Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Heaven Knows What (2014)
Adds a new chapter to movies about addiction
There are a lot of movies about drugs addiction. Heaven Knows What (2014) adds a new chapter to them. It is a small film, which shows the daily life of a number of addicts in a realistic manner. In addition to the struggle for life, love plays an important role. Heaven Knows What manages to touch the very soul, is fascinating and intriguing. And also acted well (or not) by real addicts.
Heaven Knows What is extra special because of the story behind it. It is the story of Arielle Holmes. On her 12th she already smoked crack, because it was quite normal in her environment. She soon lived on and from the street, day to day, bag to bag. Filmmaker Joshua Safdie, drifting through the city in search of inspiration, came in contact and was fascinated by her. He asked her to write down her story. Every day one page. On loose pieces of paper. Later, he handed her his laptop (which was delivered back neatly by police ....). This is the way a book is created, which forms the basis for this film.
Besides the story of her addiction, she tells the story of her love for Ilya. Ilya is played by the only professional actor (Caleb Landry Jones), because the real Ilya died during the shooting. In the film he falls asleep after a shot and his room catches fire. In the movie Harley (Arielle Holmes) attempts to commit suicide as proof of her love for him. Their relationship is not running very well, which is caused by the drugs. You always have a different priority.
So Arielle Holmes also plays the lead role and she appears to be a natural talent. At the time of filming and writing the book she was hooked. Now she is out of rehab and has two other films on the role. It looks like a variant of the American Dream. From addict to actress.
Arielle Holmes declared in an interview that the life of an addict also has its good sides and that she has trouble with ordinary life. No responsibility, living in the moment, just focused on eating, drinking and drugs. Little hassle and a lot of freedom. I can somewhere imagine that. Yet in the end it seems to me particularly stressful to start each day from scratch. It becomes harder every day to find relaxation. You need more and bigger shots and it becomes increasingly difficult to get the money. A negative spiral, which is hard to breakthrough.
I wonder how she will develop because she's only 22 and not very long clean. If she can keep seeing things from two sides, she will manage. Because besides its authenticity a strength of Heaven Knows What is that it glorifies nor condemns.
Les combattants (2014)
Love as a battle
Les Combattants (2014) makes an interesting connection. The battle of young adolescents with love and society versus the real, physical battle in the army. The battle is larded with physical craving and inexplicable attraction. What do I feel? Why do I like this girl? Why do I want to make love to that boy? The enemy is in both cases invisible but palpable. Les Combattants shows that the army, in which everything is based on rules and hierarchy, is not natural. People follow a different path.
Madeleine is fixated on being fit, on exhaustion. She swims with two roof tiles in a backpack across the bottom of the sea. She wants to join the army for the tough, physical challenges. After the death of his father Arnaud and his brother continue his gardening business. He meets Madeleine for the first time during a wrestling contest at the beach, which is spontaneously organized by the army as promotion. She overpowers him and Arnaud can only free himself by biting her. It is indeed love at first fight.
Arnaud follows Madeleine in the army for a trial period. They fight their own battle and end up surviving together in the woods. Building a shelter, catching fish, making fire ... So they really get together and make love. When Madeleine gets sick, Arnaud rescues her. They survive, literally and figuratively speaking.
Adele Haenel is an interesting actress. She gets on well with the role as the headstrong, naive young woman Madeleine. Kevin Azais plays also fine as masculine, loyal Arnaud. A coming-of-age film threatens to get bogged down quickly in clichés. Director Thomas Cailley proves in his feature debut, that you can do well on themes that are not original.
Pieds nus sur les limaces (2010)
Excellent acting, stilted screenplay
Pieds Nus sur les Limaces (2010) literally means barefoot on slugs. We see Ludivine Sagnier and Diane Kruger as the two sisters Lily and Clara with different characters. Lily lives with her mother, is extremely sensitive. She appears to be light autistic. Clara is the house wife of a lawyer and lives in Paris. The film begins with the fatal accident of their mother. She suffers a heart attack in the car and rolls slowly against a hay bale while Lily is still waving her goodbye. It brings Lily in trouble, because she is left alone and can't take care of herself. She does all sorts of weird stuff, but there is always a deeper meaning behind it. Strangers arrive at her place and seem to misuse the situation. Or at least her hospitality. Clara comes to the countryside and we get a game of attraction and repulsion between a civil city girl and a autistic moron. That leads to a lot of crazy situations. Lily is in love with the boy next door, but cannot act accordingly and is almost f*** by three young boys. Diane saves her just in time. Eventually Clara is caught by the free life without obligations of Lily. She experiences a hot night with one of the strangers under the open sky. Lily has freed her sister! Well, that kind of things. It ends that Lily and Clara find each other in the free living. They start selling the curiosities of Lily in an old van while crossing the country. How idyllic. Pieds Nus sur les Limaces is nicely filmed and the subject is interesting. Despite the truly impressive acting of Ludivine Sagnier and the good (anti)-chemistry with Diane Kruger Pieds Nus sur les Limaces does not really impressed me or touched me. I think the scenario is on one hand too clichéd, on the other hand too stilted. Already the death of the mother leads to a kind of incomprehension. The attempt of Clara to murder Lily in the bath is over-the-top. Instead of shocked or moved, I almost dropped out. But go see the movie for the two excellent French actresses!
Go see the movie if you are not able to read the novel
Originally, it was the intention to make a film script only, but Ventoux became a novel. The novel was released before the movie, more than two years ago now. Apparently it costs that much time to realize a movie. The novel is really a big achievement of Bert Wagendorp, who basically is a (cycling) journalist. It is well written, touching, tensive and if you are raised in the same period, recognizable. Respect!
Four friends in there mid-life want to redo their climb of the Mont Ventoux 30 years later. It is a kind of a memorial climb, but it is also a way to deal with their girlfriend Laura, who disappeared after wards and suddenly returns after 30 years.
Very hard for the movie to do better and it didn't. The story is scrambled in a way that it becomes fuzzy and unclear what are causes and what are consequences. Also if and how these guys are still friends after 30 years, is unclear. And the explanation of Laura in the end is poor and does not reflect the open ending of the novel.
The filming is cool and scenes are cut-off sharp. Despite the beautiful shots of the Ventoux and its surroundings, it does not let you feel the myth of the Ventoux in general nor the specific meaning for the four friends. The acting could do better, especially the old guys. They are almost caricatures. The young guys do much better and I liked the Laura character, both young and old.
Nevertheless, go see the movie if you are not able to read the book. The way friendship, aging, love, and cycling are combined is worthwhile seeing. It is not too serious, nor too flat.
Bloed, Zweet & Tranen (2015)
Impressive biography also for non-fans and non-Dutch people
Blood, sweat and tears is a well-made, impressive movie about the life of Andre Hazes, singer of typical Amsterdam tearjerkers. If you have lived in Holland the last 30 years, you maybe know the guy (and this review doesn't contain spoilers). He has become even more famous after his dead.
Andre Hazes was addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, unhealthy food and in his younger years, girls. A typical pop star, sex & drugs & rock 'n roll kind of life. In the film he is depicted as a a depressive, lonely and very insecure man, like much entertainers and comedians. It is a sad story.
Blood, Sweat and Tears shows three moments/episodes of his life: 1960, when he was about 9 years old and lives a poor life in Amsterdam; 1980, during the period of his biggest success and 2004, a few weeks before his goodbye concert in the Arena for 50.000 people. These episodes are scrambled in the film.
All these episodes end dramatic. As a child his father let him sing for money in bars and on the market in Amsterdam, although he denied his talent. Andre is discovered by television star Johnny Kraaikamp. Together they made a record, that flopped. His father spends more and more time drinking in bars and subsequently becomes more and more aggressive. He beats up his wife regularly and in the end also beats up Andre...
In 1980 he meets Tim. He is a producer of a record label and becomes his (only) friend. They make a lot of records together. It is Andre's most successful time. Nevertheless he was drunken most of the times, was always late at concerts and recordings or never showed up. Tim fulfills his dream to perform in the Concertgebouw, the classical music hall of Amsterdam. There his father shows up suddenly. Tim lets him in against the will of Andre, who has declared his father dead for years. He literally sings him away with.
The friendship between Andre and Tim is under pressure, when Andre gets a relationship with a 15 year old girl (his later wife Rachel). They come back together, when the relationship (temporarely) ended. Unfortunately Tim dies in a car crash and Andre loses his one and only friend.
In 2004 his body and mind are end of life. His liver is enlarged, his heart is weak, he has diabetes and last but not least Andre has serious hearing problems. The last four weeks before his goodbye concert, we see Rachel taking care of him. In a scene she makes a lunch box with twee white sandwiches with meatballs. She puts a slice of lettuce between it, but takes it away again. Next to the sandwiches she puts two cans of beer and two plasters. Before Andre leaves to a concert, he becomes aggressive out of stress and insecurity and hurts his hands. In his car he has beer everywhere.
Yes, he made it to the concert. Yes, it was a success. A few days later he dies, 53 years young. In the ten years after he becomes more famous than he's ever been. His memorial service takes place in the Arena, a very successful musical about his life staged for years and now this movie. It is a little bit sourly. It is a thin line between tribute and exploitation.
I don't know if his life is depicted well in Blood, Sweat and Tears. The documentary 'Zij gelooft in mij' is maybe better. The movie seems very balanced. Like I said, I'm not a fan of Andre Hazes and I don't know either if this movie is interesting for people outside The Netherlands. Nevertheless I would recommend it everyone, fans and non-fans, Dutch or non Dutch.
Schneider vs. Bax (2015)
Another great movie from the happy Van Warmerdam family
I'm a fan of actor-director-writer Alex van Warmerdam. This goes back to the 70 's, when he started with theater groups like Hauser Orkater and Mexicaanse Hond. I like his dry humor, his lugubrious stories, his absurd dialogs. That he likes to make crime thrillers is obvious. It was already there in many earlier movies like Grimm, Last Days of Emma Blank and Borgman of course. In Schneider vs. Bax (2015) he goes back to basic: hit-man Schneider (Tom Dewispelaere) has to kill Ramon Bax (Alex van Warmerdam).
Schneider gets the assignment just after his two young daughters sang happy birthday. He is not very willing to work, because of his birthday party tonight and he promised that he helped his wife with the preparation. But she understands - she is over the top understanding. And although he keeps up his unwilling attitude when he talks to his client Mertens (Gene Bervoets), he is going to do it.
Bax is in a lake house in the reeds. He kicks his girlfriend out, because his daughter is coming. I thought we had a serious relationship? We have, how can I prove it? To introduce me to your daughter. Not now, My daughter is a little bit troublesome. Indeed, his daughter Francisca (Maria Kraakman) is depressed and making a scene out of everything. He offers her different kind of drugs, but she refuses and condemns his drug use. I don't' say anything about you eating muesli, Bax replies. Muesli is disgusting and for goats. Francisca gets so frustrated that she runs away into the reeds, the swamp and the woods. In the woods she finds shelter in a desolated shed. Woods and sheds appear often in Van Warmerdam movies and plays. Bax is going to look for her, but cannot find her and returns to the lake house.
This is my only spoiler, although it doesn't reveal a lot. Maybe if I reveal the full synopsis, it even let you discover other elements, because you are not distracted by the tension of the story.
Schneider vs Bax is constantly thrilling. The absurd and hilarious dialogs and scenes don't interfere with this tension. It doesn't become ridiculous or implausible; they seem normal. On the contrary: the unexpected events yield greater tension. The unexpected can happen and is not strange at all. For me that is the heart of the work of Alex van Warmerdam.
There are no explanations or motifs. Why Schneider or Bax have to be killed is not mentioned for a second and it is not bothering the story. Why Schneider and Bax are hit-man? Nevertheless is Schneider vs. Bax highly entertaining and gripping. The acting is cool and straight forward, strictly directed by Alex van Warmerdam. His wife Annette Malherbe helped him, did also the casting (and plays a main role). The movie is recorded is Groningen, in the north of Holland. Good to see that we still have such empty places in our small, over-crowded country. It is crime, but not all hatred. In the end there is love. Between Bax and Francisca. Between Schneider and Gina. And the overall happy family of Schneider, his wife and two kids.
We saw the movie in the impressive film institute of Amsterdam, where they show a subtitled version. So foreigners can enjoy the movie too, but they miss a lot of nuances that cannot be translated. Even my wife and I talked about so many details, that cannot be captured in a review. Another great movie of the happy Van Warmerdam family!
Love and Death
Although Kapgang has lots of sweet and loving moments, I found it mainly a painful and confronting drama. And a good one, in the tradition of the Scandinavian coming of age films of the 70's.
Having lost my father at young age in the 70's, I can imagine the way Martin deals with his grief. On one hand very mature, because you don't (want to) understand what happened. On the other hand - at the grave of his mother - an explosion of pain as he realizes that she is not coming back. Main actor Villads Boye and director Niels Arden Oplev make it realistic and confronting. His father is broken, he sleeps in the basement and f**** with the hairdresser His brother is broken too, he wears his mom's sunglasses and is raged when Martin burned their mothers clothes. Martin acts as the adult of the family.
The coming of age part surprised me. There is sexual tension between Martin and Kristine, but even more between Martin and his friend Kim. The menage a trois seems to develop in a happy way for Martin, but in the end it feels that he is the looser. Kim and Kristine make love on Martins confirmation party, he becomes just speed walking champion. But he has to move on...
The combination of love and death, both with it's embarrassing moments makes Kapgang a special movie worthwhile seeing.
La French (2014)
Could/should have been better
In a way I was disappointed after seeing La French. The (real) story is gripping. I remember Marseille in the 70's was known as a dangerous place. You had to watch your steps. The French Connection was in the wrong way famous. And the murder on the judge was brutal. Only in the last 30 minutes La French will give you this feeling of drama. Before that the story is quite flat and cliché. It lacks the French grandeur and depth.
Gilles Lellouche is a miscast as the main criminal. He is just too friendly in his looks and deeds (I agree with another reviewer). Jean Dujardin is good as always, but not brilliant. Celine Sallette is OK, but can do more. She has to play the terrible role of the wife, who leaves her husband because he is too busy with his work. But on the street after Jean Dujardin was shot, she is convincing.
Also the atmosphere and the cinematography are very good. Real 70's. And the film is cut fast. So, there are a lot of good things, but they can't compensate the poor scenario and miscast of Gilles Lellouche. La French could and should have been better. I give it a 6/10, because of the importance of the real story behind it.
Une nouvelle amie (2014)
Another remarkable movie of Francois Ozon
Une Nouvelle Amie is at least an interesting movie of Francois Ozon. For me this is another rare movie with an remarkable storyline, emotional depth and outstanding performances of the lead actors. It all leads towards the scene where David literally wakes up of his coma and is reborn as Virginia and Claire has accepted that she is in love with her, although he is a man. Both are driven by their love for the deceased Laura, the wife of David and the BFF of Claire. Ozon uses the song Une Femme avec Toi as extra drama element and it works.
The combination of these facts the death of Laura and the coming-out of David - is strange and makes it hard to imagine or identify, but Une Nouvelle Amie succeeds and that is exactly why this is an outstanding movie. It is about looks, feelings, character, identity, relationships.
Although Romain Duris is nominated for a few awards - which is OK because his performance is as always solid and authentic it is Anais Demoustier who really delivers an extra-ordinary performance in her role as the confused Claire. Both expose themselves in erotic scenes. Raphael Personnaz as the ordinary husband of Claire makes this romantic relationship drama complete.
I hope that Francois Ozon keeps up with his Woody Allen-like speed of making movies.
If Nina Hoss is in a Christian Petzold film, you better watch it
At the start Phoenix may be a little bit unrealistic or uneasy to adapt to. The acting of Nina Hoss as Nelly together with Ronald Zehrfeld as Johnny made me more and more curious. Phoenix has an atmosphere that I associated with Fassbinder and his Berlin Alexanderplatz.
The way this post WW2 drama develops in a silent thriller is amazing and heartbreaking. Did Johnny really not recognize his wife? Why did Nelly decided to play the game? Did Johnny betrayed his wife and if so, for his own sake? There are many answers possible to these questions. At least, in the end they both have to put off their masks when Nelly sings "their song" and Johnny sees the mark on her wrist.
I wonder on one side why Nina Hoss is not in big productions, but on the other side I'm happy she doesn't do any concessions to quality. The same goes for Petzold. They prove again and again that you don't need a big budget to make great movies.