Archive for the ‘Flanders’ 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

Studio Tarara – ***

Posted: March 26, 2019 in 2019, Drama, Flanders, TV series, XXX

Rare these days (at least for me): watching a tv series unfold every single week. No binge-watching. Just anticipating the next episode. Eight weeks long.

And it was worth the watch. This was good television. With a lot of flaws, but enough positive moments to balance them out.

The set up is simple. Someone fell to his death at a television studio, where a live sketch show was being recorded. It’s unclear until the very last episode who the actual victim is. But in every episode you learn who is still alive, as a second story line follows a detective who’s writing down the taped interviews of all people involved.

The mystery of who the victim is and how the person died, isn’t all that exciting. As a thriller, the show fails.

The series is about the production of a funny sketch show and the troublesome lives of its creators. The drama and characterization are top-notch. But the sketches aren’t funny! At all. So as a comedy, the show fails as well.

But another storyline focuses on sexual harassment at a television studio and throughout the series this is the main theme. It’s also the one that makes the show fascinating. The acting is really good. Even international audiences may like these performances.

It’s still a very Flemish show though. Not sure if people abroad will get the references. There is an international trailer though… The story is set in 1993 though and the soundtrack is incredible. It’s very interesting to hear the big alternative hits of that year as a soundtrack to a story set at the tv studio of the most commercial television network.

www.imdb.com/title/tt9839222

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

Eigen Kweek Season 3

Posted: February 14, 2019 in 2018, Comedy, Flanders

This is terrible. The first episode is still kind of okay, but it’s incredibly difficult to keep watching this until the end. The charismatic loser from the first season has become one of the most annoying tv characters of Flemish history. And he’s in almost every single scene. The humor is simple, predictable and repetitive. The drama is ridiculous. The action is still kind of fun, because it’s absurd. But that doesn’t save these six episodes from being a bomb. The first season was refreshing. The second season a disappointment. The third a total failure.

Girl – **

Posted: November 6, 2018 in 2018, Coming Of Age, Drama, Flanders, France, LGBT themed, XX

Lara is a teenager with some serious issues. She wants to be a ballerina and is admitted to a ballet school, but lacks the experience of other girls in her class. She is also born in the body of a boy and is about to start a hormonal treatment to finally become a woman. These two ambitions are just too much for a sixteen year old. Becoming a ballerina is already very tough. Becoming a woman is even tougher! Doing both at the same time just isn’t particularly healthy.

Girl is an award winning box office surprise about a serious issue that’s getting more and more media attention. It’s a movie worth watching and it’s filmed really well. But it’s a challenge. You never really get to know the main character. It’s an emotionless being with an aloof smile that is hard to read. It’s interesting because this robotic performance is intentional. It’s like the director wants the audience to not understand the character at all. Halfway through the movie there is a medical specialist who literally tells the main character to stop hiding emotions and start showing them. The psychologist doesn’t seem to be able to reveal thoughts and feelings either. Nor does the father. Or the class mates. Or anybody. This is one mysterious character. Which is quite intriguing and unique. Plus: the camera just follows this main character from upclose.

However, because the character doesn’t give anything, you’re just left wondering. And then the appreciation of this movie all depends on how understanding you are willing to be when it comes to transgenders. It’s very easy to think: boy, just embrace your femininity, wait until you’re an adult to make drastic decision about changing your gender and focus on something else than becoming a ballerina. But that’s not really the point of the story. Girl is the kind of movie that leaves plenty of questions unanswered. Which is great in a time when movies seem to be over-explanatory. But some background info about the character would have been nice.

In recent news (end of 2018) Tanzania is hunting down all gay people and the American government plans to invalidate the existence of transgenders by making it only legal to be a man or a woman based on how you were born. And then there’s this movie, which only shows a little bit of incomprehension or disapproval. The father is super supportive. The doctors are doing their utmost to help with the transition. In school none of the boys have an issue with the fact that one of the girls they need to lift in ballet performances has a penis. The girls initially also don’t seem to mind at all. It’s confusing. The world does not accept transgenders as well as portrayed in the movie.

www.imdb.com/title/tt825455

Niet Schieten – ***

Posted: October 21, 2018 in 2018, Belgium, Drama, Flanders, XXX

On November 9th, 1985 several people got shot at a local supermarket in the Flemish town of Aalst. It was the last of a series of attacks that were allegedly done by a gang called ‘De Bende van Nijvel’ (in Dutch) or ‘Les Tueurs de Brabant’ (in French). After all, this happened in Belgium, the bilingual mess it is.

Thirty-something years later, they still haven’t figured out who this gang is and the victims of the attacks still haven’t received any financial help whatsoever. It’s a disgrace.

A young boy survived the attack. He saw how his parents and sister were killed. He saw one of the attackers, but was never questioned by any authority. He himself was shot and learned how to live with a disability. He was raised by his grand-parents who lived across the supermarket and also had some important information that could have been investigated more thoroughly.

That kid, became a man who wrote a book about his struggle and the frustration about the failure of the justice system. That book has now been made into a movie. It’s a good one. It’s well-directed and very well acted. The main character isn’t the boy (played by three different actors at three different periods in their life), but is the grandfather, played by one of our best actors: Jan Decleir. He’s phenomenal. The movie is quite captivating and doesn’t shy away from showing the actual killing. It’s never sensational though and it’s brought with a lot of respect to the victims. Some emotions are told by images rather than dialogue, which works great.

By the end of the movie though, the frustration felt by the characters also transfers to the audience. This is a story without an end. A crime without a punishment. A killing without a murderer’s name. This isn’t Hercule Poirot solving a crime. This is a family learning to accept that they will never know who took the lives of their beloved ones. There is no happy end here.

Watch it. And feel upset and angry. That’s exactly the goal of this movie.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7534314

Cargo – *

Posted: October 14, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Flanders, X

The trailer is promising. Really promising. The setting (fishermen at sea and in the harbour) looks like a visual treat. The drama looks gripping (brothers arguing about the future of the fisherman’s ship). The thrills look exciting (there’s even a fire!). The soundtrack is very accompanying.

However,

this movie is one rotten fish.

It’s a visually interesting movie. But scenes are cut short. Less dialogue! More longshots! The dialogue is terrible. Maybe West-Flemish isn’t the most poetic of all languages (it’s mine) and maybe the sons of a fisherman aren’t all that educated, but still…that’s no excuse to have people bark out ridiculous lines. Better not have them speak at all. The best scenes are mute. The touching of the hands between father and son, the mesmerizing glare into the north sea… There are only a few characters, but half of them are annoying and all them kill every scene once they start talking.

If you make a movie in West-Flemish, you’ll always come across the same actors. Sebastien Dewaele and Sam Louwyck show a different side to their acting and make it kinda work. The latter may stop playing unsympathetic characters though. The former is the best thing in this movie. But somehow they don’t get the chance to fully explore their characters. They are both sons of a dying fisherman. They clearly don’t like each other. One has been in prison and has a drug addiction. The other has been working as a fisherman all his life and had no idea that the family business had been in debt for years. This clash could have been documented much better.

But the storytellers decided to add a third brother, a closeted gay character, who goes to a Berlin-like gay dungeon club (In Oostende??? Please, they don’t even have a club like that in Antwerp or Brussels) to have anonymous sex. He also has an affair with a transmigrant waiting to get across the Channel to England. Wim Willaert does such a terrible job depicting this character. He acts just like he acts in Eigen Kweek, with the same whining voice, the same gestures, the same sensibility. It’s annoying. There’s no need for this character. I get it, it’s a way to introduce the transmigrant story, but still. They could have found a different way.

This movie had so much potential, but the script and the dialogue ruin it all. But at least they got enough funding! Make a movie about a declining historical regional profession –> funding. Make a movie about a hot topic –> funding. Add an lgbt character –> movie festival selection. Add a French actor –> international funding.

Disappointing

www.imdb.com/title/tt5492502