Archive for the ‘movie’ Category

Le scaphandre et le papillon – Accessing the world through one eye.

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

The description of this movie sounds scary: the main editor of the French women’s magazine Elle has an ischemic stroke that leaves him completely paralyzed. (Time for a nod to French comic culture:) Completely paralyzed? No, not completely paralyzed. A single place of resistance remains. A single organ high up in the head. He can still actively use a single eye. And the accompanying eyelids. Eye and eyelids. This is the way he relates to the world. Even though his hearing (and smell, I think) remains intact, he can only express himself by opening and closing the eyelids of one eye. Not a very optimistic point of departure for a movie. In particular, for a French movie. However, this time we may be educated about the problems of the bourgeoisie, but we are also told a heart-moving story. The way that the main protagonist regains the world is not only grand in itself. It is also shown in a very compassionate and intimate way that still keeps enough distance to respect the dignity of this particular human being – something that is particularly important because the movie is based on true events, as they say. Great setting, great camera, great script, and (remember, this is a French movie after all) some really beautiful women. One need not fear The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Even if the setting is dire indeed. Do not only watch it if you are interested in problems of perception and communication, as I am. Take a heart and watch it, if the opportunity to do that should arise, regardless of what you think about the actual content of this movie – it is not about content, it is about relating to the things and the people we have around us.
IMDb entry | Trailer

No Country for Old Men – don’t mess around with the bad guys.

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

The main character of this excellent movie was highly sympathetic – careful, decisive, humane. But all of these qualities do not help if you (a) are at the wrong place at the wrong time and (b) are meddling in affairs where evil people have pretty high stakes. This is the outset of a movie that takes its time to tell a story, to depict three main characters who are all thoughtful and experienced. They cirle each other, all coming from very differenct directions. This movie was better than I expected indeed. The casting is perfect, the camera lets Texan plains tell their story, and the Mexican border tells another, related story. This is a very American movie – American in the best sense.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Pan’s Labyrinth – Fantastic faun.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

I saw this movie much later than I wanted to – in fact I wanted to see it before watching last year’s Oscars. That obviously did not work out as planned. Therefore I took the opportunity when the filmclub of Darmstadt University of Technology showed the movie a few weeks ago. Seeing it at the film club had the added benefits of a low price, carry-in food to your liking, and evading the dubbed German version of the movie. Guerra has a certain ring to it. It is somehow different than war or Krieg. One thing, however, is almost always being evoked by this word: cruelty. The cruelty of war is not hushed in this movie, but the movie it achieves something much more important and much rarer: it shows how a child uses a world of fantasy to cope with the terrors that haunt herself, those who are dear to her, and those who are a threat. Is it only her fantasy? You should watch the movie and then decide. Latin american film and prose often has this magic twist. In any case, Guillermo del Toro has made a very good movie that is certainly worth watching. The movie got three oscars and a whole lot of praise. Because of that, I had very high expectations – they were not disappointed, but they were also not exceeded. Even though I am sure El Laberinto del fauno will loose a bit when watched on DVD it will still be a very good movie. Spanish language cinema has quite a bit to offer these years, don’t miss it!
IMDb entry | Trailer

The Mist – that’s what I call an ending.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

We are in the wintry movie season, extending from the beginning of October to something Aprilesque. This is the time of year when horror movies galore enter the movie theaters. The Mist belongs to the genre, offering a setting not dissimilar to the setting of Dawn of the Dead: people get trapped inside a shopping mall, while Evil is lurking outside. That is how people feel today, one might guess – the shopping mall as a safe haven. However, this is the Horror genre, and the script is based on a Stephen King novel, so we are also taught some contempt for those fools who dwell in the shopping malls of this planet, too.
The effects and main storyline of this genre flick is not a big hit, but good enough for those who are into it. Especially for those who are into the Cthulu myth that has been created by H.P. Lovecraft in his early 20th century – there are some scary, overwhelming things out there in the mist… However, this is not much more than a neat bonus for those who know their literature, but it wouldn’t make this movie particularly interesting. The thing which makes writing this entry a worthwhile endeavor is its ending. In the last two scenes, we get a glimpse of the inventiveness that made The Shawshank Redemption (done by the same writer and director, Frank Darabont) such a great movie: interesting twists in the plot. I really loved how evil the ending is, and dearly recommend sitting through until the end to those with a twisted sense of humor.
IMDb entry | Trailer

The Darjeeling Limited – colorful trains.

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Back in Darmstadt, one of the first things I did was to go to the movies. There wasn’t much interesting on show, but the newest movie of director Wes Anderson caught my interest. Not necessarily because it was done by him (although I quite enjoyed The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), but more so because I really liked the main cast. Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman – I like all three of them, and I was curious how three egos like theirs would interact on the big screen. (They are cast as unlike brothers who just lost their father and are searching for their mother in the Indian hinterland.) I am still unsure how to rate this movie. I think the idea, the casting, and the camera work are all well done. However, I was not entirely satisfied by the script and/or the directing. The story and the characters did not catch me emotionally, they remained somewhat on the surface, not touching deeper emotions. Perhaps this is the case because they were on the search for authentic emotions themselves? I do not know. Nonetheless, this movie was quite entertaining. And it was very colorful indeed. The design of trains and clothes ranges from beautiful via charming to hilarious.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Nuovomondo – let the sound tell the story.

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Two weeks ago, I have been to my now-favorite cinema in Oslo: the Gimle Kino. Located in a very fine art deco building, it only has a single show room, an old school wood paneled and heavily carpeted entrance area where you cannot get popcorn – high-quality beverages and the usual choice of chocolates is being served instead. Very much adequate to the refined setting was the movie we saw: Nuovomondo or The Golden Door. A movie about an utterly poor rural Italian family who finally decides to leave their barren homestead to try their luck in the US of A. When I write barren here, I do actually mean barren. If you do not have a clear understanding of what constitutes a barren landscape (in contrast to a desert, for example) you have to see this movie, and the meaning of this word will much more than dawn on you. It might well overwhelm you.
One thing that took a while until it dawned on me during that evening was the sound of this movie. I think I have never seen a movie where sounds were able to tell so much about the emotions and the materiality of the setting as this one (with the exception of Das Boot, though with submarine flicks sound is an obvious thing to invest in). The landscape, the vessel that ships the migrants from Italy to America, the life below decks – all of these places become really vivid in this movie.
However, this is not where my praise stops. In addition to the sound and the thing about the barrenness – two features which would make this movie outstanding on its own – this work of Emanuele Crialese also offers many openly dreamlike aesthetic images, images that weave themselves into the fabric of the story that is being told. All want to swim in the land of milk and honey, as you will see. So, the story seems fine, the imageary is fantastic, and the sounds scaringly good. Then what about the cast? Do they spoil the thing? No! They don’t! They are actually perfectly fitting, too. I guess you get my drift: I do urge you to go and watch this movie. In a cinema, please, try to watch it in a real movie theater.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Michael Clayton – kind of a thriller.

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

The genre given for this film at the Internet Movie Database is Drama / Thriller, at Apple’s website it is just Drama. I guess I was expecting a thriller when I went to watch this movie – but in that regard it did not really live up to my expectations. However, the drama part was actually working out good – something that is at least as much thanks to Tilda Swinton as to our omnipresent smart and good-looking main actor, Dr. Ace. The cast and the plot were good, and I actually liked the small touch of another, hitherto unmentioned genre, which played into the movie now and then: mystery! All in all, this is solid entertainment that encourages the audience to take a closer look (some of those with whom I saw the movie overlooked several important clues regarding the mystery – so enjoy keeping your eyes peeled!)

IMDb entry | Trailer

Elizabeth: The Golden Age – Woman warrior queen?

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

To my regret, I haven’t seen the first Elizabeth movie starring the most wonderful Cate Blanchett. (It was done in the late nineties, and Gwyneth Paltrow got the Oscar in her role as Julia in Shakespeare in Love, not Cate Blanchett for her role as the 15th century Queen Elizabeth. Well, I will not comment that. )Instead, I will comment on the nonsensical tag line of this second Elizabeth movie: Woman warrior queen. The tagline fits with the image that we seen on posters etc. – Cate Blanchett in armor and with open, somewhat umkempt hair and dramatic sky above her. Wrong image. This movie is about costumes, aesthetics, some love, some drama, some war, but mostly about scenes that are shot and presented like paintings. Some of these were pretty nice, but in general I and the other four people with whom I went to see the movie agreed that it was quite overdone. Not to an extent that would make this a bad or dreadful movie, but to an extent that lessened the grip on the audience. There was not enough story to really keep me involved – even if the cast and the acting were perfectly fine. Many shallow characters, too few surprises or interesting twists… A pity, of course. The trailer, however, is great, so you may watch this and then make your decision if this is a cinema, a home or a not-to-be-seen-at-all film for you.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Ratatouille – (Not) A cheesy movie.

Friday, October 12th, 2007

The trailer (link see below) for Ratatouille was charming enough to lure me into the cinema for an evening free of philosophic discourse during last weeks conference of the German Society for Phenomenological Research (DGPF) in Darmstadt. In addition, this movie has been made by Pixar, which has produced several highly entertaining animated movies during the last years, making it even more attractive in my eyes. Pixar studies seem to hire the right writers who keep a certain degree of edginess in the stories, thus making their movies stand out positively in contrast to most of the boring Disney productions of the last decade. This is again true for Ratatouille. The main character is charming enough, his buddies and relatives are funny, and his enemies bad – luckily all of them in a not overly schematic way. There were one or two very touching moments in the film and the rest was pure entertainment enriched with several very well-made animations and scenic views. Something for a relaxing evening at the cinema, but also something that you could rent for a night at your DVD booth around the corner.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Auf der anderen Seite – Istanbul, zu Dir will ich kommen.

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Ich habe schön öfter darüber nachgedacht: Gegen die Wand ist wahrscheinlich mein absoluter Top-Film des Milleniums. Er hat sich mit seiner Intensität tief in meine Erinnerung eingebrannt. Die Latte für den neuen Film von Fatih Akin, Auf der anderen Seite, konnte also kaum höher hängen. Ich bin glücklich, dass ich nicht enttäuscht wurde. Auch dieser Film ist wirklich sehr gut. Eigentlich bin ich vielleicht sogar genauso glücklich, dass er nicht noch besser ist als Gegen die Wand – denn wie hätte ich das körperlich und seelisch aushalten sollen? Der neue Film ist also weniger nervenzerrüttend intensiv. Er ist aber trotzdem gut und hart und zärtlich und spannend und amüsant. Die Charaktere sind auch hier Grenzgänger im politischen wie auch im persönlichen Sinn. Ihr Leben spielt sich entweder in Bremen oder in Istanbul ab, sie wechseln von einer Stadt in die andere, leben, lieben und leiden dort auf jeweils eigene Weise. Das Drehbuch und die Regie sind einfach hervorragend und die Darsteller in ihren Rollen ergreifend. Kamera und Schauplätze tragen ihres bei und machen diesen Film zu einem Muss. Ja, auch für Dich, los, ins Kino!
IMDb entry | Trailer

The Bourne Ultimatum – Speed & suspense.

Monday, October 8th, 2007

I enjoyed the first two flicks featuring Jason Bourne tremendously. In a way, they showed what James Bond could be – and finally became, with the most recent, reinvented Bond. Of course, the main character of the Bourne movies is laid out in a way that could be seen as the direct opposite to the classic, self-assured and smug Bond: torn by inner conflicts, not sure who and even what he really is, if he should open up and trust or even love others or not… However, even with these traits, the Bourne movies stayed true to their genre: they were action movies to the core. And they were the best action movies I saw during the last years. All of this is still true with the most recent (and probably last) incarnation of the series. Breathtaking fights, murderous hunts, and extremely well-timed plots that swirl around each other in dazzling arrays. If you are ready for some fast-paced action: go for it!
IMDb entry | Trailer

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

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