Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

The Darkest Hour – ***

Posted: June 29, 2020 in 2017, biopic, Political, UK, War, WW2, XXX

Gary Oldman is phenomenal as Winston Churchill!

There you go. That’s the main reason to watch this movie. But it’s also cleverly told and takes you back to the start of a troublesome period in the world of which the end wasn’t in sight at all.

A bit like now really.

During a visit of the excellent Churchill War Rooms in London, you remind yourself to watch this Oscar-winning biopic. But then days, weeks and months go by and you forget about it. Then you watch The Crown and he pops up again and you remind yourself again to watch this movies. But again days, weeks and months go by and you forget about it. But then it passes on tv and you have nothing better to do than to just start watching. Before you know it the movie is over and you regret not having watched it while you still had all the knowledge of the museum visit.

It’s a very accessible movie though for a large crowd. It’s not particularly detailed or overly political. It’s clear and well-brought. It resonates with the audience and it’s more than just the depiction of a weirdly fascinating leader that had more opponents than fans, but still managed to lead the UK through the Second World War.

The direction of the movie is also very good. Some scenes work really well. Even when they are fictitious. Like the scene on the metro.

Watch Season 1 of the Crown first. Then Darkest Hour. Then Dunkirk. In that order. Then visit London to visit the war rooms, take the Eurostar to Lille, the regional train to Dunkirk for a visit of the Operation Dynamo museum. And then go for a city trip to Bruges to just relax. 😉

www.imdb.com/title/tt4555426

They showed the prestigious HBO series about the Chernobyl disaster on national tv last week. In the midst of the corona crisis lockdown.

It’s that show that you want to see, because so much has been written about it. And watching it now gives you extra thrills. While the covid-19 pandemic confronts us daily with a possible apocalyptic disaster and conspiracy theories, it’s interesting to see how a similar threat was dealt with 30+ years ago.

In 1986 an explosion at a nuclear plant near Kiev (Ukraine) threatened to devastate an entire area and possibly affect the entire European continent. But the catastrophe was contained and somehow forgotten quite soon. Yes, there are still memes going around that make fun of the effects of exposure to radioactivity (one that says ‘I went to Chernobyl and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’ and shows a t-shirt with several armholes). And yes, adventure travel reporters like to visit the area to see how dangerous it still is to walk around in the area. But apart from that, nobody really thinks about it that much.

Until now.

Sure, it’s an interesting series. It focuses on the actual diaster and tries to explain what really happened, but it also focuses on the efforts of getting it contained and the treatment of those who got exposed to the radio-activity. However, the series also wants to expose the cover-up of the Russian authorities. Which most likely happened, no doubt, but it gets annoying after a while. This soon feels like a fictionalized anti-Russian Cold War propaganda show from the eighties. With an underlying tone that a similar disaster in the West won’t happen and would have been dealt with differently. It’s an obvious angle, but it just feels biased. And the main reason for that is simple: the entire cast speaks British English! British English! Mineworkers, locals, doctors, scientists, state officials, Gorbatsjov! They all speak like they live in the UK! This happend in the Ukraine! The show shows Belarus and Russia. Yet, you don’t hear Russian or any other slavic language.

How is this possible? How is this believable? Apparently they didn’t want the actors to speak with Russian accents (thank God, that would have been even worse). but choosing British actors over Russian actors just is a crappy decision. It’s already annoying when Tom Cruise plays Graf von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie and doesn’t speak German.Or Willem Dafoe playing Van Gogh and not speaking any French or Dutch. Why are so many people incapable of reading subtitles? Why is it so difficult to find actors who at least speak the language of the characters they portray?

That aspect of the show is very distracting. By episode 4 you are still watching British actors interpret what people from the former USSR were experiencing. You’re still not feeling these characters at all. Apparently they are making a Russian series about the show, which will also be biased and which will focus on the patriotic heroism of the mine workers and others who stopped the diaster from spreading around Europe. It’ll also be propaganda, but at least it will feel more natural when they speak the original language!

Aaaaarrghhhhhh!

That said. Interesting stuff though. A bit slow, quite technical and too depressing, but intriguing. Yet, fictionalized and thus overrated. (check: https://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/chernobyl/)

www.imdb.com/title/tt7366338

 

Trauma – *

Posted: April 30, 2020 in 2018, Thriller, UK

Interesting set-up. A kid enters the emergency room of a hospital being stabbed. A surgeon is paged to operate, on his evening off. The father of the kid enters the operation room and sees the doctor hesitating, to finally give up and declare the kid dead. Next is a vendetta from the dad towards the surgeon for failing to save his son and the struggle with guilt by the surgeon.

It works well for two episodes and becomes creepy and thrilling when the dad really starts to stalk the surgeon’s family.

But then the third and final episode is just bullocks. The dad really goes berserk and the surgeon loses it. It just does not make sense at all and the longer it lasts, the worse it gets. Surgeons lie all the time. What a great way to put the NHS in a good spotlight. And really, one disoriented talkative lunatic threatens three people with a knife and they are all just standing there looking at him? Honestly? There were like 20 moments where they could have kicked the knife out of his hands. Don’t worry about spoiler alerts. This isn’t worth watching.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6834020

After Life Season 2 – **

Posted: April 30, 2020 in 2020, Drama, TV series, UK, XX

Man, this is depressing.

The first episodes of Ricky Gervais’ serious dramedy about a man losing his wife to cancer and struggling with the loss, were great. They showed a different aspect of the British comedian, but were still filled with excellent humor and social commentary. These six episodes however lack the humor and commentary. Maybe once per episode there’s a hilarious moment, but overal it’s just very sad.

This is not the moment to watch sad tv shows. This is the moment to laugh and escape to absurd fiction. Not to harsh realities of losing people and dealing with grief. However positive the approach to it all may be.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8398600/

Quite disappointing, this second season. Whereas the first series was refreshing, this pretty much feels like it is too calculated.

Gillian Anderson’s sex therapist character is still great though. When there is an outbreak of chlamydia she is asked to come and be a sex counsellor in school. But that is interfering with the business of her son, who has been given sex advice for money on the school premises as well.

It is an interesting premise and episode 1 totally gets you in the same mood as the previous episodes. But soon something is lacking. Is it the acting? Is it the total absence of humor? Not sure, but the show stops being engaging soon. Not worthy of binge watching at all.

There are a few new characters and we get to learn more about some of the characters that weren’t in the spotlight of series one. But the main ones seem to have lost their charm. Which is sad.

The cliffhanger end doesn’t really make you look forward to what is coming next either. And that is too bad, because, on a positive note, it does prove that you can have a good show with an inclusive cast without constantly referring to the sexual and racial differences between kids. Anyone can be anything. This is one thing in which this show excells.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7767422

 

 

Yuli – **(*)

Posted: February 9, 2020 in 2018, biopic, Cuba, Drama, Spain, UK, XX1/2

Carlos Acosta was the first black dancer ever to perform as Romeo at the Royal Ballet of London.

This shouldn’t be remarkable, but it unfortunately still is. Of course this success has to do with opportunities and luck and fate, but talent is needed nevertheless.

This movie starts with the now older Acosta directing a ballet performance based on his life story… and as he has his dancers rehearse the sequences he reminisces and the movie goes in flashback mode to some pivotal moments in his life.

It is a tricky approach, to shift from modern ballet scenes to storytelling flashbacks. And it is also interesting to see a biopic in which the actual main character is playing himself. But it works really well.

More than a biopic and a ballet movie, the story focuses on the troubled father-son relationship. And it is very honest. The young Cuban boy has no desire to become a ‘faggot’ dancer, but his father pushes him into the ballet school. A reverse Billy Elliott so to speak. Not only his father, but also his Cuban dance teacher constantly have to motivate or command him to continue dancing. Especially after an accident halts his successful career for a bit, he needs their tough encouragement to continue. It is clear that this movie is an hommage to them.

The acting by the father, the teacher and the young Acosta is excellent. The story touches on several Cuban issues as well without being too detailed. It is well filmed. At least the flashback scenes are.

Worth checking out !!!

www.imdb.com/title/tt7666250

Almost the entire cast of The Crown changed for season 3. It takes a while before that kicks in. Olivia Coleman is a great actress, sure, but she isn’t Claire Foy, who excelled as Queen Elisabeth in the first series. Only by the final episode, you have to acknowledge that she does do a fine job. But it’s difficult to be charmed by her from the start. That’s because this season, the focus isn’t on her that much.

The acting is still great though. Helen Bonham Carter is quite exquisite as Princess Margaret and both Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty do a great job as Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

The storytelling remains admirable. How each episode is scripted is very clever. However, the fiction takes over from the facts. And even though it’s great dramatic storytelling, it loses its credibility because a lot of it just isn’t true.

Even more than in the first twenty episodes, you want to google what is true and what is fictionalized. It’s distracting from watching the show. Did that really happen? Is this historically correct? These constant questions often get answered by a ‘no’.

It’ll be interesting to see season 4 which will have Margaret Tatcher and Princes Diana as main characters. This seventies show was okay, but not that fascinating. Apart from two episodes, which are set in Wales. Those are perfect television hours. Well written, well directed, well acted, well researched. More of that please.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4786824

Judy – **

Posted: January 19, 2020 in 2019, biopic, Drama, Musical, UK, USA, XX

Renée Zellweger is really good. There you go. Everyone writes it and it’s true.

The movie isn’t bad either, but it may not be what you expect after having seen the trailer. It’s a tragic story of a Hollywood icon at the end of her career. Bankrupt, homeless and addicted to all kinds of medication. When she is kicked out of a hotel suite because the bill hasn’t been paid, she drags her two youngest children to their father and asks him if they can stay there for a while. It’s a desperate act, because she and her ex aren’t on speaking terms. Without money and a house, she can lose custody. So, she reluctantly picks up a gig in London…

It’s a tragic tale. There are very few uplifting moments. Sure, there are some songs and performances, but that’s not the focus of the movie. No, this is the story of a woman who is so addicted to being loved and receiving attention and having other people tell her what to do, that she completely neglects taking care of herself. That’s the focus and they should have dug even deeper into this troubled soul. The flashbacks to the troubled childhood of Garland are good as well and nobody mentions her, but Darci Shaw is good too as the young Judy.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7549996

1917 – ***

Posted: January 12, 2020 in 2019, UK, USA, War, WW1, XXX

The first hour of this Word War I epic is perfect cinema. Once the story reaches the town of Écoust-Saint-Mein however, it becomes a rather unrealistic survival adventure. It’s still good, but it kind of ruins the great storytelling of the first part. And the end.. well, it’s an end.

This movie gives the impression that it is made in a single shot. And it works. Amazingly. This means the storytelling is great ánd the direction was planned impeccably.

Two soldiers need to get a message across to stop a planned attack. That’s it. But what happens next is CINEMA at its best.

Just go see it. It deserves to win all the awards its nominated for.

www.imdb.com/title/tt8579674/

Tell Me Who I Am – *

Posted: November 4, 2019 in 2019, Documentary, UK, X

There’s this wave of documentaries that are terrible to watch and they all work on the same principle. The ‘documentary’ makers first interview a few characters and then look for images that support the stories that are told in the interview. It’s a terrible way of making documentaries.

In this one, a pair of identical twins get interviewed about two extraordinary events in their lives. The first one is quite impressive: one of them loses his entire memory after waking up from a terrible motorcycle accident and has to rely on his twin brother to fill him in about his life as he’s the only one he trusts. The second event is more of a moral issue. The twin brother has not told him the entire truth and has filtered out all the bad memories for decades. Even when evidence of a bad event in the past surfaces, the twin brother is still not willing to talk about it. Out of self protection as well.

So, this is a great base for an interesting article in a psychology/philosophy magazine. Is the twin brother helping his amnesiac brother by only giving him the good memories? Or should he be as honest as possible even though it may cause disarray? Lots of questions arise. And one of them is very obvious: why do these two brothers, who have been struggling with this issue for years (if not decades), finally want to discuss it in the presence of a camera team? Why?

This is not a good documentary. Not sure why people recommend it. There’s nothing audiovisual about this story at all.

www.imdb.com/title/tt10915286