Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Du bist nicht allein – Unansehnlich & schön.

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Axel Prahl ist wahrscheinlich der Tatort Komissar, der die besten Rollen im Filmgeschäft bekommt. Oder sie sich aussucht. Keine langweiligen, klischeedurchtränkten deutschen Fernsehproduktionen, sondern Filme mit viel wahrem Leben in Handlung und Charakteren. Du bist nicht allein ist da keine Ausnahme. Mit Katharina Thalbach an der Seite und vielen anderen gut gespielten und platzierten Charakteren spielt er sich durch einen Film, der traurig und schön ist. Ein Film, in dem Gescheiterte die Kraft zur Solidarität finden, die Kraft zur Liebe und zum Aufbruch und die Kraft, sich ihr Scheitern einzugestehen. Ein schöner, offener Film, der sicher nicht nur im Kino gut funktioniert.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Not overly rebellious.

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Even though the tagline of the most recent movie of the Harry Potter series is The Rebellion Begins there is not too much that is opposed to convention. Not even much that would be unconventional. Entertainment as we know it. Better than the hauntingly bad first two episodes, worse than the magic third, on par with the fourth episode. That would be my judgement and depending on how you liked the different episodes that should be enough to tell you if you might want to see this movie or not. If you haven’t seen any of the Potter movies or – shock and surprise – not even read the books, than watching some other movie might be a wise decision.
IMDb entry | Trailer

The Simpsons Movie – Entertainment also for non-insiders.

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

Watching the credits of this movie roll through, I was seriously surprised how many people work on a 2-D animated major motion picture these days. The credits were not as long as those of The Lord of the Rings, but they were still l o n g. The result of this big enterprise is worthy: I found the trailers nice and I was not disappointed by the movie. As far as I can judge, all the common characters appear and have something entertaining to show or do, some really funny ideas have entered both picture- and dialog-wise. I went to see this film with two other non-Simpsons freaks, and we had several series’ of serious amusement. Nevertheless, neither the eco part of the story nor the personal part was overly great – criticism, shock and grief were hinted at but not performed in a way that would make this movie more than amusing or entertaining. However, I will soon take a look into one of the books that I got as birthday presents: The Simpsons and Philosophy : The D’oh! Of Homer and let myself be enlightened about this side of The Simpsons.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Irina Palm – Russian names are romantic.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

The trailer for this movie was promising (see below for the link). A woman needs money and starts to … prostitute herself? Kind of. She masturbates men, who put their (obviously male) genitals through a hole in the wall. She sits on the other side. And seems to be doing a very good job. Her neighbors are not that enchanted. Little surprise here.
The story might sound somewhat blunt, but there is no bluntness in this movie. It is told in a very subtle way. The camera is respectful, the actors are, too. In this movie, it becomes tangible to us that the world of prostition is a world of delicate balances. Between pimps and prostitutes, between family and work, between collegialism and competition, between love and loathing. A really excellent movie. Since it has been running in the cinema for several weeks by now it might be difficult to find a theater that is still showing the film. If you can find one, go and watch it there. If not, keep it high on your list of movies to rent for couch-watching.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Live Free or Die Hard – as good as it could be.

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Well, it was a surprise invitation: Kerstin and I were asked if we want to come along and watch Die Hard 4.0 in Oslo. We decided to come along – and both of us decided that it was a good decision. The cinema was huge (the Colosseum in Oslo), filled to the last row, and very much adequate to the effects in the movie which were also: huge. Other than that, the script was fast-paced, did not have any leaks, and the acting was fitting. Bruce Willis may be an evil right-wing conservative, but being that makes him a perfect fit for this role, and Justin Long is a good counter-character. So if you are in for pure entertainment with a lot of action: go for it, because much to my surprise this movie is an equal to the first Die Hard.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – entertainment, nothing more.

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Not much to say about this one. The most remarkable fact is probably that I saw it in the cinema on an island (Juist, of course). If you enjoyed the previous movies, you’ll enjoy this one too. There are some nice scenes, but I think that the story of the first movie was better, while the second one had some funnier aesthetic ideas (think of Johnny Depp’s eye make-up) – in this one, however, Keira Knightley is prettier than in the first two movies, so it kind of equals itself out. It’s a Jerry Bruckheimer production, so it just can’t be really good.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Siegfried Lenz über das Sehen.

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Bei meinem Aufenthalt auf Juist am vergangenen Wochenende habe ich mich nach einigem Stöbern dazu entschlossen, die Deutschstunde von Siegfried Lenz zu kaufen und zu lesen. Ich bin darauf gekommen, weil ich auf dem Videoworkshop, an dem ich vor ein paar Wochen teilgenommen habe, Charles Goodwin bei einem Gespräch über Schiffe von Lenz’ Feuerschiff erzählt habe – eines meiner Lieblingsbücher. Während ich ihm davon erzählte, hat mich die Dramatik der Handlung so sehr gepackt, dass ich eine Gänsehaut bekam. Deshalb also der Griff zum Lenz im Buchladen.
Ein guter Griff, wie sich bald herausstellte. Besonders hat mich die folgende Passage erfasst, denn sie spiegelt ein Verständnis von Wahrnehmung, das nahezu deckungsgleich mit dem ist, das ich in Anlehnung an Merleau-Ponty in meiner Dissertation verwende. Hier das entsprechende Zitat:

[S. 409] Weißt Du was Sehen ist? Vermehren. Sehen ist Durchdringen und Vermehren. Oder auch Erfinden. Um dir zu gleichen, mußt du dich erfinden, immer wieder, mit jedem Blick. Was erfunden wird, ist verwirklicht. Hier, in diesem Blau, in dem nichts schwankt, in dem keine Beunruhigung steckt, ist auch nichts verwirklicht. Nichts ist vermehrt. Wenn du siehst, wirst du gleichzeitig auch selbst gesehen, dein Blick kommt zurück. Sehen, herrjeh: es kann auch investieren bedeuten, oder Warten auf Veränderung. Du hast alles vor dir, die Dinge, den alten Mann, aber sie sind es nicht gewesen, wenn du nicht etwas dazu tust von dir aus. Sehen: das ist doch nicht zu den Akten nehmen. Man muß doch bereit sein zum Widerruf. Du gehst weg und kommst zurück, und etwas hat sich verwandelt. Laß mich in Ruhe mit Protokollen. Die Form muß schwanken, alles muß schwanken, so brav ist das Licht nicht.
Oder hier Witt-Witt, dies Bildchen, warm durchsonnt: Balthasar hält mir auf ausgestreckter Hand eine Mühle hin, und ich beachte ihn nicht. Da siehst du, wo ein anderer ist, wo etwas anderes ist, da muß eine Bewegung zu ihm hinführen. Sehen ist so ein Tausch auf Gegenseitigkeit. Was dabei herausspringt, ist gegenseitige [S. 410] Veränderung. Nimm den Priel, nimm den Horizont, den Wassergraben, den Rittersporn: sobald du sie erfaßt hast, erfassen sie auch dich. Ihr erkennt euch gegenseitig. Sehen heißt auch: einander entgegenkommen, einen Abstand verringern. Oder? Balthasar meint, das alles ist zu wenig. Er besteht darauf, das Sehen auch Bloßstellen ist. Etwas wird so aufgedeckt, daß keiner in der Welt sich ahnungslos geben kann. Ich weiß nicht, ich habe etwas gegen das Enthüllungsspiel. Man kann der Zwiebel alle Häute abziehen, und dann bleibt nichts. Ich werde dir sagen: man beginnt zu sehen, wenn man aufhört, den Betrachter zu spielen, und sich das, was man braucht, erfindet: diesen Baum, diese Welle, diesen Strand.

In: Lenz, Siegfried ([1973] 2006): Deutschstunde. München: dtv.

2 Days in Paris – mischievous disorientations.

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

The french actress Julie Delpy takes Woody Allen into a 21st century international couple staying for a few days in Paris setting. When Julie Delpy as Marion appears to be utterly confused, helpless and at the same time talkative and constantly probing her relationship with an architect with whom she lives in New York, a transformed version of Woody Allen talks, loves, and cries her way through the movie. As the movie continues it constantly reproduces clichés about Americans and French in general, and about Parisians and the creative class in particular – sometimes these clichés seem a bit too thick, but most of the time the product is fast paced, funny, and generally entertaining because of two reasons: (a) often enough it links into things I have experienced myself and (b) the characters remain lovable even in their absurdity.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Full Metal VillageNähe. Und Distanz.

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Nachdem der erste Versuch gescheitert ist, weil es keine Karten mehr gab, hat es gestern doch noch geklappt und wir sind in die Spätvorstellung des als Heimatfilm untertitelten Dokumentarfilms Full Metal Village gegangen. Eine sehr gute Entscheidung, denn dieser Film ist wirklich hervorragend. Er macht genau das, was ich zu häufig bei Dokumentationen vermisse: die DokumentarfilmerInnen werden mit in den Film einbezogen. Die Gefilmten reden mit ihnen, sind darüber verunsichert, wie die Filmenden sie beziehungsweise das, was sie sagen, finden, schauen sie an und scherzen mit und über sie. Da die Filmemacherin Sung Hyung Cho genauso viel Respekt wie Interesse zeigt, öffnen sich die Menschen, ohne sich entblößen zu müssen. So entsteht eine sehr feine Balance zwischen Nähe und Distanz, eine Balance, die das Anschauen und Anhören dieses Films zu einem großartigen Erlebnis machen. Es gibt viele schöne Momente, es gibt wirklich witzige Momente, in denen das Kinopublikum mit großer Lust gelacht hat, und es gibt Momente in denen klar wird, wie die Menschen auf dem Land dazu kommen, nicht bloß konservative, sondern auch (mehr oder weniger latent) rechte Positionen einzunehmen. Und das alles tun sie in sehr intimer Weise gegenüber eine Filmemacherin, die aus Korea kommt. Und dann gibt es noch die schönen, traurigen und stillen Momente. Momente, die tiefe Sympathie für Menschen wecken, die einen Lebensstil pflegen, von dem meist so getan wird, als gäbe es ihn überhaupt nicht mehr. Alles in allem wird es schwer, diesen Film in diesem Jahr noch zu toppen. Für mich ein wichtiger Film, den ich allen nur empfehlen kann. Wer das Landleben aus eigener Anschauung kennt – und sei es auch nur als daneben stehender Bekannter – und wer das Herz im Norden trägt, die/der sollte diesen Film unbedingt und wenn irgend möglich auch auf großer Leinwand anschauen.
IMDb entry | Trailer

The Curse of the Golden Flower – From single colors to complex patterns of richness.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

For me, Yimou Zhang’s movies are about style, about aesthetics, about colors, movements and emotions. Hero has been particularly strong in this department. I really cannot judge The House of Flying Daggers, since I have only seen it in bad quality on a small screen – seeing Yimou Zhang’s movies on the big screen is a must. In this movie, colors do signify solidarities and they also speak of the clash between gold and silver, the clash between the reigning sun and the silent but still present moon. Martial Arts only appear sporadically in this movie – it is more of a theatric play, showing the subtle moves in a game of life and death, in which words are not spoken loudly – and thus the silence is contrasting with the regular announcements of the hour of the day and its meaning by a herold who is walking through the scenes again and again, introducing another drip of poison in the relations between the main protaginists everytime he appears with his bell and his ritual announcements.
I am still somewhat undecided about how I would classify this movie. Which is probably a good sign. Expecting simple but clear messages and colors alike– as in Hero – in was overwhelmed by the richness of colors, the many flowing, rain-like silk curtains, the patterned carpets, ornate dresses, relief-overgrown armors, and bejeweled hairdoes (does this word really exist? does or dos?). I also was unsure about the huge slaughtering scene close to the end of the movie. However, this movie is from China and when I try to perceive it in that context, it seems more plausible and more interesting. The only problem is, however, that I know very little about China. I guess that is why the movie has left me wondering…
IMDb entry | Trailer

Spider-Man 3 – too many conflicts.

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

While I liked the beginning of the most recent (and last?) part of the Spider-Man movies, it did not really grip me. For me, the first movie had style, charm, and romance – in the two follow-ups these magic ingredients were lost somewhere in the mix. Were the performances of the main actors not good enough? Maybe, at least not good enough to make up for the overly complex and many-threaded plot that was not resolved in a very convincing way. In the last part of the movie, one emotional moment had to follow the other too quickly to be savoured for itself and to develop its own taste. This is a pity, since I like both the main characters and the main actors… Nonetheless, there are certainly many superhero movies that are much worse.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Sunshine – Roasting skin and popcorn.

Friday, April 27th, 2007

I entered the cinema like I prefer to do it: not knowing what the movie I am going to see is about. I only knew the title. Sunshine. Not very telling, isn’t it? And I knew that someone said it’s good. Equipped with popcorn and a beer and being in good company, I passed a poster that told me the director (Danny Boyle) also is responsible for Trainspotting. Exciting news. The near-apocalyptic, space ship setting of the movie took me by surprise. The well-told story and a range of interesting characters created a good base for a good film. All of this is set into scene with a good camera and several well-cast actors (we know Michelle Yeoh from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). If you are into sci-fi movies that at least try to present natural laws and physics as they should work, you should better forget all of this kind of knowledge before watching. The story-telling and the search for interesting scenes has dictated what is possible, how quickly people freeze in space and makes fun of the concept of gravity. On the other hand, this has produced some beautiful, some eerie and some shocker-style effects. Taken together, this is a solidly entertaining, well done (that is: not a-point) movie.
As the crew of the space ship gets closer and closer to the sun, trying to nuke it back into activity, we lost sound in the Rex cinema in Darmstadt. The movie lost its voice, the crew was getting closer to being roasted every minute, and we were recompensated with a popcorn voucher after the movie. Stay tuned if you want to know the occasion during which I consumed the free popcorn.
IMDb entry | Trailer

300 – hmpf.

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I do not know how the German comic language expression hmpf should be translated to English. It expresses a certain discontent, mixed with a dose of frustration and recognition of the fact that the cause of the hmpf will not easily be removed. This describes my feeling towards this movie pretty accurately. I went to see it because of the aesthetics. Comic style – since it is an apaption of a graphic novel by Frank Miller. Who is known for his violent style. Well, the movie is violent too, of course. One thing that was interesting to me was to experience a qualification in my attachment to grittiness. I think I may have written gritty is good in some other movie reviews here. This is not necessarily true. The Spartans were dirty, their helmets, shields and weapons were dented and dirty too. The was a lot of soil and blood. But it was not good. Maybe, I could argue that this was not really gritty: there was dirt and blood – but there was no pain. The 300 Spartans died. But they did not feel actual pain. Or confusion. All characters and emotions were clean. That is not what I mean when I say I like gritty. Too much perfection. And don’t get me started about the politics and philosphy of this movie. There is a measurable degree of fascism going on. There is a lot of really bad stereotyping of minorities of all kinds. And no irony. If this would be the next thing after postmodernism: I don’t want it! I can only recommend this movie to one group: those who have an interest in representations of violence. (By the way, the story is not exactly gripping either.)
IMDb entry | Trailer

Schlechte Herstellung im Campus Verlag.

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Lieber Campus Verlag, ich finde die Umschlags- und Titelgestaltung von Deinem Buch wirklich ganz ansehnlich. Aber, um ehrlich zu sein, ich habe noch nie ein dermaßen mies gesetztes Buch von einem großen, eigentlich angesehenen Verlag in der Hand gehabt. Ich fühle mich nicht wegen mittelprächtiger Typografie zu diesem Eintrag genötigt, zwei bestimmte Dinge lassen mir den Kamm schwellen, wenn ich Dein Buch in die Hand nehme:

  1. Wenn ei ne Wort tren nung über ei ne Sei ten gren ze hin weg geht, fehlt der Bin de strich. Und zwar im mer.
  2. Am Ende von mehreren Kapitelüberschriften scheint jemand ein Sonderzeichen gesetzt zu haben, das sich im Druck als ungefähr n-breite, graue Fläche über die gesamte Zeilenhöhe erstreckt.

Das sind Fehler, die einem derart in die Augen stechen, dass es mir vollkommen unverständlich ist, wie so etwas in den Druck kommen kann. Über die vielen Rechtscheibfehler wollen wir mal den Mantel des Schweigens breiten. Von Zeichensetzung, Groß-, Klein- und Getrenntschreibung hab ich zum Glück keine Ahnung, so dass mir solche Fehler nicht auffallen würden. Würde ich bei einem solchen Verlag ein Buch veröffentlichen wollen? Eigentlich nicht. Wenn da nicht so inhaltlich wundervolle Bücher wie Alain Ehrenbergs Das erschöpfte Selbst : Depression und Gesellschaft in der Gegenwart erscheinen würden… Ein Buch, dass in jeder anderen Hinsicht überzeugt, wichtig ist und sich gut liest.

Not too glamorous, not too moving.

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

The Oscars are over. We spent a long night in front of the TV, watching the same stupid commercials over and over again until it seemed that Pro 7 did not have any sponsors left so that they fell back on only sending commercials for their own products. I was actually very happy that Das Leben der Anderen won the Academy Award for best foreign movie – in my experience, it was the best movie of the past year. Although I have to admit that I have neither seen Clint Eastwood’s flicks nor Pan’s Labyrinth. It was a good movie season. The ceremony itself however, was not too exciting. Some nice dresses, a good life performance by the Dreamgirls singerettes, a great Forest Whitaker and, of course, a stunningly beautiful Cate Blanchett. For my taste there was much too much Al Gore embracing and too little of the heartfelt political critique as it was expressed by Chris Cooper when he won his award for best supporting actor a few years ago.

Das Leben der Anderen – Schmerzvolle Entschlüsse.

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Dieser Film ist wirklich hervorragend. Buch, Darsteller, Regie, alles greift ineinander, so dass sich vor meinen Augen eine Geschichte abspielt, wie sie besser kaum sein kann. Hier wird das Gute im Menschen auf eine Weise verhandelt, die sehr rücksichtsvoll ist, die aber auch zeigt, dass nichts leicht ist. Vor allem nicht, gut zu sein. Ich will nicht viele Worte über diesen Film verlieren und stattdessen nur allen empfehlen, die diesen Film wie ich schon viel zu lange noch nicht gesehen haben, dieses so bald wie möglich nachzuholen.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Babel – more than words.

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

Desert, borderland and the metropolis – these are the places in which the stories of this movie unfold. The places are well chosen, showing how fear and isolation can creep into every part of this world. This movie is quite humanistic, telling us about the difficulties that we face when engaging an other. Difficulties that exists because of the distance between cultures but also in the distance between individuals. I have been told that this movie tells a story about miscommunication. That is true. But it also shows how people interact with more than words. Words and bodies struggle to transport meaning and care, always looking for love or at least some help and sympathy. But they also hurt and might even kill. The film shows a very corporeal form of communication, quite in contrast to the title which seems to suggest that it is about spoken language. Thinking about it, I very much enjoyed this movie, perhaps even more so that during the time I spent in the cinema. However, I certainly won’t complain about that time: Cate Blanchett is breathtaking as always and Gael García Bernal might even be my favorite male actor, the rest of the cast doing very well, too. Go and watch this movie. Do it in the cinema, landscape is important in this movie.

IMDb entry | Trailer

The Prestige – powered by Bowie-Tesla.

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

Christopher Nolan is a guarantee for complex and surprising scripts. This is also true for his most recent movie The Prestige, which I saw a two days ago. The plot involves several characters taking the place of each other – in a literal as well as ideal sense. People, animals, and things disappear and appear, die and do not die. The script and the pictures are full of allegories – some of them more hidden, some more explicit. Open your senses when you walk into the cinema, and let yourself be fried by the electrical flares generated by Nikola Tesla’s strange apparatuses. The less distance you have to what happens, the more you will enjoy it, I guess. Definitely an entertaining movie. And keep a lookout for Gollum.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Goya’s Ghosts – good paintings do not make a good movie.

Friday, December 29th, 2006

This review has to start with a sigh. A sigh, because I find the paintings and sketches of Francisco Goya to be almost overwhelmingly expressive. A sigh too, because both the story and the performance of the actors did not convince me. The story should have been gripping and tear-evoking. However, I did not feel very moved. I cannot really point a finger at a single cause, but somehow this movie did not touch my heart. The paintings that were shown on the big screen did though. Go see it if you are really into Goya’s paintings and if you do not have the opportunity to visit a museum that displays his work.
IMDb entry

The Departed – doubled suspense.

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon: who can tell them apart? In this movie, they enter a very nicely scripted double play. They are enemies, counterparts, and mirror images of each other. Distorted images though. And this is what kept the movie interesting for me. Although I am not too big a fan of Scorsese movies (I always thought he would be written with a c: Scorcese – but he isn’t), I really enjoyed this one. I hope my feeling was caused by the movie and not by chilly temperature in Darmstadt’s Rex cinema… If you are into variations of the Mafia theme or if you are just looking for some – tough – entertainment, then this movie is for you. For me it was good enough to be recommended to people that are not too much into the genre – as a thriller and action movie it was not as good as The Fugitive, but it was at least playing in the same league. Hmm, that is quite the honor. I hope I do not place this movie too high on the scale…

IMDb entry | Trailer