Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

1956, East-Berlin. Two students of a class finishing high school are able to sneak into West-Berlin to see a movie. The wall separating both parts of Berlin hasn’t been erected yet and it’s still possible to visit the other part. However, at the movie theatre they learn about a revolt in Budapest agains the Russian occupiers and once back in East-Berlin they inform their fellow classmates about the different reporting about what’s going on in Hungary.

The entire class decides to keep silent for 2 minutes in respect for what’s going on in Hungary. But the silly act isn’t met with much comprehension from their teacher and soon the principal and higher officials are informed. Keeping silent for 2 minutes as a protest is considered a political act and the consequences will be severe.

The story is based on true events, which makes the movie more intriguing than if it were pure fiction. It’s a history lesson and worth watching, but the storytelling isn’t that compelling and the acting or directing isn’t that extraordinary either. It does give you an idea of what life was like in the mid fifties in East Berlin, but it’s all pretty superficial. It’s a warning against propaganda and it does give some insight as to why a lot of people in the DDR were okay with being in the DDR. But it doesn’t really dig deep.

The book was probably better than the movie.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6576556

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Gräns – **(*)

Posted: July 20, 2019 in 2018, Fantasy, Romance, Sweden, XX1/2

Not half as bizarre as critics want you to believe, this romantic drama will keep you intrigued until the very end.

Tina looks different. She’s been told that it’s due to a mistake in the chromosome system. She has some traits that others don’t have though. She can smell emotions and feels much more united with nature. She works at customs and can ‘sniff’ out those passengers with illegal merchandise. Then, one day, she meets a passenger that seems to suffer from the same medical injustice. It turns her world upside down. He claims not to be human.

It’s a movie about a troll woman figuring out who she really is. And it’s a good movie. Sure, there are some scenes that may be disturbing, but they fit the narrative. It’s a bit predictable though. You may not smell it, but you can still anticipate what’s coming. Maybe that’s why in the end it’s a bit disappointing, after having read all the raving reviews.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5501104/?

Three more episodes of this fascinating series of standalone near future dramatic thrillers. Not so thrilling or scary or thought provoking as before, but a good watch nevertheless.

Striking Vipers (***) isn’t half as scary as other episodes. In fact, the technological novelty kinda looks appealing. It’s a virtual reality game console that makes you become the character you chose. The idea could be frightening, but this time the makers turned it around and made it something more sexual and romantic. Quite intriguing. Well acted.

In Smithereens (**) a man kidnaps an employee of a major social network company in order to be able to speak to the founder of the company. He manages to do so and the end is a bit of a disappointment. It’s the kind of kidnapping show that makes you wonder why the person being kidnapped is not cooperating with the police to being rescued.

Miley Cyrus plays an unhappy pop star in Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (**). Her manager controls every aspect of her life and just wants the business to boom. Just as a new A.I. lookalike robot is launched on the market, things get ugly. But thanks to one of the robots and the owners of it, the pop star is saved.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2085059/episodes

 

Recommended by friends, this new LGBTQI+ Netflix series is a bit of a drag really. No pun intended.

A woman returns to San Francisco after having left 20 years ago to pursue a career. She used to live in a community house run by a transgender, whose 90th birthday is the occasion of her return. But not everyone is happy to see her. Most definitely not her ex husband and their adoptive daughter.

Laura Linney and her character save this show from total boredom. Her presence is fresh and funny. The rest of the cast is not impressive at all. And the script sucks. Every episode has a few scenes that are worth the rave reviews, but in general this is not a good drama show.

An intriguing character is Jake, a transgender who is confused about his new identity after the transgression. It’s not a stereotypical characterization and the actor isn’t a professional, which makes it more real. His former lesbian girlfriend is having trouble accepting the new identity as well. Yes, this story line is good.

But most of the time the story and characterization is irritating. Why do daddies in interracial/intergenerational couples always have to be white? Why do we need characters that represent the pseudo artistic influencers we now see on social media? Why does San Francisco look sunny and clean? I mean, have they been to San Francisco? Why is the idea of smoking weed every single moment of the day something attractive to look at on tv? Why do producers think Ellen Page is someone people want to watch ‘act’?  It’s also so annoyingly politically correct. It’s terrible.

In fact, the best confrontational scene is the one where a bunch of old homosexuals get reprimanded a younger gay guy because they use the word ‘tranny’. The discussion that follows is quite a powerful moment on generational conflicts.

It’s not a good show. It’s hard to finish. But episode eight is worth the watch. It’s a flashback episode focussing on the Compton Cafeteria Riot from 1966. Though flawed, it’s worth the watch and the only episode that doesn’t make you push the forward button.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7087260

Passing by Leukerbad on the bus, I mention the remarkable stay of James Baldwin in this charming little town along the Rhone in Switzerland. Most of the time, the bus is very silent as if they’ve never heard of the man before.

Sure, he wasn’t Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, but he was nevertheless important as an African American activist. He was ‘just’ a writer and a homosexual on top of that.

This documentary is based on a book he never finished, in which he reflects on the legacy of the aforementioned leaders and the lesser known Medgar Evers. It’s a good documentary, because they use a lot of footage (especially pictures) from that era and it’s narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, who reads from the unfinished novel in the most surprising and fascinating way. Not sure if there are awards for narrators, but he deserves one.

You do need to have some background of the civil rights movement in the United States though. This isn’t a explanatory documentary about that fight. Nor will you learn much about Baldwin himself. You’ll want to learn more about him after this documentary and maybe that’s the point of this production. It’s interesting how the things he wrote about in the fifties are still relevant sixty years later.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5804038/

 

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

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