Archive for May, 2015

This is really crazy.

But it’s fun !

30 minutes of non stop 80s persiflage scenes that make no sense at all, but are incredibly entertaining. It’s probably better after the use of alcohol or marihuana (where it’s legal of course), but even in a sober state of mind this is awesome.

There isn’t really a ‘story’ apart from the fact that a kung fu cop is sent back in time to kill Adolph ‘Kung Führer’ Hitler. It’s filled with funny one-liners (‘Knock Knock’ ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Knuckles’), great action scenes (the video game like kung-fu killing of Hitler’s gas mask wearing army), absurd encounters (a prehistoric Laser Raptor), nostalgic sounds (80s synths, 80s guitar rock) etc… it’s Knight Rider meets Back to the Future meets The Karate Kid meets Conan The Barbarian meets He-Man, meets, well, everything else that you watched when you were a kid in the eighties…

Just watch it: it’s online!

Mad Max: Fury Road truly is an experience not to be missed. Sure, it’s an apocalyptic science fiction movie – not exactly something to look forward to –  with a simplistic escape story, little dialogue and a lot of sand dust, but more important: it’s a non stop action movie that never ever bores. There is that one second between a breeder and a war boy where you think ‘oh no, they are not going to add romance!’, but by the thought of ‘romance’ you’re already absorbed into another great action sequence.

The action is impeccable and original. Some army generals should consult George Miller for some new attack strategies. The directing by Miller is excellent. The cinematography and editing as well. Even the soundtrack is a blast. Literally. Escorting the attack, a war vehicle is composed of young slaves beating drums and a guitarist playing heavy riffs in front of it. There’s one scene in which that vehicle is attacked, that makes you want to watch this movie in 3D. In fact, maybe this movie is worth the extra cost for the 3D experience. The whole movie looks like a long Slipknot videoclip.

If you have no idea what breeders and war boys look like, just check the trailer to get an impression. The blockbuster has little to do with the trilogy from the early 80’s with Mel Gibson. In fact, the main character isn’t so much Mad Max (Tom Hardy) but Furiosa (Charlize Theron). She’s liberating a few women from an evil lord who controls the water in a desert landscape and tries to get them to her oasis birthplace. The acting and the story lines are minimal, so don’t expect anything amazing there, but if you want non stop action without boring character development scenes or unfunny comical breaks, than this is the best you’ll get!

The Rewrite – *1/2

Posted: May 24, 2015 in 2014, Dramedy, romcom, USA, X1/2

A once successful Oscar-winning screenwriter has lost his talent to produce stories that studios want to produce. He doesn’t even get re-write jobs. Money is running out and he reluctantly takes a job at a college in upstate New York where he will give a screen writing class.

Even before you start watching The Rewrite you know it is not going to be a memorable movie. It stars Hugh Grant and it’s about a loser who needs to pick up his life again somewhere else. Sometimes there are reasons why this last line sounds appealing. And sometimes you just want to enjoy light entertainment.

Hugh Grant is Hugh Grant. The man will never be someone else. The only movie in which he’s really good at being himself is About A Boy, because he’s more of a second fiddle to the teenager. Unfortunately here, there are no interesting supporting characters. The students in his class are very stereotypical, just like his colleagues. Not even the charming Marisa Tomei can save this story from being about nothing. Maybe that would have been a better title: About Nothing. 

A movie about a scriptwriting teacher that has a tedious script isn’t even ironic.

Later this year, the CW will broadcast an American remake of a successful Flemish virus-outbreak show. The trailer was posted online a few days ago and looks promising (see below).

Time to have a look at the original series !

I only recently ‘discovered’ the show (on dvd). I knew it was being made a few years ago, but I somehow missed the whole buzz when it was shown on tv. I never read about it and nobody in my circle of friends or family mentioned it. There are so many local television series nowadays that I can’t keep track of them all. It was a success though (900.000 viewers for an area that only has 6 million inhabitants is good), but it didn’t really win any awards.

But this American remake got me intrigued. If a big network wants to buy the rights to a local tv show, there must be something original about it, right?

It will be interesting to see what elements the American version will keep and what storylines and characters they changed. The really cool thing about this show is that it is set in Antwerp. I mean, virus outbreaks in movies and tv shows happen all over the world but not in Flanders. Ever. So, to have the story take place so close to home makes it extra thrilling. I’m heading there tomorrow, so I’ll be on my guard if I hear someone cough. lol. (the American version is set in Atlanta)

Two staff workers of an institute that examines viruses and epidemics die a quick death after having been exposed to an unknown virus. Thanks to video footage the police can trace the possible origins to an illegal immigrant who came to the centre to get some injections. The government acts quickly and blocks off an entire area around the research centre. It’s quite a large area of some thousand inhabitants. But there’s also a prison, several offices, a shopping district, etc… The cordon sanitaire (a term used to quarantine certain people) will initially last only 48 hours, but that gets prolonged by three days and then a week and then another one…. Both inside and outside the contained area tensions rise.

The story is well written, not because it’s so unique or unpredictable, but because it doesn’t just focus on the virus. It tackles all kinds of issues that might arise should a situation like this happen in real life. The role of the (social) media, the control of the government, the fight for survival, the psychological effects, … The build-up is great. The first two episodes set the story and introduce the many characters, the next episodes are exciting from start to finish.

However, by episode seven it already feels like the finale will not be the highlight of the show. The story becomes a mess, just like the chaos that occurs within the story’s contained area. By the time you start the last episode you’ve already lost interest in knowing how it will end. Maybe the American remake will spread the story over a few seasons. Maybe the cast of the CW version will act better as well. The Flemish version has a few locally famous actors, but they are all underperforming (apart from the underrated Wouter Hendrickx and Tom Dewisepelaere). The rest of the characters are portrayed by newcomers or amateurs. They aren’t necessarily doing a bad job, they just didn’t get enough time to rehearse or redo some takes.

The original series is going to be shown on Channel Four (in the UK), but I don’t think the dvd box will be sold in the US. It has English subtitles though.

Frozen – **

Posted: May 20, 2015 in 2013, Animation, Musical, USA, XX

So this is the most successful Disney movie of all time. Well, the highest grossing animation movie of all time. But it’s definitely not the best. Nor the most original. Nor the funniest. Nor the most emotional. It has a simple old-fashioned story that won’t offend anyone. And I guess children love it a lot. Most likely girls. And that’s not being sexist. It’s the story of two orphaned princesses and the songs are all about ‘love’.

It’s been a while since Disney released an animated musical. Thinking about gems like The Jungle Book or even The Lion King, you’d wish the most successful movie would actually have a few good songs on its soundtrack, but alas no. Not even the smash hit Let It Go. Disappointing.

Big Game

Posted: May 17, 2015 in 2015, Action, Finland, Germany, UK

This is SO bad!

After an attack on Air Force 1, the president of the USA gets dropped into the forests of Lapland where he gets the help of a young Finnish teenager who’s on an initiation journey into the wild.

It was the only movie playing at 3.30 pm. It’s no excuse, but if Sharknado can be fun to watch, why shouldn’t this piece of artistic crap?

The movie is filled with scenes that have NO importance to the story at all. Already within the first 15 minutes there are at least 10 minutes that do not matter at all. Example: a security agent walks towards the cockpit, produces his security badge to open the door, he goes in, he asks the pilots when they will land, then leaves the cockpit, then says a line like ‘make sure you do not shake the plane otherwise the president will spill his coffee’. This takes about two minutes. And the whole movie is like that.

There are few cheesy one liners, especially form the kid, who tells the stranded president: ‘my forest, my rules’! There’s a crazy action scene where a refrigerator rolls down a hill, then falls down at least 300 feet into a wild river and guess who come out barely scathed? Yes, the teenager and the president.

The acting is terrible. The humor is not funny. And the directing is poor. Only the cinematographer can get some credit.

How the hell does this get a cinematic release?

Visiting Rouen and Normandy, there is no escape to local guides talking about Gustave Flaubert’s literary masterpiece Madame Bovary. Set in the mid 19th Century, the scandal novel focuses on the adulterous wife of a local doctor. She’s a peasant girl, lucky to get married to a man with fame and money, yet feels bored and starts cheating on him in order to find more happiness and more stature. She dies at the end. Sorry for the spoiler.

The story has been filmed many times and there’s a new release planned for later this year. But the most famous one in France for the time being is the version of Claude Chabrol with Isabelle Huppert.

She’s great. She doesn’t quite manage making you like her character and there are several scenes where she’s overacting with emotions, but that’s probably a director’s decision. The setting is quite okay. And there is some humor. But the story is such a bore! And the directing isn’t all that professional for such a famous and famed director. The costume design is excellent, but the soundtrack makes you want to press the mute button as soon as there’s a non dialogue scene. It’s made in the nineties, but feels like it was made in the early seventies.

You somehow wish that James Ivory and Ismael Merchant had done something with this story.

The book most likely is better than the movie. However, I’m glad I don’t have to read it anymore to know what it is about.

Trinta – *

Posted: May 15, 2015 in 2014, biopic, Brasil, Drama, LGBT themed, X

It looks promising: a biopic about an important innovator of the Carnaval Parade in Rio, made in Brazil by Brazilians. Born in the north of the country, he moves to Rio where his uncle found him a good office job. He quits and joins the ballet and comes out of the closet, much to the disgrace of his relatives back home. Dancer, costume designer, choreographer, director: he does it all and brings his experience to the samba schools for their annual carnival parade, a macho world where they look down on fags and the ballet…

Sounds great, but this time around you’d which that Baz Luhrmann would have helmed it and Leonardo would star! Time for a remake Baz!

Just like Leoasinho Trinta had trouble finding money for the creation of his first Sambadrome parade, the producers of this biopic had to do with a very low-budget. Everything looks cheap. The editing is horrible, the acting is poor, the set design and the cinematography are uninspiring.

Now, for a movie about the guy who brought drama, glitter and passion to the samba school parades this is painful. You want drama, glitter and passion all over the screen. In as many colors as possible and with music pumping loud out of the speakers.

Again, Baz Luhrmann what are you waiting for ?????

Disappointing !

Top Five – *(*)

Posted: May 14, 2015 in 2014, Comedy, romcom, USA, X1/2

Andre Allen is a former stand up comedian who has lost his love for comedy. His silly blockbuster trilogy (about a cop dressed like a bear) may be successful with the audience, but brings out the worst in the movie critic of the New York Times. That same newspaper sends a female reporter to follow the comedian during an important weekend in his life. He is releasing his first ‘serious’ movie about the uprise in Haiti (which is a flop in the waiting) and he’s about to get married to a reality tv star, who seems more bothered with pleasing the tv network than her future husband. Of course the two bond !

Not sure why this movie got such rave reviews. It’s not half as funny as it wants to be. There are some clever jokes (the password for the cell phone) and some hilariously absurd WTF scenes (DMX singing in prison), but a lot of the story is vulgar; cheap and redundant. The story is predictable and the ‘acting’ feels more like improv. Chris Rock must be able to do better creating his own version of a Richard Linklater-like chance encounter story.

The Rise and Fall of Versailles, an English documentary about the Bourbon Kings at Versailles, uses footage from a French tv production.

Le Rêve D’un Roi is the first installment and focuses on the life of Louis XIV and his obsession with creating the most beautiful palace and royal gardens in the world.

It’s not really a classical biopic movie, because there’s an informative voice over in between scenes. It’s not a documentary either because the story is entirely re-enacted. It’s very French and often a bit dull, but it does tell you a LOT about life at Versailles during the reign of the Sun King.

In the English documentary version a lot of scenes are left out and replaced by comments of historians. Here the makers just assume that the viewers knows already a lot of details about the life of Louis XIV. More specific: the men and women who were important in his life. If you’ve never heard of Colbert or LeBrun or Madame de Maintenant, then you’re in for a very boring 90 minutes.

But it’s online. So if you understand French, check it out: