Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review One Night at McCool's (2001): The one film where Michael Douglas is wearing an ugly wig.

genre: comedy

One Night at McCool's is one of those comedies where you have to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the premise otherwise it won't be funny at all. It's a black comedy and in this case it means that you will either love or dislike it. I am kinda in the middle of that. Since I have some mixed feelings.

The premise is that Liv Tyler plays a woman who manages to manipulate every man in sight that she wants something from. And I would have been able to accept it if only that Liv fails being convincing as the femme fatale. The problem is not that she is not sexy or anything. She obviously is. But that is all there is to her. She has no depth or personality. Most of the time she was downright villainous and it was hard to have any sympathy for her. What makes these femme fatales so fatal is that despite their badness they still have the audience's sympathy because there is more to them than meets the eye. A good example of a femme fatale is Kathleen Turner in Body Heat or Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. But Liv Tyler does not come even close to the characters in those movies. She wished. Now this is something you can overlook if you find her super attractive. However that is very subjective of course. What is left it is the way the story is told. We follow a few characters each with their own viewpoint and perspective on their dealings with Liv's character. I must admit these different perspectives made it quite funny. For a while at least. However most of how the story plays out is just absurd and not really funny. And I think it has to do with the people not acting like real people but more like cartoon characters. Every bit of mature theme that is paid attention to then is made a joke of and hard to take it seriously. Strangely enough if this was handled better it would have been more witty. The cast do a decent job and I think it is because of their efforts that makes it worth you while. 

Still it's hard to recommend this one since a lot of in this movie is hit and miss. Even if you managed to get into this the film never manages to give you a decent conclusion. Which makes it feel like you have wasted your time a little. Then again it does depend who you are rooting for. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

2 Feel Good movies of 2014: Chef and Ping Pong Summer

Today I will be reviewing two movies that are not really trying to tell a story but want to convey a certain love and passion for the subject it is presenting. In Chef it's the love of good food and in Ping Pong Summer it is the love and nostalgia for the Eighties.

So first I will be discussing Chef.

Review Chef (2014)

genre: comedy, feel good, drama

Chef is a small tale about a chef played by Jon Favreau who is very passionate about his job and food who does not get to show anymore what he is about by the restaurant owner he is working for (Dustin Hoffman). He gets pushed over the edge by a food critic (Oliver Platt) and then decides to follow the advice of his ex-wife played by Sofia Vergara to start up a food truck where he will get the chance to do what he loves the most and at the same time gets the chance to bond with his son. This basically is all that is going which might seem very uneventful for some but if you are passionate about cooking and food as I am then you will simply love this film. But if you don't share that passion. If you are someone who puts ketchup on his food without even having tasted it then this film will get lost on you. For some cooking and food is more than just consumption. In many cultures it's what brings people together. Chef does explore other themes but it shows exactly what I just have been telling how food can connect people. However you can take it more broadly and see it as an allegory to passion in general. Anybody who is passionate about something and does not get the chance to do what he or she loves to do the most will be able to relate to what our main character is going through. There is one scene where Jon's character gets real angry and very rightfully so speaks out his mind of all the work he and his staff has put in. It is very easy for an outsider to critique and put down someone or someone's work. Some people really put a lot of themselves into their work and then it does hurt if some random person would dismiss it like it does not mean anything. In the end it does succeed in making you feel good at the end. Cliché and predictable? When it comes to feel good movies that is never a bad thing. 

Now the next movie in this article.

Review Ping Pong Summer (2014)

genre: comedy drama

Ping Pong Summer is a very small movie with not that much of a story. It basically is about a boy going on vacation and his little experiences during this. In the trailer it is made look like this is a Karate Kid like film only using Ping Pong instead. While it is an important part of the film it's not a film where we get to see the boy endure some harsh and comedic training. Would have been nice though to be honest but seeing how this movie does deliver on other things it is something that can be overlooked. The film does one thing very well. Which is represent the Eighties and make people who have fond memories from that decade feel nostalgic about it. Then it doesn't really matter that the acting by some isn't that good or that there is not much going on. Naturally people who don't understand the Eighties or why this era is so loved won't get this movie. For people who do, this film will be very enjoyable and fun. There is not much I can say about this unless the fact that Susan Sarandon looks damn good for her age and is still very sexy. For Eighties lovers a must watch. And it does make you feel good at the end if you don't expect too much from the plot. 

In short: 
Chef maybe a predictable movie but it never feels like a waste of time and does reward you at the end. Ping Pong Summer is one movie that is all about nostalgia and ambiance and therefore not for everyone. But it is a very charming little movie that deserves to be watched at least once.

FCC Net Neutrality Approved

A day later and the outcome wasn't as hoped, in fact it was infuriating. However there is still a little hope.The proposal from the FCC concerning Net Neutrality will be with public comment. Which I believe is giving the public a voice to influence the proposal slightly. So the fight is not over yet. Even if there wasn't a public comment, there is always a way to overturn a rule or law. I only have to look back at France. They are famous for getting into action and overturning laws that are already in effect. We all can do this. But it takes us all to do it. Talk to others about this. Tell them what is at stake and then ask them to tell others as well.

Doing nothing is always failing. Trying or attempting is at least doing something. FIGHT THE POWER! SAVE THE INTERNET!

New Tool for action.

Also see Save the Internet.

UPDATE 27-02-2015:

Net Neutrality rules passed FCC

FCC Net Neutrality Approved

Net Neutrality approved

We won people, we won. We saved the Internet.

I think a lot of people aren't even aware what was at stake. We came close  to losing the internet. That would have been a disaster. However I do want to ask of people to try harder to get informed if they aren't. Because we should be vigilant as the opposers won't stop trying to limit us in our freedom. Make better use of the internet. It's a very powerful tool and medium that indirectly can shut down nations and governments. Why do you think the powers that be want to control the internet? Because they fear what people can do with it. The internet was always meant to be free. And it is so much more than just another way to communicate with people. Please give this some thought and make better use of it. And try to do what you can about maintaining the internet free and available to people. You may ask how to do that? Well, simple. Express your opinions on these matters wherever you can on the internet. Even when you think no one will care or be reading it, there is always that one person who will read and feel inspired to spread the word as well. Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time to create awareness but it will happen if you keep at it, keep talking about issues and topics that matter. In a time where the gap between government and citizens is getting bigger and bigger the internet can voice our opinion and close that distance or at least compensate for it. Also through the internet it is much easier to find like minded people that can strengthen your resolve as it shows you are not alone. Next to have a medium where you can express yourself, the internet is a huge and wonderful source of information. It can educate you on many matters. It can increase your knowledge. The more your you know the easier you will be able to understand people and where they are coming from. Eventually that will help the world make a smaller and hopefully more peaceful place.

But beware, like I said the internet is a powerful medium and there are many people who want to oppose it. They want to control the internet and censor whenever they feel like it. This is a direct violation on our freedom. I can't stress enough how disastrous that would be. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review Tracers (2015): Lautner can move but still has the personality of a rock

genre: action

Tracers is a prime example of how not do an action movie. First of all an action movie should be about the action and nothing else. I am not watching one for the story or the drama or whatever. It's nice to have it included next to the action or if it complements it. But other then that don't even try. Especially if you don't have solid actors present then for god sakes don't let anyone act. Let's face it, Taylor Lautner has no personality whatsoever. Sure he his physical abilities are admirable and he might be good looking but what else does he has to offer? There are many scenes where they attempt in making Lautner's character interesting (can't even remember his name and can't be bothered to look it up). I say attempt. Because they could make him a serial killer, eating his victims one screen and still you would manage to fall asleep. Which leaves us with a very few action scenes that never ever get really exciting. Tracers is proof that despite what people think that action is not so easy to do. People like Sylvester Stallone and all those Eighties and Nineties action stars were skilled in bringing out the best themselves in service of the action. The plots never really mattered but they were exciting and fun as hell. Tracers is not fun. It's tedious and boring. My main draw was the Parkour. But you are better of watching Banlieue 13 and Yamakasi. Those films show how to properly how to implement parkour and make it exciting. Tracers does the exact opposite. Don't waste your time with this.

In short:
Tedious and boring, don't waste your time with this.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Review Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), don't listen to the naysayers, this one is epic and beautiful

genre: drama, action, adventure, religion

After having seen Noah and being heavilyly disappointed by it I was a little skeptical of watching this one. Two persons persuaded me to give it a chance anyway. Ridley Scott because he never let me down before and Miss Chofas. She is very critical of biblical tales but she liked it very much and said it was a must watch. And I am so glad I did because this film was beautiful. I honestly don't understand why some people are so critical and hateful towards this. But then again I am not a Christian and not well versed when it comes to the Bible although I know enough to see that Ridley Scott was very respectful in handling the story. And of course noticed the changes he made. But from how Exodus was set up and told it made sense. From the start I was grabbed by the events and the characters.  Visually everything was stunning and beautiful. But most of all I was moved. Something I did not expect to be at all. For me most events came across as thrilling and epic. I read reviews that some found Exodus to be lacking depth and underwhelming. Thing is that if you are willing to scratch underneath the surface the complexities are there only they aren't thrown into your face in an attempt to make the story as believable and realistic as possible. Normally I don't care about realism that much as long as the story is told competently. And here it exceeds that. Let me ask you? Is it really that important to see in full detail why Moses has trouble believing? You can clearly see he does and therefore his faith in the end is so much more dramatic. Learning more about him would not add to the viewing experience. As expected the majority of Christian people have problems with Ridley Scott's view because he deviates from the original story. Seeing how the outcome and the core of the story is still the same I am kind of astonished that people get so hungover on some of the details. If it was aggravating or disrespectful then I would have understood. But in this case that never happens. So take it from me. This film is much better and more impressive than some people are saying. It's not Ridley Scott's worst. Nor does it lack soul or passion. Any one who claims this clearly not has seen this movie. In my humble opinion this is a must watch for sure. And it only makes me look forward to Ridley Scott's future projects.

Review Wyrmwood (2015): One of those zombie movies that truly is creative!

genre: action, horror

The cover says Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead and they were not kidding. That is exactly what it felt like and I enjoyed it thoroughly. At first glance this might be like your typical low budget zombie flick that replaces good effects and storyline with cheesiness but very surprisingly that stays to a tolerable level. Most of the events is told in serious manner with here and there the required comic relief. But death of a character in this film does get to you because for once you don't want them to die. Well, the good guys at least. Because the cast are convincing as the unwanted heroes finding themselves in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. What I did not expect at all was how director Kiah Roache-Turner managed to add some originality to this zombie tale and shows how creative you still can be even when there might be a zombie fatigue going on and people seem to be running out of ideas to incorporate some freshness.  I absolutely loved this film and can't wait to see the sequel if they are going to make one that is or other work from this super creative director. A must watch if you are a horror fan.

Review Enough Said (2013): Don't ever listen to someone's ex.

genre: comedy, drama, romance

Enough Said is a charming little comedy starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Julia plays a character named Eva who is a divorced and single parent working as a masseuse. She meets Gandolfini's character called Albert and is taken away by him. They hit it off quite well until she starts listening to one of her clients who happens to be Albert's ex. Here is where she suddenly starts to having doubts. I am not going to say more otherwise that would be spoiling but the film does raise an interesting question on relationships and marriage. Should you let you cloud your judgment by an ex of your partner? To me this answer is real simple. No, never. Even if characteristics and personalities don't change much does not mean people always interact the same with others. Some people are more compatible with you and some simply aren't. Also our main character Eva, believes everything she tells her about Albert while she clearly is exaggerating and focusing on stuff that should not even matter in the first place. Of course sometimes it could help to get a little insight on someone if you don't know him well. But how much of what other people say should you accept as helpful? Just because Albert was this way with his ex does not mean he would be like that with Eva. In my opinion you should always rely on your own insight and knowledge of someone and go with your gut feeling. If it feels good then why should you spoil your happiness just because you happen to know some bad character trades or other things that may sound off putting. Enough Said explores enough of the pros and cons and is quite funny at times. Although most of the humour is mature and subtle so don't expect any slapstick or crude jokes. The acting is top notch and the story felt believable and realistic. For me it was great to see the late Gandolfini do another kind of role than his Tony Soprano. The big giant shows a vulnerability, sincerity and kindness that makes him instantly likable.  If it had been another actress then the characters behaviour would not have been accepted as much. Julia manages to portray a very flawed person but at the same time still remains charming. Enough Said is one I can recommend.