Archive for the ‘XX’ Category

Flodder was never considered to be a good movie, but it is the most successful Dutch movie from the eighties and – like it or not – a classic in Dutch cinema.

So, when the movie is on, you watch it again. It’s as simple as that. And you rate it **, just out of nostalgia to Huub Stapel’s red jacket or Tatjana Simic’s boobs…

Not having seen the movie in 30 years, it leaves you wondering why the jacket and the breasts were so memorable and not the surprising amount of action scenes or the obvious critique to a hypocrite society, in which the rich and the marginalized families clash and mingle. The answer is a simple: any kid watching this comedy in 1986

only did so because of the bad ass attitude of the family Flodder and the many scenes with female nudity.

As an adult you watch the movie differently. The action scenes are well done for an eighties movie from the Low Countries. The critique is on point at times. The bomber jacket is still cool. But the depiction of Simic’s character would never make the cut in a 2020 version and is quite offensive to any woman. She has sex with her half-brother. She enjoys being raped by the neighbor. She doesn’t mind having men queue up to have sex with her (and have her younger brother collect the money). It’s a bit too much. Especially since she has hardly any lines to say.

Apart from that, society hasn’t changed much.

The 11 year old kid of a friend of mine named the movie old fashioned. 

www.imdb.com/title/tt0091060/

 

 

 

Originally planned to be released just before this year’s cancelled Eurovision festival, the Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams parody gets a new chance on Netflix. It’s a bit of a surprise though. The Eurovision craze only unites Europe for just a few days mid-May and then isn’t really on anyone’s radar for the next 51 weeks. But hey, it’s a weird year, so the summer holidays may start with a weird comedy as well.

The comedy isn’t that weird though. It’s very Eurovision. If it would be a real parody, there would be more sarcasm. Now it’s just a competition making fun of itself. And its fans. And its contestants.

Will Ferrell isn’t all that annoying as an Icelandic artist, whose dream it has been to win the Eurovision songfestival ever since he saw Abba perform Waterloo in 1974. Rachel Adams is his childhood friend who sings in his band and follows his dream because she’s in love with him.

It’s a silly movie. But it somehow works. Especially if you know the contest. There are a lot of references to certain aspects of the show that come back every year. The diss at the UK for never getting any points. The diss at the Russian gay singer who is convinced he is not gay, because he is Russian. The neighboring countries voting for each other. Several ex-performers/winners appear in the movie. The new songs you hear all sound like they could be actual songs from the contest. Even the performances. Honestly, there are a lot of fun references in this movie.

The irony is that Iceland would have won this year’s contest if it would have taken place. So it totally makes sense the story takes place in Iceland. It’s a quirky island with quirky people who are an easy target for a quirky movie.

It’s a very simplistic romantic and musical comedy. Just what we need.

www.imdb.com/title/tt85802

The Water Diviner – **(*)

Posted: June 27, 2020 in 2014, Australia, Drama, Turkey, War, WW1, XX

A bit of a flop, this directorial debut of Russell Crowe, but worth the watch.

Crowe also plays the main lead: a father who travels from Australia to Gallipoli to find the bodies of his three sons who got missing in action during the disastrous World War 1 battle.

Crowe is a joy to watch. He may not be the most expressive actor out there, but he embodies the character really well. The man loses his children and his wife, has nothing much left to live for, so decides to go on an unprecedented journey into post WW1 Turkey.

It looks like an old skool romantic war drama from the sixties, which is a good thing. The cinematography is great. A bit over-romantic maybe. Istanbul looks gorgeous in the yellow filter. It’s definitely not a dark, grey and grim movie. There is some action, but it’s not a war action movie. The story takes place after the First World War. There is an awkward romantic touch to it that isn’t necessary, but kinda cute.

Also positive is that the Turks speak Turk amongst themselves. That most speak fluent English to converse with Crowe’s character is a bit unlikely, but we’re only talking about five people here, so maybe, just maybe, these Turks were fluent in English back in 1919. It’s great to see a Turkish view on this Gallipoli battle. They lost a lot of lives as well. It’s not only ANZACS that got killed. The fact that a Turkish army leader helps locate the bodies of deceased soldiers sounds plausible. That he becomes some kind of ally/friend with this Australian farmer is less plausible. But it works. Just like Russell Crowe, Yilmaz Erdogan is a joy to watch.

Maybe, on another night, the inaccuracies would have bothered. The main actress isn’t even Turkish! The Greeks are represented as a bunch of mountain war mongers.  But it was a good movie tonight.

www.imdb.com/title/tt3007512

 

Wild – **

Posted: June 26, 2020 in 2015, Drama, Road Trip, USA, XX

It’s not Into The Wild. 

But that’s an unfair comparison.

I’m just not into this Wild 

whahaha

The story just isn’t compelling. A woman decides to walk the Pacific Crest Trail from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada. She has a few reasons to go find herself and we do get to learn about them, through flashbacks, but still. She’s starting this trail totally unprepared and seems to overcome every obstacle on her way. Yeah right.

The movie is based on a biographical book. The journey happened. But this movie makes it seems like it was happy camping. The misadventures are just briefly shown and cause hardly any tension in the story. Somehow you just know it’ll have a happy ending…

The use of flashbacks is irregular and they jump back to different stages of her life before the hike. They are snippets. Memories. Like they may flash through her mind while hiking. That’s realistic. But as a movie it doesn’t really work.

Reese Witherspoon makes the whole movie worth finishing though.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2305051

 

 

The Beguiled – **

Posted: May 28, 2020 in 2017, Drama, USA, XX

Colin Farrell gets stuck in a house with seven women. One of them is Nicole Kidman, another is Kirsten Dunst and a third one is Elle Fanning. The year is 1863 and we’re in Virginia. Wounded Farrell is a yankee and the southern ladies take him in. They want to fix his leg and then let him go. But he’s the first man they have laid eyes on since ages and some do not want him to leave at all. Neither does he.

Sophia Coppola is helming this remake of a Clint Eastwood movie from the seventies. Would be fun to watch the original one and see how different this one is. However, this version isn’t all that exciting . They could have done so much more with the sexual tension. In fact, it’s a pretty boring movie. So the seventies version may well be even more boring.

The good thing is that it’s a relatively short movie (90 min) so it’s over before you start to fall asleep.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5592248

Okay, it’s not because it’s a classic b/w musical with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire that it should be good by definition. The fact that the story is silly can be forgiven. The fact that the acting is bad as well. So, all you can hope for is great dance sequences and that’s where it’s flawed. Some ideas are nice, but the execution is not all that special. There is the Night and Day scene, which is the highlight and still great, but somehow didn’t stand the test of time. For some reason there’s little chemistry between Fred and Ginger in that scene and Fred’s version of the song isn’t the best out there. Moreover, the dancing part is short. There is another scene that doesn’t include singing and dancing and is actually a highlight: the chase scene on rural roads where Fred’s character stops Ginger’s character and tries to woo her. That works well.

No. Maybe it’s best to not watch this movie after having seen Top Hat. 

www.imdb.com/title/tt0025164

 

After Life Season 2 – **

Posted: April 30, 2020 in 2020, Drama, TV series, UK, XX

Man, this is depressing.

The first episodes of Ricky Gervais’ serious dramedy about a man losing his wife to cancer and struggling with the loss, were great. They showed a different aspect of the British comedian, but were still filled with excellent humor and social commentary. These six episodes however lack the humor and commentary. Maybe once per episode there’s a hilarious moment, but overal it’s just very sad.

This is not the moment to watch sad tv shows. This is the moment to laugh and escape to absurd fiction. Not to harsh realities of losing people and dealing with grief. However positive the approach to it all may be.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8398600/

Yeh Ballet – **

Posted: March 19, 2020 in 2020, Drama, India, Musical, XX

There’s a debate on why the west love poverty porn from India more than the usual Bollywood fare. The Indians sure don’t understand. And the west may feel uncomfortable afterwards for having enjoyed a movie that focuses on the kids from the slums who succeed in something.

Yeh Ballet tells the story of two kids who take classes in a dance studio and get noticed by an extravagant Israeli-American ballet teacher. He sees potential in them and helps them get a grant to study abroad. But it is a long journey to get there. Both kids come from lesser of families who don’t appreciate their dancing skills and their struggle is pretty much their own.

It’s an okay movie. But it’s not well balanced. The movie feels like a fairy tale, so when you hear it’s based on true events it’s kind of hard to believe. A lot of dramatic elements are just mentioned briefly and it is not well indicated what the timeline of the story is. It’s an Indian movie so there are references to the Islam/Hinduism conflict and it’s clear what the director thinks about that by hearing the muslim kid’s lines. “We all have the same blood.” “Allah gave me the body of a dancer so it’s not haram to continue dancing.” This is interesting stuff, but we only get quotes or remarks. Something dramatic happens to the chubby friend of the muslim kid and even though that’s not the main story, it’s dealt with in a very rushed way. By the way, it seems like chubby people in Indian movies always play the silly/goofy sidekick like back in the Goonies days.. Showing the other family who is struggling they briefly mention the failure of the older brother to succeed in life and how they set all hopes on their dancing son to get to university. But what happened isn’t clear. Do we need to know? Not really, but still. The kid has an ailing sister, but it’s never really clear what her condition is. Do we need to know? Not really, but still. The dance teacher isn’t replying to his emails that he gets sent. Why is he so eccentric? Why did he accept a job in India? Why is he being such a prick to everyone? Do we need to know? Not really, but still.

It all feels very rushed, the story telling. And the dance sequences aren’t that spectacular to be fair.

But the acting of the two kids is good. One is debuting as an actor and as a dancer and he does an excellent job. The other is playing a fictionalized version of himself, which somehow feels less authentic. Yes, his dance performances are great and he can put on the best performing smile possible. But that doesn’t help in all scenes. Yet. Both are debuting actors and do a great job.

A miniseries would have been a better idea.

www.imdb.com/title/tt10230436

 

Camille – **

Posted: February 22, 2020 in 2019, Drama, France, War, XX

Camille is a young journalist who made it her ambition to be a war photographer. She is not that successful until she arrives in the Central African Republic, where a civil war is about the erupt between Muslims and Christians.

With little experience and strange looks from more established journalists she gets attached to some local students who allow her into their world.

When the violence erupts she has her first pictures published, which helps the French intervene in the country’s mess. The muslim Séléka, who – according to this movie – are raiding villages, murdering and raping christians, are stopped by the international presence. But this leads to christian Anti-Balaka gangs who take revenge at the muslim population. It’s confusing if you don’t know much about the civil war and this movie doesn’t do anything to help you understand it better. 

No. The focus is on this young woman. A girl really. But rather than giving some kind of insight on why she chose this path, we just get to observe her as she kinda takes sides with he Anti-Balaka. Just because she got connected to one of their new leaders, who she met as a student on her initial journey. 

The movie reminds you of Ghosts of Cité Soleil, where we also get to see how young European women feel the need to be part of some ‘exotic’ nation’s internal problems. We never get to learn why Camille prefers life in danger than staying at home with her family and friends. The town of Angers must be really boring for someone to want to risk getting killed almost every moment of the day. The movie ends with her saying she feels happier in the war zone. Maybe that’s true. We don’t know. She got killed. So we can only guess. 

It’s an interesting movie. It’s based on true fact, but fictionalized a bit as a lot needs to be assumed. The acting by the main actress is good. Not so much by the many extras. And as mentioned before, we don’t get to learn that much about Central African Republic at all. 

Tu viens, tu prends et tu parts. You come, you take and you leave.

This one line in the movie is quite powerful, because it is the truth. It’s said to Camille as a comparison to the French colonizers from not that long ago. It’s amazing how the woman can get the trust of these young people who are her age and live in a total different world. They may be as ambitious and as intelligent and also dream of leaving the place to look for happiness and recognition abroad. But they definitely don’t have the same opportunities. 

Somehow this movie could have been much more. 

www.imdb.com/title/tt9678892

 

 

Quite disappointing, this second season. Whereas the first series was refreshing, this pretty much feels like it is too calculated.

Gillian Anderson’s sex therapist character is still great though. When there is an outbreak of chlamydia she is asked to come and be a sex counsellor in school. But that is interfering with the business of her son, who has been given sex advice for money on the school premises as well.

It is an interesting premise and episode 1 totally gets you in the same mood as the previous episodes. But soon something is lacking. Is it the acting? Is it the total absence of humor? Not sure, but the show stops being engaging soon. Not worthy of binge watching at all.

There are a few new characters and we get to learn more about some of the characters that weren’t in the spotlight of series one. But the main ones seem to have lost their charm. Which is sad.

The cliffhanger end doesn’t really make you look forward to what is coming next either. And that is too bad, because, on a positive note, it does prove that you can have a good show with an inclusive cast without constantly referring to the sexual and racial differences between kids. Anyone can be anything. This is one thing in which this show excells.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7767422