After having been voted as one of the top 11 best UK Art & Culture blogs last spring (I know, all good things go to eleven), I started posting retrospectives of all the art & culture-related events I attended in the previous quarter. Because I had seen and done just way too much these past three months to write about in one post, I decided to split this quarter’s edition in two parts so not to overwhelm you with one massive post!
Here’s part 2 of my arts & culture wrap-up for the months April-June. If you missed part 1, you can read it here. That part features art, books, music & dance.
FILM & TV
Of the 49 films and TV series I watched this quarter, these four really stood out for me:
- Absolute winner is John Wick. I had no expectations at all and was prepared for yet another film with Keanu Reeves doing his goofy, perpetual surprised look as in The Matrix, but there’s none of this in his role as badass John Wick. Yes, it’s slightly ridiculous and absolutely over-the-top at times, but the film has a good flow to it and is packed with both action and humour. Critics claim John Wick is Keanu Reeves’ comeback. Watch it and judge for yourself.
- I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but I was also very impressed with disaster movie San Andreas starring The Rock who is of course the BIG hero, in various meanings of the world. The film might be very predictable, but you’re constantly engaged with the characters on screen. I expected a light, dismissible action film, but it was actually a very entertaining light action film.
- Predestination proves yet again what a great and underrated actor Ethan Hawke is. As with all time-travelling films, the plot and events get a bit messy throughout the film, but the principle is very interesting. Oh, and did I say already that Ethan Hawke is really really really good in it?
- The Last Man on Earth is a new TV series created by Will Forte (Nebraska) who is also the title’s last man on earth. As a viewer we never learn what catastrophe hit earth. We are introduced to Phil presumably well after humankind has been eradicated from the face of the earth. While watching it, you cannot help but to think why this particular person managed to survive the Apocalypse. Even at the end of the world he’s obnoxious and egoistic, but his shameful actions do make you laugh.
Where there are winners, there must also be losers. So here are the worst films and TV series I watched.
- I had high hopes for Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, but this documentary seemed to be more about the maker and Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, than anything else. Overly ‘artistic’ interventions formed too much of a distraction and added nothing to the documentary other than annoyance with the director’s self-indulgence. Anecdotes from his former partners weren’t convincing either. His first partner painted a too much of a pretty picture when she was recounting the days when she worked hard every day in her job to support them while Kurt stayed home working on new songs while no doubt using a pretty amount of stimulants. Feminist as I am, I don’t believe that any woman would readily agree with her man just sitting at home, jamming on his guitar all day without help out in the household while she brings in all the cash.
I also still don’t understand why we have to see Courtney’s boobs all the time. Excuse me, was this film about Kurt’s life and music or about his attention-seeking wife? We see footage of the happy couple, high on drugs, and their baby daughter. In a twisted way they seem to make a happy family, but you can’t tell me that the baby never cried and that this never upset two druggies. Also, why doesn’t Dave Grohl make an appearance in the documentary? There were only three people in the band, of which one died, so it’s not like it was very difficult to get all former band members involved. The director claims he didn’t have enough time to arrange this (yeah, because he probably made it all in just a few months time and it was all finished before he realised…). I suspect Dave and Courtney’s feud has something to do with this.
It happens that Dave Grohl appears longer in the recent documentary on Amy Winehouse, Amy, than in the one about Kurt Cubain! (Of all recent music documentaries, Amy is a good one and I definitely recommend it.)
- Johnny Depp is painfully awful as a British eccentric in Mortdecai. The only scenes that interested me were the ones obviously filmed down the road from me.
- Force Majeure. Another widely appraised film that just didn’t meet up to my expectations. The word ‘awkward’ immediately springs to mind to describe this film.
- I’ve seen only one episode of TV series Nathan For You and thought it was despicable. It would work perfectly as a parody on those real-life series about rich airheads, weren’t not that it ridicules innocent participants. I’m not too keen to watch the rest of the series, but perhaps I need to watch more to be able justify or perhaps alter my opinion.
Because it’s such a long list for this post, I put the full list of all the other films and TV series (plus links) I (re-)watched these last three months below.
FOOD & DRINK
Sushi restaurant Shiki is a hidden gem and my number one Amsterdam restaurant: good quality sushi for a fair price right in the city centre, just a 10min-walk from Amsterdam Central Station.
Of course I went back to the Netherlands again last spring. As you can read in more detail in my post ‘Dutch Girl Does Arts & Culture April – June 2015 #1’ I saw some great exhibitions in The Hague (Berlinde de Bruyckere, Anton Corbijn and M.C. Escher) and attended the premiere of the fantastic dance performance Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in Amsterdam and spotted some Dutch celebs bopping their heads to the music written by my hubby. This trip also coincided with Mother’s Day and my 36th birthday. After a tearful start of the day when my mum read the ode I wrote for her as my Mother’s Day present, I had an amazing birthday party with family and friends.
Shortly afterwards it was off to Umeå in the north of Sweden, not only to abuse the world’s fastest internet but most of all to visit Music Tech Fest Scandi where I was kindly invited to. You can read my feature on the festival before the next edition which will take place in Ljubljana between 18 and 20 September. It was a great experience and I met so many interesting people there who work in the cutting-edge field of music technology, a completely new world to me. More about this on the blog over the next weeks!
Films – Continued
In alphabetical order, here are the other films and TV series I (re-)watched these last three months:
21 Grams (Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro, Sean Penn)
A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (Robin Williams, Lauren Graham, Joel McHale)
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (2013)
Are You Here (Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler)
As Above, So Below (Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge)
Asterix & Obelix: Mansion of the Gods (2014)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson)
Black Sea (Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn)
Blade Runner The Final Cut (Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Darryl Hannah)
Boardwalk Empire (Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Stephen Graham)
Burn After Reading (Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Frances McDormand)
Cinderella (Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden)
The Cobbler (Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi, Method Man)
Die Hard 4.0 (Bruce Willis, Timothy Olyphant, Justin Long)
Enemy of the State (Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Lisa Bonet) (Interestingly I hadn’t seen the brilliant The Conversation (1974) till a few years ago and finally was able to make the connection between these two films)
Entourage (Jeremy Piven, Billy Bob Thornton, Haley Joel Osment)
Ex Machina (Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson)
The Falling (Maisie Williams, Florence Pugh, Maxine Peake)
Game of Thrones season 5 (Peter Dinklage, Lena Headly, Emilia Clarke)
Good People (James Franco, Kate Hudson, Tom Wilkinson)
Hancock (Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman), Jane the Virgin (Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Yael Groblas)
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Jiro Ono, Mashiro Yamamoto, Daisuke Nakazama)
Jurassic World (Bryce Dallaw Howard, Chris Patt, Vincent D’Onofrio)
Legally Blonde (Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair)
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Bob Newhart)
Lord of War (Nicholas Cage, Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto)
Mad Max: Fury Road (Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult)
Mr Holmes (Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker)
Office Space (Ron Livingston, Jennifer Anniston, Gary Cole)
Pitch Perfect 2 (Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Katey Sagal)
Project Almanac (Jonny Weston, Sofie Black-D’Elia, Sam Lerner)
Serious Man, A (Michael Stuhlbarg Richard Kind, Sari Lennick)
Seventh Son (Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Ben Barnes)
Spy (Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham)
Taken 3 (Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace)
Training Day (Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Tom Berenger)
Vice (Bruce Willis, Thomas Jane, Ambyr Childers)
While We’re Young (Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver)
Wolf of Wall Street (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie).
Hopefully this post inspired your cinematic appetite (and appetite for good sushi as well for that matter). That’s what these posts are all about!