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Review: Turkish Delight (1973)

Director: Paul Verhoeven | 112 minutes | drama | Actors: Monique van de Ven, Rutger Hauer, Tonny Huurdeman, Wim van den Brink, Hans Boskamp, ​​Dolf de Vries, Manfred de Graaf, Dick Scheffer, Marjol Flore, Bert Dijkstra, Bert André, Jon Bluming, Paul Brandenburg, Suze Broks, David Conyers

Holland’s best-known and most successful movie has been praised and reviled. ‘Turks Fruit’ is everything that makes the Dutch film after the sexual revolution good and bad, a hurried, raw charming combination of gluttony, vulgarity and anti-bourgeoisie. Jan Wolkers’ romantic excess translates well into the silver screen; although Paul Verhoeven, with his many changes of action and speed of editing, takes away some literary subtlety, the love story from the source text remains, is performed energetically by Rutger Hauer and Monique van de Ven and supported by a superior soundtrack (by Toots Thielemans); all this can take some shit and piss, tits and asses. What’s called: like Wolkers, Verhoeven likes to dig at the roots of life through the exploration of sex, death and destruction.

What is striking about the umpteenth revision – the first after a decade and after the death of Wolkers, is that ‘Turkish Delight’ appears to stand the test of time; the culmination of energy that was released around 1970 by the unfolding of the talents of Wolkers, Verhoeven, Hauer, Van de Ven, producer Rob Houwer, screenwriter Gerard Soeteman and cameraman Jan de Bont does not only remain in the spirit of the time. Sculptor Erik is a timeless rebel, Olga of an indestructible childlike voluptuous beauty and also Erik’s struggle against the patriotic petty-bourgeois morals – well portrayed in Olga’s mother (the underestimated Huurdeman, a Dutch Sybil Fawlty) and her shop manager (Boskamp) still stands decades later. . Now and then Verhoeven forgets to keep time, as in the crazy scenes with the cow’s eye in the hunting dish and that of the opening of a hospital, but despite these and the many eagerly portrayed copulations, the director does not waste any time: ‘Turkish Delight’ is a love story and not porn. It remains a pity that the drama is settled too boldly to really touch deeply, but the irreplaceable Hauer and Van de Ven carry the film so much that the message gets across anyway; both add something substantial to the book. ‘Turks Fruit’ is a Gesamtkunstwerk as it could only be made in the culturally exploding Netherlands of the early 1970s. It remains a pity that the drama is settled too boldly to really touch deeply, but the irreplaceable Hauer and Van de Ven carry the film so much that the message gets across anyway; both add something substantial to the book. ‘Turks Fruit’ is a Gesamtkunstwerk as it could only be made in the culturally exploding Netherlands of the early 1970s. It remains a pity that the drama is settled too boldly to really touch deeply, but the irreplaceable Hauer and Van de Ven carry the film so much that the message gets across anyway; both add something substantial to the book. ‘Turks Fruit’ is a Gesamtkunstwerk as it could only be made in the culturally exploding Netherlands of the early 1970s.

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Review: Vet Hard (2005)

Director: Tim Oliehoek | 90 minutes | action, drama, comedy, romance, crime | Actors: Bracha van Doesburgh, Cas Janssen, Jack Wouterse, Johnny de Mol, Kürt Rogiers, Jaak van Assche, Peter van den Begin, Ton Kas, Bert André, Cees Geel

“Vet Hard” is without a doubt the most successful Dutch film of the past year. Thanks to a good advertising campaign and ditto promotion, the debut of the 25-year-old Tim Oliehoek grew into a real box-office success. Now that the hype surrounding the film has passed and the film will soon be available on DVD, it is a good time to take a closer look at this product. Is “Vet Hard” really as fun as the ad leads you to believe?

Well to be very brief: No, it is not. “Vet Hard” is quite a nice movie, but no more than that. In fact, if you are a little familiar with Danish cinema, you will soon recognize “Vet Hard” as a shameless clone of “Gamle mænd i nye biler”. The latter film was released here under the name “Old Men In New Cars” (2002).

Oliehoek has recreated the Danish original almost scene by scene. If you have already seen the Scandinavian film, you can skip “Fat Hard” with confidence. With the exception of a few cameos by well-known Dutch people, the young Dutch director has almost literally copied his source material. And that’s a shame.

A pity for anyone who has seen the original and a pity about the misplaced honor that Oliehoek receives. “Fat Hard” is not as original as all advertising would have you believe. Anyway, because many people are probably not familiar with Danish cinema, a Dutch remake can still be justified.

“Vet Hard” is about the obese criminal Bennie (Wouterse). The crook comes out of prison after five years and to his horror he learns that his foster father Mast is dying. Mast’s liver is not so good anymore. Bennie decides to get a new organ for his foster father in a rather aggressive way. For this, he enlists the help of a necrophile (Rogiers) and two chef’s helpers (Janssen and De Mol). In the meantime, the twisted, suicidal Katja (Van Doesburgh) also ends up with the company.

As mentioned, “Vet Hard” is based on a Danish film. And just like that Scandinavian version, the Dutch version is also extremely rude, blunt and rowdy. All characters are larger than life and cartoonish “Tom & Jerry violence” dominates the film. So you have to love that. The problem is that such extremities are fun, but become irritating over time. After having seen a similar explosion or death taint a number of times, the fun goes away. That was already the case in the Danish version and that is also the case in the Dutch edition.
It is a shame that Oliehoek has not refined the source material. If the story had been adjusted a bit, you might get a little more involved in all the action that passes on your screen. Some more elaborate characters and less chaotic and noisy violence would have been “Fat Hard”. The film is literally screaming for your attention. The only resting points in this production are the scenes in which Janssen and De Mol play the leading role. The controlled play of these young actors is really a relief between the hard explosions and the evergreens of George Baker shot at full volume.

The film is also packed with action and inside jokes, so in terms of spectacle there is little to say about “Fat Hard”. Half-known Netherlands is also featured in this movie. From Chazia Mourali to Jac Goderie: everyone who ever comes face to face on TV can be seen in this film. And sometimes that is fun.

Mourali, in particular, is very funny in her tiny cameo performance as a bitchy nurse. Olga Zuiderhoek is also very enjoyable as a stupid bank employee. The main roles are well played by the cast, but due to the enormous lack of character depth and the interchangeability of many characters, “Fat Hard” often gets stuck in good intentions. The film doesn’t really come to life anywhere, due to its immense superficiality. Many characters are so similar that you hardly see a difference. You have gentle characters and grumpy stupid powers and that’s it. There is nothing more.

It is purely thanks to the charisma of an acting cannon like Wouterse that “Vet Hard” is still reasonably acceptable. A less gifted actor could not have done anything with a one-dimensional and overly blunt role like this one. In addition to Wouterse, newcomer Van Doesburgh also holds his own between the brutal over-the-top violence. A no small feat for a first-time actress. And as said, Janssen and De Mol still manage to leave a pleasant impression despite their small roles and interchangeable characters. The other cast members remain rather anonymous due to their lackluster portrayal and weak characters.

All in all, “Vet Hard” is a decent movie. The movie has its moments, but a classic it is zeker not. With your mind at zero and with a glass of alcohol nearby, this product is easy to chop.

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Review: The Lion of Flanders (1985)

The Lion of Flanders (1985)

Directed by: Hugo Claus | 95 minutes | drama | Actors: Frank Aendenboom, Bert André, Piet Balfoort, Theu Boermans, Chris Boni, Hans Boskamp, ​​Ronnie Commisaris, Jules Croiset, Bart Dauwe, Jo De Meyere, Vic de Wachter, Ilma De Witte, Jan Decleir, Karel Deruwe, Herbert Flack, Paul Geens, Daisy Haegeman, Jules Hamel, Blanka Heirman, Guido Horckmans, Eric Kerremans, Alain Keytsman

One summer day in 1302, a band of Flemish insurgents defeated the armored army of the King of France, Philip the Fair. Until then Philip had been allowed to count the county of Flanders as his territory and had imposed increasingly heavier taxes on prosperous Flanders. The battle became known as the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and was immortalized in 1838 by Hendrik Conscience in his romanticized (and nationalistic) chivalric novel, ‘The Lion of Flanders’. The book became a huge success, since then Conscience has been known in Flanders as ‘the man who taught his people to read’. In 1985 Hugo Claus builds on that success as director of ‘De Leeuw van Vlaanderen’. Claus (also author of ‘Het Verdriet van België’) made, in his own words, “a spectacular film for fifteen-year-old boys”. In other words: he wanted to make a film for people who are willing and (still) able to look at the world through the eyes of a boy. Unfortunately, partly due to a meager budget, the film is only a shadow of comparable historical epics from Hollywood in boys’ eyes. What really kills the film is the hastily raked story. With almost inimitable giant leaps, it makes its way through Flemish history.

The film begins when the Count of Flanders (Robert Marcel) travels with his retinue to Philip the Fair (Peter te Nuyl) to protest against his constant tax increases. Roughly speaking, the sequel means that Philip sends his army to Flanders to put things in order there and thus enter into battle with the Flemish population. In France, the Count of Flanders encounters a king dressed in a ludicrous purple cloak and conceived with the appearance of a squinting snowy owl. When Philip speaks, he has the mimicry of a ventriloquist dummy. His wife, the queen, is Joanna of Navarre (“Naavaaraa”, says Johanna herself). Josine van Dalsum gives shape to her role as queen with sentences such as “Come on man, tell your king!” The Queen mainly comes across as a screaming shrew with the impact of a screaming toddler. It doesn’t get much better, in the rest of this ‘history’ supported by a soundtrack that seems intended to evoke PI Magnum and his Ferrari.

That and other spectacle, however, is not forthcoming. The uninspired battle scenes in ‘De Leeuw…’ never exceed the studied staging that preceded it. Archers fire their arrows as if it were a symbolic act. (While at other times blood flows from heads and arms in fountains.) The ‘pretending’ applies here to too many characters. Scenes that – presumably – should do something for you are played out so clumsily or forcibly that you probably take them for notice. Like when a mother kills her daughter to protect her from rape. At a public hanging, there is a hoot from the audience, so literal and emotionless that it can make you chuckle in surprise: “Boo! Boo! Boo!” In other scenes, everyone sits neatly facing the camera. That may be customary on stage (otherwise the actors will be unintelligible), on the silver screen it kills what is alive, and static that has to move. It can be a conscious ‘statement’: elsewhere in the film food is spread out on a table and lit up as if it had just been painted in a still life.

Then there are the costumes in ‘The Lion of Flanders’. Just when the carnival outfit of the mayor of Bruges has been banished from your mind, a horse dressed in shiny latex appears on the horizon, ridden by a knight in a literally dazzling metallic outfit: Liberace in ‘Medieval’ attire. By then it will be clear that ‘De Leeuw van Vlaanderen’ is justifiably an old-fashioned boy’s film, where hyperbole reigns, where white fights against black and where – whether or not due to the youthful enthusiasm of old Claus – telling a good story takes some time. the eye is lost. It remains to spot famous authors in this film: both Ischa Meyer and Adriaan van Dis perform a cameo here.

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Review: Peasant Psalm (1989)

Peasant Psalm (1989)

Directed by: Roland Verhavert | 100 minutes | drama | Actors: Bert André, Jef Burm, Ludo Busschots, Sabine De Volder, Rudi Delhem, Christel Domen, Erik Goossens, Jos van Gorp, Magda Lesage, Gerda Marchand, Jacky Morel, Ugo Prinsen, Jeanine Schevernels, Jan Steen, Alice Toen, Jan Van Dijck, Karen van Parijs, Yvonne Verbeeck, Ronny Waterschoot

Felix Timmermans (1886-1947) was one of Flanders’ most translated and prolific authors. He also wrote under the pseudonym Polleke van Mher. Timmermans was a self-taught artist and wrote plays, novels with a historical character, novellas, religiously oriented works and poems. In 1916, after a serious illness, he wrote his best-known book ‘Pallieter’, a poem in praise of the life he had rediscovered. His work typifies the typical Flemish outdoor life of the early twentieth century: jovial and religious. He would produce an extensive body of work. ‘Peasant psalm’ from 1935 was regarded as one of his best works alongside ‘Pallieter’. In that novel Timmermans created the figure of Boer Wortel, in his eyes the personification of the Flemish peasant mentality. Roland Verhavert filmed ‘Boerenpsalm’ in 1989, with Ronny Waterschoot – known from the Flemish soap series ‘Thuis’ – in the role of farmer Wortel.

After his father dies, he takes over the family farm. He is expected to soon marry a girl from the same background. His eye falls on Fien (Magda Lesage), a real farmer’s daughter. Life isn’t always a bed of roses for Carrot. His first child dies before it is one year old and daughter Amelieke (Sabine De Volder) is born blind. His eldest son Fons (Erik Goossens) also appears to lead a dissolute life and when Wortel confronts him, he leaves with the northern sun. When the news comes that Fons has committed suicide, Carrot has the greatest difficulty telling his wife. When she discovers his secret, she cannot recover from the blow: she dies of a broken heart. The years pass and Wortel hooks up with the much younger Frisine (Christine Domen), who has a child by Fons and is therefore actually his daughter-in-law. But every time Carrot seems to have found happiness, disaster strikes. Fortunately, Carrot is good friends with the village pastor (Jef Burm), who urges him to seek solace in his faith.

Nostalgia reigns supreme in ‘Peasant Psalm’. The outdoors is heavily romanticized. The picture that is painted of Wortel and his fellow villagers is that they are hard-working people who pursue the grace of God. The film thus fits into the tradition of Flemish films that were often made in the period between 1970 and 1990. The problem with many of these types of movies is that the story and characters come second. Decades are rushed through in an hour and a half. For example, Fien has not yet buried her first child or the next one is already born (nota bene just outside the walls of the cemetery!). And in a sigh and a sigh the job is done. Not all that believable. The characters are also very one-dimensional; actually only Root itself undergoes any development. Although the life of the farmer has quite a few tragedies, the film often looks like a farce. Carrot rolls around in the hay with the neighbor’s maid, Frisine, who seduces her father-in-law with her provocative clothes and mischievous look. Just as if Verhavert wants to say: that life on the farm is – apart from a death here or there, not that hard. Not a word is spoken about the eternal battle with the weather gods and the unequal distribution of wealth at that time.

The film is beautifully shot, with an eye for the farmland. But the drama and characters are not strong. The cast is also failing. Only Jef Burm knows how to give his role something extra. Waterschoot flies out of the bend here and there. The women are beautiful but lifeless. Empty shells. The biggest miss of ‘Peasant Psalm’, however, is the incredible jump in time. Root makes a Christ figure from a piece of wood. He seems to spend every spare hour on it. Because he scrapes and sands almost the entire film, he should have been working on it for almost thirty years. The high ‘hack-on-the-branch’ content does not make the already outdated story more compelling. Some films are timeless, but ‘Peasant Psalm’ certainly does not fall into that category. You have to be a very big fan of Felix Timmermans or Roland Verhavert to get excited about this.

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Review: Fat Hard (2005)

Fat Hard (2005)

Directed by: Tim Oliehoek | 90 minutes | action, drama, comedy, romance, crime | Actors: Bracha van Doesburgh, Cas Janssen, Jack Wouterse, Johnny de Mol, Kürt Rogiers, Jaak van Assche, Peter van den Begin, Ton Kas, Bert André, Cees Geel

‘Vet Hard’ is without doubt the most successful Dutch film of the past year. Thanks to a good advertising campaign and promotion, the debut of 25-year-old Tim Oliehoek became a true box-office success. Now that the hype surrounding the film has blown over and the film will soon be available on DVD, now is a good time to take a closer look at this product. Is ‘Vet Hard’ really as fun as the commercials lead you to believe?

Well to be very short: No, it is not. ‘Vet Hard’ is a nice movie, but certainly no more than that. In fact, if you’re a little familiar with Danish cinema, you’ll quickly recognize ‘Vet Hard’ as a shameless clone of ‘Gamle mænd i nye biler’. The latter film was released here under the name ‘Old Men In New Cars’ (2002).

Oliehoek has recreated the Danish original almost scene by scene. If you’ve already seen the Scandinavian film, you can safely skip ‘Vet Hard’. With the exception of a few cameos by almost famous Dutch people, the young Dutch director has copied his source material almost literally. And that’s a shame.

Too bad for everyone who saw the original and too bad for the misplaced credit that Oliehoek gets. So ‘Vet Hard’ is not as original as all advertising would have you believe. Anyway, because many people are probably not familiar with Danish cinema, a Dutch remake can still be justified.

‘Vet Hard’ is about the obese criminal Bennie (Wouterse). The crook is released from prison after five years and to his horror he learns that his foster father Mast is dying. Mast’s liver isn’t so good anymore. Bennie decides to get a new organ for his foster father quite aggressively. For this he enlists the help of a necrophile (Rogiers) and two cooks’ assistants (Janssen and De Mol). Meanwhile, the twisted, suicidal Katja (Van Doesburgh) also joins the company.

As mentioned, ‘Vet Hard’ is based on a Danish film. And just like the Scandinavian version, the Dutch version is also extremely clumsy, blunt and rowdy. All characters are larger than life and cartoonish ‘Tom & Jerry violence’ dominates the film. So you have to love that. The problem is that such extremities are fun for a while, but they become annoying after a while. After seeing a similar explosion or death smack a few times, the fun wears off. That was already the case in the Danish version and that is also the case in the Dutch edition.
It is a shame that Oliehoek has not refined the source material a bit. If the story had been tweaked a bit, you might get a little more involved in all the action on your screen. Some more developed characters and less chaotic and noisy violence would have suited ‘Vet Hard’. The film literally screams for your attention. The only moments of rest in this production are the scenes in which Janssen and De Mol play the leading role. The controlled playing of these young actors is really a relief between the hard explosions and the evergreens played at full volume by George Baker.

The film is also packed with action and inside jokes, so in terms of spectacle there is little to complain about ‘Vet Hard’. The semi-known Netherlands is also featured in this film. From Chazia Mourali to Jac Goderie: everyone who ever sees their head on TV can be seen in this film. And sometimes that’s pretty fun.

Mourali, in particular, is very funny in her tiny cameo appearance as a bitchy nurse. Olga Zuiderhoek is also very enjoyable as a stupid bank employee. The main roles are played nicely by the cast, but because of the enormous lack of character development and the interchangeability of many characters, ‘Vet Hard’ often gets stuck in good intentions. The film never really comes to life and that is due to its immense superficiality. Many characters are so similar that you can barely tell the difference. You have gentle figures and grumpy dumb ass and that’s it. There is nothing more.

It is purely thanks to the charisma of an acting cannon like Wouterse that ‘Vet Hard’ is still reasonably acceptable. A less gifted actor could not have done anything with a one-dimensional and overly blunt role like this. In addition to Wouterse, newcomer Van Doesburgh also holds up well between the brutal over the top violence. A no small feat for a debuting actress. And as mentioned, Janssen and De Mol manage to leave a pleasant impression despite their small roles and interchangeable characters. The other cast members remain rather anonymous due to their lackluster performances and weak characters.

All in all ‘Vet Hard’ is a reasonable film. The movie has its moments, but it is certainly not a classic. With your mind at zero and with a glass of alcohol nearby, this product can be easily digested.