Archive for the ‘biopic’ Category

The Irishman – *

Posted: December 8, 2019 in 2019, biopic, Gangster Movie, USA, X

Wow. Glad to not have bought a cinema ticket for this 3,5 hour Scorsese mob tale.

No, it’s not the best movie of the century. Maybe if this is your very first mobster movie you might be impressed. Not if you have seen dozens. It is not really terrible. It’s just too long. And nothing in the direction feels like it’s been done by a master genius. Martin Scorsese disappoints. And so does Robert De Niro. And what’s with the ‘special effects’ making the actors look younger? It’s silly. So are many discussion and many scenes that add nothing to the story.

The acting is not good (apart from Joe Pesci maybe, even though he doesn’t actually do much) and the story isn’t really exciting. None of the characters are sympathetic. And there’s no suspense. The main character works his way up to being some kind of bodyguard for the most notorious union leader of the US, who mysteriously disappears. One google search reveals what happened. Especially if you read about what book this movie is based on.

Maybe. Tonight just wasn’t the right time to watch a mob movie with aging actors.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1302006

 

Rocketman – *(*)

Posted: November 9, 2019 in 2019, biopic, Drama, LGBT themed, Musical, USA, X1/2

It’s never a good sign when the producer of a biopic of a certain artist is the artist himself. In this case, Elton John. Sure, he has lead an interesting life, but told from his perspective it’s flawed and biased.

The movie starts with the British piano rock star attending an AA meeting in full extravagant outfit. It ends with a message that he’s been clean for 27 years. In between you get to learn about his rise to fame and the lack of love he received as a child and as an adult. The whole part where he’s addicted to alcohol, drugs and sex is mentioned, but not really visualized that much.

So, all you’re left with is an uninteresting character with mediocre songs who rose to fame, couldn’t figure out the difference between his onstage larger than live persona and lived with self pity until quite late in his career.

Some may like the magical realism at certain points in the movie (like the uplifting experience in LA’s Troubadour or the skyrocketing singer performing Rocketman, the song). It’s a nice gimmick, but nothing more than that. The acting isn’t particularly great, but satisfying. But it’s a bit sad when the only interesting character in the movie is the ‘evil’ manager John Reid, who is also the bad character in Bohemian Rhapsody. Now, give him  a biopic!

www.imdb.com/title/tt2066051

 

A guided tour of the Leopoldmuseum in Vienna by an art historian who raved about Egon Schiele. That’s all it takes to start watching the biopic that was made of the famous Austrian painter a few years ago.

It’s an interesting movie. It’s well acted, somehow historically correct and it shows the complexity of the artist without really judging him. That said, it’s also quite superficial. And romantic. Egon Schiele was not a handsome guy, yet he’s interpreted by Noah Saavedra – who apart from being an actor also works as a model. This feels wrong. Like having Brad Pitt or so play Van Gogh. However, the guy does an excellent job by keeping you intrigued for the entire length of the movie. Same for Valerie Pachner, who plays his muse and (eternal) lover Wally.

It’s a love story really, but a good one. Without a happy end of course. They all die. And that’s not a spoiler. The title is referring to one of his most famous paintings. A painting which is quite disturbing, something this movie (unfortunately) never does. So Egon Schiele himself would probably not like it at all. But oh well, he died 100 years ago…

www.imdb.com/title/tt4558396

American guests have no idea who Sissi is when they visit Bavaria/Austria for the very first time. Much to the (somewhat acted) shock of local guides, who refer to her quite a lot and then dramatically shout: “You mean: you don’t know Sissiiiiii ?”

The classic Sissy trilogy is not known to American audiences. There’s an abbreviated English dubbed version which is terrible. So never – ever – watch Sissi: Forever My Love. Just watch the original trilogy, in German, with subtitles.

Growing up in Europe, this trilogy is shown almost every year on several tv channels around christmas. Its success is a bit like The Sound Of Music, which was never popular in Austria and Bavaria by the way. Maybe a new generation has never seen the movies, but if you’re over forty, you must have at least seen parts of it.

The first movie: Sissi *** is still a great joy to watch. Camp isn’t the correct term. It’s more cheesy and corny. It’s a idealized portrait of the future Austrian empress from the moment she first meets Franz Joseph to her wedding. It’s a romcom that still works well 7 decades later. There is some efficient slapstick humor, the acting is deliberately over the top, Romy Schneider looks gorgeous and it has all the elements of a fairytale: the bold and adventurous princess, the charming prince (well…) and the evil stepmother. It’s really not a bad movie at all.

In Sissi, die junge Kaiserin **(*), there’s less comedy (although there are attempts) and more drama. Sissi is empress now and has a hard time with the strict life at court. When her first-born is taken away from her, she flees home. Time for Franz Joseph to gain her back. No wedding at the end, no divorce either. But the (very long) crowning of the couple as king and queen of Hungary. Lots of patriotism in this episode. Lots of postcard settings in cities and nature. Lots of Romy looking exactly how everyone wants to remember the empress.

Sissi, Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin ** is the third installment and the worst. Even though the first two movies were also not historically correct, they weren’t so historically incorrect as this one. This is pure fiction at times. The comic relief is gone and it just basically shows Sissi abroad. First during her lengthy stay in Hungary, then her trips to Madeira and Corfu (to cure from a lung infection) and then her trip home via Milan and Venice. This must have been like watching the Travel Channel back in the fifties, but anno 2019 it’s not really fascinating. Especially since all these nationalities are introduced in the most stereotypical way possible. No. This is not a good one, but Romy Schneider is absolutely gorgeous in every single scene. So. Watch it while doing something else. Like reading online what really happened to Sissi and Franz Joseph.

 

 

Sarajevo – **

Posted: July 28, 2019 in 2014, Austria, biopic, Germany, Terrorist, War, WW1, XX

This whodunnit … or rather who-ordered-it-to-have-it-done starts off really well. It focuses on one of the most important historical moments in recent history: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

The protagonist is Leo Pfeffer, the magistrate in charge of the investigation. The case is quite simple really. Gavrilo Princip shot him after an earlier attempt to kill the archduke by other Serbian terrorists failed. They even arrested the murderer and he confessed. So what’s there to investigate?

Well, according to this movie a lot. Like, who ordered this murder? In history class we learn that a group of Serbian anarchists did it. But did they get the order from the Serbian government? Or … did they get the order from German (business) leaders who just wanted to start a war ?

The movie is good. Well acted. Well directed. Well told. BUT it’s focussing too much on the latter assumption. It’s an interesting thought and it’s true that Europe was eager to go to war (at least the German leaders), but we get the point after a while. There’s also a love story, which most likely is pure fictional and was just added for the drama. It’s well thought of, but it does bother the storytelling a bit. The conversations between the characters also feel like these characters know what the future will look like. Which they didn’t.

Still. Worth the watch. And it’s on youtube

www.imdb.com/title/tt3691446

 

Bohemian Rhapsody – **

Posted: November 14, 2018 in 2018, biopic, Dramedy, LGBT themed, Musical, USA, XX

This is a pretty entertaining movie for anyone who knows the songs of Queen, but never really bothered learning more about them or their lead singer Freddy Mercury.

Being a teenager in the eighties, this band had zero appeal to me. The songs were anthems for the masses and the front singer just looked ugly as f***. Those teeth! Yet, a few decades later and the songs still stand and have become rock and pop classics. So, they must have done something right.

It’s clear why this movie attracts large crowds. It’s filled with the songs that people want to hear. In fact, the last 15 minutes or so are a re-enactment of their Live Aid concert in 1985, considered by most as the best performance of that night. It’s a daring choice, but it works. It’s a great performance. As a vinyl collector I have NO singles or albums of this incredibly important band, but next time I see The Works or A Kind Of Magic on the flea market for 5 euro, I’ll take them home.

So, music wise, this is a great movie. Visually it’s quite attractive as well. The acting is silly. 80s Mercury is performed extremely well by Rami Malek. But that’s about it. The story however is so obviously edited for the masses. Just like their music. It doesn’t shy away from Mercury’s flamboyant lifestyle, but it just lets the audience assume things and doesn’t confront them with it. And that’s okay. There’s no need for explicit scenes.

It’s very clear that the band members are the good guys and his personal assistant is the bad guy. That is SO obvious. It’s very clear that the band members and the former wife of Freddy somehow supervised this movie. But that’s okay. Sure, the movie does the all American thing where being gay is okay as long as you have a monogamous relationship, but hey, at least they mention that he’s gay. At least his wife mentions that he’s gay.

It’s very enjoyable.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1727824

First Man – **

Posted: November 13, 2018 in 2018, biopic, Drama, Historical, USA, XX

Ryan Gosling is a great actor to look at. But he has become Ryan Gosling in whatever role he plays. So here, it’s Ryan Gosling doing Neil Armstrong. It isn’t Neil Armstrong. Which isn’t bad. It’s just not particularly great. Claire Foy however IS Mrs Armstrong. She steals the show. But that’s because Mrs Armstrong had a stronger and more fascinating personality than her husband, who is a quiet and reserved man. A boring nerd really.

If only they would have decided to tell the entire story from Buzz Aldrin’s perspective! Maybe it can be a sequel: Second Man. That guy’s story is so much more fascinating and his personality is so much more outspoken. It would have given the movie the energy that it needed.

That said. It’s a nice tale about a man being chosen to become the first man to walk the moon. It’s quite technical and detailed at times. It’s slow. But it works.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1213641