Archive for November, 2015

A few reasons why this season feels like it’s the best of the series so far:

  • unlike the previous seasons, few new characters are introduced, which is good, because you can root for the ones you like and loathe
  • almost all the remaining characters are worth rooting for
  • there are several separate stories which don’t necessarily need to merge by the end, making it much easier to follow
  • the references to sects and religious extremists is omnipresent. this season was made a few years ago, but we all now what extremist believers of a certain faith are capable off…
  • Tara becomes a Vampire
  • Pam becomes an important character and remains sexy as hell
  • Bill becomes evil
  • Eric plays the hero
  • Lafayette is more camp than ever
  • the one liners and many situations are funny again
  • the gore is original (Shapeshifting Sam turns into a fly and gets swallowed by a vampire – just guess what happens next)
  • it’s sexy and sensual as it should be
  • but above all: Sookie is no longer the centre of all attention and she still is by far the most fun character to watch

 

Paris: Je T’aime – (*)

Posted: November 28, 2015 in 1/2, 2006, Drama, Dramedy, France

Watching this compilation of short movies looked like a great way of honoring the great city that is Paris.

But it sucks.

None of the short movies are intriguing. So you’re left with some nice shots of Paris. But you can go on Instagram for that as well.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401711/

A few weeks ago, things looked great for Black, a Flemish movie set in Brussels focussing on the ‘forbidden’ love between a petty thief of moroccan descent and a girl from african descent who belongs to a rival gang.

The movies has won a prestigious award already (in Toronto), the title song (an Amy Winehouse cover) scores well and both directors have excellent marketing skills, appearing in all kinds of media promoting their second feature movie as the ‘dope shit of the century’.

But things have changed since its release. Several cinemas refuse to screen the movie because of its violent nature. And because of incidents that occurred during its premiere. (the movie is rated +16, which led to riots between younger kids trying to see the movie and security/police). Last weekend’s Paris attacks and this weekend’s Brussels lockdown don’t help either. And that’s sad, because the movie is worth the hype.

The story is based on a Flemish young adult novel (which is read by kids younger than 16) and focuses on the relationship between two kids who ultimately are just young kids in love, but who somehow have ended up with the wrong posse. Marwan, the petty thief, belongs to a small group of hotheads living in (the currently notorious) Molenbeek. Mavela, the African girl, hangs out with the gang of her cousin called the Black Bronx, a much more violent drug dealing group. It’s very clear from the beginning: this relationship is NOT going to end well.

This really is a great movie. Especially the audiovisual aspect is praiseworthy. The photography is meticulous. The soundtrack efficient. Some scenes are incredibly well done. The editing is flawless as well. But Black isn’t a masterpiece, because the brilliance isn’t consistent. Martha Canga Antonio and Aboubakr Bensaihi excel as the lead characters and do an impressive job, but they are not experienced actors. This has a certain charm, because their inexperience makes you believe what they are going through. But it somehow feels like they could have been award winning good if directors El Arbi and Fallah would have focused more on that aspect.

The acting, the character development, the storytelling, the dialogue, the critique, the humor: it’s all there. But it’s inconsistent. Some of it is brilliant and some of it is not. Not all actors perform well. Not all characters are believable. Not all critique is to the point (although some of it is dead on right). Not all jokes are funny.

However, from start to finish: this movie had me captivated.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4008758

 

Kids of my friends (aged 10 and 11) gave this dvd to me, amazed that I had not seen it yet. It’s one of their favorites.

Loved it! What a fun children movie!

Jack Black is EXCELLENT. (But all the others are crap really – even the children)

“God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick ass. We are your humble servants. Please give us the power to blow people’s minds with our high voltage rock. In your name we pray, Amen.”

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0332379 

So you’re in Berlin and the local guide mentions the infamous Berlin Airlift from back in 1948/1949. So what do you do? You buy a 5 euro television movie at the Saturn and watch it!

Three hours long!

1945. After an agreement in Potsdam, Germany gets split up in four zones. The same is done to the city of Berlin. A few years later the French, British and Americans decide to merge their zones and introduce a new currency. The Russians aren’t all too happy with that provocation and block all entrance roads to the western part of Berlin, occupied by – yup – the French, British and Americans.

So…. it’s decided to bring in goods by planes. and that for more than a year.

Now, you can’t just make a movie about planes coming in and out and sometimes crashing as well. No, you need to add DRAMA! And this is done by focusing on one particular woman: Luise Kielberg. She’s a single mom who gets a job at the American airport in Berlin. Her husband hasn’t returned from the war and she slowly falls for her boss, an American general in charge of the air lift. But halfway through the movie her husband returns and so she’s torn between staying loyal to the father of her child or starting life allover again.

Of course history gets explained a bit. There is even use of real footage from back then. But it doesn’t intrigue. It also doesn’t work seeing Truman and Stalin converse in German. All in all, it’s a romantic story set in a historical background made with a small budget (according to Hollywood standards). The lazy special effects and the forgetful eye for details are very Sharknado. So not really worth the respect. But it works. Kinda. And the acting isn’t bad. Especially Bettina Zimmerman is carrying the movie with little effort.

But here’s my suggestion: just read the wikipedia page on the Berlin Blockade instead

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0447728

Goodbye Solo – *

Posted: November 20, 2015 in 2009, Drama, USA, X

 

This movie scores 89 on metacritic with nothing but positive reviews. Either there is something terribly wrong with my feelings of empathy or the movie critics have never thought of suicide or hung out with a Senegalese pall before.

Here you have a story of an old and grumpy guy who’s fed up with life and has planned to commit suicide on a specific day in a specific location. All he needs is a taxi driver to bring him to the spot and that’s it. He plans the end of his life perfectly. Pays his debts, sells his house, closes his bank account and books a taxi driver to bring him to a mountain spot in the Appalachians. Great! Hooray for the freedom to choose how you end your life!

But then he encounters an obnoxious, over-cheerful, African immigrant taxi driver who feels the need to help this man change his mind. This is where I don’t get the movie critics. This is where I don’t get the promotion team behind the movie selling it as a ‘feel good movie’. From the very first scene this taxi driver interferes with his client’s wishes. He stalks him, forces his friendship on him, gets noisy, calls him Big Dog and Man to the point that you can’t wait for the client to get fed up and sling a fist into his face. (which happens an hour into the movie).

The Senegalese character is so incredibly annoying. He kills the movie from the very start. Yet, apparently, I’m the only person in the world who feels this way since everyone just loves this character. Like, really? Really? REALLY?

Luckily it ends well. In fact, it’s the end that saves the whole movie. Not the look I have no budget but I can make a film look great cinematography. Not the I‘ve never acted in my life and try to be as natural as possible by not acting at all skills of the main performers. But the fact that in the end, the taxi driver does what he was supposed to do and even helps him make that end journey more pleasant.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1095442

In a discussion about the abundance of Holocaust themed movies, some (older American women) suggested to watch The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, one of the most touching stories they had ever seen. They had never heard of excellent movies like Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters) and they believed Schindler’s List was too grim.

Duh.

This one here is terrible cinema. It’s a movie for children (and older American women apparently), but who would want to show this to kids? Schindler’s List was compulsory viewing for teenagers back when it was released in the early nineties. And rightfully so. If someone ever comes up with the idea of making this crappy movie compulsory for kids, they’d shrug their shoulders by the end and have learned nothing. 

In case you do want to watch it (in order to make your own opinion) know that it’s about an 8 year old son of a nazi labor camp commander who is curious about the ‘farm’ he sees in a distance from his window room where everyone seems to wear ‘pyjamas’. He ‘befriends’ a Jewish 8 year old who lives behind the electric wire fence.

The acting is terrible, the characterization is terrible, the story is terrible (well, maybe it works as a book – on which is was based). It’s so simplistic and banal. It trivializes an important horrendous period of time. Just to make it more ‘appealing’ for those who think the reality is too grim.

It’s been a while since a movie rated high on imdb left such a terrible impression.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0914798

Het Diner (The Dinner) – *

Posted: November 20, 2015 in 2013, Drama, Netherlands, Thriller, X

Two kids (well, one kid and his passive nephew) beat up a homeless person blocking their way at an atm machine. The images are put online, but the aggressors can’t be recognized. There’s a video however that does show their faces and the adopted brother of the nephew threatens to put it online…

Two parents are eating dinner at a fancy restaurant. Paul and Serge are brothers, one a jobless passive aggressive history teacher and the other a ambitious political leader. Together with their wives they try to figure out how to deal with the vile crime of their sons.

The Dinner is a bestselling neo-classic in the Dutch literature. Also translated in other languages. The story takes place in a restaurant and the facts are told in flashback. The chapters are named after the meal courses.

The movie however is incredibly tedious. The story unfolds slowly and has no surprises. The characters are bland. There’s no drama, there’s no humor and there’s no suspense. It’s not an exceptional cinematic experience either, so all you are left with is the acting, which is solid, but not memorable.

Skip the movie and read the book.(maybe)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2352230

Number one at the German box office for a few weeks now: Er Ist Wieder Da, a satirical mockumentary about Adolf Hitler resurfacing in current Berlin.

Based on a popular book and a theatre show, this movie is attracting crowds all over Germany. It’s a controversial experience. Especially if you haven’t read the book or seen the theatre show. In fact, it’s a really disturbing movie if you’re not German.

Aren’t Germans known for their lack of irony and sarcasm? Of course they are not, but a lot of ‘funny’ references to popular (German) culture get lost to non Germans and so does the irony and sarcasm. Sarcasm and Irony are great tools in British comedies, but they just seem weird in German counterparts.

Adolf Hitler suddenly reappears in a small courtyard. Three soccer playing kids discover the man and don’t even recognize him. They even call him a loser. He gets up, looks around the ‘new’ Berlin and realizes he’s visiting ‘the future’, our present times. An amateur tv maker, who just got fired, has footage of the kids meeting Der Führer and decides to look him up. Together they make a little tour of Germany and the movies are posted on the internet. Nobody seems to realize that they are looking and listening to the real HItler. Some think he’s the best impersonator ever and applaud him for that. Others find it repulsive that this imitator gets so much media attention. But the more popular he gets, the more support he gets for his ideas… So maybe it’s time to stop this man a second time around before it’s too late.

The beginning of the movie IS funny. It reminds you of Les Visiteurs, a French comedy where medieval knights arrive in nineties France. When Hitler walks around the Brandenburger tour and tourists from allover the world want to take a selfie with him it does make you giggle. When he has his uniform cleaned at a Turkish laundry where a woman can’t speak German well, the humor works. When he discovers digital television on a flatscreen and zaps through all the silliest of programs it’s socio-critical and hilarious. But then it gets more serious and the humor hardens. When he visits a neo-nazi party and tells them how amateur they are and blames them for not being true nazis, you wonder if these ‘actors’ knew what they were getting themselves into. When more and more characters look like they are not acting at all start supporting this new Hitler, you start wondering if this is set up or not. And by the end of the movie the humor gets totally lost and it feels bitter.

The main problem, just like with Borat for instance, is that it doesn’t work for an entire movie. It would be great for a sketch show, but not for an entire movie. Another problem is that they don’t fully go for the satire and add regular dumb humor too. The whole storyline of the clumsy amateur movie maker who brings this new Hitler to fame just doesn’t make sense at all. That character is unfunny and plain annoying, yet it’s the ‘second lead’.

Anyways. Try it. It’s an experience.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4176826

October Sky – *1/2

Posted: November 6, 2015 in 1999, biopic, Children/Family, Drama, USA, X1/2

This was on when I visited my parents today. My dad fell asleep, my mom left. And somehow i watched this until the very end. It’s made in 1999, but feels like it could have been made in the fifties (when the story actually takes place).

A miner’s son wants to be a rocket scientist, but hey he’s a miner’s son, so euh… dream on. Which he does. You already know in the beginning of the movie that this kid will succeed later in life. Why else would they make a movie about it? So there is ZERO suspense. And there’s little real drama either. And even less humor.

Jake Gyllenhaal was 18 when he made this movie, but he looks 12. He’s just a kid in a kid’s movie. Set in the fifties. Watch it if you really have nothing else to do. Or when you’re 12 or so and want to become a scientist.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0132477/

hey, the entire movie is on YouTube