Archive for the ‘XX1/2’ Category

Yuli – **(*)

Posted: February 9, 2020 in 2018, biopic, Cuba, Drama, Spain, UK, XX1/2

Carlos Acosta was the first black dancer ever to perform as Romeo at the Royal Ballet of London.

This shouldn’t be remarkable, but it unfortunately still is. Of course this success has to do with opportunities and luck and fate, but talent is needed nevertheless.

This movie starts with the now older Acosta directing a ballet performance based on his life story… and as he has his dancers rehearse the sequences he reminisces and the movie goes in flashback mode to some pivotal moments in his life.

It is a tricky approach, to shift from modern ballet scenes to storytelling flashbacks. And it is also interesting to see a biopic in which the actual main character is playing himself. But it works really well.

More than a biopic and a ballet movie, the story focuses on the troubled father-son relationship. And it is very honest. The young Cuban boy has no desire to become a ‘faggot’ dancer, but his father pushes him into the ballet school. A reverse Billy Elliott so to speak. Not only his father, but also his Cuban dance teacher constantly have to motivate or command him to continue dancing. Especially after an accident halts his successful career for a bit, he needs their tough encouragement to continue. It is clear that this movie is an hommage to them.

The acting by the father, the teacher and the young Acosta is excellent. The story touches on several Cuban issues as well without being too detailed. It is well filmed. At least the flashback scenes are.

Worth checking out !!!

www.imdb.com/title/tt7666250

Almost the entire cast of The Crown changed for season 3. It takes a while before that kicks in. Olivia Coleman is a great actress, sure, but she isn’t Claire Foy, who excelled as Queen Elisabeth in the first series. Only by the final episode, you have to acknowledge that she does do a fine job. But it’s difficult to be charmed by her from the start. That’s because this season, the focus isn’t on her that much.

The acting is still great though. Helen Bonham Carter is quite exquisite as Princess Margaret and both Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty do a great job as Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

The storytelling remains admirable. How each episode is scripted is very clever. However, the fiction takes over from the facts. And even though it’s great dramatic storytelling, it loses its credibility because a lot of it just isn’t true.

Even more than in the first twenty episodes, you want to google what is true and what is fictionalized. It’s distracting from watching the show. Did that really happen? Is this historically correct? These constant questions often get answered by a ‘no’.

It’ll be interesting to see season 4 which will have Margaret Tatcher and Princes Diana as main characters. This seventies show was okay, but not that fascinating. Apart from two episodes, which are set in Wales. Those are perfect television hours. Well written, well directed, well acted, well researched. More of that please.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4786824

Shia Lebeouf used to be a promising actor, then deliberately chose not to go for a successful career in Hollywood, ended up doing shitty movies and ultimately disappeared from the big screen.

In this indie road movie dramedy however he is excellent. His character is a guilt driven, good hearted, but careless drifter who suddenly gets hooked up with a young down syndrome man. They are an odd couple, but somehow form a bond. One is running away from a petty crime, the other has escaped from a facility to chase a dream: become a show wrestler…

It’s a feel good movie with sad elements that never feel like drama and funny moments that never feel like comedy. The chemistry between both main characters is great and even Dakota Johnson is good. 

A nice secret gem. 

www.imdb.com/title/tt4364194

Knives Out – **(*)

Posted: December 22, 2019 in 2019, Crime/Detective, USA, XX1/2

This is quite an entertaining, well-scripted, well-edited whodunnit with some great acting performances and a few interesting plot twists. The character depiction is very superficial though, which is disappointing, And the suspense never really kicks in.

A rich publisher is found dead in his study. It looks like suicide, at least that is what the police have concluded. But a private detective is hired to exclude foul play. He wants to hear the version of events by everyone who was present the night before the death/murder.

The set up is great, but somehow it doesn’t make sense that a few characters, who were present, are not heard by the police/detective at all.

But, still, it’s really good. Not really predictable, but the end doesn’t come as a surprise either.

www.imdb.com/title/tt8946378

The Two Popes – **(*)

Posted: December 20, 2019 in 2019, biopic, Dramedy, USA, XX1/2

What a surprise! This dialogue movie between two popes is actually really entertaining. The use of gentle humor is a great way of making it accessible and the flashbacks of current Pope Francis’ life are interesting. The use of real footage now and then add to the precision of the storytelling (even though – just like with The Crown – the actual conversations between the protagonists are only known to those who had them). It all starts off with an intriguing look into the mysterious conclave. Very well edited. Short, but explanatory with detailed images. Then you meet the two popes, who are very different in almost everything. Yet somehow this turns into a buddy movie and by the end you kind of get emotional when you see the real popes hug.

The movie focuses much more on Pope Francis, which is a bit odd when the title says ‘two popes’. Pope Ratzinger has a much smaller part and that’s a bit sad. His past is also worth investigating. But there are no flashbacks to when he was a teenager under Nazi regime. We do get a lot of information about the Argentinean Junta and the controversial behavior of Jorge Bergoglio, the then head of the Jesuit order.

Also disappointing is Anthony Hopkin’s accent. He’s speaking British English with an Anthony Hopkins accent, when he’s playing a Bavarian character! Surely, he could have tried to sound a bit more authentic. Jonathan Pryce on the other hand speaks English like an international Argentinean would and he even speaks Spanish!

Good movie!

www.imdb.com/title/tt8404614/

As entertaining as the first time around, but still flawed.

With Episode IX coming up, this is a must-see. Because, hey, what the hell was episode VIII all about again?

It’s remarkable though how so little of the story lingers. A New Hope this is not.

Basically, Rey finds Luke on a desolate island and tries to convince him to come back. She also has a weird connection with Kylo Ren. Love? Yin Yang? The Force? Finn is trying to find a guy who can hack into the First Order fleet that is attacking the rebels. Poe is trying to get the rebel fleet away. Oh, Prinses Leia is still leading the rebels even though she hovers in space for a bit. There’s tons of new creatures (furry pinguin like chickens that interfere with Chewbacca, crystal foxes that disappear in rocks, huge race camels with weird spouts) and characters that come and go without ever really being introduced (and performed by big names like Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro).

Oh well. Let’s see what episode IX brings.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2527336/

 

It took me nearly 30 years to watch this show. By the time it was aired on tv here, I was in college and didn’t watch tv. My then indie/alternative music mindset did not appreciate Summertime or Boom Boom Shake The Room either. So, Will Smith was just not someone cool enough to follow.

Yet, watching this first season was fun! It’s good. Not every episode is great. The overal concept is still weird and badly exploited, but by the end of the series you start to appreciate Will Smith’s remarks and some of the other characters’ traits. The show also isn’t that outdated. Intrigued what the next seasons will offer. Personal favorite: Jazz!

www.imdb.com/title/tt0098800