Archive for December, 2016

Movie #2 from the Volkskrant ‘best of 2016’ movie box.

This is everything Boi Neon is not. It’s well directed, well written, well scripted, well acted, entertaining, exciting, cool, intriguing, real and most of all: appealing to a large audience.

Based on true events, this crime story takes place in Argentina in the early eighties. An ex military official, used to kidnapping people during the Junta period, decides to kidnap rich folk and ask ransom to make a living for himself and his children. This works well several times, until – of course – he gets busted. The intriguing part is the fact that his family is aware of what their dad is doing and this is played out really well in the movie. The father himself isn’t the main character, it’s his son Alejandro, who’s very troubled trying to lead a normal life (being a known Rugby player, setting up his own surf shop business, starting a relationship, etc..) while being forced to help his father. This is the angle the producers decided to take and it works wonderfully. When you read in newspapers about the passive complicity of family members of criminals, you always wonder how they can just watch/participate and be quiet, and this movie shows you exactly why.

Great movie !

There is something wrong with members of film festival juries and art house movie reviewers. They praise and reward exploitation movies with no substance whatsoever and mediocre cinematic appeal. And because they do this, more of these movies are made.

Neon Bull is part of an interesting movie box containing ten of the best movie releases from 2016 of which I’ve only seen three so far: Carol **, Room **(*), Spotlight ***. The others are El Clan, Son Of Saul, Heart of A Dog, Elle, 45 Years and White Dog. 

Neon Bull skipped my radar. It may have received rave reviews and it may have won several awards, it didn’t make a long run in the cinemas. Neither here, nor in Brazil or anywhere else in the world. And there’s a good reason for that: it’s just not good.

The characters are boring and there is no story at all. It’s just a collection of scenes, set in the initially intriguing setting of a traveling rodeo circus in Brazil. Some scenes are well filmed, sure, but the action and the dialogue in the scenes are terrible. Not one of them is appealing. Some reviews rave about the ‘natural’ sex scene between the main lead and a pregnant lady. Really? There’s hardcore porn (from Brazil at least) that’s more poetic and romantic!

Neon Bull is the kind of movie that people make to get selected in film festivals and to get rave reviews in ‘the better’ newspapers. It’s all so premeditated. The movie does not feel real. It feels like it’s all made with one purpose only: to wow movie critics and film festival jurors. And to have people write about it. (which works, because this is a long entry) It’s not made with a heart. Nor is it made to reach out to a large audience. In fact, it’s made to reach out to the elitist better off, so they can look at the exotic lesser off.

It’s all so calculated. You can imagine the movie director and his producers sit together and think: “let’s have a sex scene with a pregnant lady and make it look artistic”, “let’s add a little pointless side story to show a guy jerking of a horse’s penis! we’ll make the audience believe he does it to steal stallion sperm, because he needs the money, but all people will talk/write about is the masturbating scene”, “let’s film animal cruelty not to show animal cruelty, but to make people talk about it”, “let’s make a mother slap her child”, “let’s show how poor these rodeo worker are by filming them taking a very basic shower”, “let’s add a Brazilian wax scene in a truck driver seat. that’ll be cool”

I’m sure those who love the movie will disagree. But at least one person needs to write that this movie should be renamed Neon Bullshit.



Koreans know how to make a thrilling, action-packed horror picture! This zombie movie starts off slowly, with an obligatory introduction of the main characters’ troubled bond (an absent, divorced father and his daughter). But once the first undead start to pop up, you’re in for a ride! Literrally, because most of the movie takes place on a train. The gore is galore. The zombies are crazy. The action is non-stop. Amongst the survivors are some mean motherfuckers. It somehow all makes sense and the struggle to get from one carriage of survivors to the other, passing by several carriages full of infected creatures comes with a certain sense of reality. Hollywood is preparing a remake of course. But see the original one.

This is amazing.

This series is outstanding. The acting is incredible. The balance between emotional drama and small humor is so perfect that it just hits the right chords.

Not since The Wire: Season 4 did a tv show get me so hard. Every single episode brought tears. It’s almost flawless. The child actors aren’t really performing as well as the adult counterparts. And the final episode is a little bit too PC. But those are just minor complaints.

The biggest problem for this show is that the bar is raised so incredibly high that more episodes can only disappoint.

No trailer, but a few great scenes.

This is the most powerful scene in recent tv history


This brother fight is brilliant:

This is strong too:


Problemski Hotel – **(*)

Posted: December 28, 2016 in 2015, Belgium, Drama, Flanders, XX1/2

Problemski Hotel is an absurd drama about several refugees living in an asylum centre. It’s based on a book by Dimitri Verhulst, who’s quite a successful writer, but isn’t really known to be politically neutral. He spent some time in an asylum centre for an article in a newspaper and decided to write a book about it. Back in the early 2000s. The book is still on the shelf, but now that the movie turned out to be good, it’s next on the ‘to read’-list.

This screen adaptation isn’t as moralizing as you’d fear. The stories just show you realities. There are only a few superfluous scenes with biased content. (the depiction of a school teacher as being insensitive and racist doesn’t add anything to the story) Luckily, there are many more scenes that won’t annoy you. Some are beautifully shot. Others are so absurd that they make total sense (the dragging of the christmas tree). Some are funny. Others are hard. All in all, it’s a very entertaining movie that evokes several emotions.

None of the performers are familiar faces in the Belgian movie and television industry. In fact, the main character is performed by a Palestinian-American living in Brussels! This Tarek Halaby should really audition for other parts as well. He’s great. His suave and cool performance gives his character the mysteriousness it needs. Gökhan Girginol and Evgenia Brendes both should get other parts as well.

It starts off as a weird arthouse movie for a select bunch of movie lovers, but once you get into the absurdly confronting mood, you’re in for a treat.

It’s homegrown, so it deserves a (*) extra.

Set in a (fictitious) luxury hotel in Brussels, several stories interact. Anna checks in with her husband and their son for the wedding of her sister. The guy she’s having an affair with, is a guest as well. Violette checks in and demands the ‘royal’ suite. She’s been diagnosed with cancer and wants to spend the rest of her days in luxury and close to her estranged daughter Vicky, who’s working as a cleaning lady in the hotel. Joyeux is a little African refugee kid who’s trying to re-connect with his dad after they got separated upon arrival in the West. The last words of his dad were: ‘meet me at hotel Swooni in Brussels’.

It’s a relatively short movie and feels more like a tv production than an actual cinematic experience. But it works. The stories fit together well and the limited locations (hotel rooms, hotel lobby, rooftop terrace) are a plus. The opening shot over Brussels makes you wonder why not more movies are made in the Belgian capital. The acting is solid. From class A actors like Geert Van Rampelberg to newcomers like Vigny Tchakouani, who doesn’t do much more than look adorable, but steals every scene he’s in. The characters are intriguing, and you want to know more about them, but you get enough information to get where they are going.

It’s all a bit predictable and superficial, but by the time you’re starting to maybe get annoyed a bit, the movie is over.

It’s homegrown, so it deserves a (*) extra.


The Imitation Game – **

Posted: December 25, 2016 in 2014, biopic, Drama, Historical, LGBT themed, UK, USA, WW2, XX

This looked like it would be a fun movie to watch. The trailer promises quirky humor and some action and adventure for both kids and adults. And there is some quirky humor and some action and some adventure. But this is for kids really. Not for adults.

The soundtrack is annoying as hell. The kid is annoying as hell. Sam Neill is annoying as hell. Almost all the side characters are annoying as hell. The CGI is annoying as hell.

So, yeah, disappointing. Not sure how this can win so many awards.



Miles Ahead – *

Posted: December 23, 2016 in 2015, Experiment, USA, X
Tags: ,


This is a tough one.

This is just so damn weird that you just can’t say it’s good or bad.

There’s a reason why the release of this movie was postponed so often. It’s just difficult to sell. It’s definitely not a biopic. It’s a kind of action movie in which Miles Davis teams up with a music journalist and runs around chasing a stolen tape, while taking lots of coke and waving a gun around like some wannabe gangster. This happens 5 years after he quit the music business and became a messed-up addict, being pushed by fans and producers to release new music. There are flashbacks to a time when he met his wife, married her and struggled with paranoia already. There’s a performance at the end. And that’s it.

Both McGregor and Cheadle are disappointing. Keith Stanfield looks like he can do great things later on.

Luckily, it’s a very short movie.

Arrival -*(*)

Posted: December 23, 2016 in 2016, Science Fiction, USA, X1/2

Not sure what all the fuzz is about. Amy Adams is a joy to watch, sure. And the movie keeps you puzzled for about 2 hours. It’s cool to see a science fiction picture in which the aliens aren’t aggressive invaders, but just, well around, with no particular evident purpose. And it’s also kind of cool to see a linguist in the main role, who’s hired to figure out a way to communicate with these aliens.

But that’s it.

The set up is quite intriguing. But the learning an alien language this fast just doesn’t make sense. We haven’t figured out a way to transcript how animals talk to each other and how we can learn them our language. So, how would we be able to learn how to communicate with aliens this fast? Even if they have a visual scripting of their language and are somehow superior. And yeah, it’s cool to see that these aliens haven’t just landed in the US, but also in 11 other areas in the world. But please, Hollywood, don’t push an idea about ‘working together across all borders’ if you make it look like the Americans take the lead and the other researches just don’t matter at all.  Moreover, what’s the use of showing these aliens above some Montana field a word like ‘human’ if in China they will show them ‘一個人’ and in Russia ‘будучи человеком’. How confusing would that be to these aliens? I pity the aliens who hover above Sudan and Sierra Leone, where no researchers go up and try to communicate with them. They are just hanging there.

Plus, all that pseudo philosophical bullshit about interpreting time at the end really ruins it.

So, go watch it, even though you’ll know it’s not going to be that good. But hey, that’s basically what this movie is all about: live your life even if you know what’s going to happen.