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Pas de C4 pour Daniel Daniel (1987)
Forgettable Bond spoof
"Pas de C4 pour Daniel Daniel" or "No C4 for Daniel-Daniel" is a French/Belgian French-language short film from 1987, so this one has its 30th anniversary this year. It spoofs spy movies (fittingly with the name of the current James Bond actor) from start to finish during these 13 minutes and I personally am glad it was this short because the material did not feel too string at all. I think the main reason why it is still somewhat known today is the inclusion of Benoît Poelvoorde here and according to IMDb, this is his very first acting credit and he was in his early 20s when he made this one. He is also credited being one of the three writers and three directors which really is a lot given the short running time here. I cannot even say that this one is only for spy movie lovers as these, like me, will probably be the ones who will enjoy this one even less than everybody else. And Poelvoorde fans will be disappointed because here he was still miles away from where he is today. Rather embarrassing to be honest. So the best is probably if you simply skip this one. I give it a thumbs-down.
Hockey Homicide (1945)
Very wild and very funny
"Hockey Homicide" is an American English-language cartoon from 1945, so this one is already over 70 years old, which means it is from the last year of World War II. It was made by the Kinneys and Dick Berg and this as well as the inclusion of voice talent Pinto Colvig means that here we have another Disney cartoon and this one is among the many films starring Goofy elaborating on certain situations or sports. When we say hockey here in Germany, we usually mean field hockey, so I was initially a bit surprised to see that the on-ice activity was meant. But my surprise quickly left and turned into laughter and admiration as this is definitely among the better, if not best, Goofy films. The scenes with the audience were maybe the funniest overall and it starts right away with the 2 viewers realizing they have the wrong teams on the sheet after their 100 corrections. But everything on the ice is really funny too, be it the poor referee, the 2 star players who constantly get penalized or the entire team taking place in the stands eventually watching the audience fight down there. Nice writing and narration too. How can you not love Goofy after seeing films like this one. I very much enjoyed the watch and I think from what I have seen this is the best cartoon / short film from 1945 and this means quite something as the year of course falls into Golden Age of Animation, a time that really had a lot to offer in terms of both quality and quantity. It really is a shame that the Academy never really cared for these Goofy cartoons. But we do as they have aged so well. Go see this one now.
Jack Attack (2013)
Only worth seeing around Halloween, if at all
The American English-language "Jack Attack" is an 8.5-minute live action short film from 2013, so this one will have its 5th anniversary next year, even if the version I watched looked older somehow. As short as it may be, it still took two writers coming up with this one here, namely Norton and Padovan and I think this is not their only collaboration. Horror seems to be their thing especially. Anyway, this one deals with the concept of pumpkin carving around Halloween and eventually turns into human carving as the pumpkin is not really in the mood to be carved. Admittedly, the last third of the film was fairly solid, but the build-up was relatively weak I must say and I just cannot ignore that, even if the last 2-3 minutes pre-credits managed to entertain me. The transition from harmlessness and innocence to horror and gore was also a bit weak. It's a shame as the attention to detail is there at times, for example with the mini pumpkins in the blood and intestines near the end. Overall though, this was not a good enough watch for me to recommend checking it out. So I give it a thumbs-down as a whole. Don't watch.
Gauguin - Voyage de Tahiti (2017)
Very well done, extremely positively surprised
"Gauguin - Voyage de Tahiti" or just "Gauguin" is a new French movie from this year (2017) that runs for 100 minutes and is the most recent career effort by writer and director Edouard Deluc, his second full feature film. And from what I saw here, we certainly can be curious about his next works. First of all, it needs to be understood that this is not a biopic about the famous painter, but instead a work that focuses on a certain period of his life, namely the one he spent outside France. Yes early on, the scenes are still in France, but these also deal with his upcoming journey already when everybody who he wants to be joined by declines his suggestion, even his wife and children. The focus is on the time in Tahiti though and on romance mostly. And still at the same time, they never forget who he is, a (then not yet) renowned painter, but the film is at least as much about the moments of his live that all of us may find in our lives too, such as love, poverty, profession, jealousy, health etc. all the key aspects that make us who we are.
I am slightly a bit biased perhaps as I have been a big Cassel fan for quite a while already and as much as he may succeed as a silent killer in the newest Bourne film, as much he is a perfect choice for playing Gauguin here. I think he delivers usually very well if there is a certain aggressiveness to his characters and that's also the case here. And he shows us that he is also hitting all the right notes if there is no explosion of emotions in the sense of violence of any kind, but when the hopelessness prevails in the end. He does not want to be an enemy in his new world, so he makes the decision finally to return back home, which surprised me a bit as I expected him to die there, but the real story resulted in a different ending. And the film also ends the right moment, i.e. when he leaves this paradise. And there is no need to look back in grief as he found a woman he loved and adored for a long time, he brought art there with the local improving his craft to a level where he can make a living from it and thanks to his journey, he found a really good friend, namely the doctor who kept caring fore Gauguin beyond his medical position.
And the film was also a delight visually as it includes stunningly beautiful landscape and seaside shots as well as convincing efforts with costumes, make-up and art direction. I believe the soundtrack was very good too. It's tough to say what the best component was, maybe the writing or Cassel I guess. But this film by now is among the very best I have seen from 2017, a must-see for those who love period pieces, films about painters or just French films in general. It is quite a shame that it probably won't be seen much at all outside of France and certainly not score a great deal of awards attention either except at the Césars perhaps. Cassel shows us an entirely new facet of his range here and proves that he is rightfully among France's most known in America as well. Big thumbs-up to everybody who worked on this film here. It's one without any slight weakness and that is a statement you really cannot make about too many (recent) films. Highly highly recommended.
God's Own Country (2017)
Brokeback Mountain during the age of tolerance
"God's Own Country" is a British English-language film, very new from this year (2017), and it is the first full feature film effort by writer and director Francis Lee. For most of the cast members, this is probably also their most known work at this point, including lead actor O'Connor and his co-lead Secareanu playing gay farm workers on the estate of the former character's father. O'Connor is definitely at the very center of this award-winning movie and it is his story from start to finish. Also a mention to Jones and especially Hart who are doing a pretty good job here. You could guess initially that Hart's character's second stroke was a reaction to finding out about his son's homosexuality, but you would be wrong as you see at the end. It sure does not say positive about the protagonist's intelligence if he thought he never could tell Martin and Deidre. Anyway, the one thing I liked was really that the moment he meets his love interest there is definite change to see for the rest of the film to Johnny. How his anger and frustration become less and less and hope and longing for happiness take their place.
But there are also some definite weaknesses in here, namely most of all the generic very basic order of conflict. I always find it somewhat cringeworthy when near the end major conflict arises and needs to be solved as in this film with the example of the cheating and of course there is not only the protagonist's former friend around, but also another gay and of course they have sex regardless of how much he loves Gheorghe. And then the expected feel-good-for-the-sake-of-it conclusion at the very end was pretty bad too. For audience's sakes, but not for storytelling sakes. Really hurts in terms of the authenticity and as this is one of the film's key components to show us a rough but real world, it makes things even worse. The destroyed a lot in these final 20-25 minutes that they constructed so well before that. A bit of a shame. I think the scenes with the cows, calves, sheep and lambs were all handled very well too I must say and judging from the audible reactions, especially the female audience members liked them.
The film's biggest strength is certainly that it won't go for cheap thrills in terms of homophobia. The characters' sexual preferences are never judged negatively by the supporting characters, even if they sometimes fear they would be. And this area is a huge problem in many gay-themed (short) films. But Lee never made this issue crucial in his work here and with that he made the perfect decision. The film is never defined by the characters' homosexuality, but it is defining as a character study about illness, desperation, family, work, love, hope and many other components. Eventually I will be a bit generous here as it is a close call if this one gets a thumbs-up or thumbs-down from me, but I give the edge to the positive. Still I must say that the awards attention is definitely over the top and you should not expect any kind of greatness when checking this one out because otherwise you will be pretty disappointed and not able to see this film for what it is: a solid love story and an even better family story.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
Funtime at the morgue
"The Autopsy of Jane Doe" is a 2016 horror film that is not long at all, easily clocks in before the 90-minute mark and this is perhaps the most known career effort by the two writers here. It is an English-language film of course directed by Norwegian André Øvredal and it is still his most recent release, even if he has new stuff coming out soon. I personally really loved his Trollhunter film and I must say his take on Jane Doe did not reach the same level of quality, at least not as a whole, even if there were some really special moments in here. Cox and Hirsch will certainly be known and recognized by film buffs and it's fitting that these two as the biggest names in here basically turn this film into a 2-man show as they are in it from beginning to finish. Maybe you could say 3-man show because Olwen Catherine Kelly giving one of the hottest corpse performances of all time is visible all the time too and makes quite an impact while doing nothing actually except lying there.
So yeah the two doctors get the corpse of a young woman and they are told that they have to find out what happened to her, what they determine as the cause of death. But the further they dive in the mystery, the more and more strange things keep happening. And a lot of it is really effective from the horror scare factor perspective. I think the middle part of these 85 minutes is perhaps the best, everything before and after that is okay too, but not great. I just love locked door horror and radio voices horror, gets me every time. Sadly, the final revelation and explanation of who this Jane Doe is and what happened to her did not turn out to my preference really, even if I kinda like realistic unhappy endings like this one here. A bit of a pity. The last shot was not to my liking either as it felt really rushed in. But the good news is that there is really all the opportunity for a sequel with how this one turned out in the end.
The weakest moment of the film was perhaps the girlfriend's death and sadly the character as a whole could have been left out in my opinion. And why would he throw his weapon away? But these are only some cons here. I still think the acting, script, camera work and general premise work out well for the most part. There were a few moments where I was indeed scared and I was well-entertained from start to finish. The location, i.e. the morgue, was a very good choice and as the gateway between life and death made sure the film delivered from the perspective of atmosphere constantly. All in all, I can see why this one received such a great deal of awards recognition. It shows that traditional horror films that go completely without the comedy moments are not dead yet. (no pun intended) Even I as somebody who has many genres he prefers over horror managed liking this one quite a lot, so for horror film lovers it is a must-see although I am sure that they have seen the film already anyway as it did not go under the radar at all. In case I am wrong about you, then what are you waiting for. Fo check it out now.
The Standard Parade (1939)
How Walt became Disney
"The Standard Parade" is a 7.5-minute short film from 1939, so this one will soon have its 80th anniversary. It was directed by Riley Thomson, a successful, but short-lived Disney animator. This one tells us in the most compact and concise way possible Walt Disney's rise to fame in Hollywood, the struggles during his early days and his greatest successes in terms of short and full feature films and how technology (such as (Techni)color) was a huge part of it. At one point the narrator says that Disney won 8 Academy Awards already and how that was a record, so looking at his eventually 22 wins, you could sure say that the best was yet tome. After all, Disney wasn't even 40 when this was made. And despite some of the smear campaigns against him, mostly in a cowardly manner after his death, there is no denying how much of a multi-talented man he was. Be it as an artist, as a businessman or simply as one of the most impactful men of the 20th century. I think this little short film here could have been a bit longer as it did feel slightly rushed at times, but nonetheless it was a good watch, actually a relatively great watch even. With the parade at the ending it is basically a rare mix of color and b&w as well as animation and live action in the same film, even if I would not say people are entirely wrong when they say this is two films in one. The last part is admittedly only really interesting from the perspective of advertising in the first half of the 20th century, even if it was still nice to see all these beloved characters at once, maybe even more back then than today. If you love Disney cartoons, this is an absolute must-see. Big thumbs-up here.
Overall a good watch for fans of the film
"What a Glorious Feeling: The Making of 'Singin' in the Rain'" is a very long title for a very short movie as this documentary only runs for 35 minutes and the runtime stated here on IMDb of 103 minutes is not accurate at all. Whoever added that, probably mistook it for the actual movie. But it is a tribute documentary and I am a bit hesitant to call it a making-of or behind-the-scenes documentary. It seems this was released back in 2002 for the 50th anniversary of the film it is about. The writer and director is Peter Fitzgerald and it is among the filmmaker's more known works for sure, maybe even a contender for his most known as he basically made himself a career with films on other films/project. Not the most creative approach, but a successful nonetheless. The host here and narrator at the same time is Debbie Reynolds and of course they could not miss out on getting her, so I understand the decision, even if she did not always impress me here and did not feel too authentic in my opinion. She died less than a year ago and was around the age of 70 when this came out 15 years ago. When she starred in the actual movie, she was not even 20 years old. SitR is a film that has aged apparently well and was not bothered at all through its relatively mediocre awards recognition (2 Oscar nominations, 0 wins) as today it is considered a defining class from musical Hollywood. Back to this one here: The charm of the movie makes it worth watching I guess, even if it was not the most informative or interesting work on several occasions. Not a glorious documentary that really makes me curious about the film this is about, but still a solid watch for the most part. I give it a thumbs-up.
The lovely bones
"Puppy" is a 5-minute animated short film from this year (2017) and it is a very recent release by Sony Pictures Animation. The writer and director is Russian 3-time Emmy winner Genndy Tartakovsky and maybe that will make it obvious to some already that this is a little add-on to the Hotel Transylvania franchise. I read that it was shown before the new Emoji movie. Anyway, there will be a 3rd HT movie next year and I am glad this series keeps going as I enjoyed films 1 and 2. As for this short film, there is really very little in here until a great plot twist near the end when the huge puppy sees all these skeletons entering the scene. A dog and skeletons? That's right if you say you have seen that on another occasion in an animated short film this year. But I think they handled it better with this one here. Shame the beginning is so forgettable. Visually, it is of course as good as expected. This film is one of the submissions to the Oscars this year, but with the full feature films failing to score a nomination I would not say that chances are too good for this one here to get in (let alone get the win) unless they wanna honor the franchise somehow, which admittedly would not be undeserving. The first moments are about the baby and then everything afterward is about Dracula and the puppy of course. Maybe it is just me, but I simply cannot see a mother in Mavis. Anyway, if you liked the film(s) as much as I did, then you can check this one out as it really comes pretty close to the long versions in terms of comedy, looks, general approach and quality. I give "'Puppy!'" a thumbs-up.
2017 MTV Europe Music Awards (2017)
2017 MTV Europe Music "Awards"
Okay here we got the most recent edition of the 2017 MTV Europe Music Awards. This one runs for about 105 minutes and was set in London as the title already gives away as here MTV outside the United States takes over. The director was Paul "Duck Tale" Dugdale and he worked with several highly successful artists already in his truly prolific career, probably also some of the guests here. But sadly, this show follows in the footsteps of other recent music award shows and totally messes up. It is basically a concert show with occasional interruption through awards. Not even all the awards were handed out live with all the nominees being mentioned which I personally always find pretty disrespectful. And there was one occasion (actually several) that summarized the show perfectly, namely when they announced which performers would come on stage after the commercial break. Not which awards were presented, but who was about to thing. In a class room test you would rate this an F with the explanation that the topic was missed out on. In addition, Rita Ora was embarrassing as the host here and most performances were weak too. I am not sure if you should describe the repeated inclusion of U2 here as "expectedly bad" or "surprisingly bad", but they definitely weren't any better than these pop starlets who got to perform. And boy is Eminem past his peak. The only somewhat good thing was that the brilliant George Michael got a tribute in the end, even if it was rushed, disrespectful and incomplete like the mention of the deceased singers at the very end. If you feel to include such a tribute, then do it right. If you can't, then don't do it at all. Well, all in all this one here gets a major thumbs-down from me. It lacks focus, class and most of all awards. The title is a lie. Definitely skip this one.