Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

Fighting With My Family – **

Posted: October 10, 2019 in 2019, Dramedy, UK, USA, XX

Quite an enjoyable 99 cent rental for on a long train journey. Nothing too heavy, nothing too serious. Nothing annoying.

It’s the story of the WWE wrestler Paige, who grew up in a wrestling family in Norwich, England and made it all the way to the top. It’s a fun British dramedy, like only the Brits can make them.

The acting is quite good, especially by the main actress (Florence Pugh) and her on screen mom (Lena Headey, Cersei from GoT). But also by Vince Vaughn as the coach. The jokes are funny. So, as a comedy it works. As a drama it only rarely does. Sure, it’s a great zero to hero story. It’s well told, classical and very predictable, but well told. But any scene of conflict feels extremely forced. Which is strange for a movie that is set in the conflict driven wrestling scene. The tale of a brother and sister sharing a same dream and only one achieving it, is quite compelling. But it’s shown in an non-compelling way. Which is sad.

Still. worth the watch.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6513120

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Woman In Gold – **

Posted: August 16, 2019 in 2015, Courtroom, Drama, UK, USA, XX

Gustav Klimt’s Portrait Of Adèle Bloch Bauer was hanging at the Belvedere in Vienna for several decades until a family member of the model claimed it back.

It’s an amazing story. Based on true facts. Adèle Bloch Bauer was a model for one of the most important Austrian painters. Her husband commissioned the portrait and it hung in their house for many years. Until the Nazi’s took over control in Vienna and the paintings were confiscated. The portrait was brought to the Belvedere, which is one of the many art museums in Austria’s capital.

Jump ahead to the late nineties when Austria starts to talk about giving back paintings to those families that the nazis stole it from. Unfortunately for the Austrians, there’s a niece of Adèle Block Bauer living in Los Angeles who wants the painting of her aunt back. She gets the help of a young lawyer, also of Jewish-Austrian descent, and an Austrian journalist who wants to come to terms with the country’s nazi past.

It’s an okay movie. The story intrigues and Helen Mirren is quite charming in the main lead. She created a character that entertains throughout the entire story. Also good are the flashbacks to the time of when the painting was made and the time of the nazi takeover. But unfortunately the focus is on the court case and that’s a tad boring.

Not sure what Austrians think about this movie…

www.imdb.com/title/tt2404425

After visiting The Third Man Museum in Vienna, it’s kind of obligatory to eventually (re-)watch the movie that inspired the museum.

But.

Be ready to be disappointed.

Sure, it’s a classic movie. It’s really well filmed. The cinematography is great. There are several beautiful scenes that have influenced the work of many future directors. The acting is solid too and the setting (post-war divided Vienna) is intriguing.

However, the story is very predictable. When the movie was released, the big surprise was a big surprise to audiences around the world. But seventy years later (7 decades!) the surprise isn’t a surprise anymore. Especially if you know that the movie stars Orson Welles and he’s not onscreen for the first hour. Somehow there is no tension at all in this ‘thriller’. Even when you see it for the very first time.

But still. Worth the watch.

www.imdb.com/title/tt0041959

Three more episodes of this fascinating series of standalone near future dramatic thrillers. Not so thrilling or scary or thought provoking as before, but a good watch nevertheless.

Striking Vipers (***) isn’t half as scary as other episodes. In fact, the technological novelty kinda looks appealing. It’s a virtual reality game console that makes you become the character you chose. The idea could be frightening, but this time the makers turned it around and made it something more sexual and romantic. Quite intriguing. Well acted.

In Smithereens (**) a man kidnaps an employee of a major social network company in order to be able to speak to the founder of the company. He manages to do so and the end is a bit of a disappointment. It’s the kind of kidnapping show that makes you wonder why the person being kidnapped is not cooperating with the police to being rescued.

Miley Cyrus plays an unhappy pop star in Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (**). Her manager controls every aspect of her life and just wants the business to boom. Just as a new A.I. lookalike robot is launched on the market, things get ugly. But thanks to one of the robots and the owners of it, the pop star is saved.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2085059/episodes

 

A Month By The Lake – **

Posted: May 3, 2019 in 1995, Dramedy, romcom, UK, USA, XX

On the long way to Lake Como by train and plane, it looked like the perfect moment to watch the movie all local guides seem to refer to if they run out of stories to tell about George Clooney.

Back in 1995, Vanessa Redgrave starred in a romantic comedy about an older woman retreating in a villa near lake Como. An older man arrives at the retreat and she feels intrigued by him. They go for a drink and then a tennis date, but the chemistry just isn’t there. Until a young woman arrives and messes things up. She’s a big flirt, but the older man falls for her. Enough for the older woman to start flirting with a young man.

Of course, it all ends well. It’s very predictable. It’s a nice movie to watch, when you’re familiar with the region where it’s been filmed. And Vanessa Redgrave is excellent, thanks to the quirky character she can embody. Edward Fox is well selected to play the love interest. But Uma Thurman as the young flirt is terrible though. This movie was released after Pulp Fiction, but it looks like she has no acting experience whatever. Totally miscast.

No let’s see in the next couple of days how easy it is to find romance in this gorgeous district.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113849/

 

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.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7533152/

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.

www.imdb.com/title/tt830449