Archive for February, 2018

Big Little Lies – ***

Posted: February 28, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Thriller, TV series, XXX

It’s quite a feat to make a tv series about rich, married mothers of first graders that can appeal to single, middle class men without kids. The synopsis helps: someone gets killed at a fundraiser event, but nobody knows who and by whom until the very last quarter of the series. The stellar reviews and the many awards help to trigger interest. The amazing cast is also a very strong selling point. And hey, it was definitely worth the watch. This is a great show. The acting is phenomenal and the character development is even better. This a very well written series. There is tension. There is some humor. There’s lust. There’s a lot of DRAMA. But it’s the female characters that make it all work great.

The men on the other hand are stereotypes and of lesser importance. Some side stories are irrelevant (the secret project of Abigail was a bit too much) and the misleading editing doesn’t make sense. Especially those tidbit showing statements from characters that hardly have any importance to the main story. The soundtrack is good, but it’s very unlikely that children and adults actually listen to tracks chosen for this series. One soundtrack choice was really good though: Papa Was Rolling Stone. The end disappoints a bit. But the seven episodes pass by before you know it.

Great television!

And it’s very clear why Nicole Kidman wins all the awards. It’s sad to see Reese Witherspoon miss out on so many awards, but there is no doubt about it. Kidman is the absolute best. Although Shailene Woodley is excellent too. Not sure why she gets nominated as a supporting actress. She’s a main character !

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3920596/ 

 

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Uptown Saturday Night – *

Posted: February 26, 2018 in 1974, Comedy, Gangster Movie, USA, X

This is one boring and bad gangster comedy! Sydney Poitier may be heralded as one of the most talented black men in movie history, but in this piece of cinematic bullshit he clearly isn’t showing any of that talent. He even directed this blaxploitation movie. The acting (especially his own) is embarrassing. Comedy is NOT his cup of tea. The scenes are way too long. Every joke gets explained. And none of them are funny. They are sexist and outdated. And they just don’t make sense. It starts off really bad with Sidney Poitier depicting his character as a loving husband who fell for his wife because of her behind! Then they show the wife and she doesn’t have a behind at all. What the fuck? Here this guy is charming his wife of 20 years by raving she has the biggest butt he ever saw and then they show a woman who’s skinny as hell. That’s the start! And it hardly gets any better after that.

But it’s a camp movie. It’s so bad, that it becomes kinda good. It also has Bill Cosby in it and Richard Pryor and Harry Belafonte. They are quite remarkable in being goofy. But the main reason to watch this is for Calvin Lockhart, a motherfucking king of cool! He only has a small role and you only get to see him at the end. And his performance is not really worth the rent. (2.99 $ on iTunes). But the anticipation of his participation is exciting.

The story? Two common guys go out to a fancy club with prostitutes and gamblers, but get robbed. The next day, it turns out one of them has won the lottery, but his lottery ticket is still in the wallet that got stolen. SO the common guys (can’t stress it enough) go look for the gangsters who robbed the club…

Apparently Will Smith and Denzel Washington want to do a remake. Fingers crossed.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072351/

 

Halls Of Anger – **(*)

Posted: February 25, 2018 in 1970, Drama, USA, XX
Tags: ,

Calvin Lockhart has a very short scene in Coming To America, without even a line. Yet, his presence was the best thing of the entire movie. A little bit of research learns he was quite the accomplished actor in the late sixties and early seventies. The guy has Charisma with a capital C. And one of his best movies is available on YouTube.

Halls Of Anger is an interesting movie. It’s focusing on reverse racism. A new regulation needs to send some white high school kids to an exclusive black school, who are NOT happy with their arrival. In comes a successful, black, English teacher (and ex basket ball player), who needs to keep the tensions to a minimum.

It’s a movie from 1970. Almost 50 years old. It was made in the time of the black panther party. Not the superhero fan get-together, but the militant Malcolm X movement. Some elements of this high school drama may still be applicable today, which is quite shocking. But other elements are very outdated.

The acting is good though. It has Jeff Bridges as one of the white kids who would love to just blend in, but is confronted with jealousy and hatred. And it has the late Calvin Lockhart as the teacher. The guy steals every scene he is in. Some of the characters are played by actors who are ten years older than their character. A common thing at the time (remember the ‘kids’ from Grease or Lisa from The Sound Of Music..), but kinda annoying. There are also a few scenes that just don’t make sense at all or are really exploitive. Like when the black girls want to check if the blond girl is blond everywhere. That’s a nude scene on youtube!  Plus: the soundtrack is excellent.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065810/

 

David Brent: Life On The Road – **(*)

Posted: February 24, 2018 in 2016, Comedy, UK, XX1/2

Whether you’ll like this comedy or not, pretty much depends on what you think of David Brent, Ricky Gervais’ breakthrough character of The Office. The guy is so annoyingly, embarrassingly unfunny! Works well in a short episode, but for an entire movie?

Several years after having lost his job as general manager in a paper company, he now works as a sales person and is no longer the boss. He covers up being depressed and lonely by trying hard to be someone he is not: cool, funny, successful…. He has a dream though: tour the UK with his old band. But none of the members of his old band are available, so he hires professional musicians to tour with him. The tour sucks of course. There is no audience. The musicians can’t stand being with him. And it all costs a LOT of money.

It’s funny though. It’s VERY predictable, but it’s funny. The songs performed are actually quite good (some are written by Chris Martin) and the lyrics of the song are loud out awkwardly funny. But the actual story isn’t SO special. Just because it’s not surprising at all.

It all depends on your taste of humor of course. But Coming To America had me laugh out loud maybe once. Life On The Road had me laugh out loud some fifty times more.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3137630

Coming To America – *

Posted: February 24, 2018 in 1998, romcom, USA, X

Lupita Nyong’o mentioned in a talk show how she was surprised how americans see Africa. After arriving in the country and seeing Coming To America for the first time, she was shocked. But now it’s one of her favorite movies. She has a point. However, the imaginative depiction of the fictional African country is actually the funniest part of the movie. It is satire. The rest of the story plays in Queens and has terrible humor with terrible acting and a predictable, boring plot line. This is not a good movie. But hey, I’ve seen it now. Took me 30 years.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094898

Top Boy – ***

Posted: February 22, 2018 in 2011, Drama, Gangster Movie, TV series, UK, XXX

Letitia Wright, impressive in Black Panther, made me watch this BBC crime series, in which she also plays a role. It’s been filmed 7 years ago, but she still looks the same! She just has a supporting role. It’s not that impressive, but you do see that she got talent!

The main stars of this series though are Ashley Walters and Malcolm Kamulete. Not sure why they haven’t turned into major league actors yet. They are phenomenal. Malcolm’s character reminds you of the kid from Cidade De Deus. He’s young, smart, wants a normal future, but is surrounded by gangs and drugs and reluctant to be a part of it. No Rio this time, but London. Ashley’s character is the up and coming drug captain of the block, also smart and with a conscience, but ready to kill when needed.

The series is well written, well acted, well-directed. It’s a lot of drama in only four episodes. A bit too much really. If HBO would have produced it, it would have been double as long with more diverse settings. It feels a bit like The Wire. It shows you a reality in a dramatic way. It’s heartbreaking at times. It’s great television. And the soundtrack is haunting at times.

Worth checking out.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1830379

Black Panther – ***

Posted: February 22, 2018 in 2018, Action, Fantasy, USA, XXX

There hasn’t been any bad review for Black Panther in the US. It’s such a politically, socially and culturally sensitive release… it’s a bit frightening really. It’s so hyped in the media, it’s scary. What if you don’t like the movie? Are you allowed to even express it?

In Europe, it’s less of a big deal. It was released a week earlier. People went to see it. Fans of Marvel Comic movies especially. Nobody else really cares. Arthouse movies critics hate it. Because, to be fair, it’s not an arthouse movie. No matter how revolutionary it is to have a black director make a black superhero movie that’s successful at the box office.

I loved it though. It’s a fun movie. It’s entertaining. It’s colorful. The costumes are amazing. The soundtrack really works well. The main lead is excellent. In every single outfit! The women are fierce. (Lupita Nyong’o ! Danai Gurira ! Letitia Wright!) There’s non stop action. Some drama. Family drama even. Some humor. It’s unique. Especially if you haven’t seen any other Captain America / Avengers / Thor movies. Bring on the sequel!

There are flaws though. That W’Kabi character (Daniel Kaluuya) is pretty one-dimensional. The war rhinoceroses are ridiculous. And what is it with Hollywood when they create fictional countries? When they create a fictional ‘European’ country, they mix elements from the entire continent. Same here. Wakanda is supposed to be a small country hidden from the outside world with 5 tribes, which get introduced in the beginning. The mix just doesn’t make sense. It’s like Hollywood has no idea that Ethiopia and Benin and Namibia are different nations and different cultures. (no Himba tribe is introduced in the beginning, but then suddenly there’s a Himba woman next to the Queen!!) It’s like Hollywood thinks sub Saharan Africa is one country.

Still. Great entertainment!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1825683/