21 April 2017.
Yet another true story. There have been so many of them lately – one better than the next, for they truly happened, which makes them that much more compelling.
Matthew McConaughey has become an aficionado of these biopics – losing and gaining an extraordinary amount of weight depending on the role. For his role as an AIDS activist in “Dallas Buyers Club” (for which he won Best Actor Oscar) he lost some 20 kilos, for this role he gained about the same amount, a pot belly and a receding hairline.
With total commitment, McConaughey plays the real-life Kenny Wells, a desperate, passionate prospector who teams up with a debonair and expert partner (played by a convincing Edgar Ramirez) in Indonesia to look for a gold mine they believe will bring them millions. This film by Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”) takes us on a wild ride into humid forests, crazy highs and lows, political back-stabbings and Wall Street shenanigans that culminate in a monumental scam. But who scammed who?
Critics have slaughtered it, but I was captivated and impressed by this true fable of human perseverance, greed and folly. At times it reminded me of the energy of Milos Forman’s “The People vs. Larry Flynt” from 1996.
NOCES *** (vo French)
This Belgian film is a powerful look at the tensions that can and do arise in immigrant families that have problems adapting to Western ways. Directed by Stephen Streker, it zeroes in on the lives of a Belgian/Pakistani family. It is a loving family, whose father (the Iranian actor Babak Karimi) runs a grocery store and is respected in the community. They have lived peacefully in Europe for years without losing their religious and cultural ties to the old country.
But Zahira, the 18 year-old daughter, (played by the exquisite newcomer Lina El Arabi) feels Western and is the rebel of the family. She loves and respects her family, especially her older brother, but wants to make her own decisions in life. And she does not want to marry someone chosen by her family, especially from back in Pakistan.
I will go no further, for you should experience this very timely tale for yourself. Be ready for a film that is well-measured, not judgemental, and presents a modern Greek tragedy…
SOUS LE MÊME TOIT *** (vo French)
After the two preceding heavies, check out this hilarious French comedy for a welcome release of laughter. It’s about a divorced couple, the tale recounted by the two kids of the family. As is often the case, the parents are far more juvenile than their children.
Since the father is a dreamer and broke, he ends up coming back to live with his estranged family, hence the title. Gilles Lellouche is great as the loser father, embodying so many of the “endearing” characteristics of the male species. And the mother, played by Louise Bourgoin, is your typical modern feminist. The cute, patient kids are lost and found somewhere in between.
The beauty of the film is that it’s intelligently written and directed by actor, producer and humorist Dominique Farrugia, without stooping to stupidity or vulgarity, as is so often the case these days – especially in American comedies. It’s light, it’s bubbly, and it takes great advantage of its clichés to dissect the modern family with all its warts. Here’s politically incorrect fun!
This is a sort of bad copy of “Alien”. A huge space station; an international mix of a crew; the discovery and nurturing of possible extraterrestrial life. Sorry, but I had to leave when the “thing” started getting bigger and really, really nasty. I’m not into horror nor gratuitous violence. Even the talented Jake Gyllenhaal or cute Ryan Reynolds couldn’t save it for me. What a misnomer of a title. And this is supposed to be a Disney product?!
If you like the futuristic genre, go see great films such as “Mars” or “Gravity” again. Go to this, if sick is your thing.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.