zondag 31 maart 2013

Today's batch of mini reviews

Picking up where I left off, here's yet another batch of recently seen films that have not been critiqued on this my blog in sufficient detail and thus have to make do with a mini-review. The term 'missed movies' no longer applies here, since I have seen these films after my PC was returned to me and I was back online again. Truth is, now that I am writing for MovieScene and screening films for audiences at Provadja, next to my regular work at Pathé, I just don't have time for old-fashioned extensive reviews anymore. I am watching more movies than I can handle, so to say. Expect to see this type of mini-review more often and 2,000 word reviews less and less around here. It may not be a bad thing per se, considering word has reached my ears regarding modern man and his lack of time and interest for lengthy movie discussions. By keeping it short and simple I might actually attract more readers, even though one could argue my blog is dumbing down. Not to worry, I'm sure there's still many a long review to come (MovieScene reviews aside, though they're of medium length really), at least once I've caught up with mentioning all the films I've seen in the past months. Getting there, slowly but surely.

Lore: ****/*****, or 7/10.

Fascinating microcosmic (post) WW II tale from a German perspective, focusing on the plight of teenage girl Lore, shortly after Germany has capitulated to the allied forces. Lore has had a good life in a happy Nazi family until she finds her world shattered by the Führer's death and the downfall of the Third Reich. Her parents, being devout Nazis, have to run before the Allies catch up with them and are forced to leave their children behind in the process. Lore, a powerful performance by the young Saskia Rosendahl, has to trek her way with her younger brothers and sisters to distant Hamburg across newly occupied territory, dodging Russian forces and her own countrymen who have degenerated into lawlessness. Along the way she meets a young Jewish man, freshly released from Auschwitz, who uneasily teams up with them to their mutual benefit for mere survival. The movie does a great job of portraying the lost German generation that grew up in the Third Reich and didn't know better, but had to cope with their parents' atrocities and lies afterwards. The key issue for Lore is trust: she trusted Hitler and her parents unconditionally, only to be betrayed by their failure. Now she has to trust a man whom she has been raised to hate, despite the genuinely helping hand he offers (which quickly earns him the faith of Lore's siblings, who are just too young to understand the stakes involved). Matters are complicated further when she develops a strange, possibly romantic, attraction to the guy, something he may or may not be exploiting. To Australian director Cate Shortland's credit, the film is completely spoken in German. She also presents a great metaphor for puberty, when a child's world is changed completely as are its feelings for those it has always taken for granted, without getting overly preachy. However, a less lyrical and dream like quality, plus a little faster pacing, might have made her movie more accessible.

De Ontmaagding van Eva van End: ****/*****, or 8/10.

Whaddayaknow, a good Dutch movie! Not surprisingly, considering director Michiel ten Horn used the fabulous work and style of Wes Anderson for inspiration, creating a definite Dutch counterpart of that particular auteur's work. All the typical Anderson ingredients are there (except for Bill Murray), including wacky characters, colourful visuals, dysfunctional family drama and a funky soundtrack. And decent writing of course. The Van End family members have a hard time connecting to one another and lead their own little lives in their own silly little worlds, until daughter Eva takes home a German foreign exchange student. The boy turns out to be the perfect human being, an angelic blond persona with great empathy for the whole world, whose healthy, altruistic life style soon creates havoc at his guest home as the whole family reacts differently to his presence and their natural balance is severely upset, exposing a few dirty family secrets in the process. And yes, Eva gets her cherry popped as the title indicates, though not in the way you would first expect. Solid acting, especially for Dutch actors, though of course young Austrian actor Rafael Gareisen leaves the greatest impression. The movie leaves ample room for both genuinely heartfelt drama and funny jokes and situations, some surprisingly edgy and politically incorrect. Ten Horn does a fine job of translating Anderson to a Dutch setting (unconsciouslyly or not, but it seems utterly unlikely he has never heard of his American inspiration), making the movie look distinctly Dutch but not feeling like any other Dutch film, all for the better. It's a real shame Dutch audiences prefer to watch crap like Verliefd op Ibiza and Het Bombardement over little gems like this, but it's good to know not all hope is lost for Dutch cinema thanks to talented directors like Ten Horn inspired by all the right people.

Zero Dark Thirty: ****/*****, or 8/10.

Kathryn Bigelow continues to critique America's army following her big Oscar breakthrough The Hurt Locker (2009). This time she focuses on the hunt for Osama bin Laden by the driven and resourceful female CIA agent Maya (excellent bit of acting on Jessica Chastain's part), inspired by true events, not all of which have been formally disclosed. Maya gets increasingly obsessive over the Agency's inability of locating Bin Laden and soon makes it her personal job to see the hunt come to an end, especially after dear colleagues of her die in related terrorist bombings. The climactic chopper showdown at Bin Laden's villa where a team of Navy SEALs has to quietly fight its way through the building to claim its prize was one of the most rewardingly suspenseful scenes of 2012. And to Bigelow's credit, the face of the Al-Qaeda leader was never even shown, clearly stating the movie is not so much about the man himself, as about Maya's long road to get to him. The movie's merit as a genuinely good film was overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Bigelow's explicit portrayal of torture of terrorist suspects at the hands of American agents: no doubt such crossing of political and ethical lines took place historically, but Bigelow was said to condone it. However, Bigelow makes no statement of her own, just showcasing events as they supposedly happened. The torture could have proven to be instrumental in tracking the most wanted man alive down in the long run, but she presents it as just another part of the bureaucratic machinery: a frightfully gruesome part though, revealing more than we would want her to reveal on the subject, and as such already indicating torture sure is no fun. Nevertheless, she was denied a well deserved Oscar or two: Zero Dark Thirty's only win was for Sound Editing, an award the movie had to share with Skyfall in a rare 'tie' situation at the Academy.

vrijdag 29 maart 2013

Today's Missed Movie: The Master

I still have a short list of missed movies, which increasingly grows unless I soon finish it. Since I don't have the time to tackle all the remaining movies at once (there's like ten of them left at this moment), I might as well attempt to at least post one a day. Kinda like what I intended to do (in alphabetical order) with all the movies I have in my collection last year, something that didn't come to fruition. That idea is still just below the surface though, and I might pick it up again some day soon. For now, let's try and get rid of these dang 'missed movies'!

The Master: ****/*****, or 7/10.

Paul Thomas Anderson's latest exploration of American life and craziness. Using Scientology as a template (but careful enough never to make the link between that cult and the one portrayed in this film too explicit), PTA tells the story of a messed up WW III veteran named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix, with all the mannerisms of a madman) who cannot get a break in life, continuously getting into trouble (mostly booze related) with the law and basically everybody else around him. One day, while having crashed a boat party, he meets an enigmatic man, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a writer and philosopher who has started his own spiritual movement. Though the two men are fascinated by each other and Quell soon signs up with Dodd's 'Cause', he still has a hard time fitting in, despite Dodd's attempts to make a true disciple out of him. The second half of the film can best be described as an 'acting duel' between the two completely compelling and convincing main actors, both of which got Oscar nominated (but sadly lost) for their formidable acting extravaganza. Their remarkably strong performances carry the movie, which is also the problem since there's not that much else that grips your attention so firmly, the plot being somewhat jarring and convoluted at times, while the movie tends to drag on a bit longer than proves desirable. A masterpiece this is not (PTA already made his and it's called There Will Be Blood (2007)), despite impeccable cinematography and a fine job by Amy Adams as Dodd's militant wife (also nominated for an Academy Award, and again no win). Some people just cannot be saved since they are too far gone, PTA states: a truth that both goes for the totally crazed Quell as much as for Dodd's overly ardent, unquestioning followers that just refuse to see through the charisma and confidence of their leader who dupes them all with utterly ridiculous metaphysical theories and creepy mind games. This movie might very well explain parts of Tom Cruise's confusing behavior.

donderdag 28 maart 2013

Today's News: who watches the Wolverine?

Fresh off MovieScene!:


As a Marvel fan, I'm naturally excited by this slick trailer: any prospect of seeing Wolverine hack his way onto the big screen (again) is welcome. Even though I wasn't a big fan of its predecessor X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and I know full well the Japanese part of the character's history can suck when in the wrong hands (i.e., Fox), this film doesn't look so bad. Overall it seems we're in for a stylish, action packed ride. That said, there's a few things that peeve me, most notably the concept of rendering Wolverine "mortal". In my mind, formed by two decades of vigorously reading through comics, Wolverine was never really immortal: he just ages very slowly due to his healing abilities. But as we have seen before, he ages nonetheless; from a ten year old boy around 1850 to a man in his early fourties in 2010. It's not a fast process, but it's definitely aging. There's a difference, albeit a subtle one. Then again, this is only a trailer and there's various ways we can (mis)interpret this, based on just the trailer. Maybe people around him think Wolvie is among the undying: he's certainly impossible-to-kill enough to assume he is. Heck, he might even think that himself if he's still suffering from memory loss (though it remains to be established just when this flick is taking place, but most likely between the events of  X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men (2000), so a bit of amnesia is to be expected).
I'm also not overly fond of the look of the character of Viper, the seductive and lethal female assassin. She doesn't resemble her comic book counterpart much, and she actually looks kinda slutty. Like I said before, it's too early to tell whether the character is any good based on just a trailer. For now I'll keep an open mind. James Mangold is a very capable director (loved 3:10 to Yuma, one of the best modern westerns) and I have faith in his take on our beloved indestructible mutant. At least it seems the movie strikes a decent balance between action and character development. It can't be much worse than the previous separate Wolverine movie anyway. But what the hell is Jean Grey doing there?

This new poster is also bitchin'!

dinsdag 26 maart 2013

Today's News: a fistful of Ninja Turtles

Posted this on MovieScene the other day:


I'm not all that excited over this project. Though Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles carries a lot of nostalgic value for me (I watched the old cartoon show over and over again and I loved the action figures vigorously ), rewatching a few scenes from that show last year made me painfully aware of how utterly goofy and occasionally cringeworthy it actually was, and needless to say I haven't bothered to check out any of the later versions since. Michael Bay isn't the kind of guy I want to see adapt this childhood gem for the big screen. Destroying the Transformers image with an overdose of overly loud explosions, lousy poop jokes and bad writing clearly wasn't enough for him. Megan Fox seems like poor casting for April O'Neil (or in fact for anything since her acting skills, if any, always remain firmly hidden behind her ample bosom). That said, I am glad less known (or even unknown in a case or two) actors have been cast as the Turtles. I don't know any of these actors, I'm afraid. Considering they'll remain obscured by CG pixels - the obvious way to go, but not necessarily a bad one - it doesn't matter all that much of course, we won't see their faces anyway. Good for them, gives them more opportunity to focus on mastering a turtle's mannerisms. And a ninja's of course. And a mutant's. Plus a teenager's. Turtle Power, guys! Just don't expect me to go all 'cowabunga' on the prospect of this project.

zondag 24 maart 2013

Movies gone by: when will it end...

Here's some more mini-reviews of movies I failed to review before due to technical difficulties. Meanwhile, I still see more films every week so it's piling up fast. Hopefully, I can still find time to finish this catching-up and get back to regular reviewing. Next week will be busy for me though (regular work, press viewing, dentist appointment, shipping out many parcels full of sold Jurassic Park figures, etc.), so that remains to be seen. Fingers crossed, no promises.

Hyde Park on Hudson: ***/*****, or 6/10.

The historic first visit of English royalty to the United States in 1939 immortalized on film, seen through the eyes of President Roosevelt's distant cousin Margaret (played by Laura Linney), with whom he had an uneasy semi-secret affair. Equally uneasy is the first meeting between Mr. President (a formidable Bill Murray) and the King and Queen of Britain (a sympathetic and convincingly 'just crowned' Samuel West and Olivia Colman), the latter pair being completely uncomfortable with the American way of life, but in need of winning over the American public to support the Brits in the apparently unavoidable upcoming war with Germany. The ultimate message: they're all normal human beings with their own failings and strengths so why not be friends? Putting human faces on historical characters of such stature is what this film does best, resulting in both hilarious confrontations – my favorite: the King waving at American farmers in the distance for lack of other people to wave at, only to be completely ignored – and genuinely compelling emotional moments, but it's also a weakness: these people behave all too human, thus making for a fair share of dull moments that compromise the film's progress as the characters engage in routine human behavior. The plot regarding FDR and his hidden mistress also gets in the way as it gears towards a predictable clash between both personalities over the exact nature of their affiliation that lacks full audience engagement. Overall, this is a real 'hit and miss' movie, but the thrill of seeing historical characters bicker and argue about whether or not to eat hot dogs due to their political nature demands at least one watch. My ex-history teacher, who was sitting in the audience when I was running the film at the local arthouse theatre, seemed to agree with this assessment: glad to know I learned some things from him back in my high school days.

Life of Pi: ****/*****, or 8/10.

Grand tale of survival, man “versus” beast, the importance of hope and the personal nature of religious beliefs, which won Ang Lee the 'Best Director' Academy Award. A man from India named Pi (Irrfan Khan) tells his life's tale: growing up in a zoo, ultimately moving the whole animal circus to America as a boy, only to lose everything (including his family) in a tropical storm at sea. Stranded on a life boat, the young man (now played by Suraj Sharma) has to contend with the only other survivor, an adult tiger named Richard Parker (created by a fabulous mix between CGI and the real deal, the two blending in so seemlessly that few people can tell the difference: a VFX Oscar well earned!). Stuck with each other for months on end on the ocean desert, Pi recalls their various encounters, the good, the bad and the bizarre, with the message that no matter how bleak things seem, there's always something to enjoy about the circumstances life has in store for you. Lee serves this viewpoint from an atypical religious angle that celebrates the good in religion by allowing Pi to take the best elements of various religious belief systems and appropriating it to form his own feel-good personal religion. The surprising result (for hardcore atheists like myself at least) is that, despite the fact Pi opens his story with the line 'I will tell you a story that will make you believe in God', the movie is never to be considered a pamphlet to convert anyone to any organized faith, but a call for total individualist religious freedom, to belief in whatever you want to belief to make the world work better for yourself. And so, despite having lost his family at sea and having to take care not to be eaten every day, Pi cannot help but marvel at life's grandeur, as he witnesses splendid sights seen by few, including a whale feasting on phosphorescent plankton at night, a carnivorous island populated only by meercats and eventual mutual survival for Richard and himself against all odds. As is expected from Ang Lee, such a colourful tale comes with his typical ingeniously rich visual imagery, leading to many breathtaking and haunting shots ('Best Cinematography' too), made all the more effective by its grandiose use of 3D technology: hence, watching this film in 2D is like listening to music with your ears closed.

Gangster Squad: ***/*****, or 6/10.

Period crime flick set in late Fourties' Los Angeles, loosely based on historical events. When the city suffers under the regime of ruthless crime boss Mickey Cohen (unusual but effective role for Sean Penn), who rules through intimidation and corruption, a few clean cops form an equally uncompromising (i.e., violent) 'gangster squad' to rid the town of Cohen and his consorts by any means necessary. Under the command of Josh Brolin, these badgeless law enforcers hit Cohen as hard as they can in any which way they can think of, showing no mercy at all. An all-out war between both parties is the predictable result, while a rather forced love relationship is established between cop Ryan Gosling and Cohen's mistress Emma Stone, to complicate matters romantically (and needlessly too). All in all, a solid action flick devoid of surprises, but delivering everything you would expect (which is both meant positively and negatively). Originally scheduled to be released a good six months earlier, a shootout scene in a movie theater needed to be altered due to the Aurora 'Dark Knight Rises' incident: some footage of the original scene can still be found in trailers all over the Internet though. The most interesting thing about this film is the fact it's a direct prequel to the far superior period thriller/'film noir' LA Confidential (1997), which details what happened after Cohen's historical downfall and outmatches Gangster Squad in almost every respect (except for the explicit violence).

Django Unchained: ****/*****, or 8/10.

Hailed as 'Tarantino's latest masterpiece' well in advance of its actual release, this movie reaffirms Tarantino excels in taking an established film genre and dipping it in his usual sauce of violence, a catching soundtrack and memorable oneliners. Though it's safe to say the man ought to resort to other tactics soon before it backfires on him, it cannot be denied Django Unchained is a great, thoroughly entertaining film. Chronicling the rise to freedom of former slave Django (a stern Jamie Foxx) by the grace of bounty hunter Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz, who won his second Oscar by repeating himself for a Tarantino film, except playing a good guy this time around), the movie witnesses Django, striking a deal with the man, becoming his sidekick as the two track down his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who is now in the service of the wealthy southern slaver Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio, both surprisingly charming and wickedly discomforting). Figuring out an elaborate scheme to get his wife back, Django soon finds out more violent solutions are in order to reach his goal. The no-no word 'nigger' can be heard a whopping 107 times, to the acknowledgment of its historical use but to the predictable shock of conservative America: accordingly, action figures of characters from this film were promptly taken off shelves to avoid controversy in stores, but the ridiculous debate about the use of such sensitivewords rages on. Apparently quality television shows like Deadwood get away with it, but a much anticipated flick like this gets marred in political debate for applying the same tactics. A wonderfully intertextual neo-western, the film is laced with references to past westerns, both the undying classics and the more obscure fare, as is Tarantino's forte. The (this time hidden) movie babbling fortunately doesn't get in the way of plot and character development, as it did in Death Proof and tended to do in Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino gets away with his proven routine again, for now: it would be nice to see him tackle something wholly new for a change though.

woensdag 20 maart 2013

Today's News: Kick-Ass 2 character posters

Here's some fairly fresh bit of movie news you might have missed these past few days:


There's little to add to this really. I can once again state I'm superstoked for this film, considering how much I liked its predecessor. I also enjoyed the new trailer quite a bit, which promises more of the same: which is what sequels usually provide and what audiences normally hope for, though I for one would love to see this film surpass its forebear in quality, but I'm certainly not counting on it.

That said, I do believe these six posters suffer from severe uninspiredness, making them look rather dull, especially compared to some of the fabulous posters of the previous film, as seen below. Then again, these are still teaser posters, so better looking posters might still be down the pipe line sooner or later. And they at least serve their purpose adequately, teasing us with new characters and their fancy names which in the established Kick-Ass tradition border on the ridiculous, making us wonder who these people are and how they fit into the film (except for those among the audience who already have read the comics). For now, that's all that's needed until the dvertisement campaign passes the teaser stage, which will take a bit longer considering the announced delays in releasing the final product (in fact, a Dutch release date still hasn't been picked). So here's hoping I'll soon have to decorate the walls at work with far more awe-inspiring promotional materials, the kind you want to take home with you and afterwards leave gathering dust in your attic for years for lack of display space.

maandag 18 maart 2013

Today's Review: Salon Kitty

Here's a nice review of a not-so-nice movie for y'all:


A real piece of trash, that much is obvious. Though apparently the director has some fans, as indicated by the reader comments. But then, it's no secret this world knows many silly people.
I just hope this review will keep other people from having to endure this 127 minute extravaganza of bad taste. You have been warned!

vrijdag 15 maart 2013

Today's News: Resident Evil 6

Here's some news for you:


My opinion? They should have quit a long time ago. Few people I know are even the slightest bit interested in the first few movies, let alone going beyond that. Theatrical attendance for Retribution was less than stellar last year (and it was running in IMAX for God's sake!). This is not something the majority of mankind is waiting for apparently. But hey, Jovovich (hot as ever!) and Paul W.S. Anderson (not that Paul Anderson, the other guy with less talent) are clearly still having fun, and that's most important. I'd rather see a director and his wife/leading lady have a ball with shooting a movie than not having their hearts in it. This franchise is kind of this pair's offspring: a maniacal  mutant zombie of a child, but still their baby. If they wanna make these films, that's their choice. If we don't want to see them, we won't. So everybody is happy.

And Jurassic Park IV has a director! So once again we have solid information the project is finally underway! Huzzah! The guy's name is Colin Trevorrow, and I don't know his work. Blame me for not having seen Safety Not Guaranteed... I wanted to see it though, I liked the trailer. Blame Dutch distributors for not releasing the sucker!

And once again, Happy Birthday, Mum!

donderdag 14 maart 2013

Today's Review: Trois Mondes

Finally got a decently lenghty review up again, at MovieScene as usual:


I'll willingly admit it's not my best review, but this was a fairly tough nut to crack. As is normal for my MS reviews it has been edited to some extent (about 200 words have been omitted, some justly, others not so much), but I understand why and I do agree it may have been for the best. I'm just glad I finally got back to serious reviewing at all!

woensdag 13 maart 2013

Movies gone by: the continuation of the continuation of etc.

Today I'll briefly discuss a few more movies I missed discussing in the past few months due to unfortunate circumstances, again. This task is made harder by the fact I still keep seeing new movies every week, but eventually I'll catch up and I'm back on schedule once more. Here's a few good movies for y'all.

Looper: ****/*****, or 7/10
Fairly imaginative Sci-Fi thriller. In the not too distant future, time travel allows crime bosses to send undesirables back in time to have them shot and cleaned up by 'loopers', hitmen of thirty years past specializing in taking out the future's trash. The catch: these assassins ultimately also have to take out their future selves and so 'close their loop'. A particularly efficient looper, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one day fails to eliminate his older counterpart (Bruce Willis) and ends up on the run to stay out of his former friends' hands. Meanwhile, his almost doppelganger sets out on a scheme to kill the top crime lord of the future, still a kid in this time. Will the young looper team up with himself, or will he try to kill him after all to make up for his failure? A good premise but the movie fails to fully deliver on it in the second half of the film when things quiet down a little too much as JG-L arrives on a farm and falls in love with the mother of his future employer (Emily Blunt). Also thrown in the mix are this little boy's mutant telekinetic abilities, a fairly random feeling addition to overly complicate the plot further. Nevertheless, strong performances throughout (especially the boy (who is one of the finest child actors I've ever seen) and Gordon-Levitt seamlessly incorporating Willis' mannerisms to make for a more believable connection between the pair), some solid action scenes, a harrowing punishment scene (where another failed looper is slowly shown cut into pieces) and a typical but still effective mindfucking temporal conclusion make for a certainly decent watch.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: *****/*****, or 9/10
Ah, the big epic conclusion of the already splendid movie year 2012! I could easily write a 3,000 word review of this (and should have) but for now this little bit must suffice. I can safely say I haven't had this much fun since Return of the King in 2003. This is about as successful a return to Middle-Earth on Peter Jackson's part as we could have hoped for, and he more than makes up for his abysmal failure The Lovely Bones (2009). Still, this first installment of the Hobbit trilogy is not up to par with the superb Lord of the Rings trilogy, mostly due to a different tone, courtesy of the original novel. This does make for a more lighthearted and warm spirited film, which is not necessarily a bad thing since it does not make the film feel like a retreat of LotR and gives it an identity all its own. The story is known all too well of course. Carefree Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (excellent Martin Freeman) is suckered into setting out on a long journey by wizard Gandalf (excellent Sir Ian McKellen) to the Lonely Mountain Erebor to help a band of Dwarves, led by the noble Thorin Oakenshield (excellent Richard Armitage), reclaim their home and treasure from the giant dragon Smaug (only shown in bits and pieces in this film). On the way the group has to deal with Goblins, Elves, Trolls and Orcs: especially the latter, led by the giant warrior Azog, have no intention of making it easy on the brave travelers. A wonderful revisit of Tolkien's world in full cinematic glory, the movie encompasses old characters (Elrond, Galadriel, Saruman and most impressively of all, Gollum) and locations (the Shire, Rivendel) as well as many new ones. PJ and friends have added a lot of material taken from the appendices of the original LotR novels to get this new trilogy and the previous one more in sync with each other, which does make for longer movies (and even longer extended editions, yay!), but not necessarily worse results. Though the scenes created specifically for this film (Galadriel's relationship with Gandalf, the White Council meeting and such) prove somewhat lacking in terms of writing, it's more than agreeable to see such beloved familiar faces again, and it might prove to be worth it as these subplots are further developed in the next two films. In regard to look and feel, this movie is perfectly in line with the Middle-Earth we have loved for over a decade, also thanks to the contributions of all of PJ's old accomplices (including composer Howard Shore who again delivers a fine score). If the upcoming two Hobbit films are as decent as this one, we have little to worry about. Except maybe spiders.

dinsdag 12 maart 2013

Today's News: Trainspotting 2?

Here's a little bit of film news for all you lovers of little bits of film news:


Please disregard the blatant error in word use in the second sentence, it's not mine. Apparently the editor on MovieScene didn't understand what I was saying so he thought he'd better edit it to make it more clear. He failed.

My opinion on this news? (If you can call it that, since it's all just in the planning stages at the moment.) In all honesty, I haven't seen Trainspotting (yet). A movie nerd is only as good as the movies he's seen. (Speaking of which, I saw a ghastly, abysmal movie last night, the review of which will soon be up on MovieScene and thus on this, my blog, as well.) That said, I am not a big fan of revisiting certain films after several decades just because the writers/director suddenly got nostalgic about earlier work/want to milk more cash out of the younger generation. The results are rarely impressive and tend to even hurt the movies they follow (cough*Indiana Jones*cough). Danny Boyle however is a fairly serious, accomplished and intelligent director, so he might indeed make a good follow-up out of it, but it remains to be seen whether one is actually desired by the general audience.

And I might seen Trainspotting somewhere down the line. Eventually. When I'm done reviewing bad films for MovieScene maybe.

zondag 10 maart 2013

Movies gone by: the continuation of the continuation

It took a bit longer than I had hoped for, but as you might recall a few weeks back I started listing and briefly critiquing all the movies I had seen while my PC was undergoing repairs. Basically all the films I had wanted to review on my blog in the past three months but couldn't due to lack of online access are now shortly described here so my avid readers will know what flicks I failed to report on and what gems (or less gemmy movies) they might have missed. Today: part three. It won't be the last part, but hopefully the end is in sight and I can soon get back to posting movie reviews the regular way; however, I will try to write less elaborate pieces, since it has been brought to my attention that few people these days bother to read a 2,000 word review when they got alternative options that would save them a lot of time (but would also provide them with less knowledge). We'll see how things go in the future, but for now, here's a few more movies I had the pleasure (or not so much) of watching recently.

Like Someone in Love: **/*****

Unusual French/Japanese co-production by Iranian born filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, dealing with a young prosititute in Tokyo who hooks up with an old man for a few days who provides her with a place to stay and transportation to school. When the senior meets the girl's boyfriend, who strongly intends to marry her but has financial predicaments of his own, he takes the elderly man for her grandfather, a role he does not deny, with dire consequences. Or so we are left to assume, since the whole film is working towards a seemingly violent confrontation between the deceived boyfriend and his girl and her would-be benefactor. However, Kiarostami does not bother to gives us a proper ending, thus making the audience emotionally invest in characters without rewarding us with a proper send-off. And it was already a tough job getting us invested in them, considering the slow pace and hardly existing montage that makes it hard to stay involved and ultimately makes for a rather dull film that cuts away when things would have gotten interesting. However, it must be said that due to its calm overall rhythm the abrupt ending (of the film that is, not of the series of events it portrays) is that much more disturbing and risqué. But that's not enough to make for a satisfactory viewing experience: when things finally start to get interesting, the movie is over.

NO: ****/*****

Academy Award nominated Chilean film about the opposition's attempts to get the people of Chile to vote dictator Pinochet out of office in the 1988 referendum. Sly advertising agent René (Gael Garcia Bernal) construes an unusual 'NO' campaign that, instead of underscoring all the terrible things that are wrong with the dictatorship, shows everything that's fun about democracy under the motto 'democracy is happiness'. René's opportunist boss however works for the 'YES' front, trying to undo his employee's attempts at creating a persuasive campaign via ruthless intimidation. However, his despicable way of working against the opposition by making René's ads look stupid and uninformed backfires on him and the regime. However, René and his team still have to deal with agressive intimidations by the dictatorship's sinister agents, making for an ever more oppressive and stressful working environment to change the country for the better. Making excellent use of a nostalgic eighties video look, complete with small screen television frame format and lousy picture quality, this movie at first feels like an old documentary, but looks can be deceiving, since it ultimately proves to be an ingenious mix between political satire and suspense. Interestingly enough, despite making us root for the small band of political activists taking a stand against tyranny, the film does have the audacity in the end to ask whether life in Chile has improved that much, now being swamped in typical capitalist omnipresent advertising and routine product placement, making for a dull life for the older René.

Skyfall: ****/*****

There's little to add to everything that has already been said about this film, other than my own opinion which somewhat predictably follows the majority of positive attitudes towards this celebration of 50 years of 007. Skyfall witnesses James Bond (23rd movie, third starring Daniel Craig as the dashing British secret agent) seemingly meeting an untimely demise due to friendly fire, after which MI6 gets attacked in general and M (Dame Judi Dench) in particular by a shadow from her past. Fortunately, 007 proves to be still alive and soon moves against the shady figure (a wonderfully villainous Javier Bardem) who shares quite a few traits with himself, making for an increasingly small scale, deeply personal climactic struggle between both sides, with tragic results. Directed by Sam Mendes, this is one of the less action oriented Bond flicks, opting for character drama instead, fleshing out the Bond character and his emotional connection with his boss. Both revisiting and rewriting 50 years of Bond history, the movie successfully walks a fine line between the more serious attitude of the Craig films and the funkier take on the character from days past, without ever going too far either way and respecting the characters' journey at all times. Old characters return (Q, Ms. Moneypenny) in new guises, both indicating how much has changed over time and how much remains the same. The film is laced with references to earlier Bond films, but few of them are so in-your-face they threaten to subvert the film's pacing. If you're looking for action only, you might end up disappointed since the high adrenaline chase scene that opens the movie is never surpassed later on, but the emotional climax which includes the death of a major character and the set-up for many more Bonds to come makes it all worthwhile. If only all movie franchises would turn 50 this gracefully...

Argo: ****/*****

Best Picture winner of 2012, finally re-affirming Ben Affleck's position as a top Hollywood player, even as an actor (though he also directed and produced this film). An intriguing and surprisingly funny film, despite its heavy and, in some respects, sensitive topic, Argo chronicles the 1980 attempt by the CIA to extract American diplomatic personnel caught in the crossfires of the Iranian revolution. Their solution: pretend like we're making a Sci-Fi flick like Star Wars and we're scouting for suitable desert locations. Surprisingly, it worked. However, the film has gotten much criticism by taking some creative license with actual historical events (as such Hollywood films always do), among them the diminished role of the Canadian embassy in this shadow play. Nevertheless, it stands tall as a slick political thriller with plenty of moments of utter absurdity to relieve the excessive tension at times and also applying a delightful eighties' feel to the whole. For science fiction aficionados it's particularly fascinating stuff, giving us a glimpse of an epic fantasy flick that sadly never materialized, simply because it was all a ruse. Wouldn't it be nice if Affleck decided to finish what the CIA started and make an actual Argo after all? Wishful thinking, since his response would more than likely be 'Argo fuck yourselves'. Too bad...

donderdag 7 maart 2013

Today's News: dames kill too in Machete Kills

Here's a bit of really fresh news for a change. Posted this only a proverbial minute ago on MovieScene:


What can I say, but that it intrigues the shit out of me? It's not a wholly original concept of course, having been done before in the Austin Powers films (to great effect), but it hasn't gotten old yet and it seems to fit right in Robert Rodriguez' Grindhousian style for the Machete films. If anything, Machete Kills is gonna be fun and that's enough for me.

zondag 3 maart 2013

Today's News: Kick-Ass 2 delayed

Not much time this weekend, since I'm busy writing another review and I'm listing my extensive second collection of Jurassic Park action figures up for sale to make room for more plastic dinosaur toys normal people don't have any need for, but I just have to make time for this little bit of movie news, since I already posted it on MovieScene yesterday:


There's all not much to add to this. It makes sense for a studio to move a movie to a different date to keep it from getting heavy competition at the box office and thus loosing some of that precious money. In fact, the same thing has just happened to The Hobbit: There and Back Again apparently, which has been moved from summer 2014 to December 2013 (where it belonged anyway, for tradition's sake) so it won't have to butt heads with the overly star studded X-Men: Days of Future Past. In the case of Kick-Ass 2, the titular character doesn't have to be kept from living up to his name (again) for that long, considering there's only a two-month delay. That is, in the United States at least; chances are we have to wait a bit longer in the Netherlands, as is usual unfortunately. Oh well, as the Dutch say: 'voorpret is dubbele pret'. As long as the movie is good, I reckon there won't be that much complaining. Especially if good results at the box office increase the chances of a (hopefully equally appealing) third installment. Hit-Girl is still present and this time she has a motor cycle: what could possibly go wrong?!