Archive for September, 2014

Drôle De Felix – ***

Posted: September 19, 2014 in 2000, Dramedy, France, LGBT themed, Road Trip, XXX

It’s hard not to like Felix, the main character of this great road trip movie about a thirty-something, unemployed, HIV-positive gay guy of North African descent. Just re-read the previous sentence. The guy has everything that would make you feel depressed or frustrated, but he greets life in the most positive way. His smile, his charm, his quirky characteristics and his carefree lifestyle is adorable. There are dozens of scenes that will make you smile, not because they are that funny, but because they just show how interesting chance encounters can be.

Not all is great though. Early on in his trip he witnesses two guys about to throw a beaten-up Algerian guy in the river Seine. The incident is referred to throughout the rest of the movie, but in all honesty, it doesn’t add anything to the story. On the contrary, it makes this movie not the classic that it could be. In fact, after three views (two of which happened 13 years ago) it’s pretty clear that the ‘main’ story is the weakest part of the movie. It’s the chance encounters that make this movie so great and Sami Bouajila’s performance. He steals the show in every single scene he’s in and his character is so much more real than any stereotypical gay character of any stereotypical gay-related Hollywood movie, independent releases included.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0228242

Shit, the whole movie is on youtube

Advertisements

Thanks to Marta Nieradkiewicz – who showcases her talent as actress in every single scene she’s in – and Jacob Kijowski –  who’s responsible for some very nice shot scenes – this is worth the watch.

But, the story is crap and the male actors seem to have forgotten that showing emotions are key in making a character believable.

This is just another ‘trouble accepting homosexuality’ stories, this time set in Poland. A swimmer with a killer body meets a gay artist at an art exhibition that his girlfriend drags him too. First they just start hanging out blowing weed. But soon they are blowing something else. Well.. Not really. But soon they fall in love. So here you have a bi-curious macho man who’s cheating on his naive and still smitten girlfriend with another guy who doesn’t mind his new found love to still live with his girlfriend. That’s how life goes in Poland (and a lot of other parts of the world.) It’s been told before and the outcome is annoyingly predictable.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2776106

Rock On – *

Posted: September 18, 2014 in 2008, Drama, India, Musical, X

Okay, not all modern Bollywood movies are good.

This is pretty bad.

The story itself is very basic: A decade ago, four friends were ready to hit it big as a rock band, but split even before the first album was recorded. Now, all of them lead a different life and by change they get together again. To make it into a 2,5 hour movie the story is told with flashbacks, several side stories and a lot of long sequences of the rock music the band was supposed to be successful with. The flashbacks and side stories work, but the music is horrible.

It’s a low budget movie that scored well, in India. The story is told in a simple, but efficient and truthful way. The acting is amateur, but not annoying. But the editing is terrible. Horrible really. And there is no humor at all. Zero laughs in 2,5 hours, which is too long anyhow.

Just skip this one.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1230165

Episodes Season 2 – *

Posted: September 18, 2014 in 2012, Comedy, UK, USA, X

Season 1 of Episodes wasn’t all that impressive, but it ends with the kind of finale that makes you want to continue watching the show. And so there’s the nine episodes of Season 2, which aren’t impressive at all either. THis time however, the finale seems final, so it’s very unlikely that the next seasons will be reviewed here.

It’s a show about two screenwriters from Britain who move to the US to work an American remake, starring Matt LeBlanc. There are few very important failures in this series. For starters, it’s not funny, which is strange, because it’s about British screenwriters who need to write a funny show. Secondly, Matt LeBlanc plays a fictional version of himself, which is ridiculous, because you can never tell if y you’re watching the actor Matt LeBlanc or the actual person. And last but not least: it tries to imitate Californication too much and it fails.

However, episode 7 and 8 of this season make it worth persevering. It’s the only episodes that have enough funny moments to call this show a comedy.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1582350/episodes?season=2&ref_=tt_eps_sn_2

 

Western Australia, 1930s. Three half-blood aboriginal girls are taken from their village and sent to a christian camp some 1000 miles more south. Much against everyone’s advice, the oldest one decides to escape and take along her younger niece and sister. And she’s smart, because she erases her traces, so that the aboriginal tracker cannot find them. However intelligent she may be, the journey back home is long and full of dangers…

As usual, the inexperienced child actors are doing an excellent job. It’s surprising to learn that none of them continued with acting. They make the escape and journey feel very real and manage to attract the viewer directly to their adventure. That’s a merit from the director as well of course, who makes this more than just a television movie about a true event from an evil past. In fact, everyone in the cast does an excellent job. There are a lot of important scenes where the images, looks and gestures are louder than the words. Kenneth Branagh, who was the only established actor at the time of its release, also does a good job in portraying the governor, who really believes he takes away the lighter skinned aboriginals for their better good. He’s not necessary a devil as the children call him. He’s a man of principles and strong beliefs.

For those who’ve never heard about the ‘stolen generation’, they are a generation of light-skinned aboriginals who were taken from their families and raised by white people in order to make them integrate more in society. For decades Australians didn’t really know how to deal with this horrific past, but now it’s covered in almost every museum you visit and movies like these helped make people realize how terrible this was.

It’s an important and solid movie that focuses on the persistence of the girls to get back to where they belong. This alone makes this worth the watch. It’s very straightforward and somewhat predictable, but adding more drama and twists would have done the truth injustice. Especially since two of the girls were still alive when this movie came out (and are shown before the end credits roll).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0252444

DRAMA!

The Lion In Winter is a fascinating movie about King Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aqutiaine and their three sons Richard The Lionheart, John Lackland and Geoffrey, Duke of Burgundy. Also part of the cast are the French King Philip August and Henry II’s mistress Alais.

Seven characters and one stage: the castle in Chinon where a Christmas court takes place.

The setting is known to history buffs: in a treaty between the king of England and the king of France, the daughter of the French king was given as a dowry for a region close to Paris called the Vexin. Time has come for the girl to marry the future king of England or else the French king gets back the strategic area. Philip August has come of age and proves to be a much more challenging enemy to the King of England than his father. Henry II’s first son has past and it’s unclear who of his three other sons will become the next heir. Henry favorites John, his wife Eleanor favorites Richard.

The stage play is based on historical facts, but the story feels more like a holiday movie about an extremely dysfunctional family. It’s made in 1968 and it’s set in 1183, but it feels very 2014. It’s a stage play though and not so much a cinematic experience. The cast is small, the locations are few, but the acting is great and the dialogue superb! Katherine Hepburn is brilliant as Eleanor (she won an Oscar for it) and Peter O’Toole is even more impressive as King Henry II. They are the true stars, even though a young Anthony Hopkins as Richard The Lionheart and newcomer Timothy Dalton as Philip August perform well too. However, the real reason why you need to watch this movie is for the story. The conniving, backstabbing, deceiving and lying is fascinating and you still get fooled when they pretend to actually like each other. It’s a real soap, but one of high quality.

Just try to follow. Henry II locked up Eleanor after she sided with her son Richard to fight against her husband to get back her beloved Acquitaine. He and Richard are at constant war and is reluctant to name him heir to this throne as the first in line, also called Henry, passed away. Henry II raised his youngest son John to become king, but even though it’s his favorite he doesn’t really think he has it in him to become king. And then there is still the dowry, Alais, the daughter of the previous French King Louis. She was given to Henry II and Eleanor in a treaty made a dozen of years earlier. She was given as a child to marry the future king of England and was raised by Eleanor, but once the queen was locked up she became the mistress of Henry II. Then there’s Geoffrey, who was given the title of Duke of Brittany, but feels left out in the battle for the throne. He manages to create even more tensions with all involved. Oh and Richard the Lionheart is in love with the French King Philip August and Eleanor admits having had sex with Henry II’s father.

Yeah.

The cool thing though: as ridiculous as it sounds, as modern as it is presented and as dramatic it is told, it feels believable and seems historically accurate for most of the part.

This is a great movie.

DRAMA!!!!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063227/

Rommel – **

Posted: September 11, 2014 in 2012, biopic, Germany, Historical, War, XX

Visiting the Normandy Beaches with French guides who talk to an American audience on the bus is very one-sided. Everything is told from an Allied/Resistance perspective, which makes sense, but after several times you start wondering how the German experienced the landings. And that’s why this German television movie is so interesting. It’s not a biography on Desert Fox, the most popular German field marshal during the Second World War who got his nickname after his victories in Northern Africa, but it focuses on the man’s last months, trying to prevent the planned landing of the Allied forces in Normandy and being entangled in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

Ulrich Tukur is great as the field marshal, but portrays him a little bit too much as a nice and charming man. Benjamin Sadler is equally great as General Speidel who gets the task to win Rommel over for the conspiracy plan. Both portray sympathetic nazis, which feels a bit weird. Sure, not everyone was a supporter of Hitler and many army officers wanted peace talks instead of Hitlers plan to defend at all costs. But it somehow feels like this movie tries too hard to make Rommel and Speidel heroes.

It’s a good television movie, which is told chronologically and edited as such. There is a lot of dialogue and only a little bit of action. No humor (of course) and no real drama (war is serious). And you don’t really get to know who Rommel really was. His heroism is too obvious. The use of footage from news reels from 1944 is interesting, but doesn’t quite work. And the guy who plays Hitler is a joke. It makes you want to watch Der Untergang again.

However, it’s a great educational movie for those who don’t want to read.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2157346