Archive for December, 2017

She’s Gotta Have It – **

Posted: December 30, 2017 in 1986, Drama, Dramedy, USA, XX

After watching the tv series, you might as well experience the original Spike Lee movie too.  It’s a low-budget black and white movie that still feels unique and fresh. The jazzy soundtrack (by Spike Lee’s dad) is excellent. This debut is creative and has humor. It has some daring sex scenes for its time. That one scene in color is a gem. But the acting is mediocre (Spike Lee himself gives the best performance – which says a lot) and the editing isn’t so good. (the ideas are great, but the execution is poor). The story isn’t all that strong either. It’s very similar to the series of course. An independent woman is having three lovers and seems to think she can get away with it. In the movie, unlike the series, the men meet each other quite early on into the story. There’s no mention of her being an ambitious artist. Nor do you get to know much about her friends, neighbours and family (a great thing about the series). Some scenes have the exact same dialogue though. Which is weird. And the aggression in the movie is much more aggressive than in the series. The outcome is also very much 1986 and totally different from the 2017 version. But that’s why a remake was necessary.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091939

Advertisements

Nola Darling is a bitch. There you go. She’s terrible. The sort of neo-feminist, who wears sexy dresses and then gets upset when men react to it in a way that she doesn’t like. Bitch, please. Either be sexy and realize that some men can’t deal with independent strong women. Or try not to be sexy. She tries so hard to be that independent strong women who doesn’t give a shit, but she’s constantly bothered with how other people perceive her to be. She wants to be loved and adored, but hates being criticized. Well, sorry, but that’s not how it works. Compared to this character, Madonna is the ultimate feminist.

Nola Darling is entertaining though. She’s an artist living in Brooklyn, in the hip Fort Green area. She has three boyfriends. Just because she can.  One is a married business man, some kind of sugar daddy who ‘sponsors’ her art. The other is a nerdy bike delivery guy who’s not the smartest kid on the block, but who makes her laugh. And the third is a narcissistic photographer who puts her on a pedestal almost as high as his own. They all know that they are not exclusive in her life as she sets rules before she dates men. It’s a luxury life. Living cheap in Brooklyn (the landlord is her godmother who gives her a low rent), adored and loved by many (friends, family, neighbors), and talented on top of all that. The perfect life! Yet, having three boyfriends does take his toll at one point. And that rent still needs to be paid, especially when nobody seems to buy her art. Moreover, one event really freaks her out and messes up her mind. Walking back home, she gets harassed by a man, who doesn’t take no for an answer. He grabs her by the arm and insults her. It’s 2017, so that’s as bad as being raped. She needs to go to the shrink and confronts her boyfriends with macho behavior. In the mean time it inspires her to make anonymous street art that seems to be getting more credit than the pieces she exposes in galleries.

It’s an interesting series. Topic wise. It’s moralizing and political at times. Yawn. But it kind of summarizes what’s been on people’s minds the past couple of years. It’s directed by Spike Lee. So, it’s not strange that there are some ‘controversial’ parts to it. It’s based on his debut movie from back in 1986, but the main story is translated to our modern time. Some of the side stories are really cool. Some aren’t. Most don’t feel real.

The characters are intriguing to watch tough. The acting is good. The soundtrack is incredible. But most of all, the editing is cool. The characters talk directly into the character in certain scenes. There’s a nice selection of still pictures shown in between moving pictures, like you’re browsing through a Humans Of Brooklyn-book. But the coolest editing idea of all is the insertion of the album covers of the music that is played in the previous scene. That’s fucking awesome!

It’s a good series. The first episodes are great. Then it kind of becomes tedious and annoying (when the moralizing begins). But some scenes in the last episodes make it worth watching until the end. The Thanksgiving dance sequence is a classic!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3713588

Everything works in this sequel. All the great elements of the first season are still very present. The budget was better, so this leads to better special effects, better acting (more takes) and an even cooler soundtrack! 1984 is the year and the eighties references are legit (if that’s a word they already used back then). They even got original Goonie Sean Austin to play a new character, Winona Ryder’s love interest! Excellent. There are more new characters and they all are a great addition to the already amazing cast. It’s brilliant how the story writers were able to still have the diverse bunch of people from the first season work together again. And even though it’s a science fiction fantasy trip, you believe everything these characters do and say. Yep. The first season as just an introduction. This is perfection.

 

Naked – (*)

Posted: December 28, 2017 in 1/2, 2017, Comedy, USA

Whoever told Marlon Wayans that he is funny?

He has a few facial expressions that make you laugh. Yes. But he uses them in every single movie. He stutters sometimes to conjure laughs. He reacts very effeminate in scary of frustrating scenes (screaming, lifting his hands, jumping up, etc…), which he also does in almost every single movie. Every single scene. He’s also always clumsy. It’s all very Mr Bean. It’s all very visual. But he never (EVER) delivers a funny line. EVER. He often uses references to cultural/social moments of the year the movie is made, but none of them are ever on point, interesting or still relevant two years later. This guy is a crappy comedian. He’s still a comedian, because there must be an audience somewhere out there that likes what he does. Or people just watch because he looks good and he’s naked a lot in this one. Back in 2000 he was great Requiem For A Dream, in which he didn’t have to be funny at all. White Chicks was also kinda cool. To give him some credit. Then he just played it safe with all the unfunny parodies on popular movie themes.

Naked, made for Netflix, sounded like it could have been something different. Something good. A new take on the Groundhog Day principle, where a guy is late for his wedding because he’s trapped in an elevator – naked. As he tries to get to the church in time, he always gets transported back to the elevator when the church bells start to go off. This one hour will repeat itself as often as is necessary for him to do it right. It’s a good concept. But it’s just not funny. Ever. What’s with this wedding obsession in the States anyways. If you truly want to marry someone, who cares if you show up naked at the church or forget to have the ring or forget to wear the right suit or forget the vows or forget to reprint the program in the right font?

Whatever made me believe this movie could have been funny? (the trailer maybe?)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6048930

Jonas – *

Posted: December 27, 2017 in 2015, Brasil, Crime/Detective, X

In the days leading up to Carnival, a young adolescent finally feels confident to share his feelings for the daughter of his mother’s boss. They have known each other since they were kids, but the social class differences made them go separate ways as teenagers. She’s a big flirt though and loves the attention. Not only from him, but from everyone around the block where they live, including a drug dealing criminal.

The first 20 minutes or so, we get introduced to these stereotypical characters. The flirtatious girl, who gets everything she wants.  The confident local criminal. His dumb associates, who compensate not having a brain by shouting loud and aggressively when talking. The hard-working mom, who raises two children from different dads. The cheating husband who’s also an alcoholic. The wealthy parents of the girl, who rely on their housemaids to do everything, from cleaning to raising their spoiled brats. Sigh. Yes, it’s Brazil. Yes all these types exist. Yes, it’s boring to see them every single time.

The story get ridiculous when the main character of the story, Jonas, finds out that the girl of his dreams is secretly having an affair with the drug dealer. He confronts them and in a sudden move takes the gun from the drug dealer (because that’s what drug dealers in Brazil do: walk around with a gun) and shoots him. Dead. He drugs the girl (because sleeping pills are easily available), cleans up the mess, gets rid of the body, leaves the scene of the crime and ties up the girl inside the frame of a huge construction looking like whale, which will be a big attraction in the carnival parade. This happens without any witnesses. At all. In Sao Paulo, the busiest and largest metropole of South America.

Okay, fine. It’s a premise. It doesn’t make you stop watching the movie, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to get any better. However, the acting by Jesuita Barbosa and Laura Nelva is good and somehow you want to know what’s coming next. But the story fails. This young kid holds the girl of his dreams captive. And she kind of likes it. In the mean time of course, the parents are worried and the drug dealing gang starts missing their leader. But their reactions don’t make sense. All of the action from every single character is very implausible.

Next!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2711256

Third installment in a trilogy about the two detectives Vincke and Verstuyft. Based on the books by Jef Geeraerts.  This time the duo needs to investigate a serial murder case after six headless bodies were found. They clash for the first time on how the research is done.

Yes, it’s not as good as the first one (De Zaak Alzheimer) or the second one (Dossier K), but it’s not as bad as reviews claim. The story is bad. Sure. In fact, it’s really bad. But you only realize that when the movie is over and the murderer has been identified. During the movie there is some suspense and some kind of hope for an original twist. But when the end credits roll it feels like you just watched a very unoriginal, predictable episode of some CSI rip off tv series.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1727497 

Getting a Netflix account will make up for not traveling far this winter! No need to re-visit Salvador do Bahia if you got movies like Ó Paí, Ó on your tv. Not sure what other ‘world cinema is available on the streaming network, but that’s to find out in the near future.

This movie is very confusing though. It starts of as a musical comedy, but it ends as a drama with a message. The confusing part is what that message is. Throughout the movie you get to see Salvador the way no other travel documentary has shown it. It’s a beautiful and exciting city. A lot of the sights that tourists want to see are shown in this feature. The stories are set in the famous Pelourinho area with its colorful houses and the charming cobblestoned streets. If you’ve been to the place, you want to go back as soon as you see it on screen. However, the reality of the city is harsh and it’s like this whole advertising clip ends with the message: don’t go there!

The first characters to appear on-screen are played by Lazaro Ramos and Emanuelle Araujo, both from Bahia. They immediately have a sexy scene together in which he paints on her naked body after he just showed off dancing to a samba beat. Within ten minutes you’re thinking: wow, a movie about gorgeous Salvador with even more gorgeous Brazilians making out. However, half an hour later or so, twenty more characters are introduced and they all represent a stereotype. An hour into the movie, the list of clichés is so long that you can’t take it anymore. But then drama sets in and there are some strong scenes with social commentary. It’s like the parody becomes a political manifest.

The clichés are confronting though. If someone else makes a movie about Brazil and adds too many clichés, they get burned. If a local makes a movie about Brazil and fills it with even more clichés, they get heralded. A Brazilian friend told me the movie was well perceived and quite important for the local community, but for a Western European this movie feels awkward. Sure, everyone in Brazil or who has visited Brazil can relate to some of those stereotypes. But to see them all in one movie is confronting.

The hypocritical evangelist who worships the bible, but loves the gossip of sexual adventures by others. The white trash drug dealing nut-head, who blurts out racist insults to feel better about himself. The cheating husband of a pregnant wife, who fucks the ‘mandatory’ transgender. The emigrant who lies about her successful life in Europe. The rascal kids who find it amusing to rip off tourists. The promiscuous girl who get another abortion because she always forgets to use a condom. The corrupt police officer who needs to keep an eye on the store of his landlord in order to postpone paying for last month’s rent. And then there’s the candomblé (Bahia’s spiritual religion), acarajé (great street food), the music from Olodum (Salavador’s famous carnaval drum band), flirtatious behavious by all, the shouting when communicating, etc…

It’s an interesting movie to watch. But it’s a tough one to sit through. Most of the acting is terrible. It’s just over the top. Wagner Moura for instance is so ridiculous that it’s not even funny. And he’s a good actor! Lazaro Ramos however is excellent. That one scene where he replies to a racist insult is quite powerful. The story though, that’s another weak point. It’s a collection of stories happening during the days before Carnaval. They do intertwine, but it’s nothing like Crash or Short Cuts where they merge.

Again, it’s not really clear what the director wanted to tell. It’s both a lot and nothing at all.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0895777/