Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review The Butler (2013)

genre: drama

The Butler got robbed. Plain and simple. If there is one movie that was deserving of winning Oscars it was this one. To not even be nominated is a slap into the face of every film fan that care about more than just hype and political correctness Not saying that The Butler is perfect. Far from it. It is very flawed but it shines where it matters. It succeeds what 12 Years A Slave tried to do and miserably failed. The Butler will get to you and yes it does uses a gimmick that seems a little far fetched and probably more could have done with it. Still it manages to creep up at you and confront you with some truth. Historical facts are changed obviously but the reality of what transpires on the screen is hard hitting and emotionally effective. And the film is not even trying to make it easy to do so. We are dealing with real characters that can be very unlikable at times. Now I know Oprah Winfrey can act. And if there is some criticism I should add it is her acting. It's unremarkable for the most time. But when it matters it matters. She portrays a character that even when not that much focus is spend on how she develops. Her growth does influence how the story plays out. The Butler has a few incredible powerful scenes where some events and behaviour of characters (like that from Oprah's character) come together and  fall into place. Don't get too hung up on the gimmick with the almost comical imitations of the presidents. It's just a device to hook you in to tell you the real story. An incredible powerful film that deserves far more recognition than it got. A must watch!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review Need for Speed (2014)

 genre: action, racing

An adaptation of a very successful game franchise that knows how to recreate the feeling you get when you are actually racing at very high speeds. Is this the movie adaptation that will succeed where other has failed? Is this the one that will pump adrenaline in your blood in the same fashion as the games did? Well, let me be very brief about that. NO! It does not capture anything of what the games were about. It is more focused on drama that is so simple and ineffective it simply is no fun anymore. Ok. Not a big deal. Is Need for Speed at least fun. Is it anything like that hugely popular film franchise that still inspires people to play with cars and cause mayhem on the roads. The comparison to Fast and Furious is easily made and for people expecting more of the same let me warn you right now. This ain't Too Fast and Furious. This is more "Too Lazy to put in effort to make something good". When it comes to movies like these I don't find plot and character development all that interesting But Need for Speed does exactly that. If then the story at least would have been fresh or remotely interesting then of course I would have welcomed it. Instead we are getting a below average plot and belove average characters that do things that will make you scratch your head. One scene in particular comes to mind. In that scene a crew member who has an office job decided to quit because the main character requires his help. Normal people would just walk out. This guy takes of his clothes, walks around naked and molests a female co worker. Why? Why? Why? To emphasize these characters are wild and out there? For comic relief? It was real saddening and did not make any sense at all. When one of the other characters asks why he is naked, he gets as reply that he needed to make sure he was fired. In another world in another movie this might have had the desired effect. Here it felt so needless and tiring. Scenes like these just took away from the film where it tried to be serious. Say what you want about Fast and Furious. At least in those movies they knew how to balance out comedy and drama. What about the racing scenes, the action? Is it worth it? Again, no it is not. It can't measure up to any of the cgi sequences even in the oldest Need for Speed games. So what is the point? None. Spare yourself the trouble. Avoid this!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review The Physician a.k.a. Der Medicus (2013)

genre: adventure, drama

The Physician is a film that is an old school adventure drama that takes you on a journey with all kinds of dramatic events but in the end will make you feel good. Right from the start it is obvious that a lot of soul and heart has been put into this project. Everything from the cinematography to the acting is superb. This is a movie that made me care about the characters and the story. And I can honestly say that it has been a while that a movie excited me to this level. Therefore so frustrating and infuriating to see such a gem not getting the attention and praise it is deserving off. The Physician is a film that pays a lot of attention to details that make all the difference. If you look into the backgrounds in certain scenes you get a good picture of what life must have been like in those days. And it does this without distracting you from the main story. It also does not shy away showing you some of the horrors of that time. Which is also very important to be aware off. Since it actually helps you explain why the main character Rob Cole is so determined and ambitious to learn about medicine.  Please find out for yourself how beautiful this movie is and go watch it at once. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review Admission (2013)

genre: comedy, drama

Admission should not be seen as a comedy, because it fails as one. However as a light drama it excels. It is filled with themes that are touched upon subtly or less so without it becoming too heavy. Every viewer will be able to relate to at least one of them. Most focus naturally is given on the admission system of those elite Universities. I will reserve my opinion of the system, because I very likely will anger some people with my views. I always do. However for once it is of no consequence what any ones think to the main plot. Whatever we feel, it's all about Tina Fey's character discovering what she really is about and where her passions lie. With her we go on a small journey that while not providing the laughs as one might expect it goes into another direction that is very sincere. This makes Admission an incredibly thoughtful and heartwarming film. For me absolutely worth the time.  

Review The English Teacher (2013)

genre: comedy, drama

The English Teacher is not your typical comedy where we go from one funny scene to another. It does provide laughs but more focus is given on the deeper themes that are subtle and a little hidden. Our main character Linda Sinclair (played by Julianne Moore) is a teacher who is very passionate about her job and books. Especially the romantic novels. She is so passionate about them that it gives her a warped sense of what real romance and love should entail. While she is clearly an educated person it gives her a naivety that make it hard for her to connect to real people. But at the same time it gives her a drive to motivate her students to get the best out of themselves as much as possible. When Linda Sinclair meets an ex student who feels he has failed as a writer she tries to help him realize he has not. Most of the film is about her attempts to do this. Now Linda Sinclair, thankfully is human and makes mistakes. Now I personally did not think that these mistakes were as earth shattering as made out to be. It is very debatable even if they were immoral. Could she had prevented them? Yes, she could have. Only if I had to make her case for her. She was caught up in her passions and acted on them. It can happen to the best of us. Still Linda does get chastised for them on a incredible high level and isolate her further than she already was. And here is where the tragedy comes in. The one person who believed to dream and help other people dream gets punished so severely that she gets cast out. I couldn't help but admire her goodness even if she could have handled some things better. She stood by and prevailed. However she does not get the credit for it. Worse others steal the credit and honour she should be getting. Linda Sinclair is above all that. She has learned a valuable lesson and gets her own reward. In my opinion The English Teacher has a lot of heart, in large part because of Julianne Moore. She brings a vulnerability and strength in a role that makes her a believable and real character. So while some people might be disappointed not getting the laughs they wanted. The viewer will be getting a film where a character goes through a psychological journey  that is easy to relate to and makes you feel good at the end. One to watch for sure.       


Monday, April 14, 2014

Review Non-Stop (2014)

genre: action, thriller

Non-Stop is exciting and entertaining as long as it lasts. It won't leave a lasting impression but does do a few things right to make it worth your while. It keeps you guessing about the villain and makes it fun to find out who it is. Almost every character apart from Liam Neeson is a suspect. Liam provides the weight and drama to his role without actually knowing his background. We know enough to know he is a stand up guy and that is all that matters. Ever since Liam Neeson became a fully fledged action hero I have enjoyed watching him doing his thing. And Non-Stop offers more of the same. Now Non-Stop is not tense and tight throughout. There are moments when it loses steam where it becomes clear that the story could have been improved on but it does compensate these with climatic over the top and unbelievable events that are incredible fun. Overall a good action thriller. 

Chinese Puzzle a.k.a. Casse-tête chinois (2013)

genre: comedy, drama, romance

Chinese Puzzle is a little movie that is very charming and fresh. Most characters are very likable but also very flawed.. A few of them will do questionable things morally that undoubtedly will start up some discussions. No real judgement is given to these actions and leaves it up to the viewer what they think of it. And that is nice. However some decisions especially the one in the end won't make sense. Now I just read that Chinese Puzzle is the third part in a trilogy and that it might be required to have seen L'auberge espagnole (2002) and Les Poupées Russes (2005) since the same characters are featured. And naturally their behaviour and characteristics would make more sense if we would have seen how they have progressed and evolved. Still not being aware of this it is a flaw in story telling. A little recap of important events would have been very welcome. And very much needed in relation to the ending. The main character out of the blue makes a decision that feels rushed and completely ruined the vibe of the film. There has not been any build up to this moment in this part. I could not believe that a film that made no harsh judgement and left things open for the viewer to fill in themselves. Suddenly throws in an resolve for the main character that spells out what should happen and then completely ignores what is proposed. Resulting in one of the most unsatisfying endings in romcom history. Now, that being said. Chinese Puzzle is far from a waste of time. Like I said before there is a lot of charm to it and keeps you entertained overall. I do feel compelled to watch the earlier parts to see how much it affects my sentiments on this one. And will update this review if it is required.