Hidden Figures – ***

Posted: April 5, 2017 in 2016, Civil Rights, Drama, USA, XXX

Hidden Figures is light-hearted, but memorable. It’s a movie for the largest audience possible. It’s a chick-flick with a masculine theme. It has three black women in the lead who anyone can relate to, regardless of the color of their skin. It’s a period drama, with references to today’s society. It’s a movie for young and old. For black and white. For men and women. It’s positive. It’s good. It’s a jackpot. It only has one flaw: Jim Parsons. Of all people they could cast as an annoying math scientist they chose Sheldon! But he only has a few lines. So you’ll survive. Watch it. Period.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340

Jackie – *(*)

Posted: April 5, 2017 in USA, Drama, biopic, X1/2, 2016, Chile

Hm.

Nathalie Portman is great as Jackie Kennedy. She would have deserved an Oscar. In fact, she’s the only reason why you really need to see this movie. She’s in almost every scene and even though her character isn’t the easiest to empathize with, she doesn’t bore. The writing is good too. The story focuses on the aftermath of the assassination of JFK. You don’t get to learn anything about her life before and after this terrible act. Apart from that one time she hosted a television crew inside the White House. But that’s fine. You get to watch her for 2 hours in the most difficult period of her life. Great.

Yet somehow this isn’t a great movie.

The soundtrack is so annoying that it disturbs the entire atmosphere of the movie. Magnificent according to the Guardian. Terrible according to many user reviews on imdb. Make up your mind. The other members of the cast play second fiddle and can’t even pull that off. This is Nathalie Portman’s show and the other actors look like they are auditioning for a part.

When you’re annoyed throughout the entire movie, it’s not a good movie. No matter how excellent the lead is.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1619029/

Lalaland – ***

Posted: March 24, 2017 in 2016, Musical, Romance, USA, XXX

Finally.

There’s a good reason why it took so long, but that’s another story.

So much has been written about this musical already that even those who haven’t seen it and don’t care about seeing it all, know what it’s all about. An aspiring actress and a jazz musician fall in love, singing and tap dancing around Los Angeles. It’s a modern take of the musicals and romantic comedies from back in the day with Ryan Gosling as a modern-day Gene Kelly and Emma Stone as a ginger headed Doris Day.

It works. It’s amazing. It’s entertaining. It’s charming. It’s flawed and not consistent in its marvel. But the overall impression is great. Emma Stone acts heavenly. Ryan Gosling performs more down to earth. But they sure have the right chemistry. Some moments are classic movie magic. Others are just random. Go see it. Don’t put on a I Hate Musicals attitude or don’t boycott the movie because it’s not Moonlight. It’s not Singin’ In The Rain either, but nevertheless a must.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3783958

 

Sprakeloos – **

Posted: March 24, 2017 in 2017, Drama, Flanders, LGBT themed, XX

Based on a popular book by one of the most successful Flemish writers, Sprakeloos (speechless) tells the story of a writer who has to come to terms with the emotional and physical decline of his mother after a devastating stroke. The concern for his mother is paired with anger and frustration.

The movie isn’t a success. Critics slammed it. Those who’ve read the book and seen the movie don’t like the interpretation of the story. But hey, the writer liked it. And I liked it too. More than a story about a very dramatic butcher’s wife/amateur actress who loses her speech (and rationality), it’s the story of the love/hate relationship of a son who looks a lot like his mother.

Yes, it’s flawed. But it’s well acted by Viviane De Muynck and Marie Vinck as the old and young butcher’s wife. And Stany Crets as the writer. The movie constantly swaps back and forth in time, a bit like what they do in This Is Us, and that keeps it going. It’s too bad it won’t get the audience that it deserves.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5585946

Fuocoamare

Posted: March 22, 2017 in 2016, Documentary, Italy

This is the kind of documentary that critics and festival-goers around the world love because of its subject, not because of its merits as a documentary. A good documentary gives you a better insight in something that you don’t really learn about otherwise. A good cinematic documentary shows you great images that make you feel involved. Unfortunately all of these elements are absent in this award-winning document of life on Lampedusa, the Italian island on which most refugees arrive from the African continent.

It’s sad, because the thousands of refugees arriving in Europa via a dangerous sea trait is a present-day topic that doesn’t seem to go away any time soon.

The idea of just showing images and limiting the amount of interviews is great! However, almost 80 % of the images are futile. We get it: there’s a contrast between the bored life of young fishermen’s kids and the enormous humanitarian crisis happening near their home. But what does it help to constantly see them being bored. The kids play with slingshots. So what. One kid needs to wear a patch in front of his good eye to have his lazy eye work a bit. Big deal. A mother requests a song for her son who’s at sea fishing. Yawn. The radio host plays it and reads the news about a collapsed refugee boat nearby. A doctor gives info to a refugee about her unborn twins. Then explains about the horror he’s seen in the boats that arrived on the island. Some refugees sing a song about their struggle. Some refugees pose for their first picture in Europe. Some refugees lie dead in the bottom part of a shabby boat.

But again. The images aren’t really telling anything more than what we know from reading the news. The images are boring as hell. And a documentary on a serious subject like this shouldn’t be boring. Ever.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3652526

Cities of Love Part III.

After the disastrous Paris, Je T’Aime (2006) and New York, I Love You (2008) someone thought it was a good idea to also make a similar mash-up of silly love stories in Rio De Janeiro. That someone was probably paid a lot by the Department of Tourism of this cidade maravilhosa. None of the stories are captivating. The acting is terrible. The dialogue is ridiculous at times. It’s a complete waste of time and money for the talented people who participated in the project. Hopefully, they received a lot of money for this, because none of them can honestly claim they actually feel proud of whatever they did. Either acting or directing.

But unlike the other two movies, this one actually is worth watching until the end, because unlike the other two movies, it shows the city in the most beautiful kind of way. There are dozens of shots from above, but hey, that’s what makes the city so beautiful. That gorgeous view over the bay with all the rock formations around it… there’s nothing quite like it. As a commercial, this really works well. You want to visit asap. Just be warned that you won’t really be able to see the same views unless you get on a helicopter…

So as an overlong commercial, it’s okay. As a movie it’s not. There are so many stories you can tell. The city is so inspiring. Yet, we see ten tales that just don’t appeal. Most of them aren’t even in Portuguese and have characters from outside of Brazil. Some have potential though. The story about the one-armed boxer could have been explored better. The one with Harvey Keitel is also not that bad. It just feels like a draft of a story. Like a rehearsal for something else. Others are totally amateur like the one where Vincent Cassel rebuilds his sand sculpture. It’s a nice idea, showing the different kind of people walking on the iconic Copacabana side-walk in accordance with different sounds. But the sounds are terribly annoying! Couldn’t they have brainstormed a bit more to find awesome, recognizable sounds ? And Vanessa Paradis and John Torturro doing a stage play dialogue around a kitchen table: what the hell is this doing in a movie set in Rio?

Yeah, this is NOT a good movie. Just watch the trailer.

😦

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1456606

Hacksaw Ridge – **(*)

Posted: March 14, 2017 in 2016, Action, Australia, War, WW2, XX1/2

A member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (some kind of evangelical group) enlists to help out in World War II, but refuses to carry a gun as he refuses to kill anybody. He enlists as a medic as he wants to save lives, but he needs to go through a training in which shooting a riffle is part of the program. It’s a tough training and he nearly doesn’t make it to the battle fields, but when he does, he’s heralded by his bravery. Because it’s possible to help, save and serve in war times without killing.

This Mel Gibson movie starts off slowly, but is quite powerful in the second half, during the actual taking of Hackswaw Ridge on Okinawa Island near Japan. It’s an interesting story regardless if you think it’s extremely silly or incredibly brave to enlist for war and refuse to  use a weapon . It’s based on a true story. But it’s of course a fictionalized version of it. To learn more about the real Desmond Doss, check this history vs hollywood site. But do it after you’ve experienced the movie.

Some critics call it christian propaganda. Just because the main character acts out of faith, prays and carries a bible with him. But Mel Gibson (a notorious catholic) never glorifies the religion conviction. He just shows a man who is very firm in his principles. Which again can be interpreted as silly or brave. But at least it isn’t negative.

The action is hardcore though. Limbs fly around. Some scenes can be considered horror. So it isn’t for the weak at heart. Nor is it for people who think Andrew Garfield is an overrated actor. In fact, the whole cast are just okay performers. There’s not one performance that sticks. But it’s a good war movie. A tad too long maybe.  But worth watching.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2119532