Archive for the ‘Musical’ Category

The Greatest Showman – *(*)

Posted: February 11, 2018 in 2017, Musical, USA, X1/2

Movie choice by mom: an entertaining musical.

Predictable, loud, superficial, incoherent and with a terrible ‘modern’ soundtrack. The album sells well, so there’s an audience for it out there, but de gustibus non est disputandum. Songs to which everyone in the cast seem to lip sync. A cast of ‘freaks’ that don’t look freaky at all. A cast with Hugh Jackman as an unconvincing lead and that buffed guy from Baywatch – Zac Efron – as another box office draw. Sure, it’s all entertaining. But it’s forgotten as soon as you walk out of the theatre.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1485796

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Coco – ***

Posted: January 15, 2018 in 2017, Animation, Children/Family, Mexico, Musical, USA, XXX

A little Mexican kid dreams of being a mariachi musician, but his family is very much against a music career. This disgust for music and musicians dates back to a time when the father of his great-grandmother Coco left the family to pursue a music career and never came back.  The kid is a bit of a rebel and wants to perform at a local music festival, organized during the yearly Dia De Los Muertos holiday, when Mexicans remember their deceased loved ones. Something goes terribly wrong and little Miguel arrives in the land of the Dead …

This is just another marvelous Pixar movie. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be overwhelmed with the animation. But it’s still a kids movie. Just like with the equally excellent Inside Out, the story is not only aimed at adults and certain scenes and characters are added to also please the little kids. That’s fine. But it prevents the movies from being absolutely flawless.

The soundtrack is great. And the animation is brilliant.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2380307

Getting a Netflix account will make up for not traveling far this winter! No need to re-visit Salvador do Bahia if you got movies like Ó Paí, Ó on your tv. Not sure what other ‘world cinema is available on the streaming network, but that’s to find out in the near future.

This movie is very confusing though. It starts of as a musical comedy, but it ends as a drama with a message. The confusing part is what that message is. Throughout the movie you get to see Salvador the way no other travel documentary has shown it. It’s a beautiful and exciting city. A lot of the sights that tourists want to see are shown in this feature. The stories are set in the famous Pelourinho area with its colorful houses and the charming cobblestoned streets. If you’ve been to the place, you want to go back as soon as you see it on screen. However, the reality of the city is harsh and it’s like this whole advertising clip ends with the message: don’t go there!

The first characters to appear on-screen are played by Lazaro Ramos and Emanuelle Araujo, both from Bahia. They immediately have a sexy scene together in which he paints on her naked body after he just showed off dancing to a samba beat. Within ten minutes you’re thinking: wow, a movie about gorgeous Salvador with even more gorgeous Brazilians making out. However, half an hour later or so, twenty more characters are introduced and they all represent a stereotype. An hour into the movie, the list of clichés is so long that you can’t take it anymore. But then drama sets in and there are some strong scenes with social commentary. It’s like the parody becomes a political manifest.

The clichés are confronting though. If someone else makes a movie about Brazil and adds too many clichés, they get burned. If a local makes a movie about Brazil and fills it with even more clichés, they get heralded. A Brazilian friend told me the movie was well perceived and quite important for the local community, but for a Western European this movie feels awkward. Sure, everyone in Brazil or who has visited Brazil can relate to some of those stereotypes. But to see them all in one movie is confronting.

The hypocritical evangelist who worships the bible, but loves the gossip of sexual adventures by others. The white trash drug dealing nut-head, who blurts out racist insults to feel better about himself. The cheating husband of a pregnant wife, who fucks the ‘mandatory’ transgender. The emigrant who lies about her successful life in Europe. The rascal kids who find it amusing to rip off tourists. The promiscuous girl who get another abortion because she always forgets to use a condom. The corrupt police officer who needs to keep an eye on the store of his landlord in order to postpone paying for last month’s rent. And then there’s the candomblé (Bahia’s spiritual religion), acarajé (great street food), the music from Olodum (Salavador’s famous carnaval drum band), flirtatious behavious by all, the shouting when communicating, etc…

It’s an interesting movie to watch. But it’s a tough one to sit through. Most of the acting is terrible. It’s just over the top. Wagner Moura for instance is so ridiculous that it’s not even funny. And he’s a good actor! Lazaro Ramos however is excellent. That one scene where he replies to a racist insult is quite powerful. The story though, that’s another weak point. It’s a collection of stories happening during the days before Carnaval. They do intertwine, but it’s nothing like Crash or Short Cuts where they merge.

Again, it’s not really clear what the director wanted to tell. It’s both a lot and nothing at all.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0895777/

All Eyez On Me – *

Posted: December 19, 2017 in 2017, biopic, Musical, USA, X

Back in the early nineties some rapper was successful for a few years, making headlines not only because of his quick rise in hiphop, but more because of the criminal offenses he committed. He was the ‘voice of a generation’. At least in the States. Nobody in Europe cared. Only California Love made it to some European charts while he was alive. But then he got shot and his murder remained a mystery. Suddenly this rapper, Tupac Shakur, became a legend. His posthumous released song Changes topped the charts and a successful greatest hits album followed. Still, most people know him of his portrait prints on t-shirts and posters. In the hiphop culture, he’s revered like Jimmy Hendrix is idolized by guitar soloists. He’s an icon. And every icon needs a good biopic.

But we’ll just have to wait for that good biopic then, because All Eyez On Me definitely isn’t.

This just feels like a cinematic wikipedia page. The story is chronologically told. First as part of an interview while he is in prison. And then continued with the events leading up to his killing. The guy is an icon, so he must be interesting, no? Well, maybe if you’re into hiphop and into bad boys making it big. If you didn’t care about him when he was alive and don’t own any of his music because it’s just not your thing, then this is just a waste of time. A great movie should make you feel interested in the story of the main character, even when it’s not in your comfort zone. This movie just sucks. Bad acting. Unoriginal storytelling. Shying away from controversy. No focus on the talent. The movie is over and you’re thinking: why do people like this guy? That cannot possibly have been the goal of the producers of this movie. Straight Out Of Compton it is not.

Just google the name Tupac Shakur and read articles about the guy to understand why his legacy is still popular.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1666185/

 

In case you wonder why this is one here: it was a 99 cent rental and all the fuss about the ‘gay’ characters made it intriguing.

Well…

This is crap movie. The live action doesn’t add anything to the story. Unlike The Jungle Book, which was great fun. The CGI is terrible. A talking clock and chandelier? It does NOT work in live action. Even when they are interpreted by Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellen. In fact, all the acting is terrible too. Not even Emma Watson can save this from being a total disaster. But a lucrative disaster. The most profitable movie of the year (so far). It makes you wonder how many people went to see it again after having suffered to watch it the first time around.

Then the ‘gay’ moments. There’s a flamboyant effeminate character, yes. If that’s your definition of ‘gay’ than there you go, Disney has its first gay character. But it’s an annoying twat. Hooray for gay emancipation! A poof representing the community in a ‘fairy’ tale. More fun is that short scene when three soldiers get magically dressed like girls and one actually likes it. That was more tongue in cheek.

Not a good movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2771200 

 

It all looks a bit surreal at the end, when a group of underprivileged kids from a favela in Sao Paulo perform a classic musical piece perfectly. Especially since months before the concert, none of them could even read scores or hold their instruments the right way. But hey, it’s cinema. And it comes with a good story. Based on true facts apparently. Far from original, true. But it’s set in Brazil and doesn’t quite feel the same as similar Hollywood stories. A talented violin player can’t secure a place in the National Symphonic Orchestra and needs to teach music in a public school to make some money. The school is surrounded by drug dealers and other criminals and even in the band are some kids who do credit card scamming in their after hours. But the teacher somehow manages to inspire the kids and they end up performing well, making him confident enough to audition for the orchestra again. See. All very predictable.

It’s an okay movie. But the acting by some of the kids is very basic. And the story doesn’t dig deep enough. We never get to learn why the teacher, who is so talented, doubts his own capacities so much. We also don’t get to learn more about the kids and their situation. Sure, there’s that one scene where this girl shouts out that playing music helps her escape from everyday problems. But it feels forced. This could have been a good tv series. Now it’s just an okay movie. Lazaro Ramos is great tough. And Kaique De Jesus (that name!) is set for more starring roles!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4972904/

Nina – *(*)

Posted: August 30, 2017 in 2016, biopic, Drama, Musical, USA, X1/2

Nina Simone got herself a biopic. Unauthorized by the family. And so somewhat controversial. Nina Simone doesn’t come accross as a nice person. Maybe she wasn’t nice. And that’s not necessary for a good biopic. But somehow as a contrast, it should be evident that the woman had talent. And that’s not really the case. There’s zero sympathy for this character. And that’s tough. Zoe Zaldana is actually really good as the bitchy, drug addict/alcoholic. But she has too few scenes to show a brighter side to the jazz icon.

Oyelowo is degraded to a supporting role and does not get the platform to perform to his ability. Playing a submissive, rather boring and blank assistant isn’t really a challenge. He does it well. It’s just not really a role you want to see him play.

It’s not a good movie, but it’s not a bad one either. There is much worse out there.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493076/