Archive for the ‘biopic’ Category

Simonal – *

Posted: February 10, 2020 in 2018, biopic, Brasil, Musical, X

Halfway in this musical biopic of the notorious Brazilian singer Simonal, you start wondering if it is worth watching until the end.

The acting of the main lead is bad. Annoyingly bad. The storytelling is unoriginal, superficial, boring. The music doesn’t particularly sound great either. And the lip-sincing is done terribly. But the setting is interesting (sixties Brazil), the camerawork is fine and the opening scene (set in 1975) promises an interesting reveal.

Then, it turns out there is an interesting story to tell about this ‘Harry Belafonte of Brazil’. He was accused of having had his accountant be kidnapped and tortured. He somehow also worked as a snitch for the dictatorship.

Now this is a different story. An intriguing one.

But alas… again, this part of the story is told so fast and so superficially, it would only make some kind of sense if you have lived through these events.

Sure, it is made for Brazilian audiences who know more about this singer and who know more about the military dictatorship. For any viewer not familiar with the singer and unaware of his importance/deceit it is quite a lame movie.

So this guy sings about how cheerful Brazilians are during a time of dictatorship and gets scolded at for doing so. Then also falls victim to his own success and any financial predator around him. Gets connected to the military investigators who make him lie on record. All material for a good movie.

Unfortunately this one isn’t.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6145054

Yuli – **(*)

Posted: February 9, 2020 in 2018, biopic, Cuba, Drama, Spain, UK, XX1/2

Carlos Acosta was the first black dancer ever to perform as Romeo at the Royal Ballet of London.

This shouldn’t be remarkable, but it unfortunately still is. Of course this success has to do with opportunities and luck and fate, but talent is needed nevertheless.

This movie starts with the now older Acosta directing a ballet performance based on his life story… and as he has his dancers rehearse the sequences he reminisces and the movie goes in flashback mode to some pivotal moments in his life.

It is a tricky approach, to shift from modern ballet scenes to storytelling flashbacks. And it is also interesting to see a biopic in which the actual main character is playing himself. But it works really well.

More than a biopic and a ballet movie, the story focuses on the troubled father-son relationship. And it is very honest. The young Cuban boy has no desire to become a ‘faggot’ dancer, but his father pushes him into the ballet school. A reverse Billy Elliott so to speak. Not only his father, but also his Cuban dance teacher constantly have to motivate or command him to continue dancing. Especially after an accident halts his successful career for a bit, he needs their tough encouragement to continue. It is clear that this movie is an hommage to them.

The acting by the father, the teacher and the young Acosta is excellent. The story touches on several Cuban issues as well without being too detailed. It is well filmed. At least the flashback scenes are.

Worth checking out !!!

www.imdb.com/title/tt7666250

Judy – **

Posted: January 19, 2020 in 2019, biopic, Drama, Musical, UK, USA, XX

Renée Zellweger is really good. There you go. Everyone writes it and it’s true.

The movie isn’t bad either, but it may not be what you expect after having seen the trailer. It’s a tragic story of a Hollywood icon at the end of her career. Bankrupt, homeless and addicted to all kinds of medication. When she is kicked out of a hotel suite because the bill hasn’t been paid, she drags her two youngest children to their father and asks him if they can stay there for a while. It’s a desperate act, because she and her ex aren’t on speaking terms. Without money and a house, she can lose custody. So, she reluctantly picks up a gig in London…

It’s a tragic tale. There are very few uplifting moments. Sure, there are some songs and performances, but that’s not the focus of the movie. No, this is the story of a woman who is so addicted to being loved and receiving attention and having other people tell her what to do, that she completely neglects taking care of herself. That’s the focus and they should have dug even deeper into this troubled soul. The flashbacks to the troubled childhood of Garland are good as well and nobody mentions her, but Darci Shaw is good too as the young Judy.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7549996

The Two Popes – **(*)

Posted: December 20, 2019 in 2019, biopic, Dramedy, USA, XX1/2

What a surprise! This dialogue movie between two popes is actually really entertaining. The use of gentle humor is a great way of making it accessible and the flashbacks of current Pope Francis’ life are interesting. The use of real footage now and then add to the precision of the storytelling (even though – just like with The Crown – the actual conversations between the protagonists are only known to those who had them). It all starts off with an intriguing look into the mysterious conclave. Very well edited. Short, but explanatory with detailed images. Then you meet the two popes, who are very different in almost everything. Yet somehow this turns into a buddy movie and by the end you kind of get emotional when you see the real popes hug.

The movie focuses much more on Pope Francis, which is a bit odd when the title says ‘two popes’. Pope Ratzinger has a much smaller part and that’s a bit sad. His past is also worth investigating. But there are no flashbacks to when he was a teenager under Nazi regime. We do get a lot of information about the Argentinean Junta and the controversial behavior of Jorge Bergoglio, the then head of the Jesuit order.

Also disappointing is Anthony Hopkin’s accent. He’s speaking British English with an Anthony Hopkins accent, when he’s playing a Bavarian character! Surely, he could have tried to sound a bit more authentic. Jonathan Pryce on the other hand speaks English like an international Argentinean would and he even speaks Spanish!

Good movie!

www.imdb.com/title/tt8404614/

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