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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Romantics Anonymous (Review)

Lovely endearing film of Jean-Pierre Améris. This film is a very lighthearted, funny, and quite frankly simply a joy to watch.

Two people who are basically emotionally retarded, happen to cross each others paths.
Angélique Delange has to tell herself about fifty times she can do something before she does it. She hums it, repeats it, like a magical formula, to make sure her inner self knows. Jean-René van den Hughe is her boss, who works at a chocolate factory that’s nearly broke. Still, they need someone to help to sell the chocolate they make.Jean-René has a taperecorder in one of his drawers that tells him he’s a man, a vulcano, that he is strong and can deal with all of the world. He can’t pick up a phone if he doesn’t know who’s phoning him (no mobiles in this film, so oops!). Fantastic.

Reminds of Amélie, but that’s probably also because the actress who plays her mother (Lorella Cravotta) plays in this film aswell. She is Magda here, one of the women who works in the chocolate factory. Where Amélie tells about a girl who doesn’t know how to make proper contact with a man, that element is visible here too, though in different measures. This film also reminds of Amélie because of the ridiculic situations that hop along the merry melody of the main characters. You’d think there’s no way of making some of the stuff up. And yet, there it is.
It also reminds of The Sound Of Music, since the song that Maria sings to herself before entering the Von Trapps’ premises, is sang here too. In French, but still. Even the scene of Maria swinging her suit- and guitarcase around is being repeated here.
The only con I have here, is that although this film reminds of these two films, the soundtrack simply isn’t as strong. You more or less expect the music to touch your very soul. That doesn’t happen.

So, we have two pretty big idiots, Angélique and Jean-René. Now what? Well, Angélique attends meetings of Les émotifs anonymous (hence the title of the film), while Jean-René goes to a psychologist. Who gives him assignments.
As Jean-René has never been with a woman -they scare the crap out of him- he is told to ask a woman out.
At the same time, Angélique, who has been hired within 5 minutes, discovers that she has not, in fact, been given the job of chocolatier, as she wished, but of commercial seller. Angélique dreads contact with people. She faints as soon as she gets too much attention. Not the best quality for a seller.
So, she decides to quit. At the same moment where Jean-René is trying his best to invite someone to have dinner with. As neither of them can read any kind of bodylanguage, it ends up with the two of them having dinner, of course.

The night of the dinner, Angélique enters the restaurant first, with hiccups. Realising that she has no idea what her boss is called. Which is unlucky, as the waiter just asked you who made the reservation at the restaurant?
Whilst she sits down, Jean-René enters the restaurant, fleas off to the restrooms and puts a suitcase on top of the cistern. You go ‘wtf?!’ but after that, he simply walks to the mirror, tells himself some powertalk, then joins his coworker. This is only the weird start of that date.
It doesn’t end well that night. And still, she comes in to work the next day, after Jean-René has told his coworkers she won’t be returning.

I could give you so many examples as to why this film is fantastic. It simply is. Who goes to the loo to change into a new shirt every 5 seconds? Who pretends to be a less successful person, just to be able to be a shyer version of yourself, so you can live in peace? Who tells a man she has plans to marry him, has a dozen of his babies, but just enough to keep the sexlife interesting, after only one kiss?

It is such a joy to watch a film with two quirky beings having no proper example of how things should be, so things are complicated, but not in the emotional way. They don’t get hurt, just heavily confused. A joy to watch.

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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in Films, Opinion

 

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Michael Caine and the Oscars

When a person is trending on twitter, it’s usually because they’re either dead or made a remark so controversial that half the twitter globe is tripping over it.
So when Michael Caine was trending -one of my favorite actors- I got scared. Especially as David Bowie, Alan Rickman and others have proved that 2016 is a shit year to begin with.

But no.

Michael Caine is very much alive, has just starred in a new movie and, as a result of that, gave an interview where he was asked his opinion on several subjects.
One of them being the Oscars and the boycot that popped up this year.
To be fair: I am very bad at picking sides when it comes to such sensitive subjects.
Then again, I’ve seen Whoopi Goldberg once, winning an Oscar (or Golden Globe, either way it was a prestigious price) and to me it was weirdly obvious she was gonna win that. Not just because I watched the particular video on Youtube and the video was simply titled ‘Whoopi Goldberg winning an Oscar’. I mean, that could have been the most important clue, I’ll give you that, but aside that: she was the only black woman being nominated at that moment, and Denzel Washington was supposed to hand it out.
Somehow that struck me.
No, there is nothing wrong with Denzel Washington. I loved him in ‘Remember the Titans’, and ‘The Pelican Brief’, and I was in awe with his performances in ‘The Bone Collector’ and ‘Fallen’.

But.

I do wonder if him and Whoopi didn’t mind -or did they applaude?- that they were, in a way, kept aside from the rest? It did look like that to me, but I could be wrong, ofcourse. It could be it was thought of as the right thing to do, in fact.
I think it shouldn’t matter who hands out the Oscar and to whom, so why should I even point it out, right? Well, because I did happen to notice and it makes me wonder if it was a coincidence or not?

The comments ‘perhaps they just weren’t good enough’ struck me as wrong too, because there are so many films being made, I do think the Academy Awards commission should force themselves to spread more variety in their little price circus. Of course, actors/actresses have to perform extraordinary, but I think lots of performances are overlooked aswell, where others are praised so easily. Almost too easily. I get that certain actors and actresses simply really take an effort to prepare for a role or are simply good at the job they’re doing and should be properly rewarded for that, but still. There’s so many others. Lots of them are fantastic at what they do. All of them.

I know films like The Maid and 12 Years A Slave or Precious weren’t made this year. Still, I think there’s more than moves with heavy drama that should be considered.

I also understand people think: ‘well hellloooo, I had to wait like 30-40 years to finally have a bloody Oscar, it shouldn’t be made so easy now?!’
Of course, this should not be the goal. A price that precious should be earned through hard work, just like always. I do think, however, that somehow the variety could be made more obvious. I mean I can understand the boycot that some choose. With so many films being made, it’s hard to believe none of the films that have been produced this year, no broader variety in nominations appeared. Especially after the controversy in the new Star Wars film. Not that those films have been known for their flawless acting (I saw the original series the other day, WTF, Luke & Leia, you call THAT convincing acting??;), but still.

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2016 in Films, Opinion

 

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Hjordis (review)

Hjordis is another stunningly lovely show on Netflix. I doubt it’s visible in the USA, though I could be wrong about this.
I wrote about Rita earlier, and Hjordis looks like a spinoff of that. A few of the same actors (Lise Baastrup, Ellen Hillingso) and also within the same school.
But either the series is no longer complete, or this spinoff was solely made to bring up the theme of bullying.
You see, the school Hjordis works at, is having a ‘anti-bullying week’ at school. Helle, the headmistress, asks Hjordis to come up with ideas to do something with this theme. It is decided that Hjordis will gather some of the students in school to perform a play. Given that the possibility exists that they get to play for the royal family -who will be visiting the school- everyone is really excited.
Then it appears that Helle, the headmistress, has gotten cold feet. She decides the students of her own school are not nearly good enough to perform for such important people as the royal family. So Helle phones a schooll for gifted children, who can sing, dance and generall perform really well.
The children that Hjordis had gathered are being put aside by these priviliged kids, who are a bit too aware they are awesome and so on.
Hjordis reports the problems of both groups to Helle, but gets no real answer. Helle wants the children to cooperate and mostly, the priviliged kids to do the performances.

When the royal family finally cancels their plans to come and visit, the plans change. This is where it becomes even more interesting. Don’t forget this serie is Danish, where the acceptance of different individuals is, apparently, far more accepted. There’s the girl who is deaf and gets romantically involved, there’s the boy who really wants to dress up as a princess. This brings more problems than you could imagine. Not just for Hjordis, who has to adjust to the idea in about 5 seconds, but also to other teachers, parents and so on.

Meanwhile, the show is brought light and airy. No heavy debates.

It’s a joy to watch. And an eyeopener for those who are so used to classic soaps 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Daily life, Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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Mamma Mia (review)

With Meryl Streep, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan and several others.

This film hasn’t got much to do with acting. It is a joy to watch for who likes ABBA.
It’s about a girl getting married (Amanda Seyfried), not knowing who her father is and having invited all of the possibilities for that after finding her mother’s diary.
They all come over and have one big, gigantic drunken party, the hen night. On a Greek island. With ABBA music. Not bad. But for who wasn’t invited to the party or not into ABBA music, it’s not for you.
Unless you must really like the sight of Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skargard in high heels. Because yes, that happens aswell. Also, Meryl Streep in overalls. Seriously, lovely stereotype of a woman alone raising her own child?! Apparently women who do that never look feminine?
Whereas Stellan Skarsgard simply looks hot in his tights with high heels. How the bloody devil does he do that?! Colin Firth looks less ridiculous than he’d probably wish, too, Pierce Brosnan does a better job…

The unfortunate thing about films like these is that the music gets a bit fucked up. Still, they clearly had a lot of fun while filming, and it’s good to see it’s not just the show of skin that they’re trying to sell. Amanda Seyfried could have worn a bikini at the beach, but they went for a bathing suit and this fits the circumstances far better, to be fair. She seems dressed without actually being dressed.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Films, Humour, Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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Snowcake (review)

Alex Hughes (greatly portrayed by the now late Alan Rickman) has the ‘fortune’ of running into a girl named Vivian at a highway restaurant. At first it seems like a coincedence she joins his table, but soon it appears this isn’t so. She is a hitchhiker who needs a ride back to her mother, and Alex Hughes seems like the best option, in her opinion.
Alex isn’t too charmed about this. He tells her immediately he just got out of prison for killing someone. Just to make clear to her that even though he seemed the best option for hitchhiking at first, not everybody is.
Vivian feels sort of uncomfortable immediately, but her spontaneous nature lets her to believe he is OK-people, so to say.

Then the accident happens. The afterlife of the accident covers all, or at least most of this film.

This film has a funny storyline which you wouldn’t find that quickly amongst ‘normal’ functioning people. Highly spontaneous people who don’t believe in bad people perhaps, but that’s about it.
ALan Rickman has the right face to look confused for the many weird interactions he has with Linda (marvellously played by Sigourney Weaver). The two of them are a perfect duet of sanity & insanity, but within the context of the psychological borders that come with those.

While Alex tries to get a grip on the life he was about to pursue when he was released from prison, Linda has to cope with the loss all of her loved ones show for the loss of her daughter. Because of her autism, she is dealing with this in a far different way than anybody else.
Sigourney Weaver has made a proper study of this condition and therefor portrays this really well. In our family, we have someone with this condition and it was very recognisable.
The film is, dramatic as it is, a joy to watch because of the ridicule Linda puts in, with sidekicks Alan Rickman and Carrie-Ann Moss for the usual human interactions people deal with at such a time.
Basically, it’s a small town losing its favourite daughter.
Lovely. Go see!

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2016 in Films, Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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(w)age gaps in relationships

With the engagement announcement of Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall, I see jaws dropping on the internet.
Mine too.
But in my case, it’s apparently, a bit different.
First of all: two people being in love are usually the happiest of all people, and as happy people look adorable, I guarantee that there are far worse things to look at. People who hate everything in the world, for instance.
Anyways, that said: if two people you know (I’m taking that in the widest sense of the word) are getting together, you do have this reflex. The reflex that goes: awww gee, they’re PERFECT/not suited for each other.
Hopefully, the first thing will pop to mind. Not always.
When there’s a considerable age difference, people can be a bit judgemental. Mostly people will go ‘oh, she’s just doing that for the money’, usually forgetting that not only does a woman have to defend herself, it also might not be true.
But back to the defending: how is it that Kieran Hayler -who still no one has ever heard of, which might be not THAT bad I’ll admit- Katie Prices’ husband, doesn’t have to defend his choice to marry high above his pay raid. So what’s that all about then? If it’s a man, it’s suddenly less of a disgrace?

That’s sexist.

Then there’s an announcement such as the mentioned about. Murdoch and Hall. Where you actually had hoped that Hall had better taste in morals than the ones that Mr Murdoch has displayed himself with.
To be part of his life also means people will now associate her with all of his vile business. This man is nowhere near clean. He hasn’t publicly apologised for any of this business either, so her being involved with him doesn’t show like she’s disapproving with any of his works.
That does trouble me.

Not too long though. I doubt I’m invited for the wedding.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Opinion

 

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Ally McBeal

De serie was in de jaren negentig zwaar populair. Calista Flockhart die de titelrol vertolkte, kreeg weliswaar wisselende kritieken op haar figuur (wanneer krijgt een vrouw dat niet, overigens? Het is nooit goed: of ze is te dik en te lelijk, of ze is te dun en moest zich schamen. Het is toch nooit goed) maar op zichzelf was de serie een prettige verademing, verhalend over een advocatenkantoor vol idioten.
Want ja, daar kwam het op neer.
Het begon ermee hoe Ally daar op dat kantoor terechtkwam, allicht. Ook al door een rechtszaak en de toevallige ontmoeting op straat met Fisher, die ze nog van college kende. Die bood haar een plekje aan op zijn eigen kantoor. Een aanbod dat ze eerst afsloeg (‘het gaat jouw alleen maar om GELD!”) maar na een juridische aanvaring met een collega die z’n handen niet thuis kon houden, nam ze het dan toch aan. Probleempje: haar ex werkt er ook. Haar inmiddels getrouwde ex. Zijn vrouw ook. En is ze over hem heen? JA HOOR! (niet dus)

De serie moest het aanvankelijk van Ally’s neuroses hebben, gaandeweg werd de clientele steeds debieler en idioter. Rechters met een fetish voor schone tanden, een rechter die een affaire bleek te hebben met een van de kantoorgenoten en zo nog een paar.

Hoewel het een vergaapcircus aan rariteiten was, verloor de serie daarmee op een goed moment ook z’n daadkracht. Het rare werd gewoon. Dus steeds weer nieuwe mensen aantrekken met rare trekjes. De serie begon daarnaast aanvankelijk met een soort gefotoshopte ‘The Mask’karikaturen . Een paar vrouwen die een man verlekkerd nakijken, kregen tongen van een meter die uit openstaande bekken rolden. Op een gegeven moment was daar niets meer van terug te vinden. Heel jammer, want ik denk dat een deel van die zwaar overdreven uitingen nu net hetgene was waar men voor bleef hangen. Het stond ver van de realiteit, dus grappig.

In plaats daarvan maakte de serie de fout door Billy, Ally’s ex dus, niet alleen te laten scheiden, maar daarnaast ook nog een heel seizoen lang te laten doodgaan aan een vervelende kanker.
Toen dat seizoen voorbij was, begon de serie bovendien stiekem opnieuw. Deze keer was het Ally die op straat tegen iemand aan botste. Een jonge, vrouwelijke advocate, die met een gebroken hart om werk verlegen zat. Ondertussen bleek de ex van deze jongedame ook bij Ally op kantoor rond te lopen en werd Ally zelf ineens de psychisch begeleidende kracht voor dit stel.

Waardeloos.

De eerste drie seizoenen zijn, hoewel inhoudelijk niet meer de sterkste -Boston Legal kwam daarna en vele malen idioter, beter en diepgaander- nog best te doen.

 

This series was incredibly popular in the nineties. Calista Flockhart, playing the titlerole was given mixed reviews (when doesn’t a woman get those? Either she’s too thin so it’s unhealthy, or she’s too fat, or not pleasing to the eye in a different way; no way to escape, really!) but in itself the series was exciting, new, about a lawyers’ office filled with idiots.
Because yes, that was pretty much what it was all about.
It all started with the way Ally became part of that office, of course. Walking down the streets, she runs into FIsher, an old college mate, who offers her a job at his new office. Ally rejects the offer, as she knows that all he cares about is money. She wants to help people. Then, she got into legal trouble at the office she actually worked at. A bastard who can’t keep his hands to himself. She doesn’t have a case in the end, so she quits and goes to the office of Fisher. To discover that the ex she left years ago is working there. With his wife. Is she over him? YES, SURE! (SOOOO not!)

This series was, in the beginning, thriving on Ally’s neuroses. After that, her colleagues and their clients just became weirder and weirder, including judges with weird fetishes, such as clean teeth and one that actually slept with one of the office members.

Although it was a weird and wild circus in this show, it did loose its edge after a while because of that. Weird became normal. That’s why you tuned in, no? It no longer surprised, in a way. So they kept carrying in new people with weird quirky things to pep it up. Whilst the series began with The Mask-like photoshopped items (women turning their head, jaws on the floor, a tongue of 3 miles falling out), after a while, this was no longer being used. I do think this is what the show lacked in continuity. That was, in the beginning, what made people tune in, I think. So when that was taken out, it lost its appeal.

Next to that, the show made the mistake to allow Billy to die for a whole season of a dreadful cancer. I didn’t even want to see that season as it was so far gone already. The season after that, the show basically committed suicide by secretly starting over: Ally bumped into a young attorney in the streets. A young woman who was going through a tough break with her boyfriend. Ally hired her for the office, just at the same time one of her associates had hired….the ex of this woman. BOOM! Same situation, different -less known- actors. From there, the series really had nothing to go to. Jon Bon Jovi was probably hired to make up for some of it, but in the end, the show was actually only good for the first three seasons. After that, they should have stopped.

You better watch Boston Legal for fun, idiotic humour and even some deep thoughts on how the law works. Actual matters. 

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2016 in Opinion

 

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