Archive for the ‘XXX1/2’ Category

Confusing at first, but continuously intriguing as the series goes on, this third season of True Detective is a great watch.

Two kids get missing and detectives Hays and West have to figure out what happened when one of the children is found dead. During three different periods in time…  Once in 1980 when the crime happens. Another time in 1990 when a new element re-opens the case. And finally in 2015 when a true crime tv reporter wants to focus on the case by interviewing detective Hays, now in his seventies.

It’s slow and some of the dialogues sound wooden, but overall this is fascinating television. For starters, finally this is a crime story without a major plot twist at the end. It’s cool to actually feel rewarded for thinking along with the detectives. By episode 3 or so you kind of already know what happened and even though some details are missing, it’s great to see that what you are thinking is actually correct. This is great! Because that’s the most annoying thing about detective series: the ridiculous plot twists at the end. The end just makes sense. Which may be boring. But it’s great.

Secondly, the seventy year old detective Hays suffering from Alzheimers is another excellent addition to the story. The disease adds confusion to both the detective and the viewer, but also helps to concentrate on what is a real memory and what is not.

And ultimately, this is also a great depiction of relationships between people who seem to have a strong, yet unconventional bond. The partnership between the two detectives is captivating and the relationship between detective Hays and his wife is even more gripping. The professional and personal tensions between the characters are more exciting than the actual crime.

Maybe that’s the reason why this crime series is so great. The crime itself isn’t the main focus. And that’s what makes it different. And thus, good. However, this only works when the writing is clever and moreover when the acting is phenomenal. And that’s the case. Mahershala Ali is so incredibly good. He should have won awards for this part !!!!! That man is acting gold. Stephen Dorff is also impressive and should also be praised. Carmen Ejogo gives so much mystery to her character that it cannot just be directed. And Michael Graziadel only has two or three scenes, but the one in the bar is method acting perfection.

Yep.

Very much impressed.

ww.imdb.com/title/tt2356777

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/