, but a documentary with interviews of Vanessa and her band members with performances in all kinds of cities. She calls the Bruxellois the best crowd after her concert there. I guess it’s better than calling the Parisians or the Lyonnais the best crowd. The French won’t mind that much. Vanessa isn’t the prettiest singer and she isn’t the best singer (her English is really bad for someone who at the time was still married to Johnny Depp), but she’s ADORABLE. She really looks down to earth and shows pleasure in singing her songs to a large crowd.

Sure, she’s the star, but the band is equally important and it shows. They are interviewed a lot and their solos are as present as the singer’s singing. Some of the guitar solos are quite impressive, but it’s not like you would listen to them ten times more.

Oh and Johnny is nowhere to be seen.