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eabakkum

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200 reviews in total 
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OK, but no crumbs in bed, 28 April 2016
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film I am curious - yellow is made in the style of the nouvelle vague. Apparently this style was invented by the French director Jean-Luc Godard (Tout va bien, La Chinoise, Weekend). In my view the hallmark of such films is an incoherent story, with surreal incidents, and a lack of emotions. People are ruined but do not seem to notice it. This type of films was made mainly in the roaring sixties and early seventies, by innovative producers. So it is no surprise that I am curious - yellow starts as a political film. This part is almost a documentary. It describes the then Swedish society, which was very egalitarian. The socialist prime minister Olaf Palme appears in a minor role. The main character is Lena, a rather simple young woman. She wants to know if Sweden is a class society, and asks everybody. She adores Martin Luther King. The Swedish television shows how the army decides to employ non-violent resistance against the Red Army! The right to bear arms is slightly less ludicrous than the right to arm bears. Halfway the film the story becomes more personal. Lena engages in sexual experiments, hoping to develop her sexual identity. Time and again she has disappointing experiences. "To err is human", said the hedgehog, and jumped from the cactus. Or, he: "Would you like to join me for a pancake?" She: "OK, but no crumbs in bed". Finally she gets so enraged, that she abjures the ideal of King. In fact she abandons her social engagement, and destroys her archives with press cuttings. Apparently most personalities can not bear the self- sacrifice in collective action, which probably is the message of producer Sjöman. In a world without men there would be no war, just intense negotiations every 28 days. All in all the shocking naivety of the Swedish people got stuck in my mind. In addition some of the surreal moments and scenes are quite funny and surprising. This makes the film worth watching. Don't hesitate to leave a comment. I love it.

The English point of view, 31 March 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film The special relationship is a sequel of the film The deal, which I also reviewed on IMDb. The Deal describes how Tony Blair attains the leadership of the English Labour Party. His competitor was Gordon Brown ("When Brown leaves the room, the lights go on"). In the sequel the first years of Blair in power as prime minister of England are depicted. The ideology of the old Labour Party had become totally obsolete, and thus Blair tried to modernize her. He was impressed by the ideas of the New Democrats, after their political break-through under Bill Clinton. The Special relationship tells how Clinton and Blair desire to introduce the doctrine of the New Democrats on a global scale. In England she is called the Third Way (compromise between old liberalism and conservatism). Note however the complaint of the English opposition: "Blair has done more U-turns than a dodgy plumber". Of course Clinton is even more ludicrous, due to his affair with Lewinsky. For instance, why does Clinton wear boxer shirts? To keep his ankles warm. Or, a majority of the American women replies to the question "Would you sleep with Clinton?" with "Never again". Nevertheless the producers manage to sketch a vivid and captivating picture of the association between the two leaders and their wives. Indeed the affair and the possible impeachment form a part of the story. Of course the conversations are fictitious, so that realism is not guaranteed. Undoubtedly the importance of Blair is exaggerated, for instance when one of his ministers says: "In the public approval you (Blair) are the number one leader of the world". This mild form of nationalism may be repugnant for American viewers. But the producers are realistic enough to admit that Clinton possesses more power. Blair remains the junior partner. For me as a European is was strange to see the contempt of Blair with respect to the French president Chirac. Still this may be true. Certainly the support of Blair for the American invasion in Irak made him very unpopular on the Continent. In conclusion, The special relationship may stick to the English point of view, but it is made with skill and therefore recommendable. Don't forget to leave comments. I love it.

Woodstock (1970)
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Actually Woodstock was a sad event, 3 March 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Documentaries about musical events do not really lend themselves to a review. However Woodstock was just as much a social event as a concert. For several days the fields changed into a temporary city. It is interesting to see how Michael Wadleigh displays and interprets the attitude of the crowd. He interviews the visitors, and asks them about their motives to be there. Most of them are barely grown people. Many simply follow the flow, but for others the festival is an opportunity to increase their wisdom of life. They arrive as groups and communes, and try to learn from each others experiences. There are spiritual meetings. There is recreation and fun, like the mud slides in the rain. But there are also social experiments, like nude swimming and even public drug (ab)use. They blow to make other people interesting. They may have read about the evils of drugs, and gave up reading. The cast of singers and song groups looks impressive. But to be fair, I did not like their music then, and in the film it looks truly poor and miserable. In many cases the appearance consists of screaming and physical convulsions. Today such a performance would not attract such an enormous crowd. It takes the drummers a minute to notice that their band has stopped playing. Joke: what is the difference between an electric guitar and a chainsaw? The grip. Probably it makes more sense to interpret the festival as a demonstration against war and violence. America was in the grip of the civil rights movement. Several charismatic leaders had been murdered. And most of all, there was the appalling war in Vietnam, which threatened the future of the male youth. On stage Joan Baez tells about the objection to military service of her boyfriend. If your life expectancy is just a few years, there is some cause for screaming and wild social experiments. The right to bear arms is slightly less ludicrous than the right to arm bears. By the way, why do soldier look so tired on 1 April? Because they just had a 31-day March. Actually Woodstock was a sad event. And Wadleigh must get the credit for managing to convey this message - which is a recommendation. Don't hesitate to leave a comment. I love it.

Maya has a knack for making strangers, 4 January 2016
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Ken Loach describes in the film "Bread and roses" the struggle of an American trade union in order to improve the working conditions of the janitors. And they are actually victorious, since finally the firm gives in to their demands. So on the surface Bread and roses is another homage to the search for freedom and justice. Joke, to make this review more attractive: a lawyer, who assists a client in a law suit, calls him: "Justice has prevailed!" The client replies: "So we have lost the case?" Loach is like that. Although his films always concern the socially deprived, the personal shortcomings of the main characters dominate the social injustice. This makes his films rather gloomy, since the viewer finds it hard to identify with the characters. Bread and roses fits particularly well in this scheme of Loach. Although probably the "Justice for janitors" campaign was not as glorious as its reputation, Bread and roses really sketches an unfavorable image. The main character Maya is selfcentred and almost devoid of morals. She has a knack for making strangers immediately. When she enters the USA from Mexico as an illegal immigrant, she and her sister Rosa even cheat on the human traffickers. Maya accepts a job offer in a public house, but she soon gets into a fight with customers. Then she wants to work as a cleaning woman, just like her sister Rosa. The husband of Rosa is unemployed, he suffers from diabetes, and has never paid for health care insurance. Rosa is a former prostitute, who is still in the habit. She does not even know who is the father of her children, so apparently she economizes on contraceptives. If here Loach mocks at her, I find it a bit morbid. In her cleaning work Maya retains her lax attitude. Just one detail: she uses the stationery of the clients of her cleaning firm to write her personal letters. Hard work never killed anybody, but why take the chance? Her colleagues are industrious. Maya complains that they do anything for the money. However, it must be admitted that her employer is harsh. For instance, he does not pay for health care. So the firm has low costs, and ousts the unionized competitors from the market. Obviously the union dislikes this. Therefore one of her organizers instigates the workers of the cleaners firm, including Maya, and harasses its clients. He does not shun aggressive methods, like disturbance of the domestic peace. Maya, who always loves to complain, agitates for the union. At the same time, she robs an employee of a gas station, who tries to help her. She is indeed a prime candidate for natural de-selection. In the end she is arrested. The state offers her a lawyer free of charge, but she asks for a witness for the defence (joke). Maya is expelled to Mexico, without imprisonment. Incidentally, it strikes me, that Loach imputes a hatred of the American society to the illegal immigrants in his film. So how should Bread and roses be rated? The quality of Loach films lies in their excellence in showing the room for social improvements. But personally, I prefer films that show at least a glimpse of human kindness and decency.

Dutch rednecks in the depression years, 9 December 2015
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Each country or nation has its own books for and about boys. The Americans have Tom Sawyer, the Dutch have Merijntje Gijsen, Ciske de Rat, Kees de Jongen, and a lot more. The Flamish have De Witte. In previous reviews on IMDb I already described film releases of these stories. They are nice portrayals of the daily lives of our (grand)parents, and a part of the cultural heritage. Actually the Netherlands is a fine place to live if you happen to be a grass- mower. So you will not be surprised that I also watched the last (1984) version Ciske de Rat. The narrative is based on a trilogy by Piet Bakker, where the third volume is in fact a sequel Ciske de Man. Although this is actually a TV series, it contains a cast of Dutch star performers. So it tickles my sense of national pride that the foreign reviews on this page are essentially positive. It makes me bold enough to suggest that you might like the other youth films just mentioned. We change misery into TV shows. The 1984 Rat version is very much like the 1955 version - and probably like the trilogy, which I did not read. In the TV series Ciske is part of what Americans call a redneck family, and his youth is unhappy. His father is at sea, and his mother has an evil nature. She works in a public house, and lives a promiscuous life. You know the type: bikers back down from her. She goes to church to pick up men. This was a joke, but Ciske gets a knife from his father as a present, yes really, and here I am not joking. There is a gun rack on his bicycle (I exaggerate, Ciske does not own a bike). The kid stabs a school-fellow in the hand. However, the story is part of the literature of social enlightenment, and tries to offer some hope. Indeed the school teacher of Ciske becomes his legal guardian. Unfortunately, he is like the cross-eyed teacher, who can not control his pupils. So perhaps not surprisingly, he fails to prevent that Ciske kills his mother with a kitchen knife. Much later Ciske more or less rehabilitates himself by rescuing a drowning school- fellow, risking his own life. In summary, the series is rather an oppressing tale of human deficiency, more than Bakker intended. The backdrop of the thirties, the depression years and its social rebellion, adds to the atmosphere of misery. Nonetheless, if you are intrigued by the social impact on human nature, this is a film for you. Don't hesitate to leave a comment. I love it.

Casablanca (1942)
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A review should stick to the facts, and bar emotions, 19 November 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I inherited the DVD Casablanca from my father. My parents belonged to the war generation and were liberated from the German occupation by the American army. Consequently in the fifties and sixties they received every American novelty with awe. American films had a cult status, and certainly Humphrey Bogart, and definitely the war film Casablanca. Bogard has a good name. He said rightly: "You are not a star until they can spell your name in Karachi". Dave Chasen said of him:"Bogey is a hell of a nice guy until 11.30 p.m. After that he thinks he is Bogart". In Cacablanca an American hero turns out to be a veritable chevalier as well. So these are my tender emotions, when I watch the film. However, all generalizations are false. A review should stick to the facts, and bar emotions. And in the light of day the script of Casablanca looks a little shaky. The town is portrayed as the center of human trafficking, which is evidently a dirty business. Therefore it seems slightly unlikely that the local bar owner would have a heart of gold, like Bogart. Joke to make this review even better: a penguin walks into a bar, and asks the bartender: "Have you seen my brother?" The bartender replies: "I don't know. What does he look like?" In addition the film characters of Bogart and Bergman are somewhat unpleasant. Bogart keeps reproaching Bergman how she has hurt his feelings. A normal person would be glad to have gotten rid of her. Never buy a car you can't push. And Bergman is unable to chose between her two lovers. In the end she leaves the decision to Bogart, which is either preposterous or cunningly clever. Sometimes the best helping hand you can give is a good, firm push. A normal person would assume, that apparently her two lovers are both inadequate. Fortunately, even when a film has an unconvincing narrative, it can still be saved by the quality of the separate scenes. In this respect Casablanca has definitely some excellent moments to offer. A face can say so many things. Especially the mouth part. Therefore it still deserves a positive recommendation. Play it again. Don't forget to leave comments. I love it.

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The climax happens at the beginning, 14 November 2015
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Citizen Kane can be called a film with an outstanding reputation, and in addition fifteen years older than me. So I feel somewhat embarrassed that I did not watch the film before last month. This is even more so, since the political genre is my favorite. Now, after having done my duty, there is the mission to write an original critique. Hopefully at least my loyal followers will pardon this stale addition to the plethora of reviews. Actually the climax of Citizen Kane happens right at the beginning. A boy lives with his simple parents. Although the couple is not really degenerate, there is a hint that the father is a somewhat violent educator. Anyway, the mother is glad when a benevolent Maecenas offers to adopt the boy. Thus Kane is separated from his elderly home, which causes a mild shock. Nevertheless, he succeeds in making an excellent career for himself as a newspaper tycoon. His stories are dynamite (take a flea out to dinner; do you still enjoy my review?). The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with. But the love that he receives from other people can not fill the emptiness due to his lost childhood. He lives in a conspicuous wealth, but this fails to bring meaning to his life. He becomes adamant (the very first insect). But why continue to dilate (= live long)? In the end the bitterness has grown upon him, and he dies in total isolation. Thus the film is quite melodramatic. Maybe in those days the film producers still had a knack for theatrical techniques. Or perhaps some years after the great Depression, that is so thrillingly portrayed in The grapes of wrath, there really was a class society with appalling differences. True capitalism is survival of the fattest. And of course Orson Welles is a giant, the man who said: "There is one thing worse than celibacy: marriage". Don't forget to leave comments. I love it.

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Based on the book??, 8 September 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In fact, my interest in the film "There will be blood" was aroused because they announce (fellow-foreigners, this is one-sixteenth of a pound), that it is based on the book Oil by Upton Sinclair. And I should add in the same breath, that this claim is misleading. In this review I want to compare the film and its professed source of inspiration, the book. The film tells the story of an oilman, who is smart enough to succeed in business, but who also suffers from a uncontrollable rage. He is adamant (the very first insect). He murders a subordinate, and disposes of the body. At the end of the film, he also murders a priest. Requital is near, for hell is torrid. Unfortunately, I don't see the point. The story does not contain any mental challenges. To be fair, the film deserves credit with inciting me to read Oil, in a Dutch translation from 1937. Joke to make this text more palatable: a man visits his psychiatrist. He complains: "Each night I dream about English films. But what really irritates me are those Dutch subtitles". The book of Sinclair does better than the film. In the book the oilman is a straightforward business man, who loves his work. The main purpose of the narrative is to show the adverse influence of capitalism on society. For it separates the people into two camps, the haves and the have-nots. The mutual relations polarize (=what penguins see with). The oilman and other rich people bribe the state, so that it will serve their interests. And the workers receive a miserable wage. This creates hostility, and brings the oilman into conflict with the emerging trade unions. Sinclair tries to show that everybody suffers from this system. The poor live in destitute conditions, and above all lack leisure time. The rich lead meaningless lives, while trying to impress each other with their luxury. Joke: a millionaire summons his servant: "James, drive the fish under the bridge. It starts to rain". Sinclair also describes how the social-democrats and the Leninists try to oppose the system. I don't know if Sinclair supported the socialist ideology, but I find his narrative fairly objective. In fact Sinclair portrays the oilman in such a way, that I like him. His character is not bad by nature. It is the system, that forces him to use harsh and even illegal methods. I believe that this message is worth reflecting upon, for it contains an element of truth. American never liked socialism, and they were right. But still capitalism needs to be reformed. Riddle: do you know a book with a sad ending? My deposit book. Perhaps now you understand why I dislike the film makers, who fooled me into buying their DVD. If there are merits in the film that justify its recommendation, I don't see them. Don't hesitate to leave a comment. I love it.

Memories, 30 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recently I bought the film Les miserables on DVD, because in my youth it had made a deep impression. The French release is rather expensive, but fortunately there is also a cheap Chinese version, with subtitles that can be switched off. This requires that you understand French. Joke to enliven this review: acupuncture fees in China are so cheap it is called pin money. Perhaps the outstanding quality of the film is illustrated best by the fact, that even today I recognized many of the scenes. And believe me, I am old, I can remember when everything was fields. I start doing jigsaw puzzles again. The film excels in its plot, in the gifted actor Jean Gabin, in the scenery and in the music. The narrative is so characteristic of the nineteenth century, with a clear division between good and bad. It is true that Jean Valjean (Jean Gabin) has a criminal past, but actually this derailment is caused by a crooked society. And when Valjean is converted by a priest, he remains an angel for the rest of his life. What kind of fun does a priest have? Nun. In addition all love is pure. When the adopted daughter of Valjean meets a young man, it is love at first sight. In addition the political situation is fascinating. We see how street battles put aside the remnants of the royal rule. So there is plenty of romance, and this is of coarse what made Les miserables so appealing to the adolescent that I was. And I suppose that the film may still be attractive to people in developing countries like China. For, as Confusius said: war does not determine who is right, war determines who is left. On the other hand, the contemporary postmodern Westerner may take offense at the lack of nuance and psychological depth. Not withstanding this flaw, the film remains highly recommendable. Don't forget to leave comments. I love it.

Sacred cows make the best hamburger, 22 June 2015
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

De val van Aantjes is a dramatized Dutch television documentary about a political scandal and about the fall of the popular Christian politician Wim Aantjes. The merit of this drama is in the narration. In 1977 a large popular party of Christian-democrats was formed, called CDA. At the end of that year the party CDA participated in the formation of a center-right government, and Aantjes was elected as its fraction leader in the national parliament. The narrative begins with the description of this important event. In his new position Aantjes became one of the mightiest persons in the political system. The party CDA had a large left-wing minority, and Aantjes was forced to appease them with concessions. At the time many people were convinced that he sympathized too much with this faction. Then in 1978 it was discovered, that during the second world war Aantjes had been a member of the national sozialistische Schutzstaffel (SS), albeit not the notorious Waffen SS, but a separate Dutch division. Joke to enliven this text: how does a German eat mussels? Knock, knock, aufmachen! And what was just as bad, during his political career he had never told anyone. Many people concluded that he was a hypocrite, since he often cited from the Bible and had pretended to be an orthodox believer. Perhaps this was only because of the holidays? Another cheerful joke: a vicar asks a man: "Why do you visit the church? Is it because of my sermons?"Reply: "No, my wife's". In this situation his political position became untenable, and he had to abandon deceit in parliament. He remained an earnest Christian, but was put on the sects offenders list (joke). Many people wondered why the collaboration of Aantjes with the SS had not been discovered sooner, because he had been active in politics for years. The drama in the television documentary elaborates on a plot theory, that makes NATO responsible for the disclosure of the facts. This theory sounds spectacular, but she is not very convincing. In reality mighty politicians are always the subject of investigations. Sacred cows make the best hamburger. Moral: when I have built up a reputation, it falsify lie. It is ruined for reverend ever. Aantjes is just another Nixon or Clinton. Personally I can not recommend De val van Aantjes. However, if you like this genre, don't let my preaching scare you. In that case you may also like the Dutch film De mannetjesmaker. Warning: subtitles are lacking, but you may understand without. Don't hesitate to leave a comment. I love it.


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