Archive for the ‘XX1/2’ Category

This is quite a unique socially critical science fiction comedy! With a great lead. Lakeith Stanfield is the kind of actor who’s been in a lot of movies recently, but hasn’t quite had a major hit as a lead. This wasn’t a hit either. But it got him noticed a bit more.

He’s Cassius Green, a young man ready to start a career in a telemarketing company. When he starts using his white voice, his sales performance goes up and he’s ready to get promoted to be a Power Caller. But that promotion isn’t without consequences. He’s losing his friends and his girlfriend and he’s entering a world he can’t seem to escape.

The first half of the movie is great. It shows a guy who’s questioning his lack of ambition and then suddenly finds the talent that can bring in the big bucks. It comes with a lot of quirky humor. And some visual surprises as well. Then the social critique becomes stronger and it almost becomes too much of a pamflet against capitalism. Luckily, the last part becomes so bizarre that it kills the seriousness. If you wonder what equisapiens are, watch until the end.

It’s not by Michel Gondry. But feels inspired by his movies.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5688932

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US – **(*)

Posted: March 29, 2019 in 2019, Fantasy, Horror, USA, XX1/2

The horror hype movie of the moment: US. 

Hyped horror movies! They normally turn out to be big disappointments (Hereditary? It?). But you know what? This is actually not a bad movie at all. It’s not scary and it’s slow. But it’s originally weird. A lot doesn’t make sense, but it’s entertaining from start to finish.

The story is simple. Somehow there’s an alternate world of shadows living in abandoned tunnels and empty undergrounds. They’ve been hiding there for decades (or centuries.. who knows), but now they’re ready to come out of their shelters and take over the world. By killing the humans they are identical shadows of.

The focus lies with one family who you can easily relate to. The dorky dad. The bossy mom. The bored teenage daughter. And the imaginative younger son. The director takes his time to introduce them. They are a close family, but each live in their own little world. Once they are confronted with their shadows, who try to break into their summer home and kill them off, the movie gets rolling. And it doesn’t stop.

Plus: there’s a great scary instrumental version of Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It” in one of the scarier scenes. A highlight.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6857112/

 

 

Somewhere in rural Malawi, an intelligent young kid can’t continue with school because his farming parents can’t afford the fee. They have financial troubles because of a failed harvest and the future isn’t looking bright. People are leaving the village and the government isn’t helping at all. The kid is able to sneak into the school library though and finds a book about creating energy by using wind. It takes a while before he can convince his illiterate dad that his ideas can actually help the farming. But he perseveres.

This is a very interesting story. We need more of these. It’s in the same vibe as A United Kingdom. The African continent has so many great stories to be told. It’s time movie makers take some risks. It’s time to watch these as well. It can’t always be fiction like Black Panther. 

Chiwetel Ejiofor is an underrated actor. He has starred in quite a lot of movies and carries them every time. This is his directorial debut and yes, it’s very formulaic and conventional, but it’s also entertaining and educational. It’s well done. He’s acting in it as well and as mentioned before, he delivers. His emotional scenes look the same in every single movie (that man can cry!), but he’s very believable as the illiterate farmer. The main star of the movie is young Maxwell Simba, a debutant from Kenya, who charms you the entire movie long. He’s extremely well cast. This is based on a true story, which is always tricky. But it all feels very authentic. Especially the fact that they learned the local language to communicate in. Hooray for that.

Worth watching.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7533152/

Free Solo – **(*)

Posted: March 20, 2019 in 2018, Documentary, USA, XX1/2

A few hours ago on National Geographic: the 2019 Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo.  The dazzling account of a climber trying to conquer the El Capitan rock in Yosemite without ropes is still playing in some theaters and there you have it on tv already. Netflix has started a weird trend.

The Oscar buzz and the trailer make you want to see this movie. The reviews are stellar as well. El Capitan is a magnificent rock to look at. Climbing it with ropes is already crazy. So, this challenge looks like something you don’t want to miss.

The actual climb is filmed really well. The makers used drones and camera’s with ultra zoom lenses. Some footage is shot by guys hanging on ropes nearby the ‘easiest’ parts. Even on a small screen, the views looking down into the valley are not for those suffering from fear of heights. It must look even more vertiginous on a big screen, but it works at home too. The editing is top-notch. They must have had hours of footage and made a great action sequence of it all.

However, this is only about 20 minutes of the documentary and it’s at the end. Before that you have an hour of typical American documentary making with a lot of blablabla and (at times meaningless) interviews of people concerned (Alex Honnold himself, his climbing buddies, the film crew, his mom, his girlfriend, other free climbers…). At one point his girlfriend stresses that she still doesn’t understand why he wants to do this: risk his life to pursue an idea/dream/obsession. In fact, almost everyone wonders why he wants to do it. Yet, nobody gives an answer. And definitely not the documentary makers. So why even bother trying to find out?

The most interesting parts are where he prepares the climb and explains where the tricky sections are. If you make a documentary about a free climber, focus on the free climbing not on his personal life. At least not if you can’t give answers as to why someone is so foolish/stubborn/suicidal to attempt such a challenge.

It’s good that they mention how many of his predecessors have died in this extreme ‘sport’. Yet at the end, the ‘hero’ of the story encourages young people to do even more extreme things. Hm. Hero is in between brackets, because there is nothing heroic about climbing a rock without gear. More than often you hear about these extreme sports fanatics who always look for the next thrill and then die while pursuing it.

It makes you wonder if they would have shown the documentary if he had fallen to his death.

A few years ago, a Flemish tv personality, who takes on challenges, climbed El Capitan with some professionals. He was a climber virgin, but prepared well. Now that was an exciting tv program! It’s below the trailer, but has no subtitles. Somehow that was more intriguing. Free Solo is worth the watch, but only the last part is really fascinating.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7775622

 

Green Book – **(*)

Posted: February 13, 2019 in 2018, Civil Rights, Dramedy, USA, XX1/2

Mahershala Ali wins all the supporting actor awards this season for his portrayal of a black piano playing genius who wants to go on a tour in the Deep South. The story takes place in the sixties and a black musician touring in the south wasn’t the greatest plan at the time. He needed a good driver and found an uneducated, but tough Italo-American bodyguard who could do the job. That guy is interpreted by Viggo Mortensen, who is nominated a lot for his performance, but never wins. That’s a shame, because he’s doing an excellent job. In fact, he kinda outshines Mahershala in this gentle dramedy. Not that Mahershala isn’t doing a great job. He is. But he’s not the focus of the story.

It’s a nice movie. But it’s very superficial and predictable. It focusses on an idealized buddy relationship between two men that have almost nothing in common. It’s entertaining, but very light hearted. And just like with Bohemian Rhapsody, the homosexuality of the musician is briefly suggested, not shown at all and hidden behind the well pronounced fact that he was married to a woman at one time.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6966692

An improvement to Season 6, but still too much talking. Blablabla. The story stopped making sense a long time ago. It never did really. But now it’s just the details in the story that don’t make sense at all. For six seasons long, the territory behind the wall seems very far away, yet in this season a raven can get a message across the continent in no time and the response to is delivered even faster! Really?

There are fewer main characters killed this season. There aren’t that many left, to be fair. But still…. However, finally, the one that should have been killed in season 1 already, gets his throat sliced. Hooray!

It’s an okay season. It only has seven episodes. The battle scenes are awesome. Lord of the Rings awesome. There’s some sexiness. Some humor. Some excitement. Even some scary moments. It’s just okay though. One more season and then we’re done with it.

John Singleton’s groundbreaking debut movie is on netflix. It’s a neo-classic because of its cultural impact and historic importance, but it’s not a cinematographic masterpiece. There are a few original scenes, like the one in which the main character tells his dad a lie about having lost his virginity. But overall, it’s all very basic. The acting is remarkable, and was the start of many current successful actors’ careers. Ice Cube delivers the best performance. Lawrence Fishburne is great as well. Same for Angela Bassett. Morris Chestnut and Cuba Gooding Jr showcase their talent, but aren’t always on point. They are all intriguing to watch and the story is captivating as well, even though nothing much happens. The movie just shows how life is in a south central residential town where decent people try to deal with the dangers of their neighborhood, being drug addiction, violence and crime. A remake would be more violent, full of sex and superficial conversations. This one gives food for thought. Just too bad that nothing much has changed since 1991. The movie’s story could easily have been told today.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0101507