Archive for May, 2014

This is good television. Too much focus on the love affairs between the doctors, nurses and even patients. But still entertaining. Not every episode is great. The ones with Forest Whitaker are a drag and the wedding special leads to a huge yawn as well. But there’s always Sam, the incredible Linda Cardellini, who steals every scene she’s in!


The first season of this political television drama only has seven episodes and doesn’t end with a finale. So it is just an introduction to what’s coming next. And that does look promising.  Not all is great, but Kerry Washington is amazing and her character is quite fascinating. Olivia Pope runs a company that covers up scandals for the rich and powerful. That ranges from clearing the name of a suspect of murder or rape to getting back the kidnapped family of a military dictator. It’s all very far-fetched and little plausible (especially the latter case), but it’s entertaining. She always trusts her guts and her co-workers are absolute experts, but her judgement is clouded when the White House asks for her help. The president is rumored to have had an affair with an intern and now the girl threatens to go to the press. Only Olivia can help! However, we soon learn that Olivia and the president also have an amorous past and the feelings are still present. You learn all about it in a flashback episode, which kind of ruins the thrilling experience of the first episodes which are filled with distrust and revenge. So, in short, it’s enjoyable pulp entertainment with a great main character.

A woman working at a solar panel factory learns that she’s getting fired. She was off on sick leave and during her absence the 16 other workers managed to do the same work. So why not give them an extra bonus of a 1000 euro and let her go? A choice vote is organized before the weekend and almost all the colleagues prefer the bonus. Something isn’t right about the vote though as several workers got threatened by a supervisor that if they wouldn’t choose the bonus they would also get fired. One of them goes to the boss and he agrees on organizing a new vote after the weekend. All the woman has to do now is convince enough of her colleagues to vote against the bonus so she can keep her job. She has two days and one night to do so.

Most viewers who will see this movie will support her begging quest and loathe the company’s management or selfish behavior of the colleagues who prefer the bonus. Others will just find this one big joke and loathe the one-sided, biased attack on middle management. Whatever your political and moral beliefs are, they will not change after watching this poorly scripted story. It’s a totally predictable and repetitive bore with an uninteresting main character who never captivates. Marion Cottilard – one of the best actresses of our times – is acting very bland as if she has no idea who her character is. And after two hours the audience doesn’t know either. You can’t blame Cottilard really, but you can blame the brothers Dardenne. They have made some really thought-provoking, socially critical movies in the past, but now totally miss the opportunity to tell a good story, with great character development and memorable dialogue that will make moviegoers ‘think’. Sometimes you just have to tell a story in a neutral way in order to get someone’s attention. It only annoys when you make it a good people vs bad people story. This is not Disney. This is life.

Gigi – *1/2

Posted: May 27, 2014 in 1958, France, Musical, Romance, romcom, USA, X1/2

Gigi is a pretty perverse musical set in Paris with some great songs and some funny scenes, but an incredibly unappealing love story. A rich sugar business magnate is falling for a young girl he’s seen growing up. She’s very different form all the women he’s been dating, but maybe she is the one! Within two hours you see a man treat an adolescent girl first as kid, then as a courtesan and then as his future wife. Weird. He says things like ‘if I have a girl and she behaves like you, she’ll get a good spanking’ and that’s not the only time your eyebrows will rise. It’s just too silly for words. This girl is raised to be some rich man’s mistress, which around the turn of last century was still an okay thing to do, but which now translates in being a luxury escort. It just feels wrong. The story reminded me of Sissi, the young Bavarian princess whom the Emperor of Austria fell in love with. But then redone much worse. It had my attention for an hour and then I started surfing the internet. I hope not all these classics in the Warner Brothers collection will be this boring.

However, some scenes are good. It’s very colorful and the songs are well-known. ‘Thank Heaven For Little Girls’ (sounds also very inappropriate) and ‘I Remember It Well’ by Maurice Chevalier are great. ‘The Parisians’ is funny too.

I don’t understand the Parisians
Making love every time they get a chance
I don’t understand the Parisians
Wasting every lovely night on romance
Anytime, and under every tree in town
They’re in session two by two
What a crime with all there is to see in town
They can’t find something else to do

Freaks – **

Posted: May 27, 2014 in 1932, Drama, Horror, Thriller, USA, XX

Freaks is a black and white classic about a midget falling in love with a tall trapeze artist in the circus he also performs in (as a freak). He’s so smitten that he neglects his equally little fiancée and is unaware of the fact that all the taller woman wants, is his money. She plans to marry him and then get rid of him in order to obtain the fortune he’s apparently an heir to.

Billed as a horror movie, it’s much more a combination of a romantic drama, a murder thriller and – let’s be honest – a freak show. This movie dates from 1932 when deformed humans were showcased as a circus act. I’m sure a similar side-show would still attract crowds, but we live in political correct times so it’s not okay to laugh with disabled people. Or to be revolted by them. However, at the time of its release, this most likely was the only reason why people went to see it. And why it’s still popular now. I can’t imagine anyone releasing a similar movie nowadays, but it’s from the past, so it must be okay to watch it, right? Freaks is part of the 90th anniversary set of Warner Brothers, probably because of its ongoing popularity. It’s a curiosity, a very bizarre and unique movie, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s the kind of movie you ‘discover’ when you’re in college and friends organizes a weird movie night.

It isn’t even as disturbing as you may think. The ‘freaks’ are the good ones, so you feel empathy rather than fear. Sure, it’s quite weird to see a man without arms and legs crawling on the floor and lightning a cigarette without any help. Or to see an armless woman eat with her feet. But we had My Left Foot in the meantime and there are Hollywood celebrities with plastic surgery that are scarier than the characters in this movie. Most oddities are not that uncommon anymore. Stromae plays a half woman/half man in his Tous Les Memes video (maybe inspired by this movie?) and you see it on every gay pride. Swallowing a sword isn’t all that special either anymore. Neither are stutterers. The people with microcephaly (shrunk heads and hence undeveloped brains) are probably the freakiest, but all in all they are just different. Director Tod Browning managed to show these people with some kind of dignity and respect, by making the most attractive person in the movie a villain and by adding some humor here and there that isn’t all too harmful. When the future husbands of Siamese Twins meet for the first time and say ‘you should come over one evening’, it’s subtle rather than grotesque. The broken love element is also really strong. The little woman who sees her fiancé fall for a fraud is endearing. But the thriller element is a joke, especially since the opening scene kind of gives away what will happen in the end. The beautiful woman will become a freak herself, that’s a fact. So the only thrilling element is figuring out what kind of freak she will become. The answer however is an even bigger joke and totally ruins the experience. Watch it out of curiosity and then forget about it to rematch it again twenty years later.

Hello, I’m Kar Wai Wong and I want to show the whole world what I can do with my camera and my editing tools. I can film scenes that are very atmospheric both in black and white and in bright colors. I can even film scenes with the sun shining into the camera, because it gives that extra artistic effect. I can fast forward and slow down scenes in order to set a mood that a lot of cinema festival lovers will rave about. Those who don’t just don’t understand my artistic expression. I still have to work on my story telling, but when you tell the tale of two asian men immigrating to Buenos Aires to fall in and out of love with each other, the script doesn’t matter all that much. It doesn’t matter if the romance doesn’t make sense at all and if the characters are too fucked up to be interesting. It’s exotic and controversial and that’s what festival lovers and world cinema lovers like. It’s not my masterpiece yet, but it shows my talents and creativity. Too bad everyone will just remember the acting performance of Tony Leung and nothing else. But hey, who cares. I have more in store.

The Princess and The Frog lacks the humor and excitement of an average Pixar production, but has all the charm of a classic Disney movie: a strong heroin, funny side characters (a trumpet playing alligator and a heavily accented cajun firefly), a fascinating voice cast and an entertaining jazzy soundtrack. It all feels like it could have been made in the sixties as well with pretty old-fashioned and blank animation. The main characters are very unappealing looking frogs, but it’s set in New Orleans and has a positive message. It’s about a waitress who encounters a poor prince that has been turned into a frog by a voodoo man. He hopes to become a human again by kissing her, but instead she turns into a frog herself. It’s a great movie for kids. A good movie for adults.

DVD 2 from  Warner Brothers’ 90th Anniversary box is The Cameraman, a joyful romantic silent movie with an excellent Buster Keaton as a clumsy photographer who’s trying to impress a charming girl that works at a news office. It’s a series of individual sketches and the whole love story is just a hook, but it works fabulously. There is not one boring moment. There are several excellent scenes. The acting is superb. Buster Keaton doesn’t smile once during the whole movie, but keeps you mesmerized for the entire 75 minutes.There isn’t any current comedian who could pull that off. His slapstick routine is subtle and his clumsiness feels very natural (unlike that of Rowan Atkinson’s similar but unfunny Mr Bean for instance). Marceline Day shines as the love interest and her character is quite modern. I mean, she works, she takes the initiative to go on a date, she risks her job give him a chance …

Just too bad that the piano & organ score is too present. They also function as sound effects, which bring smiles in the beginning, but annoy after a while. However, overall totally enjoyable.

In fact, the whole movie is on youtube:

Bought myself a dvd box for the 90th Anniversary of Warner Brothers. The first of the collection is the movie that changed cinema forever: the first talkie. 

It’s the kind of movie classic that everyone knows about, but hardly anyone has seen. And with reason. It’s a bore. It must have been a huge hit back in 1927 just because of its innovation: there’s a dialogue halfway through the movie! And the guy you look at sings! However, the rest of the movie is still silent.

It’s about a  jewish kid who’s destined to be a cantor in the local synagogue just like his father and 4 generations before him. But he prefers to sing jazz tunes in a bar nearby. He’s expelled from his parental house and ten years later he is the star of a broadway show and is confronted with his parents again.

Sounds like it could be a great movie, but it’s not. The songs aren’t really captivating, the acting doesn’t feel real, the story boards are a real pain and the story is annoying.

But at least I’ve seen it now.

Bought myself the French Edition of Warner Brothers’ 90th Anniversary Collection Box. Got it for a good price in a second hand dvd store. Quite happy with the collection, even though I’ve seen more than half of them and I own several as separate dvd’s. But it’s a cool gift if I ever finish watching all of them. There are a lot of classics that I started to watch but never finished. There are a few that I want to watch again. Some belong to my all time favorites (Amadeus, Gone With The Wind, North By Northwest, Singing In The Rain, ), other bring back childhood memories (The Goonies, Adventures Of Robin Hood, …) Just have a look at the French titles of these classics! 

  • – LE CHANTEUR DE JAZZ – The Jazz Singer
  • – L’OPERATEUR – The Cameraman
  • – L’ENNEMI PUBLIC – Public Enemy
  • – LE PETIT CESAR – Little Caesar
  • – TARZAN L’HOMME SINGE – Tarzan, The Apeman
  • – TARZAN S’EVADE – Tarzan Escapes
  • – LES REVOLTES DU BOUNTY – Mutiny on the Bounty
  • – LA CHARGE DE LA BRIGADE LEGERE – The Charge of the Light Brigade
  • – LES AVENTURES DE ROBIN DES BOIS – The Adventures of Robin Hood
  • – AUTANT EN EMPORTE LE VENT – Gone With The Wind
  • – LE MAGICIEN D’OZ – The Wizard Of Oz
  • – INDISCRETIONS – The Philadelphia Story
  • – LE FAUCON MALTAIS – The Maltese Falcon
  • – LA CHARGE FANTASTIQUE – They Died With Their Boots On
  • – ARSENIC ET VIEILLE DENTELLE – Arsenic and the Old Lace
  • – LA GLORIEUSE PARADE – Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • – LE GRAND SOMMEIL – The Big Sleep
  • – LE TRESOR DE LA SIERRA MADRE – The Tresor from the Sierra Madre
  • – LES 3 MOUSQUETAIRES – The Three Musketeers
  • – QUAND LA VILLE DORT – The Asphalt Jungle
  • – UN TRAMWAY NOMME DESIR – A Streetcar Named Desire
  • – UN AMERICAN A PARIS – Un American In Paris
  • – CHANTONS SOUS LA PLUIE – Singing In The Rain
  • – UNE ETOILE EST NEE – A Star Is Born
  • – LA FUREUR DE VIVRE – Rebel Without A Cause
  • – LA PRISONIERE DU DESERT – The Searchers
  • GIGI
  • – LA MORT AUX TROUSSES – North By Northwest
  • – LA CONQUETE DE L’OUEST – How The West Was Won
  • – QU’EST-IL ARRIVE A BABYJANE – Whatever Happened To Baby Jane
  • – DOCTEUR JIVAGO – Doctor Zhivago
  • – QUI A PEUR DE VIRGINIA WOOLF – Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf
  • – BLOW UP
  • – LES DOUZE SALOPARDS – The Dirty Dozen
  • – 2001 L’ODYSSEE DE L’ESPACE – 2001: A Space Odyssee 
  • – LA HORDE SAUVAGE – The Wild Bunch
  • – MORT A VENISE – Death In Venice
  • – L’INSPECTEUR HARRY – Dirty Harry
  • – JO
  • – ORANGE MECANIQUE – A Clockwork Orange
  • – OPERATION DRAGON – Enter The Dragon
  • – L’EXORCISTE – The Exorcist 
  • – UN APRES MIDI DE CHIEN – Dog Day Afternoon
  • – VOL AU DESSUS D’UN NID DE COUCOU – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
  • – LES HOMMES DU PRESIDENT – All The Presidents’ Men
  • – L’ETOFFE DES HEROS – The Right Stuff
  • – IL ÉTAIT UNE FOIS EN AMERIQUE – Once Upon A Time In America
  • – LA COULEUR POURPRE – The Color Purple
  • – L’ARME FATALE – Lethal Weapon
  • – LIAISONS DANGEREUSES – Dangerous Liaisons
  • – L’EMPIRE DU SOLEIL – Empire Of The Sun
  • – LES AFFRANCHIS – Goodfellas
  • – IMPITOYABLE – Unforgiven
  • – LE FUGITIF – The Fugitive
  • – ENTRETIEN AVEC UN VAMPIRE – Interview With A Vampire
  • HEAT
  • – LA LIGNE VERTE – The Green Mile
  • – HARRY POTTER A L’ECOLE DES SORCIERS – Harry Potter and The Sorceror’s Stone
  • – CHARLIE ET LA CHOCOLATERIE – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • 300
  • – VERY BAD TRIP – The Hangover