Archive for the ‘2014’ Category

The Water Diviner – **(*)

Posted: June 27, 2020 in 2014, Australia, Drama, Turkey, War, WW1, XX

A bit of a flop, this directorial debut of Russell Crowe, but worth the watch.

Crowe also plays the main lead: a father who travels from Australia to Gallipoli to find the bodies of his three sons who got missing in action during the disastrous World War 1 battle.

Crowe is a joy to watch. He may not be the most expressive actor out there, but he embodies the character really well. The man loses his children and his wife, has nothing much left to live for, so decides to go on an unprecedented journey into post WW1 Turkey.

It looks like an old skool romantic war drama from the sixties, which is a good thing. The cinematography is great. A bit over-romantic maybe. Istanbul looks gorgeous in the yellow filter. It’s definitely not a dark, grey and grim movie. There is some action, but it’s not a war action movie. The story takes place after the First World War. There is an awkward romantic touch to it that isn’t necessary, but kinda cute.

Also positive is that the Turks speak Turk amongst themselves. That most speak fluent English to converse with Crowe’s character is a bit unlikely, but we’re only talking about five people here, so maybe, just maybe, these Turks were fluent in English back in 1919. It’s great to see a Turkish view on this Gallipoli battle. They lost a lot of lives as well. It’s not only ANZACS that got killed. The fact that a Turkish army leader helps locate the bodies of deceased soldiers sounds plausible. That he becomes some kind of ally/friend with this Australian farmer is less plausible. But it works. Just like Russell Crowe, Yilmaz Erdogan is a joy to watch.

Maybe, on another night, the inaccuracies would have bothered. The main actress isn’t even Turkish! The Greeks are represented as a bunch of mountain war mongers.  But it was a good movie tonight.

www.imdb.com/title/tt3007512

 

The devastating First World War. Four years of chaos and death in Flanders Fields. And at the end there was the Spanish flu.

It’s quite surreal to watch this Flemish series during corona times. But it’s being removed from Netflix by the end of the month and the idea was to finish it before the many professional trips to Ypres next month.

The show is well filmed and there is much eye to detail. The research was done well and the period setting is great. But the over-abundance of storylines is getting annoying halfway into the show. World War I is a fascinating period in history and there are so many facets of the war that were never addressed in major Hollywood movies. But to pack them all into a ten episode series is just not good.

Even though it’s an international production, it is still a Flemish series and the focus is on the story of a Flemish family. This may not appeal to international audiences as they will not understand the many references. We see the family Boesman from Ghent at the outbreak of the war. Doctor Boesman is a gynecologist who wants to become a professor at the university and assumes the war will soon be over. His wife, who is part of the catholic bourgeoisie, is at his side. Their oldest son is ready to go to battle. Their younger son is more opportunist and prefers to stay home and continue his work as as sales person. The daughter is too young to do anything, but she aspires to be a doctor one day, like her dad.

The characters are intriguing and good guides through the thick storybook of little tales about the war. But at one point it’s enough. Everything is mentioned. Briefly and superficially.  The Flemish social pillar system (socialist/catholic/liberal); the subordinate role of women, the Flemish collaboration and resistance, the pop-up brothels for the English officers, the gas attacks, the smuggling, the espionage, the food shortage, the Christmas truces, the war tactics, … and they still add romance to it all as well.

To give you a spoiler example focussing on the daughter. She wants to become a doctor but can’t as a woman, betrays her best friend whose father is German, tries to run errands for the resistance, is attracted to the young German officer who occupies her house, smuggles something across the border to her Grandmother, has an abortion, flees to England, becomes a nurse, meets her brothers in battle, etc… She clearly is the main character of the show, but actress Lize Feryn can’t carry the show. Luckily she is assisted by two actors playing her parents. Wim Opbrouck is great as the collaborating gynecologist and Barbara Sarafian is at her best trying to support her husband’s bad decisions.

Unfortunately it’s not a must-see and even a drag by the end.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2253780

Sugar Daddies

Posted: December 10, 2019 in 2014, Drama, USA

Everything is bad in this movie. The acting. The script. The editing. Just about everything.

A young law student can’t pay her tuition and her parents are having debts as well. She’s working as a waitress to earn at least some money to survive and gets intrigued by her fellow college students who are dating much older men and seem to not care about finances at all.

One of them invites her to a private club for older men and that’s where she meets Grant Zager, a single businessman in his sixties with lots of money and the desire to have a young trophy girlfriend near his side. She accepts his offer and they fly on his privet jet to San Francisco for a first ‘romantic’ dinner. Pretends to like the guy. Starts liking the guy. Starts lying to everyone. Until her father finds out and there is a confrontation. Upsets the sugar daddy and gets dumped. Wants him (and his money) back. Agrees to engage in a freakish fetish game. Someone gets killed. She solves the crime. Learns her lesson. The End.

This is SOOOOOOOO bad that it’s intriguing to see how this can ever be produced and made and shown on tv.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4329098

Sarajevo – **

Posted: July 28, 2019 in 2014, Austria, biopic, Germany, Terrorist, War, WW1, XX

This whodunnit … or rather who-ordered-it-to-have-it-done starts off really well. It focuses on one of the most important historical moments in recent history: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

The protagonist is Leo Pfeffer, the magistrate in charge of the investigation. The case is quite simple really. Gavrilo Princip shot him after an earlier attempt to kill the archduke by other Serbian terrorists failed. They even arrested the murderer and he confessed. So what’s there to investigate?

Well, according to this movie a lot. Like, who ordered this murder? In history class we learn that a group of Serbian anarchists did it. But did they get the order from the Serbian government? Or … did they get the order from German (business) leaders who just wanted to start a war ?

The movie is good. Well acted. Well directed. Well told. BUT it’s focussing too much on the latter assumption. It’s an interesting thought and it’s true that Europe was eager to go to war (at least the German leaders), but we get the point after a while. There’s also a love story, which most likely is pure fictional and was just added for the drama. It’s well thought of, but it does bother the storytelling a bit. The conversations between the characters also feel like these characters know what the future will look like. Which they didn’t.

Still. Worth the watch. And it’s on youtube

www.imdb.com/title/tt3691446

 

The Theory Of Everything – **

Posted: March 14, 2018 in 2014, biopic, Romance, UK, USA, XX

A young, beautiful, christian, language student falls for a funny, nerdy, atheist scientist. But soon he’s diagnosed with a muscle disease and only has 2 more years to live. They get married and try to make the most of it. However, the dude continues to live. And becomes a popular scientist, publishing a best seller et al. She could easily cheat. And she has a love interest! Her choir leader and family friend Jonathan!. But she remains loyal. The scientist, all paralyzed, gets along really well with his new nurse, who he seems to be able to communicate with well (via computer screen technique). Will he cheat?

Yep, it’s that kind of movie: a romantic drama!

Never really cared about seeing this movie, but hey, Stephen Hawking died today and I hardly know anything about him. So, it was worth the attempt. Not that this movie helped. I know as little about him now as before. Kudos to the main actors. Oscar-winner Eddy Redmayne did a Daniel Day Lewis and did it well. And Felicity Jones is the real star of the movie. She shines in every scene. Just for the acting sake and because Hawking died today: **.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2980516

Not all is funny, but some bits are hilarious. Chelsea Peretti just talks and talks. There’s not really a concept or so. It’s like she’s on a high and says all the funny things that ever made people laugh around her. Which is fine. Because there are a lot of things that are funny. She has a quirky way of telling stories and she’s goofy.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3804556

saw it on netflix, but it’s on youtube as well:

Holt and Gina. His character, her one-liners. That’s really the only reason for watching all 23 episodes of Season 2. And to a lesser extent also season 3.

Some episodes are really good. Well written and funny as hell. Others are just okay. Some in season 3 are just bad.

But Holt and Gina. Love them!

The last couple of episodes  of season 3 are okay though as they become a  bigger story spread over several episodes, but it’s clear that the creators are trying too hard to make absurdity be funny.

 

Ae Fond Kiss – **

Posted: November 14, 2017 in 2014, Romance, Social Drama, UK, XX

For a movie made in 2004, this Ken Loach film still functions well in 2017. Nothing has changed in 13 years. A sad conclusion. The premise still intrigues these days. Can a catholic, female music teacher and a muslim accountant find happiness as a couple in modern-day Western society? Yes? No? Maybe?

Ae Fond Kiss feels like it was made by a debutant graduating from an unknown film academy. Which is not a bad thing, apart from the fact that it’s made by an experienced and award-winning director. The script is so predictable. Of course the catholic school environment will be depicted as being as old-fashioned as the Pakistani tradition of arranged marriages. The social commentary is too gentle. If you want to confront viewers with racism, don’t do it by just mentioning it. Go for the uncomfortable feeling! Some scenes don’t make sense. Like the moment where the guy discovers a tattoo on the body of his new girlfriend, which he has been licking and kissing all night long a few days before. Duh! The acting of most of the cast is non-professional. Which is fine. Eva Birthisle is quite remarkable as the teacher. Atta Yaqub looks lost as the Pakistani accountant. But playing the character as a bit of a shy loser, makes him more sympathetic. The rest probably didn’t even get paid for being extras with lines.  It has a terrible end. Totally opposite of what any rational person would conclude. But the whole experience is worth the watch. A Scottish movie to recommend!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0380366

 

 

 

East Side Sushi – *

Posted: September 13, 2017 in 2014, Drama, USA, X

Long Distance Flight movie #7

A struggling Mexican-American single mom living with her dad is tired of combining a fruit stall vending job with a cleaning job at a fitness center. She loves cooking and decides to apply for a job working in the kitchen of a fancy sushi place. She gets the job, but can only stay in the kitchen even though she has the talent of helping out the chefs who prepare the food in sight of all the customers. When she doesn’t get promoted at the restaurant, she gets all upset, quits and enters a sushi making competition online.

YAWN

It’s really interesting to see how the sushi is prepared. They film it really well. However, it’s like a promo movie by the sushi restaurant organization who want to attract a different crowd: the latino community.

Not sure why reviewers rave about the ‘performance’ of Diana Elisabeth Torres. She’s terrible. She’s the main character and her forced over-acting ruins the movie. All the others are acting bad as well. It’s a debut movie. It feels like a project made by students who graduate at films school. It’s filmed really well.

But the story, the main character and the acting are so incredibly annoying.

ps: Why do movies so often have to explain scenes that are obvious? There’s a word of play joke about her name, Juana. The Japanese for good afternoon is Kon’nichiwa. So, the joke is that the chef calls her Kon’nichijuana. Great. We get the joke. It’s lame, but ok. It works. So, of course, when the chef gives her a special Sake-box with her name on it, it will say ‘Kon’nichijuana’. You really don’t need to SHOW it.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2340650

Generally, Hollywood blockbuster comedies aren’t really funny. Or only partly funny. Luckily, from time to time, there are exceptions. Like The Hangover for instance. And also 21 and 22 Jump Street. Binge watch both of them and you’re in for almost 4 hours of pure fun and entertainment. Both movies are consistently funny. They are extremely silly and outrageously absurd, but very refreshing as well. There’s also subtle humor and plenty of cultural and social references/critiques. They often reverse the expectations. Which is great. The fact that within the script they joke about rebooting a tv series from the eighties (in the first one) and making a more expensive sequel (in the second one) is proof of how cleverly the script was written. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are really good at this kind of action comedy. And Ice Cube is just being Ice Cube to the fullest. There are quite a lot of surprises. And several quotes and one-liners are instant classics. You do need to have seen the first one, to understand the jokes of the second one. So that’s why it’s better to watch both of them in one rush. Yep. Very surprising.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1232829

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2294449