Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Toussaint Louverture – **

Posted: August 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

This two part television production focuses on the life (and death) of Toussaint Louverture, who led the Haitian revolution in the beginning of the 19th Century. It’s made with a low budget, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just more of a history lesson than a cinematic experience. There’s a lot of military blablabla and you do need some background about the French Revolution, Napoleon and French colonialism. But it’s a very straightforward biopic told in flashbacks. They don’t make him into a flawless hero, which is great. But they don’t let other characters shine, which is sad.

The movie starts with the imprisonment of the black general (who got his title after defending the French from the Spanish colonizers). A young and ambitious soldier is given the task to gain his trust as the French leaders want their former general to reveal the location of a hidden treasure. In order to get this information, the young man starts writing down everything his prisoner is telling, starting with his life as a slave.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2062690

 

Toni Erdman – ***

Posted: August 24, 2016 in Comedy, Dramedy, Uncategorized
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45 minutes into this absurd German tale about an estranged father who visits his ambitious daughter at her workplace in Bucharest, you’re wondering what the fuzz is all about. But as he returns home, the second act of this crazy cinematic theatrical piece starts and you’re hooked. By the time you’re watching the finale you cannot but acknowledge the uniqueness of this awkward dramedy. It’s not all great, but some scenes are instant classics.

Don’t watch the trailer. Don’t read the synopsis. Just go see the movie.

Sandra Hüller is EXCELLENT! Best acting female performance in ages!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4048272

 

Strike A Pose is a Dutch/Flemish (!!!) documentary about whatever happened to the iconic group of dancers in Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour. There used be seven of them, but one (Gabriel) passed away. His spirit however is very present and an interview with his mother is included as well. It’s a good documentary, with a great build up, with few staged moments and accessible for those who have some background about the story and those who have never seen the underrated Truth Or Dare documentary. Luckily for the makers, they could use all the footage they wanted! Which is a great plus. There’s nothing worse than a documentary talking about certain things that cannot be shown. It’s not remarkably well filmed, but the editing is efficient. And each dancer is worth listening to and looking at. Time hasn’t really kept these fabulous and gorgeous dancers from being eternally young and handsome. Not that Luiz or Oliver care about how fat they’ve become. They still have the moves! In fact, that’s what’s so good about this document: all of them (apart from Carlton maybe) feel very at ease talking to the movie makers and are brutally honest. Jose still living with his mom and having her explain in Spanish how sad she is that he never made a career out of his sudden fame! It feels like something we can see at the local Man Bijt Hond human interest shows. The most intriguing character is Salim (who was born in Belgium). At the end it almost feels like he’s the instigator for this project,  because he has a few important things to share with the world!

Too bad it wasn’t more about vogueing!!! And too bad Madonna didn’t join them. (although she probably had some say in the creation of the final version).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5477402

“Why would you finish a show that you don’t like?” asked a friend who asked me what I thought of Dancing On The Edge. 

In short: it’s only five episodes and I somehow hoped it would get better once you got to know the characters a bit more.

Alas! It never got better. It’s just overlong and not exciting at all.

The premise sounds good though. It’s the story of a jazz band who tries hard to get their new music across in 1930s London. They get help from a music reporter and are able to perform in a fancy hotel with not so open-minded guests. The series stars the charming and talented Chiwetel Ejiofor as the leader of the band and the setting, costumes and make up look stunning. So far so good.

But the tone changes from a musical period drama to an ordinary crime story. One of the singers gets severely attacked and it’s pretty obvious who did it. The wrong person gets accused and it looks like he’ll be framed for the crime. A lot of characters are introduced that may or may not be complicit of the crime. So there’s a little suspense. But in the end it’s all so predictable and a drag.

Watch it only for Chiwetel!

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2163315

In preparation of X-Men: Apocalypse there are six X-Men movies to watch again and one to watch for the first time.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – * 

The acting is flawed and some of the special effects as well. It’s an action movie. Period. Sure, it tells the background story of Wolverine. But that’s not really compelling. The story doesn’t really help you appreciate the other movies more. There’s little humor and no social commentary at all, which was so great about the first trilogy.

X-Men (2000) – ***

Back in 2000 it was quite refreshing to see a team of comic heroes come to live on the big screen. Especially since the story touched social elements that are now even more relevant. Just think about how muslims are treated nowadays. Some have evil intentions and other don’t, but the former group causes fear and gets all the attention. So what is the other group to do?

Same happens in the original X-Men movie. A politician gains success with his promise to deal with the mutants who are potentially dangerous. One group of mutants (the X-Men under guidance of Professor Xavier) wants to help human kind and has hope that one day men and mutant can live together. Another group (under guidance of Magneto) sees it differently and wants to take over control. After all, mutants are the superior beings. It’s a battle that already kicks off from the very first moment. The acting is great. The special effects are still fascinating. The story is told well. There’s a bit of humor. And lots of action.

X2 (2003) **

Second time around, this sequel doesn’t really compel. It’s an action movie where all mutants are in danger and both teams behind Professor Xavier and Magneto have to work together to stop their kind from being killed. It’s fun, but the social comments are gone. The visual effects are still fascinating though. It’s the kind of movie that you better watch in the movie theatre.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) ***

Probably the best of the first trilogy! It has everything. It has the social references that the made the first movie great and it has the action and special effects that surpass the second one. This time around they found a cure for the mutants. Some are interested in getting the cure (Rogue for instance). Others of course can’t stand the idea of someone trying to cure them. Think about how some evangelical churches want to cure homosexuality for instance. Of course some of the government wants to use the cure as a weapon. And so, again the X-men have to bond together.

The Wolverine (2013) *

Euh. Ok. So, not sure why this movie was made. The Wolverine is mourning the loss of his beloved Jean Grey in a remote nordic place. A young woman comes to pay him a visit and tells him he is expected in Japan. A man, whose life he once saved when the bomb fell in 1945, is dying and he wants to see Logan for a very last time. But he has a last request and offer. He wants Logan’s ability to heal and in return Logan would get back to being ‘normal’. Things change rapidly when the old man dies and his grand daughter is on the run for her father and the yakuza, while Logan is hunted by another mutant. It’s all very chaotic. The action scenes aren’t really that spectacular. The fight scene on the roof of the high speed train is mediocre. The samurai fights are boring. There’s zero chemistry between the characters (not even in the love scenes). And there’s no humor. If this is the first in a new trilogy involving Wolverine than it kind of makes you not want to see the other parts.

 

 

Elser (13 Minutes) – *

Posted: May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

While leaving the centre of Munich towards Salzburg, you pass a Hilton hotel that used to be a brewery & beer hall. Nothing special, you’d think, apart from the fact that back in the thirties some guy (Elser) planted a bomb there hoping it would kill Adolf Hitler (who was giving a speech there). It went off 13 minutes too late (hence the English title) and killed/wounded innocent people working at the beer hall.

Nobody seems to know this story.

And that’s why Oliver Hirschbiegel (director of the excellent Experiment and Der Untergang) decided to tell the story of this brave man.

Well… it’s a boring story. I fell asleep after an hour and a half and can’t be bothered watching the final 20 minutes again. I’ll just read the short biography entry on wikipedia. There is no tension (the movie starts with the attack and then switches between torture/interrogation scenes and flashbacks). There is no humor at all, no captivating dialogue, no drama, no sympathy, no empathy. Nothing. It’s bland.

Maybe I’ve just seen too many movies about the nazis and those who resisted them.

It’s still a solid biopic. You can still check it out if you’re interested in the life Germans led just before the world war started.  A pretty confusing and intimidating time. Like, right now.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1708135

I needed to re-watch this for professional reasons. I will take American guests to Salzburg on several occasions this year and there’s a whole Sound Of Music day excursion planned as well. The strangest thing is that Austrians don’t seem to know about the existence and success of this movie. Apart from those working in tourism in and around Salzburg of course. But ask anyone in Vienna about this massive blockbuster hit from the sixties and they won’t know what you’re talking about it.

The Sound Of Music is the kind of movie that you’ve seen a dozen of times as a child, because they play it every single year on television during the christmas holidays. Almost all of the songs from the movie have become classics. Even if you haven’t seen the production, you’ll recognize at least a few tracks. But is it really a good movie?

Well…. it’s pure nostalgia. It’s corny. It’s cheesy. It’s fun. In fact, it’s a must. Let’s leave it at that.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059742