Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001)

I see that somehow it happens close to Easter to sync with a movie that has golden eggs = another adaptation of "Jack and the Beanstalk". Well, at least last year it was the same .. I don't know how many other versions are left there, but now we're talking about ... "The Real Story", so maybe I can stop after this one. Anyway, if the last entries were written in a rush because I didn't have time, now I'm somewhere between headaches & stomach pains, so I'll try to cut it short again ...

What I've just watched is a pretty old mini-series, made for TV. And that's visible in the budget, effects and production design overall = don't expect much. Probably also to the budget relates the acting level too = there are enough scenes that seem done with a single take, like it wasn't time for more than that. Still Mia Sara was charming, as usual, so .. let's get over this, although ... We're getting to the script which is also a mess: stupid lines, plot holes and lots of cheesy stuff. If I should pick now a movie for which I have to make a certain bet that who sees it cannot hold from eye-rolling, "Jack and the Beanstalk" is the winner. And still ...

And still we have something that I've left for the end this time, just to wrap it up on the plus side: the story. Yup ... the story starts with Jack, who's not as expected the poor countryside kid who made a bad bargain in selling a cow for some beans (well .. we have that too, but a bit further). Jack is the chairman of a gigantic enterprise running business that spans from ecologic agriculture to gambling. The problem is that Jack gets close to 40, age at which all the male genealogical tree side moved the domicile two-feet-under. But our guy is less concerned about the "curse" and more of a problem that appears somewhere on British territory, at the family's castle that should be transformed in a casino. The excavation work get stuck into a gigantic skeleton ... take a wild guess who was buried there ;) Well, further we get somehow to "the classic story", and quickly after we learn "the real story" version of it, about which I'm not gonna say anything. Except that it mixes somehow drama, romance, comedy, very dark secrets, (sort of) time travel, and others. A very surprising melange I would say, and one I can truly appreciate for the originality of the ideas. However, the authors probably got bored when it came to the part where the story has to be translated into an actual screenplay. But if you like fairytales ;) and especially re-told in a different manner ... this one deserves a try.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (at the bottom limit)

Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001) by m0vietrailerpark

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Den brysomme mannen (2006)

Busy month ... I'm gonna shorten the entry again, but at least now I have a movie option. "Den brysomme mannen" aka "The Bothersome Man" is a sort of dark comedy, with some surreal nuances a la Terry Gilliam, and which leaves a feeling of "unfinished" from one end to another ...

The movie has a pretty original start that's catchy enough to get you hooked for a while. After a short scene showing a man apparently jumping in front of a subway tram, the guy is presented as sole passenger in a bus which drops him in front of a hut in the middle of a wasteland. Where another guy ... after wrapping up a handmade "Welcome" banner leads the newcomer to his new residence. An apartment in a grey city, with people pretty much as grey, but apparently fully satisfied with their life. Well, for the new guy in town this doesn't seem to work. Ok ... enough with the details, or I'll end the movie.

I'll stick to the opinion that I'm on a total different wavelength than Norway's cinema. I keep trying periodically, but it doesn't work. If I remember well, the previous experience was "Hodejegerne" which I almost liked .. in the circumstances where the subject and the trailer were promising something certain for my typical preferences. Maybe my brain is just too wrecked these days to digest (again, in pieces, with breaks between) an attempt for an afterlife allegory, heaven vs. hell, or whatever was meant to represent what I've watched. I can't complain it wasn't original, but I can complain that it was as every production made there, just too dry for my taste.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kelly's Heroes (1970)

Ok, yet another week without a movie, so I fear that I'll set a shortness record for this entry. Since two weeks ago I was close to bashing "Monuments Men", and I was ending with a recommendation for "Kelly's Heroes" as a WW2 movie, I thought it might be a good subject. If "Monuments Men" is pretty undecided about what it wants to be, "Kelly's Heroes" is well defined as action/comedy = 100% entertainment purpose. The subject is simple: some members of the allied troops are establishing a "private enterprise" in the middle of the war after they find out that a German bank has gold, lots of gold. The problem is the location behind enemy lines. Which leads to an entire adventure filled with issues that range from logistics problems up to face-to-face meetings with enemy tanks. About the casting, Clint Eastwood is Kelly - the organizer of the gold freedom operation, but the most memorable character is Oddball, Donald Sutherland in probably one of his best roles. Since I don't have any more time left for writing, check out the clips & enjoy the movie ;)

Rating: 5 out of 5

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Escape Artist (2013)

Since again I didn't have time to see much this week, I'm constrained to go for the last made-for-TV production I watched, "The Escape Artist". Let's dig in it quickly ...

We're talking about a BBC mini-series, that as genre qualifies as thriller. The subject in brief: Will Burton, a successful lawyer in the English bar (never lost a case), manages to save a serial killer from being convicted. Despite the result though, the killer is not happy that the defense doesn't include handshakes (or in other words, gets frustrated by the lawyer's impersonal approach). And since it's not a very good idea to upset a serial killer, what comes after ... you'll see in the movie ;)

As pretty much all productions made in UK, the cast does its job extremely well. Except that though, I have no idea how the British judicial system works, but the story seems highly unrealistic. Without spoiling much, the murder acquittals in the movie defy the most basic common sense. In the end it gets a bit close to normality (in a sort of ironic way, given the story development). Overall, for the moments when is impossible to find enough time for a full movie, it's an ok option to see piece-by-piece - 3 1-hour episodes - sufficiently well split not to lose you before the next and to allow you a break before conclusion ;)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Monuments Men (2014)

I've had low expectations for "The Monuments Men" after I've seen a couple of not so favorable reviews. And I guess somewhere in the back of my mind I was expecting to like it exactly because I wasn't expecting too much. Unfortunately I have to confirm what others wrote. Bland.

It's a movie centered on a less known WW2 episode. The activity of an American-British-French squad of art experts, with a mission to steal back what the German army stole first, and in direct competition with the Russian threat of moving the art objects further into the East. The movie is a relatively chaotic depiction of the sequence of heroic actions taken to completion, more or less successfully, by "the monuments men" on the poster. I'm sorry for the light irony, but the way the story is presented asks for it. You don't have something clearly defined in front of your eyes. Sometimes is a real war drama, sometimes moves to a comic side, sometimes starts to look like a WW2 spy thriller, and you have also a thin romance thread to complete the mixture. Maybe all of these could work together, but I don't know .. not here. It's actually not a mix, all sides are quite separated from each other, and passing from one to another is done too often and too swift. It has its moments here & there but .. the final result doesn't impress in any way.

The story itself is interesting, and the movie has some documentary value (although it neither inspires much credibility on how accurate it is, but I didn't do a proper check so I can't tell). As a fiction though, for a WW2 behind enemy lines treasure hunt story, I would strongly recommend "Kelly's Heroes". Old but waaaaay better ;)

Rating: 3 out of 5 (at the bottom limit)