T2 Trainspotting * Danny Boyle (2017)

20 Years after the original film, the director rattled up the original crew to make a ’20 years after’. Everybody indeed is 20 years older and the story also plays 20 years after the first film. Not much script is wasted as to what happened to the characters in these 20 years though.

Renton moved to Amsterdam with the money he stole from his buddies at the end of the first film. Begbie spent all these years in jail and Spud and Sick Boy just stayed where they always lived. Then Renton returns to Edinburgh. His old buddies are, of course, not happy with him leaving with their money. The betrayal has not worn. Especially’s Begbie’s hatred has only grown with 20 years in jail and he was not an easy person to begin with.

This is used as an umbrella for a film that sometimes reminds of the first film (especially in the beginning), but there is more drama than I remember of 20 years ago. There is some of the gory humor again, but much less drug infused crazyness.

The acting is good, the story less so (a couple of odd mistakes), but overall “T2” is highly entertaining, especially for people who know the first film, since there are many references, flashbacks and inside jokes that will remain unclear to people whose first Trainspotting this is.

No need to see it on the big screen though, but when you like the first film, “T2” will probably not disappoint you.

Midnight Special * Jeff Nichols (2016)

It was about time that I saw a good, weird film again. There have been way too few of these recently.

“Midnight Special” is a film that you should not know too much about before you see it. It has a wonderfully unfolding story that is obviously written to put the viewer on the wrong track. This works quite well. Each time the story gets a weirder layer. The pompous fantasy ‘conclusion’ is a bit too much for my liking, but the film is very well done. The few characters in it do not so much develop, but unfold (together with the story).

The film does not get as weird as films can get, but I guess you have to appreciate strange films to enjoy this one. It has this somewhat melancholic atmosphere that other films of Jeff Nichols have, but there is action, drama, thriller and fantasy and all that pretty well done.

Dracula Untold * Gary Shore (2014)

I did not have too high expectations about this film, but even then this film is a weak one.

The story is loosely based on the Dracula story. Vlad was taken by the Turks as a boy to fight for them. He became the most fierce warrior known as the impaler. He escaped the Turkish army and his warrior ethos and became a prince in Transylvania where he got married and had a son. When the son of the Turkish sultan, the son who Vlad used to fight with, raises in power and picks up the plan to fulfill his fathers dream for a woldwide Turkish nation, the two are confronted with each other. In a way to gain the power to fight his former brother, Vlad becomes a vampire.

Of course we then get a bloody spectacle with many special effects and boring drama.

Hannibal (series, season 1) * Bryan Fuller (2013)

And again we have a highly acclaimed series (8.6 on IMDb) of which the first season did not convince me enough to want to watch the second, but people keep saying it gets better. Why would the creator of a series make an unconvincing first season only to improve afterwards? Just as with “Breaking Bad“, “Vikings“, “Dexter” or “Lost” the first season of “Hannibal” may not be bad or boring, but not interesting enough to interest me to continue with season two. Of the earlier mentioned series I sometimes did watch another season later on, but still did not like the series. The only exception to the ‘rule’ is “American Horror Story“. The first season was only so-so, but the second and third are great. The next series to watch will be season four. Continue reading Hannibal (series, season 1) * Bryan Fuller (2013)

Broken Circle Breakdown * Felix van Groeningen (2012)

In spite of the English title, this Flemish film is spoken in Dutch. “Broken Circle Breakdown” is a pretty heavy drama. The America-lover bluegrass musician Didier and the tattoo artist Elise fall in love. For a couple of years their relation is easy, but when Elise gets pregnant things change. After the birth of their daughter things did not change for the worse, but when the daughter is diagnosed cancer, it does.

The film jumps back and forth in time, alternating the happy periods of Didier’s and Elise’s lives with Didiers weird friends, his house in the middle of nowhere and performances of the band (that Elise joined). In other seems we see the couple struggling through their misery.

“Broken Circle Breakdown” is a good film, but I think I have seen enough drama for a while.

Road House * Rowdy Herrington (1989)

Dalton (Patrick Swayze!) is a bouncer is clubs that have problems with fighting visitors. His fame spreads all over the USA and he is hired to clean up a place in some small town. His ‘my way or the highway’ method brings some troubles that usually blow over quickly, but in this case, Dalton comes into trouble with the towns rich man who goes very far to show that it is him that runs the town.

The film is a true product of the 1990’ies. The fashion, haircuts, cars and music, even people’s faces somehow look 1990’ies. There is not much of a story, but of course (as it is supposed to be in a 1990’ies film) the introvert pretty boy falls in love ‘untactically’. The film has a lot of bar-fights (of course) and a little bit of other kinds of action.

This is not my type of film, but “Road House” is actually an amusing watch. The acting is good, there is some humor and old-fashioned action. It really reminds of the days when I started to watch films. I have no idea how popular it was at the time and if I saw it before, but “Road House” makes an alright film if you feel like watching an easy watching classic.

Black * Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah (2015)

This film got quite some attention when it came out. It is about gang-culture in Brussel (Belgium), but the gangs that the films is about, were not happy with it, made that clear and the film made the news.

In a Romeo and Juliette like story, a boy and a girl fall in love. The boy belongs to the gang 1080 (Brussel postal code), the girl to Black Bronx. He is from Moroccan descent, she more Southern African. The gangs are rival gangs, so this is bound to raise trouble. And it does.

Showing superiority over the other gang, the gangs go pretty far intimidating each other. When Mavela’s gang find out about her boyfriend, this intimidation is taken to extremes.

In spite of the young team “Black” is a mature film with good acting, camera-work and music and the atmosphere really works. Like I said, the directors managed to portray this difficult subject so well that some people thought the film to be too realistic (or revealing).

Not my genre, but a good film and that is yet another good film from Belgium.

Arbitrage * Nicholas Jarecki (2012)

A 1990’ies style thriller with the 1990’ies star Richard Gere which (I guess) only landed on my watch-list because Tim Roth has a part in it. Well, Tim Roth is fun to watch, but he does not really raise the film above the level of… a 1990’ies thriller.

Gere is a rich business man, but he made some bad choices business-wise, but also privately. He has been under the attention of a policeman (Roth) for a while who sees opportunities in getting him behind bars for his last misstep. Miller (Gere) twists and turns for the sake of his business, while his position becomes more and more difficult.

The film is not boring, but nothing I would recommend seeing either.

Star Trek: Beyond * Justin Lin (2016)

It is starting to seem as if I like sci-fi, while in fact I am just curious to see what they would make of a contemporary Star Trek film. Like with the last Star Wars this Star Trek is “based on characters created by…”. It has little to do with what I remember of Star Trek.

We have Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, but are they supposed to be children of the original characters? In a too rapid ‘intro’ we learn about the spaceship Enterprice and the world the crew lives in. The ship is sent on a rescue mission and they end up fighting a dark enemy in an unknown area of “the nebula”.

The film has humor that does not really work (in the beginning almost on ‘screwball’ level), drama that does not really work and mostly seems to want to impress as a space spectacle with star wars, but… it does not really work.

What remains is a weak film with a few elements that you may know from the old films.

The Incredible Hulk * Louis Leterrier (2008)

I do not remember much of the old Hulk films (or were it series?), but I got curious about this new one because of its star-team. “The Incredible Hulk” turned out to be but a Hollywood spectacle.

Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was a scientist experimenting for the army with the creation of a super soldier. He conducted the investigation in commissioned by General Ross (William Hurt) and together with the generals daughter Betty (Liv Taylor). Of course the experiment ran out of hand and we find Banner fleeing from the general trying to control his anger that induces his ‘Hulkness’. Of course he is helped by Betty.

The general is aided in his search by Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) who tries to fight the Hulk with his own weapons. This of course leads to a lot of collateral damage, allowing the director to make a spectacle. The story unfields along predictable lines leading towards a predictable end.

Weak, at best “The Incredible Hulk” is somewhat amusing.

Star Wars: Rogue One * Gareth Edwards (2016)

“Based on characters created by Georges Lucas”. That about sums it up. Actually, there are not that many Lucas characters in “Rogue One”, some Troopers and Vader, but the film is entirely wrapped around new characters (to me at least). Just like with the previous Star Wars film, the story is very thin, just an excuse for sci-fi action almost.

In an almost 007-like manner we have a good man who apparently ran bad, leaving behind a daughter who gets caught up by the resistance. The bad guys create a weapon to destroy their enemies and the good guys come to blow it up.

Even though the film is 135 minutes and there is not much of a story, that story is not even ‘wrapped up’, so I guess there will be a “Rogue Two” within a couple of years.

I saw the film in iMax 3D. That sometimes looked nice, but mostly did not add much. Also I wonder why after so many years of 3D, it still does not look better as it does.

“Rogue One” is an entertaining sci-fi spectacle, good enough to watch some time, but there is no need to rush.

The Boondock Saints * Troy Duffy (1999)

Before Snatch there apparently already were hip, foul-mouthed, humorous, action-crime films. “The Boondock Saints” is such a film. Vague, very violent, with elaborate dialogues, black humor and weird characters. Some pretty vague scenes even.

Two young brothers accidentally or not, kill criminals in the city of Boston. An FBI investigator (Willem Dafou) sets out to investigate all these bloody killings. In a cut-up, flashback type of style, the killings and their investigations are told.’

Not a masterpiece, but highly amusing.

Miami Vice * Michael Mann (2006)

It is not like I was a big fan of the series, but this film made it to my watch-list nonetheless. Perhaps it was because Colin Farrell plays Sonny Crockett? Farrell, who looks exactly like he does in “True Detective” by the way.

The film is based on the 1980’ies TV-series. Indeed there are only elements that are used. Of course we have Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs who are hip crime-fighters in Miami, the first of which drives a fast car. Then there are the palm-trees and boats, but these are the only similarities that I remember.

Crockett and Tubbs are hired to infiltrate a big drug-cartel and they decide to be transporters. Even though the film lasts 135 minutes, it looks like the story had to be crammed into the length of a film. In the first half of the film it is a descent action film with a high speed. After a while it seems to be supposed to become more of a thriller with some drama and that worked out a lot less good. I also wonder why the director used so much time for fairly boring sex-scenes.

The result is an average Hollywood action film with a few elements that people who know the series will recognise.

The Deep End * Scott McGehee (2001)

In this alright drama Tilda Swinton plays an overly protective mother who goes way too far to protect her gay son. When things are bad enough already, they can get worse. And worse.

“The Deep End” is, like I said, an alright film. I am not sure how it came on my watchlist. Besides Swinton I see no ‘special’ actors and the director does not seem to have made a film that I really like. “The Deep End” is more of the level of: good to watch when it is on TV on a night you have nothing better to do.

Road To Perdition * Sam Mendes (2002)

A nothing special, but descent Hollywood production.

In the 1930’ies USA a family runs a liquor factory and they do so fairly roughly. Michael Sullivan (a good Tom Hanks) does the dirty work, but then becomes the subject of dirty work himself.

The story unfolds unsurprisingly, but nicely. The atmosphere is good as is the camera work.

“Road To Perdition” is a good film without surprises or without being ‘special’. No waste of time, but nothing to put high on your watch-list. It features a young Daniel Graig and Jude Law by the way.

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