Archive for the ‘movie’ Category

Multi-layered humor.

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Finally! I was quite eager to watch The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. After being pointed to this movie by Elizabeth and watching the trailers (see below) I was hooked. This was the most anticipated movie for me since the last part of The Lord of the Rings. Red woolen hats! Bill Murray. Owen Wilson. Willem Dafoe. Jeff Goldblum. The extraordinary, incredible, marvelous Cate Blanchett. What a cast! Absurd low-key humor. It has almost everything that I really like in a movie. Could it live up to these expectations? Difficult to answer. I was not disappointed after watching this movie, but I have to admit that I wasn’t gripped by uncontrollable attacks of laughter during this movie. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed it very much. The humor was less blunt than I would have thought, and I am quite sure that I will discover more and more of the brilliantly funny ideas that made watching this movie really worthwhile when I watch it again. Which I will do. Preferably in English, since I am convinced that something got lost in the translation of this movie. (heh.) There are many adorable characters in this movie. The astonishing cast works out wonderfully in this movie – I am still baffled by how different Cate Blanchett can look and act in different movies – I don’t know any other actor or actress that would be a match for her in this regard. The story is interesting, several strands interweaving, not everything being resolved, some unexpected twist of drama, characters that unfold. The interns were great. Loved the interns. I still have to smile thinking about the fact that Cate Blanchett is called “Jane Winslett-Richardson” – Steve Zissou’s ship is not the Titanic, and we don’t have Leo doing a cameo, but for me, this is just one of the many examples of the fine tuned humor of this movie. To be continued…
IMDb entry | Trailer | Webisodes

Somewhat overrated.

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Good cast, good story, adequate photography. I liked Sideways when I saw this movie a few days ago. It just wasn’t as good as I would have expected it to be after all the praise it received. Perhaps the praise is the result of it being an independent american movie that does some close-to-real-life storytelling instead of generating just another Hollywood story. However, from a European perspective this is not exactly an overwhelming achievement. Nonetheless, it was pleasant enough to watch this movie, and if you’re looking for some storytelling and just this hint of real life in a movie; if you’re looking for a story about aging men and women who haven’t yet given up on their dreams you should watch this movie. Being interested in wine and liking the californian countryside are two more good reasons for watching it.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Sweden is in Berlin.

Sunday, February 20th, 2005

ticket for berlinale movieThanks to my movie-biz apartment mate Olli I got a ticket for Popularmusik från Vittula, a movie based on the novel of the same name. To my dismay this movie (and the novel) are classified as being “for teens”. Germans seem to have a problem with (Scandinavian) Literature that deals with the adolescence and young adulthood, not accepting it into the body of “serious” or “adult” fiction. Grrrr. Well, as can be guessed from my frustration about this, I am quite convinced that these are really good stories, that should be read by adults, and especially by them! A bit of reflection about what you actually wanted to do when you were younger, about your dreams, and – quite essential – about your dissappointments, your bad experiences would certainly do some good not only in these troubled times. This movie does a very good job reflecting this, with an adequate amount of lightness, humor and seriousness. I have laughed more than my share while watching this movie, and I was moved and touched. Get the novel (which I haven’t read yet) or watch the movie. While you’re at it, try to get one of the novels written by Erlend Loe (sadly, they have been out of print for much too long here in Germany).
IMDb entry

I like his style, but he has been better.

Friday, February 18th, 2005

The last movie I saw in Darmstadt has been A Very Long Engagement (German title: Mathilde). This is the most recent movie directed by Jeunet – and it is again featuring Audrey Tatou (best known as Amélie). In the World War I setting of this movie, the fantastic elements are not as outrightly presented as in his other films. Still, there always remains some uncertainty if something not quite normal or natural is going on or not. Jeunet pays much attention to detail and to color – that is why I really like his movies. However, for me this movie does not come close to Delicatessen or The City of Lost Children, both probably belonging to my top ten movies. I guess the reason for this is that he is best when he was working together with Marc Caro, head-on into the grotesque and arabesque.
IMDb entry | Trailer

After the long blogging break it is again time for … tada! … another quiz: From which famous American author did I learn the words grotesque and arabesque?

First: puzzlement, then: delight.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005

This is why one should have student or university film clubs: to be pointed to movies that are really good, but that you would normally not see. Last week I’ve seen one of these pearls, again presented by the Studentischer Filmkreis Darmstadt. Radio no Jikan is set in the studio of a radio station and revolves around the many mishaps, mismanagements, misunderstandings, small favors, flirtations, frustrations, and other human flaws that make life interesting. First, I was a bit insecure if this movie is meant as a drama or as a comedy – and I am still not totally sure – since Japanese customs are unknown to me, it took me a while to adapt to what was going on and who might be good or bad or nice or unfriendly. However, I guess much of this movie’s high quality stems from the fact that this really remains a bit in the dark. Most of the characters have their charming sides, and almost all of them annoy you too. Excellent ensemble movie with a totally chaotic, dramatic and hilarious ending. To be recommended. As should be the folks from the Filmkreis, who even prepared a small introduction in Japanase (I think).
IMDb entry

Slow beauty.

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

Surprisingly, I had the opportunity to watch Girl with a Pearl Earring in a movie theater this week – would have thought that this chance has passed by. I did like the movie. Vermeer’s pictures are beautiful, the colors used for painting, the food, and the linen are beautiful, and, of course, Scarlett Johansson is exquisit. This is not an action film, the music is not adding much to the drama either (at least I did not notice that), so you have to rely on your eyes and your patience for the story to unfold. If you can do that, you will most likely like this movie. I did. Oh, I already said so. Well, it’s true.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Oh, what a beautiful movie.

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

This is not the title of one of my favorite songs by Ray Charles. But it could be said about this movie. Lars, Sybille, and yours truly enjoyed watching the story of Ray Charles’ life unfold on the screen. Listening to the great musician and watching how and where those songs were created and performed makes me wonder why I have never taken the opportunity to go to a concert of the recently deceased Ray Charles. This is not an outstanding movie, but it is very decently made, Jamie Foxx’ performance is great, and the music makes it a definite recommendation for everyone who doesn’t hate Jazz.
Ah, almost forgot it: the title is another quiz. The first person who guesses the title of the song that I hint at will be invited to a free beverage!
IMBd entry | Trailer

Less drama than expected.

Saturday, January 8th, 2005

When visiting Kerstin in December we watched Garden State in a movie theater. I really liked this movie. Natalie Portman is very charming, the setting is relaxed, the colors are nice. The only thing that perhaps disappointed me a bit (and Kerstin a fair share more) was that although both main actors have psychological problems, and the main character – Andrew Largeman, played by the director and writer of this movie, Zach Braff – has been taking calming drugs for most of his life and suddenly stops taking them there are no real conflicts. In spite of this problematic constellation neither the lovers themselves nor their social environment really disturbs the linear development of their romantic love. However, this movie has a most excellent sound track which makes the whole experience very pleasant – I do recommend this movie, especially if you are in the mood for some romance.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Who’s mad, who’s good, who’s bad.

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

Yes, the Universitet i Oslo also has it’s own film club – the Cinema Neuf (located in Chateau Neuf, of course). They have been showing a few Cassavetes films, and I was there when the presented A Woman Under the Influence. Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk are not the only actors that make this movie such a strong experience. However, they bear the burden of starring people living a life that is torn between conformity and the standards of normality as they are set by their neighbors and friends on the one hand, and living a life whose limits are defined by themselves, their desires, their bordering-on-the-pathological and bordering-on-brutal own standards and practices on the other hand. This never would be an easy task, it is even harder in a lower-class milieu in the US of A of the seventies. Watching this movie is a worthwhile thing to do – no mere passing of time in front of the screen…
IMDb entry

Praise university film clubs.

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

They give us the good movies for little money. Recently, Christian K. and I saw Identity presented by Darmstadt’s Studentischer Filmkreis. Very nice movie – good, winding plot, good cast and characters (John Cusak, Clea DuVall, Alfred Molina), classic american motel-mystery-thriller setting and many gallons of rain pouring down from the sky. I escpecially liked some of the small cinematic hints about what might actually be wrong with what is going on and who people really are (the blood stain on John McGinley’s (alias George York) shirt comes to mind).
IMDB entry | Trailer

Without nostalgia.

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

Last week Lars and I saw The Cooler (a movie from 2003) in Darmstadt’s Broadway movie theater – the acting (William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, and Maria Bello) was excellent. Acting, script and camera together produced a movie that showed us the decline of the old school Las Vegas casino. This kind of casino, with its gambling, its entertainers, its crime, and its sex appeal makes a wonderful setting for a movie, as has been demonstrated by many classics – what I liked most about this film is that it shows all of the attractiveness and seduction that emanates from this particular place, but it also shows that it’s an anachronistic place in a world where the real money, and real crimes are made by different people, and different businesses. A movie not only for casino aficionados.
IMDb entry | Trailer

The time before.

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

Last week I almost did not see Diarios de motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries). Kerstin and I were quite tired and decided to walk around a bit and take a look at the movies currently on show in the Kulturbrauerei cinemas. Luckily, after turning around and starting to walk out of the cinema, we turned one more time and decided to watch this movie based on the journals of Che Guevara and Alberto Granado. Both pictures and story were good and captured a certain spirit of Latin America and of Guevara and Granado in this time, somehow manifesting itself in the many places they went through and the people they met on their journey through South America. This movie is not about revolution and politics per se. However, one feels how politics seep into the life of Guevara, and – what made this movie really worthwile for me – one can get a glimpse of what the world might have looked like through the eyes of the young Che. A beautiful and inspiring movie which you should see.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Adequate to Asimov.

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

Last week Olli and I went to the Cinemaxx Colosseum in Berlin to watch I, Robot. I find it harder and harder not to succumb to the urge to raise my nose up a few inches and express my dislike for the multiplex theater industry. Slowly the Cinemaxxes are losing the appeal that they had during their first appearances here in Germany: they have lost the pristine newness. Patina doesn’t work in the multiplex world, in this context it is shabbyness. Dolby surround sound systems aren’t rare anymore, you can find good sound even in smaller independant cinemas. What is left is not very convincing: neither do they serve my favorite ice cream brand (no Nogger, no Cujamara Split!) nor do they provide a pleasant or at least festive atmosphere. The xth version of the Shrek 2 Menu with action puppets is not very inspiring. Well, back to the movie. It was better than I expected. Less action oriented than I would have thought. In contrast to Minority Report which was disappointing because it was just to clean to represent the depth and power of Philip K. Dick’s novel, this movie is based on elements from the many robot centered novels by Isaac Asimov, to which it seems to do some justice (it’s been a while since I read Asimov though… ) – obviously, I think Dick’s work is more complex and intriguing than Asimov’s.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Pleasant against-the-grain-ness.

Wednesday, September 1st, 2004

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie done by Jim Jarmusch, but I always liked them. Therefore I was really looking forward to see Coffee and Cigarettes and found a nice opportunity to do so during my stay in Oslo. I did not know anything about the movie’s storyline before going in; I only knew that the cast is great (Cate Blanchett alone would make me go and watch the movie) and that the thing would be in black and white. It was fun to slowly realize how the movie is done, to guess what will come next and how it will be presented. After a while, I was pretty sure that the movie is made up of short segments that seem to be connected to each other mainly by two things: (1) people will sit at small tables with checkered design tops, drink coffee (and once a cup of tea – for the British), and smoke cigarettes. (2) People seem to have problems communicating which each other. Did I think that this is enough of a plot for a good movie? In my opinion it definitely was. I really enjoyed the slow pace, the quiet and funny moments, the strangeness. I hope you enjoy it too.

IMDb entry | Trailer

As expected.

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

Yesterday I saw Fahrenheit 9/11. It is a good movie, although I am not sure how many of the awards were given for it’s politcal message, and not for it’s quality as a documentary. Not that I don’t agree with it’s message, and not that I don’t think awards shouldn’t be handed out for political reasons at all; as Sahra, one of the several people with whom I went to see the movie, said: it nicely fits all our expectations, stereotypes and judgements. I guess it will serve the purpose of making some people in the US not vote for Bush which, of course, is a Very Good Thing™.
I liked the beginning of the movie most, especially the way 9/11 itself was portayed was excellent. The rest of the movie moves between funny, shocking and disgusting, all accompanied by the well known comments of Michael Moore. If you haven’t read much of the many in depth and well researched critiques of the Bush administration and the war against Iraq and Afghanistan you might want to catch up a bit by watching this movie.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Charlie Kaufman – you shouldn’t forget this name.

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

Sometimes you get lucky. Watching two very good movies in a row is not a very frequent occurrence. You may have noticed that I rarely write harsh reviews as I am usually content with being entertained by watching movies; in addition, my taste is pretty varied and I can live with most genres even when it’s current example not exactly superbly executed. But then there are the movies that make you go to the theaters even when you encounter a cinematic blunder from time to time. Gegen die Wand has been such a case and it has been followed by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Vergißmeinnicht) this week.
Charlie Kaufman wrote the script for this movie, if you want to have an idea of what this might mean, you should know that he also wrote the ingenious scripts for Being John Malkovich and for Adaptation. The plot is full of unexpected but plausible surprises, almost all characters that are at least somewhat involved have multi-dimensional, interesting characters, the dialogues are brilliant, and the ideas behind the story are both intriguing and presented in a very casual way. There is no attitude of grandeur about this movie, and there doesn’t need to be.
Still not convinced? Well, the main actors are Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. I don’t like either of them. I have been bored and annoyed both by Jim Carrey’s hyper-active comedy acting and by Kate Winslet’s sighs and eyelashes. But in this movie both of them have jumped up several leagues in my appreciation. Both have moments in which they are actually attractive and interesting – who would have thought that?

I could continue and elaborate this hymn even further, but I don’t want to waste your time which is better spent organizing a visit to a movie theater with a few friends.
One more thing, though… this is not only a movie of interesting ideas, but it also is a very beautiful and powerful love story.
IMBd entry | Trailer

Gegen die Wand und mitten rein.

Monday, June 28th, 2004

Bis vor kurzem gehörte ich ja auch noch zu den Leuten, die Gegen die Wand noch nicht gesehen haben, obwohl dieser Film ja bekanntlich gut sein soll und den Publikumspreis bei der Berlinale gewonnen hat. Alles Lob zu recht. Habe den Film in einem kleinen Kinosaal in Darmstadt gesehen, aber das hat diesem Film keinen Abbruch getan – trotz schneller, manchmal fast Videocliphaft anmutender Schnitte kommt kein Viva oder MTV Gefühl auf. Der Film ist sehr intensiv; Darsteller, Dialoge und Kamera erzeugen eine stimmige, starke Atmosphäre. Der Soundtrack ist ebenfalls sehr gut – ich warte schon gespannt darauf, in Dörtes Kopie noch einmal rein zu lauschen. Dieser Film ist so, wie Reality Bites gerne gewesen wäre. Ach ja: der Film spielt zu einem großen Teil in Hamburg.
IMBd entry | Homepage

Actually entertaining, therefore much better.

Monday, June 21st, 2004

I never thought I would go and watch another Harry Potter sequel in a movie theater, thinking that I might as well throw the money from my balcony and be a happier Lars than I would have been after watching The Prisoner Of Azkaban. Then I heard that the director of this movie is the director of the fabulous Y Tu Mama Tambien and suddenly became interested. I liked this movie a lot more than the other two; it was magical and the setting both gloomier and more fairy-tale-like. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t recommend this movie to people who don’t like fantasy settings or the Harry Potter series. For such an audience, the movie is not good enough. I was very relieved that it wasn’t as bland and superficially funny as the first two movies. Do I have to mention that I would have totally adored Emma Watson (a.k.a. Hermione) in my teens?
IMDb entry | Trailer

Ignoring that the private is political.

Sunday, June 6th, 2004

Without following this motto watching The Day After Tomorrow is barely bearable. Too many clichées and stereotypes, bland dialogue, and unconvincing storylining. However, not only are the special effects adequately large scaled, but there are also some pretty funny stabs at US politics and the north-south divide – I for my part wouldn’t have expected so much (albeit implicit) criticism of US politics. Which doesn’t say that much because I expected almost nothing…
IMDb entry | Trailer

Pink Panther at Tiffany’s.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004

Yesterday we saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s on TV – it is not only a romantic but also a seriously funny movie. Somehow I haven’t noticed this before knowing who the director is: Blake Edwards, who won this year’s Honorary Award Oscar. He is the director of many notoriously funny movies, including The Party and the Pink Panther series starring Peter Sellers. With that information in mind I paid more attention to detail while viewing this movie, making it an even better experience. Olli and I were planning to eventually host a Blake Edwards movie night party, which most certainly will be a big success.