English Reviews

Review: Oink (2022)

Oink (2022)

Directed by: Mascha Halberstad | 72 minutes | animation, family | Original voice cast: Hiba Ghafry, Kees Prins, Matsen Montsma, Jelka van Houten, Henry van Loon, Loes Luca, Johnny Kraaijkamp, ​​Alex Klaasen, Remko Vrijdag

Every child wants to try a pet at some point. So is Babs (Hiba Ghafry), preferably a puppy. Mother Margreet (Jelka van Houten) and father Nol (Henry van Loon) have to sleep on it for a few nights because their daughter can be quite impulsive. Then grandpa Tuitjes (Kees Prins), who suddenly arrives at the family’s doorstep all the way from America, gives Babs a piglet as a present for her ninth birthday. Babs is immediately in love and calls him Oink. Mother is a lot less pleased with Grandpa and Piglet. She is especially afraid of intruders in her vegetable garden. After all, the family is (self-sufficient!) vegetarian from head to toe. And Margreet doesn’t like that the present comes from her father, who is in fact absent. Grandpa has to stay in the garden house for the time being and Piglet can only stay if he doesn’t eat the vegetable garden or if he poops everything. Together with her good friend Tijn (Matsen Montsma), Babs tries to wash this pig.

By the way, Babs thinks grandpa Tuitjes is a strange fellow and has to get used to his accent, the cowboy hat and the banjo game by moonlight. Moreover, he is quite secretive about a large suitcase he brought with him. Grandpa himself does not care about all kinds of social hassles and the standard greenery on the dining table. In fact, he didn’t just come back to hook up with the family. After decades of absence, he also wants to create a furore at the sausage competition of the Association for Meat Products of Fresh Pigs.

If there’s one thing you don’t get from ‘Own’, it’s grumpy. What a party number! This homegrown animation film is based on the book ‘The Revenge of Knor’ by Tosca Menten. Writer Menten had not expected in her wildest dreams that this would be the result of the collaboration. Yet Menten clearly lies at the origin of the humorous and playful look at complex subjects for the everyday family. What do you actually eat when you eat meat; a father who suddenly leaves home and hearth; dog training for pigs and jokes about poop of course.

Director Mascha Halberstad has earned her stripes in the animation world with, among other things, several short films, a video clip for the band The Prodigy, and the TV series ‘Fox and Hare’ (2018 – …). ‘Own’ seems to be the culmination of the work so far. Her first feature film is both a crafty book adaptation and a visual feat. Sometimes it is also reminiscent of a plump Dutch grandnephew of ‘Fantastic Mister Fox’ (Wes Anderson, 2009); ‘Knor’ is more comical, flatter and more direct than many youth films. The poop jokes do not predominate but there is always room for them. The ensuing slight anarchy is enjoyable for anyone over the age of six. The voice actors also visibly enjoy the material. Especially Kees Prins and Loes Luca (the gruff aunt Christine) go wild on the playful (under)tone. Plus, ‘Own’ is full of mischievous movie references, including to ‘ET’ (Steven Spielberg, 1982) and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (George Miller, 2017) (note the tractor scenes!). Following the stop-motion masters of Aardman Animations (‘Wallace & Gromit’, ‘Shaun the Sheep’ et cetera.), Halberstad and her animation team have transformed the tangible clay into something very lively and touching on screen without going on the sentimental tour. They can compete with the best in the genre.

Every now and then the stop motion seems sluggish, as on a late summer day. This is anything but disturbing and strongly supports the dry humor and thoughtful view on social themes. And although the current state of affairs in the meat industry is neither fish nor meat, the film is not grumbling about it in terms of moralism. Could the story perhaps go deeper into certain matters such as the disappearance of grandfather Tuitjes from the life of daughter Margreet? Absolutely no man overboard here, enough wealth and perhaps it is an idea for a spectacular sequel.

English Reviews

Review: The Desire (2017)

The Desire (2017)

Directed by: Joram Lürsen | 90 minutes | comedy | Actors: Chantal Janzen, Gijs Naber, Alex Klaasen, Peter Bolhuis, Jelka van Houten, Bram van der Vlugt, Anne-Wil Blankers

Things are not going so well with Uitgeverij Goudemondt from Amsterdam. Father Alfred has withdrawn from the family business, once founded by his father, which is now run by his sons Boudewijn “Beau” (Alex Klaassen) and Marc (Gijs Naber). Revenues are declining and successful titles no longer present themselves. Marc lives in a half-empty apartment, after his ex-wife has left behind only his books, a microwave and three lamps. Beau has stress related stomach problems. Then everything changes: at about the same time they get hold of two manuscripts: ‘The desire’, a literary masterpiece by the shy Herman Schutte (Peter Bolhuis) and a trinket by the shoe seller Brigitte Hooijmakers (Chantal Janzen). Herman is a stuttering, unkempt loner with a large port-wine stain on his face that cannot be sold as a person, while the attractive Brigitte has penned a misspelled piece from the perspective of a Jimmy Choo shoe.

Beau devises a wild plan to make a deal with Herman and Brigitte: she pretends to be the author of ‘The desire’ and Herman in turn knows that his work reaches a large audience, without having to put any effort into it. to do. Brother Marc is initially very skeptical, but is eventually persuaded to participate. On one condition: their parents must not find out. Brigitte and Herman participate and of course ‘The desire’ becomes a great success in no time. Not least thanks to a sophisticated media strategy in which the beautiful blond debutante who writes a grand and compelling novel about love and death takes center stage. Then things go wrong: when Herman threatens to become regretful, the plan begins to unravel fairly quickly.

‘Desire’ has become a very successful satire, which cleverly punctures the emptiness of the literary world, the superficiality of the media and of what is meant by “glamor” in our country. Chantal Janzen plays a very witty lead role as Brigitte (including a Purmerend accent that she took over from her nail stylist) and does not fail to poke fun at herself and the television world.

Naber here plays the role of the “straight man”, the serious coat rack while everything around him is going wrong and Klaassen is strong like the sometimes villainous Boudewijn, whose conscience plays up at crucial moments in the form of stomach pain. Routiniers Bram van der Vlugt and Anne-Wil Blankers play well-developed supporting roles as father and mother Goudemondt, who have managed to keep the publishing company running for forty years and who do not quite manage to keep their distance from how their sons try to keep the tent going. to hold.

Also on point are Jelka van Houten as Brigitte’s girlfriend Mariska and Matteo van der Grijn as Brigitte’s bodyguard André, an ex-kick boxer who loves American pit bulls.
Director Joram Lürsen and screenwriter Frank Ketelaar use a cheerful tone, but meanwhile they hold up a mirror to everyone. To what extent does appearance determine (literary) success? That in itself is not an original idea and the plot is quite conventional, yet they manage to weave quirky scenes throughout the film.

Whether it’s cameos by writers Ronald Giphart, Mano Bouzamour and Robert Vuijsje at the Frankfurter Buchmesse, the presentation of the book in RTL Boulevard with Winston Gerstanowitz and De Wereld Draait Door with Matthijs van Nieuwkerk and Jan Mulder, everyone participates in this joke with the double bottom. Special mention to Jochem ten Haaf who plays the fictional writer Aaron Golsteijn, but in which Arnon Grunberg can be recognized effortlessly. Ten Haaf knows how to bring the mixture of insufferable self-righteousness and an almost shy charmingness of the real Grunberg into the limelight.

The reference to Grunberg is in itself striking, because he wrote the prize-winning “The history of my baldness” as Marek van der Jagt. And he certainly wasn’t the first (or the last) in literary history to pretend to be someone else.

Lürsen delivers a fine film here, with funny pinpricks and a smoothly told story. Sometimes the pace is even a bit too much, with many scene changes that seem a bit restless after a while. The thriller element in the last quarter of the film doesn’t work quite well, which makes the film a bit off balance. Peter Blok’s slightly ironic voice-over fits in with the style of the film, but ultimately adds little. That does not alter the fact that ‘The desire’ is an extremely entertaining satire, which makes good points without being too vicious.

English Reviews

Review: Gooische Women (2011)

Gooische Women (2011)

Directed by: Will Koopman | 105 minutes | drama, comedy | Actors: Linda de Mol, Peter Paul Muller, Leopold Witte, Koen Wauters, Tjitske Reidinga, Susan Visser, Alex Klaasen, Lies Visschedijk, Marcel Musters, Daniel Boissevain, Derek de Lint

Will Koopman, director of ‘Gooische Vrouwen’, believes that you can tell a lot more in a feature film than in a television series. You can deepen characters and develop storylines more strongly. Everything is possible.

With a classical montage, surrounded by funky soul music, ‘Gooische Vrouwen’ reveals the lives of four wealthy women from Het Gooi. Even if you have never seen the series, Cheryl, Claire, Anouk, and Roelien (or Linda, Tjitske, Susan and Lies) will soon have no more secrets for you. Thanks to the bearable everydayness of their worries. Roelien’s biggest problem is the threatening felling of a monumental tree, in addition to her husband’s disinterest. He gives his rock-solid boat shoe girl some encouraging taps on the cheek in the morning, and then dissolves into his work. Anouk is a divorced artist and gives painting lessons – she herself lacks all inspiration. In the process, Anouk is looking for a way to satisfy her lust as a single mother without offending her grumpy daughter. Claire was born to be a grandmother. A somewhat fragile basis for her zest for life, which implodes when her daughter simply announces that she and her family are emigrating to Burkina Faso. To do something with wells. She doesn’t like her husband Dirk – his passion focuses on deep-fried snacks. The only guy who visibly leads a life of his own in the Gooische is Martin Morero: a folk singer with an Amsterdam accent, thick as pudding. He is preparing for a series of concerts in the Amsterdam Arena, hindered by his libido and the slow development of his son Remy-Martin. He’s married to Cheryl. And Cheryl, well, what does she actually do? Relegating her poor son to an afterthought because she wants to go to Anouk’s vernissage-with-bubbles?

As a film, ‘Gooische Vrouwen’ also seems to be an ode to materialism. Sons have a mini-Mercedes, bags are worth a waiting list, couches are so expensive that they are not worth a meter, and you make love with Burberry suits or silicone. Of course you can gloat over the outfits of androgynous fashion fetishist Yari (Alex Klaassen). As a dalmatian he shows off well, but he steals the show with his ‘baguette bag’. The promise and only ‘innovation’ of ‘Gooische Vrouwen’ (the movie) is that we will see the four girlfriends in fashionable Paris. Nice to France – exhausting breast enlargements, marred wedding ceremonial, teenage daughters exploding and stressed husbands having their blow job in a doll corner. In other words: no more Gucci bags on that well-worn PC, but on Rue de Rivoli and Champs-Elysées. Just sit back and relax: that promise is being fulfilled. What satisfying archetype can be found in the image of that group of exuberant gold card women carrying a load of high-gloss bags along a sunny avenue?

‘Gooische Vrouwen’ is like a photo album full of good memories. Static. All kinds of things happen, and there is plenty to laugh about: Martin Morero in his newsprint suit, his meddling mother-man (Beppie Melissen), fishmonger Dirk who goes to his knees with a mouthful of tapenade, Roelien’s lonely eco-struggle and urge to help, even the verbal stumbling by Jeroen van Koningsbrugge works. Quasi-artist Anouk (Susan Visser) can rightly be called warm-blooded and sexy – she is an exception. But inside the characters stand still. They are moving images, in a different sense than usual. Defenseless victims of abundance, navel-gazing and Gooische blinders. You would feel sorry for them.

‘Gooische Vrouwen’ comes across as an entertaining but lengthy introduction to a very short story. Where a five-minute episode starts the story, ‘Gooische Vrouwen’ takes almost an hour and a half to drive four women and a stylist into an imaginatively painted VW van. On their way to the château of reflection of white swan Loes Luca, who – in impossible poses – shows them the way to themselves. Without success, because even as a viewer you wonder what the hell they are doing there after three minutes. As a diversion, as a solid, light-hearted feel-good comedy and ‘feast of recognition’, there is reason to watch the film on a huge screen. But stronger storylines, deepened characters? What isn’t there… A visit to the constantly bewildered psychologist Derek de Lint doesn’t change that either.

English Reviews

Review: All is Love (2007)

All is Love (2007)

Directed by: Joram Lürsen | 110 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Carice van Houten, Chantal Janzen, Daan Schuurmans, Michiel Romeyn, René van t Hof, Dennis Overeem, Peter Paul Muller, Eric Schneider, Paul de Leeuw, Wendy van Dijk, Valerio Zeno, Jeroen Spitzenberger, Thomas Acda, Lineke Rijxman, Marc-Marie Huijbregts, Anneke Blok, Marisa van Eijle, Viggo Waas, Lies Visschedijk, Alex Klaasen

While the phenomenon of the Christmas film is about as old as Santa Claus himself, the full-length Sinterklaas film is still in its infancy. It wasn’t until 2005 that a serious start was made with ‘The Horse of Sinterklaas’, a youth film about the Chinese girl Winky Wong and her clashes with the Good Saint. In 2007 it actually happened twice; while the kids get another visit from Winky, the adults can enjoy ‘All is Love’, a romantic evening comedy in mosaic form. To make this comedy a commercial hit, the producers left little to chance. The cast consists of almost all of the acting Netherlands, the mussel rockers of Bløf wrote and played the title song, while a French color wizard was flown in to provide the streets, canals and harbors of Amsterdam with a fairytale palette. The result may be there. The film looks beautiful, the actors are easy to understand, the music has been chosen with care and the acting is (for the most part) perfectly fine.

Still, none of this would be worth much without an appealing scenario. Kim van Kooten, who is committed to this task, shows that she has a complete grasp of the specific genre and the specific form. Because of the naturalness with which the storylines alternate, intersect and go their own way again, you would almost forget that this is the point where many mosaic films go wrong. Moreover, the screenwriter is experienced enough to know that romance only thrives with the necessary heartbreak, and that a comedy cannot do without tragedy.

The humor in ‘Everything is Love’ ranges from simple pranks to some rock-solid finds. Night-voicing corps balls (including prince) pushing an unmanned invalid carriage into the canal are more primitive humor, but what they exclaim afterwards is really, really, really funny. Those frat balls are part of the handful of caricatures that make up the film, including a slutty salesman and a confused houseboat dweller. Yet most characters are sharply drawn and have enough individuality to pass for full-fledged characters. We also owe the impact of the moving scenes to the latter.

For example, ‘Everything is Love’ has become a fine romantic comedy, which only misses a single negligible point. Due to the smooth switching between the different storylines and the well-dosed alternation of comic and dramatic scenes, the 110 minutes fly by. The producers actually seem to be right when they very bluffily printed ‘The romantic comedy of 2007’ on the poster. We just as bluffily put a few big exclamation marks after that.