Entries tagged with “movies”.


It’s a small and dull city as many other in Belgium and Europe. It is inhabited by a mixed population, ‘local’ Europeans, more recent but well integrated Europeans (some of them are police inspectors), recent immigrants, some legal, some not. Again, as in many other cities of Belgium and Europe. This quite typical landscape of a place like many other in an Europe in change is the setting for ‘La fille inconnue’ the most recent film of brothers and and as in many of their recent movies the characters fight not only the dullness of life and problems in communication but also face moral choices and need to assume responsibility for their acts.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4630550/mediaviewer/rm788532992

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4630550/mediaviewer/rm788532992

 

The lead character is a young doctor in the community, who deeply cares about her patients. Being just a professional is not enough if you are a physician, this kind of message is quite obvious and smartly developed, as the best scenes in the film are the ones where we see doctor Jenny Davin interacting with her patients, taking care of their bodies but also of their life conditions and eventually of their souls. When faced with the guilt of not having answered a ring at the door much later than her work hours, which led to the tragic death of a young woman apparently followed by some bad people, the feelings of guilt will lead her to run her own inquiry with the main goal of discovering the identity of the victim and ensuring her family knows her fate, and that she is properly put to rest. This will let to the eventual discovery of the murderer, in a case that involves a non-negligible dose of shared responsibility of the people who surrounded her.

 

(video source Cinéart Nederland)

 

The film is very much based on the lead character, one of these people who are capable of showing compassion and giving almost everything in there personal lives in order to help their human fellows. From this point of view it resembles another film of the Dardenne brothers which I liked a lot -  The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au velo). There are bad people in this world, but there are also good ones, and it’s worth making films about them – this seems to be the shared message of the two films. ‘La fille inconnue’ however lacks the magnetism of The Kid and although gives a remarkable performance, this is not enough to fill in for the lack of pace and the rather unconvincing ending. Brother Dardenne’s characters may seem to good to be true, and they do not owe anybody an explanation for being so – that’s fine, but in the absence of a solid motivation there need to be more dramatic substance in the story. This is exactly what is missing in this film, just seeing good people in action in a difficult community may be enough for a documentary, but not for a full feature.

 

 

Sometimes melodrama works. Then the reviewer in me faces a dilemma. I know that you need to buy into the story in order to feel anything in a melodrama, but who does not buy into it if they are parents, faced the teen crises of their kids, were too busy to dedicate to them the time they deserve (which is approximately all the time in the world)? Did I actually name all the parents population in the world with a few rare exceptions? Of course, only very few of us if any practice the profession of paid killer in the service of the CIA, as does in 3 Days to Kill, a combination of a ‘absent father – daughter’ relation with a co-written thriller.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2172934/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2172934/

 

I belong to the category of fans who are quite disappointed about the downturn of the career of Kevin Costner (both as actor and director). It’s due in my opinion to some big projects that were less successful than planned at the end of the 90s, followed by a lack of great roles. ’3 Days to Kill’ is not the film that will put his acting career back on the stellar path, it’s a lead role but written in a manner where accurate execution and a touch of humor and sensibility are all that is needed. Which Costner delivers.

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

There is nothing special and nothing wrong in this film directed by . The professional level of execution of the story telling, good acting with a cast which aside Costner also includes another semi-comeback by , a touch of humor which makes the violence on screen palatable, the background of Paris which always looks well – all these are actually the setting for the family melodrama which simply works. The cast also includes good performances by (in the role of the teenage daughter, she actually has an impressive acting record although she was just around 18 when the film was made) and .

We can ask for more, of course, but for this summer day it was the good entertainment I needed.

 

Before I will be hit by the sequel which I hear is much worse than the original, here are my short impressions about this comedy with promising premises but quite a flat and dull execution. Since ‘Back in the Future’ was made in the mid-80s script writers have found little need to invent credible premises for time-travel films, be they thrillers or comedies. So when in 2010 director Steve Pink looked for one more opportunity to cast his preferred actor John Cusack (or maybe the other way, Cusack looked for a pretext to work again with Pink) there was no need to find much smarter excuses than a broken hot tub with golden water in an otherwise out of fashion ski resort in order to put things in motion. Three mid-aged friends from the 2010 universe find themselves plunged back into the times when there was no Internet, and smart phones got no signal, but they were young and thin and all girls had no other dream then bedding them, and yes, incidentally, smarter movies like ‘Back in the future’ were made.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1231587

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1231587

 

Besides holding one of the worst film names ever, Hot Tub Time Machine fell short of my expectations because it could not replace the lack of imagination in playing with the time paradoxes, or the platitudes and so expected jokes about 21st century adults meeting the habits of their youth and living again the experiences of their college years with enough craziness, sex appeal or just comic dumbness to keep me laughing and away from watching my watch despite the fact that the film is not long at all.

 

(video source Trailers)

 

Lacking fun and anarchy makes this retro film easy to forget. Even John Cusack cannot look much better than ‘nice’. Easy entertaining for an evening when you really have nothing else to do. Watch it only if you really have seen ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Austin Powers’ too many times.  Or if your screen can be seen from the hot tub.

 

 

‘Relatos salvajes’ (or ‘Wild Tales’ – the title under which the movie was distributed in the English-speaking space) was selected as one of the five candidates for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year of the Academy in 2015. It did not win, but the very fact that it made it to the prestigious Final Five ensured broader success and world-wide distribution. Some may say that the film was conceived with an eye to the Oscars and festivals circuit, written in a manner that takes much from Almodovar, adds a touch of Tarantino and includes just the needed elements of local color and the gallery of fine actors to allow it to win almost all possible awards in Argentina. Almodovar actually co-produced the film, and his influence is hard to contest (I do not know how much he was involved in the making though). Yet, the wild tales brought to screen by director Damián Szifrón in this film have a quality of their own, a specific grin superposed upon the human approach and the social engagement that characterizes the best South-American films, whatever genre they belong to.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3011894/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3011894/

 

‘Wild Tales’ is a collection of stories, and if I need to define what is common among them is the fact that in all of them more or less ordinary people face day-to-day challenges that they are unable to deal with and as a result they turn into escalating spirals of conflict and violence, all managed with a good dose of black humor. The script and the director are merciless with their heroes and the stories do not end until the characters are brought to or beyond the verge of insanity. For none of them (those who survive) life will not be at the end the same as at the beginning. As viewers we can easily identify with the driver harassed by a hooligan with a truck on a deserted road, with the engineer who is late at his daughter’s birthday because of an unjust parking ticket, or with the bride who discovers at the wedding party that her fresh husband not only cheated on her, but also invited ‘that woman’ at the wedding. We can understand why they go crazy and why they end by doing the most unreasonable acts. Most important at all ,we can laugh about these.

 

(video source TrailerHD)

 

The humor, the empathetic view and the social touch are the arguments that make out of the Argentinian director’s collection of stories much more that a pastiche of Almodovar’s movies. Acting is very good and each one of the characters adds its own piece to a puzzle of contemporary Argentina, a country that I know too little about. ‘Wild Tales’ are entertaining and worth to look for, and director Damián Szifrón is a name to follow.

 

The music in the opening scene of this French movie should give a strong hint to the viewer about what to expect. It’s a soul song which combines oddly with the first shots of an apparently idyllic gathering in the French countryside. What follows is however all but idyllic. It’s a complex thriller drama about a murder that happened eight years before, a love story and a disappearance that refuses to heal. One of the most intelligent and most sensitive stories in the genre that I have seen lately.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362225/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0362225/

 

It may come as a surprise that the film is French, but inspired by a novel and a story written by Harlan Coben. The fine author of mystery novels and thrillers had amazingly few encounters with the movies, this being as far as I know his only novel brought to the big screens. The approach taken by director places the story in France (of course) but none of the characters belongs to any specific localization. Beyond the love story and beyond the sophisticated detective story that is smartly and consistently built, there is a quality of the making that keeps the interest (both intellectual and emotional) awake for the duration of the more than two hours that the film lasts (another Hollywood influence?).

 

(video source peanutspowa)

 

Much of the quality can be attributed to the excellent team of actors, and first among equally good – one of these actors who make you feel their emotions without any apparent effort, just by being himself. The hand of the director is light, he just does professionally his job enjoying the fine team of actors and the intelligent script he has at hands and making us enjoy the story as well. Now I just hope that the studios in Hollywood will not reclaim back this film for an American remake.

 

I am afraid that am developing a slight phobia for post-apocalyptic films genre, and The Road directed by John Hillcoat pushed me one step ahead down this hill. Some of the movies that belong to this category are mostly action movies, while a few try to be different. Most of them are pessimistic about the short term chances of mankind but entertain a ray of hope on long term, of course after we have learned the lesson. Many of them try to provide dire warnings about what we do with our planet and with ourselves. Cinematography participates in creating the warning tones with rendition of how the deserted landscapes and destroyed cities of the planet will look the day after. Bible names and quotes are widely used. ‘The Road’ is a little bit of all these while trying to be more. While I appreciate the effort I did not enjoy the results of this try.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/

 

About ten years after the Apocalypse what is left of mankind seems to be the only surviving species on Earth in the film inspired by a book by Cormac McCarthy. Neither did any vegetation survived, so looking for canned food (do not ask about the expiration date) seems to be the only alternative for the good guys other than the cannibalism adopted by the bad guys. A father and a son try to find their way to the ocean in order to survive another winter.  I will not tell much more, and one of the reasons is that much more does not happen, at least action-wise.

 

(video source MOVIECLIPS Classic Trailers)

 

Sure, this is not meant to be an action film. Much of the intended value should be in the post-apocalyptic landscape (good camera work in more than 50 shades of real gray) and in the building of the characters. This is where in my opinion the film fails. Avoiding to romanticize is fine with me, but I cannot say that I knew much more at the end of the film than I knew after the first five minutes.  of ‘Lord of the Rings’ fame and the kid actor do both a fine job. and add their names to the credits but their fans will be disappointed about how little time they spend on screen. The film is not only dark but is also dull, seemed to me much longer than it really was and the ending – because any film has an ending – could not avoid the melodrama that the director tried to avoid in the making. I would recommend this film only to the post-apocalyptic genre aficionados.

 

It’s good to be Tom Cruise. Famous, rich, with an impressive list of impressive ex-es, and even gone through a high profile divorce. After having gone through all major role that make a bright career Tom Cruise can afford now to invest and become a producer. He can take a book by Lee Child and make the action film he wants out of it.  He can take the role a 6 feet 5 inches hero and tailor himself in it. He can afford beautiful and talented Rosamund Pike as a partner, and Robert Duvall and director Werner Herzog in the the veteran good guy and villain roles. And the result is pretty acceptable.

 

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790724/

sursa http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790724/

 

So, who is Jack Reacher? Ex-army investigator, a man hard to discover and trace to the point that some doubt he exists. A man dedicated to finding the truth to the extent that he is ready and willing to sacrifice anything to make justice. A man capable at any moment to fist-fight five tough guys, to put three bullets in the center of the target from any distance, to destroy the heavily arm need of armed bad guys. In other words – a super-hero.

 

(video source JoBlo Movie Trailers)

 

No need to tell too much about the story. It’s about an apparent clear cut case of mass killing in an American city that proves to be something very different that what you and everybody else in or out the film think excepting Jack Reacher, of course.  Viewers get another well done action film, Tom Cruise does his job as an actor as we expect, Duvall and Herzog have fun and so do we as viewers.   Christopher McQuarrie is a rather inexperienced director, this was only his second film, but producer and actor and superhero Tom Cruise trusted him with the new film in the ‘Mission Impossible’ series, so he must have been satisfied. So are we, if we look for good quality action entertainment from Hollywood.

 

 

Istvan Szabo is probably the finest Hungarian film director ever. I have seen and greatly enjoyed ‘Hanussen’ and  ‘Mephisto’ which both feature his preferred actor, the fantastic Klaus Maria Brandauer . The latest is nothing less than a masterpiece in my opinion, a strong parable about the relation between dictatorship and art, between power and the artist, and a meditation about the human character and the tearing dilemma of the artist who has to chose between being silent and being silenced.  What few people knew at the time the film was released was that in ‘Mephisto’ Szabo had spoken about his own life and choices.

I somehow failed to see until now ‘Sunshine’ which is a not less ambitious endeavor describing in a big epic film the story of one Jewish Hungarian family which is symbolic for much of the history of the Hungarian Jews in the 20th century.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145503/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145503/

 

They do not do such films any longer, some may say. ‘Sunshine’ is a saga spread over three generations of the Sonnenshein / Sors family – a family of Jewish origin whose story is followed since the last two decades of the Austro-Hungarian empire through the First World War, the Communist revolution of 1919, the inter-wars period, the horrors of the Second World War and of the Holocaust, the Communist terror that followed. The tradition of such stories is actually not rooted in Hollywood but rather in the solid novel sagas of writers like Thomas Mann or John Galsworthy. The main theme is the fate of the Jewish  family trying to find its identity first in the relatively liberal Austro-Hungarian empire, the tentative to melt its identity by ‘assimilation’ and conversion, followed by the cruel return to reality during the Holocaust, and the temporary illusion of salvation by adopting the principles of the internationalist Communism.

 

(video source VermeersGirl)

The 16 years that passed since the film was released make the demonstration of the futility of the identity hiding games played by Jews in Europe in general and Hungary in particular look somehow didactic on screen (but not in reality, as recent events show). Istvan Szabo had the bright idea of distributing Ralph Fiennes in the triple role of the three men in the three generations of the Sonnenschein / Sors family. Fiennes is a fine actor and this was one of his best roles, but the real strong and persistent character is the one of Valerie – wife, mother, and grandmother and more than all the survivor and the strong character that represents the moral and tradition compass of the whole family during the succeeding storms of the century. Two actresses – Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris play this role at different ages. They are both wonderful.  The strength of the film comes however from the accumulation of facts and the building of the emotion that leads to the final rediscovery of the true identity of the character. As somebody once said: ‘Nobody can run away from the star under which they were born’.

 

 

 

‘Under the Skin’  is directed by Jonathan Glazer whose best known previous achievement is ‘Sexy Beast’- a violent thriller made in 2000, which has allowed Ben Kingsley to make one of his most ferocious appearances grabbing on his way an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This time the star is the gorgeous (in many ways) Scarlett Johansson, who has used us lately with … unusual roles such as the ‘voice off’ from ‘Her’, or the ruthless killer in the recent ‘Lucy‘.
source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441395/?ref_=nv_sr_2

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441395/

The role played here is that of an alien female, with Scarlett entering the skin of a terrestrial young woman coming to our planet on a mission to kill. Driving a truck, she wanders the city of Edinburgh and its suburbs in search of men whom he lures (something that us not too difficult even for an alien who entered under the skin of Scarlett Johansson) and then kills and dips them in a bath of black substance in which they enter without seeming to be aware of the danger. The goal is enigmatic to the crime film watchers, those who are really interested in a possible explanation of everything who will find it documented in the novel that inspired the book which is written, by the way, in a lighter style, very different from what we get on screen.

 

(video source Clevver Movies)

 

The spiritual and emotional worlds of the serial alien murderess and of the terrestrials seem completely disjoint at the beginning. As the action slowly progresses, change happens. The main character seems to begin to be interested in the motivations of the acts of humans, in the strange mixture of empathy and indifference, of love and hate which makes each of us. Which of these aspects will prevail, and who eventually is the more more dangerous of the species – I will let those who plan to watch the movie to guess. I will only say that, despite the slow pace and the fact that the film is hard to fit into the classical genres of ‘science fiction’ or ‘movies with aliens’, or even ‘horror films’, attentive and patient viewer swill be rewarded a superb acting performance by Scarlett Johansson, and the screen presence of extras surprised by hidden camera when climbing up in a truck driven by Scarlett; by a bleak but beautiful cinematography; and by a maybe ambiguous message which ends by asking questions about ourselves, the human species.

Writing the review of a movie two weeks later is an exercise that I should try more often. ‘Casee-tete Chinois’ is one of the two movies I have seen before I went to a vacation where other priorities pushed aside writing about movies. The last installment in the series of director Cedric Klapisch , starring ,   and Cecile De France was the least memorable of the two lighter summer comedies that I found appropriate for the mood and the times.

 

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt1937118/

sursa www.imdb.com/title/tt1937118/

 

The film does have a lot of ingredients that would possibly make a success possible and even probable. A team of actors that now should not only know each other so well that the director needs only to raise an eyebrow in order to make things happen but who obviously enjoy acting together, and bringing on screen the romantic issues of their generation. A couple of kids who like almost any couple of kids steal the show as long as they are on screen and provide an emotional justification for the plot. Paris for a bit and Manhattan for most of the time – allegedly the best background for movies that directors and viewers could ask for.

And yet, the result is only half satisfying.

 

(video source STUDIOCANAL France)

 

It may be that the plot of the French immigrant trying to settle in New York was brought to screen once too many? I can remember a few other such features (yes, some of the candidates to America may not have been French) starting with ‘Green Card’ starring , and back in 1990. If the theme is back on screen maybe what is missing is some new and fresh angle in the infinite possibilities of approaching cultural gaps. Variations is a legitimate musical or cinematographic genre, but it needs to bring something new to be special. This film starts with a divorce, ends with a wedding, I am so happy to see Audrey Tautou happy and denying with a new film her intentions to quit acting, but the result is unconvincing entertainment. Maybe too many ingredients for a feel-good movie brought together do not necessarily make a good feel-good movie.