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The Ottoman Lieutenant (2017)
unconvincing, shallow, pointless
when I viewed this movie, the question why anyone bothered to make it kept coming back to me.
I know nothing about the first world war and even less about the Armenian genocide that was part of it, but I know enough to see that this story over-simplifies the issue and understates the atrocities by a wide, insulting margin. An accurate portrayal of these events is clearly not the point of the movie.
I am not a romantic person or so my wife tells me, but I know enough to see that this is a horrible over-simplification of how romantic attraction can pose dilemmas in a wartime setting. We can safely rule out the desire to tell a good romantic story as the reason as well.
I do not know how exactly special effects and other technical aspects of film making combine to produce an acceptable level of realism, enough not to get in the way of the story. But I know enough to see that this is not meeting even the most amateurish standards in that area. When no-one is holding the helm of a sailing vessel because the crew is otherwise occupied, it will turn in unintended directions. When a truck crashes into a ravine, it does not turn up running quite happily a few days later, its cargo of medical instruments including delicate glassware intact. We can assume that it was not intended as an action movie either ...
So the worst thing is perhaps that the question why the movie was produced remains intriguingly untouched. Someone must have written a proposal and some investors must have thought to themselves that the story had potential .... questions, questions.
This is world literature, no less!
Rectify is one extraordinarily beautifully made series about how being on death row for 19 years affects one suspect and his environment. Acting is wonderfully paced and deep, I mean deep as in very credible, plausible and just beautiful. The series does not rely on speed or complexity of multiple intertwined story lines, or high speed chases and shootouts to suggest tension and suspense. Instead emotions are very carefully presented in condensed, ultra high quality dialogues of which text, photography and action (however minimal in most cases) are meticulously blended to present whole and finished thoughts and feelings. Now, you may think that this makes for boring television. I find it a breath of fresh air. The dialogues may be deep and delivered with uncanny integrity, they are also often very, very witty and funny. And it is very addictive to me, to see characters so well portrayed and played out. There is more meaningful tension and suspense in that than in any high speed car-chase.
It is as if you are reading superbly written prose. I would say literature, no less!
The Interview (2014)
mediocre at best
This is a very shallow comedy about .... yes, about what?
The only thing that makes it remotely interesting is the rare circumstance that the setting it portrays (North Korea's attempts to be what it is not) is the commercial setting of the movie itself. It is about itself, in a way.
It has that going for it, and Lizzy Caplan of course. It does not matter what she plays, she is always a joy to watch.
Nothing else positive can be said about it. I tried. It is not funny, it is not accurate, it is not well played (except Caplan), the music is uninteresting, the text is missing every opportunity of goodness,
very sad that this makes money after all
Brilliant acting, fabulous photography, good story
Well there you have it: television as it should be. You do not see such apparently effortless perfection very often. Please do not wait for US remakes, treat yourself to the original! Very often, lead characters are well played, and you see some mediocre work here and there in the background. What strikes me with Arvingerne is that there is not a single instant where I can recall a glitch or less convincing acting. It is miraculous; where do children for example learn to act like that? The plot is a real actors' challenge, normal people turning into devils when a large inheritance seems to be coming their way, and back again into loving, good people when things settle down for a moment. Very often parties with loud music and dancing are hard to film, it is difficult to get a large cast of supporting actors to look like they are having fun. No problem for the Arvingerne crew! A special mention for Carsten Bjørnlund, playing the complex character of Frederik Grønnegaard. A very impressive performance indeed. There was for example one love scene where the point was that love at that juncture was awkward. I don't know how an actor is supposed to get that across, but he did, very movingly.
Brilliant dutch drama, finally
after decades of almost or barely acceptable drama on Dutch TV, Divorce is a big relief. Finally beautiful photography, good music, intelligent script and superb acting, delivered as one very attractive package.
The story is well paced; Dutch TV drama used to deliver copious amounts of convoluted developments one tumbling over the other, especially when there was a need for humor; in Divorce, the makers have finally found the courage to allow the odd bit of silence, and to occasionally finish a line of thought, and what an improvement that is! Characters are totally credible, and though some would argue that the story is light, I would suggest that a light story superbly delivered can be art, or literature if you want. I will mention Katja Herbers (Joyce) and Dirk Zeelenberg (David) in particular for consistent superb acting throughout the two seasons that the series now spans.
The series failed to convince me. Acting is no more than average, even John Hamm cannot save the otherwise poor cast. The story is set in some remote location in Russia. I have no idea where it was actually shot, but the special effects leave a lot to be desired: Artificial snow falling in front of a snowy landscape. The young doctor lugging his suitcase over snow-swept planes. The doctor covered in ketchup or mayonnaise every time he comes near a patient, depending on whether it was a delivery or an abscess respectively. All clearly photo-shopped and unconvincing.
The worst thing is that in struggling through episodes 1-3 an acute sense that I was watching an American perspective on Siberia never left me. The atmosphere of the series is not Russian at all.
This is just a weak attempt to make a quick dollar, an embarrassing underestimation of the audience: cheap!