Archive for the ‘XXX1/2’ Category

Bevergem – ***(*)

Posted: November 22, 2019 in 2015, Comedy, Flanders, XXX1/2

On Netflix. Not sure in all regions. But on Netflix!

Check it out if you can.

A famous stand-up comedian on the run arrives in a small little village. The local chairman of the Social Services is looking for a scapegoat for the fishy business that he is in and offers him a place to stay, above the local thrift store. The comedian accepts and gets to know the weird characters of this community. He even becomes their confidant and adviser.

Flemish humor can be really absurd, ironic and sarcastic. This show has it all. The greatest irony of the movie is that the main character, the foul-mouthed Freddy De Vadder, who made a career out of playing a marginalized lower than low class nitwit, is actually the most sane, sensible and smart character of the show. The local references are plenty, so it’s probably hard for non-Flemish people to get the jokes. The depiction of the characters however is spot-on. They are exaggerated versions of people you may know. If you want to understand West-Flemish culture, you need to watch this. But you may need a manual.

The absolute star of the show is the chairman, the kind of attention seeking amateur politician who thinks he’s a real hot shot, but who really is a dumb alcoholic. His wife doesn’t allow him back in the house, so he sleeps in his garage. She’s excellent as well. Her quotes have become classics. Another great character is the former manager of the thrift store, who quit her job after she won the lottery. But it doesn’t help listing all the characters…. they are all quite unique and pretty much excellently performed by all of the cast.

It’s a great comedy with some surprising visuals and a great soundtrack. Very original, yet very recognizable. It was even funnier the second time around.

www.imdb.com/title/tt3826290

After having watched Free Solo, the Oscar-winning documentary about a free climber who goes up El Capitan in less than four hours without ropes, made me rewatch this episode from a popular Flemish tv program, in which the adventurous presenter takes on the challenge to climb El Capitan without previous climbing experience.

Unfortunately there are no English subtitles, so not everyone can watch it. There’s some conversations in French and English as well, but the main language is Flemish (the Dutch spoken in Belgium).

The tv series has varied challenges ranging from very physical (entering a national body building competition) to very silly (creating a chart topping sing along song). Not all episodes are good and in the end, it’s entertaining television, with a lot of things being fixed.

But this is the most fascinating episode. Even when things are fixed (that we don’t get to see), it’s still very impressive.

Somehow, the guy from Free Solo isn’t really relatable. Tom Waes on the other hand  is the total opposite. The drive he has to just succeed in everything is amazing. But he is also super honest about his fears and his frustrations. He swears all the time, sighs constantly, doubts a lot… He has a good sense of humor too. You want him to succeed. You want him to climb El Capitan. No matter in how many days.

The cool thing is that you actually learn something about climbing as well. And not just about techniques, but also about how people sleep, eat and … shit when they’re climbing up a rock wall. Tom also has a sports cam on his head so the views are spectacular.

The team of professional climbers who escort/guide/make it easy for him, is also great.

Somehow this impressed me more than Free Solo. 

www.imdb.com/title/tt6038326

When it comes to documentaries that expose almost extinct cultures, this one needs a recommendation.

Sure, it’s a bit voyeuristic and sure, it’s all planned and maybe even scripted, but this episode of a French tv series that explores the ‘unknown world’ is fascinating. It has a very positive vibe, the mutual interest of the members of the tribe and the French visitors is genuine and it’s shot really well. We never get to see the camera and sound man. Nor do we know how big the crew is. But they do a great job. The use of drones is extraordinary. The aerial views are fascinating. But the close-ups as well. The tribes people are very photogenic and not camera-shy at all. We don’t get to see the translator either, so it really feels like the conversations happened in a very easy and simple way.

Not even halfway through this documentary you have lots of empathy for the main characters. There’s the documentary maker who is the reserved, observant, relaxing leader. There’s the uncomfortable celebrity who is confused and scared, but very respectful and curious about this different culture. He’s a comedian, famous in France, unknown elsewhere. Apparently his experience was much harder than what we get to see. But it’s easy to imagine his discomfort. We have two members of the tribe who steal the show. A short guy who is very clever and interested, intrigued in learning about our culture. And a tall guy who looks like an androgen diva, but is extremely confident.

By the end of the documentary, you get as emotional as these four people who need to say goodbye. It’s easy to condemn these documentaries. But this really feels like it’s done with respect. A hundred years from now all these culture will be gone. So they need to be documented. Even if it means they get introduced to our culture. They aren’t naive and stupid. This is probably not the only tv team they’ve encountered. Maybe they over-exaggerate showing their traditional ways of life. Maybe it’s real. That doesn’t matter.

When you visit Swaziland, the guys and girls who come and perform a ‘traditional’ show all arrive on their motorbikes with jeans and change into native clothes. That’s how it is in 2018. But this is a really good episode and it makes you want to watch all the other episodes of the show.

And the soundtrack is great with songs by Belgian artists like Balthazar, Oscar And The Wolf and Girls In Hawaii. A bit bizarre to hear them in this exotic landscape, but still cool.

IT’s online on youtube. Check it out if you understand French.

The Square – ***(*)

Posted: December 22, 2017 in 2017, Comedy, Satire, Sweden, XXX1/2

And then there’s a movie that you want to recommend to everyone. Because it’s a unique experience. It’s well acted, well-directed, well told and is funny! It’s the kind of movie that makes you rave about several of its scenes. Scenes that tell so much without actually explaining anything. What a relief. And when there is dialogue, it feels very natural. Every expression, wether verbal or visual, is real and recognizable. You can list a dozen of examples, but you basically just have to go watch. The trailer intrigues, but doesn’t really do the movie justice. It’s for a much wider audience than what reviews may want you to believe. It’s very accessible. It’s a Golden Palm winner, sure. And it’s long and most of it is in Swedish. But it’s probably the best movie of the year. So give it a chance.

You don’t really need to know much about the story. It’s just set in Stockholm and the main character is a curator of a modern art museum, who’s having a bad week. The story isn’t important. The satire is.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4995790

 

 

 

Roots (2016) – ***(*)

Posted: November 7, 2017 in 2016, Drama, Historical, Slavery, USA, XXX1/2

Back in 1977 a television series was ground breaking (and successful) telling the story of the descendants of a captured young African warrior who was shipped from The Gambia to the United States and sold as a slave. His name was Kunta Kinte and his struggle and legacy is still known and popular in American pop culture. Just think of the hit single of Kendrick Lamar (‘King Kunta’). But the 1977 show looks a bit old fashioned for young kids and so a remake was produced, shown last year to critical acclaim.

It’s a powerful story, stretching over several generation. From 1750 before the American Revolution to the end of the Civil War in 1865. It’s not just the story of Kunta Kinta, but also of his daughter Kizzy, his grandson Chicken George and grand-grandson Tom.

Compared to the original series (seen four years ago), this remake is much shorter. It has more action. The acting is better. The setting is more professional. It’s visually a much better series. It’s what you can expect from a big budget tv series these days. Even though the story is based on a fictitious character, the events are depicted in a neutral, historically correct way. (Alt-Right Neo Nazis may disagree of course). Compared to the first series, the ‘white characters’ are better developed. There’s even a good white character this time. Hooray!

This is and excellent series for those who aren’t too familiar with the early history of the African American community. An absolute must. But it’s also worth watching for those who have seen the original show. The acting is truly much better. That Malachi Kirby is phenomenal as Kunta Kinta. But Regé-Jean Page as Chicken George is also quite exceptional. Jonathan Rhys Meyers kills it in all of his scenes. He’s a delight. Even though he’s the mean white slave owner.

The creators had to cut a lot of stories to fit in just four episodes. That’s a bit sad. Because there is much more to tell. The decision to skip several decades from time to time was necessary and it works. But you want to learn so much more.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315386

Classic: Pulp Fiction – ***(*)

Posted: December 14, 2016 in 1994, Action, Comedy, USA, XXX1/2

Twenty-two years ago, a movie was released that was so cool that everyone went to see it at least three times to make sure they’d know every single fucking detail by heart to impress others by mimicking the incredibly innovating dialogue scenes. It was called Pulp Fiction, the instant cult classic of Quentin Tarantino.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to watch it again – the dvd has been on my shelf since it was first released in that format -, but the time was right and it was a great experience. Pulp Fiction doesn’t feel and look dated at all. It’s timeless. Even the most memorable scenes look fresh. The dialogue is excellent. The acting – apart from the cameo of Tarantino himself – is flawless. The surprise and wit are a gift. The camera shots are inventive. Almost everything works perfect in this movie.

It’s too bad Tarantino fucks it up by giving himself and Harvey Keitel a minor acting part. That whole scene at the Jimmy’s house is so bad, it makes you wish the movie had also won a Razzie Award for worst scene ever. Luckily, the movie has won multiple best scene awards as well. At least in my book, as there are no such awards. Alas. Difficult to pick a favorite. The only other reason why this isn’t a **** movie is that it should have lasted even longer.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110912/

 

This may well be the best movie of the year (so far).

Two classmates, who can’t stand each other, find themselves attracted to each other due to circumstances. They are both outcasts and loners and need to live with each other’s presence more than they want to. One is a spoiled kid whose military father is always gone and who’s general practitioner mother has an overly caring heart. The other is an adopted kid who lives with his farmer parents up in the mountains and travels every day about 3 hours to get to school and back. When during the harsh winter months, the mother of the farmer’s boy is hospitalized, the doctor invites him to stay at her place so he doesn’t have to make the journey to school and can focus on his studies. This creates even more tension between the two young adults.

The homo-eroticism is very present since the very first scenes, but it’s never really expressed. This creates a very peculiar atmosphere, which fascinates and thrills. In fact, as a viewer you assume the boys just like each other and are too afraid to admit it. But then the story continues and deals with all kinds of coming of age issues. The absence of a father, the insecurity of being loved by your adoptive parents, the desire to dream big, …

The setting of the story is brilliant and an important key to the movie’s dramatic success. The views of the French Pyrenees (in all kinds of weather conditions) take you away and suck you into this remarkable and unique story. If this would have taken place in Paris it would have been unbelievable and even boring. But somehow in the remote villages and valleys of this beautiful territory, this odd story just makes total sense.

Very impressed. By the acting as well. If Corentin Fila does not win the César for most promising actor than there’s something really wrong with the award show.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4331970