Archive for the ‘movie’ Category

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

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

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