Archive for the ‘2018’ Category

Free Solo – **(*)

Posted: March 20, 2019 in 2018, Documentary, USA, XX1/2

A few hours ago on National Geographic: the 2019 Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo.  The dazzling account of a climber trying to conquer the El Capitan rock in Yosemite without ropes is still playing in some theaters and there you have it on tv already. Netflix has started a weird trend.

The Oscar buzz and the trailer make you want to see this movie. The reviews are stellar as well. El Capitan is a magnificent rock to look at. Climbing it with ropes is already crazy. So, this challenge looks like something you don’t want to miss.

The actual climb is filmed really well. The makers used drones and camera’s with ultra zoom lenses. Some footage is shot by guys hanging on ropes nearby the ‘easiest’ parts. Even on a small screen, the views looking down into the valley are not for those suffering from fear of heights. It must look even more vertiginous on a big screen, but it works at home too. The editing is top-notch. They must have had hours of footage and made a great action sequence of it all.

However, this is only about 20 minutes of the documentary and it’s at the end. Before that you have an hour of typical American documentary making with a lot of blablabla and (at times meaningless) interviews of people concerned (Alex Honnold himself, his climbing buddies, the film crew, his mom, his girlfriend, other free climbers…). At one point his girlfriend stresses that she still doesn’t understand why he wants to do this: risk his life to pursue an idea/dream/obsession. In fact, almost everyone wonders why he wants to do it. Yet, nobody gives an answer. And definitely not the documentary makers. So why even bother trying to find out?

The most interesting parts are where he prepares the climb and explains where the tricky sections are. If you make a documentary about a free climber, focus on the free climbing not on his personal life. At least not if you can’t give answers as to why someone is so foolish/stubborn/suicidal to attempt such a challenge.

It’s good that they mention how many of his predecessors have died in this extreme ‘sport’. Yet at the end, the ‘hero’ of the story encourages young people to do even more extreme things. Hm. Hero is in between brackets, because there is nothing heroic about climbing a rock without gear. More than often you hear about these extreme sports fanatics who always look for the next thrill and then die while pursuing it.

It makes you wonder if they would have shown the documentary if he had fallen to his death.

A few years ago, a Flemish tv personality, who takes on challenges, climbed El Capitan with some professionals. He was a climber virgin, but prepared well. Now that was an exciting tv program! It’s below the trailer, but has no subtitles. Somehow that was more intriguing. Free Solo is worth the watch, but only the last part is really fascinating.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7775622

 

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Skin – ***

Posted: March 7, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Short Movie, USA, XXX

Short movies are not often available to watch. Shouldn’t we have some kind of platform where young directors and film school students can upload their work?

The Oscar winning Skin is available to watch via vrt.nu until the end of March. You just need to log in with your Facebook account.

It’s a controversial win. A white supremacist doesn’t like the fact that a black man is smiling at his son. He calls up his friends and they beat up the black man in front of his wife and kid. A few days later the supremacist is abducted into a van, also in front of his kid, and victim of a clever revenge act.

It’s only 20 minutes long, but it’s a fascinating. It’s an original idea and it’s directed really well. How to interpret the message, is up to you. Don’t watch the trailer below. It kind of gives away the clue.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7332306

Christopher Robin, the kid from the Winnie De Pooh stories, is a grown man now. He has lost the ability to get lost in his fantasy world. All that matters is his job. And there’s a crisis going on at work, making him cancel the travel plans he had made with his family.

In the fantasy world of Christopher’s childhood Winnie De Pooh has lost his friends. He’s waiting for Christopher Robin to come help him find his friends, but he hasn’t seen Christopher in such a long time and decides to look for him as well. Via a magical door in a tree, the bear arrives in post world war London…

What follows is 90 minutes of boring characters in boring scenes. Maybe it’s a nostalgic trip for those who were fan of the Pooh stories as a kid. And maybe really young kids will like it. But in general, it’s obvious why this wasn’t a huge blockbuster: boring, sad and humorless! The visuals are great though. So that’s something.

www.imdb.com/title/tt4575576

The Favourite – ***

Posted: February 22, 2019 in 18th Century, 2018, Dramedy, Historical, UK, XXX

This is an interesting costume drama. It has great acting performances by Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman and the period setting, costumes, make up and script are amazing. It’s not really a comedy though. The trailer and the Golden Globe nomination for best comedy don’t really do the movie justice. This is a pretty sad and tragic story about a lesser known British Queen, unfit to rule the country and unfit to produce an heir. It’s also not a historically correct movie, but just like with Marie Antoinette, some anachronisms work really well. The vogue dancing during a ball ! The compassionate ‘fuck’ through the hallway. And all the lesbianism.

There’s no proof that Queen Anne had lesbian affairs. But that doesn’t matter. The scenes aren’t explicit anyways. It just helps the viewer understand the intrigue. This pretty much feels like a story that could have taken place at the court of Versailles. So it’s interesting to see it happen at the British court.

Not all is good. The camera work isn’t the best. Those wide lenses shots are terrible and the shots towards the sunlight are a sore in the eye. It’s a daring move, but the cinematography just isn’t what you expect. That said the script isn’t what you expect either and some of the scenes and dialogues are memorable. They make up everything. So does the acting. But why are there two supporting actresses and one lead? Just to be sure to get the nods? All three play an equally important role and are equally good.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5083738/

A Star Is Born – **

Posted: February 22, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Musical, USA, XX

This movie probably doesn’t need any introduction. It’s directed by Bradley Cooper who ‘stars’ as an alcoholic rock singer and also features Lady Gaga. The movie found a large audience and critics love it as well. Personally, this movie didn’t appeal to me at all. Shallow is one of the most annoying radio songs of 2018 and the snippets I’ve heard from the soundtrack sound equally terrible. Moreover, it stars Lady Gaga (not a fan) and features a drunk and addicted rock singer (not original).

But it was okay.

In fact, Lady Gaga was surprisingly good. Sure, she’s playing a character who can sing well, who can play the piano and who isn’t afraid of embracing commercialization without losing authenticity. But still, it was a good performance. She even outshines Bradley Cooper in the scenes that they are together. It’s not so clear however where the focus is in the movie. It’s not on a young waitress becoming an overnight star. It’s not a rock star dealing with his addictions. It’s not on a relationship between two talented music loving hearts. It seems the focus is on the soundtrack.

And the songs are terrible. It’s like Kings of Leon meets Whitney Houston meets broadway musical shit. No. No. No.

www.imdb.com/title/tt1517451

Eigen Kweek Season 3

Posted: February 14, 2019 in 2018, Comedy, Flanders

This is terrible. The first episode is still kind of okay, but it’s incredibly difficult to keep watching this until the end. The charismatic loser from the first season has become one of the most annoying tv characters of Flemish history. And he’s in almost every single scene. The humor is simple, predictable and repetitive. The drama is ridiculous. The action is still kind of fun, because it’s absurd. But that doesn’t save these six episodes from being a bomb. The first season was refreshing. The second season a disappointment. The third a total failure.

Green Book – **(*)

Posted: February 13, 2019 in 2018, Civil Rights, Dramedy, USA, XX1/2

Mahershala Ali wins all the supporting actor awards this season for his portrayal of a black piano playing genius who wants to go on a tour in the Deep South. The story takes place in the sixties and a black musician touring in the south wasn’t the greatest plan at the time. He needed a good driver and found an uneducated, but tough Italo-American bodyguard who could do the job. That guy is interpreted by Viggo Mortensen, who is nominated a lot for his performance, but never wins. That’s a shame, because he’s doing an excellent job. In fact, he kinda outshines Mahershala in this gentle dramedy. Not that Mahershala isn’t doing a great job. He is. But he’s not the focus of the story.

It’s a nice movie. But it’s very superficial and predictable. It focusses on an idealized buddy relationship between two men that have almost nothing in common. It’s entertaining, but very light hearted. And just like with Bohemian Rhapsody, the homosexuality of the musician is briefly suggested, not shown at all and hidden behind the well pronounced fact that he was married to a woman at one time.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6966692