Archive for the ‘2016’ Category

A guided tour of the Leopoldmuseum in Vienna by an art historian who raved about Egon Schiele. That’s all it takes to start watching the biopic that was made of the famous Austrian painter a few years ago.

It’s an interesting movie. It’s well acted, somehow historically correct and it shows the complexity of the artist without really judging him. That said, it’s also quite superficial. And romantic. Egon Schiele was not a handsome guy, yet he’s interpreted by Noah Saavedra – who apart from being an actor also works as a model. This feels wrong. Like having Brad Pitt or so play Van Gogh. However, the guy does an excellent job by keeping you intrigued for the entire length of the movie. Same for Valerie Pachner, who plays his muse and (eternal) lover Wally.

It’s a love story really, but a good one. Without a happy end of course. They all die. And that’s not a spoiler. The title is referring to one of his most famous paintings. A painting which is quite disturbing, something this movie (unfortunately) never does. So Egon Schiele himself would probably not like it at all. But oh well, he died 100 years ago…

www.imdb.com/title/tt4558396

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It’s quite brave to make a comedy about the refugee crisis and how the Germans deal with it. And it’s quite a feat to release this comedy within a year of the big crisis. It’s even more amazing that the movie was successful, becoming the highest grossing movie of 2016. In Germany.

It’s also very weird that this movie didn’t make headlines abroad and wasn’t successful in other countries that deal with the same issues. It’s even weirder when you realize that the main refugee in the movie is played by a guy who lives not even 10 miles from where you live and was the focus of a documentary a few years ago about a struggling black artist in a predominantly white society.

Anyways, this movie is riding on the wave of French box office hits that show how the bourgeoisie deals with the multicultural society. The goal of the movie is good: let’s all just get along and look behind the stereotypes. However, every single character in this movie is a stereotype and you can’t look beyond it. It’s also not so much a comedy about the refugee crisis, but more a comedy about a dysfunctional family and how the arrival of a refugee first stirs up things even more and then  – of course – makes things much better by the end.

Europeans will like this movie. At least the ones who think that by liking this movie they will be classified as not racist and welcoming to (certain) refugees. Non-Europeans may not appreciate the over the top humor so much. There’s a lot of micro-racism in this comedy. But there are also quite a few laughs as well. And in between all the jokes there is some criticism on how people think about the crisis as well.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5500148

 

German television thrillers aren’t really made with big budgets and the stories are pretty predictable, but sometimes when you’re in a lazy mood and there’s nothing else on while you are flipping through channels in a German hotel room, then it’s a good 90 minutes of fun.

Tatort has been going on for a long time, but the main leads have changed over the course of the years. This episode has two female leads, who are pretty sarcastic, especially in their remarks to their pseudo macho chief. As you are introduced to them, you want to see how this duo is going to solve the crime. Both are great, but actress Karin Hanczewski has this sassy Amy Adams look and her character is really feisty. A real treat.

The story is set in Dresden where a famous schlager singer is found murdered, a few days before a big folkore festival will take place that had him on the line-up. The setting of the story makes the episode a bit more fun as well, as the schlager world is often depicted as a world of the intelletually challenged, both on and in front of the stage. Even though that leads to some funny scenes, it also leads to a big sigh at times as it’s ‘cheap bullying’.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4982674 

No trailer, but you watch the episode online. If you understand German of course.

 

Passing by Leukerbad on the bus, I mention the remarkable stay of James Baldwin in this charming little town along the Rhone in Switzerland. Most of the time, the bus is very silent as if they’ve never heard of the man before.

Sure, he wasn’t Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, but he was nevertheless important as an African American activist. He was ‘just’ a writer and a homosexual on top of that.

This documentary is based on a book he never finished, in which he reflects on the legacy of the aforementioned leaders and the lesser known Medgar Evers. It’s a good documentary, because they use a lot of footage (especially pictures) from that era and it’s narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, who reads from the unfinished novel in the most surprising and fascinating way. Not sure if there are awards for narrators, but he deserves one.

You do need to have some background of the civil rights movement in the United States though. This isn’t a explanatory documentary about that fight. Nor will you learn much about Baldwin himself. You’ll want to learn more about him after this documentary and maybe that’s the point of this production. It’s interesting how the things he wrote about in the fifties are still relevant sixty years later.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5804038/

 

Divines – *(*)

Posted: March 1, 2019 in 2016, Dramedy, France, X1/2

Hm.

This violent look at teenage girls in the Parisian ghetto choosing a life of crime over, well, the alternative, is over the top.

It’s not the new La Haine. It’s not the new Bande De Filles. It’s just not as good as reviews say it is. It’s an entertaining, sensational debut. Sure. And okay, the two actresses are a joy to watch and deservedly won the César for best newcomer and best supporting actress. And yes, there are some very good scenes in it (the ferrari dream sequence for instance). But because it’s so over the top, all realism is gone and so is all empathy for the characters and their situations.

But it’s refreshing to see girls kick ass and run the show. You’ve got balls becomes You’ve got clitoris. The drug dealing boss surrounds herself with half naked men. Etc… they could have taken that over the top as well.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4730986

Bad Moms – (*)

Posted: December 23, 2018 in 1/2, 2016, Comedy, USA

Crap movie #4

This was on tv. It has the fine Mila Kunis as a young mom who just has too much on her plate. She manages the household, she manages the business that she’s working at, she manages her children’s school work. She does it all. Until her boss tells her to take on more work, until she discovers her lazy ass husband cheats on her (online) and until the school board requests her to be present for a meeting about trivial things. No! It’s over. She no longer wants to be a perfect mom. She decides to be a bad mom. She stops making breakfast for her kids, she kicks her husband out of the house, she takes time off from work…

The trailer kind of promises a Seth Rogen/James Franco- like modern comedy (including a lot of swear words, jokes about anal sex, jokes about shitting and barfing, use of drugs, references to the multicultural society we live in and some lesbian/gay kissing…) But somehow this movie also wants to give a message. Which feels weird. The balance between a story that critiques the high expectations of moms and an over the top comedy doesn’t work. The jokes fall flat. The message gets lost.

After 90 minutes of wasting your time, you’re stuck with one question: since when is being circumcised the standard and is foreskin bad?

www.imdb.com/title/tt4651520

When a successful Indian wrestler retires, he vows to one day make his son a world champion, as he himself was never given the chance to fight internationally. Unfortunately, his wife can’t seem to give birth to a baby boy and he’s ‘stuck’ with four daughters. He’s left disappointed, until one day his two oldest daughters come home from school, having beating up two boys…  Suddenly he sees potential in them becoming wrestling champions, regardless of their gender.

Based on a true story, this movie is quite the joyful family fare (Disney produced it) with a clear message of Girl Power! At first, the girls are reluctant to follow the strict training schedule of their father, but along the way they start loving the game (especially after winning a lot of competitions and after realizing their father is trying to give them a better future excelling in something they are talented in, rather than sending them away in arranged marriages). They will finally give India medals in the Commonwealth Games of 2010.

It’s a great movie that shouldn’t be missed. Sure, it’s a Bollywood movie, and a lot of cinema lovers from the West aren’t really excited about the cinema coming from Mumbai, BUT this is such an accessible movie and is has a lot of funny moments. Yes, it’s overlong and yes there are musical intermezzo’s, but that’s part of the charm. Yes, there are cultural differences, but girls playing a sports for men, are looked strange at wherever you go. Just think about the status of female football players or female cyclists for a minute. It’s well filmed, well acted, and though simple and formulaic, the story fascinates.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5074352/