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!

 

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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.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1837576

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.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2737050

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

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051658/

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.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0022913

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.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118845

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.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0780521