Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

The Greatest Showman – *(*)

Posted: February 11, 2018 in 2017, Musical, USA, X1/2

Movie choice by mom: an entertaining musical.

Predictable, loud, superficial, incoherent and with a terrible ‘modern’ soundtrack. The album sells well, so there’s an audience for it out there, but de gustibus non est disputandum. Songs to which everyone in the cast seem to lip sync. A cast of ‘freaks’ that don’t look freaky at all. A cast with Hugh Jackman as an unconvincing lead and that buffed guy from Baywatch – Zac Efron – as another box office draw. Sure, it’s all entertaining. But it’s forgotten as soon as you walk out of the theatre.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1485796

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Friends Season 1 – **(*)

Posted: February 6, 2018 in 1994, Comedy, TV series, USA, XX1/2

Several articles in online newspapers made me re-watch Friends. The show is apparently outdated, racist, sexist, homophobic.. .you name it. Well, not sure what this new generation of Friends watchers expect, but this show was made in the nineties and it’s as tame as can be. Sure, there are moments where you think the political correctness of today wouldn’t accept certain jokes that were made back then. But offensive? No! Maybe they are lame. And in the case of Ross and Rachel, they just show what kind of uninteresting people they are. Happy Endings was a more inclusive sitcom about six friends (with one gay and one black character), but it stopped after three seasons. Unfortunately.

For those who watched Friends when it aired in 1994 (me), it’s a fun nostalgic trip to better times, when you’re in college and sit together with your friends every week to watch another episode of those other friends from across the pond. Those were fun moments. “I’ll Be There For You” was a big sing-a-long hit in student bars and at parties. And almost everyone talked about the adventures of the silly six as if they were mutual acquaintances, imitating the some of their famous one-liners.

Season 1 was fun to re-watch. The characters you liked back then are still fun to watch. The characters you couldn’t stand back then are still annoying. Some episodes are classics, others are totally forgettable. But there’s enough humor to keep you watching.  You smile in the beginning, but by the end of the season you laugh. Out loud.

+: Chandler! This guy still cracks me up. Almost every single time. Monica: under-appreciated character. She’s a riot in almost all of her scenes. Janice: OMG!

+/- Joey: surprisingly funnier now than back then – Phoebe: surprisingly less funny now than back then. Susan should have gotten more airtime.

– : Ross is one conservative loser and Rachel is a high-maintenance bitch. All criticism should be focused on how they behave and talk. They deserve each other. Are they racist, sexist, and homophobic? Probably not. But I totally get why people don’t like their behavior. Marcel: totally redundant.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108778/

 

 

 

The Florida Project – ***

Posted: January 31, 2018 in 2017, Dramedy, USA, XXX

Movie afternoon with mom.

Her choice: The Florida Project (beating The Post, Wonder, The Greatest Showman, …), because ‘it doesn’t always have to be about rich Americans’ (her words).

We both loved it.

The setting is great. The run down motel and souvenir shop area near Disney World in Orlando.

The filming is great. The colors! The picture like framework!  The camera just following these characters do their thing.

The acting is refreshing. The director just let his cast walk around and say things and then edited the best parts into a movie. It really looks like all scenes were shot in one take.

But the best of all: the story telling. Nothing is being told. Everything is just shown. You have to just interpret. No explanation. Just scenes and they all make sense. The dialogue doesn’t feel scripted. A lot of story elements are suggested with visuals. Excellent!

Yes, my mom didn’t always get it, asking quite often ‘why is he/she doing that?’, but when talking about it afterwards in the car, she did always find the reason why herself. There are quite a lot of references to American pop culture that get lost if you’ve never been to the place before.

This is people watching supreme! And it’s a good lesson for movie makers like the Dardenne Brothers or Ken Loach: it IS possible to add humor and color to a story about the lesser off in our society. In fact, it makes the movie and the understanding for their misery BETTER.

 

 

The Night Of 24 October 2014: a business student isn’t getting a ride from his best friend to get to a party in Manhattan and decides to ‘loan’ the cab of his father. He doesn’t know how to switch off the ‘available sign’ and a girl gets in the car, expecting to get a ride. It’s a pretty girl and although he’s eager to go to the party, he decides to spend the evening with the girl. The unusual date ends up in her apartment with drugs and sex. But when he wakes up a few hours later, he finds her dead in her bed, stabbed 22 times. In panic, he decides to run, taking away evidence of drugs and the blood covered knife….

The pilot of this 8 episode series is an absolute masterpiece of story and character introduction. It’s so fascinating, you cannot but binge watch the rest. The pilot shows you exactly what the prosecutors will use against the suspect. Every single step is shown. In details. The only part that is a mystery is the time between the start of the sex and waking up finding the girl dead. The suspect can’t remember any details of that time frame and the viewers won’t know what happened either.

The other episodes are fascinating as well. The student gets arrested, goes to prison, needs to adapt to life behind bars while awaiting his trial. The prosecutors and detectives think they have a solid case, but still have doubts. The defendant’s lawyers try to do their own research and also have their doubts. The family of the student experiences the backlash to what their son’s actions… And it’s all filmed in a very detailed way, showing parts of an investigation that hardly ever get shown.

There are too many subplots and moments that don’t really help the main story line. Some are added for pure fun. The debate at the coroners for instance. Some are just annoying. The lawyer’s continuing search for remedies against his eczema outbursts for instance. Some don’t feel realistic. The drug smuggling scenes in prison.

But in general, this script is very strong and there are plenty more scenes that make you feel you’re living the nightmare yourself. Whether you empathize with the student, his parents, the detective, the prosecutor, the lawyers or the inmates… There’s a lot of empathy for these characters here and that alone is a great feat. Well written and well acted. Feature length movies can’t beat tv series when it comes to that.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2401256/

 

Philadelphia – **(*)

Posted: January 27, 2018 in 1993, Courtroom, Drama, LGBT themed, USA, XX1/2

Philadelphia was groundbreaking back in 1993. Tom Hanks playing a homosexual with Aids! Of course he won an Oscar. But the real star of the movie was/is Denzel Washington, who never got the credit he deserved for his role as the initially homophobic counsellor who decides to represent Hank’s character against the company that first sabotaged and then fired him once word got out about his disease.

It’s interesting how a movie feels exactly the same 25 years after you’ve last seen it! Tom Hanks is okay. But Denzel is phenomenal! The direction is good, but simple. Those close-ups though, they still work, attracting the viewer to the characters. The opera scene is way too long and you don’t really get to learn much about AIDS or the patients who suffer from it.  It’s a court room drama and the victim happens to have AIDS. That’s it really. The ‘gay’ aspect is just trivial.

It’s a good movie. Worth watching in 2018. Apart from the IBM computers looking very outdated, it feels like it could have been made last year. Which is great. For the viewers. Which is not so great. For those who still get discriminated for being gay or being hiv positive.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107818/

 

 

This is one entertaining movie! Great script. Great dialogues. Great acting. Some surprises. Awesome shots. Brilliant balance between drama and humor. Funny social commentary. Intriguing characters. And an excellent end. Any best picture award is well-deserved!

The trailer isn’t that representative of the movie though. It’s not that funny. And it’s not that kind of detective story. It’s just a look at how an angry woman deals with the inability of a police force to find the rapist and murderer of her daughter.

Go see it!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5027774/

Coco – ***

Posted: January 15, 2018 in 2017, Animation, Children/Family, Mexico, Musical, USA, XXX

A little Mexican kid dreams of being a mariachi musician, but his family is very much against a music career. This disgust for music and musicians dates back to a time when the father of his great-grandmother Coco left the family to pursue a music career and never came back.  The kid is a bit of a rebel and wants to perform at a local music festival, organized during the yearly Dia De Los Muertos holiday, when Mexicans remember their deceased loved ones. Something goes terribly wrong and little Miguel arrives in the land of the Dead …

This is just another marvelous Pixar movie. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be overwhelmed with the animation. But it’s still a kids movie. Just like with the equally excellent Inside Out, the story is not only aimed at adults and certain scenes and characters are added to also please the little kids. That’s fine. But it prevents the movies from being absolutely flawless.

The soundtrack is great. And the animation is brilliant.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2380307