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A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Don't watch it if you want to learn more about The Beatles' lives on the road.
Even though I wasn't even born when The Beatles split up, let alone that I witnessed their biggest successes (I was born in 1978), that doesn't mean that I don't know them or their music of course. My mother as well as my father had a lot of records from what might well be the best-known pop/rock band ever and that's how I learned to appreciate their music at a very young age. I also knew that The Beatles had played in a couple of movies, but until now I never had seen one of them. Not really knowing what to expect, I hoped for the best and was willing to be surprised by it.
This movie tries to show us what the 'average' day in the life of the Beatles looks like. Traveling through the country from one TV-studio to the next hotel room, they meet a lot of people, but also take their time to have a lot of fun together, much to the despair of their manager and crew who don't always know where they are at the times that they need them. And to complicate things a little bit more, they also have to take the grandfather of one of the guys with them and all he likes is to play little mind games with every person that he meets...
Even though I didn't know anything about this movie in advance, I hoped that it would be some kind of documentary, showing how they had to deal with all the success and the crazy fans. In a way this movie does show that, but it wasn't exactly the way I hoped it would be. Realism clearly wasn't the first concern and too often you feel that some of the jokes have been staged. They just try to make you believe that this is a documentary, but the natural feeling of the documentary style is sometimes very far away and that's too bad. Does that mean that this entire movie isn't any good? No, certainly not. The music really makes it all worthwhile and it's nice to see some actual concert footage in between the staged performances.
This film will be loved most by the fans of the first hour who want to see their idols once again, but in my opinion this isn't the kind of movie for the people who want to learn more about The Beatles. But even when you don't know much about them and you just love the music, than I wouldn't hesitate to give it a try. I know I didn't and I liked it a lot. I'm sure that many others in my situation will love it too, just don't expect to see reality. I give this movie a rating in between 7/10 and 7.5/10. I loved the music, but wished for a little bit more of realism.
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
To my own surprise I must admit that I really liked it.
Normally I would never have watched this movie, because I'm not all that much a fan of costume drama's. And since I've seen several of them lately without seeing all that much difference between them all, I didn't think that I would like it all that much. But when I read a review in a popular magazine, saying that even when you aren't a fan of this kind of films, you should give it a try because it's so much better than the average movie in the genre, I must admit that I was quite curious about it. Also the fact that it was from the director Ang Lee made me hope for the best.
When Mr. Dashwood dies, almost all his belongings go to his son from his first marriage, leaving his second wife and three daughters in a difficult situation. They haven't got much money and can't stay on the estate, but are taken in by a kind cousin who gives them a small cottage to live in. Because they aren't wealthy, it isn't very easy for the two oldest daughters, the practical Elinor and the romantic Marianne, to find a suitable partner. Both find a man who seems to be perfect at first, but who aren't all that great after all. But after the rain always comes sunshine and one day the two women find a man to their taste who truly loves them...
If there is one thing that you can't accuse him of, than it must be that Ang Lee always sticks to one certain genre. After having seen "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and the western "Ride with the Devil", this certainly is a completely different experience. And surprisingly enough, I must say that it works. I never thought that a man born in Taiwan would be that good in recreating a world that has never been his. I don't think it must be easy for an Asian person to recreate Victorian England or the USA during the Civil War, but it works and that's all that really matters. Next to the good directing, I also couldn't help noticing the fine acting by all the leading actors. There wasn't one that stood out above the rest, but there wasn't one that didn't fit in either. They all did a very good job and that's something that you don't always find in a movie.
Even though I know that this was the way it all happened during that time period, I must say that I sometimes had a lot of difficulties with the lack of emotions and the fact that they didn't always say what they thought. I sometimes really wanted to say to one of the characters: 'come on, finally tell them what you have got to say, don't stay there quiet all the time, you're working on my nerves with that behavior...', but this was a movie, so I had to stay quiet myself. Still, it really worked on my nerves sometimes and that did spoil my fun from time to time. However, don't get me wrong, this certainly doesn't mean that I didn't like the movie at all.
Overall this is indeed a movie that is a lot better than the average in the genre. The acting is very good, the story is interesting,... and for once it all made me forget about everything that I hate about the genre. When you know that I normally give a movie of this kind a rating of 6/10, than you'll be quite surprised to see that I give this one a rating in between 7/10 and 7.5/10. To my own surprise I must admit that I really liked it.
Zus & zo (2001)
Perhaps not the best example of Dutch cinema, but still a very good movie
Before watching this movie I didn't know anything about it except for the fact that it was Dutch. Even though their film industry isn't the biggest of all time, I've already seen several good Dutch productions and I know that the standard level of quality is often very high. That's also the reason why I try to watch as many of them as I can. However, when I saw on this website that this movie had actually been nominated for an Oscar, I must admit that I was very surprised. Not because I didn't like it or because it wasn't any good. No, I was surprised because over here no-one has ever payed any attention to it.
"Zus & zo" tells the story of three completely different sisters who don't always get along that well, but who now have to fight for a common goal, called Hotel Paraiso, a hotel on the coast of Portugal that will be theirs unless their brother gets married before a certain age. Normally that shouldn't have been difficult, because the man is gay, but now that he has announced his marriage with a woman, they will have to try to prevent it. To stop their would-be sister-in-law, they are willing to go very far, because nothing or no-one should come between them and their inheritance...
Like so often with Dutch movies, I can't say that I had heard of any of the actors before, except for Halina Reijn. But just like in those other movies, this time too I really liked the performances by all of them. Even though this is a comedy, they never went too far in their performances, but instead made all the characters look very human, with all their little problems, flaws and weird specialties. That's of course not only thanks to the actors, the writer of the script has a lot to do with that too, but still, they did a fine job.
I don't know if Paula van der Oest, the woman who directed and wrote this movie, has ever been in a similar situation, but she sure knows perfectly how to describe the greediness and the double-faced way of acting from people that are about to inherit a lot of money or an important piece of property. She really did a very nice job with it and was able to add some very fine humor to it all. The entire idea behind it makes it all very suitable for a comedy of course, but that doesn't mean that it is automatically good of course. There are many things that could have gone wrong, but Paula van der Oest avoided the traps and made a very good movie out of it.
In the end this may not be the best Dutch movie that I've ever seen, but the humor and the overall quality are very good. I really had a good time with this movie and that's why I give it a 7.5/10.
De passievrucht (2003)
A very nice movie with a subject that no Hollywood movie would dare to show
Just like Belgium, the Netherlands don't have a very big and famous movie industry, but from time to time they really are capable of making an excellent movie. That's why I taped this movie when it was shown on Dutch national television. I had never heard of it before, but seeing that Jan Decleir - probably Belgium's finest, still living actor - played a role in it and because I'm very interested in all European movies, I didn't hesitate to give this movie a try.
"De Passievrucht" tells the story of a man who finds out that his son isn't really his son when the doctor tells him that he has been infertile during his entire life. Since his first wife, and the mother of their son, died nine years ago, he can't ask her who did it. But consumed by anger and sadness, he decides to go after the real father himself. As he goes from one possible culprit to another, he forgets that he isn't the only person in the family. His new girlfriend and his 'son' are the victims of his egoistic behavior and when he finally finds out who did this to him, the surprise couldn't be bigger...
Except for Jan Decleir and Halina Reijn, I can't think of any other actor in this movie that I've heard of before. They are all a complete mystery to me and I'm sure that I've never seen them play in another movie, but that certainly doesn't mean that they didn't do it well in this one. I really appreciated the performances of Peter Paul Muller, Carice van Houten,... and I'll certainly try to see another one of their movies if I ever get the chance. The same for the director. He too is a complete stranger to me, but with this movie he proves to have talent. That shows for instance in the excellent use of flashbacks. He never uses them too much, but knows perfectly how to switch between the now and the past.
What I also liked, next to the good acting, was the original idea behind the story: how many men raise a child that isn't really theirs and how do they react when they find out the truth? That's a subject that I've never found in any Hollywood production, but it's one that is much closer to reality than some people want to believe. Not that I'm surprised to find it in a European instead of an American movie. It just doesn't belong to the perfect image of family happiness that Hollywood wants to portray. Over here, the movie makers dare to step out of that perfect world, just like Maarten Treurniet did with this movie, and I really appreciate that a lot.
All in all this is a movie that deserves to be seen by a much larger audience. It may not always be perfect, but overall the story is good, the emotions are realistic and the acting more than just worth a watch. I really liked this movie and that's why I give it at least a 7.5/10
Next Stop Wonderland (1998)
A very nice story, some excellent acting and wonderful music, what more can you wish for?
I've always known it and seeing it on this website only proves that I'm right about it: A really good movie never gets the attention or the rating that it deserves. That's also the reason why I always try to tape and watch as many unknown movies as I can, just because very often they are so much better than all the famous blockbusters. With this "Next Stop Wonderland" it isn't any different. I hadn't heard of it before, but gave it a try, willing to be surprised by it and that's exactly what happened.
The story on itself isn't all that different from other romantic movies. Erin is a nurse who has been dumped by her long-time boyfriend because he couldn't change her into the 'perfect' human that he tries to be (caring for the unfortunate, fighting against globalization,...). As soon as her mother hears about the break-up - which she finds more than OK, because she couldn't stand the man - she places a personal ad for her daughter in the local newspaper. Many men react, but none of them is what Erin is looking for. In the meantime we also follow the life of Alan, a plumber who works at the local aquarium, but who dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Alan and Erin would be perfect for each other, but is there anyway that they will ever meet? And what will happen when they do?
When you see how many people have seen all those unrealistic, over-the-top romantic comedies and you compare that number to the number of votes for this movie, than you can only be surprised. This movie may well have the same kind of story, but the overall execution of the movie is so much better. The emotions for instance feel a lot more realistic and are never too much. In fact the entire movie has that feeling of realism without ever being corny and that's in my opinion more than just a pleasant surprise.
But what would a romantic comedy be without humor? Indeed, nothing. But once again this isn't like you are used to see in all those other movies. This movie doesn't exactly try to make you laugh by adding some crude jokes to it. No, this movie doesn't even try to make you smile at all, but succeeds more than once and that's exactly what makes this movie so special. Also more than OK was the acting in this movie. Hope Davis was really very lovely and believable and made me forget in an instant about all the Meg Ryan's and other Sandra Bullock's of this world. She reminded me a bit of Julie Delpy in "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" and trust me, that's a big compliment. Also very good and certainly worth mentioning are Philip Seymour Hoffman, Holland Taylor,... But there is one thing that I haven't mentioned yet and which certainly plays an important role in this movie. I'm talking about the music. It was just wonderful and it gave this movie that fine finishing touch which you never find in all those other movies in the genre.
All in all this is a wonderful romantic comedy / drama that deserves a lot better than the actual rating of 6.8/10 after 1,577 votes. Personally I give this movie a rating of at least 7.5/10, maybe even an 8/10 and I'm sure that I'll see it again and again as soon as I can find it on DVD.
East Is East (1999)
This is a drama with a few jokes, but that doesn't make it a comedy yet
When this movie was shown on television, it was said to be a comedy. Since I'm always in for a good laugh and because I really could use a good laugh that day, I was really looking forward to this movie. Big was my surprise when I saw that this wasn't exactly the kind of comedy I was looking for. I kept watching it nevertheless and I must say that I'm glad that I did, because this movie sure is worth a watch, but it didn't really fulfill the expectations that I had in advance.
When in the early 1970's, a traditional Pakistani father - who lives in England with his English wife and his kids - sees how his offspring more and more starts to behave as British and start to reject their father's rules on dress, food, religion,... he decides that it is time for them to get married to a good Pakistani girl. But their desire for independence and a modern way of live clashes with the traditional believes of their father and it doesn't take long before a lot of things start to go terribly wrong. And when the potential candidates aren't exactly the prettiest of all women, they know for sure that they will have to do anything to prevent getting married...
If you are looking for a light-footed comedy, than this movie is one big disappointment. Sure, there are some funny moments to be found in this movie, but overall I certainly wouldn't call it a comedy. In my opinion this is a drama that shows how the traditional values of immigrants don't always fit in with those of the native inhabitants and that their children often are the victim of that. They no longer seem / want to belong to their own ethnic group, but are still seen as foreigners by the traditional inhabitants. They have to fight against prejudices from both sides and that's not always easy. In my opinion the movie really gives a good idea of what it's like and even though it's all situated in the seventies, all that much hasn't changed in thirty years time.
The acting in this movie is really good. Although I can't immediately say that I know anyone of them, the actors in this movie make it all feel very authentic without overdoing it all. It's all too easy to make stereotypes out of the different characters, but that certainly isn't the case in this movie. Just as unknown as the actors are the director and the writer of this movie. It was Ayub Khan-Din's first and only script and Damien O'Donnell isn't exactly the most famous of British directors either. Still, they both did well and that's all that matters to me.
All in all this is a very good movie as long as you forget that you are watching a comedy. I don't believe that a joke or two make a movie a comedy, but that doesn't mean that it can't be any good. As a drama this movie stands quite firm on its feet and also thanks to the relevance of the story, I must say that I liked what I saw. I give it a 7.5/10.
Undercover Brother (2002)
It's perhaps not perfect, but it sure offers some good laughs
When I read the title for the first time and saw that this was a comedy, I already knew that I shouldn't expect too much of this movie. Not that I was convinced that the overall quality wouldn't be any good, I just knew that I didn't have to expect the most original story line. But that's OK. When it comes to comedies, I do not always need very intellectual dialogs, a lot of special camera points,... All I want then are some good laughs and that's exactly what this movie gave me.
When a black candidate runs for president, 'The Man' tries to derail his campaign. 'The Man' runs a group of white people who will do anything to protect their own values from other (read black) influences. But now he may have found his match. Anton Jackson is an African-American man who seems harmless, but who works as an undercover agent for a secret all-black Brotherhood. Undercover Brother - that's his real name - will have to infiltrate in the world of the white people in order to prevent The Man's evil plans...
If you have to explain someone where to situate this movie, than I would call it a black version of Austin Powers. A guy who still seems to live in the seventies, who appears to be a secret agent, the costumes,... there are plenty of similarities between the two movies. The main difference this time is that the main character isn't white, but black.
Most of the time the humor in this movie is exactly based on that aspect. The differences between black and white are constantly used as a source of inspiration. Jokes about white people who all like mayonnaise while the black don't, about the fact that the black people have 'soul' and the white don't,... can be found all over the movie. And I must say that a lot of them were really good. OK, not everything in this movie worked that well, but overall the humor was OK. Also OK was the acting. Eddie Griffin was very nice as Undercover Brother / Anton Jackson, Aunjanue Ellis did a good job as Sistah Girl and Denise Richards was very lovely as White She Devil. But those are only a couple of the actors that played a major role in this movie. All other actors did a nice job as well of course.
Overall this movie was OK, although the story was sometimes a bit too shallow to make this movie really work. Still, that wasn't too much a problem, because I still had a good time with all the racially inspired jokes. I give this movie a 6.5/10 for that.
It deserves better
Normally Woody Allen movies get a very high rating on this website - even though they aren't always the easiest to watch - and when I saw that this movie only got a 6.2/10, I was a bit reluctant to give it a try. I'm not too familiar with the man's work yet, but what I've seen so far was OK. Now that I've seen it, I'm puzzled about the fact why this movie doesn't score any better, because in my opinion it really wasn't that bad. One thing that worked well for instance was the story.
Lee Simon hasn't got a successful career. He has always been a journalist, but what he really wants is to become a famous writer. He has already published two novels - both were sabred down by the press - and has finished a movie script. After divorcing his wife Robin, he tries to meet as many rich people and celebrities, models,... as he can, but he isn't all that successful in that either. In the meantime his ex-wife meets a very desirable TV-producer and takes her first steps in the world of celebrities, a world which she has always despised...
Even though this is a Woody Allen movie and this story is clearly based on his own life, you'll not see him in it. That's OK with me, but somehow it also felt a bit strange. Why would a man like Allen write such a movie and than not perform in it like he always does? I really don't know, but I'm sure that he had his reasons for it. But don't let that be a reason not to watch this movie. Kenneth Branagh is at least as good in the role. His performance was really good, although I must say that he wasn't the biggest surprise in this movie. Personally I was more surprised by Charlize Theron who played the role of a supermodel and did a great job with that role. Of course all other actors were more than just OK as well, but what else can you expect from people like Melanie Griffith, Winona Ryder...
What I also liked in this movie was the typical humor and the sometimes biting criticism on Allen's own world. Take for instance the part in which he lets one of his characters say: "He's terribly pretentious. He is one of those assholes who film in black and white", while this movie too has been shot in that way. Another great moment is when he makes fun of movie critics, but there are so many good jokes and laughs included in this movie that it is impossible to name them all. I guess that if you can't stand Allen's kind of humor, you better don't even watch this movie, because it's full of it, but when you like it, you shouldn't hesitate to give it a try, because there are some fine examples of it to be found in this movie.
All in all this movie deserves a lot better than the actual rating of 6.2/10. The acting is nice, the story has been well written and is full of excellent jokes and biting criticism. I really liked what I saw and I believe that this movie deserves at least a rating in between 7/10 and 7.5/10.
Deep Blue (2003)
Don't hesitate, but watch it (preferably on a large TV and with a good surround system)
Ever since my childhood I've been fascinated by all life under water. I was only two years old, had severely burned my arm and my parents didn't know how to make me forget about the pain. They decided to buy me a little fish tank with a couple of goldfish in it. And it worked, as I sat on my knees in front of it, I forgot about all the pain. My arm healed, but the passion remained and I've always kept fishes as a pet ever since (I've got two aquariums and a large pond now). I will also never miss any documentary about this wonderful creatures on television, but I hadn't seen this one before. Last Christmas, my mom found it on a double DVD and thought it would be a good present for me. She was right.
Even though the entire documentary is situated in the water, you'll get to see more than just a lot of fishes in all kinds of colors and sizes. You'll also get penguins, polar bears, whales, dolphins,... But there isn't just a diversity in the creatures that are shown. Also the environments change and that's a good thing. The polar sees are completely different from the tropical sees, the Atlantic different from the Pacific and together they make sure that you keep watching it with your full interest. More than once I found myself watching it with my mouth open. All the images were incredibly beautiful, but if this had been situated in one spot, than the 92 minutes would have been too long. Now I just couldn't get enough of it. And that's also where this movie's main weakness if you ask me. I wished that it would keep on going on for another 30 minutes or more. It just ended too soon.
If you are interested in everything that happens in that magnificent world under water, but don't want to learn scuba diving first, than this documentary is definitely a must see. The images are just wonderful, the music that accompanies it all is great,... Just let yourself be overwhelmed by the beauty and the powers of nature. It's an excellent documentary made by the BBC Natural History Unit. I give it a 10/10. (Just one last word of advice: try to watch it on a large screen and with an excellent surround system if you can, it can only add something extra to the experience.)
Very good acting, a very nice story, some interesting camera work... reasons enough to give this movie a try
"Carrie" is a classic horror movie that has always been one of my favorite movies in the genre. It may well be thirty years old, but the tension, the story, the images,... really haven't lost anything of their power. And I'm certainly not the only one who likes this movie. The fact that it has inspired several other movie makers to try to do the same by making a sequel or a remake, shows that they too were convinced of the potential of the movie. The only difference is: they have all failed where De Palma succeeded.
Carrie White is a shy girl who doesn't have any friends and who is completely unaware of what the world has to offer. She has never learned to make social contacts, because she has been living in an isolated world, together with her psychotically religious mother. After an embarrassing incident in the showers, her fellow students start to tease her even more than what they have done before. Her teacher disciplines them severely and that's why they are determined to have revenge. They all hatch a plot against Carrie to embarrass her in front of the whole school during the prom. But one girl feels sorry for Carrie and asks her date not to take her with him to the prom, but to ask Carrie instead, which he does. The entire night seems to go perfectly and especially when she's chosen as the prom queen her life seems better than ever. But when she is asked to go on the stage everything starts to go terribly wrong...
If you look at the story and the special effects and compare them with todays horror movies, than I'm sure that several (young) people will not like it all that much. However, when you keep in mind that this movie was made in 1976, than you'll have to agree with me that this is still stunning. OK, horror movies now try to use more scary moments (you know what's going to happen and still at that exact moment in the movie you get frightened) and that's something which you will not find in this movie, but it's the entire story and the idea behind it that make it all work. But even when the story and the special effects can't convince you all that much, you'll probably like the movie for the acting in it. Sissy Spacek was very convincing as Carrie, Piper Laurie was unbelievable as her mother and all other actors were more than OK as well, especially the young John Travolta could convince me in this movie. What I also liked a lot was the camera work. There aren't that many movies who have made use of split screens as much as has been done in this "Carrie", and those who did weren't always very successful in it, but in this movie it works and it sure adds an extra dimension to the entire experience.
In the end this is a horror movie that hasn't had too much difficulty to stand the test of time if you ask me. If all of today's horror movies will still be good in thirty years time is only to be seen, but this one certainly proves that it deserves to be called a classic in the genre. That's why I give it at least a 7.5/10.
It's a bit unusual, but it really works
I've always been a fan of Harrison Ford's work, although I must admit that what he has done in the last 10 years couldn't always convince me ("What Lies Beneath" and "Sabrina" were still OK, although not exactly perfect, but "Hollywood Homicide" is just an awful movie). In my opinion his last excellent movie was "The Fugitive", but he has done some very fine things before that as well as this "Witness" proves.
While traveling with his mother Rachel, a young Amish boy called Samual Lap, witnesses a murder in a washroom at the train station in Philadelphia and detective John Book is assigned to the case. Shortly after the first investigation, the boy recognizes narcotics officer McFee as the murderer. Book soon discovers that McFee was involved in the theft of an ingredient used in the making of drugs and he gives all the information he has to his boss. Shortly after, McFee comes after him and wounds him in a shootout. Book decides to flee and sees no better option but to stay within the peaceful Amish community to which the Lap family belongs. While Book and Rachel start to get feelings for each other, he helps the community as much as he can, although sometimes in his own 'modern' way, which the Amish do not approve of. But hiding for them doesn't mean that the crooked cops have forgotten about him and one day they find him...
I've already said it before and I'll say it again: Even though Harrison Ford now seems to have lost that feeling, in the past he really knew how to pick some very good scripts. The entire story is original and in a way also very daring. Who comes up with the idea to bring violence into the world of the Amish, who are seen as some kind of attraction, as some kind of freak show even? It's an incredible contradiction, just as the forbidden love between Book and Rachel is, but somehow they managed to make a very good movie out of it. It has some action, but not too much; the relationship isn't corny at all; the outcome of the movie isn't too obvious;... I must say I really appreciate that. This could easily have gone wrong in so many parts, but it didn't. This was a very strong movie.
Also very good were the performances of the different actors. Except for Harrison Ford, Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen and perhaps Kelly McGillis, I can't say that I know any of them, which isn't a very big surprise if you know that some of them are really Amish and no professional actors. Still, they all did a great job, the professionals as well as the amateurs, and they all gave this movie that extra touch which really made it believable and powerful. I really liked this movie for several reasons without having any really negative remarks and that's why I give it a rating in between 7.5/10 and 8/10.
8 Mile (2002)
Probably best for people who know much about rap and it's subculture
Even though I can appreciate a rap song so now and then, I can't say that I'm a big fan of the genre. But every kind of music has its idols and I guess most people have heard of Eminem before - although that hasn't always got something to do with his music. When this movie was released over here, I didn't go to the cinema to watch it, but decided to wait until it was shown on television. I didn't want to spend my money on a movie that told the life of a poor white kid who became a famous rapper, someone who I didn't think I could care for much. But now that it was finally shown, I gave it a try.
Jimmy 'B-Rabbit' is a white kid who wants to become a famous rapper. But he has a lot of problems that might keep him from becoming well-known. Not only does he get incredibly nervous when he has to perform in some rap battles, he also has a hard time during the rest of his life. His girlfriend told him she's pregnant and that's why he dumped her, his mom is an alcoholic who lives in a shabby trailer, his job's a dead end,... But then things finally seem to improve when he meets Alex, a girl who wants to leave the slums of Detroit to become a model in New York, and someone promises him to help him with his demo. However, is it all as nice as he hopes it will be, or will this become just another setback?
Even though it's said to be a completely fictional story, I guess there is a lot of Eminem's life that has been used as a source of inspiration for this movie. A young white rapper with a lot of difficulties to get to the top, problems with his mom,... that sounds a lot like what I've already heard about him. Does that mean that this movie isn't any good then? No, certainly not, this is a very decent drama that doesn't leave much to the imagination when it comes to all the misery, but which really does a good job in showing it all. And I guess it's only an advantage that Eminem played this role himself. Even though I don't consider him as a great actor, I must say that his performance in this movie felt very real (probably thanks to his own experiences in life). However, that doesn't mean that I want to see him act in other movies, as a regular actor. Somehow I don't really believe he would be as good then as he is in this movie.
The biggest problem this movie probably faces is the audience it wants to target. I'm afraid that there aren't that many adult people (people in their thirties, forties, fifties or older) who will really like this movie, because this is too far away from their own reality. I guess only teenagers and people in their early twenties who like rap music and know the entire subculture around it and/or who like Eminem as an artist, will really love this movie. The others should give it a try too, but I doubt if they will all like it all that much. Personally I think they did a good job with this movie and I give it a 7/10, maybe a 7.5/10, but than again, I'm not a complete stranger to the music either...
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
A perfect alternative for "The Sound of Music"
Even though I'm not the biggest fan of romantic comedies, I do like to watch one occasionally. As long as they are at least somewhat original - which sometimes seems harder to find than you would like to believe - I really can have a good time with them. But for some reason I feared that this movie wouldn't belong to that category and that's why it took me almost ten years to finally watch it. Now that I did, I know that I shouldn't have waited that long.
Lucy is already in love with Peter for a very long time. The only problem is that she has never really spoken to him and that he probably doesn't even know of her existence. He's a commuter to who she sells a ticket for the metro every day. When on Christmas Day he's attacked by some muggers, he falls on the rails and lies there unconscious. Lucy doesn't hesitate, but immediately goes after him and saves him from the oncoming train. Then he goes into a coma and is transported to hospital. And that's where all the problems start. The hospital staff confuses her for his fiancée, which they also tell to his family. They immediately welcome her into the family and Lucy, who isn't used to so much family happiness and warmth, isn't able to tell them that she and Peter haven't got a relationship. To make things even more complicated for her, Peter's brother falls in love with her and when Peter himself wakes up, he too believes that she is his fiancée...
Even though the story feels a bit like all other romantic comedies, I must say that I like the new approach of a man in coma as the subject of affection. Even though he plays a very important role in this movie, his performance only consists of lying there with his eyes closed. And somehow that feels more OK than seeing yet another clumsy guy who is able to win the heart of the woman of his dreams. But not only the story is OK, so is the acting. Sandra Bullock, Jack Warden, Bill Pullman,... were nice to watch and even though Peter Gallagher didn't really have a difficult part, he too did a good job.
I guess the only 'problem' that I had with this movie was that it was situated during Christmas time, while I saw it in the beginning of September. I'm not saying that I wasn't able to get completely involved in it, but somehow it felt a bit weird to see snow and to see them decorate the Christmas tree. That's also the reason why I believe that this is a perfect movie to play in that time period instead of THE Christmas classic: "The Sound of Music". You're already completely in the right mood then and I'm sure that such a movie would only add to that perfect feeling of family happiness. But than again, it's not that you can't watch this movie on another day either.
All in all this is one of the better romantic comedies that I've seen lately. I had some good laughs with it, the romance was a bit weird but believable, the acting was good and the story original. What more can you expect from such a movie. Not much if you ask me and that's why I give it a well-deserved 7/10.
Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Despite the fact that I'm not a fan of musicals, I must admit that I loved this one
Everybody who is at least a little bit interested in the 'alternative' cinema and who is able to watch movies that don't necessarily need to contain a lot of big action shots, fast car chases or explosions, are already familiar with the name Lars von Trier. His name is some kind of label, a guarantee that the quality of the movie will be good, no matter how weird it may seem at first (think for instance of 'Dogville' which looked like a theater play). That's also why I already had this movie on my 'To-See'-list for so long. I really wanted to see it, but because it was never shown on television (this isn't the kind of movie the average commercial station wants to broadcast), I had to wait until today.
Selma is a Czechoslovakian immigrant who has moved to the USA in order to get specialized and very expensive eye surgery for her son Gene. She is a single mother who works day and night in a factory in order to raise enough money so she can save her son from the same disease she suffers from. Her vision is deteriorating fast, she will go blind soon and she knows that he will face the same faith unless he gets that crucial operation in a couple of months time. The only reason why she can cope with all that misery is because from time to time - even though it's only for a short moment - she pretends to be in the wonderful world of the musicals that she likes so much. But when a desperate neighbor falsely accuses her of stealing his savings and shots are fired, her life takes a dramatic turn...
Despite the fact that I was really looking forward to this movie, I was also a bit reluctant to watch it. That had nothing to do with my expectations. For once I didn't fear to end up disappointed, because I expected too much of it in advance. No, I had a few doubts about this movie because I knew this was some kind of musical and I'm not really a fan of that genre. Also the fact that Björk played a role in this movie didn't make me look forward to it. There are more singers who believe that they can act, but in reality are awful in it, and I feared the same might happen in this movie. But now that I've seen it I must admit that I was completely wrong to doubt about this movie. It was everything I wished for and even more.
The acting for instance - including the performance of Björk - was outstanding. But she wasn't the only surprise. Catherine Deneuve too was very nice and interesting in this movie. I can't remember ever having her seen in another non-French movie, but in English she is just as charming. Normally I would make a remark about her obvious accent, but you could also see her as just another immigrant who worked in the same factory. That's why it never bothered me. But not only the acting was good, so was the entire script. At first I had a problem with the musical parts (remember my difficulties with the genre), but as soon as I started to realize that this wasn't a depiction of the reality, but instead one of her day dreams, I must say that I liked it.
At first this movie seems to go for a happy ending, but that would have been a too easy option. Lars von Trier chose to give it a very powerful and emotional ending instead, but despite what you might fear, it's never corny. The entire script has been well-written, the acting is very good and offers some very nice surprises and the directing is perfect, although I'm convinced that some people might find it difficult to keep watching those nervous images that were shot with a hand-held camera. But don't let that be a reason not to watch this movie, because it is more than just a pleasant surprise. I give it a well-deserved 8/10.
Midnight Express (1978)
Much better than the average movie in the genre.
When it comes to movies about Americans who have been caught in some remote country and ended up in a filthy jail after they tried to smuggle drugs, I'm always very cautious. The main reason for that is because too often this kind of (TV-)movies tries too hard to show what a good guy the smuggler actually is and how bad and corrupt the people and the justice system in that particular country are, that a great injustice has been done to that poor man/woman, that this person didn't know that he/she was smuggling drugs because some bad guy switched bags without telling,... I'm very sorry, but I don't like that kind of drama's. It's not believable and it's my opinion that when you do the crime, you'll have to sit the time. However, I'm also convinced that not all movies in the genre are as bad as that and this "Midnight Express" may well be the best example to prove it.
When the young American tourist Billy Hayes is about to return home from his holiday in Turkey with his girlfriend, he's caught smuggling drugs out of the country. The prosecutor wants to make an example of him and asks a life sentence, but thanks to some bribes and a lawyer who knows his way in the court rooms, he gets a much smaller sentence. However, the prosecutor isn't all too happy with that and goes into higher appeal. Because the government wants to set an example, they decide to change the previous four years of jail time - which he already has served except for 53 days - in at least thirty. Hayes isn't able to cope with that extra setback and starts to decent into complete insanity, also partially caused by the severe treatment given to him and his 'friends' by the jailers. Because he can no longer count on any opportunities for a swift release, he sees no other but to take 'the Midnight Express', which is jail-slang for escaping...
If you are looking for some nice images about Turkey or want to learn something about its culture, its people,... than this isn't the movie that you are looking for. This certainly isn't a nice documentary about the country, but should be seen as some kind of warning to all people that think about smuggling drugs out of the (often Asian and / or Muslim) countries where they spent their holidays. If I read some other comments, than I get the feeling that this isn't alway very clear to some people. They believe that this movie doesn't show the real Turkey, that the country has a lot more to offer than what we see in this film. I couldn't agree more with that statement, but this is still a prison movie, showing prison life, not the daily lives of the ordinary Turks. This movie shows how drug smugglers were treated in Turkey in the 1970's and it has to be said that it does a good job. It has become a surprisingly powerful movie that isn't too corny or too black-and-white. Sure, it shows that life in a Turkish jail wasn't a pleasure (and for as far as we hear over here, still isn't - one of the reasons why they aren't allowed to the European Union is because they don't care all that much about human rights), but it also shows that Hayes wasn't just a victim. If he hadn't taped those drugs on his body, he would have been able to get out of the country as a free man. He chose to take the risk and he lost.
Next to the interesting story, this movie is also worth watching for the very nice performances by Brad Davis, Paolo Bonacelli, John Hurt, Franco Diogene, Norbert Weisser,... They all did a very good job, lifting this movie even more above the average in the genre. Take for instance Franco Diogene. He's really excellent as the corrupt lawyer who can arrange something for a little price. The man does not only act like a real one, he also looks like such a lawyer. Really very nice.
All in all this is an excellent movie for all those people who don't mind to see a not so nice view on Turkey and who are looking for something extra in the average court room / drug smuggling drama. I didn't expect it before watching this movie, but I really liked it. That's why I give this movie a rating of 7.5/10.
The Big Red One (1980)
Maybe not the best WWII movie ever, but a lot better than some other 'classics' in the genre.
Only a couple of months ago this movie was released on DVD over here and there was a lot of publicity about it. They even stated that this was probably the best World War II movie ever. I'm quite familiar with that kind of movies and I've already seen a big part of them, classics as well as new ones. The most impressive ones I already have in my private DVD collection (Saving Private Ryan, Patton, The Longest Day, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Cross of Iron,...), but I must say that these quotes really made me curious about this movie. On the other hand I didn't want to buy it before seeing it first, because I'm a marketeer myself and I'm all too familiar with good promo talk. They promise you heaven, but in the end you remain with your two feet on the ground while being very disappointed. Now that it was shown on television, I could finally watch it for myself and make up my own opinion about it.
Even though "The Big Red One" is a WWII movie, it starts in the trenches of WWI. It's November 11 in 1918, just after 11 o'clock in the morning, when a German comes out of his trench and says to the surprised American soldier that the war is over. Of course he doesn't believe him and he immediately kills him. After taking the insignia with a red one on it from the man's uniform he returns to his own trench, only to hear that the war is really over and that he has murdered a man (during a war it's called killing, after and before one it's called murder). Almost 25 years later, he's back as a soldier, this time in WWII. He made it to sergeant and now leads a rifle squad in the same division in which he served during WWI, the First Infantry. They get their first battle experience when they invade the by Vichy France occupied Northern Africa. From there on they go to Sicily, France (Omaha Beach on D-Day), Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia. As they make their way through Africa and Europe, only five men, including the sergeant, seem to be able to survive. The others are replaced by new, anonymous soldiers who the 'veterans' don't want to know too much about because they will die soon anyway...
If you want to know what to expect from this movie, than I believe that you have to see it as some kind of combination of "Band of Brothers", "Saving Private Ryan", "The Longest Day"... But don't get me wrong. I wouldn't compare it to any of these movies and there are two reasons for that: first of all was it created with a much smaller budget than those other movies and the second reason is that I don't think that any movie deserves to be compared and analyzed with another movie in the back of your mind. I'm convinced that every movie deserves to be seen on its own. Now that you know this, I can give you my opinion about the positive and negative sides of this movie.
There is only one thing that really bothered me in this movie. They sometimes didn't take the time to fully develop all the possibilities a certain part of the story offered. Too many times I had the feeling that certain scenes had been cut in half, that they didn't stay long enough to fully tell the story about what happened in each country. And yes, I saw the long, restored version of the movie, so that can't be the problem. Also somewhat difficult for me was the use of an American Sherman instead of a German tank, but I'm willing to see past that for once because this wasn't the most important and interesting part of the movie.
This movie deserves to be seen because it was one of the first war movies that didn't just rely on showing all the battle scenes and that didn't stay on one location, but followed a group of soldiers on their tour of duty while having big interest in the character of the man behind the gun and not just in his capability to fight. This is one of the few classic war movies that has taken its time to fully develop its characters and I truly believe that the viewers should pay more attention to that. What I also appreciated was that Sam Fuller, even though it's obvious that he couldn't make use of a big budget, was still able to make such a powerful movie out of it. The emotions are real, the fact that the veterans didn't pay much attention to the new-comers because they didn't want to lose another friend is the way it really was, the quiet sergeant who has to 'fight' against the will of some of his soldiers,... It all works.
In the end this may not be the best WWII ever, many will be disappointed by the small scale of the battle scenes for instance, but when it comes to character development Sam Fuller sure didn't have to learn a lesson. Also the fact that the scenery in the movies was pretty accurate (Take for instance the part in the Ardennes in Belgium, where there were real pine trees, green hills,... instead of the olive trees and a sandy desert shown in "The Battle of the Bulge"), that the Americans too got killed and weren't some kind of supermen who could kill an entire German battalion with only three men and two rifles, made this movie a lot better than some other 'classics'. I really liked this movie and I'm sure that I'll buy it when I get the chance to find the fully restored version (probably called the director's cut or something like that).
Johnny Stecchino (1991)
Even though full of humor, it still gives an idea of the real Italy
Even though Roberto Benigni is very popular on this website, I doubt that many people know more than one movie of the man. Sure, everybody has heard of "La vita è bella" before, but if you ask them to name another one of his Italian movies, I'm pretty sure they can't. And yet the man is a good actor. Especially when it comes to comedies he's far above average. Not that you have to believe me of course, but when you've seen this "Johnny Stecchino", or "Johnny Toothpick" as it is called in English, you'll probably say that I'm right.
Dante is a simple and kind-hearted man who is happy driving the school bus for a group of mentally handicapped children. But his life isn't exactly very spectacular as he lives on his own, doesn't have a girlfriend or wife and only seems to have one friend, one of the handicapped children with whom he likes to steal an occasional banana. When he's almost run over by Maria, a beautiful and rich lady, all this seems to change. She seems to fall in love with him head over heals and she soon invites him to her gigantic villa in Palermo, Sicily. But what he doesn't know that he's part of an evil plot. He looks exactly the same as Maria's gangster husband, Johnny Stecchino, who's life is in big danger as the rest of the crime syndicates want him dead and buried. They have invited Dante in the hope that he will be killed instead of Johnny Stecchino...
To fully appreciate this movie I guess you have to be ready for this kind of humor. It all feels a lot like slapstick and I doubt if everybody likes that all that much. Personally I liked it in this movie. It gave it all a bit of an interesting, but surreal touch. But even though the story and its humor feel a bit like slapstick, it still gives a decent feeling of what Italy is like. They like good food and wine, they like a party so now and then, but corruption and crime aren't all that far away.
This script could easily have been used to make a very good drama with it, but I admit that the humor in it makes it a bit more special and noticeable. What also helps to remember this movie are Roberto Benigni's and Nicoletta Braschi's performances. Especially Benigni did a nice job in this double role. He gave both characters a completely different feeling and only a slightly different look, which made it even more interesting, because you certainly had to stay focused.
All in all this is a very good comedy that proves that Benigni isn't just a one-hit wonder. The story, the acting, the humor,... make this a movie that is certainly worth a try. Personally I really liked it and that's why I give it at least a 7.5/10.
You've Got Mail (1998)
A pleasant surprise
It's a good thing that I didn't know in advance that so many people compare this movie to "Sleepless in Seattle", some even stating that it was some kind of unofficial sequel. I must admit that I didn't like that one all that much and if I had read such comments before watching it, I'm sure I wouldn't even have given it a try, because I'm convinced that there are only few sequels actually worth a watch. But I didn't know all this yet and I was ready to be surprised.
Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly have met each other in a chat box on the internet and have never seen each other, but regularly send each other e-mail messages. On the internet their relationship with each other is close to perfect, but in reality they are each others rivals. Kathleen Kelly is the owner of a little, famous bookstore for children's books who is endangered by the opening of Fox Books, a huge chain of discount book shops. While on the internet madly in love with him, in real life she could drink his blood, not knowing that he's the same person. When Joe Fox finds out the truth, he has to find a way to convince her that he's actually a nice guy...
Once again the acting in this movie was very good. I already liked Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in "Sleepless in Seattle", but in my opinion they were even better in this movie. And not only the acting was better, the entire story seemed to work better. The fact that it wasn't so obvious how the story tried to get us emotional, gave this movie that little extra that I'm always looking for. Also the entire idea behind it that people meet in chat rooms is nothing new or exceptional and that they want to see each other in real life afterwards is only natural I believe. It's a part of the modern society and I don't think it will go away soon, so why shouldn't it be used in a romantic movie?
Normally I'm not too much a fan of romantic comedies, but this time I'll have to make an exception. I liked the story, the humor was good, the acting more than OK. And the fact that it all was a lot closer to reality than what I could ever hope for in the beginning was a pleasant surprise. That's why I give this movie a 7.5/10.
A movie that every action movie addict should watch.
I don't know what exactly it was that made me decide to give this movie a try. I didn't know anything about the story, I had never heard of the director Steve Wang before and except for Brittany Murphy, the entire cast was completely unknown to me. I guess it must have been the combination of Sci-Fi and action that made me decide to tape and watch it. I'm not saying that those are my favorite genres, but I've seen some very good examples lately, making me appreciate it all a lot more.
"Drive" tells the story of a man that has been enhanced with some kind of turbo in his chest that makes a better fighter, a quicker runner,... of him. But when he is about to sell the device to an American company, a group of hit men that has been hired by the Chinese company that created this little device and who don't want to see it go into American hands, go after him to kill him. On his way to the company he takes a black man hostage, leaving him no choice but to go with him on this perilous journey...
Even though I had never heard of any of the actors, I must say that they did a good job. It was perhaps not exceptional, but I've already seen a lot worse in this kind of movies. If I have to choose, than I would say that I liked Kadeem Hardison the most, but the other actors like Mark Dacascos, Brittany Murphy,... were OK as well. Less convincing - in my opinion at least - was the story. I admit that it was all very original and there probably went a lot of thinking in it, but a modified bionic man with some kind of engine that helps running his heart isn't exactly something that I am very interested in.
If you are an action-movie addict, than this is probably THE movie that you have to see. It has a lot of fight scenes, an original story and some good jokes. If you don't like this genre all that much, than I'm afraid you'll not become a fan after watching this movie, because it's all a bit too stereotypical. It all depends on your taste for movies I guess. Personally I'm not too much a fan of the genre, so I guess I don't have to tell you that I belong to the second group of people. I give this movie a 5/10.
An a-typical Hollywood drama
I've always been a fan of Nicholas Cage and even though the man sometimes seems to make bad choices when it comes to new scripts, I still see him as one of the best actors Hollywood has to offer. I know several people who don't agree with me, but in my opinion, his performance makes even the worst movie worth a try. Not that it always saves them, but it sure helped me to sit through some of them. However, in this case that isn't even necessary. Ever since I saw "Birdy" for the first time, I am a fan of its story.
When Al Columbato meets Birdy for the first time, he thinks he's a bit of a weirdo. Birdy isn't all that interested in social contacts with other children or young adolescents. All he wants is to play with his pigeons. But after a while Al and Birdy become good friends who have a lot of fun together, especially when they go after some new pigeons for Birdy or when try to fly themselves,... But then the Vietnam war starts and it doesn't take long before both men are sent to this far Asian country. When they return they both have changed. Especially Birdy is in an awful state. Suffering from severe shell-shock, he is in a hospital for mental patients, where he sits in his room without speaking a word while acting like a bird. When Al is asked to help with his therapy by trying to talk to him, he does his best, but even he doesn't seem capable to penetrate into Birdy's isolated world...
I know that I've once said that Hollywood doesn't seem to be able to make original drama's which are a lot better than the average TV-movie, but I admit that that was an exaggeration. "Birdy" is a very good and really original movie which can stand a test with movies like for instance the English drama "Spider". Not only is the story very good, so is the directing and the acting. Even though I've heard of him before, I can't say that I've ever seen another movie of Alan Parker, but this "Birdy" sure proves that the man must be a good director. Also very interesting in this movie were the very young Nicolas Cage, John Harkins - who has more often played in TV-movies and series than in other movies, but who did a good job in this one - and Matthew Modine who hasn't played any big role in an important movie since the late 1980's.
The only problem many people might have with this movie is the fact that it is said to be a war movie, but doesn't really show much of the action typical for such movies. It's a part of the story of course, but it isn't as important as some people might want. Also the fact that it is a - for Hollywood at least - quite unusual drama, might cost it quite some viewers. Personally I didn't have any problem with that, I'm already used to watch the 'not-so-average' movie and I must say that this one still stands after all those years. That's why I give it a 7.5/10, maybe even an 8/10.
The Closer You Get (2000)
The story knows no extreme highs or lows, but offers plenty of laughter
Even though my most favorite movies are thrillers and drama's, I must say that from time to time I can really look forward to a comedy. Life is more than misery or thrills alone, there should be time for laughter as well, so why should my choice of movies be any different? But when looking for comedies, I do have certain standards. I hate toilet humor and the story may be silly, but still has to be of a decent quality. If I'm honest, than I must say that I don't find that too often. The latest (often American) comedies are all full of those dreaded jokes about pee, vomit, sperm,... and too often I end up very disappointed in them. That's also the reason why I prefer British comedies. I like their, often very dry, humor and their jokes don't necessarily have to be about some kind of bodily function.
"The Closer You Get" is situated in an isolated village in Ireland. Because the girls in their village aren't to their taste, a bunch of young man send an ad to the Miami Herald, inviting fit and enticing American women between the ages of 20 and 21, to come to the local dance. But when the girls they all hoped for don't come and the local girls seem to have more success with men from outside the village, the local men start to realize that some of their 'own' girls might not be that bad after all. Others however chose different solutions like ordering a lot of porn...
Like so often with comedies, I'm sure that there are many people who don't like it all that much. Humor is one of the most difficult parts of the entertainment business and not everybody has the same taste. Personally I had a really good laugh with this movie, but when I see some other comments on this website, it's getting very clear to me that not everybody thinks about it like that. I guess this is a comedy that will appeal most to the people who love the typical British humor, so if you aren't into that kind of jokes, you better don't give this movie a try. If you are looking for a very special, deep or touching story, than this isn't the best movie for you either. The story is quite simple, but efficient. It doesn't really know any extreme highs or lows, but it works. The characters are believable, the situations are still recognizable...
All in all this is a very decent comedy with some good acting and an OK story. But most important is the amount of laughter that it offers and for me that was more than enough. I had a really good time with this movie and that's why I give it a 7.5/10.
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
A very nice comedy, but probably not for the mainstream (European male) audience
I've always been very reluctant to watch this movie and there were several reasons for that. First of all, despite the fact that I'm just like the average European young male, I'm far from a soccer fan. It's just not my kind of sports, I prefer car racing. The second reason was the title. Of course I've heard of Beckham before, but despite what all other people think of him, I can only see him as a rather arrogant, often stupid looking guy who happens to be a little bit better in kicking against a black and white leather ball. Nothing special, so why should I want to see a movie that carries his name? Well, now that I've finally seen it, I know why and I also know that it is a shame that I didn't watch it sooner.
This movie tells the story of two young girls that love to play soccer and that have to fight against a lot of prejudices in order to do what they like. Both girls are preparing themselves for one of the most important matches in their lives, hoping to get a transfer to an important American club, at least when they get the opportunity to play. One girl is from Indian origin, of the Sikh faith. Her family has been living in Britain for several years already, but they are very conservative and still very fond of their own traditions. They want their daughters to get married to a good Indian boy, want to see them walk around in traditional clothes and want them to learn how to cook traditional Indian food. When Pinky, one of their daughters, is preparing herself for marriage, but Jessminder, the other daughter, only has soccer on her mind, they feel very uncomfortable with this 'embarassing' situation. The other girl is a white girl. Her dad doesn't mind that she plays soccer, already happy that she isn't bringing one boy after the other home, but her mom is convinced that her daughter is a lesbian. What other girl likes to play football, rather than to go out with her mother to go shopping for clothes?
When you are looking for some very dramatic scenes or a very deep story, than this isn't the movie you should go for. But when you want to have some lighter, but nevertheless very decent entertainment, than this is perhaps THE comedy that you should give a try. Depsite all my prejudices, I admit that I really had a very good time watching this movie. This could easily have become very preachy, telling us how hard life can be when you don't fit in, when you try to be different in the pursuit of your dreams,... I guess that, if this had been a Hollywood production, it would have become some kind of syrupy TV-movie. But the makers of this movie have done a good job, avoiding that obvious trap. The acting in this movie is very good as well. Before this movie I only knew Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Trey Farley and Keira Knightley. And they all did a nice job. But they weren't the only ones. The Indian actors were all very interesting and good as well. Big was also my surprise when I saw the amount of movies Anupam Kher has played a role in (222 at this moment).
I don't know if this is exactly the kind of movie the average (European) soccer fan wants to see. I know that for instance my brother doesn't like it a bit. He's a real soccer fan and he still sees it as a game for men, rather than one that can be played by women as well. And he's probably not the only one with that opinion, so I doubt if it will appeal to that kind of people. However, when you are interested in the habits and traditions of foreign cultures, if you want to have a good laugh and don't mind the fact that this isn't exactly the most profound of all stories, than this is a movie you shouldn't miss. I certainly had a very good time with it and that's why I give it a 7.5/10.
De Dream (1985)
Not renewing, but very well written
When reading the title of this movie in a magazine that announced it and being a Dutch speaking Belgian, I thought that the title of this movie had to be some kind of printing error. I knew that this was a Dutch production and I was convinced that it should be called "De Droom" or "The Dream" in English, but not something in between the two. But to my own surprise this was the correct title, because this was not a Dutch spoken movie, but one in the Frisian dialect, making this the first time that I had to watch a Dutch movie with subtitles.
"De Dream" is situated in between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, in the Northern province of Friesland (I don't know how it is called in English, so I'll use the Dutch name for it). As everywhere else in Europe, the socialists are gaining a lot of strength among the poor part of the population. Since this is a very rural area, it's the group of poor farmers who have to work hard for some rich farm owners, that is very interested in this new ideology. When a farmer is robbed during the night and shots are fired, it doesn't take long before the authorities have a culprit. They are convinced that Wiebren Hogerhuis and his brother are their main suspects - Wiebren is one of the socialist leaders, he has a big mouth and has already been for quite some time a thorn in the flesh of the Dutch authorities - but in reality the man is innocent. However, because he has left the farmer's daughter after a long (purely sexual) relationship, she is willing to testify against him. This and the fact he's too stubborn to admit that he's innocent plus the fact that some of his so-called comrades prefer to stay mute, rather than to come forward to admit that they did it or to tell that they know who the real robbers are, mean that he faces several years of imprisonment...
Despite the fact that I'm used to watch movies with subtitles (we only get to see the original versions over here, our movies are never dubbed), I must say that it wasn't always easy with this movie. The fact that they regularly switched between Dutch and Frisian may not be noticeable to all the people that don't speak any of both languages, but when you get parts of a movie with and parts without subtitles, this can sometimes be a bit confusing. But that certainly didn't spoil my fun. The acting for instance was more than OK. I only know Huub Stapel from earlier productions, but all other actors were very nice to watch as well. Also very interesting was the story. Normally you would expect a storyline like: the poor socialist peasants can't do anything wrong, the government officials are the real bogeymen. Well, not this time. The line between good and bad, between red and orange,... wasn't always very obvious. That's also the reason why this movie had a more realistic feeling than what I expected at first.
Overall this is a very good, historically inspired movie that despite the fact that the subject on itself isn't extremely original anymore, still is worth more than a try. The acting is good, the story is very well written and the overall quality is more than OK. That's why I give this movie a 7/10.
Michael Collins (1996)
When I watch a movie, I want to be entertained in the first place, not just informed.
Because I am a great fan of several Neil Jordan movies - I've seen four of them so far and loved them all - and because I've always appreciated Liam Neeson's style of acting, it's only natural that I wanted to see this movie. Whether this movie is historically spoken completely accurate or not, didn't really make much of a difference. If I want to know more about a certain fact in history, than I buy books that have been written by people that know all about it. When I watch a movie, I want to be entertained first, which certainly doesn't mean that I don't care about historical accuracy at all of course. For me it's just not the most important part in this kind of dramas.
From 1916 on Michael Collins stands on the barricades to fight the British army that occupies Ireland. He is one of the men that want to establish a new government, while throwing out the British and creating a completely independent Irish republic. But when he sees that their dreams will never come true, he starts negotiating with the British government and is able to establish the Irish Free State, which means that they are more or less independent, but still have to answer to the British crown and will lose Northern Ireland. That's why some of his former allies turn against him, blaming him for the loss of something that could never have been won...
Whether this movie is completely accurate or not, I can not judge about. I believe all those people who say that it isn't. They probably know a lot more about it than I do. But that's not very important to me this time. As I said earlier in my review, when watching a movie, I don't just want to be informed, I want to be entertained. And entertainment is exactly what I got. The story on itself is well-written and well-paced. I can't think of one moment that I was bored, but I certainly know that I was very interested while watching. That's also thanks to the very fine performances by all the actors. Liam Neeson was as great as always, but Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Alan Rickman,... certainly weren't any less good. I even appreciated Julia Roberts, although in my opinion she was the least of all the big names in this movie. She didn't seem to fit in completely, but her performance was good enough, so it didn't spoil the entire movie for me.
If you can see past the fact that Neil Jordan probably changed some parts of the truth in order to get a better movie and if you rather like to watch this movie for the very fine acting, the nice images,... than to get a history lesson, than you'll agree with me that this movie still deserves a rating in between 7.5/10 and 8/10. If you can't, than I wouldn't even give it a try.
Fierce Creatures (1997)
See it as a movie on itself, rather than to compare it to "A Fish Called Wanda"
Despite the fact that this movie isn't a sequel to "A Fish Called Wanda", many people like to compare this "Fierce Creatures" with it. Some even seem to see that as enough reason not to like this movie. Personally I wouldn't go that far. For as far as I know the only comparison that can be made between the two is the fact that its story deals about animals and that most actors from the first movie also played a role in the second one. I don't think that's reason enough to like or dislike this movie and since I try to see it as a new and separate movie, I'll not make any further comparison between the two.
When a massive company - which is active in all kinds of industrial and commercial branches - takes over the failing London Marwood Zoo, the cruel tycoon Rod McCain is only interested in bringing more business to the zoo or in case that isn't possible, to sell it to Japanese owners who will turn it into a golf course. Octopus Inc. (that's the well-chosen name of the company) hires a new manager, called Rollo Lee, who almost immediately comes up with a plan that will definitely attract more customers. The zoo will have to get rid of all animals that aren't ferocious or dangerous enough, because according to him the audience is only interested in dangerous things. This new policy shocks the zookeepers, who will do anything possible to make him change ideas. But in the meantime Rod McCain wants to see results and when he doesn't get them quickly enough, he sends in his son Vince McCain and the up-and-coming business executive Willa Weston. They will have to take over control from Rollo Lee, but once they are there, Willa's views on zoo management completely change. While Vince comes up with a lot of merchandise, fake robotic animals, a lot of publicity boards all over the place,... she starts to realize the true value of these animals. Together with Rollo and the staff, she tries to prevent that the McCain's will completely destroy this zoo...
Overall the quality of this movie is quite good and the acting has a lot to do with that of course. I guess not everybody appreciates it as much as I do, but I really like John Cleese's style and in my opinion his interaction with Jamie Lee Curtis really works. Also interesting is Kevin Kline in his double role, Michael Palin as the bug-loving zookeeper,... I'm certainly not going to say that it's the best comedy I've ever seen, but I had a good time with it. Even though not all the jokes and gags worked perfectly, there were enough good ones to make me forget about that. And being a marketeer myself, I had even more fun with the jokes about the publicity. In our business it's very easy to go too far and that's something that was shown very well in this movie. Now don't think that I believe they should show this in every class about the do's and don't's in publicity, but it worked for me and that's all that counted when I was watching this movie.
Overall I had a good time watching this movie, but I can understand that not everybody appreciates it as much as I do. Personally I love all animals, but many people don't and may therefor not be that interested in this movie. Seeing so many of them in this movie, together with those fine and famous actors, really gave me a good time though. Add to this a simple, but decent story, some fine jokes,... and you know why I liked this movie. I give it a 7.5/10.