Saturday, April 29, 2017

Movie Review: Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle a.k.a The Eagle
Hurwitz Creative, Marv Films, Saville Productions, Studio Babelsberg, UK, Germany, USA, 2016. 
Eddie the Eagle

Since young boy Eddie Edwards has wanted to by Olympic champion. He is clumsy and not athlete-material but he has will to practice. His father (Keith Allen) just think that he is wasting his time but mom (Jo Hartley) is supportive. As the summer sports are too challenging he finds a realistic real goal: getting to Winter Olympics!
Taron Egerton
Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards
In 1987 Eddie (Taron Egerton) is selected to Winter Olympic downhill ski team only to get the rug pulled from under him by sports moguls who do not think that Eddie is mediasexy enough. He decides to try once more this time as ski jumper. He travels to Germany to train but after many painful attempts he figures out that he needs a coach. Eccentric drunkard former ski jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) reluctantly agrees to help him. Also cougarish but friendly bar keeper Petra (Iris Berben) offers him a job in the bar to earn his living. Getting into the Calgary Winter Olympics becomes Eddie's obsession and despite difficulties he manages to outdo himself.
Iris Berben
Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman
Eddie & Bronson
"Eddie the Eagle" is a feel-good film about an unconventional sports star. Sympathetic underdog story follows the formula of sporting movies with that difference that Eddie never won any major competitions. But he had guts to jump in the Winter Olympics with only amateur level experience and he managed to prove that the British still can have a place in the ski jumping scene. Hero of his own life, Eddie encounters and overcomes all kinds of hurdles that try to prevent him from living his dream. Although he never won any contests and was dubbed 'The Worst Ski Jumper of All Time', he resurrected the British ski jumping and became favourite of audiences. And few have guts to jump from the large hills anyways. What is nice is that although Eddie is a comical figure, he takes his goals seriously and works hart to achieve them.

Like most biography films, much of the events are dramatized. Hugh Jackman's character is inspired by the coaches Eddie had. The ski jumping is close to the Finnish heart, as it is one of the winter sports events that we used to be great at. For a Finnish watcher Eddie's story offers some interesting details. Finnish ski jumper legend & media person Matti Nykänen is played by Swedish actor Edvin Endre, and in the film he Eddie's idol but also snobbish compared to the real colourful person whose later life has often been closer to Bronson Peary's. Well, there is another film "Matti" that shows a bit different side of Matti Nykänen's life. But during the Calgary Winter Olympics when Matti Nykänen was on the top of his career, he was idolized and that is nicely shown in the movie.
Taron Egerton and Edvin Endre
Eddie and Matti
Another thing is that Eddie was and is still quite a cult figure in Finland. He even recorded couple of songs (sung in broken Finnish) written by Finnish protest singer legend Irwin Goodman when he visited Finland.

Great thing in the movie is also the old school sounding synthesizer score of the film.

Rating: Very good

Starring: Tom Costello, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Dickon Tolson, Jack Costello, Taron Egerton, Mark Benton, Tim McInnerny, Edvin Endre, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Marc Benjamin, Iris Berben, Rune Temte, Hugh Jackman, Carlton Bunce, Joachim Raaf, Sean Jackson, Daniel Ings, Jim Broadbent, Matt Rippy, Graham Fletcher-Cook, Ania Sowinski, Paul Reynolds, Christopher Walken
Director: Dexter Fletcher

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Movie Review: Belle & Sebastian (2013)

Belle & Sebastian (Belle et Sébastien)
Radar Films, Epithète Films, Gaumont, M6 Films, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, Orange Cinéma Séries, W9, Centre National de la Cinématographie, France, 2013. 

The film is based on book and 1965 TV-series by Cécile Aubry. The series is well-known even for those who haven't seen it because of the theme song "L'Oiseau." The movie takes the artistic freedom to place the events during World War II.

Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) and his grandfather César (Tchéky Karyo) live in the French Alps. They are hunting a beast that is killing sheep. It is World War II so the village must beware German soldiers. Village's Doctor Guillaume (Dimitri Storoge) is a resistance fighter who helps Jews escape to Switzerland. Sebastian befriends the big Pyrenean Mountain Dog Belle who is reputed to be the Beast, but is she really? 
Félix Bossuet
Tchéky Karyo
The villagers and the Germans hunt the dog, and Sebastian must protect her. Belle proves to be a heroic dog and together Belle and Sebastian have a great adventure. The main story is the friendship of boy and his dog but there are some other interesting characters that have hidden storylines. Village's baker Angelina (Margaux Chatelier) is also Sebastian's friend who may or may not have a romance with Guillaume. German Officer Peter (Andreas Pietschmann) show that the first impressions can be deceiving. And who were Sebastian's parents? There is a sequel "Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues" that may answer some of questions.
Margaux Chatelier
Dimitri Storoge
Dr. Guillaume
Andreas Pietschmann
Lt. Peter
It is beautifully filmed and a little bit melancholy family film. The Alpine sceneries are gorgeous and It would have worked without the World War II setting, but it works also as it is. The acting is good, young boy Félix Bossuet's Sebastian feels natural and he is even a bit mischievous. Star of numerous French movies Tchéky Karyo has the role of old grumpy grandpa who makes moonshine but takes care of Sebastian. Oddly, although Tchéky Karyo has been prominent actor in French films and he has appeared in big Hollywood films ("Bad Boys", "GoldenEye") and some of the cult action films of the 1990s ("La Femme Nikita", "Dobermann") he seems to have become famous for the great audience outside France only after appearing in TV-series "The Missing" (2014-). Well better late than never. The dog star is adorable and the dog scenes have innocent nostalgia of the classic dog stories. For fans of traditional dog adventure movies (Lassie, Rin Tin Tin) this is great viewing.

Mehdi El Glaoui who played Sebastian in the original series appears as one of the villagers named Andre. He also sung the theme of the original series.

Rating: Good

Starring: Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Margaux Chatelier, Dimitri Storoge, Andreas Pietschmann, Urbain Cancelier, Mehdi El Glaoui, Paloma Palma, Karine Adrover, Loïc Varraut, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Tom Sommerlatte, Andrée Damant, Pasquale D'Inca, Eric Soubelet, Michel Pellé, Jean Blanc, Matthieu Warter, Jean-Hubert Vasina, Pascal Bison, Michel Claraz, Daniel Gainetdinoff, Célestin Personnaz, Jean-Michel Personnaz, Pierre Ferréol, Gilbert Suiffet, Yvann Lebedeff, Lonni Charrier, Gaspard Gogué Meunier, Emma Fogarolo
Director: Nicolas Vanier

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Here's Jack Blogathon Special: Man Trouble

Man Trouble
Penta Entertainment, American Filmworks, Budding Grove, Cecchi Gori Pictures, USA, Italy, 1992.
This review is part of Here's Jack Blogathon hosted by Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews to celebrate Jack Nicholson's 80th birthday. "Man Trouble" stars the birthday hero in a romantic comedy that was produced by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio "Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi himself!
Jack Nicholson as Harry Bliss
Harry Bliss (Jack Nicholson) is a slick guard dog trainer. Harry is hiding from his debtors and living under false name. He is a ladies' man so his marriage with Adele 'Iwo Jima' Bliss (Lauren Tom) is in crisis. There is a serial killer roaming around Hollywood and when a stalker starts to stalk opera singer Joan Spruance (Ellen Barkin), she hires Harry for help. Harry starts immediately flirting with the customer and Joan does not mind at all. To make things more complicated there is a sideplot involving Joan's sister Andy (Beverly D'Angelo) and a scandalous manuscript about Andy's gangster ex-husband Red Layls (Harry Dean Stanton).
Ellen Barkin as Joan
Viveka Davis as Harry's secretary
Harry Dean Stanton as Red Layls
Sad to say but "Man Trouble" is a messy flop. Every great actor has some films that can be considered as their unimportant minor works and "Man Trouble" counts as one. The screwball comedy fails as the jokes are not funny enough or miss their mark completely. The main pair's chemistry does not feel right either and the thriller sideplots (the stalker plot and the gangster plot) do not really make sense or matter. The actors can't be blamed but the problem is with the script that never catches the pace and craziness of the comedy classics. Jack Nicholson tries to carry the film for a while but even he can't hold together the shaggy dog story and finally he just seems to give up. And so in 1992 Jack earned two Golden Raspberry nominations as worst actor: for "Hoffa" (undeservingly in my opinion) and "Man Trouble."

Maybe fans of Jack should just pretend that this movie doesn't exist.
Beverly D'Angelo as Joan's sister Andy
Michael McKean as Joan's friend Eddy
Rating: Bad

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Ellen Barkin, Harry Dean Stanton, Beverly D'Angelo, Michael McKean, Saul Rubinek, Viveka Davis, Veronica Cartwright, David Clennon, John Kapelos, Lauren Tom, Paul Mazursky, Gary Graham, Betty Carvalho, Mark J. Goodman, Robin Greer, Sandy Ignon, Rustam Branaman, Lenny Citrano,Christopher Garr, Rob LaBelle, Raymond Cruz, Ed Kerrigan, Daniel J. Goojvin, Thomas Griep, June Christopher, Matt Ingersoll, Rebecca Broussard, Mary-Robin Redd, John D. Russo, Anthony Frederick, Max Delgado, Jeff Record, Mary Pat Gleason, Gordon Reinhart, David St. James, Susan Bugg, Virgil Frye, Ken Thorley, Gerrielani Miyazaki, Jennifer Yang, Suzanne Lodge, Suzanne Q. Burdeau, Ginger LaBrie, Charles A. Tamburro, Michael Tamburro, Jacqueline M. Allen, Marti C. Pia, Stephen W. Anderson, Gloria Grace Prosper, Samela A. Beasom, Ellen Rabiner, Bernice Brightbill, Paula Rasmussen, Martha L. Cowen, Mary Heller Rawcliffe, Michelle A. Fournier, Sally Stevens, Linda Harmon, Susie Stevens-Logan, Ron Hicklin, Diane O. Thomas, Marie T. Hodgson, Maurita L. Thornburgh, Laurel L. James, Kerry E. Walsh, Darlene Koldenhoven, Kari Windingstad, Cathy A. Larsen, Jorga Caye, Alan Doshna
Director: Bob Rafelson

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