Archive for the ‘X1/2’ Category

Sure, it’s a good history lesson and yes, Jessica Chastain is a great actress, but this movie is pretty dull. It shouldn’t be. It’s about a noble and brave couple that helped rescue several Jewish people from the ghetto in Warsaw, during the German occupation. Yet, there’s nothing in the movie that stresses this bravery and nobility. It all feels too much like fiction.

First there’s the decision to film a story in Poland and have the characters speak English. That’s a standard procedure in Hollywood (or other movie industries), but it’s annoying. Especially if the actors speaks English with an accent. Either speak Polish and have it subtitled or speak English. But English with a fake Polish accent, just makes the story less realistic.

Then there’s the development of the side characters. Or better: the lack of. In order to empathize with the victims, it’s important to get to know them. But we never do. They get rescued and hide, but we don’t know anything about them. Some stay a bit longer, others come and go. It’s all very superficial. You should feel like the zookeeper and his wife are doing something special, but the way it’s presented feels like they are just doing what’s right. There’s little tension. And that feels unrealistic too.

And finally, there’s the redundant character of Lutz Heck, a former friend and colleague of the zookeeper and his wife, turning against them and becoming the bad guy in the movie. He’s a zoologist and a scientist with crazy ideas, which is intriguing, but turns out to be a powerful nazi officer in the occupied Warsaw as well. Which is a bit far-fetched.

There are two different stories here. One is about a family who has the means and courage to rescue people and takes the risk of doing so. And the other is about a scientist who uses the zoo’s facilities to breed animals that were believed to be extinct. Mixing both of them feels fictionalized.

The Zookeeper’s Wife is okay movie fare, but the real story is much more exciting.



Arriving a day early for a meeting, I decided to look at the selection of movies that guests can choose from in the room that I’m staying at. The selection is poor. There are quite a bunch of titles that missed my radar or that just weren’t of interest to me. The best titles are The Lost City of Z,  Captain Fantastic, Hidden Figures and A United Kingdom. And that’s about it.

But, being tired and all, watching a few comedies sounded like a good idea.

First up Why Him? with the totally unfunny James Franco. It’s a terrible movie. Probably the worst I have watched in a long long time. The fact that I’ve finished it is remarkable. Somehow you’d think there would at least be a few funny scenes. But no. Nothing is funny. This humor just doesn’t work (for me). A rich douchebag with tattoos invites over his future parents-in-law. But he can’t stop swearing and cursing and talking about sex in their presence. For 90 minutes long. The fact that it’s presented as some kind of parody to the life of the young rich IT guys who run the Facebooks of the world, is ridiculous. The creators better look up the word ‘parody’. This movie is shit. From start to finish.

Next: Snatched. The second feature movie of comedienne Amy Schumer. It’s not a good movie, but after having seen Why Him? it’s actually quite funny at times. Reviewers complained about the lack of chemistry between Schumer and Goldie Hawn, who plays her mother. But compared to the lack of chemistry between James Franco and Bryan Cranston, this is unjust. Schumer plays a girl who lost her job, got dumped and won’t cancel her no-refund trip to Equador. She convinces her over-caring mother to join her, but once they’re looking for a bit of adventure, the trouble really starts. Snatched really isn’t all that bad. It’s like you’re watching Katleen Turner in Romancing The Stone at times. Two blonde women. One younger, one older. Lost in the jungle and on the run for criminals.

Snatched any time over Why Him?. Schumer any time over Franco. Now, let’s hope they never join forces.

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.

The most hyped movie of the year is a disappointment. It’s a fun ride, but it’s not that all that spectacular. It’s like a rollercoaster that doesn’t really give you the thrills you want. Even though it has its highs and its lows. A rollercoaster ride needs to speed up all the time. When it slows down, it’s to gain power and energy to go up again. That’s not the case here.

The lows:

  • “Kind of Based On True Shit”. Okay, cool tag line. But it’s very basic shit. The story has been told a zillion times before. Small criminals decide to mingle with the big league and things go wrong.
  • The Typography. That movie poster title looks really bad. And it comes back in the movie.
  • The visual references to video games. We get it, they love playing video games, but to make certain scenes in the movie look like part of a video game doesn’t work.
  • The Narration by the main character. Annoying. The North African Antwerp accent is terrible, but it’s especially the monotonous tone in which the story is told.
  • Matteo Simoni. Great actor. Totally miscast.
  • The use of street slang that nobody has ever heard before. It’s going to be a challenge for those countries that dub movies and for those that need subtitles.


  • The Dutch actors. Werner Kolf and Ali B. Both remarkable as rivaling gang leaders.
  • The end credits. When you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand.
  • The reverse ‘how drugs got to the drug user’ scene. Could have lasted longer, but good. In fact, the visual experience is entertaining.
  • Some of the one liners and dialogue. Again, especially by the Dutch.
  • The soundtrack. From the EBM to the Dutch pop rap to the Moroccan club track and the instrumental score… it works.
  • Antwerp! This city needs to be in more movies. Maybe in the next James Bond movie. Who knows.
  • The two lawyers. They just have a cameo, but they should get a tv series.

It’s the kind of movie you watch on a cheap long distance bus ride in India, South Africa or Brazil. This is really a BAD action comedy. But shot in a really cool way. Too much trying to be Tarantino and not quite getting to the next level shit.

This will forever be the movie that was reshot after leading star Kevin Spacey was named in a pedophile scandal. Director Ridley Scott called in Christopher Plummer to replace him and all the scenes with his character needed to be done all over again. Fast.

Well, it didn’t really work. Plummer’s performance does not deserve an Oscar nomination. Neither does any other performance for that matter. Michelle Williams is okay, but Mark Wahlberg looks totally disinterested. Charlie Plummer as the kidnapped kid makes you root for the kidnappers. And Romain Duris thinks he’s in a comedy rather than in a drama. A Frenchman as an Italian kidnapper? Really, there are no Italian actors to cast? There’s zero chemistry between all of these actors.

The story is based on true events. Back in the early seventies, the grandson of billionaire Paul Getty is kidnapped in Italy, but the man refuses to pay the ransom. There are all kinds of reasons why he doesn’t comply to the demand, but you’ll have to watch the movie to learn more. In fact, that’s basically what the movie is about. Don’t expect a suspenseful action adventure. No. It’s almost like a two-hour accusation of Paul Getty being stingy. 


Bruna Surfestinha – *(*)

Posted: January 12, 2018 in 2011, Brasil, Drama, X1/2

Soft porn on Netflix!

Some ten years ago a Brazilian call girl wrote a best seller, recounting her life as an escort. The book was an instant success, as it was based on her already popular blog, an online diary on what happened in her kinky life. She became the most famous prostitute of the country, but also ended up being addicted to drugs.

Her rise to fame and her downfall are also made into a movie, called Bruna Surfestinha in Brazil (her escort name), but relabeled Confessions Of A Brazilian Call Girl for the international market.

It’s not a good movie. Especially the beginning and the end are crap. But strangely enough, the middle part is exciting. The main reason why the beginning doesn’t work is the fact that actress Deborah Secco is way too old to play a 17-year old teenager who runs away from home after being bullied in school. You see an older actress trying to be young. It’s not acting at all. It’s embarrassing. You also don’t really get to learn why she leaves home. Okay, she got bullied in school because her first boyfriend told everyone else that she swallows and now the rest of the guys in school think that’s what she does easily. And she doesn’t feel at home in the house of her adoptive family, of which the brother seems to bully her even more than the kids at school. Yet, all that is not a clear reason why she left her home to go work as a prostitute in Sao Paulo. It just doesn’t make sense to believe that the biggest attention whore (literally) of Brazil started her career after being bullied at home and in school. That’s not a plausible reason.

She’s a nymphomaniac and she’s curious to experiment. Let’s just call it what it is. The young woman is just eager to make money with something she likes: sex.

The story really gets intriguing when she starts writing the blog and the editing theme quickly shows all kinds of clients that come by. That’s the fun part. There’s even a few wtf  sexual fantasy moments. But it’s interesting.

But then she gets addicted to drugs and she becomes a mess. And again, Deborah Secco disappoints. Not sure why she got so many awards. It’s really not good acting at all.

Apparently the book is a quick read and is written like it’s done by a young adult. Maybe the book (however bad it may be) is still better than the movie. It’s intriguing. Sure. But the focus is too much on the glamourous life and not so much on the hardships. There are scenes (especially at the end when she does a sex marathon) where you think: what kind of life is this? But the whole build up to that scene, just doesn’t make you feel sorry. It’s clearly her choice to have sex with several men, for money. And fame.

Movie night with my mom (83). Her choice: The Leisure Seeker, a story about an older couple who, after being married for 50 years, decide to go on a road trip from their home in Massachusetts to the house of Ernest Hemingway in Key West. Both are in no condition to go on such a long trip as mr Spencer has Alzheimer’s and mrs Spencer is diagnosed with a terminal disease. Yet, off they are!

My mom liked the movie and loved the performances of Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.

Personally, I thought the acting was not exciting at all. Helen Mirren is good, sure. But she’s always good. Donald Sutherland acted too much like a whimsical, confused ten-year old. That Alzheimer patients are confused, sure. And whimsical as well. Hey, the childlike behavior happens too. But it was just too much. But all the other members of the cast are acting ridiculously. Like the bunch of Trump supporters that were given the task to shout USA and look angry. It’s not even funny. Or the two guys who try to rob the couple along the highway. If that was a casting audition they’d never get another casting call.

But it’s the story that makes this movie a big disappointment. Not the general concept. The idea of a couple who have been married going on a road trip to reflect on their life is good. But to add the diseases to it is just too much. Maybe if mrs Spencer would have driven the mobile home, it would have made sense. But the storytellers preferred to have the Alzheimer patient drive the entire stretch. They depict him as not knowing this and that, yet driving a mobile home works just fine.  I’ve seen Alzheimer patients who didn’t know the name of their husbands, but were still able to play piano flawlessly. So, I get it, driving a vehicle is something you never forget. But that’s bull. It’s totally irresponsible to have a guy like Mr Spencer drive that long stretch. And not credible. That he can still quote dialogue from his favorite books, okay. But that he drives the entire stretch? no.

That said. Some moments are funny. And it’s kind of adventurous what they do. And there are a few surprises (for my mom). In her words: “It’s a movie for old people, young people probably won’t like it”.