woensdag 15 november 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 119: Tulip Fever

Director: Justin Chadwick
Genre: Drama/ Romance
Runtime: 105 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Dane DeHaan, Holiday Grainger, Tom Hollander, Jack O’Connell, Judi Dench, Zach Galifianakis, Matthew Morrison, Kevin McKidd, Cara Delevingne

Description: An artist (Dane DeHaan) falls for a young married woman (Alicia Vikander) while he's commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam.

Review: In the Golden Age, tulip fever drove everyone crazy in The Netherlands. Anyone with enough florins joined the trade. In shady bars the most exotic tulips were auctioned, sometimes even before seeing them. In “Tulip Fever” this sets the background of he story of a forbidden romance between a married woman and an artist. Together they scheme a plan to flee the life they are living now.
Cornelis Sandvoort marries the much younger Sophia. He want a beautiful portrait of them and he hires painter Jan van Loos. A decision he will later regret. Because Jan falls madly in love with Sophia and they start a passionate affair.
Cornelis is a old man, who someone you can never sympathize with. He is a cold man who only married Sophia for one reason: to get a son. His personal losses from a previous marriage make him not any more human. It’s not that strange that Sophia seeks the love of another man. But she doesn’t seem this unhappy with Cornelis either. The motives of the characters are so shallow and bland. Sad, because director Justin Chadwick managed to get so many fantastic actors.
Somehow Sophia feels the love for Jan right after the first portrait session and immediately wants to flee from her husband. The chemistry between Alicia Vikander and Dane DeHaan never really convinces. And they hardly pay any attention to Sophia’s conscience, only in the last couple of minutes of the film.
The film rushes, the ‘master plan’ feels a bit improbable and sometimes comes off as ridiculous. “Tulip Fever” lacks of subtlety and the characters are somewhat soulless.
I was so excited for this film, but man did this disappoint me! I hate when that happens.

Rating: 2/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 118: The Beguiled

Director: Sofia Coppola
Genre: Drama/ Thriller
Runtime: 94 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice

Description: The unexpected arrival of a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) at a girls school in Virginia during the American Civil War leads to jealousy and betrayal.

Review: They are no longer helpless and innocent, the women in corsets. Several costume dramas proved that this year. And “The Beguiled” by Sofia Coppola is also one of them, a dramatic thriller with heaps of estrogen.
“The Beguiled” is based on the novel by Thomas Cullinan. In 1971 it was adapted to a movie for the first time, with Clint Eastwood starring as the wounded soldier. Sofia Coppola follows the story of the original film, but it didn’t become a boring repetition of it. Coppola managed to add themes like abalienation and group dynamic to it they way only she can. It’s clear this film was written from a female perspective.
It’s great to see how Coppola managed to let lust and envy be defining for the atmosphere. Especially the scene where the women try to trump each other over apple pie, trying to impress the male guest. The camera work is static and music is minimal, this is typical Sofia Coppola. I always loved her timid way of directing.
Nicole Kidman is very strong as Miss Martha, but Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning are also solid. Colin Farrell, the only male performer in “The Beguiled” is also the right choice. He can easily be a charming gentleman and a foulmouthed brute. “The Beguiled” is a really good film, a good film to show off the talents of the women in Hollywood.

Rating: 4,5/ 5

zondag 12 november 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 117: Lion

Director: Garth Davis
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 118 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, David Wenham

Description: A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. 25 years later, he (Dev Patel) sets out to find his lost family.

Review: Image you’re a five year old kid and you get lost from home in India. A country with over a billion citizens and 400 languages. It happened to Saroo, who accidentally got onto the wrong train and ended up on the other side of the country. When he ends up in an orphanage, he is adopted by an Australian couple. Years later, Saroo is determined to find his lost family.
“Lion” is split up in two parts. In the first part, we meet five year old Saroo. Together with his older brother Guddu he steals stones from a train, so they can sell them to provide for their mother and sister. When Saroo is seperated from his family, we see that India isn’t the perfect place for kids on the street. The kids are simply ignored or scared away. And sometimes prey for people with wrong intentions.
In the second part of the film, we jump 20 years in tie and see adult Saroo, adopted by loving parents and leading a happy and fortunate life. Where the first half was about physical survival, the second part is more about the psychological effects of this all. Even though Saroo had a good life in Australia, but memories from his short time in India keep coming back. This leads him to an obsessive search for his biological family.
“Lion” could have easily become a melodramatic, based-on-a-true-story, Oscar material. But director Garth Davis made this movie with lots of integrity and nuance. Of course there is enough emotion involved and you probably will use some tissues here and there, but it’s not overly sentimental. The cast is really strong, especially leading man Dev Patel and his adoption mother played by Nicole Kidman.

Rating: 5/ 5

vrijdag 10 november 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 116: Thor: Ragnarok

Director: Taika Waititi
Genre: Action/ Science Fiction/ Adventure
Runtime: 130 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tessa Thomspon, Karl Urban, Ray Stevenson, Clancy Brown

Description: Imprisoned, the almighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

Review: Innovation and variation is becoming harder within the superhero genre. In the past 10 years, Marvel has brought us 17 movies. Because the characters keep meeting each other in each other’s movies, there is a chance the films lose their identity and become disposable. But Marvel has realized this and are heading into a different direction.
“Thor”Ragnarok” is a bit of a gamble. It’s a complete different route for the God of thunder, because it’s an unprecedented humoristic trip through the cosmos. And it’s a very welcome surprise, because continuing on the same way as “Thor: The Dark World” is simply not an option. Because that would mean that naïve Thor would fall for Loki’s shams all over again, when at the end of the first Avengers film, this relationship has been settled more the less.
All elements that are a threat to the levity of the film, have been removes and are just side issues. For instance, love interest Jane Foster isn’t in it and I’m not missing her.
“Thor: Ragnarok” left all seriousness aside, which makes it a good comedy with action in it. And that's all thanks to New Zealander Taika Waititi, who also directed “Hunt For the Winlderpeople”. And I love this director’s humor. He also voices one of the funnier characters in the movie.
Most memorable is the scene where Thor sees Hulk in the arena and adding the green hero to this film is a great addition. It’s fun to see a different side from him.
The biggest plus is that the world of Thor has become more colorful, in every way of the word. “Thor: Ragnarok” is the best in the trilogy and one of the best in the Marvel Cinemativ Universe. What an awesome movie!

Rating: 4,5/ 5

maandag 6 november 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 115: Toni Erdmann

Director: Maren Ade
Genre: Drama/ Comedy
Runtime: 162 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Ingrid Bisu, Vlad Ivanoc, Victoria Cocias, Radu Banzuru, Anna Maria Bergold, Ingrid Burkhard, Manuela Ciucur, Cezara Dafinescu, Julischka Eichel, Klafa Höfels

Description: A practical joking father (Peter SImonischek) tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter (Sandra Hüller) by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO's life coach.

Review: Inspired by her own father, a joker, director Maren Ade created a very personal project. He was the one that thought her not to take life too seriously. And this message is clear in “Toni Erdmann”.
The title figure, based on Ades father, is a created character. His actual name is Winfried. He didn’t really make it in life, but loves it anyway, with his absurd sense of humor. Winfried is very different from his daughter Ines, who is a hard working business woman. They don’t have a lot in common. And that becomes painfully clear for Winfried, when he visits Ines in Boekarest, where she works. Ines hardly has any time for her dad, he just gets in her way. Winfried sees how Ines grew to be a woman without humor and who is relentless on the work floor. He has to do something, but only Toni Erdmann can help.
Erdmann is simply Winfried with fake teeth and a black wig. Off course Ines knows this, but she allows this character to enter her high society business life. And Erdmann manages to win over the big shots, with his crazy charisma and bizarre anecdotes.
Toni Erdmann/ Winfried is one of the most magical characters I have seen in a while. That’s all thanks to Peter Simonischek, who portrays him masterfully. And Sandra Hüller, who plays daughter Ines, can easily keep up with him.
“Toni Erdmann” is about two completely different people, both broken in their own way, whose relationship has to be rebuild. The creation of Toni Erdmann has to make this happen.
The film has a good balance between drama and comedy and it’s one of the most original and surprising films I have seen this year.

Rating: 4,5/ 5

donderdag 2 november 2017

Top 5 Thursday: Movies I Watched For My Challenge (October 2017)

A pretty mediocre month for movies. Did some rewatches, but also watched some crappy ones. Thank goodness for a few good film. Here are my favorites, that I watched for my challenge for the month of October.

5. Need For Speed
I thought it was going to be a sad repetition of the “Fast & Furious” movies. Well, no. It was more enjoyable then I expected it to be. And Aaron Paul….

4. Ghost in the Shell
This movie is mostly great because of its visuals and because of Scarlett Johansson. I don’t think it’s a very memorable movie, but I’m definitely happy about watching it.

3. Starter For 10
I like these stories. Nothing special, just a boy next door kind of story. And I really enjoyed it.

2. Going in Style
This film could easily be super cheesy. But it’s a really good comedy. Zach Braff did a good job directing, but if it weren’t for Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin, it would just be like any other comedy. So much fun!

1. Boyz n the Hood
What a good film. I love the nineties vibe, strong story and solid performances. Never saw it complete, I’m glad I did now.

They Almost Made the Top 5: Little Evil

maandag 30 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 114: Ghost in the Shell

Director: Rupert Sanders
Genre: Action/ Crime/ Science Fiction/ Thriller
Runtime: 107 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Michael Pitt, Juliette Binoche

Description: In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.

Review: In 1995 director Mamoru Oshii released the anime classic “Ghost in the Shell”. It’s set in a future where body parts can easily be replaced by cybernetic parts. Director Rupert Sanders got the task to turn it into an American live action film.
We meet Major, a young woman who was in a terrible accident. She has been given new life thanks to robotic factory Hanka Robotics. Because she is the first of her kind, Major is used as a super weapon, specialized in tracking and killing hackers and terrorists. When you look at the story, it’s been simplified. Existential problems are a bit watered down, but the question ‘what makes us human’ isn’t completely ignored.
Visually “Ghost in the Shell” looks amazing. It was clearly inspired by “Blade Runner”. And the soundtrack is also really cool. Scarlett Johansson is supposed to carry this film and she is clearly perfect for this role. Johansson is a great action heroin. “Ghost in the Shell” has its flaws, but it’s visually stunning and Scarlett Johansson is really strong.

Rating: 3,5/ 5