Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

Thirty years ago a female jogger was left for dead after having been molested in Central Park, New York. During the same night a group of young kids had gathered in the park for some wilding, attacking and mugging random passers-by. The investigating police made a link between the two events and arrested dozens of these kids, interrogating them about the rape. Five kids were left to their own devices at the police station and somehow ended up confessing to crimes they didn’t commit. A mediatized trial followed and even though the kids were minor and there was a lack of evidence, all of them were sentenced to years in prison. Four were minors and got five years detention, starting in a juvenile centre. One was sixteen at the time of the events and went straight to the adult prison system.

Most Europeans, and a whole generation of Northern Americans as well, were unaware of this case until this four part series became one of the main releases on Netflix this year and received critical acclaim.

Unfortunately, by end of the year, so many articles have been written about this production, that it becomes very challenging to watch the series without expectations. Yes, it’s a great series and a must-see. But no, it’s not the best series of the decade. You want this to be a mix between The Wire and The People vs O.J. , but it is not. It’s way too short. It is generating more questions than providing answers. It’s a show that will stick with you days after having watched it. So, that’s good. But it does feel like so much more could have been told.

Episode 1 is tough to watch. The characters are introduced and you immediately find yourself in the same mess they get themselves into. Dozens of kids are arrested, yet there are five of them that are detained longer and coerced into admitting to a crime they didn’t commit. These kids were at the wrong place at the wrong time and didn’t get the support they needed. Easy victims for the interrogating police…. The creators of the series clearly want the viewer to feel empathy for the innocent kids and anger towards the judicial system. It works, but it also annoys. This is where the series is flawed. The kids are sweet and innocent and adorable even. The police, judges and prosecutors are heartless monsters. It’s predictable tv making. This is also where an hour episode just isn’t enough.

Episode 2 is better. However as a court room drama it is not detailed enough. This is very intriguing stuff. We get snippets of the story. We learn that each kid had a different lawyer. We learn that each family of these kids deals differently with the accusations. We learn about the discussions amongst the prosecutors. We get to see some witnesses. All very briefly. This may have been the way the accused kids saw the trial (and it’s their story), but as a viewer you want to learn more. What about the jurors? The judge? This part of the story needs an 8 episode series alone.

The second half of the series is excellent though. In the third episode the show focuses on how the four minors get released from detention and have to struggle all over again. It’s a sad episode, but a very necessary one, because it focuses on how getting out of prison isn’t always a gift and how it’s very hard to rehabilitate in society. Episode 4 focusses entirely on the story of the one kid that was sent to adult prison and it is superb television, mainly because of the tour de force of Jharrel Jerome, who deservedly won an Emmy for his performance.

The acting in this series is top-notch. It makes up for the fragmented storytelling. Whoever did the casting deserves another award. A special shout out to Asante Blackk (playing the kid who is left alone at the police station: the moment you realize this will be a tough watch), Caleel Harris (the kid who is forced to lie by his own dad!), Niecy Nash (the troubled mother of the kid who will suffer the most) and Michael Kenneth Williams (the dad who told his kid to lie and has to suffer the consequences) !

www.imdb.com/title/tt7137906/

This is a good introduction to the case and the series:

Vice – **

Posted: February 5, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Political, USA, XX

Great acting in Vice. Christian Bale is impressive as Dick Cheney and Amy Adams is brilliant as his wife Lynne. The movie is also edited well and entertains for the most part. The first two-thirds of the movie are informative, original, funny to an extent and captivating. But then, somehow, there is an information overload and the storytelling becomes political.

As the end credits roll a surprise intermission occurs in which a MAGA member of a discussion panel expresses his feeling that the movie was made from a liberal perspective. “Sorry, if listening to facts makes me a liberal”, another man says. Then they start fighting. Physically. It’s a weird end of a movie. It’s not even remotely funny. Throughout the story the makers kind of stick to facts and that’s great. But it’s very obvious that by the end of the movie, the audience should leave the theatre believing Cheney was an evil man. And the ‘facts’ are up for interpretation. Nobody knows exactly what was said between Cheney and his wife or his mentor Rumsfeld.

Dick Cheney was a known name. But the media focused too much on Bush Jr and so the vice president could do whatever he wanted without being too criticized for it. It’s an interesting story. One that should have been told when the man was at the peak of his power. Not 12 years later.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6266538

The Post – **

Posted: October 10, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Political, USA, XX

After the death of her husband, Mrs Graham (Meryl Streep) is in charge of the Washington Post, a local newspaper with an editor-in-chief (Tom Hanks) that thinks he can rival the New York Times. The newspaper is about to go public, but just as that’s about to happen, the staff receives information about a major cover-up in the white house. Several presidents have lied to the American people about the progress that the US troops made in Vietnam. Should they publish the story and risk it all?

Steven Spielberg decided to make a movie about these true events at a moment when freedom of press is again being questioned. The references to the current situation are a bit too obvious. The acting isn’t particularly great. And the story isn’t particularly gripping (you know the end before you start watching). But it’s well-directed.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6294822

BlacKkKlansman – **

Posted: September 1, 2018 in 2018, Civil Rights, Drama, Dramedy, Political, USA, XX

The story is interesting. A black cop calls the local KKK branch to ask for membership. He makes one mistake though: he tells his real name, so he can’t actually go and meet the white supremacists. The chief of police gives the okay for him to investigate the organization, but someone else has to pretend to be him. They find the Jewish kid in the corps to do it. And so he infiltrates in the white supremacist group to see if they plan a violent attack.

The execution of the story however isn’t as impressive as you’d expect it to be. Spike Lee is directing, which is a good thing. But instead of focussing on the story, he focusses on making references to the current situation in the United States. It’s so obvious. The references aren’t subtle at all. It’s annoying. It’s like Spike Lee assumes his audience is dumb. The members of the KKK are also depicted as illiterate, mentally unstable retards. Which they might well be. But it makes the movie feel like a comedy at times. Which is annoying as well.

The movie ends with the most obvious reference of it all: footage of the neonazi march in  South Carolina and Trump’s reaction to it. It’s the most dramatic scene in the movie. It’s the most shocking one as well. It’s only 2 minutes, but it make you leave the theatre thinking more about that event than thinking about the 2 hour-long movie you’ve seen leading up to it.

That said. The movie has a cool vibe though. Maybe Danny Glover would have been a good alternative to play the main character, but John David Washington is doing a great job as well. (why has this guy not been in more movies?) Robert John Burke is another of those gems. Even Adam Driver is doing a fine job. Some scenes are really well done, but others are overlong.

Spike Lee knows how to make a good-looking and visually interesting movie. And he knows how to stir up some controversies. But this movie isn’t really telling something we didn’t already know.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7349662

Loving – **

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2016, Civil Rights, Drama, Political, USA, XX

A construction worker gets his girlfriend pregnant and wants to marry her.

There are a few problems though. It’s 1958. He lives in Virginia. He is white. His girlfriend is colored.

Loving is based on the true story of an interracial couple who got married in a place where it was legal (Washington DC), but decided to live in place where it was illegal (Virginia). They got sentenced after spending some time in jail. A judge was ‘mild’ and sent them in exile. They couldn’t set foot as a married couple for 25 years in the state where all their family and friends lived and where they owned some property.

Until the wife was fed up living in the big city and wrote a letter to Bobby Kennedy, who forwarded it to the . After a legal battle and uncertainty for several years, their case made it possible for everyone all over the United States to marry whomever they wanted. Well, heterosexuals that is.

Loving is a historically interesting movie. We just take it for granted that people of mixed heritage can marry, but that wasn’t the case until quite recently really. It’s a well made movie, but it’s not as emotionally gripping as you’d want it to be. A lot has to do with the personalities of the main characters. They are just ordinary people who love each other and just want to be left in peace. They don’t want the police to interfere, nor the court, nor a civil rights movement, nor the press. They just want to be left alone. They are so calm, it’s nerve wrecking. The performances may be based on the real personalities of Mr and Mrs Loving, but a cinematic drama needs characters that are more alive and vocal.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4669986

The remarkable thing about this new police thriller from Belgium is that it starts of really well and then falls totally flat by the end. Sadly, because the trailer looks promising.

A notorious chief of police is retiring to start a political career. But on the eve of his retirement he is tempted to do one last drug bust.  Not in the city of his jurisdiction (Antwerp), but in Charleroi. However, something is wrong. No drug lab is found. No drugs are found. A lot of people get killed and the informant seems to have damaging information about the soon to be politician. This does not look good…

Again, the movie starts of great. The tension and intrigue are built up well. The acting is good (Peter Van Den Begin is excellent in these kind of roles). Some of the scenes are shot in unique ways. The editing is excellent. The story lends well to an interesting collaboration between the movie industries from the north (Flanders) and the south (Wallonia) of the country.

But it’s all a bit predictable, and as the story comes to a climax it totally bombs.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5546540

Veep: Season 1 – **

Posted: September 20, 2016 in 2012, Comedy, Dramedy, Political, TV series, USA

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won yet another Emmy for her performance in Veep. Time to start watching the show! Or at least the first season! And the verdict is… okay.

The first season only has 8 episodes. As such, it’s not really hard to finish it. The episodes are short and contain enough funny one-liners and absurd scenes to make you laugh multiple times. As a comedy, it’s great. Overall however, the show tries to be too serious at times. The drama just doesn’t work. The social commentary is annoying. You can’t be making fun of the vice presidency and tackle real political issues at the same time.

Those who know the show say it gets better. So off to season 2.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1759761/episodes?season=1