Archive for January, 2019

The Wife – *

Posted: January 21, 2019 in 2018, Drama, USA, X

Flight movie #3

This year’s Golden Globe winner for best actrice does a fine job in The Wife, but it’s not like it’s Glenn Close’s best performance. Her character is quite mysterious and that’s exactly how mrs Close plays the part. But it’s also a bit aloof.

The story is fascinating though, but it somehow does not work. An American novelist is chosen to be awarded to Nobel Prize for literature and he needs to fly to Stockholm to receive the honor. He can’t thank his wife enough in all the press statements and acceptance speeches. But she clearly doesn’t feel happy about it all. Is she upset because she had to put aside her writing aspirations to be his wife (and also accept his many affairs)? Or is she frustrated about something else?

The story is quite predictable and apart from Close, no-one else is really acting memorably. The flashbacks are interesting, but aren’t explored enough. It’s a missed chance.

Night School – (*)

Posted: January 21, 2019 in 1/2, 2018, Comedy, USA

Flight movie #2

Kevin Hart is a high school dropout who’s been quite successful managing a bbq store without a degree. But now that he’s found a fine woman to marry, he wants a better job and needs to pass a few tests. He attends night school classes in the same building he was attending high school at. And his bully from back in his teenage years is now the principal of the school. There’s all kinds of weirdo’s in his class and his teacher isn’t the one to mess with.

This is one dumb movie. It’s about high school dropouts with jokes only high school dropouts will find funny. It could have been nice. That Tiffany Haddish can be really funny. But she’s not really all that much in the movie. This is a Kevin Hart joint. And Kevin Hart sucks. He makes you want to appreciate Adam Sandler.

How on earth can this guy be one of the most successful comedians of our current times? Saw this on a plane and really everyone around me was watching this movie…. didn’t hear anyone laugh though….

Crazy Rich Asians – *

Posted: January 21, 2019 in 2018, romcom, X

Flight movie #2

The title says it all. In the first hour of this movie we get to see crazy rich Asians, doing their crazy, rich thing in Singapore. Oh and there’s a normal ‘Asian American’ girl observing it all. Her boyfriend never told her he is one of the richest Asians in the world, so she’s in for a shock.

It’s a typical class difference romcom without much comedy and with dramatic romance.  It’s a movie filled with stereotypes and clichés and bare-chested men! The first caucasian man you get to see is racist. The only gay character is effeminate. Women want to shop. Men have to leave the house for business. It also doesn’t make sense. Everyone seems to know who this Mike Young is, but this smart university professor is dating a guy for over a year and she never bothered asking him about his background? And he just doesn’t tell her about his wealth and expects her to just adapt to his posh world? Fool someone else!

It’s a terrible movie. The dialogue is very poor. The acting is mediocre at best. We hear English spoken with an American, British and Chinese accent. It’s explained, but it still feels weird. They talk about decadence but don’t really show it. The cinematography is simple. There are better amateur made home videos on youtube showing the sights of Singapore.

The first hour is terrible. But the Mahjong scene is great. And the Asian covers of Madonna en Coldplay are fun.

A nerdy teenager with few friends and a traumatic sexual self-awareness becomes an unlikely star in school when he starts giving (moral) sex advice to his fellow students for money. He gathers his advice from his mom, a neurotic sex therapist, and – truth be told – often helps the young couples with his tips.

There’s eight episodes of this new Netflix series and you can easily binge watch them. The series starts as a comedy, but gets more dramatic after a while. It’s probably aimed at teenagers, but the conversations about sex are quite explicit and there is nudity. Which is fine (if you know the actors are all twenty somethings), but a bit unusual for a high school dramedy. Another unusual thing is that it’s set in a school full of British speaking kids, but the atmosphere is very American. Research tells that it’s an homage of the creators to the high school comedies from the eighties. But it’s really just a cheap trick to make this a hit on the US market. It’s annoying. But it’s the only annoying part.

The characters are very British though. And there are some nice twists in the narration and the depiction of the individuals. It’s a multi cultural and multi sexual show, because it’s 2019 and students aren’t just white or straight anymore. The best friend of the main character is an openly gay, black crossdresser who gets bullied a lot, but learns how to own his being different. In one of the best scenes his reserved, careful immigrant dad warns him about the consequences of standing out and being different. Interrupted by a driver who wants them to move aside, he shouts at the guy. For the first time since his move to Britain he dared to shout at someone! He hugs his son (wearing a female African attire and lots of makeup) and thanks him for being so brave and being so confident.

The trailer may put you off. Yes, they do talk about sex all the time. But it’s a really good show. Even for adults.

The Devil Wears Prada – **

Posted: January 9, 2019 in 2006, Comedy, USA, XX

While switching tv channels, this came on. The opening scene is quite a fun mix of all kinds of women dressing up for an interview and Anna Hathaway not caring too much. The job interview is for a Vogue-like fashion magazine though. Run by Meryl Streep. She’s in need of an extra assistant as her main assistant already has too much work. That assistant is performed by a Emily Blunt, who almost looks unrecognizable, but immediately attracts all the attention. And before you know it, you’re into this story of a journalist wannabe accepting an assistant job in the hope it will one day be a good thing on her resumé. It’s a well made, well acted and entertaining comedy for the masses. Male or female. It’s a bit like Bohemian Rhapsody this year. It’s very superficial and simple, but it doesn’t annoy one bit.

Classic: Roma – ****

Posted: January 7, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Mexico, USA, XXXX

It’s quite weird to first see a movie (legally) on a tv screen, before it’s shown in movie theatre. Yet, Roma, is produced by Netflix and only in theaters because it’s so extraordinarily good.

Do NOT watch this on tv. Watch this on a big screen. It makes the movie absolutely flawless. This is the perfect moving picture. Every frame is a great shot. And there is so much going on in every single scene. When you watch this in the movie theatre you see things you didn’t notice at home. When you watch this a second time around, you also remark things you didn’t notice at all the first time around. The care for details is meticulous.

Some of the best scenes are where you tend to focus on the main characters in the shot, but the real pleasure is going on in the background. There’s the movie theatre scene, where the focus is on the main character telling her boyfriend that she is pregnant. However, at the same time you can watch the scene from the movie that is shown (La Grande Vadrouille) and you can watch all the other couples or individuals smooching or smoking a cigarette in the theatre.

It’s like going to a Fine Arts museum and seeing different details every time you watch the same painting by a Flemish painter. This movie is a collection of tableaux vivants. 

Some people will call it a slow movie. Other may call it boring. Many may not want to see a story about class difference in the Mexico City of 1971. The fact that’s about two women being abandoned by their lover/husband makes it a chick flick. The fact that it’s in black&white makes it an ‘old’ movie. There are a LOT of reasons to not watch it.

But that’s all prejudice.

This is the best movie in years! Just watch the trailer and if you’re intrigued watch the whole thing. IN A MOVIE THEATRE.

The movie ended up winning two Golden Globes. Best Foreign Language movie and Best Director. These should be safe bets for the Academy Awards. And add Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Actress (if Yalitza Aparicio gets nominated of course), Best Score and some more to it…

You – ***

Posted: January 6, 2019 in 2018, Romance, Thriller, USA, XXX

This is one cool, horrific, thrilling and romantic mindfuck ! A book store manager falls for an aspiring writer. They share their love for literature. But they also share a longing  for wanting something that they cannot get. Joe, the manager, is so obsessed with this woman and so certain that she is the one, that he will do whatever it takes to protect her. Including murder. Guinevere, the writer, is so insecure about her talents that she hides it by over-using the social media and hanging out with the wrong kind of friends.

This is one great series. Ten episodes of constant surprises. Ten episodes of watching two people be attracted to each other and not being sure whether you want them to be together or not. They are made for each other. They look like the real deal. But they are hiding so much from each other and from the audience! They are bound to fail. Joe is a bit like Dexter. He looks charming and his motivations for his cruelty are just (he’s in love), yet, he’s a delusional stalker! Guinevere is a bit like Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, gorgeous and innocent, but equally cruel in being dishonest. It’s easy to understand why Joe is obssessed with her. But it’s also easy to understand why he doubts whether she’s really worth all the trouble. And then there are all the intriguing side characters. It’s not just about these two love birds. It’s about everyone around them, including ex lovers, colleagues, friends, family and neighbors.

Yes, some things don’t make sense, but somehow it’s part of the show. This is a well written, well acted, well edited thriller with a great end. More of this!

Bird Box – *

Posted: January 6, 2019 in 2018, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, USA, X

45 million Netflix users have watched this apocalyptic horror movie within a week of its release. According to Netflix of course. It may be true though. And even when it isn’t true, the media picked up on it and made it the popcorn movie everyone is talking about.

But no-one is talking about it positively. The overall feeling is that of disappointment. This is not a good movie. It’s not living up to the hype. Earlier this year a similar movie scored really well at the regular box office and was far superior. A Quiet Place had the perfect balance between drama and horror. This one has no balance at all. It’s a mess.

The story is absurd. Out of nowhere a ‘presence’ makes people commit suicide on the spot. The only solution is to survive with a blindfold on. Sandra Bullock plays one of those survivors, who finds refuge in a house. Five years later, she’s urged to escape with two little kids as the house isn’t safe anymore. A new rescue centre is welcoming her but getting there is tricky as it’s down the river.

A Quiet Place made more sense, even though it’s also about a supernatural ‘presence’. In that movie people couldn’t make a sound and had to be quiet to survive. The audience could easily relate and feel the tension when a sound was made. In this movie in order to survive you have to be blind. So, the only way to feel the same tension as the characters is to not look. Well, that’s not really working if you’re watching a movie, is it?

Go watch Roma instead.

Eight Grade – *(*)

Posted: January 3, 2019 in 2018, Dramedy, USA, X1/2

In a lot of American best of lists, but not yet released in Europe: Eight Grade. It’s about a young teenage girl who’s finishing eight grade (look it up what that corresponds to in your country). She’s awkward. And so is the movie.

It’s well made. But it’s about an awkward girl in eight grade. Not the most interesting of topics and settings. Unless you are an awkward girl or unless you are the parent of an awkward teenage girl.

It’s a very American movie (teenagers driving cars and praying to God before going to sleep!), but the teenage angst of fourteen year old girls is probably the same all over the world. In this case, the girl is obsessed with her smartphone, her instagram account and her vlog. She has no friends though. Nobody is interacting with her online, or offline. In her video posts she gives others advice on how to grow and how to be confident. Yet, she’s only giving herself advice. As nobody else cares. Apart from her dad.

The score is cool. The main actress does a good job. And it feels different than other high school movies. But if you’re not part of the target audience, it’s not all that impressive.

Isle Of Dogs – *(*)

Posted: January 2, 2019 in 2018, Animation, Children/Family, USA, X1/2

Overrated 2018 movie #1

The trailer is promising. The mayor of a fictional Japanese city expels all dogs to an island full of waste. They are carrying a virus that is threatening humans and need to be quarantined. Preferably exterminated. A little boy decides to venture out to the island and look for his dog and encounters a pack of canines that will help him in his quest.

The actual movie is a bore. The stop motion technique is fascinating. But the story is just lame. It’s set in Japan. Yet the only person resisting successfully against the Japanese ruler is a foreign exchange student. Really? The Japanese speak Japanese, but the dogs speak English. Really? It’s a mess.

But it’s well liked by critics all over the world. So, give it a shot.