maandag 23 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 113: Boyz n the Hood

Director: John Singleton
Genre: Drama Crime
Runtime: 107 minutes
Year: 1991
Starring: Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Regina King

Description: Follows the lives of three young males (Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut) living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, dissecting questions of race, relationships, violence and future prospects.

Review: “Boyz n the Hood” is John Singleton’s Hollywood break. He shows us the life in black ghetto’s. Because of this sad situation in the backstreets, African Americans have no prospects whatsoever. Violence and crime is the only way to get money and respect for many young kids.
The film starts with a group of friends that grow up to be young adults. For under privileged kids it isn’t easy to get a good education or even a job.
Young Tre manages to escape the criminal life, due to his idealistic dad. For his friends Doughboy and Ricky it’s a little harder. Doughboy has a gang and has been in and out of jail a couple of times. His brother Ricky is a young father and is trying to get a scholarship for a good college. In “Boyz n the Hood” we see the lives of these three boys.
The acting is pure, war and sincere. Every character is portrayed in a very convincing way. The film has become a heart breaking portrait of the other side of society. Besides the violent scenes in the film, it really tries to tell us something. It has a very strong message.
“Boyz n the Hood” is an impressive film.

Rating: 4,5/ 5

zondag 15 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 112: The Great Wall

Director: Zhang Yimou
Genre: Action/ Fantasy/ Adventure
Runtime: 103 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe

Description: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.
Review: “The Great Wall” is a spectacle that is a complete miss. With the great wall, they mean off course the wall in China. And here a legend is told. Fictional off course. Because the Chinese empire has been at war with a reptile species, that attacks China every 60 years, to get world dominance. Why they are there isn’t important. William Garin and Pero Tovar have been looking for black powder and stumble upon the wall. They are captured and off course it’s that time the reptiles come back.
“The Great Wall” is everything but great. The action is filled with over the top slow motion shots, the monsters are an animated mess and the characters have no depth whatsoever. Special effects are really important for a film like this, but they are really bad. It all looks super fake.
The film also misses a good build-up of the story. As viewers we are thrown into the conflict immediately and have no context. And because the characters are forgettable and we don’t care about them, this is such a disposable film. Why the hell did Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe appear in this film? A waste of talent.

Rating: 1,5/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 111: Going in Style

Director: Zach Braff
Genre: Comedy/ Crime
Runtime: 96 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, John Ortiz, Ann-Margret, Joey King, Peter Serafinowicz, Kenan Thompson

Description: Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.

Review: Joe has trouble keeping up when his bank tells him he loses his house in 30 days, when he doesn’t pay his mortgage. His friend Willie hardly sees his daughter and granddaughter, who live on the other side of the country and hides a serious kidney problem. And their friend Albert fills his days teaches music class to untalented kids. The three know each other through their work at a factory and are currently enjoying their pension. At least, they are supposed to. Because their former bosses decide to pause their pensions. Joe, Willie and Albert have had it and decide to rob a bank.
“Going in Style” is directed by actor and creator of “Garden State”, Zach Braff. He must have thought to have gold with three actors of this standard. It doesn’t even matter what you let them do. And that’s the power of this film, the comical interaction between the three main characters.
The sentimental part is kept to a minimun. “Going in Style” shows men who can be themselves, love their families. The main characters are all likeable in their own way, I don’t think this movie would have worked as well as it did, if it where three random lesser known actors. It’s Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin that make this movie. With that, there are some fun supporting roles, especially Christopher Lloyd is worth mentioning.
The part where the three men are planning their heist is the most fun. Testing their criminal capacities, trying to rob a local supermarket, it’s so hilarious. This comedy really made me laugh out loud, something most comedies nowadays can’t even do. Most people wouldn’t call “Going In Style” a great film, but it’s mostly the sympathy you have for the characters and the interaction between the three gentlemen that win you over. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in the past years. And that’s thanks to Caine, Freeman and Arkin. Highly enjoyable movie.

Rating: 4/ 5

donderdag 12 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 110: Evita

Director: Alan Parker
Genre: Drama/ Musical
Runtime: 135 minutes
Year: 1996
Starring: Madonna, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce

Description: The hit musical based on the life of Evita Duarte (Madonna), a B-picture Argentinian actress who eventually became the wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón (Jonathan Pryce), and the most beloved and hated woman in Argentina.

Review: Musicals are sort of my guilty pleasures. I don’t feel guilty for loving “Singin’ in the Rain” and “La La Land”, in my opinion the two best musicals ever made and two of my all-time favorite movies. If I loved “Evita” I would feel guilty, because it’s not a very good musical. And thankfully I don’t love it.
When the film starts, it’s all over the place. Shifting in timelines, from when Evita was young to her death and back. Very confusing and messy. The songs are good, the execution of them not so great. Madonna is just not the right choice for this role, I never believed her. I think the only I liked in this film was Antonio Banderas, who sort of tells the story.
Such an interesting story and the film is based on a very successful and strong stage musical. Just as a movie, it didn’t really work.

Rating: 2/ 5

dinsdag 10 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 109: Starter For 10

Director: Tom Vaughan
Genre: Comedy/ Romance/ Drama
Runtime: 92 minutes
Year: 2006
Starring: James McAvoy, Alice Eve, Rebecca Hall, Dominic Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Corden, Charles Dance

Description: Set in 1985, working-class student Brian Jackson (McAvoy) navigates his first year at Bristol University.

Review: “Starter For 10” is based on a novel by David Nichols, one of my favorite authors. The film is set in the 80s, but it really looks like it was actually made in that era. Everything breaths 80s.
No special effects, no fancy camera positions, no tricks. This film’s strengths are in the nostalgic atmosphere, talented and strong actors and a well-directed script. Okay, sometimes it’s a bit cheesy and predictable. But it’s such a fun film.
I really love James Mcavoy in this coming-of-age story. As am 80s baby and hopeless romantic, “Starter For 10” is a win!

Rating: 3,5/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 108: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Director: Burr Steers
Genre: Action/ Horror/ Romance
Runtime: 108 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Lena Heady, Charles Dance, Matt Smith, Bella Heathcote, Suki Waterhouse

Description: Five sisters in 19th century England must cope with the pressures to marry while protecting themselves from a growing population of zombies.

Review: “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is exactly what the title wants you to believe it is. Jane Austen’s good old tale “Pride and Prejudice”, but then with added zombies. 19th century women fighting off zombies.
A mash-up film like this can be extraordinary fun because of the contrasts between the two genres. And those moments, where the film mixes the genres and becomes half a parody and half something completely new, is where “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is the strongest. Where the film tries to stick with the original romance novel, the film loses its power. Because we already know it and seen it.
For a film of this genre, it focuses too much on the original story, instead of the elements that make this story so special. We simply needed to have more of the zombies. Off course it’s also fun to see the moments from the original Austen novel, but we have other movies for that. It gets fun when the Bennet sister pull out weapons from their dresses and fight the undead.
Overall it’s a strange mix, although very entertaining. When the zombie element of the story had an overhand, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” would have been much better. Still not a bad movie, but there was such potential.

Rating: 3/ 5

donderdag 5 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 107: Carrie

Director: Kimberly Peirce
Genre: Drama/ Horror
Runtime: 100 minutes
Year: 2013
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Ansel Elgort, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde

Description: A shy girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), outcasted by her peers and sheltered by her religious mother (Julianne Moore), unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.

Review: Hollywood has taken many of Stephen King’s novels as their inspiration. One of the bigger ones is “Carrie”, directed by Brian De Palma. It’s actually one of the few horror movies that got recognition from the Academy. It’s a pretty big job to top De Palma’s film. In 2013, Kimberly Peirce gave it a try, with this remake.
Peirce is known for “Boys Don’t Cry”. Her version of “Carrie” had to be a different take on King’s story. But Peirce doesn’t really succeed, because it’s nothing new and we’ve seen most of it before.
It follows the original pretty well, but also the horror genre in general. Like many horror remakes, “Carrie” doesn’t really focus on building the tension. There is more room for Carrie to experiment with her powers.
Chloë Grace Moretz, who plays Carrie, does manage to convince us. But Julianne Moore overshadows her, as Carrie’s extremely religious mother.
Sadly enough Kimberly Peirce wasn’t capable of finding new angles to present the film from. Bullying and social media are so topical, she could have turned “Carrie” into a contemporary horror film. Much further than a YouTube video, with no consequences, it doesn’t really go. We didn’t really need this remake.

Rating: 2,5/ 5

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

This was a good month, because I saw a bunch of fantastic films. Here are my five favorites.

5. The Hitman’s Bodyguard
A super funny and harsh action comedy. I loved Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, apart and together. They make a great duo. And that scene with the nuns alone is reason enought to see it again.

4. Hidden Figures
A very inspiring story, about three black women making a change while working at Nasa. Based on a true story, rooting for women!!

3. It
Since I hate clowns, this was a big deal for me. The old "It" movie doesn't scare me anymore, but this is one of the scariest films I've seen. And also one of the best horror movies of the past years.

2. Brimstone
I'm a little proud to be Dutch now, because it was made by a Dutch director and has Dutch roots. It took him about 8 years to finish it and it was worth the wait.

1. Sing Street
I loved, loved, loved "Sing Street". The 80s time period, the 80s music, the characters, the story. It's so good. And I didn't even know about this film. One of the best films of 2016.

They Almost Made the Top 5: Life

dinsdag 3 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 106: Little Evil

Director: Eli Craig
Genre: Comedy/ Horror
Runtime: 95 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Clancy Brown, Sally Field, Donald Faison

Description: Gary (Adam Scott), who has just married Samantha (Evangeline Lilly), the woman of his dreams, discovers that her six-year-old son may be the Antichrist.

Review: “Little Evil” follows Gary, who just married the woman of his dreams Samantha. She has a son, who Gary never really bonded with. Because he thinks Lucas is the antichrist.
“Little Evil” is a mix of comedy and horror, but it’s more comedy than it is horror. A movie like “This is the End” had the same set up, but is a lot more clever and sharp then this movie. The first half of the film is funny, I really liked that part. But towards the end I didn’t enjoy it as much.
Adam Scott is really fun, I always enjoy watching him in movies. In “Krampus”, which was also a horror and comedy mix, I liked him a bit more.
“Little Evil” is still fun to watch, but don’t expect too much.

Rating: 3/ 5

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 105: Need For Speed

Director: Scott Waugh
Genre: Action/ Crime
Runtime: 131 minutes
Year: 2014
Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Rami Malek, Dakota Johnson, Michael Keaton

Description: Fresh from prison, a street racer (Aaron Paul) who was framed by a wealthy business associate (Dominic Cooper) joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins.

Review: Movies based on videogames don’t have a good reputation. When it’s a race game where the story barely even matters, the fans are skeptic. But “Need For Speed” has some tricks up its sleeve: a big budget, a talented cast and an ambitious director.
“Need For Speed” is based on the game with the same name, where the first part came out in 1994. The story is about Tobey Marshall, the owner of a garage and a talented street racer. When his garage has financial struggles, his arrogant rival Dino Brewster gets him to join an illegal street race, where the winner gets a large amount of money. The race ends up in disaster, when one of the cars makes a fatal crash. Dino gets out before he gets in trouble, but Tobey gets the blame for it. After two years of prison, he is determined to clear his name and take revenge on Dino.
Action movies like this don’t really need an intelligent plot or a surprising course of events. Beautiful cars and spectacular races and chases are enough. Director Waugh experimented with angles while filming those races: from the first person, from the sky, far away and up close. And he manages to make you feel that speed. And the stunts are real, no green screens. “Need For Speed” is visually very well done.
Aaron Paul does a good job and I really liked his chemistry with Imogen Poots. But the dialogue is so silly and clumsy sometimes. Michael Keaton is one of my favorites, but his role is a bit strange and I don’t know why he is in this film. His character seems unnecessary. And that strip scene by Rami Malek didn’t belong here either.
“Need For Speed” is filled with clichés, but this film does have something. The film never bored me, even though I have no connection with cars whatsoever. Maybe it was Aaron Paul…

Rating: 3/ 5

zondag 1 oktober 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 104: Brimstone

Director: Martin Koolhoven
Genre: Thriller/ Drama/ Western
Runtime: 148 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Carice van Houten, Kit Harington

Description: From the moment the new reverend (Guy Pearce) climbs the pulpit, Liz (Dakota Fanning) knows she and her family are in great danger.

Review: It took him seven years, but director Martin Koolhoven finally got his passion project “Brimstone” done. And I think all that work was worth it, because “Brimstone” is an impressive film. An American genre film, made by the Dutch.
We meet Liz, who has no tongue and can’t speak. When a new reverend arrives in her town, her peaceful life is history. Koolhoven tells the story between Liz and the reverend in four chapters. And this is fascinating.
Is “Brimstone” a typical western? You will definitely find some elements: dessert landscapes, prostitutes in saloons and gun duels. But they have been put to the background. Koolhoven knows his westerns, but he isn’t here to pay an homage to the genre. He gave it his own twist and focused more on the American religion in that time period. Koolhoven went against the grain, something that we need more of in Hollywood.
Dakota Fanning plays Liz and shakes off her teen image with this role. She is really good. Kit Harington, who is always a joy to watch for so many reasons, is the shady outlaw. I really liked seeing him in this role. Carice van Houten is one of our country’s biggest actresses and her role, although small, is really strong. But it is Guy Pearce that leaves the biggest impression. His portrayal of the reverend is terrifying in a way.
I’m not the biggest fan of Dutch cinema, even though I’m Dutch myself. But “Brimstone” is definitely a movie us Dutch people can be proud of. One of the best films from our country.

Rating: 5/ 5

vrijdag 29 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 103: De Reünie

Director: Menno Meyjes
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Runtime: 98 minutes
Year: 2015
Starring: Thekla Reuten, Daan Schuurmans, Patrick Stoof, Marie-Mae van Zuilen, Daantje Idelenburg, Myron Wouts, Joep van der Geest, Tobias Kersloot, Eli Rietveld, Lara Leijs, Vivian Verkooy-Puppe, Dirk Marks, Jorik van der Veen

Description: Upon returning to work after an absence Sabine (Thekla Reuten) must deal with new emotional obstacles and matters from her past. Unlocking these doors exposes her to truths she may not be prepared for and the consequences of not letting the past go. Unanswered questions about her friend's disappearance, and a new romance leads Sabine to dark places.

Review: Simone van der Vlugt is one of Netherland’s most successful thriller authors. “De Reünie” was her thriller debut. And I was really excited to see it be turned into a movie, eleven years after its release.
There is a lot of shifting between now and then, in this story. In the present we see how the shy Sabine is coming back to work from a depression. And her boss and co-workers don’t exactly make it easier for her. But the handsome Olaf van Oirschot, one of brother’s high school friends, makes work more bearable. In the past we see young Sabine and her best friend Isabel. She went missing and the crime was never solved. With Olaf back in her life, Sabine keeps thinking about her high school years. And then there is that invitation for a high school reunion.
Nothing against Thekla Reuten and Daan Schuurmans, who portray Sabine and Olaf as adults. But it’s the scenes from the past that leave the biggest impression. Not only because it shows us that time period very well. But also the young actors performing well and how the characters get more depth.
“De Reünie” is in heart a murder mystery, but that elements is a bit lost in the film. That way the climax is a little bit predictable. But overall the adaptation is done very well.

Rating: 3,5/ 5

donderdag 28 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 102: The Paperboy

Director: Lee Daniels
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Runtime: 107 minutes
Year: 2012
Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, Kohn Cusack, Nicole Kidman, David Oyelowo, Scott Glenn, Ned Bellamy, Macy Gray

Description: A reporter (Matthew McConaughey) returns to his Florida home-town to investigate a case involving a death row inmate (John Cusack).

Review: In 2009 director Lee Daniels gave us the strong drama “Precious”. And looking at the quality of that film, we know Daniels is an excellent director. That “The Paperboy” looks like a bad B-movie from the 70s is probably an artistic choice. Weird zooming, covering shots, strange flows. Especially the first half of the film looks a bit ugly. And there is a lot of shamelessness as well (that first prison visit was just too weird for me).
Bringing an ode to cinema can work well, just look at Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse”. But for “The Paperboy” it doesn’t work as well. It’s not just an ode, Daniels adds some social themes to it. And because of that, you don’t know whether you have to go along with the pulp or focus on the deeper layers. The combo doesn’t work.
The atmosphere in the film is good, you feel that hot swampy summer. But Daniels didn’t manage to bring the characters to life. Because of the charged exploitation scenes, the characters stay a bit shallow. Most of them feel fake and you just don’t believe them, even though John Cusack and Matthew McConaughey deliver pretty good performances.
The mix of raw filth and psychological thriller and drama elements is interesting, but they stand in each other’s way. “The Paperboy” is a brave attempt, but not a very good film.

Rating: 2/ 5

woensdag 27 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 101: Sing Street

Director: John Carney
Genre: Comedy/ Drama/ Romance
Runtime: 106 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Kelly Thornton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Ian Kenny, Ben Carolan, Percy Chamburuka, Mark McKenna, Don Wycherley, Des Keogh, Kian Murphy, Dolores Mullally, Lucy Boynton, Marcella Plunkett, Vera Nwabuwe, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice

Description: A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band to impress the mysterious girl he likes.

Review: “Sing Street” is a film that flew under the radar in 2016. I even missed it. Which is a shame, because it’s definitely one of the best films of that year. I loved “Sing Street”.
Director John Carney previously made “Begin Again”, which is also a favorite of mine. In “Sing Street” we meet Conor. His life is tough. His parents are constantly fighting, because of money problems he is send to a strict boarding school and his role model (his brother) is about to walk away from home. Set in Ireland in the eighties, we get a great coming of age story which starts out really sad.
After meeting Raphina and falling head over heels in love with her, he decides to start a band. And she has to star in their videos. And Conor is really good at it.
The songs in “Sing Street” are fantastic. You feel that the band is influenced by other artists and the songs that follow have a good eighties feel.
The cast, mostly unknown for the big audience, is amazing. It’s really hard to dislike any of the characters. And they all look like they were supposed to be in this film. The film feels authentic and it’s clearly Carney’s love letter to eighties music. It’s beyond me why this movie was so overlooked. So overlooked that even I missed it. It’s a fantastic film.

Rating: 5/ 5

zondag 24 september 2017

Movie Trailer Sunday (307)

Here are this week's trailers.

All I See is You
Director: Marc Forster
Description: A blind woman's(Blake Lively) relationship with her husband (Jason Clarke) changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves.
Starring: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Ahna O'Reilly, Yvonne Strahovski, Danny Huston
Trailer: Trailer "All I See is You"
Comment: A very mysterious trailer.

Murder On the Oriënt Express
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Description: A lavish train ride unfolds into a stylish & suspenseful mystery. From the novel by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express tells of thirteen stranded strangers & one man's race to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Pfeifer, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Derek Jacobi
Trailer: Trailer "Murder On the Oriënt Express"
Comment: I love Agatha Christie stories, can't wait to see this new version of her best story.

Isle of Dogs
Director: Wes Anderson
Description: Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs follows a boy's odyssey in search of his dog.
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Liev Schreiber, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwich, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, F. Murray Abraham, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Ken Watanabe, Courtney B. Vance
Trailer: Trailer "Isle of Dogs"
Comment: Since "Fantastic Mister Fox" is my favorite Wes Anderson movie, I'm so happy about this!!!!

Peter Rabbit
Director: Will Gluck
Description: Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit (James Corden) trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden.
Starring: James Corden, Margot Robbie, Domhnall Gleeson, Daisy Ridley, Rose Byrne
Trailer: Trailer "Peter Rabbit"
Comment: Anything with a rabbit makes me go YAY!!!

Cook Off!
Director: Cathryn Michon, Guy Shalem
Description: Amateur "chefs" from around the country compete for a million dollar prize in the ultimate food fight.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Diedrich Bader, Ben Falcone, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Stephen Root
Trailer: Trailer "Cook Off!"
Comment: I have a feeling that this is a terrible movie. Judging by the poster (which is awefull) and trailer alone.

donderdag 21 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 100: The Hitman's Bodyguard

Director: Patrick Hughes
Genre: Action/ Comedy
Runtime: 118 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Richard E. Grant

Description: The world's top bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) gets a new client (Samuel L. Jackson), a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.

Review: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” feels a bit like a buddy action comedy from the 80s or 90s. It’s a shameless and very entertaining film, if you enjoy films like “48 Hours” and Lethal Weapon”.
Samuel L. Jackson plays Darius Kincaid, a hitman that has to testify in an important case. He has to be transported from A to B by Michael Bryce, played by Ryan Reynolds. Off course they are the exact opposites of each other and the transportation doesn’t go as planned.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has some really great action scenes and car chases. And it’s fun to see that most of the movie was filmed in my country, The Netherlands.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” feels fresh, it’s an old fashioned style and well executed action comedy. But then with more violence and swearing, but that’s what you get when it stars Samuel L. Jackson. The humor is great and I loved the dynamic between Reynolds and Jackson. And I really enjoyed Salma Hayek’s role as well.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is so much fun!

Rating: 4/ 5

maandag 18 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 99: Hidden Figures

Director: Theodore Melfi
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 127 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali

Description: The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.

Review: “Hidden Figures” is based on true events. About three African-American women who served a vital role in NASA. This inspiring period in recent American history is combined with the systematic injustice that was going on.
“Hidden Figures” is set in the early sixties, a time that is notable because for America’s optimism. The central characters are Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who each exceed in mathematics and technically do the work that computers do now. But the race difference and the fact that they are also women, constantly put them behind. Even though they excel at what they do.
“Hidden Figures” shows us that it’s not just the so called rednecks that act racist, but also the schooled brainiacs did it, without realizing.
The story is really inspiring and it rubs off because of the fantastic performances by all three ladies. And it’s also great to see Kevin Costner in his role as project manager Al Harrison. He fits the Kennedy era perfectly.
“Hidden Figures” maybe feels a little bit too Hollywood, but it’s a beautiful story that I’m happy to learn about.

Rating: 4/ 5

zondag 17 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 98: Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Genre: Horror/ Thriller/ Science Fiction
Runtime: 104 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds

Description: A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars and now threatens all life on Earth.

Review: Trying to bring back dead tissue to life, is probably not a good idea. There are many examples in film history that proof that. In “Life” they find organism on Mars, which they manage to bring to life. And off course, everything goes wrong after that.
“Life” gets exciting and has tension very early in the film. During the openings scene we see how the crew of an international space station try to catch a capsule with a mechanical arm. On board there are samples of the planet Mars, with proof there is life on Mars. The first organism they bring to life they call Calvin.
At first, Calvin is hard to see with the naked eye. It manages to adapt to its environment quickly. It also causes a bizarre accident in the lab and isn’t as friendly as they thought. It starts feeding of off the flesh of the astronauts and gets bigger and stronger by the hour.
It’s clear director Daniel Espinosa was inspired by movies like “Alien” and “Gravity”. He uses the claustrophobic rooms of the space ship to create extra fear and the extra-terrestrial life prefers to enter a human’s body through its mouth. But there are also crucial differences: we get to see the alien a lot more and the characters don’t all have that depth. Although we do see the monster often, it doesn’t always make it less scary. “Life” works perfectly as a popcorn film. The tempo is high and never manages to collapse.
Rebecca Ferguson and especially Jake Gyllenhaal, really steal the show. Their performances are strong. And I rated this movie higher than I expected, because of the ending.

Rating: 3,5/ 5

Movie Trailer Sunday (306)

Here are this week's trailers.

The Disaster artist
Director: James Franco
Description: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Tommy Wiseau's The Room (2003).
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Kate Upton, Zoey Deutch, Lizzy Caplan, Kristen Bell, Adam Scott, Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone, Josh Hutcherson
Trailer: Trailer "The Disaster Artist"
Comment: One of this year's movies I'm most looking forward too.

Director: Alexander Payne
Description: A social satire in which a guy realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.
Starring: Matt Damon, Cristoph Waltz, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Hong Chau
Trailer: Trailer "Downsizing"
Comment: This is such a great concept.

The Man Who Invented Christmas
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Description: The journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and other classic characters from "A Christmas Carol." The film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) conjured up a timeless tale.
Starring: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce,
Comment: The story of how "A Christmas Carol" was born.

Director: Dee Rees
Description: Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.
Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Jason Mitchell, Mary J. Blige
Trailer: Trailer "Mudbound"
Comment: looks intense!

The Current War
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Description: The dramatic story of the cutthroat race between electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to determine whose electrical system would power the modern world.
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Macfadyen
Trailer: Trailer "The Current War"
Comment: Great cast!

woensdag 13 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 97: It

Director: Andy Muschietti
Genre: Horror/ Thriller
Runtime: 135 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis, Fin Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff

Description: A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of clown, begins hunting children.

Review: Stephen King’s horror novel “It” was turned into film for the first time in 1990. This made for television film isn’t timeless. It’s a bit outdated and the acting and special effects are a bit cheesy nowadays. It was Tim Curry’s performance that make this film memorable. Because of nostalgia, this film survived for so long. But “It” has been ready for a remake for a while.
Now, 27 years later, it’s finally here. The film focusses on the younger years of the characters, so we don’t see them as adults. In the book we do. And it seems like a very good decision, because there is a lot to be told.
The seven young characters, who call themselves the “Loser Club”, all have to deal with their own problems. Director Andy Muschietti takes time to give each character a solid backstory. That’s difficult with so many characters, and not all of them get that depth. But enough to make you care about them.
After a short introduction, all of them are confronted with their biggest fear. And there is some creepy stuff going on. The film has a good tempo. All seven eventually meet the clown Pennywise, who is the only thing that all the children see. It lives on the fears of kids.
The film is set in the eighties, so it still has that nostalgia. And it also somehow feels like a coming-of-age film. Most important is that the kids try to face their fears and overcome them. And this horror film actually has depth, which is hard to find in many films with that genre.
The young cast is really good, they never overdo it and you van really feel their fear. You take them seriously and the dialogue almost feels adult-like. Bill Skarsgård portrays Pennywise. Completely different from Tim Curry. He isn’t as predictable and he is darker than the previous Pennywise. He portrayed him so he will eventually haunt your dreams.
Did this movie scare me? Yes! I’m not very keen on clowns in the first place, but this film is genuinely scary.

Rating: 4,5/ 5

zondag 10 september 2017

Movie Trailer Sunday (305)

Here are this week's trailers.

Director: George Clooney
Description: A home invasion rattles a quiet family town.
Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac
Trailer: Trailer "Suburbicon"
Comment: This trailer looks so good, can't wait to see it.

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool
Director: Paul McGuigan
Description: A romance sparks between a young actor (Jamie Bell) and a Hollywood leading lady (Annette Bening).
Starring: Jamie Bell, Annette Bening, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Walters, Stephen Graham
Trailer: Trailer "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool"
Comment: This looks so beautiful, honest, Jamie Bell seems perfect.

Director: Scott Cooper
Description: In 1892, a legendary Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.
Starring: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster, Jesse Plemmons, Stephen Lang, Scott Wilson, Rory Cochrane, Bill Camp
Trailer: Trailer "Hostiles"
Comment: It looks like it suits its title. It looks raw.

Lady Bird
Director: Greta Gerwich
Description: The adventures of a young woman living in Northern California for a year.
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalfe,
Trailer: Trailer "Lady Bird"
Comment: The kind of film I would love.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Director: Martin McDonagh
Description: In this darkly comic drama, a mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder, when they fail to catch the culprit.
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage
Trailer: Trailer "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Comment: Not very clear yet, bet it looks realy good.

vrijdag 8 september 2017

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

I watched some pretty good ones this month. Here are my five favorite films that I watched for my challenge, for the month of August.

5. To the Bone
A Netflix movie that got a lot of criticism. I don’t think that critique is right, they found that this movie glamourized eating disorders. It really doesn’t. It’s a heartbreaking story and very well acted by Lily Collins.

4. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
A film that is best when you watch it without any information. Shot in black and white, great music, really stylish.

3. Sausage Party
Silly yet brilliant humor. It’s an animation, but for adults. And adults only, because it’s pretty raunchy.

2. Don’t Breathe
What a surprising and original horror thrill we got here. The film kept me on the edge of my seat at all times, it really is a film that takes your breath away.

1. War for the Planet of the Apes
The third movie in a trilogy is often the worst. In this case, the complete trilogy is solid and I simply can’t pick a favorite. “War for the Planet of the Apes” is a war movie, without all the epic explosions and clichés. And boy did I cry at the end!

They Almost Made the Top 5: -

zaterdag 2 september 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 96: Don't Breathe

Director: Fede Alvarez
Genre: Thriller/ Crime/ Horror
Runtime: 88 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Jane Levy, Stephen Lang, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Töröcsik, Christian Zagia, Katia Bokor, Sergej Onopko, Olivia Gillies, Dayna Clark

Description: Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man (Stephen Lang) who isn't as helpless as he seems.

Review: “Don’t Breathe” is director’s Fede Alvarez second movie. The “Evil Dead” remake was his first and he surprised everybody with actually creating a solid horror remake. In “Don’t Breathe” we don’t get a blood bath, chainsaws or possessed teens, but a breaking and entering and lots of suspense.
Teen girl Rocky hates her life with her terrible mother. She kills her days by breaking into houses and steal. Rocky is planning on stealing enough to flee to California with her little sister. Her friends might have that way out. Alex knows his way around alarm systems and the street smart Money know the right addresses. They get a tip for the house of an old blind man, who hides a fortune inside. It sounds like an easy job, but the man isn’t as helpless as the three assume.
The scene of the crime is introduced with one long shot. The camera goes through the dark hallways and rooms. The spaces are used to build up the tension and it works. This looks really impressive. Because the home owner is blind, his hearing is extra sharp. That’s where the true cat and mouse game unfolds. No cheap jump scares, inventive ways of using sound and light effects, a lot of tension.
“Don’t Breathe” doesn’t focus on the line between good and evil, it just touches that theme lightly: Burglars aren’t per definition bad, the home owner is always just the victim. And the film has a very unpleasant twist. “Don’t Breathe” is an excellent film, that kept me on the edge of my seat. It feels fresh and inspiring, it’s a good and solid horror thriller.

Rating: 4/ 5

maandag 28 augustus 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 95: The 9th Life of Louis Drax

Director: Alexandre Aja
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Runtime: 108 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Jamie Dornan, Sarah Gadon, Aaron Paul, Oliver Platt

Description: A psychologist (Jamie Dornan) who begins working with a young boy who has suffered a near-fatal fall finds himself drawn into a mystery that tests the boundaries of fantasy and reality.

Review: “The 9th Life of Louis Drax” starts as a light and somewhat funny boy’s adventure, but it goes onto a more dark path about bad parenting, trauma and a cry for attention. The fantasy elements in the film feel very misplaced because of this. Louis Drax is a nine year old boy who got into a coma after a fall off a cliff. It sounds like bad luck, but it’s not the first time that Louis had an accident. Ever since his birth, there have been several accidents that other children probably wouldn’t have survived. Doctor Alan Pascal studies him and his grieving mother draws his attention. There is more to Louise and his parents than meet the eye.
It’s a mysterious crime story with paranormal elements. For a film targeted at a younger audience, it would have worked. But it gets darker and the fantasy elements feel a bit ridiculous.
When you’re invested in the characters, a movie can be a bit more bearable. But Louis Drax is a really annoying kid and very unlikeable. Jamie Dornan, who plays the doctor, is not good. I think he has the charisma of a doorknob and he is very unbelievable in this film. Sarah Gadon and Aaron Paul do their best, but can’t save the film either.
“The 9th Life of Louis Drax” is unbalanced, somewhat silly and not very well executed. A movie you should probably pass.

Rating: 1,5/ 5

zondag 27 augustus 2017

Movie Trailer Sunday (304)

Here are this week's trailer.

Tulip Fever
Director: Justin Chadwick
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.
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, Holliday Grainger, Tom Hollander, Matthew Morrison, Kevin McKidd, Zach Galifianakis, Cara Delevingne
Trailer: Trailer "Tulip Fever"
Comment: I really can't wait to finally see this, this new trailer really heated things up!

Little Evil
Director: Eli Craig
Description: Gary who has just married Samantha the woman of his dreams, discovers that her six-year-old son may be the Antichrist.
Starring: ADam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Clancy Brown, Donald Faison, Tyler Labine, Bridget Everett
Trailer: Trailer "Little Evil"
Comment: I'm so glad that I can see this on Netflix soon!

Last Flag Flying
Director: Richard Linklater
Description: Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, a former Navy Corpsman Larry "Doc" Shepherd re-unites with his old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon and Reverend Richard Mueller, to bury his son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.
Starring: Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne
Trailer: Trailer "Last Flag Flying"
Comment: Three fantastic actors joined together. Looks good.

Director: Mark Palansky
Description: The widow of a wise professor stumbles upon one of his inventions that's able to record and play a person's memory.
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Anton Yelchin, Henry Ian Cusick
Trailer: Trailer "Rememory"
Comment: Yay, Peter Dinklage!!!

Literally, Right Before Aaron
Director: Ryan Eggold
Description: A young man (Justin Long) attends the wedding of his ex-girlfriend (Cobie Smulders).
Starring: Justin Long, Cobie Smulders, Lea Thompson, Kristen Schaal, John Cho, Ryan Hansen, Luis Guzmân
Trailer: Trailer "Literally, Right Before Aaron"
Comment: I really love Cobie Smulders.

donderdag 24 augustus 2017

100 Movie Challenge 2017 - # 94: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Genre: Horror/ Thriller/ Romance
Runtime: 99 minutes
Year: 2014
Starring: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali, Reza Sixo Safai

Description: In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.

Review: Nowadays vampire movies are sappy fairytale-like love stories, with drooling teenagers and cringeworthy dialogues. “Let the Right One In” gave this an original twist. And with Ana Lilly Amirpour’s “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”, it looks like the genre is rising again. Horror, romance, Indie, western, all with a feminist touch.
“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” opens with Arash, looking like James Dean, lighting a cigarette. He picks up a cat and walks to twon with him. It looks like the American suburbs, until Arash passes a ditch with human bodies. Bad City sounds as terrible as it is.
At night Bad City turns into a hunting area for a vampire: a youngs woman with posters of American pop idols on her wall, listeing to hip music and wears red lipstick. Her black and white striped shirt disappears under a black chador. In a city where woman are ruled by men, she is the only female power. She seduces the men and then they become her victims.
Director Amirpour has a history as a visual artist, cartoonist and singer of an Indie band. And in her debut film (!) you can definitely feel these influences. Interesting wide shots, a fantastic soundtrack. The icy and artsy atmosphere dominate the film and keep it interesting. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, that makes it even more interesting.
When you see the mix of all the genres, you wouldn’t think it’s a directorial debut. What a great first film for Ana Lily Amirpour.

Rating: 4/ 5