Archive for February, 2015

Dear White People – **(*)

Posted: February 24, 2015 in 2014, Political, Satire, USA, XX1/2

It’s still incredibly difficult to define yourself according to your color of skin. It’s a constant source of discussion amongst friends of mixed colours too. What makes someone white? What makes someone black? His or her colour of skin? Their interests? The way they talk/behave/pursue a career? People are individuals and seem to just use their colour of skin to their own benefit.

Dear White People is a political satire that really shows how different and often conflicting views young students at a fancy campus still have about being ’black’ and ’white’. It’s quite a depressing movie really, because it just shows how people can get all fucked up about the issue. It’s also very complicated if you don’t know how life on an American campus works. The story in this movie basically follows the events leading up to a controversial Halloween party during which a white student club decided to use ’African American’ as a theme. Now this sounds like fun if all communities show up as a stereotype from another community, but this party just has white folks dress up like any black stereotype. Wrong!

It’s supposed to be a satire, but really doesn’t feel like it at all. This is hardcore activism showing that there are still issues between the two communities. It’s interesting, because it really feels like the black community have more issues with it than than the white community. For the latter it’s easy: they still are privileged in life and they are either racist (with or without realising it) or they are not. Listening to hiphop and getting dreads doesn’t make them less white. Very simple. For the former it seems to be very complicated and confusing. Because what if you like something that is a typical ‘white’ thing, does that make you less black? Why should it even matter if you’re black and you like Taylor Swift or playing golf? Apparently it does.

The movie itself is well made. The information boards in between scenes are a cool treat, the dialogue is at times really funny or embarrassingly realistic, the acting is in general very good (give that Tessa Thompson more work!) and it’s thought-provoking, because it allows a lot of different voices to speak. And it tackles a lot of modern-day issues with very short but ad rem comments. However, not all act good (Brandon Bell should go for a career as a model instead) and some discussions are way too pretentious with fancy pseudo philosophical reasonings. Plus, it’s really a movie about how blacks see the issue. What about the Hispanics and Asians? They only briefly appear at the end.

That said: watch it though!

PS: if you’re interracially dating and say something like ‘I could eat you like a bar of Hershey’s’, than please insult with a better chocolate brand.


Wanted to laugh with jokes in my own language.

Watched two stand up comedians. Guga Baul is an imitator who does great things in Tegen De Sterren Op, but failed to make me laugh with his first solo performance. Imitation is great for sketches, not for a show. Bart Cannaerts’ show is fun from the beginning until the end. There’s a little dip in the middle of the show, but the finished on a highlight, with his anti Ryan Gosling song!

Sambadrome Carnaval Rio 2015

Posted: February 16, 2015 in Brasil, Musical

Four parades. One huge spectacle. It’s Just For Future Reference.

Sao Clemente: **(*)

Portela: **

Beija Flor: **(*)

Uniao Da Ilha: ***

Onde Está A Felicidade – (*)

Posted: February 14, 2015 in 1/2, 2011, Brasil, Comedy

If you ever want to see a bad Brazilian comedy, check out Onde Está a Felicidade, in which a popular tv cook decides to walk the pilgrimage way to Santiago De Compostela after she finds out that her husband is having webcam sex with another woman. Her producer, who is fired, decides to join her and use the opportunity to come up with a new tv format about travel and finding yourself doing so.

There is one scene that explains it all. Upon arrival in Spain the presenter gets a fit and the producer wonders if this is why Brazilians have the image of being so utterly over-dramatic. It’s funny, because it’s true. However, an over-dramatic main character starts to bore after a while. And if there are no funny side kicks, remarks or situations than it basically fails as a comedy.

Probably nice as a stage play in a small Brazilian town, but not for a feature movie. Unless you’re Brazilian maybe and get the jokes that non-Brazilians don’t get.

There’s a reason why everyone who has seen The Lego Movie recommends it. Everything about it is awesome!

Afterwards, you do feel like you’ve been watching a Lego commercial for about 90 minutes and feel a victim of a dangerous, but fun marketing trick. There are so many characters in the movie that have nothing to do with the story, but seem to have been added just for the sake of sales. It would be interesting to know how much money this movie generated, not at the box office, but in Lego stores all over the world. But the reason why you don’t care about the commercialism, is because it’s just a darn funny and action packed cinematic roller coaster ride.

This movie brings back memories to your childhood – that is if you ever played with the Danish building blocks -. It brings back memories to the times when your fantasy ran wild. Where dinosaurs and fire trucks both appeared in the Wild West or in a futuristic Metropolis. All of this happens in this tale as well where an average Lego Joe is considered to be ’the chosen one’ who will guarantee a world full of diversity. You really don’t need to know more.

I’m sure children will laugh at other things than adults, but that’s how you distinguish good from bad family movies. It’s much more than a clever add. Check it out.

Zulu is a bit of a bad title really, that’s why it was also released as City Of Violence in some countries and Cape Town Cops in others. It never got a release in the UK or the USA, maybe because they couldn’t market it properly. It has Orlando Bloom though and Forest Whitaker who do a great job, even speaking Afrikaans at some point. But it’s directed by a French guy and only got a big release in France.

It’s really not such a bad movie at all, but it just doesn’t feel right. It kind of shows Cape Town from the perspective of outsiders and it tries to fit in too much information in too short a movie. This could have been a great miniseries. Think of crime thrillers like The Killing for instance or True Detective. But now it feels like a superficially directed and written pilot of a crime series.

The main story deals about two cops who want to solve a series of mysterious events after a mutilated body of a pretty young girl was found. But it also involves the disappearing of township children, druglords getting all aggressive against the police at the beach, corruption within the force, former apartheid governments trying to implement new ways of getting rid of the ‘inferior’ black population. It shows Blooms character as a drunk and irresponsible divorced dad. It shows Whitaker as a troubled celibate with subdued trauma’s from the past. Interesting stuff, but not well executed.

But again, maybe one day this becomes a great tv show. 

Birdman – ***

Posted: February 7, 2015 in 2014, Dramedy, USA, XXX

A once successful actor (who scored three blockbuster hits playing a flying masked superhero called ‘birdman’) has adapted a story by Raymond Carver for his directorial and acting debut on broadway. It’s his way of showing the world that he’s more than just a Hollywood action figure. It’s his way of proving the world that he’s still as relevant and talented as he thinks himself. But a few weeks before the actual premiere things go from bad to worse.

Birdman is a rightful contender for best movie of the year. It’s a very entertaining dramedy with excellent acting by Michael Keaton as the troubled main character, Emma Stone as his daughter/personal assistant and Edward Norton as the talented, but arrogant stage actor who outshines him on stage. All three are nominated for an Oscar and rightfully so. But Naomi Watts is great as well, even though her character is quite simple. And Zach Galifianakis shows that he can be more than just Zach Galifianakis as the producer of the play.

But the real treat of the movie is the awesome camera work (and hence directing as well). Most of the story takes place behind the scenes of a theatre company on Broadway. The way the camera follows the characters as they walk through the small corridors and rooms is outstanding. It’s also  pretty amazing how efficient you can use the same shot as a link between two scenes that are separated in time. The cinematography and editing are brilliant. The soundtrack is weird, but efficient too. The film is filled with cool little details and original shots that make you wonder why you’ve never seen that before. The dialogue is hilarious at times with dozens of memorable quotes. It’s basically a masterpiece.

However, the brilliance doesn’t last until the end. The final 20 minutes don’t feel original at all and become even predictable. It’s still great, but it just doesn’t equal the quality of the first 90 minutes.

Nevertheless: A MUST!

A Long Walk To Freedom is a must for anyone visiting or having visited South Africa. The locals love this recent biopic about Nelson Mandela and will recommend it as if it’s the only movie ever made in their country. The press over here wasn’t so impressed and it didn’t really do anything during last year’s award season. But still, it’s quite popular in its homeland and definitely a must.

Unfortunately it’s not such a good movie. It’s an ordinary biopic that feels more like a Winnie & Nelson love story than a portrait of a political activist and leader. The problem is that the movie just covers too much information. It is great as an introduction to the man who was imprisoned for 27 years after being arrested for being a terrorist and then leading the country after his release. But it doesn’t really focus on anything in particular, apart from the relationship between Nelson and his second wife Winnie.

What’s good about the movie is that it really doesn’t depict Nelson Mandela as a saint. The guy was a bit of an ego tripper and a disrespectful husband to his first wife. He did call for violence before he was arrested. It’s only as president of the entire nation that he became the icon everyone adores. So that’s great. Another key element of making this movie watchable is the performance of Idris Elba, who doesn’t look anything like Mandela, but who has you glued to the screen anyways. He’s so much Idris Elba playing Mandela though that you are more interested in learning about Idris Elba than Mandela. Which couldn’t have been the objective of the director.

All in all, it’s okay. But let’s hope there will be good movies in the future focussing on just ONE period of Nelson’s life. And let’s hope they’ll use a less attractive actor playing the main part.

Begin Again – **(*)

Posted: February 5, 2015 in 2014, Dramedy, Musical, USA, XX1/2

It helps that iTunes has 99 cent rentals in their library. Based on the trailer or synopsis there is little change that Begin Again is on many’s ‘to watch’ list. But thanks to Apple you can discover great little indie flicks like these.

Mark Ruffalo shows again what an underrated actor he is. He’s very good as a former talent scout and producer who gets fired at the same record company he started up back in the days when he wasn’t an alcoholic and still ambitious. Upon hearing the bad news he gets loaded in a local bar where he hears an English singer songwriter (a surprisingly non-annoying Keira Knightley) sing a personal song that nobody else in the club seems to care about, but somehow makes him realize he can make her the next big indie star. They start talking and after some initial reluctance they start recording songs all over New York and try to deal with their current emotional issues.

Apart from the terrible songs they perform in their entirety throughout the movie, this is a pretty nice movie. It’s not original, but it’s not pretentious either. It’s about two people who meet in the greatest city in the world – New York is again the absolute star of the movie – and resolve their own issues by confronting each other about them. It’s nothing more. Nor does it need to be.


During a hop on hop off tour in Johannesburg, the audio commentary recommends watching Jerusalema as it drives by the Hillbrow district, where empty high-rise buildings were invaded by blacks from the townships after the fall of Apartheid.

It’s a great recommendation. This is a really good movie. It starts with the arrest of Lucky Kunene, a hoodlum who basically is in charge of all the buildings. He gets interviewed by a reporter and the rest of the story is one huge flashback. It takes the viewers back to his youth where he gets into the lucrative business of carjacking once he learns that he is not entitled to receive a tuition for a university career. After a ten-year break of criminality (kind of) he discovers a more clever way of making lots of money. He sets up a building trust and collects all the rent from families living in the aforementioned buildings. With that money he buys property where he can charge rent again. He basically becomes a regular landlord (kind of). However, a Nigerian gang leader isn’t all too happy with Lucky’s empire which pushes him, his drug traffic and his prostitution network away from Johannesburg’ center.

The best thing of the movie is not so much the story, but the main character’s development. He’s a very likable gangster, with a sense of morality. He’s intelligent and ambitious and therefore respected. All he wants is a dream house near the ocean in Durban and crime is just another way of getting it. The two performers who portray him (as a youth and as an adult) are excellent. This really is great acting. But also the sidekicks are doing a great job as well. Only the female characters and actresses disappoint.

Another cool thing is that this movie is made in South Africa and by South Africans. It’s not an American movie set in the fascinating country. It’s home-made stuff. Think about The Wire (atmosphere) meets Cidade de Deus (exoticism) and you get the picture. It’s way better than the award-winning Tsotsi.