Archive for July, 2016

Race – *(*)

Posted: July 30, 2016 in 2016, biopic, Historical, Sportsdrama, USA, X1/2

African American athlete Jesse Owens attending the Olympic Games in Nazi-controlled Berlin and winning four gold medals is one of the most interesting stories ever. It’s surprising that it took so long for anyone to make this into a motion picture. But now they have and it’s clear why this tale hadn’t been told before on the big screen: it’s TOO complex to be told in 130 minutes. It fails as a historical drama and it fails as a biopic.

In a time when tv series are getting more attention than theatrical releases, the producers should have spread the tale over several one-hour episodes. They should have focussed on one particular character in the first episodes and then make them all come together in the end. They should have asked Steven Spielberg to direct it and they should have looked longer for a better cast. They should have paid a historian to double-check the details (and prevent it from being a piece of history for dummies) And they should have found an editor who could tell the director which scenes are superfluous and which scenes need more focus. It’s a shame that money was saved on this project. This could have been so much better!

Race is worth the watch, just because the story is worth to be heard. And apart from the frustration of this story being told in a very superficial way, it’s not all that bad of an experience either.

Stephan James is enjoyable to watch, but he isn’t a Jamie Foxx or Denzel Washington. His performance lacks their theatrical strength and confident power. He probably got instructions to play it humble and subdued, but it all looks restrained and it feels like something is missing. In fact, there’s something missing in all of the performances. Mainly because their screen time is too short. Jeremy Irons plays a construction tycoon who acts as a diplomat to make sure that the American Olympic Committee doesn’t boycott the games under Hitler. His character is incredibly intriguing. You could dedicate an entire episode (of that proposed series) to the man. But now he just pops up from time to time and he cannot shine.  His antagonist, played by William hurt, has even fewer scenes. The fact that one wants to boycott the games and the other doesn’t is worth more than just an anekdote. So it shows that the talented actors aren’t performing to the best of their abilities.

German actor Barbaby Merschurat cannot possibly have liked the way the director wanted him to portray Nazi PR guru Goebbels. First of all, he doesn’t look like the man at all. And second: regardless of how evil the character was in real life, it’s a total injustice to depict him as a one-dimensional guy just because you want the audience to not like him.

There is one exception: Carice van Houten. She’s excellent as Leni Riefenstahl. If Spielberg ever decides to make a biopic about this fascinating director, he should look no further for the female lead.

Finding Dory – **

Posted: July 30, 2016 in 2016, Animation, USA, XX


This sequel disappoints.

The story is boring and clearly aimed at children, much unlike other Pixar movies that please both the young ánd the old. Dory isn’t an interesting character enough to carry an entire movie. The positively crazy fish – suffering from short term memory loss – is quite funny in Finding Nemo, but in this sequel she conjures hardly any laughs. Luckily there are plenty other animals that do make you giggle and smile. Becky, for instance, a crazy loon (aquatic bird) or the sea lions (voiced by Idris Elba and Dominic West from The Wire) and Hank, the grumpy octopus. Yeah, they all pretty much save this movie from being a flop.

Kawa – *

Posted: July 16, 2016 in 2010, LGBT themed, New Zealand, Social Drama, X

A maori man (and future tribe leader) leaves his wife and children to figure out how to come to terms with being gay.

Yep, another movie about a gay man struggling with his homosexuality and the (non) acceptance of the people around him. This time set in New Zealand and directed by a woman! It’s boring, predictable and annoying from start to finish.

In an attempt to escape the madness of this world, watching Columbian arthouse favorite El Abrazo De La Serpiente looked like the best possible solution. A botanical scientist is following a trail in the Columbian amazone to find a rare and powerful healing plant. He gets the help from an older shaman, who – decades before – escorted a German explorer along the same trail. The movie switches back and forth between the two journeys.

The synopsis is exciting, the trailer look promising, the recommendations and ratings on movie websites are a big draw… but in the end, it kind of disappoints. It starts off great. The first half of the movie is excellent. The jungle looks stunning (even in back & white) and the (non professional) performances of both the younger and the older indigenous healer are fascinating. But then the movie becomes a hotchpotch of all kinds of things that don’t make any sense. Sure it’s poetic and filled with symbolism, but it’s like the story grabs you tight for the first hour and then drops you in a mess, which you have to figure out yourself. That can be fine for some, but not if you’re in a mood to just escape the madness of this world.

Not sure how a Flemish actor like Jan Bijvoet got cast as a German doctor in a Columbian movie, but he’s actually pretty good.

Entourage : The Movie – **(*)

Posted: July 14, 2016 in 2015, Comedy, USA, XX1/2

Not sure if Entourage works as a movie, but as a tv special it’s very entertaining. If you liked the series, you’ll like the movie. It’s basically just another (long) episode. Unlike the Sex And The City movies, this one doesn’t take itself all that serious and that’s why it works. Sure, it wasn’t a box office hit, but who cares. That wasn’t the point at all. The point was to entertain the fans with some more stories that kind of give closure to the series. Well done! Especially to Kevin Dillon, who made me laugh so much during the entire run of the show and doesn’t fail to conjure up smiles in this movie either.

“Why would you finish a show that you don’t like?” asked a friend who asked me what I thought of Dancing On The Edge. 

In short: it’s only five episodes and I somehow hoped it would get better once you got to know the characters a bit more.

Alas! It never got better. It’s just overlong and not exciting at all.

The premise sounds good though. It’s the story of a jazz band who tries hard to get their new music across in 1930s London. They get help from a music reporter and are able to perform in a fancy hotel with not so open-minded guests. The series stars the charming and talented Chiwetel Ejiofor as the leader of the band and the setting, costumes and make up look stunning. So far so good.

But the tone changes from a musical period drama to an ordinary crime story. One of the singers gets severely attacked and it’s pretty obvious who did it. The wrong person gets accused and it looks like he’ll be framed for the crime. A lot of characters are introduced that may or may not be complicit of the crime. So there’s a little suspense. But in the end it’s all so predictable and a drag.

Watch it only for Chiwetel!

Juliette Binoche and Kirsten Stewart are a joy to watch in this drama about an actress and her assistance who travel to Sils Maria in order to prepare for a new theatre role that the actress (Binoche) has reluctantly accepted.

There’s not much going on really, but it doesn’t bore. Binoche is almost in every scene. She’s great as a tormented star who has a hard time accepting the fact that she’s getting old. She’s great, because even though she has her issues, she still acts pretty normal in most circumstances. Kirsten Stewart has a huge supporting part and then suddenly disappears. But with reason. No spoilers !

Of course, if all depends on how tolerant you are towards Binoche and Stewart. Especially the latter has quite a few haters roaming the movie loving world. But she’s great at being very natural here. Maybe she isn’t acting.