English Reviews

Review: Shooom’s Adventure – L’odyssée de choum (2019)

Shooom’s adventure – L’odyssée de choum (2019)

Directed by: Julien Bisaro | 26 minutes | animation, adventure, short film | Dutch voice cast: Meghna Kumar, Murth Mossel, Daysha Ligeon, Peggy Sandaal, Daphne Flint, Davian Mardjoeki, Juneoer Mers

‘Shooom’s Adventure’ is a 26-minute gem of an animated film. The film is made for children between the ages of 4 and 7, but it is guaranteed that many adults will count this beautiful work as one of their favorites after seeing it.

The video is set in Louisiana. An ideal setting because the variety in the landscape provides a lot of variation in colour, shape and sound. The adventure begins in a small coastal town, where the harbor master sounds the alarm for the approaching hurricane. People, but also animals, quickly seek the safety of their homes. We follow a small squirrel who suddenly spots a nest in a hollow tree from a high tree. He takes a look worried. It turns out that there are two eggs – the parents are nowhere to be seen. The squirrel takes them out of the danger zone. Not long after, one of the eggs hatches: it turns out to be a baby snowy owl. This little one sees the squirrel as his mother of course, but the squirrel doesn’t want to know about that and runs away. The little snowy owl stands alone, but hey, there is sound coming from the other egg!

What follows is a nail-biting, but above all oh so moving adventure in which ‘Shooom’ (the eldest owl) does everything to save his brother or sister. Danger lurks everywhere and such an egg easily rolls away. Shooom is then also opposed by Walter and Rosie, two children, who of course don’t mean so bad, but in their innocence they separate the family owl, because they want to keep ‘Piep’, the unhatched egg, for themselves. .

The 2D animation is phenomenal, the use of color and the application of light and shadow is perfect and the attention to even the smallest details makes ‘Shooom’s adventure’ a feast for the eyes. The animation is not realistic, but still quite natural. The expressive faces of the animals, especially the owls, are very endearing. But also the ‘body language’, the funny movements and the different sounds they make to communicate, provide a unique viewing experience. So clever how the makers seem to have created their own owl language. Whether Shooom “says” ‘beep’, ‘beep’ or ‘beep’, you understand exactly what she means.

Besides the fact that these animals will irrevocably conquer your heart, ‘Shooom’s adventure’ also has an ecological message, but it is very subtle. This impressive film has already won several awards (including best animated short at the Césars, the French Oscars) and puts all the checks in the right places. This is perfection.

English Reviews

Review: Wanderlust (2021)

Wanderlust (2021)

Directed by: Coen Eigenraam, Jeroen van ‘t Hullenaar | 22 minutes | short film, fantasy, drama | Actors: Bas Keijzer, Julien Croiset

The short film ‘Dwaalgast’ is somewhere between a small-scale fantasy film and a fable about the ruthlessness of advancing time. Bas Keijzer plays a stammering man with a bowler hat from an uncertain time who once in a while visits a large country house surrounded by misty meadows. There he visits an old friend (Julien Croiset under thick make-up), named Reigerman, because he is neither a heron nor a man. Reigerman got a bit stuck in the change process. The two talk in vague terms about something that has been bothering the friends for a long time. Incidentally, the strange bird and the forgetful man with the bulbous hat must hurry up with the approach, because the latter is slowly dissolving into the big nothing.

‘Dwaalgast’ is a atmospheric short film with not only fictional elements but also authentic image fragments from a distant and archetypal Dutch past. As if ancient 15 millimeter films of an unknown Dutch family have been rustled somewhere. These film elements are subtly mixed together and create a pleasantly dreamy effect as a whole. In addition, the conversation between the two gentlemen is ragged, partly archaic and therefore sometimes difficult to follow. Although you don’t hear it on the soundtrack, ‘Dwaalgast’ still resembles a song by the Dutch music ensemble Spinvis most in tone and content. Just like with Spinvis’ music, you can fantasize away with ‘Dwaalgast’, see everything in it, like two beings looking back from the realm of the dead on something as fragile and elusive as the past.

‘Dwaalgast’ is a production that was probably shot with fairly limited financial resources. You can sometimes see that a little too well, but this also has its charm. It appears to have been contained in an old abandoned cellar housed with items from numerous flea markets. Here a sagging chair, there a piece of old paper, here loose cabinets and there some yellowed photos. All that old junk exudes an authentic and mysterious atmosphere. Moreover, there are a few funny editing tricks in ‘Dwaalgast’, which emphasize the upcoming oblivion. Nice to see these kinds of cinematic experiments, often more characteristic of short than full-length films.

Occasionally, the Heron Man and his disappearing friend are rather verbose and are portrayed statically, as if they were on stage. This is clearly for a reason, or at least a style that the two makers, Coen Eigenraam and Jeroen van ‘t Hullenaar, chose for ‘Dwaalgast’. While this works for such a short film, you can use it to throw your own windows into a longer production. It sometimes undermines the potential power of ‘Wanderer’, but on a larger scale this can quickly become monotonous.

All in all, ‘Dwaalgast’ is a brave attempt to inject more surrealism into Dutch films. The intimate film navigates between the artful films of Jean Cocteau, especially his serious work such as ‘Orphée’ (1950), and the more light-hearted films of Terry Gilliam, such as his older film ‘Time Bandits’ (1981). These are quite some names, but who knows, one day a great magical realistic film work will emerge from the Low Countries. In any case, there are plenty of Dutch and Flemish literary sources to draw on. The film style of the two young makers is so headstrong that it may well meet resistance in the Dutch film landscape, permeated with realism. Bring on that quirkiness!

English Reviews

Interview Leon Golterman (Aeronaut) and tour Pedri Animation

Interview Leon Golterman (Aeronaut) and tour Pedri Animation

Ankeveen, 29 July 2021

A visit to the well-known stop-motion studio Pedri Animation leads me to Ankeveen. The place is somewhat difficult to find, but a sign along a road between farmlands puts me on the right track. My destination turns out to be tucked away in a small and austere business park on the edge of the village. I pass a scrap yard and several car garages, until a little further on, I see the name of the studio on a sign with a series of company names.

Then it is time to search even more. A long path leads me past various gray and somewhat monotonous business premises. But then, at the end of the path, a colorful building pops up for a change. At the front of the building is a large sign with the words PEDRI ANIMATION in the form of a cleverly designed logo. I have reached my destination.

Leon Golterman (writer and director of the short film ‘Morphine’) and Paul Mathot (producer and co-founder of Pedri Animation), receive me kindly. While enjoying a cup of tea, they explain the history of the studio. For over ten years, Pedri Animation has been providing animations using stop-motion techniques. They make commercials, series and short films, including ‘Miffy and her friends’ and the Golden Calf short animation film ‘Under the Apple Tree.’ Leon and Paul talk passionately about their work. Yet there is one production that they especially want to talk about.

Leon is the creator of the short stop-motion film ‘Aeronaut’. It’s his very first collaboration with the studio, something he’s really excited about. It is this film that gave me a tour of the studio. After a lengthy shooting period, ‘Aeronaut’ is now in its final phase. Before the film will be shown as support act for various feature films, a few final shots still need to be filmed. I am nevertheless the first outsider to view the raw cut of the film.

‘Aeronaut’ tells the story of ten-year-old Kevin. He dreams of becoming a pilot, but his hard-hearted father does not appreciate this. A mysterious postal package may offer him hope. Kevin certainly wants to realize his dream: he wants to cross the skies at all costs.

The message to follow your dreams, combined with Kevin’s love of flying, immediately reminds me of the work of the Japanese grandmaster Hayao Miyazaki. The Miyazaki movie ‘The Wind Rises’ (2013) comes to mind first. I ask Leon if he happens to be familiar with Miyazaki’s oeuvre. Of course he is. We talk passionately about the Japanese animator, like two film fanatics among themselves.

Then the tour follows. The studio is open, clean and brightly lit. Various abstract paintings hang on the walls. Dolls and clay figures are displayed in various display cases. I meet the Pedri Animation staff, who are all busy completing ‘Aeronaut’. It is heavy and time consuming work. Every frame counts and there is often no take-two.

Visit Pedri Animation (Aeronaut) Cinema magazine

My appreciation for the studio is growing by the second. I ask Leon if he doesn’t think it’s a shame that stop-motion films are being made less and less, while CGI animation is growing. Leon offers new perspective. According to him, stop motion and computer animation can coexist perfectly. In fact, they already do. Stop-motion studios like Pedri Animation have plenty of work and are constantly creating new projects. It is almost unthinkable that work in this sector is drying up. People still have a strong interest in the traditional animation technique.

Leon and I seem to have the same fondness for stop-motion: the imperfection. The nice thing about stop-motion is that not everything has to be straight. There are small errors and deviations in the technique, which give the final product a rough edge. The little shivers make the overall picture authentic. It gives character and charm to a film.

Visit Pedri Animation (Aeronaut) Cinema magazine

For Leon, who until recently mainly made live-action films, this technique also offers more possibilities. The boundlessness of animation gives a filmmaker like Leon a degree of creativity that he would never be able to express with a live-action film. This is one of the reasons why Leon is proud of his film. He hopes to be able to dive into the world of stop-motion again in the future.

‘Aeronaut’ will be shown in the autumn as the support act for a major cinema film at Vue cinema chains.

English Reviews

Review: Da Yie (2019)

Da Yie (2019)

Directed by: Anthony Nti | 20 minutes | drama, short film | Actors: Prince Agortey, Matilda Enchil, Goua Robert Grovogui, Ma Abena, Zadi Wonder, Malcolm Bader, Anthony Nti

‘Da Yie’ is set in Ghana. Matilda and Prince are young children having fun playing football in the square. Actually, Prince should have been home by now; his mother’s fear of punishment is deeply ingrained. When he comes home – too late – she is so angry that he flees again. Back to Matilda. When the two friends see an expensive car, with Bogah in it, they start talking. Bogah invites the duo to a buffet and that is very attractive in the eyes of the children. So they get in the car with the stranger. Matilda is in the front passenger seat and Prince is in the back seat. This actually visualizes the characters of the two: Matilda is fearless and sees no bears in the road, Prince is a bit more reserved and looks the cat out of the tree.

But Bogah knows exactly what to say to finally put Prince at ease. After the buffet and a visit to the beach (for the characters in the film the first time they see the sea, but also for both non-professional child actors – the elation and wonder is therefore not played out) watching a football match on a terrace the ultimate end to a perfect day. In the back of the viewer’s mind and of course Prince’s as well, the knowledge that Prince’s mother (we don’t know anything about Matilda’s family situation) must be incredibly worried. And then Bogah’s true intentions come out.

‘Da Yie’ tells a small story, but has quite an impact. The natural playing cast and the staging are fine. This could easily have turned into a feature film if the characters had been fleshed out a bit more. A beautiful story about what peer pressure does to a person – and how we can never seem to escape it, even though we are adults.

English Reviews

Review: Melanie (2019)

Melanie (2019)

Directed by: Jacinta Agten | 15 minutes | short film, drama | Actors: Femke Debeule, Bruno Vanden Broecke

Melanie, in her twenties, does not know who her biological father is. She is a donor child and is obsessed with the idea of ​​getting to know her father. Why this is happening now, at this moment in her life, is not clear in the short film ‘Melanie’. Perhaps the fact that she just graduated has been a trigger. Anyway: Melanie (debut role of Femke Debeule) has an idea who her biological father is by doing research. All that remains to be done is a DNA test.

Secretly she has already observed the possible candidate in its natural environment. Patrick (Bruno Vanden Broecke) has a partner and children and when you watch Melanie watching this homey scene from her safe place, you feel a kind of conflict. On the one hand it doesn’t feel good that Patrick is being watched ignorantly, on the other hand do you understand her desire for information, does she recognize something of him in herself?

‘Melanie’ takes an unexpected turn when the DNA test results are in. This short film is beautifully shot and naturally acted. This is a personal project for both the director and the lead actress: both women are donor children.

English Reviews

Review: The Painter and the Thief – Kunstneren og tyven (2020)

The Painter and the Thief – Kunstneren og tyven (2020)

Directed by: Benjamin Ree | 103 minutes | documentary | Starring: Karl Bertil-Nordland, Barbora Kysilkova, Zystein Stene

In 2015, two oil paintings are stolen from an art gallery in Oslo. Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova is devastated. The thieves are arrested a few days later, but the paintings remain untraceable. During the trial, Barbora confronts one of the perpetrators in hopes of getting her artwork back. Karl-Bertil Nordland, a drug addict and career criminal, confesses to stealing the paintings. Although Karl-Bertil is convinced of his role in the theft, he claims that he no longer knows where he has hidden the works of art. Barbora believes him without a doubt, but she does have a proposition to the thief: “I would like to make a portrait of you.”

The idea for ‘The Painter and the Thief’ came about when filmmaker Benjamin Ree read about the theft in the newspaper. He contacted Barbora Kysilkova and Karl-Bertil Nordland, requesting permission to document their painting sessions. The Norwegian film originally started as a short documentary of several minutes. But the path led elsewhere, and the original short film grew into a nearly two-hour documentary. The result is a unique, yet disturbing account of an unlikely friendship.

In ‘The Painter and the Thief’ we follow the blossoming bond between Barbora and Karl-Bertil. The film shows their friendship in a non-chronological way, so that at times the viewer does not have the same level of knowledge as the two main characters. The story unfolds gradually, without haste, but nevertheless with a series of remarkable twists. As the plot progresses, the question marks pile up at a steady pace. Who are these people really? And more importantly, what are their intentions?

The documentary begins playfully, with a strong focus on humor. When this initial atmosphere changes and takes on a new, foreboding shape, we wonder if we shouldn’t have seen this coming much sooner. When Kysilkova first visits Karl-Bertil’s house, she is pleasantly surprised by his extensive art collection. She looks at an old print by a German master. “This may well be the original,” she says. The alarm bells should have gone off right away.

But even on Kysilkova’s side, things are not always as they seem. At one point, her partner asks her why she spends so much time with Karl-Bertil, which she finds a strange question from her own perspective. Nevertheless, her whole life suffers from frequent contact with the frequent offender, from her work to her financial situation, and she constantly pushes the moral limit in the relationship. Still, Kysilkova tries to justify everything. It is no longer about her stolen paintings, but about herself.

With ‘The Painter and the Thief’ it is crucial with which thought you approach the documentary. If you are convinced that everything is simply fake, the film will not work as well as if you think it is all real. And yes, there are indeed certain moments in the documentary that are on the verge of credibility. You then have to ask yourself whether certain pieces have not been staged. On the other hand, real life is often many times more peculiar than fiction and mere chance is a common phenomenon. The truth, as is often the case, may be somewhere in the middle, which in the end takes nothing away from the qualities of ‘The Painter and the Thief’. The dubious story is intriguing from start to finish.

English Reviews

Review: Graves (2019)

Graves (2019)

Directed by: Tijs Torfs | 12 minutes | short film, drama | Actors: Tom Audenaert, Joke Emmers, Tine Feys, Rosa Maria Debrabander, Ingrid De Vos

An almost deserted beach, wind, a cloudy sky. A man in his forties is dressed in a white shirt, dungarees and a red cap. He is busy digging a large round pit. The short film ‘Graven’ holds the viewer in its grip for a long time: what is this man’s goal? Why is he digging?

You can’t think of it that crazy or someone has it as a hobby. ‘Digging’ is a good example of this. There’s no logical explanation for why someone would wear themselves out on their day off like the man in this short film, but at the end, when he hears the proud response of his life partner somewhat resigned (probably from fatigue) a reason anyway. Very original premise by Tijs Torfs and that is skillfully portrayed, but it doesn’t seem to be more than a gimmick.

English Reviews

Review: Circus (2019)

Circus (2019)

Directed by: Bob Colaers | 16 minutes | short film, drama | Actors: Oscar Willems, Maarten Nulens, Darya Gantura, Bert Huysentruyt, Dorien De Clippel, Bente Quanten

It seems that you are reading it more and more often: traffic accidents in which the motorist drives on and leaves the victim seriously injured or even dead. Such a gruesome fact plays a central role in the Flemish short film ‘Cirque’, based on a screenplay by Bob Colaers and Cedric Ceglowski.

It all starts innocently enough. Two young men, somewhere in their twenties, end the evening in café ‘t Hoekje by arguing about who is driving home. They are the brothers Jonas (Oscar Willems) and Vic (Maarten Nulens). They both have some beers, but Vic eventually drives home. With some haste, because his heavily pregnant girlfriend is waiting at home.

On a poorly lit road, somewhere in the back, the duo hits something. Jonas takes a look and Vic answers the call from his girlfriend who calls just after, she is not feeling well. Jonas indicates that it was a bunny, but although the victim who was hit remains out of the picture, the viewer immediately feels that something is wrong with his statement.

How ‘Cirque’ will continue after that would be a shame to reveal, but the title can be explained in two ways. The adult cast acts quite well and the atmosphere is well captured. Intriguing film, which hopefully will teach potential drivers a wise lesson.

Hollywood Full Movies

Full Movie: The Letter | Thriller | Short Film

The Letter | Thriller | Short Film

The Letter – A man’s day goes from bad to worse after receiving a mysterious letter in the mail.

Stars: Ryan Seamy, Becky Nutt, Sanaz Fatemi

English Reviews

Review: Aya and the Witch – Âya to majo (2020)

Aya and the Witch – Âya to majo (2020)

Directed by: Gorô Miyazaki | 83 minutes | animation, adventure | Original voice cast: Shinobu Terajima, Etsushi Toyokawa, Kokoro Hirasawa, Sherina Munaf, Gaku Hamada

The proverb of the apple and the trunk. Inevitably you have to think of this with every new Gorô Miyazaki film. As the son of Japanese animation hero Hayao Miyazaki, Gorô has followed in his father’s footsteps. In addition, my son is much less productive and his films differ considerably from his father’s work. Yet there are also parallels. For example, Gorô’s animated film ‘Aya and the Witch’ is an adaptation of a children’s book by British author Diana Wynne Jones. An earlier children’s book by her was made into a film in 2004 under the title ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Director on duty? Correct!

In ‘Aya and the Witch’ the baby witch Earwig is dropped by her mother witch at an English orphanage. Earwig, sporting a gorgeous hairdo with quirky horns, has the talent to always get her way, from anyone. That changes when a special couple visits the orphanage that Earwig adopts. The couple consists of the witch Bella Yaga and her bizarre husband the Mandrake. From one day to the next, Earwig’s existence changes from a life of lice to the life of a modern day Cinderella. What to do then?

Despite witches, talking cats, flying demons (which are harmless and not scary), the atmosphere in ‘Aya and the Witch’ is not very fairytale-like. The film is mostly very British, with its orphanage, its English streets and its old-fashioned English symphonic rock. Earwig’s mother was a guitarist in a symphonic band and Bella and the Mandrake are also musically active.

In ‘Aya and the Witch’ the individual scenes are more important than the story. We see a lot of potions going on, there are some funny scenes with the bizarre Mandrake, and there are quite a lot of scenes with the talking cat. And as this (relatively) short film goes on, we see how Earwig is increasingly adapting to this maladjusted family.
The result is a child-friendly film that does not excel at anything, but is also not annoying to watch. With a cheerful heroine, a helpful cat and a strange Mandrake, you actually have enough fun elements to happily sit through the film. Father Miyazaki’s work is slowly disappearing from view, but with ‘Aya and the Witch’ Gorô can just stand on his own two feet.