Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Marie Antoinette – good style does not fill two hours.

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

I really enjoyed the first thirty minutes of Marie Antoinette. Kirsten Dunst is, of course, enchanting and does not need Spiderman kissing her to show how charming she is. I also enjoyed the camera, the intimate perspective on the way the soon-to-be Queen of France experiences her world. And it is a strange world, full of exquisite beauty but also full of protocol and, in particular, far, far away from the world of the bourgeois or – unthinkable – the poor and the workers. In this world, Marie Antoinette has a few friends and many, many things around her: jewelry, tapestries, clothes, more clothes, shoes, shoes, and then some more shoes and an excess of delicacies. Looking at this assembly of beautiful and delicous things through the eyes of La Dauphine and mixing this experience with a well-chosen rock music soundtrack (instead of resorting to classical music appropriate to the era) creates a particular movie that is definitely worthwile watching. If only the story would be more catching! The script did not offer much to stimulate my attention so that I had to resort to watching in aesthetic mode – doing this for two hours was a bit too much, to my regret. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to Sofia Coppola’s next movie. There is some really great potential – I love her intimate and respectful view on people’s lives and the ways in which they see, touch, and feel their world. I also vote for more rock music in medieval settings: A Knight’s Tale is one of my favorite entertainment movies, though cheesy it has a lot of heart. This story did not unfold in a way that really touched me, very much to my regret.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Scoop – The Charming Side of Being.

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

I feel very much indebted to Woody Allen. He has provided so many entertaining hours. I love to go to one of his movies, knowing beforehand that I will leave the cinema light-hearted and with a smile on my lips. Of course, not all of his movies are like this. Some of his dramas can be heart-breaking. Not Scoop though. Woody Allen and Scarlett Johannson make a great team: both clumsy in their own particular ways, they dabble their way through a murder mystery story. I do not often laugh in cinemas. This movie got me either chuckling or cackling, depending on the degree of entertainment delight caused in yours truly’s heart and belly. I have admit that I am easy prey for Allen’s humor, though. For me it was enough to see the font in the opening credits (it is Windsor for those that are interested in these things) to make a sigh escape my lips and pleasant relaxation to set in. From my (and Olli’s) perspective, he should receive the next lifetime achievement Oscar.
IMDb entry | Trailer

James Bond: Casino Royale – Rough Boy Bond.

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

As I wrote more than a year ago, I want gritty not super. From this perspective, the new Bond has a lot to offer. Although I first thought bah, he does not look like James Bond, I, as many others too, with time got interested in the new character. How can this man be James Bond? He is neither slick nor charming. He looks more like a battered warrior in a suit. And that is what he is. From the usual spectacular opening to the citations we all know: Bond has been reinvented. He now has a history and is thus becoming more than just a mask worn by a changing array of gentlemen that seduce pretty ladies. He seduces, but he also falls in love. He kills, but it is clear that killing is a messy business. For those who like the gritty and who have a certain liking to the genre, this movie is a must go. For all others, this movie might be a welcome change or not – at least it is not boring, as were the last two or three movies, all of them more marketing and special effects vehicles than anything else (not that we are safe from marketing in the new Bond, there are labels everywhere – quite annoying indeed).
IMDb entry | Trailer

Samaria – Death with a young girl’s smile.

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Back in Darmstadt means back in the well-guided care of the Studentischer Filmkreis Darmstadt, which currently hosts a Kim Ki-Duk feature. Samaria is disturbing, like most of Kim Ki-Duk’s movies. For me, this movie had two key scenes, concerning either death or departure. One is strangely remote and quiet. A girl dies with a smile on her face that lingers on after her violent end. The other is noisy and full of exhaust fumes. Shame and honesty bring forth a departure that is long planned but still surprising in the care it expresses. These are only some of the poetic scenes of the movie. Although poetic, Kim Ki-Duk is always controversial – children selling their bodies to men who are seemingly not beasts but also tender lovers, a caring father who causes a blood-bath (in a very literal sense) – this movie is not for the faint-hearted. It throws a quiet and violent view on a world that is filled with silence and revenge both working against the dreams of a better life.
IMDb entry | Trailer

The Science of Sleep – A Sense of Wonder and Confusion.

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Back to the cinema. It is good to be able to go to the movies again! This week I saw the new movie directed by Michel Gondry, the frenchman who directed one of the nicest movies of the year 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. However, the script for that movie was written by my favorite screenwriter Charlie Kaufmann. How well did Gondry fare without Kaufmann? Very well. He succeeded at giving his characters an aura that is both dreamlike and very real. They revel in strange fantasies, build wondrous worlds made of cardboard, paper, and plastic foil and the main character lives a life bordering on schizophrenia. They love and fear not to be loved, they woo and push each other away. The cast is great and the shooting works very well. The only aspect of this movie that did not enthrall me wholly was … the script. The conflicts between the potential lovers unfold in a way that is well known and, seen with a bit of distance, not really surprising or captivating. Nonetheless, if you have a sympathy for the weirdly creative and fantastic ways of fabricating worlds in your dreams, then you should definitely see this movie. I also think that the German dubbing did a very good job for a movie that certainly was not easy to translate.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – We want drama, not theme parks.

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Keira Knightley is just not the kind of woman that should be put into glamorous costumes with lush hair. To see her real beauty, one must see her fine features contrast with a harsh style of clothing and behaviour. Luckily, in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest she is granted at least a few of these moments. In addition, we are also allowed to feel more affection for her since now she also is permitted to show her interest in Captain Jack Sparrow more … explicitly. Good thing. I guess, though, that this is the only actual improvement over the first part of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. It is still a clean story without real drama, without real frustration – without the desperately hoped for grittiness of characters. Instead, it again featured scenes playing in the dreaded pirate theme park called Tortuga in this movie. Bah.
Small expectations – that was the title which I thought would be appropriate for this entry, because watching this movie actually was a fun experience. A much better experience than watching the first part. Lovely tentacles, and a well designed face of horror and pity for the enigma that is Captain Davy Jones. After some reflection about the movie, however, it became apparent that this is only because our expectations were much, much lower than what we allowed us (I went to see it with Kerstin and Olli) to grow before watching the first part. Pirates! Adventure! Loss! Love! The Sea! Well, all of this is there – only in the sad and pitifully clean Jerry Bruckheimer production kind of way. We can only be thankful to Johnny Depp and are paying our tributes to him for keeping the movie alive and enchanting.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Angel-A – Luc Besson and his breathtaking women.

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Milla Jovovich was wonderful in The Fifth Element, Natalie Portman was strangely enchanting – and young – in Léon – The Professional and now Rie Rasmussen makes me marvel at the other gender. As always, Luc Besson shows what many men dream of (at least sometimes, I would guess): a woman that is more attractive than they would ever imagine to be in their company but also a woman that is open, accessible, and full of trust in you a male actor with which you can identify. Or at least with whom you dearly want to identify, since he is so intimate with such an otherworldly being. This is what makes this movie a special experience to me.
In addition, I enjoyed the leading male role in Angel-A. Rie Rasmussen’s beauty (which is more than just looks) and Jamel Debbouze’s deer-like eyes work together perfectly. Nonetheless, the script is not exactly perfect. The main characters sometimes talk too much, taking the depth out of the pictures. In addition, some of the turns in the story are a bit too obvious for my taste.
However, the images were beautiful and evocative and I liked the way in which Luc Besson paid homage to Wim Wenders’ Himmel über Berlin – a movie that also offers beautifel yet remote images of a city, telling the story of a painful bridging of the distance between living, experiencing, and dying mortals and remote, superhuman angels. I enjoyed the movie, its pictures, and its characters very much. However, you should be aware and not build you hopes too high, particularly if you’re not that much into Luc Besson and his emphasis on strange aesthetics.
IMDb entry | Official Movie Site with Trailer

X-Men: The Last Stand – no distortions.

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

I was hoping that the third part of the X-Men series would disappoint me less than the third part of Mission Impossible. Admittedly, this is not a very high-flying hope and to my relief it was fulfilled. Although I feared the worst, since the director has changed to Brett Ratner. Well, we did not have to suffer actors such as Tom Cruise, which helps a lot. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, both solid actors, and also the main character Hugh Jackman as Wolverine along with the rest of the crew do their jobs as decently as they did in the first two episodes and, in contrast to Mission Impossible, the special effects department along with the screenplay writer did not fall asleep during the production of the movie. An enjoyable movie if you liked the first two parts, definitely good enough if you are looking for an entertaining action movie to load into your DVD player and also offering some pictures splendid enough to fill a larger screen.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Good Night and Good Luck – Best smoke of the year.

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

First, an apology: I am really lagging behind in the blogging business. It seems to me that since I did not have the opportunity to write on my dissertation for several weeks I do not feel it would be legitimate to write for fun. At least I think that is part of the explanation…

It is quite a while ago that I saw Good Night and Good Luck. Actually, it was at the Ryder film club in Bloomington during my stay in the U.S. of A. this April. I rarely have the chance and the money to go to the movies these days, but this one was definitely worth it. David Strathairn was a breathtaking cast for the role of the broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. Seeing the way he smokes, feeling his sincerety in look and in holding his cigarette – this alone was an experience you should not miss. If only smoking wouldn’t cause cancer… it is a sensual delight, isn’t it? However, the rest of the movie is also very much worthwile. The casting and acting is excellent, the story enthralling and the screenplay works out well too. This is definitely one of the best movies to come out of Hollywood in a long time and I can only recommend taking the time to see it. Even if you are not interested in the way the anti-communist threat seeped into every little bit of American culture during the McCarthy era. For me it was crazy to see that someone like McCarthy – just an American senator after all – was able to tap into the anti-communist feelings of a select few, build on them and use them to terrorize a whole population.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Mission: Impossible III – Mission failed because of mediocrity.

Monday, May 15th, 2006

To my regret I haven’t been to the cinema often lately. Not enough time and a certain scarcity of funds, I guess. One movie that I saw was Mission: Impossible III, the night it started. I cannot say that the cinema was filled with excited and anxious people, quite to the contrary. I also cannot say that Tom Cruise put on a great act. Neither can I say that the story was gripping. The effects? Neither as stunning nor as exciting as the ones we could see in the second Mission:Impossible movie. I can say though that I was not bored to death. Hence me writing this review. Being still alive and all. But I better not watch this movie again, and you should save your action movie funds for something else, perhaps the upcoming X-Men: The Last Stand?

IMDb entry | Trailers

The Proposition – whose side am I on?

Friday, February 17th, 2006

It’s a Downunder. Whazzat? A western that’s located in Australia. It has Aborigines instead of indians, spears instead of arrows, insecurity instead of heroes. The Proposition is an grand movie, with a storyline that made choosing a side not an easy task. The action is pretty violent. I feel quite relieved that I live in a relatively peaceful time and place. Nonetheless, the action, the violence and cruelty is an integral part of the story, therefore I do not feel uncomfortable about it – it does not seem to be an end in itself, making it bearable to me. The actors are all excellent. The music, written along with the script by Nick Cave, is great, varying between lovely and sinister. The one thing that did not convince me was the strong insistence on the role of beauty and poetry. For my taste there were a few sunsets and recitations too many. Nonetheless, you should definitely watch this movie as soon as it will be released. The director, John Hillcoat, seemed to be a nice guy – after the showing of this movie at the Berlinale we passed him in the crowd that left the theater, congratulating him on this film. I missed the opportunity to congratulate him (and the absent Nick Cave) on one specific thing though: that the one powerful and wealthy person who was without kindness and sans beauty was the one that survived practically unscathed.
IMDb entry | Trailer

The movie time of the year.

Saturday, February 11th, 2006

Olli is carrying around his new bag, when I’m in a café I tend to look at the other guests more closely, scanning for movie celebrities, the radio program features my favorite cinema guru, Knut Elstermann, more often; short: it’s Berlinale time!
I personally am too phlegmatic to get up early, queue, check out programs and schedule and so forth, so I have to rely and good friends who ask me to accompany them when they have a spare ticket. Luckily, they exist and thanks to Berit I saw my first Berlinale 2006 movie yesterday.
It was Women Liang or You and Me, the opening movie of the adolescent movie feature/ competition 14plus. An excellent movie about a girl who moves to the city to study and rents a small shed-like room from an old woman. Those two, the young women and the old landlady are similar in character: stubborn, haughty, loyal, direct – they are fascinating women, full characters and seeing them clash and care was a great experience. The actresses are very impressive. A slow movie with a very tender and personal camera. Definitely to be recommended.

King Kong – bite me, that was fuzzy.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Yes, many people think the Lord of the Rings parts one to three have been too long. They also think that Peter Jackson’s most recent movie, King Kong, is too long, and they could not refrain from wailing their it’s too long song into my ears, straining my nerves. Preconditioned that way, I only had the courage to watch King Kong on my own, without any company. I must say, the ape and I had a pretty good time. Though I have not really been gripped or moved by Kong’s tragic ending, I have enjoyed the movie tremendously. There were more than a few scenes which were either breathtaking or just plain hilarious. I also enjoyed the acting – Nicole KidmanNaomi Watts is charmingly fragile and agile at the same time; the men are great: goggly Jack Black, the adonis-like Adrien Brody and the germanically blue-eyed Thomas Kretschmann were putting up some nice acts. This movie should be watched on a screen as big as possible.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Sommer vorm Balkon – Charme und Arbeitslosigkeit.

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Der neue Film von Andreas Dresen hatte einen Trailer, der mich nicht gerade vom Hocker gerissen hat. Berlinfilm! hat er gerufen, aber ob das reicht, schien mir nicht so recht klar.
Glücklicherweise hat Sommer vorm Balkon mehr zu bieten gehabt als Berliner Lebensgefühl. Oder vielleicht sollte man es so sagen: er hat verschiedene, schöne und traurige Seiten des Lebensgefühls hier gezeigt und es dabei auch noch vermieden, hippe junge Leute oder die Kreativen als Maßstab für das Leben in Berlin zu präsentieren. Statt dessen haben wir zwei Frauen zu sehen bekommen, die Ihr Leben meistern müssen, denen dies aber nicht leicht fällt, die aber so tapfer sind, wie man es nur sein kann. Die Stimmung des Films zeigt, dass auch die anscheinende Trostlosigkeit des Alltags in oder am Rande der Arbeitslosigkeit noch Menschlichkeit und damit Trost zu bieten hat – wenn diese auch immer wieder erkämpft werden muss. Für mich waren die beiden Frauen nicht unmittelbar sympathisch, im Verlauf des Films sind sie mir aber sehr ans Herz gewachsen. Nicht alle Figuren und Nebenerzählungen sind voll überzeugend, insgesamt aber zeichnet der Film ein wunderschönes, menschliches, tragisches und mich trotzdem persönlich motivierendes Bild vom Leben in der Stadt. Wer sich auf den Alltag von zwei nicht mehr ganz jungen Frauen einlassen mag, sollte sich diesen Film unbedingt anschauen. Ich war bezaubert.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Match Point – Dostoevsky and class mobility.

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

I was a bit anxious when I entered the movie theater. Match Point had been praised by everyone I met or heard, making me fear that it could not live up to the extraordinary expectations raised by all this praise. I was not disappointed. It was a very good movie and it was a movie that was different to other Woody Allen movies that I have seen. However, I did not feel it to be the best Woody Allen since Manhattan or something like that. It was different but not necessarily better that his other movies. I guess that most people find it so much better because it is not a movie that might be perceived as being shallow, being a romantic comedy mixed with a few grains of psychoanalysis and a hearty filling of Manhattan impressions. This movie has a much sterner approach to life. And it has a Dostoevsky-reading anti-hero, Opera, cold-blooded murder and an ambivalent ending. Obviously, this is a movie to be taken serious. Bring in the Oscars.
Ehem. Seems I got into a rant here. Well, you should watch this movie. It is good. It has Dostoevsky in it. Crime and Punishment – the hero feels he commits crimes (I think he does so from the beginning by straightly sneaking his way into High Society) and he seeks punishment that does not come easily. Grand. The women are beautiful. No surprise here. The script is excellent and to the point – perhaps a bit too much to the point: a bit less doodling around the theme of luck and more scenes showing how difficult it would be to make your way into the English establishment as an Irish worker’s child would have been even more to my taste. Excellent acting, however. I am looking forward to Allen’s next movie which will supposedly also play in England.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Keine Lieder über Liebe – Die Doku die nicht war.

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

Dieser Film hatte Vorschusslorbeeren bekommen; was mich häufig zu einem kritischeren Zuschauer macht, der höhere Erwartungen hat. In diesem Fall haben die Lorbeeren allerdings nicht zur Würzung beigetragen, denn die Filmsuppe war eh dermaßen versalzen, dass ich sie fast nicht ausgelöffelt hätte. Woran lag’s? Für mich war der pseudo-dokumentarische Charakter des Films ausschlaggebend. Ich fand die Schauspielerei aller drei Hauptdarsteller streckenweise gut, aber immer mal wieder auch viel zu dick aufgetragen – die Episode mit der Mutter der beiden männlichen Hauptcharaktere war nahezu unerträglich, so dass auch Leute neben mir im Kinosaal schon Seufzer ausstiessen. Jürgen Vogel ist zwar mit der Zeit immer besser geworden und Heike Makatsch war auch nicht schlechter als die anderen, aber das reicht nicht. Das eigentliche Problem war, dass es sich eben nicht um eine Dokumentation gehandelt hat und die Nähe zu den gezeigten Personen, die einer Dokumentation so großen Wert verleihen kann, sich nicht herstellt – die Hauptdarsteller bleiben Schauspieler, die auch von ihrem Umfeld als solche erkannt und behandelt werden. Das eigentlich spannende Material für diesen Film wären doch die Zuschauer und die Angestellten der Läden gewesen, in denen die Hansen Band gespielt hat. Wie haben die Leute auf die unangekündigte Anwesenheit von Stars wie Jürgen Vogel und Heike Makatsch reagiert? Die eigentlich interessanten echten Menschen verkommen zu Hintergrundfiguren. Für mich haben zwei Stellen in diesem Film funktioniert: zum einen das Gespräch mit dem Barmann und das Gespräch mit dem in Wilhelmshaven wohnenden ehemaligen Segler. Beide waren zwar auch Schauspieler, aber das war mir in den jeweiligen Situationen nicht klar – vielleicht hat es auch besser funktioniert, weil beide Szenen ohne echte Menschen ausgekommen sind. Insgesamt ein für mich leider klar gescheitertes Experiment, obwohl ich mich auf den Film gefreut hatte.
IMDb entry

Serenity & being a Whedonist.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005

I was looking forward to watch Serenity – the trailers were nice, though not nearly as mouth-watering as the trailers for Spiderman or Lord of the Rings. A nice surprise was seeing Nathan Fillion whom I knew as the most-evil-ever-priest from the last episodes of Buffy’s final season. His and the other actors’ starring was decent enough. I actually liked the cast quite a bit – the crew of the Serenity had a certain everday people charme to it, which I enjoyed. In addition, the movie shows the same dirt and character that made the original Star Wars trilogy so wonderful. Dialogues were, of course, the script being written by Joss Whedon, good and quick-witted. However, the story lacked grandeur to me – with the exception of one moment of sudden shock and loss the movie is a bit too smooth. Nonetheless, it is as good as one of the better episodes of Buffy. Which is good enough for me. If you’re into Buffy (or into adventure/action movies), go see it. If you’re not into Buffy, why should I care what you think about this movie, eh? ;)
IMDb entry | Trailers

I want style, not superpowers.

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

As a tribute to the superbly entertaining The Mask of Zorro (1998), Olli and I went to watch The Legend of Zorro. We were watching it on a monday at 22:45 h – and were the only people in the theater. Actually, the second part of Zorro was not as bad as I would have feared. Neither the political subtext nor the overall story and style were real disappointments. One thing bothered me during the opening sequence: Zorro was doing to many superhero-like feats when he fought the villains for the first time. I think it would have been better to make him a really stylish fighter who also is very dangerous and skillful than to present him as a superhero with style. Well, well. I liked the boy, cast as the son of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antiono Banderas, and, of course, Banderas and Zeta-Jones are still a dream cast for a Zorro remake. If you’re really into Zorro you might want to consider watching it in the cinema, otherwise you should probably skip this movie or wait for the DVD…
IMDb entry | Trailer

Echte Gespenster.

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

Der neue Film von Christian Petzold lief vor einiger Zeit in den Kinos. Eine bestimmte sehr persönliche Stimmung hat für mich schon den Film Die innere Sicherheit ausgemacht. Auch in Gespenster ist eine junge Frau die Hauptfigur, eine Frau, die eine große Distanz zu ihrer Umwelt hat, die vorsichtig ist sich umschaut und zögernd durch’s Leben geht. Die Art der Regie, die Kamera und die zurückhaltenden Dialoge zusammen mit den sehr guten Schauspielerinnen machen es möglich, sich in die Ängste und Hoffnungen des Mädchens Nina einzufühlen. Gleichzeitig behalten Handlung und Charaktere etwas mystisches. Mir hat es sehr gut gefallen. Ein Film, den ich weiterempfehlen kann.
IMDb entry

Solid magics.

Saturday, November 19th, 2005

The Kulturbrauerei‘s cinema 4 wasn’t exactly stuffed on this Friday night’s showing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The most recent Harry Potter has has a new director, Mike Newell, and he does a decent job – much better, actually than the two first movies which were directed by Chris Columbus. However, it does not come close to the last one, which was directed by Alfonso Cuarón. That film was magic, strange and had a dreamlike atmosphere encompassing both fear and delight. This one evokes amusement and a small shudder here and there. Solid work, nice effects, good cooking down of the story, but not fantastic or inspired.
IMDb entry | Trailer