Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

Elio Perlman is a cosmopolitan kid who resides with his parents in their fancy summer-house somewhere in the north of Italy. Most of the time he’s just bored. He excels in the arts. Plays the piano, the guitar, reads a lot of books and is a bit of loner. His father does some archeological research in the area and has invited an American man to come help him. The man is dashing. He has the whole village under his charm. From the teenage girls to the poker playing seniors. However, this is Elio’s story and Elio falls in love with him.

The directing is fine. The shots are great to look at. The soundtrack really works well. Combining piano compositions with silly 80s italo-disco. The acting by newcomer Timothée Chalamat is remarkable. So different from the shy and uncomfortable appearances on talk shows. The movie makes you want to book a trip to Italy and it makes you want to retreat to go write a book or something and to fall in love with the first attractive stranger that comes around.

BUT. It’s a silly story. Boy falls for man. Man first keeps a distance. Boy starts exploring his sexuality with his best female friend. Man then lures boy into his bed. Boy dumps girlfriend. Man and boy have a holiday fling. The end. Two and a half hours long! Yawn. Yes, it’s a bit awkward to watch a blossoming relationship between an adolescent boy and a man. But watching Lolita is also awkward. But hey, it’s all consensual. The kid is a cool kid to empathize with. The man however is boring as hell. Why on earth is this kid interested in this man? That’s the big failure of this movie. The object of love and lust has the charisma of an abricot. Or no. The abricot has more charisma. Watch the movie to find out why.

Disappointed. The story is boring. The audio-visuals are beautiful. 


Review after three episodes (six more to go) – *(*)

Part fantasy horror film, part mystery thriller. The first three episodes are confusing. Which is the whole point. The main character has amnesia, but is the key witness in the disappearance of Thomas De Geest. She’s been interred into a psychiatric hospital and gets questioned by both her shrink and a detective. She’s an odd woman. She claims to have amnesia, but the viewer gets to see all kinds of memories in flashback. Why? She’s clearly lying to the shrink and the detective as she remembers snippets of what happened to her in the past and then claims to not know anything. But why?

There are nine episodes. It was a big success on television. It has a lot of renowned actors in the cast. And it is somehow intriguing. Maybe it’s worth watching it until the end. But my god, is it boring. And slow. And the set design is terrible. Several scenes don’t make sense. Give me realism over fantasy anytime. There is no suspense, just weird scary scenes stolen from the vast catalogue of horror movies. Even if you’re not a fantasy film lover, it all feels like it’s been done before a zillion times. A haunted house, a devilish child, electricity blackouts, cape wearing figures, scary dolls, a mysterious man in the forest. Add a cheating husband, a sexually comfortable sixty year old, a foreign looking caretaker/gigolo, weird patients in the psychiatric ward, etc… It’s a mess.

Review after nine episodes – *(*)

So yes, it’s worth watching the series until the end. The final episode does have some surprises in store. But you can’t really talk about a plot twist. The actual plottwist happens at the end of episode 5. It’s not a big surprise for the viewer, but it kind of changes the series from a fantasy thriller to a regular detective drama. The flashbacks are no longer memories of the main character, but rather added for the viewer’s benefit. Which feels like an inconsistency. The acting is ok. But it’s so boring at times. And all these hyped kudos to the director for showing a) depth to the characters and b) beauty in the visuals. Bull. The characters are pretty one-dimensional and the scenes look messy. Also, the way psychiatry is depicted here, is terrible. It’s stereotypical and unoriginal.

Sometimes, a hype is only a hype if you want it to be.

I, Tonya – **

Posted: March 11, 2018 in 2017, biopic, Dramedy, USA, XX

Sure, it was on the news in Europe back in 1994: skate champion hires someone to injure her main competitor. But it was just a tidbit. Who cared? Apart from the entire American nation maybe. It is one of those bizarre sport incidents that get picked up in pub quizzes or so. Like that time tennis player Monica Seles was stabbed on court. It happened, it was in the news, it was bizarre enough to remember, but that’s basically it.

Now there’s a movie about the incident and it’s all over the news again. With much more details and attention. And less bias. Margot Robbie plays an intriguing Tonya Harding. Allison Janney deservedly won an Oscar for her part as the terrifying mother. And Sebastian Stan is quite a revelation as Tonya’s husband Jeff, who allegedly gave the order for someone to injure Nancy Kerrigan. This threesome acts great!

The movie is good. But it’s a comedy that tries too hard to be a drama. Sometimes, the balance between both work well and you get an amazing dramedy. But this is not the case with this biopic. Some elements are amazing. You have the excellent camerawork during the figure skating routines. Amazing! The storytelling itself is quite entertaining with characters talking directly to the audience at times. There are also some clever visual details. But in the end, it’s more of a parody than an actual biopic.  You constantly think: no way, this is a total exaggeration. Too bad the movie seems quite representative of the life Tonya led, according the former Olympian herself. And however good Margot Robbie is performing, she’s way to old to play Tonya Harding in the years leading up to her peak.

It’s a good movie, but like the notorious incident back then, it will soon be forgotten.

Marshall – **

Posted: March 10, 2018 in 2017, Civil Rights, Courtroom, Drama, USA, XX

Chadwick Boseman may now well be the hottest guy in Hollywood after the stellar success of Black Panther, but his previous movies didn’t really do well at the box office. Nor has he really been in a lot of movies. Regarding his age. Which is sad, because he’s a fine actor. This time around he’s playing yet another icon of black America: Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice. No biopic this time, but one moment in his life: The State of Connecticut vs Joseph Spell.

In fact, that should have been the title of the movie, because that’s what it is all about. It’s an interesting case where a white socialite claims to have been raped by her black driver, but he claims to be innocent. In comes this Marshall, a prominent and notorious black lawyer, who is sent by the NAACP to make sure colored people get a fair trial. He isn’t really allowed to plead, so they find a Jewish lawyer who has no experience with criminal cases and just represents insurance companies, but who should be willing do to whatever Marshall tells him to do.

It’s an okay movie. It’s a court room drama. It doesn’t really tell much about this Thurgood Marshall. But Chadwick’s performance makes you believe he was an intriguing man. Sterling Brown is great as well as the alleged rapist. But it’s Josh Gad who is doing the best acting as the Jewish lawyer. However, it’s just a court drama. Set in a historic time. Stressing the injustices that were put onto black people and jewish people (it’s set during WW II). It’s the kind of movie you watch, like and then forget.

Sure, it’s a good history lesson and yes, Jessica Chastain is a great actress, but this movie is pretty dull. It shouldn’t be. It’s about a noble and brave couple that helped rescue several Jewish people from the ghetto in Warsaw, during the German occupation. Yet, there’s nothing in the movie that stresses this bravery and nobility. It all feels too much like fiction.

First there’s the decision to film a story in Poland and have the characters speak English. That’s a standard procedure in Hollywood (or other movie industries), but it’s annoying. Especially if the actors speaks English with an accent. Either speak Polish and have it subtitled or speak English. But English with a fake Polish accent, just makes the story less realistic.

Then there’s the development of the side characters. Or better: the lack of. In order to empathize with the victims, it’s important to get to know them. But we never do. They get rescued and hide, but we don’t know anything about them. Some stay a bit longer, others come and go. It’s all very superficial. You should feel like the zookeeper and his wife are doing something special, but the way it’s presented feels like they are just doing what’s right. There’s little tension. And that feels unrealistic too.

And finally, there’s the redundant character of Lutz Heck, a former friend and colleague of the zookeeper and his wife, turning against them and becoming the bad guy in the movie. He’s a zoologist and a scientist with crazy ideas, which is intriguing, but turns out to be a powerful nazi officer in the occupied Warsaw as well. Which is a bit far-fetched.

There are two different stories here. One is about a family who has the means and courage to rescue people and takes the risk of doing so. And the other is about a scientist who uses the zoo’s facilities to breed animals that were believed to be extinct. Mixing both of them feels fictionalized.

The Zookeeper’s Wife is okay movie fare, but the real story is much more exciting.


Arriving a day early for a meeting, I decided to look at the selection of movies that guests can choose from in the room that I’m staying at. The selection is poor. There are quite a bunch of titles that missed my radar or that just weren’t of interest to me. The best titles are The Lost City of Z,  Captain Fantastic, Hidden Figures and A United Kingdom. And that’s about it.

But, being tired and all, watching a few comedies sounded like a good idea.

First up Why Him? with the totally unfunny James Franco. It’s a terrible movie. Probably the worst I have watched in a long long time. The fact that I’ve finished it is remarkable. Somehow you’d think there would at least be a few funny scenes. But no. Nothing is funny. This humor just doesn’t work (for me). A rich douchebag with tattoos invites over his future parents-in-law. But he can’t stop swearing and cursing and talking about sex in their presence. For 90 minutes long. The fact that it’s presented as some kind of parody to the life of the young rich IT guys who run the Facebooks of the world, is ridiculous. The creators better look up the word ‘parody’. This movie is shit. From start to finish.

Next: Snatched. The second feature movie of comedienne Amy Schumer. It’s not a good movie, but after having seen Why Him? it’s actually quite funny at times. Reviewers complained about the lack of chemistry between Schumer and Goldie Hawn, who plays her mother. But compared to the lack of chemistry between James Franco and Bryan Cranston, this is unjust. Schumer plays a girl who lost her job, got dumped and won’t cancel her no-refund trip to Equador. She convinces her over-caring mother to join her, but once they’re looking for a bit of adventure, the trouble really starts. Snatched really isn’t all that bad. It’s like you’re watching Katleen Turner in Romancing The Stone at times. Two blonde women. One younger, one older. Lost in the jungle and on the run for criminals.

Snatched any time over Why Him?. Schumer any time over Franco. Now, let’s hope they never join forces.

Big Little Lies – ***

Posted: February 28, 2018 in 2017, Drama, Thriller, TV series, XXX

It’s quite a feat to make a tv series about rich, married mothers of first graders that can appeal to single, middle class men without kids. The synopsis helps: someone gets killed at a fundraiser event, but nobody knows who and by whom until the very last quarter of the series. The stellar reviews and the many awards help to trigger interest. The amazing cast is also a very strong selling point. And hey, it was definitely worth the watch. This is a great show. The acting is phenomenal and the character development is even better. This a very well written series. There is tension. There is some humor. There’s lust. There’s a lot of DRAMA. But it’s the female characters that make it all work great.

The men on the other hand are stereotypes and of lesser importance. Some side stories are irrelevant (the secret project of Abigail was a bit too much) and the misleading editing doesn’t make sense. Especially those tidbit showing statements from characters that hardly have any importance to the main story. The soundtrack is good, but it’s very unlikely that children and adults actually listen to tracks chosen for this series. One soundtrack choice was really good though: Papa Was Rolling Stone. The end disappoints a bit. But the seven episodes pass by before you know it.

Great television!

And it’s very clear why Nicole Kidman wins all the awards. It’s sad to see Reese Witherspoon miss out on so many awards, but there is no doubt about it. Kidman is the absolute best. Although Shailene Woodley is excellent too. Not sure why she gets nominated as a supporting actress. She’s a main character !