Archive for the ‘2008’ Category

During a hop on hop off tour in Johannesburg, the audio commentary recommends watching Jerusalema as it drives by the Hillbrow district, where empty high-rise buildings were invaded by blacks from the townships after the fall of Apartheid.

It’s a great recommendation. This is a really good movie. It starts with the arrest of Lucky Kunene, a hoodlum who basically is in charge of all the buildings. He gets interviewed by a reporter and the rest of the story is one huge flashback. It takes the viewers back to his youth where he gets into the lucrative business of carjacking once he learns that he is not entitled to receive a tuition for a university career. After a ten-year break of criminality (kind of) he discovers a more clever way of making lots of money. He sets up a building trust and collects all the rent from families living in the aforementioned buildings. With that money he buys property where he can charge rent again. He basically becomes a regular landlord (kind of). However, a Nigerian gang leader isn’t all too happy with Lucky’s empire which pushes him, his drug traffic and his prostitution network away from Johannesburg’ center.

The best thing of the movie is not so much the story, but the main character’s development. He’s a very likable gangster, with a sense of morality. He’s intelligent and ambitious and therefore respected. All he wants is a dream house near the ocean in Durban and crime is just another way of getting it. The two performers who portray him (as a youth and as an adult) are excellent. This really is great acting. But also the sidekicks are doing a great job as well. Only the female characters and actresses disappoint.

Another cool thing is that this movie is made in South Africa and by South Africans. It’s not an American movie set in the fascinating country. It’s home-made stuff. Think about The Wire (atmosphere) meets Cidade de Deus (exoticism) and you get the picture. It’s way better than the award-winning Tsotsi.

Eden Lake – ***

Posted: December 18, 2014 in 2008, Horror, Thriller, UK, XXX

A couple goes camping near a deserted lake and gets bullied by a group of young kids. Things get really bad when their car gets stolen and they claim it back.

Eden Lake is an incredibly thrilling and action packed horror movie. It doesn’t have any extraordinary special effects and the gore is limited to a few images. But the script keeps on going and surprises with simple, but efficient twists. The acting of Michael Fassbender and Kelly Reilly is superb. As a viewer you believe every single feeling of fear, anger, frustration, despair and rage. The bullies are less enticing. They are soulless, numb and horrifying.

Luckily, this is a British production with an end that makes perfect sense! Great directorial debut! If you have given up on thrillers and horror movies, see this one. It will make you appreciate the genre again.

A former criminal gets released from prison and tries to stay on the right path. He gets help from his brother, who chose a totally different kind of life and became a cop. It doesn’t take long for the ex con to fall back into his bad habits, damaging his troubled relationship with his family even more.

This is the original movie on which Blood Ties, a crime drama released earlier this year, was based. Time to rent that movie soon, just to see what was kept and what was changed of the story.

This version has so many side stories that don’t lead to anywhere in particular. They are intriguing, but don’t get fully exploited and explained. It turns out this movie was supposed to have been a television series, but they ran out of production money, so they turned it into a 100 minute cinematic release. Too bad. Now it feels like the movie is unfinished.

The acting is solid. The atmosphere grim and imitating movies like The French Connection. The script is not all that bad to be honest. A lot is explained by simple dialogue. But halfway through the movie you are wondering where it all leads to and the disappointment is huge when it ends into confusing nothingness.

Missed chance.


Rock On – *

Posted: September 18, 2014 in 2008, Drama, India, Musical, X

Okay, not all modern Bollywood movies are good.

This is pretty bad.

The story itself is very basic: A decade ago, four friends were ready to hit it big as a rock band, but split even before the first album was recorded. Now, all of them lead a different life and by change they get together again. To make it into a 2,5 hour movie the story is told with flashbacks, several side stories and a lot of long sequences of the rock music the band was supposed to be successful with. The flashbacks and side stories work, but the music is horrible.

It’s a low budget movie that scored well, in India. The story is told in a simple, but efficient and truthful way. The acting is amateur, but not annoying. But the editing is terrible. Horrible really. And there is no humor at all. Zero laughs in 2,5 hours, which is too long anyhow.

Just skip this one.

Prom Night In Mississippi – *(*)

Posted: December 27, 2013 in 2008, Documentary, X1/2

Kind of stumbled on a documentary that intrigued me a lot. In the hometown of Oscar winner Morgan Freeman there is a school that up until 2008 still had separate proms for white and black students. The acclaimed actor already proposed to pay for the first integrated prom in 1997, but the school board wouldn’t hear of it. Enter a Canadian documentary maker with his camera team and bam, the school agrees.

What follows feels like a school assignment. Badly filmed, even more poorly edited with the students themselves in charge of what gets on tape and what doesn’t. And one-sided.

However, more than the shocking fact that there are still communities in the US where children attend school together for their entire life and then need to celebrate finishing school together – apart, this is a great look into ‘prom’ culture.

It’s not like Europeans don’t know what ‘prom night’ is, but most only know the event from television series and movies. So it’s pretty interesting to learn about this essential part of American culture in a less glamorous (or horrifying) way – depending on what kind of movies you like to watch. The stress about finding a date, the stress about finding an outfit, the stress about getting to school in a fancy car (why not a limousine), …. It’s all there. But the kids in this documentary are more ‘real’. They are all obese or underfed, aren’t particularly attractive or concerned about their looks, drive a car at 17 and speak with a horrible accent that makes them sound less intellectual than they probably are. This is no criticism, it’s a comment. A documented fact.

So as a document on prom night, it’s good. As a document on intolerance and racism in today’s society it’s not.

In this High School in Charleston, 70% of the kids are black, 30% are white. It’s the white folk especially who don’t want to have an integrated prom. After all, the integrated prom would feel more ‘black’, them being in the minority and all. The documentary focusses so much on those who support the integrated prom that it loses any credibility. Yes, it’s silly to have separated proms, everyone agrees on that. So why not focus on those who don’t? That would have been more interesting.

There are only a few explanations on why there is still a separated prom organized for those white pupils whose parents forbade them to go to the integrated one. Some suggest that white parents are afraid of their daughter being wooed/drugged/raped/attacked when they hang with the black pupils after school. Several say it’s tradition. But only three come from the separating community. One girl say she doesn’t mind the integrated prom, but all her friends are going to the exclusive white one so she wants to be with her friends. Fair enough. A redneck father, whose daughter is dating a black guy, isn’t all too keen about it either, but doesn’t oppose to it. Whatever. Then finally you see a couple who give a more explanatory reason: God has made white people white so they would be different from others. And he made black people black for the same reasons. To mix white and black is to create uniformity and if God had wanted uniformity we would all be mixed. It’s all about religion again.

And what does the documentary maker do with it all these prejudices and beliefs? Nothing. Louis Theroux he is not. Some may say that you shouldn’t intervene and you should just record. Fine. Other will say that maybe he didn’t get the permission. Fine. But there are more questions after the end credits than answers. Missed chance.

Maybe Morgan Freeman should just throw a party for the parents instead as they are the ones who should have been the focus.

The whole documentary is on youtube:

Divinidylle Tour – **

Posted: November 12, 2013 in 2008, Concert Movie, France, XX

I missed the concert of Vanessa Paradis in Brussels last week and totally forgot that I hadn’t even watched her Devinidylle concert movie yet.

It’s an interesting background concert documentary, the kind you can watch/listen to while doing other things. The songs are from her Divine Idylle album, which has two of her best songs (the title track and Dès Que Je Te Vois). But you also hear some of her other hits. It’s not a full concert in one location, but a documentary with interviews of Vanessa and her band members with performances in all kinds of cities. She calls the Bruxellois the best crowd after her concert there. I guess it’s better than calling the Parisians or the Lyonnais the best crowd. The French won’t mind that much. Vanessa isn’t the prettiest singer and she isn’t the best singer (her English is really bad for someone who at the time was still married to Johnny Depp), but she’s ADORABLE. She really looks down to earth and shows pleasure in singing her songs to a large crowd.

Sure, she’s the star, but the band is equally important and it shows. They are interviewed a lot and their solos are as present as the singer’s singing. Some of the guitar solos are quite impressive, but it’s not like you would listen to them ten times more.

Oh and Johnny is nowhere to be seen.

Incendiary – *

Posted: November 11, 2013 in 2008, Crime/Detective, Drama, Thriller, UK, X

Cleaning up my dvd’s-to-watch box, which has a lot of rubbish. The kind that you buy at stores as part of a ’10 for 15 euro’- deal. Those are very tempting deals because there are always 3 or 4 that you really want to see (or give away as presents) and then you just take 6 or 7 along.

Incendiary is one of them. It stars Ewan McGregor, who is a very likable actor. And it also stars Michelle Williams, who looks like Naomi Watts on the cover of the dvd. They are both good actors and the acting is really good throughout the movie. However, the story unfolds in such a chaotic and simplistic manner that you just want to give up after an hour.

A woman is cheating on her husband while he’s at a soccer game with their son. A terrorist attack at the stadium takes the life of 1004 people, amongst which the father and son. She’s left devastated, feels guilty and finds comfort in the colleague of her husband. However, the guy she was cheating on is a journalist and starts to investigate the attack.

And that’s where it all goes wrong. If it would have stayed a movie about a woman’s guilt it could have turned out fine. But that whole investigating story line that reveals certain information about the terrorists and about the attack is crap. You start watching some kind of romantic drama, but the story unfolds in a thriller and it just doesn’t work. Next !