Sunday, January 31, 2016

Movie Review: La délicatesse

La délicatesse a.k.a Nathalie a.k.a Delicacy 
2.4.7. Films, France 2 Cinéma, StudioCanal, Canal+, Ciné+, Banque Postale Image 4, Palatine Étoile 8, Panache Productions, La Compagnie Cinématographique Européenne, France, 2012. 
La délicatesse title
Based on novel "La délicatesse" by David Foenkinos. 

Nathalie Kerr (Audrey Tautou) is happy with her boyfriend François (Pio Marmaï). After the wedding she applies for a new job. Then François dies and Nathalie deals with sorrow by burying herself in work. 
Pio Marmaï and Audrey Tautou
Nathalie and François
Nathalie gets a new job
Three years later Nathalie is advancing in her career and sleazy boss Charles (Bruno Todeschini) tries to hit on her. Nathalie is not interested and wants to keep the relationship professional. Lost in her thoughts she suddenly kisses shy Swedish coworker Markus (François Damiens). Awkward situation slowly leads to a date. Then rumours start to spread in the work place. Friends and Charles do not understand what Nathalie sees in plain-looking guy. 
Audrey Fleurot and Bruno Todeschini
Secretary Ingrid (Audrey Fleurot) and Charles
François Damiens
Romance starts slowly
"La délicatesse" is a piquant French romantic drama with subtle humour and with a dash of quirky surrealism. In addition of getting over a loss of loved one, it is also tale of two emotionally reserved people slowly getting to know each other. Audrey Tautou is charming as always and Markus performed by François Damiens is clumsy but kind. Also the emotional soundtrack fits the mood of the movie. To Scandinavian taste this low key romance works better than most flashy Hollywood counterparts.

Part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge (#48. Movie whose main character is of opposite sex than you)

Rating: Good

Starring: Audrey Tautou, François Damiens, Bruno Todeschini, Mélanie Bernier, Joséphine de Meaux, Pio Marmaï, Monique Chaumette, Marc Citti, Alexandre Pavloff, Vittoria Scognamiglio, Olivier Cruveiller, Ariane Ascaride, Christophe Malavoy, Audrey Fleurot, Bénédicte-Lala Ernoult, Nicolas Guimbard, Asa Verdin Kallman, Dan Dan Lau, Pom Klementieff, Nadège Perrier, Benoît Pétré, Stellan Sundlof, Lara Suyeux, Sébastien Thiery, Michaël Bensoussan, Renan Carteaux, Charley Fouquet, Gwendolyn Gourvenec, Violette Renard, Philippine Berlioz, Gabrielle De Conti, Roland Menou, Moritz Parisius, Philippe Petit, Émilie Simon, Ronny Pong, Sofia-Maria Efraimsson, Philippe Hagège, Prescillia Andreani, Hocine Djabella, Sasha Spielberg, Jérôme Domenge, Denise Durand, Louise Ressort, Louise Gaubert, Claire Baschet, Agnes Bouille, Fanny Crawford, Maëva Lefebvre, Yamina Meghraoui, Léonie Fatoumata Traoré, Joy Wielard, Audrey Marnay, François-Marie Nivon, Barack Obama, Daniel Semporé
Directors: David Foenkinos, Stéphane Foenkinos

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Movie Review: Love and Other Troubles (Hulluna Saraan)

Love and Other Troubles (Hulluna Saraan) 
Bronson Club, Nordisk Film, Finland, 2012.
Love and Other Troubles (Hulluna Saraan) title
Ville Hietalahti (Jussi Nikkilä) is shy and reserved son of aging rock star Taisto Hietalahti (Ville Virtanen). Former child star Ville works as a music teacher and one day he briefly meets an American Country Dance- instructor Sara ("Lost" -star Emilie de Ravin). Ville's bohemian father moves to him because doctor has ordered him to take it easy. 
Jussi Nikkilä
Ville Virtanen
Emilie de Ravin
Taisto wants to go to a karaoke bar and drags Ville along with him. Also Sara comes to the same bar. When Ville chickens out, it is the daddy who picks up the girl. Both men fall in love with Sara. To complicate things Taisto is chased by Leena (Tiina Lymi) who is an eager fan of Taisto. 
In the bar
In his childhood Ville was alone a lot, while Taisto was touring and now they are trying to fix their relationship. Ville tries to grow out of Taisto's shadow. Also Ronald Reagan's ghost (voiced by Tommi Korpela) has an important role in the story. 

The main actors deliver the comedy with dead pan style. The movie's humour is very Scandinavian style. Jussi Nikkilä's acting style is very low-key compared to Ville Virtanen's hearty rock star. The story has some good moments and nice cinematography. Director Samuli Vauramo's style has been compared to Wes Anderson. However for me the combination of drama and comedy did not quite work as it falls flat and could have been funnier.

The movie is located in a fictional small town in Finland but the movie was filmed in Turku. The movie avoids showing the usual landmarks of Turku, but some streets and residental areas can be identified. 
I know where this place is!
Part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge (#32. Movie that is set in your hometown or county) 

Rating: Average 

Starring:  Emilie de Ravin, Ville Virtanen, Jani Volanen, Jussi Nikkilä, Tommi Korpela, Jessica Grabowsky, Janne Reinikainen, Tiina Lymi, Jussi Lampi, Oskari Sipola, Petri Aulin, Leena Vanhamäki, Antti Laaksovirta, Jaakko Paavilainen, Angie Hernandez, Ilona Saari, Maritta Hytönen, Veli-Matti Henttonen, Heikki Sipilä, Väinö Lehtinen, Pertti Räbinä, Sami Olander, Riitta Rantanen, Lukas Rantanen, Jari Hytönen, Seppo Hellman, Eetu Mendolin, Taino Leivo, Merita Seppälä, Ari Jalokinos, Jukka Tuominen, Aarne Kallioranta, Saija Välikangas, Inkeri Tuominen, Jari Pehkonen, Mika Kujala, Viivi Vuorinen, Jarmo Altis 
Director: Samuli Valkama

Friday, January 29, 2016

Movie Review: In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no korîda)

In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no korîda) a.k.a Empire of the Senses a.k.a The Realm of the Senses a.k.a L'empire des sens
Argos Films, Oshima Productions, Shibata Organisation, Japan, 1976. 
In the Realm of the Senses titles
This film is absolutely not for kids! The story is based on an incident in 1930s Japan. Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) works as a maid in Kichizo Ishida's (Tatsuya Fuji) hotel. Sada is a former prostitute and she is harassed by old pervert (Taiji Tonoyama) until she agrees to have sex with him but cold weather plays its tricks on the old man. 
Eiko Matsuda
Sada Abe
Tatsuya Fuji
Kichizo Ishida
Insatiable Kichizo seduces nymphomaniac Sada. Secretly from Kichizo's wife Toku (Aoi Nakajima) they start a series of sexual experimentations in a hotel. The experimentations go more extreme with exhibitionism and sadomasochism. They gain notoriety in the hotel and the geisha's servicing them begin to shun them. Their obsession gets deeper and more self-destructive. 

The movie shocked the audiences with explicit sex scenes and violent conclusion. It was groundbreaking despite not being the first mainstream movie containing pornographic scenes. Now similarly themed movies are again on the spotlight with the exploits of art house directors such as Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noe. Even today the scenes are very explicit and disturbing and more than general audiences can handle. Ôshima's direction guarantees stylishly made period drama about destructive obsession but storywise the film is quite thin and offers little besides depictions of sex acts, I got a little bored. Of Ôshima films I have seen, I would rate "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" and "Gohatto" higher. 

Part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge (#37. Movie that is or has been banned somewhere in the world) 

Rating: Good

Starring: Tatsuya Fuji, Eiko Matsuda, Aoi Nakajima, Yasuko Matsui, Meika Seri, Kanae Kobayashi, Taiji Tonoyama, Kyôji Kokonoe, Naomi Shiraishi, Shinkichi Noda, Komikichi Hori, Kikuhei Matsunoya, Akiko Koyama, Yuriko Azuma, Rei Minami, Machiko Aoki, Mariko Abe, Kyôko Okada, Kiyomi Yasuda, Hiroko Fuji, Tômi Mitsuboshi, Kimiko Ishii, Katsue Tamiyama, Hitomi Fukuhara, Hiroko Fujino, Kazune Tomiyama
Director: Nagisa Ôshima

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Movie Review: The Magic of Belle Isle

The Magic of Belle Isle
Magnolia Pictures, Castle Rock Entertainment, Revelations Entertainment, Summer Magic, Firebrand Productions, Voltage Pictures, USA, 2012.
Wheel-chair bound cowboy-novel writer Monte Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman) suffers from from writer's block. For change of scenery, his nephew Henry (Kenan Thompson) rents a cabin for him from Belle Isle Village. As a part of the deal Monte must take care of the home owner's dog Ringo. Monte has lost his will to live after his wife's death and plans to spend whole summer drinking himself to death. However Monte finds other interests after meeting the neighbours. In the house next door lives single mother Charlotte O'Neil (Virginia Madsen) with her three daughters Willow (Madeline Carroll), Finn (Emma Fuhrmann) and Flora (Nicolette Pierini).
Morgan Freeman
Monte and his favourite drink, alcohol
Ringo the Dog
Madeline Carroll and Virginia Madsen
Finn and Charlotte
The second youngest daughter Finn has vivid imagination. She befriends Monte and wants to learn write stories. Monte meets also mentally handicapped Carl (Ash Christian) and his mother Karen (Jessica Hecht). Little by little Monte finds inspiration to write again. There is also a change for romance with Charlotte.
Jessica Hecht, Ash Christian and Morgan Freeman
Karen and Carl
Virginia Madsen, Nicolette Pierini, Morgan Freema, Emma Fuhrmannn and Madeline Carroll
O'Neil family dinner
"The Magic of Belle Isle" is a feel-good drama comedy with some eccentric characters. The story is quite traditional and predictable but so what as the story is warmly told. Basically the movie feels like well made TV-movie. Morgan Freeman's wryly humouristic remarks bring smile on the face. Virginia Madsen is likable in her role. Also the kid trio acted well and it is nice to see that they have gotten more roles afterwards.

Part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge (#41. Movie that has an elderly man as the main character)

Rating: Good

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Kenan Thompson, Virginia Madsen, Emma Fuhrmann, Madeline Carroll, Nicolette Pierini, C.J. Wilson, Ash Christian, Debargo Sanyal, Fred Willard, Jessica Hecht, Christopher McCann, Lucas Caleb Rooney, Kevin Pollak, Boyd Holbrook, Kevin, Tilly, Rosemary Howard, Johnny Serret
Director: Rob Reiner

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Triple Review: Bad Ass Trilogy

Let's check the three "Bad Ass"-movies starring Danny Trejo.

Bad Ass 
Amber Lamps, Silver Nitrate, USA, 2012.

Senior citizen Frank Vega (Danny Trejo) beats up two skinheads (John Dixon and Kevin Patrick Burke) harassing a black man in a bus and becomes a hero in Internet. After spending his youth in Vietnam and being shunned by society, Frank notices that he is now a small celebrity. As he gets into other situations where he has to beat up criminals, Officer Malark (Patrick Fabian) wants Frank to cool off a bit. 
Danny Trejo
Frank Vega
Mayor Williams (Ron Perlman) starts an anticrime campaign but is secretly doing business with criminals. Frank's best friend Klondike (Harrison Page) is murdered. Frustrated with the inefficient cops, Frank decides to solve the crime himself beating up bad guys to get information. Corrupt Mayor and crime lord Panther (Charles S. Dutton) have no interest seeing the murder solved. In addition to crime-fighting, Frank gets to know foul-mouthed boy Martin (John Duffy) living next door and his hot mother Amber Lamps (Joyful Drake).
Charles S. Dutton and Ron Perlman
Panther and Mayor
Going on a date
Joyful Drake
Amber Lamps
This almost spoofs the old man action genre but is also close to Charles Bronson's movies. The beginning of story is loosely inspired by bus fight which was filmed and became a viral video on YouTube. The story starts light and Frank's background story is kind of touching, but the story gets more violent as it proceeds to the vigilante territory. Danny Trejo's gruffly charisma carries the film well as he plays a tough but nice guy. However Ron Perlman is underused and he and Perlman do not even have scenes together.
Hang on!
The story has good amount of comedy with running jokes about Frank's inability to understand social media and computer technology. The joke is visited in "Bad Ass 2" when Frank has finally learned to use Internet. Just like Machete, also Frank knows how to charm ladies. As a nod to cheap direct-to-video movies loaning footage from other films, "Bad Ass" loans the bus chase from "Red Heat."

Rating: Good

Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses
Sense and Sensibility Ventures, Silver Nitrate, USA, 2014.

3 years after the events of the first movie Bad Ass Frank (Danny Trejo) is coaching young boxers. Manny Parkes (Jeremy Ray Valdez) is the most talented of his students. Manny gets involved in drug business and is soon found murdered. In the funeral Frank meets Manny's mother Rosaria (Jacqueline Obradors) and promises to find the killers.
danny Trejo and Danny Glover
Frank and Bernie
Jacqueline Obradors
Frank destroys a drug lab and for some reason the thugs do not like it. Grumpy and agoraphobic shopkeeper Bernie Pope (Danny Glover) saves Frank's life. The Bad Asses decide to find Manny's killer Adolfo (Ignacio Serricchio) despite Officer Malark's warnings. First they crash a Freshman Party where they show that they can drink and charm young women. The clues lead to trails of powerful enemies and soon also Rosaria and her daughter (Melany Ochoa) are in danger.
Patrick Fabian
Officer Malark
"Bad Asses" is just as entertaining as the prequel, not changing the formula drastically but adding the buddy comedy aspect. If "Bad Ass" took inspiration from Charles Bronson movies, this has elements from "Lethal Weapon 2." The effective hip-hop and Mexican songs of the first part were changed to more generic sounding hip-hop music.

Also in this part some footage is loaned, now from "Narrow Margin." The dialogue of Danny & Danny is entertaining with the two old guys trading good-natured insults. Of the three movies this was funniest to watch. However issue of Bernie's agoraphobia is quickly forgotten, which makes to think why it was included in the first place. The ending is absurd, but fitting to the tongue-in-cheek nature.

Rating: Good

Bad Ass 3: Bad Asses on the Bayou
Sense and Sensibility Ventures, Silver Nitrate, Ginobli, USA, 2015.

Bad Asses Frank (Danny Trejo) and Bernie (Danny Glover) need money for Bernie's liver operation. Preventing a bank robbery makes them celebrities again but does not solve their money problems. Frank is missing her girlfriend Rosaria from the previous film who has moved to Florida. Cop friend Carmen Morgan (Loni Love, who had a small part in "Bad Ass 2") invites Bad Asses to her wedding in Louisiana. By the way Officer Malark is not in this movie. Bad Asses have to leave their familiar territory Los Angeles.
Loni Love
Danny Trejo and Danny Glover
Bad Asses
Carmen is marrying Geoffrey (Sammi Rotibi) who is wheelchair-bound. Wedding party in Morgan-mansion takes a surprising turn when Carmen is kidnapped. Redneck crime gang demands ransom but the Bad Asses do not tolerate such a thing. It is time to visit thrift store for patrol clothes and start punching bad guys in the face.
Redneck crime gang
Carmen's little brother Ronald (Jimmy Bennett) is bullied at school and the Bad Asses help him. His father Earl (John Amos) is pacifist and wants to solve problems with diplomacy. As the police Chief Broussard (Davi Jay) is corrupt, Earl must also become a Bad Ass! Earl's transition from pacifist to vigilante takes much less time than Paul Kersey's.
John Amos
This is not the strongest part of the trilogy as the joke is getting old. The change of scenery works better than expected but the comedy feels weaker than in the previous part and the redneck setting could have been explored more. Much of the face punching is now replaced with gun fight action. This time footage from the movie Air America (1990) is used. It seems a rule of the series that new Bad Asses are recruited in every movie, and the conclusion suggests "Avengers" style group being formed. The ending promises the next in the series to be titled "Bad Asses in Bangcock" (sic).

The movies of the trilogy are fun and simple entertainment with old guys beating much younger guys and charming women young enough to be their granddaughters. The movies surely are quite generic direct-to-video style action comedy but elevated by the good main characters, both Dannys seem to have had fun making the movies.

Rating: Average

Part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge (#26. Movie trilogy)

Bad Ass
Starring: Danny Trejo, Charles S. Dutton, Patrick Fabian, Joyful Drake, John Duffy, Harrison Page, Richard Riehl, Winter Ave Zoli, Tonita Castro, Andy Davoli, Patricia De Leon, Frank Maharajh, Jillian Murray, Shalim Ortiz, Craig Sheffe, Chris Spencer, Ron Perlman, Jessica Lee, John Dixon, Kevin Patrick Burke, Olivia Moss, Makenzie Moss, Jennifer Blanc, Davenia McFadden, Larry Richardson, Mackenzie King, Austin Michael Scott, Brian Schlesinger, Christine Clayburg, Sam Rubin, Baxter, Craig Johnson, Erik Betts, Ezra Buzzington, Anthony Martins, Marco Morales, Chad Guerrero, Donzaleigh Abernathy, Heidi Kramer, Duane Whitaker, Joe Holiday , David A. Arnold, Jack Freshkin, Norma Michaels, Sebastian Valdes, Eddie J. Fernandez, Thomas Rosales Jr., Tyler Tuione, Danny Woodburn, C.C. Taylor, Larry Moran, Robert Sean Burke, Isabella Cascarano, Esteban Cueto, Brett Friedmann, Dorian Kingi, Craig Moss, Joe Ordaz, Mark Rhino Smith, Dan Snow, Buddy Sosthand
Director: Craig Moss

Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses
Starring: Danny Trejo, Danny Glover, Andrew Divoff, Jacqueline Obradors, Elizabeth Barondes, Dante Basco, Federico Berte, Damien Bray, Charlie Carver, Al Coronel, Sarah Dumont, Patrick Fabian, Sergio Garcia, David Scott Gaudin, Zedric Harris, Kirsty Hill, Mikal Kartvedt, Gary Kasper, Dennis Keiffer, Jillana Laufer, Justin Lebrun, Jonathan Lipnicki, Judd Lormand, Loni Love, Brock Lumarque, Ken Moreno, Melany Ochoa, Michael Rader, Lisa Raziano, Justyn Michael Richards, Herbert Russell, Con Schell, Ignacio Serricchio, Korey Simeone, Ryan Slater, Han Soto, Leon Thomas III, Matthew Tompkins, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Hawk Walts
Director: Craig Moss

Bad Ass 3: Bad Asses on the Bayou
Starring: Danny Trejo, Danny Glover, John Amos, Loni Love, Colby Arps, Jon Arthur, Deborah Ayorinde, Lucius Baston, Jimmy Bennett, James Moses Black, Allen Boudreaux, Chelsea Bruland, Ross P. Cook, Miles Doleac, Blake Dozzer, Andrew Duplessie, Jaqueline Fleming, Darryl Harvey, Vincent Eugene Hatten, John Henry, Lucia Heros, Scott House, Davi Jay, Floyd Anthony Johns Jr., Daryn Kahn, Mikal Kartvedt, Patrick Kearns, Garrett Kruithof, Margaret Lawhon, Keith Loneker, Judd Lormand, Rob Mello, Brian Oerly, James Ourso, Aisa Palomares, Jeff Pope, Garrett Prejean, Brittany Prevot, Anthony Ramsey, Michael Rhoads, Michael Patrick Rogers, Sammi Rotibi, Garrett Saia, Han Soto, Carol Sutton, John Teal Jr., Mike Vaughn, Al Vicente, Brandi Vielee, Michael Whitener, Olga Wilhelmine, Jesse Yarborough
Director: Craig Moss

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Movie Review: Decoy (1995)

Decoy (1995) 
F.Y.D.O.E. Films, Floyd Group, Minds Eye Entertainment, Canada, USA, 1995. 
Decoy title
Baxter (Peter Weller) and Travis (Robert Patrick) are two tough agents/assassins/mercenaries whatever. Travis is traumatized after being tortured and spends his days in his cabin popping painkillers and drinking booze. Well, unpredictable Baxter is not playing with a full deck either. He lives as a hermit, trading currencies and mixing Samurai ethos with Native American mythology.
Robert Patrick
Peter Weller
Scientists have developed a revolutionary thinking computer chip (Skynet I guess). Rich businessman Wellington (Peter Breck) is auctioning it. Hitwoman Katya (Charlotte Lewis) kills Wellington's guards and delivers message from his former hireling Jenner (Scott Hylands). Jenner accuses Wellington of ripping him off and demands $50,000,000 for the chip. Wellington wants to hire Travis to protect his daughter Diana (Darlene Vogel). Travis agrees but wants Baxter for back-up. 
Peter Breck
Darlene Vogel
Baxter, Travis and Diana go to secret forest cabin. Mole reveals their location to Jenner's men. Katya, Gunther (Zoltan Buday), Daniel (Vladimir Kulich) and the disposable thugs pay surprise visit. Therefore Baxter the Samurai makes some sliced meat. The trio gets enough of camping and continues their voyage with relaxing bus trip. However some trigger-happy thugs cause nuisance and Travis boils over. Travis standing on the hood of the bus shooting and yelling looks epic in B-movie way. 
Zoltan Buday, Darlene Vogel and Vladimir Kulich
Gunther, Katya and Daniel
The trio hides in an old Indian graveyard. The plot gets more complicated as Baxter realises that Diana is not Wellington's real daughter but a ... Decoy! 

Direct-to-video 1990s action with some extra fun resulting from illogicalities. The dialogue between Weller and Patrick is quite fun. The bad guys have some cool wrist-worn blade launchers and Katya has a scifiesque gun. Most of the action occurs in Canadian forest that looks similar to Finnish forests. The story has some interesting twists but doesn't rise above average action films. 

Part of The 2016 Movie Watching Challenge (#6. Movie that has only one word in the name) 

Rating: Average 

Starring: Peter Weller, Robert Patrick, Charlotte Lewis, Darlene Vogel, Peter Breck, Scott Hylands, Vladimir Kulich, Zoltan Buday, Blaine Hart, Patricia Drake, Philip Maurice Hayes, Joe Wu, Wilfred M. Dube, Brad Heck, Richard Yoshida, Brian Ludwig, Gerard Lang, Calvert Chiefcalf, John Lykouros, Peter Miller, Michael Simons, Ned Donaldson, Jason Bucknall, Oliver Vermont, Chris Thompson, Tom Fahn, Victor Baptiste, Wayne Folk, Mark Becker, George Sygiros, Rob Bresciani, Rob Wilton, Rob King, Muriel Ross 
Director: Vittorio Rambaldi (as Victor Rambaldi)

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