13th

100 min.

13th-netflixAren’t there documentaries with happy/happier subjects? Of course there are, but isn’t a documentary supposed to educate? About things that may not be a day-to-day subject for a lot of people? I think 13th is smack right on that with it being about the USA prison system and how black people suffer from it.

This isn’t an emotional appeal, this is layers and layers of facts and numbers and statistics showing how authorities use everything in their power to control the minority population. How there’s no equality in punishment for the same crime, how there’s no fairness and that believing in the system is more than naive, it might be lethal.

It’s the strength of the people featured that prevent you from completely circling down the drain of ‘Is this really society’. People that keep speaking up, that keep fighting, the Davids to the  many-headed Goliath.

Ignorance is not an argument. Know what’s wrong.

13th, Netflix 2016

Vaiana

113 min.

Ook wel bekend als Moana, maar voor redenen (was het nu de Italiaanse pornoster), heet het in Europa Vaiana. Voel je niks van.

disney-vaianaDe film maakt sowieso weinig golven. Natuurlijk, er is (weer) geen love interest en nou nou poe poe, Disney durft het eens aan om een niet-Westers sprookje te gebruiken. Gelukkig is er wel een klier die Dingen Leert, een Zelfstandige Meid Die Anders Is en wat leuke en lieve dierenvrienden voor comic relief. En als je niet te lang naar Vaiana’s gezicht kijkt, hoef je ook niet de overeenkomsten met de hoofdpersonen van Tangled en Frozen te zien. Hoedanook, het is geen Kubo and the Two Strings.

Maar waarom zie je ‘m dan? Omdat het er weer erg mooi uitziet, omdat het tweede kerstdag is (kan ik ook voor zondagmiddagen of andere feestdagen), omdat er kleine stukjes getekende animatie in zitten, waardoor de hoop op een herleving daar van toch weer gevoed wordt. Omdat ach – Disney levert, wij eten het op. Toch?

Wel voor de volgende keer iets meer de best doen op de meezingbaarheid van de liedjes, Disney.

Vaiana, Disney 2016

Rogue One

133 min.

Definitely more fun when you watch it without knowing too much of the Star Wars universe and stories. And don’t act like it’s an international embarrassment if you aren’t rogue-one-posterwell-versed in its material.

Anyway, there’s another female brunette who needs to fight the baddies. She doesn’t want to at first, but Things Change and she realises that the Rebellion needs to succeed. After a dark (literally and figuratively) first half, it’s for the viewer clear as well.

In my mind Star Wars movies have always been different shades of sand colours, so the beautiful shots of the beachy planet definitely left me pleasantly surprised. So did the tempo, never giving you the feeling that there’s filler or that you’re stuck in your chair for another [x amount] of minutes. And yes, it is watchable with nary a clue about its background.

Think Indiana Jones in space, think explosions, narrow escapes and aliens and you have an entertaining two hours at the ready.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm 2016

Mascots

89 min.

netflix-mascotsOh dear, what is this? A mockumentary, although the people starring are small-mindedly human enough to be straight from reality. And what is it about? Sport mascots, the people that dress up as animals (and other things) at sport games. The featured mascots are preparing for a world championship of mascots and accompanying con. The people attached to that are ..maybe even weirder, and in the worrying way.

Especially when sex and furries are added. It moves the not-documentary from ‘people very passionate about an unfamiliar hobby’ to ‘how many weirdos can we gather’.

In the end this made me more curious about the people in mascots, the real ones. Surely they’re not as annoying and frown-worthy as this lot. And hopefully they perform without a dancing poop.

Mascots, Netflix 2016

Smoke

‘Thomas, Thomas! Wake up!’

Well, Dan Vyleta got the Victorian-feel of it down pat. Several times I paged back to the front to check the year of first publication.

This could be viewed as a compliment, but as I expected something else going in, it took me a long time to adapt. Smoke is as straight-edged as its characters, afraid of anything that could be viewed as sin or a wrong emotion, any form of entertainment that could ‘evoke’ something.

This element makes the novel dystopian, a strict society in which something or someone will give sooner than later. Not just that, but on top of the societal mystery, there’s a mysterious group that’s kind of powerful, but not powerful enough to have a clear enough message. Or maybe the smoke just got in between.

Even when adventure is added, the feeling doesn’t get very urgent. Power hungry people want to keep things the way they are, maybe some light sins aren’t that horrible, okay, okay. It could have been a short novel, a foundation for a television series, but as a hefty book there’s just not enough spark.

Smoke, Dan Vyleta, Weidenfeld&Nicholson 2016

Cherry

To be honest, the sex pact wasn’t always part of the plan.

Female teenagers decide that all of them are going to lose their virginity before graduation. Surely nothing can go wrong (and cringe worthy).

The thing is, it almost doesn’t. For once girls are shown as sexual beings as well, for once there’s focus and care about body positivism, self-development and orgasms. They’re allowed to be characters instead of clichés, and it’s easy to start caring for the group.

So what did go wrong? As usual, the b-word in between homosexuality and heterosexuality seems to be non-existent, and I hope not too many readers get their hopes up about the eagerness of teenage boys performing oral sex. Some chapters are saccharine sweet, but by then you have already been reeled in to support everyone.

It’s a good one for a glance behind the girl teen facade.

Cherry, Lindsey Rosin, Simon Pulse 2016

Star Trek Beyond

122 min.

It was definitely better than the second movie, but how hard was that one to beat? This time we’re back to the feeling of a summery, no-need-for-life-lessons Star Trek. And even star-trek-beyond-posterthough the director came from the Fast and the Furious series, not that much races.

As usual, the Enterprise is off somewhere, trying to help out an alien race, when they find someone that needs their help somewhere else. Being good Federation crew, they follow. A villain needs to be added in somewhere, so guess in which ways things don’t go as they should.

This time the movie moves along much smoother, there is less lens flare and random female nudity and flat-falling jokes. It could still do with more speaking parts for women, and it’s sad that a same-sex kiss had to be cut out. But if it’s going to be a trilogy, we leave on a semi high note, else the only way is up.

Star Trek Beyond, Paramount Pictures 2016