Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Somewhere in rural Malawi, an intelligent young kid can’t continue with school because his farming parents can’t afford the fee. They have financial troubles because of a failed harvest and the future isn’t looking bright. People are leaving the village and the government isn’t helping at all. The kid is able to sneak into the school library though and finds a book about creating energy by using wind. It takes a while before he can convince his illiterate dad that his ideas can actually help the farming. But he perseveres.

This is a very interesting story. We need more of these. It’s in the same vibe as A United Kingdom. The African continent has so many great stories to be told. It’s time movie makers take some risks. It’s time to watch these as well. It can’t always be fiction like Black Panther. 

Chiwetel Ejiofor is an underrated actor. He has starred in quite a lot of movies and carries them every time. This is his directorial debut and yes, it’s very formulaic and conventional, but it’s also entertaining and educational. It’s well done. He’s acting in it as well and as mentioned before, he delivers. His emotional scenes look the same in every single movie (that man can cry!), but he’s very believable as the illiterate farmer. The main star of the movie is young Maxwell Simba, a debutant from Kenya, who charms you the entire movie long. He’s extremely well cast. This is based on a true story, which is always tricky. But it all feels very authentic. Especially the fact that they learned the local language to communicate in. Hooray for that.

Worth watching.


Turn Up Charlie – *(*)

Posted: March 15, 2019 in 2019, Dramedy, TV series, UK, X1/2

Idris Elba has an eight episode series on Netflix as of today. It’s a British show and is marketed as a ‘comedy’, but it’s more of a chaotic dramedy. The first episode is kind of cool though. Idris plays a middle-aged amateur dj, who had one big hit in the nineties, but spent all his money on women and booze. He lives with his aunt, lies about his success to his parents and is penniless. An old buddy of his, now a famous actor, is moving back to London with his successful dj-ing wife and their spoiled daughter. Somehow, Idris’ character Charlie accepts the job of being the kid’s nanny. Part because he needs the money and part because he hopes to get back into the music business. Of course, he starts to care about the kid as well.

After a few episodes the relationship between Charlie and the kid becomes second fiddle. Like they ran out of interesting scenes between the two unlikely buddies. In one later episode they are at some alternative dance festival and the series becomes dull. In another episode they are in Ibiza. The simple sitcom feel from the beginning, becomes a show with drugs and sex. That’s where it becomes chaotic. In the final episode the question is more about who is in love with who and the kid just is a distraction.

There should release a soundtrack. On vinyl of course. The music is good. And it’s not without merits. The auntie with her Nigerian accent is funny. And some scenes are well done. But in general this is just not a great show.

After Life – ***

Posted: March 10, 2019 in 2019, Comedy, Dramedy, TV series, UK, XXX

If you like Ricky Gervais, this is a great six episode binge watching dramedy series. He found a perfect coat to hang on his stand up comedy jokes. Plus, he proves he has a heart as well and his stabs are getting subtle.

He’s Tony, an editor of a local newspaper, who lost his wife and has become cynical, sarcastic and suicidal. He vows to just tell everyone the brutal truth, which of course, is a perfect way of showcasing his humor. In his discussions with colleagues and the people he needs to interview, he can enlighten them with his logical, honest and rude observations and thoughts.

The downside of it all is that the jokes are not really original. We know Ricky likes animals more than humans, we know he’s an atheist, we know he doesn’t like fake and hypocrite attention, etc… What is original is that he shows a character with a heart. The last episode is pretty much un-gervais-like. It’s actually heart warming. Yet, in a great scene with his dad, who suffers from Alzheimers, there’s room for humour as well.

Watch it.




The Favourite – ***

Posted: February 22, 2019 in 18th Century, 2018, Dramedy, Historical, UK, XXX

This is an interesting costume drama. It has great acting performances by Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman and the period setting, costumes, make up and script are amazing. It’s not really a comedy though. The trailer and the Golden Globe nomination for best comedy don’t really do the movie justice. This is a pretty sad and tragic story about a lesser known British Queen, unfit to rule the country and unfit to produce an heir. It’s also not a historically correct movie, but just like with Marie Antoinette, some anachronisms work really well. The vogue dancing during a ball ! The compassionate ‘fuck’ through the hallway. And all the lesbianism.

There’s no proof that Queen Anne had lesbian affairs. But that doesn’t matter. The scenes aren’t explicit anyways. It just helps the viewer understand the intrigue. This pretty much feels like a story that could have taken place at the court of Versailles. So it’s interesting to see it happen at the British court.

Not all is good. The camera work isn’t the best. Those wide lenses shots are terrible and the shots towards the sunlight are a sore in the eye. It’s a daring move, but the cinematography just isn’t what you expect. That said the script isn’t what you expect either and some of the scenes and dialogues are memorable. They make up everything. So does the acting. But why are there two supporting actresses and one lead? Just to be sure to get the nods? All three play an equally important role and are equally good.

Juliet, Naked – **(*)

Posted: February 7, 2019 in 2018, Romance, romcom, UK, XX

Flight movie #2

At the end of this indie comedy the name Nick Hornsby comes up and it all makes sense. The British author has written several books and screenplays that focus on quirky romance with a musical impact.

Same in this gem, which revolves around a young woman who’s a bit bored with her partner of fifteen years. The guy is obsessed with an indie rock star from the nineties, who he devoted a blog and an entire basement room to. The rock star hasn’t made any music for the past twenty years and seemed to have disappeared from the planet after he walked out of a concert back in the mid nineties. One day a demo cd arrives at the couples’ home address and it turns out to be the first new material of this rock star. This will change the future of all three people drastically.

It’s a fun movie. Ethan Hawke is the rock star and he does a fine job. His character is really goofy and irresponsible. He ends up showing up in the UK, more specific in a charming coastal town of Kent, where the couple lives. The jokes are witty and very British. The drama is light-hearted, but engaging. The music sucks, but that’s the whole point of the story. It’s over before you know it. So give it a shot.

A nerdy teenager with few friends and a traumatic sexual self-awareness becomes an unlikely star in school when he starts giving (moral) sex advice to his fellow students for money. He gathers his advice from his mom, a neurotic sex therapist, and – truth be told – often helps the young couples with his tips.

There’s eight episodes of this new Netflix series and you can easily binge watch them. The series starts as a comedy, but gets more dramatic after a while. It’s probably aimed at teenagers, but the conversations about sex are quite explicit and there is nudity. Which is fine (if you know the actors are all twenty somethings), but a bit unusual for a high school dramedy. Another unusual thing is that it’s set in a school full of British speaking kids, but the atmosphere is very American. Research tells that it’s an homage of the creators to the high school comedies from the eighties. But it’s really just a cheap trick to make this a hit on the US market. It’s annoying. But it’s the only annoying part.

The characters are very British though. And there are some nice twists in the narration and the depiction of the individuals. It’s a multi cultural and multi sexual show, because it’s 2019 and students aren’t just white or straight anymore. The best friend of the main character is an openly gay, black crossdresser who gets bullied a lot, but learns how to own his being different. In one of the best scenes his reserved, careful immigrant dad warns him about the consequences of standing out and being different. Interrupted by a driver who wants them to move aside, he shouts at the guy. For the first time since his move to Britain he dared to shout at someone! He hugs his son (wearing a female African attire and lots of makeup) and thanks him for being so brave and being so confident.

The trailer may put you off. Yes, they do talk about sex all the time. But it’s a really good show. Even for adults.

This is one weird series of single episodes about ventures into the world of the not so distant future with its scary technological changes. Some episodes are excellent, others are crap. Some episode makes you feel uncomfortable and lead to debates with friends. Others are so far-fetched that it’s difficult to get into the story.

As it goes: here’s the list ranked from best to worst. And the new episode is at the bottom.

A nerdy game developer that started up a successful company with his former best friend, is now being bullied at the office. However, at home he dives into his own creation of a Star Trek like game in which virtual reality versions of his colleagues are now under his command. USS Callister *** (S4/1) is a riot.

In Hang The DJ *** (S4/4) couples are matched by a system. People are forced to go on dates that are chosen for them. Two first time daters kinda like each other but the system only gives them 24 hours on the first date. Can they beat the system? Really clever episode. 

Arkangel *** (S4/2) is directed by Jodie Foster. A mother is so obsessed about losing her child that she has an implant put into her that is linked to some kind of tablet on which she can check the location of where her kid is and also see what she is experiencing. Once the child becomes a teenager, she lets go of the control system until she re-discovers the app several years later when she’s worried about her daughter’s behavior.

Nosedive *** (S3/1) makes for uncomfortable viewing, because you see a beginning trend around you all the time. People seem to only do thing for the amount of likes they get on Instagram or the amount of followers they have on twitter. But what if that amount dictates your life and what if you get discriminated when the amount goes down? How far will you go to get more likes? Scary shit.

 A rather reserved girl meets an extrovert woman in a club at the beach resort town San Junipero. Maybe this can be her first romantic and sexual experience? Unfortunately at the strike of midnight, life stops and can only be taken back a week later. Most of the episode takes place in 1987 and has the coolest music and outfits you can think of. But then the twist happens and it’s over. San Junipero **(*) (S3/4) starts of great, but finishes soft.

The Entire History Of You **(*) (S1/3) is the strongest episode of season 1. But it’s a BBC series, so season 1 only has three episodes. It’s a scary episode that makes you feel very uncomfortable. The idea of having a chip implant that records everything you see and do as some advanced camera diary is terrible! frightening! Well done episode.

A series of people die after they have been bullied on social media with the hashtag #deathto. A team of investigators quickly find out how they got killed. They were attacked by artificial bees, mini-drones. But who’s behind it all? Hated In The Nation **(*) (S3/6) is a great episode with a good twist near the end.

A neuro-scientist has opened a museum along a desolate highway focussing on his breakthrough achievements. A young girl stops to visit and learns about three particular cases, of which something is at display. They are bizarre and scary. There’s a lot of talk in this episode, but there’s room for some humor as well.  Black Museum **(*) (S4/6) is worth the watch.

Soldiers get an implant that makes them see the enemy as cockroaches. A new recruit discovers that his implant is a lie. It’s a scary theory. It makes you think about how we see others. Directed by a Flemish movie maker and quite a thrill, but not as unique as other episodes. Men Against Fire: ** (S3/5)

A young woman has a terrible time mourning over the death of her boyfriend. Until someone mentions a certain application that can recreate the deceased person digitally based on whatever the person has posted online. Be Right Back ** isn’t one of the best episodes, but captivates until the end.

In The National Anthem ** (S1/1) a prime minister is forced to have sex with a pig in front of a tv audience in order to save the life of a kidnapped royal. It’s freaky. You constantly wonder how far you would go? It’s explained why the prime minister actually considers doing it, but still, it’s a non dilemma. Weird first episode.

In Playtest ** (S3/2) a careless world traveller likes the idea of playing a new kind of videogame where you emerge into a phantasy world by yet another kind of implant. It’s classic horror. It’s scary and feels really weird. It’s too far-fetched to be uncomfortable though.

A successful woman is confronted with her past when her ex boyfriend is ready to reveal a secret. This has to be stopped and murder is an option. At the same time an investigator for an insurance company uses a special technique to record the last memories of a witness. Both will meet. And when they do it gets scary. But before they meet, it’s kind of boring. Crocodile ** (S4/3) isn’t so exciting.

In Shut Up And Dance *(*) (S3/3) an anonymous source has hacked the computer of a teenager. They filmed him jerking off. Then threaten to expose the video if he doesn’t do what they tell him to do. Along the way he encounters others that have been filmed by that network. It’s well acted and has some surprises, but ends really predictable.

A comedian doing the voice of an obnoxious cartoon in a late night tv show, starts questioning the point of it all when his producers want him to start a show on his own. Or better run for elections. It’s a good idea, but The Waldo Moment *(*) (S2/3) is too short to make a real impact.

The White Christmas * (special) is a mindfuck. It’s a series of stories that all lead to a predictable end. The whole episodes feels like a collage of previous black mirror stories. People can see through other people’s eyes, ‘cookies’ (copies) are taken out of people and placed in an alternate world, etc.. yawn.

A woman wakes up with amnesia and needs to escape certain hunters while everyone is just taking pictures of the whole event. White Bear * focuses on public shaming and the obsession of people to record everything. It’s short. Luckily.

15 Million Merits * (S1/2) is a bore. It’s very futuristic and depressing. It’s frightening to see that this could be a future we are heading to. It’s a world filled with reality tv shows and it’s disgusting.

In Metalhead (no stars) (S4/5) a woman is being hunted by some robot dog that guarded items that were stolen. It’s a mess. It’s boring.

A game developer creates a game based on a book with alternate stories. However, while creating the game, he feels like someone else is controlling his actions. In the new Bandersnatch (no stars) (special) the viewer needs to select how the story will evolve. It’s a unique concept, but it’s annoying. Watching tv with a remote control and having to do all the work? No thanks. They make you go back and revise your choice anyways. So much for being in control.