Archive for March, 2017

Lalaland – ***

Posted: March 24, 2017 in 2016, Musical, Romance, USA, XXX

Finally.

There’s a good reason why it took so long, but that’s another story.

So much has been written about this musical already that even those who haven’t seen it and don’t care about seeing it all, know what it’s all about. An aspiring actress and a jazz musician fall in love, singing and tap dancing around Los Angeles. It’s a modern take of the musicals and romantic comedies from back in the day with Ryan Gosling as a modern-day Gene Kelly and Emma Stone as a ginger headed Doris Day.

It works. It’s amazing. It’s entertaining. It’s charming. It’s flawed and not consistent in its marvel. But the overall impression is great. Emma Stone acts heavenly. Ryan Gosling performs more down to earth. But they sure have the right chemistry. Some moments are classic movie magic. Others are just random. Go see it. Don’t put on a I Hate Musicals attitude or don’t boycott the movie because it’s not Moonlight. It’s not Singin’ In The Rain either, but nevertheless a must.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958

 

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Sprakeloos – **

Posted: March 24, 2017 in 2017, Drama, Flanders, LGBT themed, XX

Based on a popular book by one of the most successful Flemish writers, Sprakeloos (speechless) tells the story of a writer who has to come to terms with the emotional and physical decline of his mother after a devastating stroke. The concern for his mother is paired with anger and frustration.

The movie isn’t a success. Critics slammed it. Those who’ve read the book and seen the movie don’t like the interpretation of the story. But hey, the writer liked it. And I liked it too. More than a story about a very dramatic butcher’s wife/amateur actress who loses her speech (and rationality), it’s the story of the love/hate relationship of a son who looks a lot like his mother.

Yes, it’s flawed. But it’s well acted by Viviane De Muynck and Marie Vinck as the old and young butcher’s wife. And Stany Crets as the writer. The movie constantly swaps back and forth in time, a bit like what they do in This Is Us, and that keeps it going. It’s too bad it won’t get the audience that it deserves.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5585946

Fuocoamare

Posted: March 22, 2017 in 2016, Documentary, Italy

This is the kind of documentary that critics and festival-goers around the world love because of its subject, not because of its merits as a documentary. A good documentary gives you a better insight in something that you don’t really learn about otherwise. A good cinematic documentary shows you great images that make you feel involved. Unfortunately all of these elements are absent in this award-winning document of life on Lampedusa, the Italian island on which most refugees arrive from the African continent.

It’s sad, because the thousands of refugees arriving in Europa via a dangerous sea trait is a present-day topic that doesn’t seem to go away any time soon.

The idea of just showing images and limiting the amount of interviews is great! However, almost 80 % of the images are futile. We get it: there’s a contrast between the bored life of young fishermen’s kids and the enormous humanitarian crisis happening near their home. But what does it help to constantly see them being bored. The kids play with slingshots. So what. One kid needs to wear a patch in front of his good eye to have his lazy eye work a bit. Big deal. A mother requests a song for her son who’s at sea fishing. Yawn. The radio host plays it and reads the news about a collapsed refugee boat nearby. A doctor gives info to a refugee about her unborn twins. Then explains about the horror he’s seen in the boats that arrived on the island. Some refugees sing a song about their struggle. Some refugees pose for their first picture in Europe. Some refugees lie dead in the bottom part of a shabby boat.

But again. The images aren’t really telling anything more than what we know from reading the news. The images are boring as hell. And a documentary on a serious subject like this shouldn’t be boring. Ever.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3652526

Cities of Love Part III.

After the disastrous Paris, Je T’Aime (2006) and New York, I Love You (2008) someone thought it was a good idea to also make a similar mash-up of silly love stories in Rio De Janeiro. That someone was probably paid a lot by the Department of Tourism of this cidade maravilhosa. None of the stories are captivating. The acting is terrible. The dialogue is ridiculous at times. It’s a complete waste of time and money for the talented people who participated in the project. Hopefully, they received a lot of money for this, because none of them can honestly claim they actually feel proud of whatever they did. Either acting or directing.

But unlike the other two movies, this one actually is worth watching until the end, because unlike the other two movies, it shows the city in the most beautiful kind of way. There are dozens of shots from above, but hey, that’s what makes the city so beautiful. That gorgeous view over the bay with all the rock formations around it… there’s nothing quite like it. As a commercial, this really works well. You want to visit asap. Just be warned that you won’t really be able to see the same views unless you get on a helicopter…

So as an overlong commercial, it’s okay. As a movie it’s not. There are so many stories you can tell. The city is so inspiring. Yet, we see ten tales that just don’t appeal. Most of them aren’t even in Portuguese and have characters from outside of Brazil. Some have potential though. The story about the one-armed boxer could have been explored better. The one with Harvey Keitel is also not that bad. It just feels like a draft of a story. Like a rehearsal for something else. Others are totally amateur like the one where Vincent Cassel rebuilds his sand sculpture. It’s a nice idea, showing the different kind of people walking on the iconic Copacabana side-walk in accordance with different sounds. But the sounds are terribly annoying! Couldn’t they have brainstormed a bit more to find awesome, recognizable sounds ? And Vanessa Paradis and John Torturro doing a stage play dialogue around a kitchen table: what the hell is this doing in a movie set in Rio?

Yeah, this is NOT a good movie. Just watch the trailer.

😦

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1456606

Hacksaw Ridge – **(*)

Posted: March 14, 2017 in 2016, Action, Australia, War, WW2, XX1/2

A member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (some kind of evangelical group) enlists to help out in World War II, but refuses to carry a gun as he refuses to kill anybody. He enlists as a medic as he wants to save lives, but he needs to go through a training in which shooting a riffle is part of the program. It’s a tough training and he nearly doesn’t make it to the battle fields, but when he does, he’s heralded by his bravery. Because it’s possible to help, save and serve in war times without killing.

This Mel Gibson movie starts off slowly, but is quite powerful in the second half, during the actual taking of Hackswaw Ridge on Okinawa Island near Japan. It’s an interesting story regardless if you think it’s extremely silly or incredibly brave to enlist for war and refuse to  use a weapon . It’s based on a true story. But it’s of course a fictionalized version of it. To learn more about the real Desmond Doss, check this history vs hollywood site. But do it after you’ve experienced the movie.

Some critics call it christian propaganda. Just because the main character acts out of faith, prays and carries a bible with him. But Mel Gibson (a notorious catholic) never glorifies the religion conviction. He just shows a man who is very firm in his principles. Which again can be interpreted as silly or brave. But at least it isn’t negative.

The action is hardcore though. Limbs fly around. Some scenes can be considered horror. So it isn’t for the weak at heart. Nor is it for people who think Andrew Garfield is an overrated actor. In fact, the whole cast are just okay performers. There’s not one performance that sticks. But it’s a good war movie. A tad too long maybe.  But worth watching.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2119532

Logan – **

Posted: March 12, 2017 in 2017, Action, Drama, Fantasy, USA, XX

Logan is the newest episode in the successful X-Men saga and is very different from last year’s Apocalypse. It’s a dark tale about a troubled, alcoholic superhero who’s getting older, weaker and more cynical by the day. It feels more like a drama than a special effects-filled fantasy blockbuster. And it works. Kinda.

The character of Logan, better known as Wolverine, has always been one of the more intriguing in the X-men universe. He’s not on average mutant. His special gift has been tempered with. He’s an angry being, who has learned over the years to control his temper. He has no interest in using his powers either for the good nor for the bad. He just wants to be left alone. And that never seems to happen.

The story takes place in the distant future. There are almost no mutants left and Professor X is being contained in a remote place because he can’t control his brain any more (the mightiest on the planet). Logan provides medication for the professor and saves up to bring him to safety somewhere far away. He works as a limousine driver and gets through the day by almost drinking himself to death. It’s not the best of lives, but it gets much worse when a Mexican woman contacts him and introduces him to a girl who needs protection. That’s all you need to know.

It’s a good story. It’s a bit different. But it entertains. And Hugh Jackman owns his character. So his acting is excellent. However, it’s very predictable and what’s with the repetitive and flawed action scenes? Yes, the wolverine has sharp knifes coming out of his hands. And so has the little girl. But every single action scene involves either or both of them slicing up people with those knifes. It gets boring after a while. The fights aren’t original at all. And when the girl attacks it’s more comical than frightful. In fact most of the action scenes make you laugh instead of making you thrill from excitement. And apart from Logan and maybe Professor X, none of the new characters are intriguing.

But hey, it’s a fun 2 hours escape from reality.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315342/

Patients is a quite a unique movie experience about a young man who is paralyzed after a silly diving incident in the swimming pool and tries to live with the fact that he’ll never be a professional basketball player or physical trainer anymore . The synopsis may not be all that appealing, but go see it anyways. It’s really well done.What makes the experience great (and appealing for a different kind of crowd that usually watches ‘disease of the week’ movies) is the storytelling. It’s not politically correct, it’s not sensitive, it’s not overdramatizing… It’s just very real. It also has a lot of humor as well (even though the references and jokes get lost in translation). And it’s filled with great tracks ranging from modern instrumental tunes to heartfelt rap.  Because of its multicultural cast, it may appeal to an audience that normally can’t relate to stories of disabled people. Just because in general they are always white. The main character in this movie is also white, but the rehabilitation centre that he stays at is very bbb (beur black blanc – north african, black, white). It’s sad that anno 2017 you notice this difference to other movies about disabled characters. But it makes it intriguing as well. The acting is very good. Especially by Pablo Pauly in the lead role. The topic is delivered in the most truthful way. The situations are real. The directing is brilliant. There are quite some original shots. The scenes are edited extremely well, especially during the musical intervals. In fact, this is great cinema. A must.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5598100