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All reviews - Movies (4) - DVDs (1)

Whitey review

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 10 January 2012 08:46 (A review of Whitey)

De Witte van Sichem is one of the most popular (perhaps THE most popular) movie ever made in Flanders - Belgium. It's based on the work of Ernest Claes who was a famous writer in Belgium. The movie opens up with a priest drinking and then a statue of Christ followed by a long shot view of a church and then a vast scene of fields …… This opening establishes the year as 1901 with Belgium still mainly as a Feudal society. Church influence and presence is heavily noticeable.

Our main character “Lewie” or as everybody else calls him “de Witte” (the Whitey, due to his white albino hair) is a 12 year old kid who is always up to a mischief. His mischief’s turns him into a brat. And I do mean a real brat...he lies, steals and causes disturbance in his class, family and, in the field. He's the youngest son of a poor family and eventually has to leave school and start working on a farm that belongs to a rich farmer who has it all. The father like most other neighbors is a hard working God fearing man and is respected and feared by his family. In fact the fear part stretches more for “Witte” than the respect part since our main character in reality does not accept or recognize any form of higher authority what so ever.

The movie shows very little of the relationship between the main character and the rest of the family in details which is somehow a little annoying. We just get this picture of father, mother and two brothers on one side and “Witte” on the other side constantly getting into each others face and bullying “Witte” around. In fact, the family unit in this movie is what you might call in these modern days with all “tags” and “labels” given, a totally dysfunctional family.

Their lives consist of nothing more but hard labor and going to church, where they get to hear that once they are dead God will make no difference in rank or gender, but until then they have to accept everything the Church and their boss tells them. At this point politics and political views emerge. Movie takes a different turn for a while with the rise of socialism and it becomes the leading thread running through the rest of the movie were several of the laborers start to have doubts about the way their lives are controlled by others. The poor men are attracted by the idea of socialism while the Catholic church is desperately trying to bring it down.

Our main character finds himself to be in the middle of this but he doesn't care all that. He prefers to learn about Belgium’s ancient history and through the books of Hendrik Conscience and re-enacting it with his friends. As we see it in the part where village children play this savage game of “War”.

Because of the many practical jokes and reckless pranks of our character throughout the entire film, 'De Witte' sometimes becomes more of a comedy than a drama and, before you even know it, you've forgotten about the dark side of the film. But very quickly it recovers and you can see and feel the dark side of their hard life. Most of the time it is the main character that claims your full attention. This is still, beyond any doubt, Robbe De Hert's best film. He hasn't made too many good films, but this one is a Belgian classic. Also many good acting performances, but Eric Clerckx (as De Witte van Sichem) is 'picture perfect'.

Director Robbe De Hert manages to create a realistic portrait of this particular atmosphere. It represents a world in which poor people have to work hard for little money. How religion and church controls their every day life while offering no salvation or relief only a remote promise about when they all, rich or poor, die they will looked upon the same.

The whole story is set in a rural community thus expect to see a lot of simplicity, a lot of free spirited country youth and loads of greenery. The dialect might be hard to understand even for the natives and sometimes it is completely lost in the translation and subtitle. But in general one can follow the story with no problem.

In a nut shell the story is about an annoying little fellow who takes pleasure in doing wrong. There are certain rules in life everyone must obey, but he finds it amusing to bend or even break them whenever the opportunity knocks. In short: he has some serious trouble with discipline. It reminds me of “Dennis the Menace” with a Flamish touch.

I enjoyed watching this movie even though I had to rely on English subtitle heavily to understand the dialog but that’s just me a sucker for foreign movies with subtitle. I would recommend this movie to those who need a refuge from Hollywood movies. On the same token I would recommend two other movies as well “Pelle Erobreren (Pelle the Conqueror)” and “1900” both with the same theme.


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Kes - Criterion Collection review

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 28 December 2011 06:17 (A review of Kes - Criterion Collection)

Billy Casper comes from the poorest end of town (Barnsley, England), he can't concentrate at school and does very badly. He is beaten up regularly by his elder brother and disregarded by everyone. Then one day he sees a wild Kestrel and this leads to a whole new side of his character being discovered. He is as surprised as everyone else by what he discovers but a tragic end is in store.


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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows review

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 20 December 2011 07:55 (A review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows)

And here we are again, yet another sequel of a movie that did so well the first time. Guess what? It is an excellent sequel. You simply put two elements, and not necessarily two opposite elements, and the chemical reaction between them causes an enormous explosion on the BIG screen.

I saw the trailers and I was skeptical in the beginning but this was one movie I wouldn't miss watching on big screen. Once again, the production values are top-notch. The effects are outstanding, and the cinematography is top-notch.

Downey and Law have a solid on-screen chemistry, while Fry does a terrific job as comic relief. Casting Noomi Rapace for Simza's character came as a shocker to me after watching her perform in The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo trilogy (the original Swedish version of the newly English remake). However, I enjoyed watching her in English.

In the novels, Holmes was skilled as a pugilist and excellent at weapons handling. Fortunately, Ritchie realized this both in the first and second movie which is something rare, given his filmography. As with almost all Guy Ritchie films, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is technically strong, with the look and feel of the film, consistent from that of the first, being one of the winning elements in my books.

Incredibly detailed and intricately crafted, the sets, costumes, CG and production values are all top notch in transporting us back to an era that once was. The multiple flashback scenes that showcase how we get to where we are at the point of the narrative, and those events that play out in Holmes' mind, were all done with precision as we cue in to his thought process, and one of the plus points is that of Moriarty's input at times when it got boiled down to an intense battle of minds. And not forgetting Hans Zimmer's powerful score that's a natural companion piece from the first film.

There is one element I somehow can't get over with and that is how similar this movie is to another movie we have watched and maybe forgotten some time ago. Does something wild and out of the West rings a bell? I know it might not be a good and honest comparison, but there are similarities like train scene, one character dressing up as a woman(Kevin Kline in Wild, Wild West and Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes), big guns, someone naked in front of a group or a woman and so on. However, this doesn't mean those similarities reduces the value of the movie. It is just something I noticed.



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The Muppets review

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 12 December 2011 06:12 (A review of The Muppets)

We just watched this movie today and all three of us agreed it was a waste of time and money. Yeah! it had its moments of laughter but most of the time it was bad acting (humans of course). To be honest I enjoyed earlier Muppets movies far more than this one. Maybe it was the fact that they had less human - Muppet interaction. Maybe because there was no human-Muppet hybrid for no good reason. Maybe I'm just too old and expect too much but, when I look at my almost 12 year old son I see that he liked the earlier movies better than this one. If this movie was meant to be for younger generation to familiarize them with Muppets and show them how fortunate we "the old people" were to have The Muppets then, I must say the overwhelming singing and dancing killed it right on the spot. To me Segel's character was spineless. It was Walter's character who drove everyone except Segel and Adams to accomplish something.
Someone else wrote this about this movie: "In the earlier efforts, human actors were essentially supporting players. The filmmakers had enough sense to let the stories unfold from the perspective of the Muppets, all of whom were allowed to develop as characters. This is not the case with this film, which gives ample time to Segel and Adams. They play Gary and Mary, a wholesome, sunny couple from the all-American hamlet of Smalltown, where the population number on the welcome sign fluctuates due to the buses crossing the city limits. Much of the film is spent on their being deeply in love – and, of course, on the circumstances that test their emotional fortitude. We know right from the start that their relationship is silly, but the real problem is that it's also unnecessary. It doesn't help that neither Segel nor Adams gives a noteworthy performance. Adams in particular is surprisingly out of place, spending most of her time mugging girlishly."
For me personally the Muppets didn't make a come back they just made it harder to accept them in the future even though I'm pretty sure Disney people are going to shove it down our throats in the near future.


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Cheesecake review

Posted : 5 years, 9 months ago on 8 December 2011 06:18 (A review of Cheesecake)

This is almost an unknown Russian movie with great performances. Pavel Melenchuk is amazing. Director Zvezdakov has done a great job steering the movie into unexpected revelations. This is a movie that shows how far a kid will go to have a, even though a fictional, stable life.


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