Archive for the ‘Flanders’ Category

Four great actors stuck in one setting. It’s almost like a theatre play on stage. But it’s not. It’s a movie. And even though the idea is good, the execution kind of bores. Two factory workers break into the house of their boss and take him hostage. They thought they had planned it well. But things start getting all messed up when his (secret) mistress arrives unexpectedly. Who turns out to be the daughter of one of the attackers! Moreover, because of an electricity power outage, other plans can’t be executed and the four are stuck in the house for the entire weekend! So it seems.

It’s over before you know it. So, it’s not that bad. Just proves that a good idea does not necessarily make a good movie. But the acting is good. And some one-liners are fun. If you understand Flemish. The dvd has English subtitles though. 



Sprakeloos – **

Posted: March 24, 2017 in 2017, Drama, Flanders, LGBT themed, XX

Based on a popular book by one of the most successful Flemish writers, Sprakeloos (speechless) tells the story of a writer who has to come to terms with the emotional and physical decline of his mother after a devastating stroke. The concern for his mother is paired with anger and frustration.

The movie isn’t a success. Critics slammed it. Those who’ve read the book and seen the movie don’t like the interpretation of the story. But hey, the writer liked it. And I liked it too. More than a story about a very dramatic butcher’s wife/amateur actress who loses her speech (and rationality), it’s the story of the love/hate relationship of a son who looks a lot like his mother.

Yes, it’s flawed. But it’s well acted by Viviane De Muynck and Marie Vinck as the old and young butcher’s wife. And Stany Crets as the writer. The movie constantly swaps back and forth in time, a bit like what they do in This Is Us, and that keeps it going. It’s too bad it won’t get the audience that it deserves.

The remarkable thing about this new police thriller from Belgium is that it starts of really well and then falls totally flat by the end. Sadly, because the trailer looks promising.

A notorious chief of police is retiring to start a political career. But on the eve of his retirement he is tempted to do one last drug bust.  Not in the city of his jurisdiction (Antwerp), but in Charleroi. However, something is wrong. No drug lab is found. No drugs are found. A lot of people get killed and the informant seems to have damaging information about the soon to be politician. This does not look good…

Again, the movie starts of great. The tension and intrigue are built up well. The acting is good (Peter Van Den Begin is excellent in these kind of roles). Some of the scenes are shot in unique ways. The editing is excellent. The story lends well to an interesting collaboration between the movie industries from the north (Flanders) and the south (Wallonia) of the country.

But it’s all a bit predictable, and as the story comes to a climax it totally bombs.

Halfweg (Halfway) – *(*)

Posted: February 5, 2017 in 2014, Drama, Flanders, Horror, X1/2

An architect who just got divorced, moves into a beautiful art nouveau villa. But the house is haunted. The previous owner still roams around and isn’t too happy with this new person moving in. He can influence the electricity in the house and uses it to make it hell for the new owner.

The synopsis sounds like yet another haunted house movie, but this is different. First of all, it’s Flemish and the movie was made with a low budget. Secondly, the dialogue is uttered like the actors were telling the story on stage and not on the big screen. And finally, there is little suspense and no horror at all. Some humor and some psychological drama, yes. After all, nobody believes the architect when he talks about the other guy living in his house.

The architect is played by Koen DeGraeve who again shows that he’s a great actor. His antagonist is played by Jurgen Delnait who again shows why he isn’t cast all that much. His performance is annoying, which kind of makes the movie annoying at times.

But stick to the end. The humor becomes more absurd.

Why did this movie flop and get bad reviews? It’s intriguing until the end. It stars two popular actors (Koen Degraeve and Matteo Simoni) who perform really well. It’s a universal concept that doesn’t have any reference to anything Flemish at all. (So, recommendable for anyone abroad). And it makes university town Leuven look like a place you want to visit soon.

It’s a science fiction take on the Groundhog Day principle. Two scientists find a way to send emails to people in the past. They do small  innocent, but successful tests and then decide to no longer use the technology  One scientist is married to a disabled woman though and cannot resist messing with history to make sure she doesn’t end up being as disabled as she is. And that’s when all goes wrong.

Home – **

Posted: January 22, 2017 in 2016, Drama, Flanders, XX

Back from another disturbing movie at the cinema.

The viewing of controversial The Birth Of A Nation ended up being a great topic during a longer car ride today. Especially since watching the movie was followed by looking up more information about its theme and story and reading/listening to interviews of its makers.

Something similar may happen with Home, a movie that just evokes discussions. It’s (very) flawed, but it doesn’t leave you indifferent.

Home  follows the life of some messed up teenagers and their messed up parents who end up being confronted with messed up situations. That’s it really. There’s crime involved and there’s a thrilling element, but it’s just not exciting enough to make you sit at the edge of your seat. There’s a lot of drama, but it’s just not detailed and heart wrenching enough to make you care. It’s a very cold movie. It’s cynical. Nihilistic at times. This movie has absolutely no purpose. It shows characters that are so rotten inside that you cannot empathize with any of them. It really shows the worst of youth.

There are some merits though. The built up is good. The editing is interesting. It’s intriguing until the end, which is what an end should be: open. The soundtrack and filmscore are excellent! But the acting is very poor. It’s really bad. Some may give the unprofessional actors in Home some slack, but the absolute standard for unprofessional acting by older teenagers is Entre Les Murs, the excellent French movie from a few years ago about troubled kids. It doesn’t really help that the adult actors are also bad, apart from some cameo’s maybe.

It just show some dreadful kids who act dreadfully, because everyone else in their environment is dreadful.

Think of a (not so tasty) cocktail with ingredients of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, with Larry Clark’s Kids and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Ulrich Seidl’s Paradies: Hoffnung.

Problemski Hotel – **(*)

Posted: December 28, 2016 in 2015, Belgium, Drama, Flanders, XX1/2

Problemski Hotel is an absurd drama about several refugees living in an asylum centre. It’s based on a book by Dimitri Verhulst, who’s quite a successful writer, but isn’t really known to be politically neutral. He spent some time in an asylum centre for an article in a newspaper and decided to write a book about it. Back in the early 2000s. The book is still on the shelf, but now that the movie turned out to be good, it’s next on the ‘to read’-list.

This screen adaptation isn’t as moralizing as you’d fear. The stories just show you realities. There are only a few superfluous scenes with biased content. (the depiction of a school teacher as being insensitive and racist doesn’t add anything to the story) Luckily, there are many more scenes that won’t annoy you. Some are beautifully shot. Others are so absurd that they make total sense (the dragging of the christmas tree). Some are funny. Others are hard. All in all, it’s a very entertaining movie that evokes several emotions.

None of the performers are familiar faces in the Belgian movie and television industry. In fact, the main character is performed by a Palestinian-American living in Brussels! This Tarek Halaby should really audition for other parts as well. He’s great. His suave and cool performance gives his character the mysteriousness it needs. Gökhan Girginol and Evgenia Brendes both should get other parts as well.

It starts off as a weird arthouse movie for a select bunch of movie lovers, but once you get into the absurdly confronting mood, you’re in for a treat.

It’s homegrown, so it deserves a (*) extra.