Archive for the ‘biopic’ Category

Pollock – **

Posted: December 19, 2017 in 2000, Art, biopic, Drama, USA, XX

Every time I see a Pollock at a museum, I pauze. It hasn’t always been like that. But the more I see them, the more I’m intrigued by them. Some of his paintings are just so overwhelming. And it all looks so easy. Put a canvas on the ground. And start splashing paint on it. In apparent random order. Why did nobody come up with that idea before?

So there is a movie about Jackson Pollock. A relatively recent one. From this century. (If that’s the definition of recent). Starring Ed Harris. And directed by Ed Harris. He must be a fan. It’s an okay movie. Also chronologically told. But the acting is good. That Marcia Gay Harden does deserve her Oscar. And Harris performs well. Pollock isn’t a particularly pleasant character. He’s, well, an alcoholic and crazy in the head. The prototype of every talented artist. But you do get to learn a bit more about him. And his life. And the art is very present.

Time to watch Frida, Mr Turner, Surviving Picasso, Basquiat, Modigliani, etc… 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0183659

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All Eyez On Me – *

Posted: December 19, 2017 in 2017, biopic, Musical, USA, X

Back in the early nineties some rapper was successful for a few years, making headlines not only because of his quick rise in hiphop, but more because of the criminal offenses he committed. He was the ‘voice of a generation’. At least in the States. Nobody in Europe cared. Only California Love made it to some European charts while he was alive. But then he got shot and his murder remained a mystery. Suddenly this rapper, Tupac Shakur, became a legend. His posthumous released song Changes topped the charts and a successful greatest hits album followed. Still, most people know him of his portrait prints on t-shirts and posters. In the hiphop culture, he’s revered like Jimmy Hendrix is idolized by guitar soloists. He’s an icon. And every icon needs a good biopic.

But we’ll just have to wait for that good biopic then, because All Eyez On Me definitely isn’t.

This just feels like a cinematic wikipedia page. The story is chronologically told. First as part of an interview while he is in prison. And then continued with the events leading up to his killing. The guy is an icon, so he must be interesting, no? Well, maybe if you’re into hiphop and into bad boys making it big. If you didn’t care about him when he was alive and don’t own any of his music because it’s just not your thing, then this is just a waste of time. A great movie should make you feel interested in the story of the main character, even when it’s not in your comfort zone. This movie just sucks. Bad acting. Unoriginal storytelling. Shying away from controversy. No focus on the talent. The movie is over and you’re thinking: why do people like this guy? That cannot possibly have been the goal of the producers of this movie. Straight Out Of Compton it is not.

Just google the name Tupac Shakur and read articles about the guy to understand why his legacy is still popular.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1666185/

 

Nina – *(*)

Posted: August 30, 2017 in 2016, biopic, Drama, Musical, USA, X1/2

Nina Simone got herself a biopic. Unauthorized by the family. And so somewhat controversial. Nina Simone doesn’t come accross as a nice person. Maybe she wasn’t nice. And that’s not necessary for a good biopic. But somehow as a contrast, it should be evident that the woman had talent. And that’s not really the case. There’s zero sympathy for this character. And that’s tough. Zoe Zaldana is actually really good as the bitchy, drug addict/alcoholic. But she has too few scenes to show a brighter side to the jazz icon.

Oyelowo is degraded to a supporting role and does not get the platform to perform to his ability. Playing a submissive, rather boring and blank assistant isn’t really a challenge. He does it well. It’s just not really a role you want to see him play.

It’s not a good movie, but it’s not a bad one either. There is much worse out there.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493076/

A United Kingdom – **(*)

Posted: August 11, 2017 in 2016, biopic, Drama, Historical, UK, XX1/2
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United Kingdom tells the fascinating story of Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams, who become the first president of Botswana and his wife. The fascinating thing about it is that Seretse was black – of course – and Ruth was white. Quite remarkable at the time. And still quite remarkable right now. Unless you’re from Botswana or have travelled the country or have a keen interest in the history of Southern Africa, chances are very high that you’ve never heard about this remarkable history fact. So, hooray for the producers who made this an entertaining history lesson.

Unfortunately, it’s nothing more than that. It’s well acted, sure. And it’s nicely shot. But it’s a straight forward, uncontroversial, chronologically told succession of events. White girl meet black lawyer student in London. Guy turns out to be the heir to a chiefdom. Girl accepts marriage proposal. Everyone is against it. Her family. His family. The South African government. The British government. And so the trouble starts…

A lot is covered and it’s covered well. The situation is explained in clear and short dialogues. No excessive explanation. But also not that simplified. It’s a well done film. For the masses. Who didn’t go see the movie though. A shame. Stories like this need an audience. But maybe more for a tv night on Fridays.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3387266

 

Jackie – *(*)

Posted: April 5, 2017 in 2016, biopic, Chile, Drama, USA, X1/2

Hm.

Nathalie Portman is great as Jackie Kennedy. She would have deserved an Oscar. In fact, she’s the only reason why you really need to see this movie. She’s in almost every scene and even though her character isn’t the easiest to empathize with, she doesn’t bore. The writing is good too. The story focuses on the aftermath of the assassination of JFK. You don’t get to learn anything about her life before and after this terrible act. Apart from that one time she hosted a television crew inside the White House. But that’s fine. You get to watch her for 2 hours in the most difficult period of her life. Great.

Yet somehow this isn’t a great movie.

The soundtrack is so annoying that it disturbs the entire atmosphere of the movie. Magnificent according to the Guardian. Terrible according to many user reviews on imdb. Make up your mind. The other members of the cast play second fiddle and can’t even pull that off. This is Nathalie Portman’s show and the other actors look like they are auditioning for a part.

When you’re annoyed throughout the entire movie, it’s not a good movie. No matter how excellent the lead is.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1619029/

The Imitation Game – **

Posted: December 25, 2016 in 2014, biopic, Drama, Historical, LGBT themed, UK, USA, WW2, XX

Race – *(*)

Posted: July 30, 2016 in 2016, biopic, Historical, Sportsdrama, USA, X1/2

African American athlete Jesse Owens attending the Olympic Games in Nazi-controlled Berlin and winning four gold medals is one of the most interesting stories ever. It’s surprising that it took so long for anyone to make this into a motion picture. But now they have and it’s clear why this tale hadn’t been told before on the big screen: it’s TOO complex to be told in 130 minutes. It fails as a historical drama and it fails as a biopic.

In a time when tv series are getting more attention than theatrical releases, the producers should have spread the tale over several one-hour episodes. They should have focussed on one particular character in the first episodes and then make them all come together in the end. They should have asked Steven Spielberg to direct it and they should have looked longer for a better cast. They should have paid a historian to double-check the details (and prevent it from being a piece of history for dummies) And they should have found an editor who could tell the director which scenes are superfluous and which scenes need more focus. It’s a shame that money was saved on this project. This could have been so much better!

Race is worth the watch, just because the story is worth to be heard. And apart from the frustration of this story being told in a very superficial way, it’s not all that bad of an experience either.

Stephan James is enjoyable to watch, but he isn’t a Jamie Foxx or Denzel Washington. His performance lacks their theatrical strength and confident power. He probably got instructions to play it humble and subdued, but it all looks restrained and it feels like something is missing. In fact, there’s something missing in all of the performances. Mainly because their screen time is too short. Jeremy Irons plays a construction tycoon who acts as a diplomat to make sure that the American Olympic Committee doesn’t boycott the games under Hitler. His character is incredibly intriguing. You could dedicate an entire episode (of that proposed series) to the man. But now he just pops up from time to time and he cannot shine.  His antagonist, played by William hurt, has even fewer scenes. The fact that one wants to boycott the games and the other doesn’t is worth more than just an anekdote. So it shows that the talented actors aren’t performing to the best of their abilities.

German actor Barbaby Merschurat cannot possibly have liked the way the director wanted him to portray Nazi PR guru Goebbels. First of all, he doesn’t look like the man at all. And second: regardless of how evil the character was in real life, it’s a total injustice to depict him as a one-dimensional guy just because you want the audience to not like him.

There is one exception: Carice van Houten. She’s excellent as Leni Riefenstahl. If Spielberg ever decides to make a biopic about this fascinating director, he should look no further for the female lead.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3499096