dinsdag 20 februari 2018

10s Movie Review - A United Kingdom

Director: Amma Asante
Genre: Drama/ Romance
Runtime: 111 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Tom Felton, Jack Davenport

Description: The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana (David Oyelowo) and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.

Review: Whenever a film starts with the words ‘based on a true story’, the film makers have two choices: tell the actual facts or exaggerate a bit a make it more Hollywood like. The last is often the more popular choice, but director Amme Asante choose the first option. “A United Kingdom” tells a strong tale of forbidden love, discrimination and political distress, without any.
We end up in London in the late 40s, where Seretse Khama and Ruth Williams meat each other in a stylish jazz bar and have a undeniable click. They seem like an impossible couple, because Seretse is supposed to follow his uncle as the king of Bechuanaland (later Botswana). A marriage between him an a British typist would not be appreciated back in Africa. But Seretse and Ruth take the risk, marry and travel to Bechuanaland to start their life together.
Seretse and Ruth have to overcome many obstacles. The British government want to kick Seretse off the throne, while the citizens of Bechuanaland slowly come to peace with Ruth’s presence. But she still has to stand strong in the place she now calls home.
The script is factual, but it also feels refreshing. It often feels more like a documentary then a melodramatic love story. “A United Kingdom” is a really strong film, also thanks to David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike. They fill in their characters really well. The start of the film, which is also the start of their romance, feels a bit rushed. But the rest of the film takes its time to tell a beautiful story.
“A United Kingdom” tells a real life struggle and has a strong message.

Rating: 4 / 5

dinsdag 13 februari 2018

10s Movie Review - Wind River

Director: Taylor Sheridan
Genre: Drama/ Crime/ Thriller
Runtime: 111 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Jon Bernthal

Description: A veteran tracker (Jeremy Renner) with the Fish and Wildlife Service helps to investigate the murder of a young Native American woman, and uses the case as a means of seeking redemption for an earlier act of irresponsibility which ended in tragedy.

Review: Together with “Sicario” and “Hell or High Water”, “Wind River” belongs in the so-called ‘American frontier’ threesome by screen writer Taylor Sheridan. With the screenplays of these three films, Sheridan describes today's America, where there is no compromise and where poverty, violence and a struggling government are still present. And again, this third movie, is a strong crime thriller.
The crime scene is in the Wind River reserve, in the state of Wyoming. An area known for its cold and silence. During one of his track runs, tracker Corey Lambert finds the lifeless body of a young Indian girl, miles away from civilization. The girl isn’t wearing any shoes and coughed up a lot of blood. Suspicious circumstances, so he calls it.
Help arrives in the form of inexperienced FBI agent Jane Banner, who labels this as a homicide. Together with Corey she decides to solve this crime, but she hasn’t realized yet what world she has entered.
The authorities hardly have any interest in this crime, which means that every victim will take the matter in their own hands. For a thriller like “Wind River”, that’s an excellent starting point. The message at the end shows us that native Americans gone missing don’t get registered. And that’s why this is an important film.
“Wind River” is a movie that flew pretty much under the radar in 2017. And it’s definitely a film you need to see. The writing is excellent. It’s not an original story, because it’s based on actual events. But the film makes you feel like you’re watching a literary novel come to life. Psychological depth, no clich├ęs, real people struggling with complex emotions like guilt and loss. The dark poetic tones of the dialogue matches perfectly with the images of the snowy landscapes.
“Wind River” has a limited runtime, but manages to punch you in the face with the emotional load its carrying. Sheridan makes it believable and you feel the impact a homocide investigation like this can have on the people involved. The film is never rushed and is never really sentimental. With that we get an amazing performance from Jeremy Renner, probably in his best role to date. “Wind River” is a movie you should definitely add to your watchlist, it’s a crime thriller at its best.

Rating: 5/ 5

zondag 4 februari 2018

Five to Watch: Movies Set in the Snow

Winter is my second favorite season, because I just love the cold. I really do. And snow. It doesn’t snow very often in The Netherlands, and when it does, the Dutch aren’t prepared. Movies that have a snowy setting, it just adds to the atmosphere. I could name “Fargo”, “The Shining” and “The Thing”, but there are so many movies that people maybe not know about or that I think are underrated or underappreciated. Here are some movies you should watch, that are set in the snow.

30 Days of Night
An Alaskan town is plunged into darkness for a month. That is scary on its own, but the town is attacked by a gang of vampires. And they feast best when there is no sunlight. The people in the town have to survive those 30 days of night, without being victimized by the bloodthirsty vampires. A seriously underrated film.

Winter’s Bone
An Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father, while trying to keep her family intact. Jennifer Lawrence’s big break in a small indie film. “Winter’s Bone” will grab your attention and never lets go.

The Ice Harvest
A shady lawyer attempts a Christmas Eve crime, hoping to swindle the local mob out of some money. But his partner, a strip club owner, might have different plans for the cash. It’s John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton that make this movie. It’s a dark comedy with a hint of film noir. Not appreciated enough.

Snowpiercer
Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the plnet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpieercer, a train that travels around the globe where glass system emerges. Lots of social commentary and one of the most surprising and original films I have seen the past 20 years.

The Hateful Eight
Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters. Most of the film is set in this cabin, with strong dialogue and mysterious, interesting, extraordinary characters. Tarantino did a good job.

10s Movie Review - The Handmaiden

Director: Chan-Wook Park
Genre: Drama/ Thriller/ Romance
Runtime: 141 minutes
Year: 2016
Starring: Min-hee Kim, Tae-ri Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jin-woong Jo, Hae-suk Kim, So-ri Moon

Description: A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

Review: It was Quentin Tarantin who ones praised “Old Boy” at the Cannes film festival. He turned out to be a fan of director Chan-Wook Park. And Park’s “The Handmaiden” shows us why, because his style fits Tarantino’s. It’s a Victorian romance through the eyes of Tarantino: stylish cinematography, intelligent writing and a lot of extravagance.
“The Handmaiden” is inspired by the book “Fingersmith” and starts out pretty innocent. Hideko is a rich herein and is locked up at her uncle’s mansion, who wants to eventually marry her. “The Handmaiden” can be compaired, based on its plot. But Park manages to create its own identity.
The film works with an unusual storytelling structure and multiple perspectives. When you think you got it all figured out, there is another twist. No chronological story. And the surprising turning points don’t only manage to shock, but show you a different side of the story.
It’s understandable why Tarantino loves Park’s style, it’s untouchable. “The Handmaiden” is a bit provocative, manages to create its own style within a genre, turning it around. Really well done. Definitely a must-see.

Rating: 4,5 / 5

woensdag 31 januari 2018

Movie Reviews - The Greatest Showman

Director: Michael Gracey
Genre: Drama/ Musical
Runtime: 99 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson

Description: Celebrates the birth of show business, and tells of a visionary (Hugh Jackman) who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

Review: Phineas Taylor Bartum works at an office. When he loses his job because the company goes bankrupt, he and his wife Charity don’t really worry. Because their two daughters and their happiness is all that matters. He eventually becomes the creator of show business and a worldwide sensation.
The film has some amazing showstoppers, but somehow the pop sound doesn’t really fit the 19th century setting. And besides Bartum himself, the characters are all a bit flat.
It now looks like I didn’t like “The Greatest Showman”, which isn’t true. I really did enjoy it, musicals are my guilty pleasure and they often give me a warm feeling. And so did “The Greatest Showman”, because I really loved the music. It just felt like they didn’t belong in this film, at least not the time it was set in.
I love Hugh Jackman, but I do prefer him with claws and a beard. Zac Efron did a good job, Michelle Williams didn’t have that much to do and Rebecca Ferguson was okay.
“The Greatest Showman” is ignored by many people, probably because of the genre. It’s a genre that Hollywood tries to bring new life to, but they only succeed ever so often. I think this is not one of their successes, even though I really liked it. Mixed feelings though.

Rating: 3/ 5

dinsdag 30 januari 2018

Movie Reviews - Downsizing

Director: Alexander Payne
Genre: Drama/ Comedy
Runtime: 135 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Udo Kier, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern

Description: A social satire in which a man (Matt Damon) realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself to five inches tall, allowing him to live in wealth and splendor.

Review: What would you do if you had the option to shrink, which means your money is worth so much more.
In Alexander Payne’s new movie, this is the question at the start of the film. Paul and Audrey are your every day couple, with not a lot to spend. They want more space and nice things, but that’s simply not possible with their payments. Paul sees a Norwegian professor in the news, who managed to shrink people. A great invention, because you would waist less and everything you have is worth more.
A couple of years after the experiment, ‘downsizing’ is a popular procedure. More people choose to be downsized, like friends of Paul and Audrey. They tell them how amazing it is and how it changed their lives in a good way. And especially because their money is worth more. Paul and Audrey are also thinking about downsizing. If they sell everything, they can live as a king and queen. It’s the solution for all their problems.
After the downsizing process in the film, the movie goes downhill. New plots unfold, which makes to story go in so many different directions. Payne loses focus and towards the end the story goes into another direction, which makes it feel endless. “Downsizing” has such an interesting starting point, but this all gets a little lost.
“Downsizing” is a bit of a mess, but there is still a lot to enjoy. De first half is fast paced, filled with humor and has really nice scenes. Matt Damon is really good and most supporting roles are well performed. At the end, you’re left with mixed feelings. I really love Alexander Payne’s work, but “Downsizing” is not one of my favorites.

Rating: 2,5 / 5

maandag 29 januari 2018

10s Movie Review - Gifted

Director: Marc Webb
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 101 minutes
Year: 2017
Starring: Chris Evans, Mckenna Grace, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan

Description: Frank (Chris Evans), a single man raising his child prodigy niece Mary (Mckenna Grace), is drawn into a custody battle with his mother (Lindsay Duncan).

Review: Director Marc Webb makes interesting choices when it comes to picking the films he directs. He started with music videos and eight years ago there was “(500) Days of Summer”. He didn’t stick with the indie romcom genre and moved on to two Spider-Man movies.
“Gifted” is definitely Webb’s most dramatic film so far. It’s pretty straightforward when it comes to storytelling. Single man Frank Adler takes care of his niece Mary. He has to make sure she doesn’t fall into the hands of his mother, who never really cared for the child. What makes it all complicated is that Mary is an outsider and just like her deceased mother is an extraordinary mathematician. Grandmother Evelyn, also a mathematician, wants Mary to explore every inch of her talent. While Frank, together with his caring neighbor Roberta, just wants Mary to be a child and enjoy life the way kids her age do.
We know Chris Evans as Captain America, a bundle of muscles and a true hero. But there is obviously more to him then just that. Evans really shows a great range of emotions in his role as Frank and he hit every nerve in my body. Young Mckenna Grace, who plays Mary, is also one to watch. She steals all our hearts and she is great in combinations with Evans. Octavia Spencer doesn’t really do anything new, but I always love seeing her.
It’s never overly dramatic, which could easily happen with a theme like this. Webb managed to create a good balance. It’s not a masterpiece, but it surely is a very strong movie with top notch performances.

Rating: 4/ 5