Archive for the ‘X1/2’ Category

Weird.

A director from the French-speaking part of Belgium made a movie about the life of Jewish businessmen in Germany, just after the end of the second world war.

The international title is Bye Bye Germany, which isn’t really a good translation of the original title. It should have been Once Upon A Time In Germany. The English title however explains a bit more about what the movie is all about though.

After having been rescued from the camps, the remaining Jews in Germany wanted to leave to the USA or (then) Palestine as soon as possible. Some of them decided to stay in Germany and do a little business to make money before emigrating. One of them was David Bermann, who – together with a group of aspiring emigrants – starts selling linen to the Germans. Any trick in the book was worth the try and they did succeed in making good money fast.

However, the memories of the atrocities of the war are still very fresh and not everyone can put the past behind them as easy as some others. Bermann himself on the other hand seems to only look at the future. Until an American investigator invites him to explain why his name is in a lot of Nazi documents. Was Bermann a traitor? Was he a collaborator? Or is he just a con, lying and cheating in order to survive?

The premise sounds intriguing, but the movie is a bit of a bore. There’s not a good balance between the storyline of the Jewish people trying to survive after the war and the storyline of the investigation. It starts of great though, with a lot of details on how these Jewish door-to-door salesmen managed to sell their goods. But then the focus shifts to the interrogation. The director decided to let Bermann explain what happened to him, accompanied with flashback scenes. Probably because he wants the audience to also doubt if the stories are true or not. But somehow that doesn’t really work that well.

Interesting, but not memorable. It wasn’t a success in Germany. Neither will it be in the rest of the world. It does look good though.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5609734/

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It’s quite brave to make a comedy about the refugee crisis and how the Germans deal with it. And it’s quite a feat to release this comedy within a year of the big crisis. It’s even more amazing that the movie was successful, becoming the highest grossing movie of 2016. In Germany.

It’s also very weird that this movie didn’t make headlines abroad and wasn’t successful in other countries that deal with the same issues. It’s even weirder when you realize that the main refugee in the movie is played by a guy who lives not even 10 miles from where you live and was the focus of a documentary a few years ago about a struggling black artist in a predominantly white society.

Anyways, this movie is riding on the wave of French box office hits that show how the bourgeoisie deals with the multicultural society. The goal of the movie is good: let’s all just get along and look behind the stereotypes. However, every single character in this movie is a stereotype and you can’t look beyond it. It’s also not so much a comedy about the refugee crisis, but more a comedy about a dysfunctional family and how the arrival of a refugee first stirs up things even more and then  – of course – makes things much better by the end.

Europeans will like this movie. At least the ones who think that by liking this movie they will be classified as not racist and welcoming to (certain) refugees. Non-Europeans may not appreciate the over the top humor so much. There’s a lot of micro-racism in this comedy. But there are also quite a few laughs as well. And in between all the jokes there is some criticism on how people think about the crisis as well.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5500148

 

German television thrillers aren’t really made with big budgets and the stories are pretty predictable, but sometimes when you’re in a lazy mood and there’s nothing else on while you are flipping through channels in a German hotel room, then it’s a good 90 minutes of fun.

Tatort has been going on for a long time, but the main leads have changed over the course of the years. This episode has two female leads, who are pretty sarcastic, especially in their remarks to their pseudo macho chief. As you are introduced to them, you want to see how this duo is going to solve the crime. Both are great, but actress Karin Hanczewski has this sassy Amy Adams look and her character is really feisty. A real treat.

The story is set in Dresden where a famous schlager singer is found murdered, a few days before a big folkore festival will take place that had him on the line-up. The setting of the story makes the episode a bit more fun as well, as the schlager world is often depicted as a world of the intelletually challenged, both on and in front of the stage. Even though that leads to some funny scenes, it also leads to a big sigh at times as it’s ‘cheap bullying’.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4982674 

No trailer, but you watch the episode online. If you understand German of course.

 

Umrika – *(*)

Posted: March 24, 2019 in 2015, Drama, India, X1/2

A young Indian country boy sees his big brother leave for America. Later, as a teenager, he becomes the man of the house when his father passes away. His mother still adores the son that left and started a new life in a new country. But he’s not around. With much pride she shares the letters she receives to the other villagers. The letters are very impersonal though and filled with pictures of American life, taken out of a magazine. Something is not right. The young man decides to find his brother, but gets stuck in the next big city where he needs to start working for of a dodgy person. How was his brother ever able to leave ? And is his brother even alive?

Umrika is one of those festival films from India. It’s not a Bollywood blockbuster. It doesn’t have singing and dance sequences. It’s serious stuff. But it doesn’t work. It starts off great and the teenager is played by that guy from Life Of Pi, so the acting is pretty solid. But the story is predictable, boring and not intriguing at all. Not as heart-warming or moving as you’d expect. The director didn’t really do a good job convincing everyone that this is a story worth telling. By the time you learn what happened to the older brother and what effect that will have on the younger one, you may have lost total interest or care. Too bad.

It’s set in the early eighties, so there are some nostalgic references. One particular scene is funny: when a whole Indian crowd watches Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2614722/

 

 

 

Life Of Crime – *(*)

Posted: March 19, 2019 in 2013, Comedy, Crime/Detective, USA, X1/2

This came on and looked intriguing. Two amateur criminals decide to kidnap the wife of a rich businessman. However, they didn’t prepare the job that well. They had no clue that the rich businessman has an affair with a younger starlet and is filing for a divorce. And they also had no clue that the wife has an affair with her neighbor, who shows up at the moment of the kidnapping.

The first 20 minutes are okay. The movie feels a bit like a Coen-brothers production. It has all the elements of a dark satire. But then somehow things get serious. And the story becomes a mess. The jokes aren’t funny anymore. The end is okay again, but by then, it feels like they had to wrap it up fast. Too bad. It had potential.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1663207

 

Turn Up Charlie – *(*)

Posted: March 15, 2019 in 2019, Dramedy, TV series, UK, X1/2

Idris Elba has an eight episode series on Netflix as of today. It’s a British show and is marketed as a ‘comedy’, but it’s more of a chaotic dramedy. The first episode is kind of cool though. Idris plays a middle-aged amateur dj, who had one big hit in the nineties, but spent all his money on women and booze. He lives with his aunt, lies about his success to his parents and is penniless. An old buddy of his, now a famous actor, is moving back to London with his successful dj-ing wife and their spoiled daughter. Somehow, Idris’ character Charlie accepts the job of being the kid’s nanny. Part because he needs the money and part because he hopes to get back into the music business. Of course, he starts to care about the kid as well.

After a few episodes the relationship between Charlie and the kid becomes second fiddle. Like they ran out of interesting scenes between the two unlikely buddies. In one later episode they are at some alternative dance festival and the series becomes dull. In another episode they are in Ibiza. The simple sitcom feel from the beginning, becomes a show with drugs and sex. That’s where it becomes chaotic. In the final episode the question is more about who is in love with who and the kid just is a distraction.

There should release a soundtrack. On vinyl of course. The music is good. And it’s not without merits. The auntie with her Nigerian accent is funny. And some scenes are well done. But in general this is just not a great show.

www.imdb.com/title/tt830449

Paul Hogan’s famous character in this eighties blockbuster hit is racist, homophobic, sexist, naive and ignorant. But he’s also charming and ‘honest’, so he gets away with his offensive remarks. It’s hard to imagine this movie could still be as popular now as it was back then. The jokes aren’t really funny (anymore). It’s politically incorrect, full of clichés and stereotypes. And the adventurous action feels outdated. However, out of pure nostalgia, this was a fun re-watch. A man from the Australian outback, who’s never been in a city before, arrives in the New York of the eighties. A culture clash awaits. That’s it. A 100 minutes long.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0090555

 

The sequel isn’t any better. Some Columbian gangsters arrive in New York and kidnap Crocodile Dundee’s girlfriend because some evidence against them was sent to her (she’s a reporter). Dundee can rescue her and they leave for the Australian outback. But the gangsters somehow know how to find them there as well. The second part is a jungle chase basically.

More of the same ‘humor’, a lot shooting and some nice shots of the outback. It wasn’t really worth the re-watch. Somehow, these movies were fun to watch as a kid in the eighties, but not as an adult in the 2010s.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0092493