Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

This movie starts with an older man learning a young boy some tricks to shoplift in a supermarket. On their way home, they find a small and hungry girl and decide to give her some food and some shelter. It’s very clear from the beginning: this isn’t the story of some crazy rich Asians. No, this is a story about how the poor survive in the economic wonder that is called Japan.

The aforementioned home has three more characters: a senior lady who seems to be the owner of the house. A middle aged woman who appears to be the wife/mother of the shoplifting father/son and a younger female who somehow seems to be the granddaughter of the older lady. It’s easy to assume the relationships between these characters, but there’s something off. 

The little girl doesn’t seem to want to return home and moreover, her new family discovers that she’s been abused. They could report it to the police, but they don’t. They could also inform her parents about her whereabouts, but they don’t. They decide to raise her as if she were their own child.

And then things get really weird an bizarre. Soon it turns out that this not an ordinary family and they live an existence full of lies. They steal and scam their way through life. But they seem to have found each other in this tiny apartment, which now six of them share.

A lot of questions arise and when you finally feel like you’re getting things explained, even more questions arise. This is very compelling and intriguing, but it does leave you with a bit of a wtf feeling at the end.

It’s clear to see why this is an award winning festival favorite. It doesn’t bore at all. The character introduction is great. The acting is good. It’s set in a world that is quite uncommon for Western eyes. It has multiple open endings. And it’s filmed in a detailed way. Some scenes are brilliant. The one minute reaction of the ‘mother’ in her interrogation about the reason for the ‘kidnapping’ of a child is pretty amazing. The shot in the end where the kid is on the bus is simple but perfect. The nude/passion scene feels so real, especially when it abruptly ends when the kids come home.

It’s quite a unique experience.

www.imdb.com/title/tt8075192

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If Beale Street Could Talk – **

Posted: April 26, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Romance, USA, XX

Hm.

After 21 days of not being able to see a movie on any platform, this seemed like the best choice. If Beale Street Could Talk is an award winning, well-rated, poetic, romantic story by the director of Moonlight. 

It’s a beautifully filmed movie. And it’s well acted.

But that’s about it really. The pace of the movie is slow, which isn’t that bad, but the story is pretty boring. It’s about two people who are in love and ready to start a family. However, the young man is arrested and put behind bars on the accusation of rape. And the young woman needs to start finding ways of proving her boyfriend’s innocence.

Now this premise can lead to all kinds of intriguing, dramatic hurdles. But the actual obstacles are pretty dull. The man is innocent. A racist cop was able to make the rape victim identify him as the violator. He’s behind bars. A lawyer is expensive. The young woman doesn’t have the money. But she still supports and loves the father of her child. Period.

Yawn.

We get introduced to the religiously fanatic mother of the accused. Now that’s a storyline worth exploring. We get introduced to the joyful, but aggressive father of the accused who slaps his wife when she starst cursing the unborn baby. Now that’s intriguing. We get introduced to the sisters of the accused, who seem to shun everything about him. Why? We’d like to know what’s going on in that family. We see the accused get a few anger fits. Is he like his dad? So shouldn’t there be some doubt about his innocence?

No. the guy is innocent. Period.

And his pregnant girlfriend loves and supports him no matter what. Period.

Pretty boring, no? Not memorable at all. #disappointed

The book is probably better.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7125860

 

Studio Tarara – ***

Posted: March 26, 2019 in 2019, Drama, Flanders, TV series, XXX

Rare these days (at least for me): watching a tv series unfold every single week. No binge-watching. Just anticipating the next episode. Eight weeks long.

And it was worth the watch. This was good television. With a lot of flaws, but enough positive moments to balance them out.

The set up is simple. Someone fell to his death at a television studio, where a live sketch show was being recorded. It’s unclear until the very last episode who the actual victim is. But in every episode you learn who is still alive, as a second story line follows a detective who’s writing down the taped interviews of all people involved.

The mystery of who the victim is and how the person died, isn’t all that exciting. As a thriller, the show fails.

The series is about the production of a funny sketch show and the troublesome lives of its creators. The drama and characterization are top-notch. But the sketches aren’t funny! At all. So as a comedy, the show fails as well.

But another storyline focuses on sexual harassment at a television studio and throughout the series this is the main theme. It’s also the one that makes the show fascinating. The acting is really good. Even international audiences may like these performances.

It’s still a very Flemish show though. Not sure if people abroad will get the references. There is an international trailer though… The story is set in 1993 though and the soundtrack is incredible. It’s very interesting to hear the big alternative hits of that year as a soundtrack to a story set at the tv studio of the most commercial television network.

www.imdb.com/title/tt9839222

Somewhere in rural Malawi, an intelligent young kid can’t continue with school because his farming parents can’t afford the fee. They have financial troubles because of a failed harvest and the future isn’t looking bright. People are leaving the village and the government isn’t helping at all. The kid is able to sneak into the school library though and finds a book about creating energy by using wind. It takes a while before he can convince his illiterate dad that his ideas can actually help the farming. But he perseveres.

This is a very interesting story. We need more of these. It’s in the same vibe as A United Kingdom. The African continent has so many great stories to be told. It’s time movie makers take some risks. It’s time to watch these as well. It can’t always be fiction like Black Panther. 

Chiwetel Ejiofor is an underrated actor. He has starred in quite a lot of movies and carries them every time. This is his directorial debut and yes, it’s very formulaic and conventional, but it’s also entertaining and educational. It’s well done. He’s acting in it as well and as mentioned before, he delivers. His emotional scenes look the same in every single movie (that man can cry!), but he’s very believable as the illiterate farmer. The main star of the movie is young Maxwell Simba, a debutant from Kenya, who charms you the entire movie long. He’s extremely well cast. This is based on a true story, which is always tricky. But it all feels very authentic. Especially the fact that they learned the local language to communicate in. Hooray for that.

Worth watching.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7533152/

Umrika – *(*)

Posted: March 24, 2019 in 2015, Drama, India, X1/2

A young Indian country boy sees his big brother leave for America. Later, as a teenager, he becomes the man of the house when his father passes away. His mother still adores the son that left and started a new life in a new country. But he’s not around. With much pride she shares the letters she receives to the other villagers. The letters are very impersonal though and filled with pictures of American life, taken out of a magazine. Something is not right. The young man decides to find his brother, but gets stuck in the next big city where he needs to start working for of a dodgy person. How was his brother ever able to leave ? And is his brother even alive?

Umrika is one of those festival films from India. It’s not a Bollywood blockbuster. It doesn’t have singing and dance sequences. It’s serious stuff. But it doesn’t work. It starts off great and the teenager is played by that guy from Life Of Pi, so the acting is pretty solid. But the story is predictable, boring and not intriguing at all. Not as heart-warming or moving as you’d expect. The director didn’t really do a good job convincing everyone that this is a story worth telling. By the time you learn what happened to the older brother and what effect that will have on the younger one, you may have lost total interest or care. Too bad.

It’s set in the early eighties, so there are some nostalgic references. One particular scene is funny: when a whole Indian crowd watches Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2614722/

 

 

 

Skin – ***

Posted: March 7, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Short Movie, USA, XXX

Short movies are not often available to watch. Shouldn’t we have some kind of platform where young directors and film school students can upload their work?

The Oscar winning Skin is available to watch via vrt.nu until the end of March. You just need to log in with your Facebook account.

It’s a controversial win. A white supremacist doesn’t like the fact that a black man is smiling at his son. He calls up his friends and they beat up the black man in front of his wife and kid. A few days later the supremacist is abducted into a van, also in front of his kid, and victim of a clever revenge act.

It’s only 20 minutes long, but it’s a fascinating. It’s an original idea and it’s directed really well. How to interpret the message, is up to you. Don’t watch the trailer below. It kind of gives away the clue.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7332306

The Favourite – ***

Posted: February 22, 2019 in 18th Century, 2018, Dramedy, Historical, UK, XXX

This is an interesting costume drama. It has great acting performances by Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman and the period setting, costumes, make up and script are amazing. It’s not really a comedy though. The trailer and the Golden Globe nomination for best comedy don’t really do the movie justice. This is a pretty sad and tragic story about a lesser known British Queen, unfit to rule the country and unfit to produce an heir. It’s also not a historically correct movie, but just like with Marie Antoinette, some anachronisms work really well. The vogue dancing during a ball ! The compassionate ‘fuck’ through the hallway. And all the lesbianism.

There’s no proof that Queen Anne had lesbian affairs. But that doesn’t matter. The scenes aren’t explicit anyways. It just helps the viewer understand the intrigue. This pretty much feels like a story that could have taken place at the court of Versailles. So it’s interesting to see it happen at the British court.

Not all is good. The camera work isn’t the best. Those wide lenses shots are terrible and the shots towards the sunlight are a sore in the eye. It’s a daring move, but the cinematography just isn’t what you expect. That said the script isn’t what you expect either and some of the scenes and dialogues are memorable. They make up everything. So does the acting. But why are there two supporting actresses and one lead? Just to be sure to get the nods? All three play an equally important role and are equally good.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5083738/