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Star Wars (review of the first 3 films)

As the new films were battling their place on my twitter TimeLine, I thought it time to really watch the first three films. As I have never really seen them.
What a funny pleasure it is, to look at these classics that so many scifi movies now have their roots in. It’s like watching your granddad taking his first steps on a bike ūüôā Brilliant in its own right. Quite simple and yet effective. Even though not all of the acting was necessarily the best I’ve ever seen.
Especially the acting between Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher as a coming up couple was actually quite bad. Their romance is hardly convincing. I just don’t buy it, sorry. Princess Leia looks like a far too strong character to be dealt with in that way. This could be just my observation. Although I’ve never seen anyone acting as Han Solo and get away with it. Without a stiff kick up the nuts. He is not a bastard, just quite stupid. In his ways of wooing a girl, that is.
Also, the fact that there’s exactly 2 (two) women in the first few films, which makes the fact that Luke Skywalker immediately knows who his sister is, is not that hard to believe. Wishing that quizzes these days were as hard as that, so it would be a bit more easy to become a millionaire.

But in honesty, it’s a joy to watch.
Of course, it’s Star Wars. So that means you need a battle of some sort, preferably more, otherwise the war isn’t a plural, and for that one needs rules, laws, that are being overcrossed and so on. I’ve seen this in the prequels being handled too. It’s interesting how politics are never in the way of any fun of these films. It’s simply the possible creation of good and bad. I did enjoy that quite.

I also loved how princess Leia’s gowns stay perfectly white, even though she’s stuck in a pile of garbage. I love how Obi Wan Kenobi greatly reminds me of Geoffrey Rush and how Harrison Ford is more and more convinced that Leia is into him.

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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Films, Opinion

 

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The Fall vs The Bridge (review)

As I’ve recently seen both of these series and they both more or less handle the same theme -police investigates murders with a woman being the one calling the shots- I couldn’t help but comparing them.

The Bridge is Danish/Swedish. It starts with a dead woman that’s found on Oresund Bridge. The one that devides Danmark from Sweden.
The body is found exactly in the middle.
Because of this, both a Danish policewoman (Saga Noren, played by Sofia Helin) and a Swedish policeman (Martin Rhode, played by Kim Bodnia) have to cooperate together to puzzle out who did this.

The Fall is made in the UK, but feels very USA. This is probably because everyone knows Gillian Anderson to be American. She does try to adapt a British accent at times, and by mentioning she’s supposedly from London, this should probably explain that, but….it doesn’t convince.
It’s set in Belfast, which makes the accents fly about. I must admit I do love that a lot.

The Bridge shows how Saga Noren, who runs her department (but isn’t the boss), has her own ways of dealing with things. Odd behaviour, one might say, such as changing her shirt when everybody is still there and simply telling someone to do something for her (‘go and ask Mr Blabla where he was in that night’) and no ‘please’, or ¬†‘thank you’, follows. She will ask deeply unsensitive or slightly inappropriate questions without the blink of an eye, saying ‘I really have to know’. You see her thinking process. She is not a sexy woman, she is just someone doing her job. She’s good at it.

The Fall shows how Stella Gibson takes charge from the start. She is very, very careful with what she says (but maybe that’s because of the phoney accent) and she’s hot. Or supposed to be that. Stiletto heels, tight skirts, waving blouse, lipstick, etc. On her first night in Ireland, she asks to be introduced to another police officer she sees. She tells him in what hotel she stays, what room number.
That is the kind of woman who is in charge in The Fall.
When this police officer is shot the next day, his visit to her hotelroom becomes briefly of interest to the police, but only because he is a married man and she should not have done that. She is hated for it, even. Because it’s Ireland and he’s married. A woman doing things like that is ‘not done’.

The Bridge shows how a team works well together. They consult, get information through while Martin and Saga are on the road for all kinds of stuff related to the case. You get the feeling Saga and Martin have changed standard roles (Martin is quite sensitive, where Saga is not at all), which gives it an interesting spin. Martin is very feeling, wants to be everyone’s friend. Saga doesn’t have this. Just to solve the case. Her special behaviour is never named, but you get a Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) vibe anyway.

The Fall shows how a team doesn’t make progress. Maybe it’s just how it’s depicted, but I mostly became frustrating watching this series. Paul Spector is supposed to be a Grief Counselor and you see him at his job, doing basically nothing. You don’t get why people think he’s any good at it. It seems like the only place where he’s truly a Grief Counselor, is in the script.
It’s Stella Gibsons thoughts and the police wanting to handle things ‘neatly’, which means not solving anything, because it could be hurtful to someone in the team.
Also, Ms Gibson is leading the investigation, but obviously doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. She barely does anything herself.

In The Bridge nearly nothing happens without a reason.

In The Fall, there’s a lot of stuff that happens without it being cleared up why that was necessary to show in any way.

In The Bridge the suspects get away, hide, the normal game. It’s believeable.

In The Fall, when an arrest is made, no handcuffs are used, the suspect just comes along like a lamb to the slaughterhouse. It doesn’t make sense in any way.

Both series do have very skilled actors. Sofia Helin is not Sigourney Weaver in Snowcake, but she does give the performance a convincing shot and she is truly amazing doing that. Kim Bodia looks so much like a kicked puppy, you just wanna hold him into your arms half the time. That’s when you don’t wanna slap him because he likes women too much to be believeable as a married man. Dag Malmberg reminds slightly of Bill Nighy, but only in appearances. He is a kind and loving father figure, proper in leading his team.

Gillian Anderson is excellent, just not specifically in this part. I would have expected more depth in a part that she played, to be fair. But the same goes for ¬†Jamie Dornan, who has a lot going for him, but in the end, you still have no clue as to what goes on inside his head. You don’t see any real motive. There’s just the vague talk about it between him and Gibson and the nanny, but no real point.
It’s too bad Niamh McGrady didn’t get more spotlight. As an empathetic police woman, you clearly see her care for her job, the victims and so on. You like her instantly.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Films, 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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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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Gilmore Girls

This series is about a mother & daughter, Lorelai and Rory, who are living in Stars Hollow. The moment where the series start is crucial: on the edge of adulthood for Rory. She is about to start private schools, a big dream of hers as she is so keen on learning that she’s no longer satified with what her local school has to offer. It’s her goal to go to Yale one day.

Lorelai got pregnant with Rory from her high school sweetheart as a teenager. As their parents were trying to force to couple to get married, Lorelai decided to run away and took control of her own life.
Not without success. She is the manager of her own hotel, has a bunch of madly and lovely coworkers and is so able to provide well for herself and Rory.This alone is a lovely example of how a woman alone is perfectly able to live well above welfare level without help from people who are nothing but negative. The city she chose to raise Rory in has been a marvellous substitute family as it soon shows.

Rory is a delightful and smart girl that has been growing up in Stars Hollow for as long as she can remember. She is polite and still cheeky, has the best relationship with her mother ever and still manages to appear more or less ‘normal’. Rory reads so many books and watches tv and bad films with her mother so regularly that the both of them are just a perfect example of how one can fill ones brain with both important stuff while enjoying utter and complete nonsense. A fine balance of living life. It shows how it’s possible to enjoy general knowledge while you entertain your brain with the occasional brainnut too.

Some darkishly clouds appear in that first episode when Lorelai turns out to be unable to pay for the private school she and Rory had set their eyes on.
This problem turns out to be quite a bump in the road. The school wants the money quickly and Lorelai soon finds herself without the resources she thought were good to go on. Five days before the school starts, she’s found absolutely no way to provide the money, while Rory is already deeply exited to go to this school. As Lorelai deeply wishes she has a different choice, she decides to at least try to ask her parents for their financial support. A tricky one.

Her parents are able to help her, but: ‘now we will have a financial relationship, we want something in return. An emotional bond’. Lorelai’s mother wishes to see them every Friday night for dinner. That’s the agreement.

So it starts.

I have seen a lot of series and this one has been, this far, the only one that puts women in a truly strong fundament. Relationships come and go as it happens, and except for the last one (I hated him, truly, I thought he was such a complete dickhead, couldn’t help it) they are just part of the life the two women lead. This series is a true example of feminism. Strong women, build on knowledge, skills, social happenings, what it means to have hard times and still pick up the pieces and go on.

If you’re done watching the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus’ and all those great women who keep taking off their clothes, yell one ‘fuck’ after another ‘I’ll kill you’, I’m sure you’ll will agree with me that Gilmore Girls should be the ones being an example of how to expose yourself and be proud of what you did.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2015 in Humour, Opinion

 

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Ripper, Isabel Allende (review)

Een totaal ander boek dan ik van Allende gewend ben. In het nawoord valt te lezen dat ze het plan had opgevat met haar man samen een detective te schrijven. Dat kwam het huwelijk niet ten goede, waarna ze solo verder ging.
Wie Allendes’ schrijfstijl kent, kan zich daar, waarschijnlijk, geen detective bij voorstellen. Ik in elk geval niet. Ik kan me eindeloos in de burchten die haar verhalen zijn, verliezen. Relaxed meerijden met een figuur wat ze neerzet, waar praktisch geen concrete geografische ¬†informatie voorbij komt.
Dromerig. In zekere zin, tenminste.

Ripper is in dat opzicht totaal anders. Het combineert Allendes’ gave om een verhaal te vertellen met de elementen van een detective.
Een groepje Ripper-spelers (het is een spel op internet, maar van wat de lezer ervan meekrijgt is het niet zozeer een spel, meer een soort online forum) hebben zich verdiept in een serie ongebruikelijke moorden.
De informatie die ze daarbij krijgen toegespeeld is ongekend groot te noemen. Zelf ben ik niet bekend met dergelijke informatievoorzieningen voor mensen die in principe niks met een politie-onderzoek te maken hebben. Geen idee of dit inderdaad normaal is in de VS, maar mocht dat zo zijn: wauw….geen wonder dat de schreeuw om recht op privacy zo groot is dan?!
Als dochter van een politie-agent snap je nog wel dat Amanda Martin wat meer informatie dan gebruikelijk is, ter beschikking zou kunnen hebben, maar ze heeft niet zomaar info. Complete dossiers. Waarvan ik dan zou denken: doen de collega’s daar niet moeilijk over dan? Of haar vader? Overigens krijgt ze de dossiers van haar opa, maar Amanda’s vader weet dondersgoed dat ze toegang heeft tot die dossiers en ook dat ze die deelt met haar medespelers.

Hoewel de karakters zoals gewoonlijk goed zijn uitgewerkt, krijgt het verhaal als zijnde een detective pas echt op het allerlaatste moment een dosis spanning mee. En dan eigenlijk nog niet echt, omdat het vertellende karakter van Allende haar nog steeds in de weg zit.
Of, om het anders te zeggen: een pageturner zoals Dan Brown is het niet. Dat is de stijl van Allende niet. Ze kan dat kennelijk ook niet. Het blijft haar manier van schrijven die je leest, maar ineens met de elementen van een thriller erbij. Die vooral misplaatst voelen. Want het leest niet lekker weg. Als een trui die er goed uitziet, maar teveel kriebelt.

 

A completely different novel than I’m used to from Isabel Allende. In the back of the book, she explains she’d planned to cowrite this with her husband, but they changed their mind after their marriage was starting to feel unsafe because of it. She continued solo.
Who is familiair with Allendes’ writingstyle, possibly has trouble thinking of a detective to go with that. Well, at least not me. I can loose myself completely in the castles that are her stories. Endlessly drifting away with the characters she puts on display, where hardly any geographical details are given.
Dreamy. In a way, at least.

Ripper is different in that way. It combines Allendes’ gift to tell a story with the elements of a detective. A group of Ripper-players (a game on the internet, but as far as the reader can tell, it’s basically not really a game, it’s a sort of forum) has gathered to solve the mysteries of a series of unusual murders.
Their sources are -I hope- quite unusual. If you’re not involved with a criminal case directly or indirectly. I don’t know if this is how things work in the USA but if it is, I no longer wonder why the rights of privacy are so faught for!?
Being a daughter of a policeman you kind of understand how Amanda Martin can be close(r) to the source, but still: she doesn’t just have ‘a bit of info’. She has access to the complete case file?! Handed to her by her grandfather, but her father (who is the actual officer of the family) knows Amanda has it and also knows she shares it with her peers. I kept wondering if none of the police colleagues were wondering where the files went?¬†

Though the characters are worked out well, the way the story develops is quite slow. There’s no real tention until the very end. And still it has trouble to take off by then, as Allendes’ writingstyle is simply not like that. Or, to put it differently: it’s not a pageturner the way Dan Brown writes it. Allende is a completely different author of course, and she apparently lacks the ability to make it a real thriller. So it’s her writing style with some elements of a detective. It feels odd to read. The thrilling part never becomes part of your brain. It’s like wearing a sweater you like the look of, that itches like mad.
All in all not a bad book at all, but not as thrillling as you might hope for.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2015 in Books, Opinion

 

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Grace & Frankie

This show on Netflix is concentrated on two women being ditched well into their sixties/seventies, only to discover their husbands have left them for…..each other!

Though this isn’t your ideal scenario, it’s good for a few laughs as one might be able to think. Too bad it’s Hollywood that drags its pride in this series. Although I’ve read that Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin more or less came up with the concept of this series, it doesn’t sail very smoothly somehow.

The eloping husbands, played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston aren’t gay in real life. This shouldn’t matter to actors, but it does. That may sound stupid, but all you ever see them do, is kiss. With hardly any passion. They do it because the script says so. They don’t look like a cheerful couple. Martin Sheen is somehow convincing, but Sam Waterston is truly dreadful. Whiny.
As bad as the combination of the two women ‘surviving’ divorcement is, namely Grace and Frankie, the same goes for the men.
Grace, portrayed rather well by Jane Fonda, has been the CEO of her own beauty company. Look at her and you just know she’s been successful. No harsh word about that. Look at Frankie, look again and get confused. She is so new age and into all kind of spiritual worlds, you’re almost instantly worried she will float off somewhere to be never seen again.
These two women have had men that were similar to them. In Grace’s case Robert, a successful attorney, who now has run off with Sol, Frankie’s husband.

The children of both couples give better performances of coming of as believeable. You immediately fall in love with the bitchy eldest of Grace and Robert, Brianna, just as you do with the adopted kids of Frankie and Sol.

This series could go on and on but I don’t think it will last that long if the two gentlemen don’t start showing some love to one another, and in a different way than they do now.
I remember in ‘Brothers & Sisters’ there was a gay couple that was filmed here and there trying to make out when they thought they were alone. I can imagine it’s quite much for two elderly men who aren’t gay at all to show that kind of affection on screen, but in this way (saying ‘I’m a homosexual!’ is not how anyone would say that more than once?!) it very much lacks convincement.

It’s also remarkable how both Lily Tomlin and Sam Waterston constantly seem to be struggling to get the words out of their mouths. Like they have been drinking too much. I know that isn’t the case, but somehow none of their lines come out ‘unrehearsed’.

I know this sounds like a bad serie to watch, but honestly it has very funny moments. Most of those are when Grace, her daughters or the adoptive children of Frankie and Sol make their appearances.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Opinion, series

 

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