Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Brooklyn – **

Posted: March 16, 2016 in 2015, Canada, Costume Drama, Ireland, Romance, UK, XX

Brooklyn is a fine movie about a young Irish girl who leaves her country to find work in the US. She has trouble adapting at first, but then encounters a young Italian plumber who she falls in love with and marries in secret. When her sister dies unexpectedly, she returns home, where she feels the pressure and opportunity to stay. She keeps her marriage in New York a secret and goes on several dates with a rich Irish bachelor.

The movie is based on a succesfull novel, which scored well with a female audience. It’s a romantic coming of age tale with a tiny bit of adventure and a heroin in doubt about what’s best for her future. Success guaranteed. The story isn’t really boring, but it’s very trivial. There is little drama and little humor, but hardly any dull moments either.

The main reason to watch this movie is the performance of Saoirse Ronan, who shines in every single scene. A joy to watch. Yeah, that’s basically the only reason.


Room – **(*)

Posted: February 13, 2016 in 2015, Canada, Drama, XX1/2

A young woman has been held captive by a pervert for a few years already. She lives in a little shed which consists of only one room. In the meantime she has given birth to a baby boy who turns five when the movie starts. The kid has never seen the real world, but doesn’t know any better and looks like a normal kid. His mother however is anxious to escape and hopes her son can help now that he’s grown older. This needs a lot of convincing though because for five years long she kept the real world a secret to her boy and know needs to make him believe there is a better place outside.

This claustrophobic psychological drama works really well for the first half of the movie. But then somehow fails in the second part. It’s not really a spoiler to say that at one point she does manage to escape, but with some consequences. While the mother is in the room with her kid, the actions and conversations make sense. When she is freed it becomes a bit messy. Nevertheless: interesting cinema!

Book Of Negroes – **

Posted: January 11, 2016 in 2015, Canada, Drama, Slavery, TV series, XX

The Book Of Negroes tells the story of Aminata Diallo, a West African djeli (story teller) who survived being taken as a slave, crossing the ocean, being raped by her slave owner, being sold to a Jewish merchant, fleeing during a visit of New York, educating the (il)legal free slaves, fighting with the Brits in the revolutionary war, and much much more.

It’s a long miniseries based on a successful book and just goes on and on and on.

It’s a story worth telling, no doubt. But it’s told in such a classic way with an overdose of drama that it starts boring after a while. It’s not HBO and it shows. It’s not Roots either. It’s the kind of show for those who want to learn about slavery but can’t stand the graphic details of 12 Years A Slave or the sarcasm of Django Unchained. 

Aunjanue Ellis is great in the leading role. Cuba Gooding Jr does a decent job as well as a free tavern owner in New York. The young Shailyn Pierre-Dixon and Siya Xaba (who star in the first episode) clearly have some talent too. But all the rest of the cast kind of suck. Especially those who play the bad (white) guys. The reason why the above mentioned feature movies are such great classics is because they have not only a great protagonist, but also an excellent antagonist. In this series, the bad guys just suck.


Starbuck – 1/2

Posted: December 20, 2013 in 1/2, 2011, Canada, Comedy

Both in France and the US there’s a new comedy being released about some loser who used to donate sperm for money and now turns out to be the father of more than 500 children, several of which gathered together to find out the identity of the donor.

I saw both trailers at around the same time. The story resemblance baffled me. But I was quick to learn that the two comedies are remakes of a little known foreign language comedy which topped the box office charts in its home country.

The home country is – surprise – Canada and the foreign language is québécois. I understand French very well, but I absolutely need subtitles of anything French-Canadian. Especially comedies. Where dialogues and remarks are supposed to be funny.

Alas. Nothing funny about this Starbuck, which is humorless, plotless and pointless. The ‘idea’ is interesting, the realization of it terrible. I’m sure both remakes suck too.

The American remake doesn’t look good:

The French remake looks bad too:

For years Ken Follet’s best seller The Pillars Of The Earth has been lying on my book shelf. For years I’ve been telling people how good it is and how they should all go home and read it. Especially when I am in front of the gothic Cathedral of Strasbourg, explaining stuff about medieval architecture. There’s always one tourist that nods and agrees on how intriguing and informative this medieval thriller is. But just like myself, they most likely never read the book.

A few years ago, a television series was produced with German and Canadian money and the help of Tony and Ridley Scott. And suddenly tourists knew what story I was referring to. So, I figured I finally had to watch this medieval soap which is pretty bad overall, but very entertaining as well.

It’s an 8 hour series with dozens of characters and hundreds of twists, which makes it confusing at times and which makes you wish they had made a 48 hour series. There are scenes that only last one minute but could easily fill one episode. If only they would have explored the themes a little bit more in-depth! Sure it’s a televised drama and not a documentary on the history channel, but still. It feels like all the historical and informative stuff is just mentioned briefly and the main focus lies in everything that makes modern-day dramas successful: murder, deceit, treason, infidelity, hatred! Sure, that’s exciting but it’s very superficial as well.

I can no longer recommend this series as a means of learning more about cathedral construction in the Middle Ages. It only focuses on the intrigues that were ample at the courts and the church during the dark Middle Ages.

Yet for some reason I liked looking at this badly acted, terribly edited, poorly directed and historically inaccurate account of an interesting period in history: the anarchy in England during the reign of Henry I. Predominantly because I wished I had been part of it. As an extra, preferably as a knight. I love medieval stuff. So much so that I don’t care if it’s accurate or not.

Maybe I need to read the book after all.


Posted: May 25, 2012 in 2008, Brasil, Canada, Drama, Japan

Sometimes I should better believe film critics. This IS a bad movie. It’s really one of the worst movies I’ve ever started to watch. Halfway in the movie I started to fastforward, than rewind again and then give up entirely.

Based on a novel by some Portuguese writer, the movie deals about several people becoming blind and getting locked up in a quarantined area as the blindness is contagious. The infected people start to set up their own rules, with the ‘leader’ of ward three acting like a dictator. That’s where I lost any interest I may had. The story is too silly for words.

I tried and failed to finish a movie by Meireilles and with Julianne Moore!

Passchendaele – 1/2

Posted: July 26, 2011 in 2008, Canada


1/2 stars because it is okay that people make movies about this time of our history.

Set in WW I, two Canadians enter the battle field at Passchendaele, not far from where I grew up. Too bad you only see part of the battle in the beginning and at the end of the movie. It’s gruesome, almost horror. A bit over the top. In between the two battle scenes you have a story in Canada about a fallen hero and a young kid with asthma who both feel like they have to get to war (again).

The story is boring and the acting is VERY bad. Skip this one.

Away From Her – ***

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Canada, Drama, USA, XXX

seen on iTunes

Just watched Away From Her, a (first long feature) movie by the Canadian actress Sarah Polley, who’s starred in great movies like Go, The Sweet Hereafter and My Life WIthout Me. The movie deals about love and Alzheimer. And even though you do get to learn a lot about the disease, the main focus lays in the love part. This is not just another disease movie. It’s a movie about loving and letting go.

Julie Christie was nominated a lot of her role as the Alzheimer patient, but personally I think her performance isn’t al that exceptional. Gordon Pinsent, however, who plays the tormented husband is brilliant. Maybe it’s because I’m a man and maybe it’s because as a viewer you can only relate to the healthy character, but I could totally relate to his feelings of love,  misunderstanding, frustration, guilt and doubt. Olympia Dukakis is also impressive, even though she only appears a few minutes in the movie.

The story is simple. A woman realises that she has Alzheimer and decides to go live in an assisted environment. Her husband does not like the idea that much, but agrees for her to be admitted. The intitute has a policy of not letting the patient have any visitors in the first month of their stay. That may sound silly and it probably is, but apparently is ‘good’ for the patients to adapt to their new environment. This however entails as well that once the husband is allowed to visit his wife, she has no recollection of who he is AND she is feeling very comfortable spending time with a male Alzheimer patient that she’s been taking care of.

BAM! What an ingenious dramatic plot point!

This is of course a drama, but I watched it as a thriller. At one point the husband starts to doubt if she isn’t pulling his leg and it’s all some kind of vengeful act for his cheating in the past. Even though you know that’s not the issue, you can totally understand why he would feel that way. Alzheimer is a terrible disease. Just imagine that you’re together with someone for more than 45 years and then all of a sudden he/she does not remember anymore who you are. Aaargh!

It’s not all perfect though. The principal and the nurse of the intitute are not really interpreted convincingly and there’s too many scenes where they just want to show symptoms of the disease (putting a pan in the fridge, having trouble finding the name of certain simple things, etc…). They also didn’t invest in a good soundtrack and there’s too many boring readings out of books. But in the end, it’s a remarkable movie with, as mentioned before, great acting and some tension. There’s not much humor in the movie (apart from a few effective scenes like some patient who used to give commentary to sports events and still does that about what he sees in the institute). There are also several good quotes in the movie, like when Olympia Dukakis’ character needs some attention and says: “It would be easier for me, if you could pretend a little”. But that will all make sense when you watch the movie.

Mr Nobody – *

Posted: January 27, 2010 in Belgium, Canada, Drama, France, Germany, Science Fiction, X

Seen at UGC Naamse Poort

Recommended by a movie buddy who normally shares my views on what cinema should be. This time however I didn’t share her enthusiasm. This movie left me totally cold and I don’t know why.

It’s three alternative lives of the same guy intertwined. Somewhere in the future. But then again, also set in the past. It’s visually entertaining. Hence the one star. And the acting is okay. There’s Sarah Polley. And Diane Kruger. But there’s also Jared Leto. Not a bad actor, but since he’s the singer of a teeny rock band (30 seconds to Mars) his movies attract fourteen year old girls who pay no attention at all in the theatre and constantly scream when he comes on-screen. Very annoying. Without that audience I might have given it an extra star. Because as I mentioned already, the visual direction is great. The story however didn’t appeal to me at all. Regardless of all the screaming girls in the audience. So yes, you have to make decision in life and some decisions lead to different lives. I got that. I’m a dreamy person, but my dreams are solid and real compared to this pointless fairytale.