Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Marriage Story – **(*)

Posted: December 8, 2019 in 2019, Drama, USA, XX1/2

Sometimes it takes friends to convince or trigger you to watch a particular movie that was not really on your radar. Such is the case for this Netflix Oscar contender about a young couple going through the (legal) proces of a divorce. The movie gets a lot of buzz and rightfully so. But is isn’t the instant classic lots of critics claim it to be. The quality of the scenes is just not consistently excellent. Some are extremely well written and acted. Some are just painfully bad. Adam Driver is surprisingly good. Scarlet Johansson is, as usual, great. And Laura Dern is excellent. They all should get a nomination. This is definitely an actor’s movie.

But in the end it pretty much feels very familiar to Kramer vs Kramer and is not all that original. It’s a good attempt by Hollywood to show some realism though with addressing the insane legal consequences of getting a divorce. But it still feels like a Hollywood movie. This would feel much more real if it was done in French, by a French director with French actors. Or Polish. Or Swedish. Or Korean. Or British even. That’s a biased opinion. True. But somehow this story craves for realism without spending money on a soundtrack or make up artists. Scarlet looks gorgeous in every single scene. They all look so polished. Even the few tears that are shed look calculated.

But hey, check it out. It’s not an all too serious drama. It’s not a tearjerker. Which is good.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7653254

Werk Ohne Autor – ***

Posted: November 19, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Germany, Romance, War, XXX

European critics didn’t like it. The artist whose life it’s based on didn’t like it either. But lots of moviegoers did and somehow the members of the Academy as well, because this German biopic was one of last year’s nominees for best foreign language film.

It’s a great movie though. Just assume it’s fiction and forget about the artist’s complaints. And expect a simple, superficial overview of what Germany has gone through the past couple of decades. Nazism, communism, capitalism… it’s all briefly mentioned, which bothers a lot of critics, but is well done for an audience who may not be too familiar with the details of Germany’s history.

It does rise some questions about art & artists and governments & ideologies who have their own interpretation of art. It’s very topical right now in a region like Flanders, where subsidies for art projects will  be lowered by 60%. A politician claimed that modern art has lost its beauty and the new artists are too focused on individual expressions, a statement which caused even more controversy than the financial cut.

The movie starts with a young kid visiting an exhibition of entartete Kunst. It’s quite ironic to think that the Nazis showed degenerate art to the masses to mock and condemn it. It must have been a great exhibition to visit if you were interested in different art. Later in the movie the kid has become an adult and paints socialist realism in the DDR under the rule of communists who hate the egocentric aspect of Western art as well. A few years later the artist arrives in Dusseldorf having fled across the border and is confronted with modern expressions of art, which ignore the craft of painting and focus on installations and performances.

It’s an easy movie to love (and for critics to hate). It’s filmed in a very conventional way, but there’s nothing wrong with old-fashioned drama. Art doesn’t always have to shock. It can also be just beautiful. And this movie is. The love story is refreshingly simple. The only obstacle in the young couple’s romance is the father of the girl, a conservative opportunist and vile doctor with a dark past.

Watch it.

Unless you don’t like mainstream movies appealing to the masses aged 9 to 99.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5311542

Temblores – *

Posted: November 15, 2019 in 2019, Drama, Guatemala, LGBT themed, Luxemburg, X

Pablo has left his wife and kids to be with a guy. His family wants him to start with a gay conversion therapy. Which he does. The end.

It’s set in Guatemala, made with Luxemburg money and it’s boring. There’s zero chemistry between the two men. And the whole conversion therapy feels more ridiculous than intriguing/realistic.

Next!

www.imdb.com/title/tt7128732/

Another Swiss movie ! This time on Netflix! And it’s not too bad. Just aimed at a younger audience. The young adult ones.

It’s a coming of age story of an orthodox jewish student, who falls for a classmate. She seems to show a liking to him as well. But, of course, she’s not Jewish.

The nemesis in the story is the student’s mom, who’s extremely conservative and already arranged several meetings with potential Jewish girls to marry.

It’s a romcom. It has some funny moments. And it feels like a Jiddish / Jewish culture for beginners video.

Give it a shot if you want to see a Swiss comedy.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4766630

 

Come on, vogue
Let your body move to the music (move to the music)
Hey, hey, hey
Come on, vogue
Let your body go with the flow (go with the flow)
You know you can do it

Madonna’s best track is featured during the entire first episode of the second season. It’s a really good episode. If you only have to watch one episode of this entire series, pick that one. You can also watch the entire show of course, but there are not that many episodes nearly as good.

Madonna’s Vogue kind of made the late eighties New York ball culture mainstream. For a few months. Until the hype was over. Few people actually know about this underground culture, which is experiencing a bit of a revival right now. And this show is only going to get more people intrigued.

The show is important. No doubt. It focuses on an underground culture with characters from the black and latino underrepresented lgbtq community. And it tells the story of the struggle that people with HIV or Aids had to go through 30 years ago. That storyline is quite moving. BUT – in capitals – the acting, writing and directing is messy. Especially in season 1, which introduces the characters. Maybe that has to do with the directing. And the budget. It feels like every scene was never rehearsed and shot in one take only. It’s amateur. And annoying. The dialogues feel awkward as well. Season 2 improves on all of this. The acting is much better and especially the monologues of diva Miss Electra are hilarious and well-written. The episode stories however are often too far-fetched (the one where they have to hide a corpse, really?) or a real drag (the aids cabaret in the hospital).

Some characters are really cool though. That Miss Electra steals the show. She’s a vicious queen with a cold heart, but defrosts by the end of season 2. She is by far the most fierce, intriguing and hilarious person in the cast. Dominique Jackson is acting a bit wooden in season 1, but shines in season 2. Get her an award. Equally growing in her role is MJ Rodriguez as Blanca, who keeps the show going. She needs an award to.

There’s a lot going on. And the AIDS-related storylines are really good. But the interaction between the characters doesn’t feel realistic. They are inconsistent. In one episode they hate each other’s guts, in the next they support each other like sisters, in another one they are ready to physically harm each other, in the end they go on a day trip together. It’s weird. I’m sure there is enough drama in real life. So to add extra drama just doesn’t make sense.

Still. Season 3 may be great. and the soundtrack is excellent

www.imdb.com/title/tt7562112

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 young lawyer, working for the public prosecutor’s officer, has been living in guilt for many years. As a child, she was the snitch that made her older brother go to jail for drug trafficking. Unwillingly of course. But her father always made her believe she did the right thing.

When she’s working on a case in which her incarcerated brother is involved, she gets drawn into his world. First out of curiosity, later out of necessity. An act of beneficence gets her in trouble. She forges a document to make sure her brother gets a better treatment in jail. But this illegal misstep is the start of one rollercoaster ride of misery and drama. Her entire career is ruined. Unless she helps a detective by infiltrating into the brotherhood gang that her brother is leading…

Though flawed, this is a very enthralling series. It’s a mix of a prison drama and a detective story with a main lead that plays a double part. It’s set in Brazil, so the drama is very dramatic. But it’s also very violent and grim. It deals about police brutality and corruption and a lot of murderous crime. People get beaten, tortured, killed by the dozens. It brings you the exact opposite of the cheerful and colorful image that Brazil has in many ignorant foreigner’s eyes. This is one dark tale. Even Cidade de Deus has characters laughing and dancing at one point. This one has zero joyful smiles.

But it’s worth the watch. Noreen Costa is phenomenal as the main lead. She not only needs to convince the detective that he can trust her. She also needs to convince the brotherhood that they need her. And more important: she needs to convince the audience watching at home that she can pull this off. Hermila Guedes is equally excellent as the wife of the imprisoned brother. In a very macho setting, these two actresses and their characters keep the show from being a total waste of time. Girl power!

The male leads are only slightly less impressive. Danilo Grangheia as the detective is great. So is Seu Jorge as the brother and leader of the prison gang. We just don’t get to know their characters that well. It’s all very superficial and the show fails to create empathy or sympathy for them. Where you believe the women immediately and you understand their actions from start to finish, it’s much harder to understand what these male characters are all about.

The story may be full of inaccuracies and illogical situations, but the storytelling is well done. Each episode ends with a good cliffhanger that make you want to continue watching. And the ideas are quite clever and flow in a constant entertaining pace. The last episode is a bit too much though. It’s inconsistent and feels rushed. It also isn’t conclusive. There’s no end. Not even an open end. A lot of questions remain.

So watch this by the millions so netflix will make the second season. Because we need to know what’s going to happen next !!!

www.imdb.com/title/tt8905964