Archive for August, 2016

Back in June 2013 several Brasilians took to the streets of especially Sao Paulo to protest against the raise of the subway fare. Some of the demonstrations made the news in Europe, but nobody really understood what the big revolt was all about. Junho makes an effort to explain why people took to the streets and protested against the government. It works well for the first half of the documentary, but by the time you realise that the protests are getting a bit out of hand, the documentary becomes a mess as well. There are so many different historians, journalists, poets, demonstrators, political scientists in front of the camera, that it becomes confusing. It’s a noble cause to show different views, but the material is too complicated for it to work here. This subject demands a few classes in school by a neutral professor who explains it more theoretically.

Brazil is a mess. It’s a beautiful country and the inhabitants are amazing, but the polticial system and the very divided society is fucked up. A documentary like this doesn’t help you understand it better. Nor does it give you hope.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3779212

Of course, fans of Cidade De Deus want to know what happened to the actors who performed in the instant classic from Brazil. And so this documentary does what the fans apparently want: go interview the stars of the movie ten years later. Some of them became succesful actors. Others didn’t. It’s okay to show the hardship and disillusion of those who didn’t make it. But somehow there’s too much focus on them and not on the ones that did succeed. This way, this documentary has a slight air of voyeurism and sensationalism, which doesn’t feel good. It’s like one of the characters says: there are people getting killed all over the world and these movie makers want to dwell on a movie that was made ten years ago. However, if you liked the movie, you’ll want to watch this nevertheless.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4103686

Tanna – ***

Posted: August 29, 2016 in 2015, Australia, Drama, Romance, XXX

“Avoid spending 3000 euro to visit Vanuatu and buy yourself a 10 euro cinema ticket!”

It’s great advice from a local movie critic.

Tanna is an island of Vanuatu, an island group in the Pacific Ocean not so far from Fiji. Its people are known as the ‘happiest on earth’, but this movie shows a different aspect. Back in the late eighties there were still some rival tribes killing each other, while on the rest of the island christian villages tried to convert locals and colonizers started to build resorts. The story of Tanna is set in that period.

A young woman, Wawa, is secretly in love with Dain, the grandson of the Yakel Chief. They already plan a future together, but Wawa is promised to a rival tribe in order to remain the peace on the island. Something Dain cannot accept…

The movie is advertised as an exotic romantic drama, but it’s really more of a fictional documentary about the customs of a native tribe that needs to come to terms with a changing world. The cinematography is beautiful. The jungle actually looks like a jungle because it’s filmed on location and not created on a computer. This is a great plus. The acting is done by the local tribe members, who have no experience at all and just act really natural. (Some of the cast have appeared in reality tv shows that bring people from the west to survive in tribal life across the world) But they are a charming bunch of people and their natural beauty and honesty is moving. The big star of the movie is the young Marceline Rofit (who plays Selin, Wawa’s younger sister). Her captivating smile is the kind you find on tourist brochures luring westerners to visit the islands. There’s a little bit of voyeurism though, but it’s not patronizing. There’s some humor as well and it makes you realize that it’s a tough call to adapt to a new world and hold on to the past.

Saving for a plane ticket to Vanuatu though…

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4239726

Time goes fast. Cidade De Deus is 13 years old! But since the story is set in the late sixties and early seventies, the movie itself doesn’t age at all. #21 on imdb’s list of best movies ever and #38 on the recent BBC list of best movies of the 21st century: that’s way too low. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s still very entertaining and all the elements that make cinema great join together in a great blend. The acting by – at the time – amateurs is remarkable, the visual flair is astonishing, the editing is excellent, the soundtrack helps where it has to and even though it’s a violent gangster drama, there’s also room for romance and humor and social critique, shown in a most natural way.

The storyteller is Buscapé (named ‘rocket’ in the English subtitles), a young kid from the ghetto who is asked by a newspaper agency to take pictures of the gang violence in the favelas. How he got that assignment and how the gang violence rose to its peak is told in flashbacks, a technique which normally takes away the speed of a movie, but is well done here. The different fragments flow into each other very naturally.

Too bad director Fernando Meirelles never established his talent as the new Tarantino or Scorcese in later work. He did get nominated though for an Oscar (losing to Peter Jackson) for this masterpiece.

This is the kind of movie you can watch every five or ten years and enjoy every single time. And that’s what classics are all about.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0317248/

This two part television production focuses on the life (and death) of Toussaint Louverture, who led the Haitian revolution in the beginning of the 19th Century. It’s made with a low budget, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just more of a history lesson than a cinematic experience. There’s a lot of military blablabla and you do need some background about the French Revolution, Napoleon and French colonialism. But it’s a very straightforward biopic told in flashbacks. They don’t make him into a flawless hero, which is great. But they don’t let other characters shine, which is sad.

The movie starts with the imprisonment of the black general (who got his title after defending the French from the Spanish colonizers). A young and ambitious soldier is given the task to gain his trust as the French leaders want their former general to reveal the location of a hidden treasure. In order to get this information, the young man starts writing down everything his prisoner is telling, starting with his life as a slave.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2062690

 

Toni Erdman – ***

Posted: August 24, 2016 in 2016, Comedy, Dramedy, Germany, XXX
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45 minutes into this absurd German tale about an estranged father who visits his ambitious daughter at her workplace in Bucharest, you’re wondering what the fuzz is all about. But as he returns home, the second act of this crazy cinematic theatrical piece starts and you’re hooked. By the time you’re watching the finale you cannot but acknowledge the uniqueness of this awkward dramedy. It’s not all great, but some scenes are instant classics.

Don’t watch the trailer. Don’t read the synopsis. Just go see the movie.

Sandra Hüller is EXCELLENT! Best acting female performance in ages!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4048272

 

The Legend Of Tarzan – (*)

Posted: August 14, 2016 in 1/2, 2016, Adventure, USA

This is a bad movie. Period. It’s filled with cringeworthy scenes and many things don’t make sense at all. The historical background is incorrect, the digital animation is unrealistic (the liana swinging, the wildebeest attack, the gorilla’s), the acting is terrible (apart from Christopher Waltz who feels restrained in playing yet another badass) and the use of flashbacks doesn’t work in an adventure drama. Neither do the awkward comedy scenes by Samuel Jackson. But strangely enough, the movie is so laughable that his scenes make you laugh out loud with a reason.

It’s the kind of movie you have to see at the theaters though. At least there is some visual beauty. But rent the original Tarzan, The Ape Man again and have three times as much fun!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0918940/

Strike A Pose is a Dutch/Flemish (!!!) documentary about whatever happened to the iconic group of dancers in Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour. There used be seven of them, but one (Gabriel) passed away. His spirit however is very present and an interview with his mother is included as well. It’s a good documentary, with a great build up, with few staged moments and accessible for those who have some background about the story and those who have never seen the underrated Truth Or Dare documentary. Luckily for the makers, they could use all the footage they wanted! Which is a great plus. There’s nothing worse than a documentary talking about certain things that cannot be shown. It’s not remarkably well filmed, but the editing is efficient. And each dancer is worth listening to and looking at. Time hasn’t really kept these fabulous and gorgeous dancers from being eternally young and handsome. Not that Luiz or Oliver care about how fat they’ve become. They still have the moves! In fact, that’s what’s so good about this document: all of them (apart from Carlton maybe) feel very at ease talking to the movie makers and are brutally honest. Jose still living with his mom and having her explain in Spanish how sad she is that he never made a career out of his sudden fame! It feels like something we can see at the local Man Bijt Hond human interest shows. The most intriguing character is Salim (who was born in Belgium). At the end it almost feels like he’s the instigator for this project,  because he has a few important things to share with the world!

Too bad it wasn’t more about vogueing!!! And too bad Madonna didn’t join them. (although she probably had some say in the creation of the final version).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5477402

Hm.

Game of Thrones becomes predictable and at times even boring.

Yet, it’s a fun watch.

Nothing more to say. If you’ve watched the first four season, you’ll watch this one as well. And the next one. And the final one.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0944947/

This is probably the worst tv show I’ve ever finished a season of. It took me more than a year. And a repeat start. Just because it stars Don Cheadle and he’s awesome.

However, this time that didn’t help at all.

House Of Lies is about consultants who get paid big bucks by companies who can’t figure out themselves how to save their company from losing money or their reputation. Don Cheadle is some kind of consultant guru and he’s the head of a team including an ambitious woman and two data nerds. He works for a firm, the CEO of which wants to merge with some kind of investing group that they consulted for. He’s divorced from a former colleague and current competitor, who’s sex obsessed. They both have a transgender kid, who’s being raised by his granddad, a shrink with starting Parkinson’s disease.

The story lines are a mess. The main theme is boring. Scrupulous consultants who use deception and sex to close deals: sounds cool on paper, but it’s not. Critical of capitalism, but glorifying it at the same time. It works in movies like Wolf On Wall Street. It doesn’t here. There are some good elements, like the performance of the confident transgender kid  by Donis Leonard Jr, but all in all this whole season sucks. The two data nerds are supposed to give some comic relief, but they are just annoying. Just like every time the action freezes and some consultant term is explained. We get it, the business has some specific terminology. Explaining it doesn’t make it more attractive. And Don Cheadle’s character just isn’t interesting. There’s nothing likable about him – which is the whole point -, but there’s also nothing to like.

This show ran for five seasons!!!! Five!!!!!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1797404