Archive for August, 2018

Downsizing – *

Posted: August 15, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Science Fiction, USA, X

What a disappointment!

It starts off great though. The world is overpopulated and Norwegian scientists have discovered a way of shrinking people. Several people are attracted to the idea of living as ‘miniature’ people. Some do it because of their concerns about the environment. But most do it because you can afford much more luxury in the small world. Somehow, a dollar in this new world is worth the same as in the real world.

Paul can’t afford a big house in the real world and decides to ‘downsize’ with his wife. The set up is great, the process of moving from the big world to the small world is nicely detailed. But minutes after Paul has started the medical treatment to become small, his wife backs out and so he ends up alone in this miniature world. The start of a new journey in his life.

And the start of a very boring second and third part.

The movie really starts off well, but once in the miniature world the story becomes a mess. It’s sad. The intriguing thing is this relationship between people in the big world and people in the small world, but that’s all gone. In stead we learn about how life in this alternative world isn’t so much different from life in the original world (duh). A few new, unappealing characters make their entrance. One is a larger than life neighbour. The other is a one-legged housekeeper from Vietnam, who somehow is the only survivor of mini refugees, arriving in the US.  In the third part, all of these characters move to the original miniland in Norway, which has turned into some hippie cult community. It’s silly.

No. Another Matt Damon movie from 2017 that just doesn’t work.

There’s little drama in this family tale, set in the vineyards of Burgundy, but it’s still a great treat. Just because there is so little drama maybe. The situations that occur are real. The feelings that are expressed are real. The images are real. It doesn’t feel like fiction at all. It feels this family exists and you are part of their inner circle. It’s excellent.

Jean comes back to Burgundy, after having been away for ten years. He left the vineyard that his father runs to explore the world. He settled in Australia, where he operates a vineyard with the mother of his son. The irony! But now he’s back. His brother and sister are surprised by his return, especially since he didn’t even bother coming back for the funeral of his mother five years before. It’s an awkward, but pleasant reunion. And the siblings’ bond gets stronger once their dad passes away and they can mourn together. The harvest is about to happen and all help is needed… But what with the vineyard? Their dad left the estate to ALL of his children. Jean cannot just sell his share of the land.

I’m in Burgundy quite a lot, more specific in the region that the movie is filmed in. It’s a beautiful region of France and its beauty is well documented in this motion picture. You get to learn a lot about the winemaking process. Not so much about the technical stuff that is explained in guided visits, but more about what happens behind the scenes. It’s interesting to learn about all the dilemmas that these family owned businesses have to face.

This movie has some of my favorite scenes of the past cinematic year. Simple images, without dialogue, but very telling and moving. There are quite a lot of them. And the dialogue is also well written. The flashbacks add to the story. And the atmosphere is light hearted. Again, this is no heavy drama. This is drama light. But Cedric Klapisch, makes it entertaining for the entire two hours feature. 55 on Metascore. 6,9 on imdb. Bull. There is something wrong with these review sites. This is a great movie. Period.

Premiers Crus – (*)

Posted: August 4, 2018 in 1/2, 2015, Drama, France

A Burgundian winegrower is on the edge of bankruptcy after he lost his appetite for the business once his wife and children left him. A Japanese company is willing to take over the vineyard and so is a rivaling neighbor. But luckily his oldest son, the successful and influential writer of a yearly wine guide, is willing to help his dad out. In fact, he’s willing to take over the business, but on his own terms.

The concept is interesting. The setting is gorgeous. But this movie falls flat. It’s like the region of Burgundy hoped to get a soap opera a la Dallas on tv, following the adventures of a wine growing family, but no network was interested in it. So instead of filming material for 12 episodes or more, they decided to shorten it to a 90 minutes television movie.

It’s terrible.

The amateur editing doesn’t help either. Each scene is abruptly ended. Like each scene is a trailer to a future episode in a (non-existing) series. It’s sad. Because there’s enough material to make it an interesting soap. There’s the family conflict and also some failed/unrequited romances. There’s the competition between winegrowers. It could be a great tool to learn about the winemaking process. Each episode could focus on dramatic events within the family AND explain one aspect of the viticulture.

A missed chance.