Archive for February, 2017

Manchester By The Sea – ***

Posted: February 28, 2017 in 2016, Drama, USA, XXX
Tags: ,

When an actor can keep your attention for an entire movie without saying all too much and look realistic in every single scene, than he deserves an Academy Award.

Casey Affleck is excellent. Congratulations for the win!

The movie itself is a joy to watch as well. The way the story is told, with its flashbacks and small visual clues here and there, is quite refreshing coming from Hollywood. The dialogue is so surprisingly normal and un-theatrical. The detailed character development is  brilliant as well.

Another thumbs up for director Kenneth Lonergan who won the Academy Award for best original screenplay!

Hm. Dare we write that this movie is more complete than Moonlight?

See for yourself. Must watch!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4034228

Silence – *(*)

Posted: February 26, 2017 in 2016, Drama, USA, X1/2
Tags: , , , ,

YAWN

No wonder this new Martin Scorsese movie flopped. Who would want to recommend this ‘spiritual adventure’? It’s tedious. It’s overlong. It’s caricatural. Andrew Garfield is on-screen for 2,5 hours. The Japanese speak Japanese, but they communicate in bad English to two characters who speak fluent English even though historically they have no knowledge of the English language at all.

It’s about two Portuguese Jesuits who consider it their mission to look for the last remaining catholic priest in Japan. Anno 1640 that is. Rumor has it that he denounced his faith and that there is no-one left to give hope to the christian Japanese who are being persecuted.

The most interesting dialogue is at the end though when one of the Jesuits meets the leader of the inquisition after being imprisoned and being tested. It’s a thought-provoking discussion, which resonates in today’s times as well.

For a discussion about faith and how to enforce it on others or persecute it by others, it’s better to just write it down in an essay. You won’t reach the same audience, but at least you won’t bore the one’s who don’t really care.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0490215

There are quite a lot of things that annoy a bit in this Australian blockbuster. But there are far more elements that make this a great movie experience though.

The best is the performance of the most charming child actor in movie history! Sunny Pawar is the star of the movie even though he’s not really featured in the trailer! He’s the young Indian kid who, for the first half hour steals the show. His character is a petite five year old kid who gets separated from his family after falling asleep in a train that takes him away more than 1500 miles from his village. Months after arriving in the hustle and bustle of Calcutta he ends up in an orphanage and ultimately ends up being adopted by a couple from Tasmania.

Then the second half starts and the young adorable Indian kid has become someone who looks like Dev Patel with long hair. That is because Dev Patel plays the part wearing long hair. That transition is one of the annoying parts. You want to see Farhan Akhtar or so, not the annoying guy from the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. 

The adopted kid has become a man who, after a suggestion from a new friend, decides to use Google Earth to locate the train station from where he stepped on the train that took him away from his family. A journey, which is only half as interesting as the first part of the movie.

First half: **** Second half: **

But that Sunny Pawar kid! Amazing! To use a one of Trump’s most favorite words. It’s 2017 after all. The career of that child will be huge/tremendous/terrific.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3741834

Florence Foster Jenkins – *(*)

Posted: February 26, 2017 in 2016, Dramedy, Musical, USA, X1/2

A 99 cent rental.

That kind of is the reason why this movie is on here.

And because it has Meryl Streep in it who got yet another Oscar-nomination for her portrayal of the title character.

It’s about a society lady who’s been sponsoring a lot of musical performances throughout her life and who decides it’s time to go onstage herself (before she dies). She hires a vocal coach and a young piano player and has her husband pay them a LOT of money to pretend that she’s actually good. Her voice, however, is the most terrible thing ever recorded in American music history.

It’s an okay movie, but it has little to no appeal. It’s a one gimmick musical comedy and only conjures up two or three laughs. The music sequences are terrible. That’s the point of course. But that doesn’t make them enjoyable. As a period piece it’s quite on spot. And the comical acting is good. But it’s the kind of movie that you forgot minutes after you’ve finished watching.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4136084

The Watcher – (*)

Posted: February 24, 2017 in 1/2, 2000, Thriller, USA

There are still some 20 dvd’s in my collection that I have not seen. They have been in the collection for a very long time. There’s never a good moment to watch them, because there’s always a more interesting movie to start watching.

But time to get rid of them!

The Watcher has a cool premise. A serial killer from Los Angeles decides to look up the detective who stopped hunting him and moved to Chicago. The killer ‘misses’ him, or better the challenge, and believes the detective is missing him too. The murders are becoming very personal. The first murdered girl lives in the same building as the detective.

From the very first scene however it’s clear that this is not going to be a good movie. It’s a scene where Keane Reeves (the serial killer) is dancing bizarrely to a nu-metal track in some abandoned loft. That itself is okay, but it’s the way that it is filmed and edited. With a bizarre slow motion effect that was made with the cheapest and most outdated slow motion creating program possible. And almost all the scenes are directed badly. Like the action/chase scene that follows to introduce the ‘tough’ co-detective who will work on the case. It’s not bad enough to be good.

Then there’s the badly written dialogue and monologue. The bad script basically. And the bad acting of James Spader and Keanu Reeves, who look like they weren’t really eager to make this movie.

Since hardly any movie get’s the (*) rating, this one deserves it!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0204626

There are only positive reviews of Son Of Saul, winner of Best Foreign Language Movie at the Academy Award Ceremony of 2016. It’s one of those movies that all critics just adored. Probably because none of them want to come across as heartless or anti-Semitic if they didn’t.

But apart from them, no-one else recommended it. It kind of flopped at the box office as well. It wasn’t even a success in the arthouse theaters. Very few people saw it and those who did, didn’t spread the word.

So finally after more than a year the time was right to watch this heavily awarded Holocaust drama!

The best thing about this Hungarian movie is the direction and the editing.What makes this movie really great is the distance from which the camera films the main character. It’s like he’s pulling the viewer along in his story. It’s a very daunting and thrilling experience. You’re so close to this man that you feel like you’re really next to him. Excellent! It also feels like the whole movie was recorded in one single take. Which it wasn’t of course, but that’s the merit of the editor. Another unique cinematographic feat is the depiction of the horror in a blurry and distant way.

The story however isn’t all that engaging. The setting is quite dramatic of course. But the actual story isn’t.

Saul, the protagonist, is part of a Sonderkommando working at a concentration camp near the end of World War II. A jewish prisoner himself, he is forced to help bring incoming prisoners to the gas chambers, remove all the valuables from their clothes, pull out their bodies (called ‘pieces’) and carry them to the ovens, then disinfect the chamber and also bring the ashes of the burnt prisoners to the nearby river. That’s the setting. If you haven’t read/seen/heard anything about this aspect of the concentration camps and you are used to watching movies like La Vita E Bella or The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, then yes, this can be very unsettling.

The story however is about this same man who spends all movie long trying to save a dead boy from being burnt with the others and give him a typical Jewish burial. For that purpose he needs to find a rabbi. But he also needs to ‘steal’ the body, hide it and find a place to bury. All within 24 hours. He is also given the task to collect certain items for a riot that the Sondercommando he’s part of, is anticipating. Somehow, this just doesn’t make sense. Sure, he wants to do at least one thing right after all this time of forcefully collaborating with the atrocious acts of the nazis. But why add the riot story?

Watch it nevertheless.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3808342/

My Scientology Movie – *(*)

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2015, Documentary, UK, USA, X1/2

Famous (and notorious) documentary maker Louis Theroux  is unable to interview anyone of importance inside the Scientology cult. So he needs to interview SP’s  (‘Suppressive Persons’) to get an inside of how the ‘church’ is run. It’s a term to define the enemies of the church, especially those who had worked for the church for years, know a lot of details about its organization and stepped out.

One of them is Marty Rathbun, who used to hold a very important position within the organization and is now more than welcome to help Theroux depict an ugly image of the sect he used to belong to.

Louis Theroux came up with the idea of making a movie about certain things that happen in the organization. The movie was never really going to be finished, but auditions were done for the key roles (church leader David Miscavige and Tom Cruise a.o.) and rehearsals were held as well. Marty was asked to be present to give advice. And in doing so, giving more details he otherwise wouldn’t express in a plain interview.

It’s a clever and unique way of trying to find out hidden thoughts and opinions. But in the end it looks too much like framing the guy. And that’s where this documentary kind of goes wrong. Theroux is cocky. He’s unreliable. He will use any trick to gain the trust of the person he’s going to interview. He has the cool and the charm to do so. His laid-back, funny attitude makes people open up easy in his presence. His pretended naiveté has done miracles in the past. But this time it’s too premeditated.

It’s an entertaining documentary though. The problem is: who is it for? People who don’t care about scientology aren’t going to watch. People who are scientologist will probably watch it as proof that it’s an evil world full of SP’s out there. And then there are the people who are interested in religious organizations in general and want to learn more about scientology. Well, the later group will be disappointed. You don’t really get to learn anything, let alone more about it.

It’s not an educational documentary. It’s not even all that controversial. It’s a one-sided story about a certain (violent and aggressive) aspect of the church. When you think of Theroux making a document about scientology, you want him to actually spend some time with them and just ask the quirky, played childish questions he always does.

And that’s not the case.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5111874/

Southside With You – **

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2016, Romance, USA, XX

A young intern at a law firm invites his adviser to a meeting about the construction of a community centre in a difficult part of Chicago. He’s a cocky, arrogant, somewhat elitist and smooth charmer. She’s an ambitious, intelligent, standoffish and somewhat frigid feminist. But they bond. She kind of falls for his charms and persistence. He falls for her ability to defy him. The invitation turns into a real date, including a visit to a museum, a walk in the park, attending a meeting, going for some drinks, watching a movie and finishing off with a kiss.

Several years later they’ll end up being the president and first lady of the United States: Barack and Michelle Obama.

Southside With You isn’t half as bad as you would fear. The idea is great: an entire feature movie about ONE date! A bit like Before Sunrise, but then taking place in the course of an afternoon. However, in this case it’s kind of based on true events and focuses on two people who the entire world knows. It’s quite obvious that the movie isn’t really representative of the actual date between the couple. But it’s also obvious that they didn’t want to add to much extra fictional drama either.

So what you are left with is a nice solid series of conversations between two colleagues who want to get to know each other better. The movie wouldn’t have gotten the same amount of attention if the characters were fictional. But if that had been the case, the movie would have been more engaging. Now, it’s pretty bland.

But the audiovisual period setting is great. (Miss You Much by Janet in Barack’s car and Do The Right Thing by Spike Lee at the cinema) And the acting is solid too even though neither of the main characters really look like Barack or Obama.

Rent it now on iTunes for 99 cents.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4258698

 

 

The Loving Story – *(*)

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2011, Civil Rights, Documentary, USA, X1/2

After watching Loving, you may want to watch the documentary that was the main source of the movie: The Loving Story.

Mr and Mrs Loving were the interracial couple who were sentenced to exile in the state that they lived (Virginia) just because they married ‘a different race’. Their case ended up being brought to the Supreme Court, which allowed interracial couples to be married all over the United States.

The most interesting thing about watching this documentary is the realisation that the casting director of Loving did a tremendous job looking for actor that ressemble the real life characters. The actors must also have watched this documentary over and over again. The HBO special itself isn’t giving that much extra information about the case. It’s pretty much all covered in the movie. You get to see still pictures of the couples, home videos of the family, interviews with the lawyers (at the time of the trial and later on in life). They also add vintage footage of tv interviews from back in the days when people just openly talk about wanting to keep segregation…

That said. It’s 2017 and you have the alt-right KKK-clones claim the same things on tv.

It’s sad that you don’t really get to know much more about the family members. They interview the daughter, but she’s basically telling general stuff about her parents.

So, watch the movie and leave it at that.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1759682

Loving – **

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2016, Civil Rights, Drama, Political, USA, XX

A construction worker gets his girlfriend pregnant and wants to marry her.

There are a few problems though. It’s 1958. He lives in Virginia. He is white. His girlfriend is colored.

Loving is based on the true story of an interracial couple who got married in a place where it was legal (Washington DC), but decided to live in place where it was illegal (Virginia). They got sentenced after spending some time in jail. A judge was ‘mild’ and sent them in exile. They couldn’t set foot as a married couple for 25 years in the state where all their family and friends lived and where they owned some property.

Until the wife was fed up living in the big city and wrote a letter to Bobby Kennedy, who forwarded it to the . After a legal battle and uncertainty for several years, their case made it possible for everyone all over the United States to marry whomever they wanted. Well, heterosexuals that is.

Loving is a historically interesting movie. We just take it for granted that people of mixed heritage can marry, but that wasn’t the case until quite recently really. It’s a well made movie, but it’s not as emotionally gripping as you’d want it to be. A lot has to do with the personalities of the main characters. They are just ordinary people who love each other and just want to be left in peace. They don’t want the police to interfere, nor the court, nor a civil rights movement, nor the press. They just want to be left alone. They are so calm, it’s nerve wrecking. The performances may be based on the real personalities of Mr and Mrs Loving, but a cinematic drama needs characters that are more alive and vocal.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4669986