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Wir sind jung. Wir sind stark.

The true thriller is not shown
The movie focuses on a group of aimless youths with bleak prospects and their role in the riots against the asylum seekers' house. The other thread shows a local politician, who is the father of one of the depicted youths and who is being left alone by his superiors.

Although the group's inner dynamics and their frustrations are dealt with in a very sensitive way, the action is extremely slow paced and not very emotionally engaging.

After having watched the movie, I wanted to know what really happened that night in Rostock Lichtenhagen. So I turned to the Wikipedia article covering the infamous event. And there it was: the real thriller!

I will not reveal my conclusions, but there were very strange things going on the federal level, very strange things said by the heads of the then ruling CDU, very strange directions to the police. Read it yourself, you will hardly believe it!

Let me give you just one example: in the aftermath, there was only one member of the two big parties CDU and SPD (the latter ruling in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) truly condemning the riots as well as the failure of the government, Knut Degner. The next day he was released from office (!).

So the real thriller happened not in Rostock on the streets but in Bonn and Schwerin behind closed doors. The movie should have taken this in to account. Or maybe a documentary would have been genre more appropriate.

Move On

What happens when a big corporation makes a 100 minute commercial? This!
What happens when a big corporation makes a 100 minute commercial? This: We get to see many brand-new products (e.g. we see very many cars made by Volkswagen or its subsidiaries Audi and Porsche driving around all the time), great pictures of beautiful cities, an amazing woman and gorgeous landscapes, and we get to hear very atmospheric music and sounds. So if acting, cinematography, music and locations are great it's a great movie, right? Well yes, if there wasn't one thing completely missing: a viable story.

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All we see throughout nearly the entire movie is a somehow squinted looking Mads Mikkelsen driving (always by car - vw -, never by plane, train, bus or bike) a suitcase with unknown contents to various places in Europe for no transparent reason. So "road movie" can be taken literally, because we see very many roads for a long time.

Then there is an ominous black Porsche SUV in evil black following him and a mysterious lady seemingly helping him, then making him drunk and finally stealing the suitcase, naturally after having seduced Mikkelsen.

Not surprisingly, this cannot bring a story to life or even evoke any emotions in the observer which would go further than: oh, this landscape/city looks really beautiful!

Die Frau mit den 5 Elefanten

great material, poor execution
Svetlana Geier, the protagonist of this documentary, is known for her praised re-interpretations of dostojevskys books from Russian to German. Thus she has very interesting things to say about language, literature and life. Moreover, growing up in Kiev she witnessed, how her family and friends fell victim to the stalinist purge and the German occupation, while she herself was one of the very few eastern europeans actually being promoted by the Nazi regime with a scholarship in Germany.

Unfortunately, this great material is presented in an unstructured an ill-paced manner. The only narrative frame is the historic one of the 30s and 40s. Everything else is shown in an arbitrary order. This is tolerable as long as the material is interesting enough to carry itself.

But what's really annoying is the passages, where we see here speaking in Russian to an ukrainian audience. Without subtitles. For minutes. Or we see here looking out of a train's or a taxi's window an speaking to herself in Russian. Without explanation or translation. For minutes. These parts, in total at least 30 minutes, convey hardly any information. In addition, the director very often fails finding pictures which would illustrate the narrated appropriately.

So if this documentary was re-edited, brought into a coherent shape and freed of all the superfluous crap, it would be quite a good one.

Frei: Gespielt - Mehmet Scholl - Über das Spiel hinaus

great material, badly spoiled
What a dramatic story this documentary could have told: of the most gifted player of his generation, who, as his contemporary German players, couldn't fulfill his promise and who, even in his biggest triumphs, always was accompanied by failure.

Unfortunately, this is rather an overlong news-clip than a meticulously planned documentary.

First of all, this would-be-documentary completely lacks relevant sources: the only primary sources are Scholl himself, Bayern's president Hoeness, and former Teammate Fink. That's it! No parents, friends, wives, teammates, opponents, football managers - nothing! To make things even worse, there are by far to too few meetings with the already scarce sources. With Hoeness, there is only one session, obviously without any in-depth preparation, so Hoeness accordingly swaggers along without wit or structure. With Fink, it's one session and with Scholl maybe five at maximum.

So there is footage for maybe 15-20 minutes. But to my great distress, the doc runs another 64 minutes. How do the directors fill the gap? For about 50 minutes, they have other people talk. People who aren't closer to the subject or don't know more about it than the average football fan, but who happen to be well known, e.g. former German secretary of state Joschka Fischer, a singer of a petty Munich band, TV-hosts etc - it's absolutely maddening having to watch these narcissistic idiots delivering ZERO information.

The other 14 minutes we are shown Scholl most famous scenes, which could have been a very good thing, hadn't it been ruined by the completely unmotivated rock music, which is poured over the pictures.

Needless to say that the documentary neither shows dramatical structure to speak of nor does it place the story in a wider context. Since Scholl's failure, as measured by his talent, is emblematic for his generation's failure, for the German national team has never been less successful than between 1996 and 2002.

My conclusion? The story of Scholl (and his generation) has yet to be told!

Alle Anderen

do not watch it under any circumstances
this movie shows nothing but a dysfunctional couple, the woman obviously with a bipolar disorder, the man simply depressed. After having seen them talking past each other for the first ten minutes, I expected the movie to begin. But it didn't. I couldn't believe it would stay like this, so I continued watching. But nothing else happened.

Please stop reading here, since that's all there is to say. Unless you want to get a deeper idea of the movie's feeling. Unfortunately I have to fill another 4 lines in order to have IMDb let me submit this review. Maybe thats similar to the writer's situation who didn't have any further ideas after having written the script's first pages.


could be great with color and without superfluous scenes
As a big fan of Geyerhalter's work, especially "our daily bread" and "elsewhere" I was a little bit disappointed after having watched "Pripyat". There are some very good scenes with the typical qualities of Geyrhalter. Very accurately set, photo-like pictures and - of course - people who are willing to openly show how they live, like the old couple living within the forbidden zone or the guy responsible for the still working block 3 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Unfortunately "Pripyat" is missing substance to fill the time. There are just to many scenes which show nothing new or which are just not important. For example we are following a former inhabitant of Pripyat on her old walk home. After 30 seconds we know that there are bushes and trees on the roads and paths. But we have to follow her for another five minutes, watching bushes and trees. Or there are some Scientists taking some water samples from a frozen lake. This takes another five minutes and could as well have happened anywhere else in the world.

The low density of factual information in some scenes is even aggravated by the use of black and white material. Many things you are seeing are extremely difficult or not at all identifiable due to the lack of color. It's just black in black. I suppose many pictures just looked not disturbing enough and Geyrhalter tried to give them a strange mood by taking our the color.

Without the superfluous scenes and with color "Pripyat" would be a great documentary about living and working in an area contaminated by radioactive radiation after the collapse of a nuclear plant. But in the and "Pripyat" is a quite fatiguing experience interrupted by some highlights.

Darwin's Nightmare

the whole truth, please: everything's not that bad
After having watched Darwin's Nightmare, one must have the impression of Tanzania being a living hell, with its population being quasi-slaves delivering the finest fish to the well-fed Europeans while leaving the fish bones to the starving population. In exchange for the fish they get western-made weapons, which the mainly unemployed population eagerly awaits to use, because being a soldier is their only source of income.

So everything is all dark with trade as the incarnation of evil and source of all misery? Not quite. Fortunately Darwin's Nightmare shows the dark sides only and completely spares the positive aspects. In fact, the documentary hardly tells anything about the economic and ecologic importance the victoriaperch has for the region.

For the countries around lake Victoria the victoriaperch is the second to third most important source of income. The wages in the fishing industry are way above average. Tanzania has banned huge trawlers to secure the jobs of thousands of fishermen. The adjacent states have met agreements to keep fishing on a sustainable level. Cities at the lake are benefiting from the taxes the fishers have to pay for each kilogram caught fish and the taxes on the factories' exports and profits. Furthermore Tanzania has banned exporting the local traditional fish, which still play an important role feeding the local population.

By ignoring those positive signs the documentary deters the badly needed western consumers and investors and thus threatens to aggravate the African's situation.

For further reading I can recommend two articles the German alternative-wing newspaper wrote on the subject:

Abril Despedaçado

melodramatic miramax kitsch, poverty in opulent pictures
Although the plot doesn't indend to do anything else, it could not move me at all. The story, in its essence, is about unbearable poverty and despair. But it's not told this way. Besides the bloodfeud and the poverty, it makes the impression of a rather picturesque life.

Instead of focusing on the characters tragedys, instead of trying to make one feel the protagonist's hopeless situation, of making the lives' barreness tangible through corresponding photography, the film luxuriates in pompous, satiated and abundant pictures.

Thus the movie never makes one really understand many things, e.g., why the protagonist isn't just going away, as he does anyway in the end, why the heads of the families insist on continuing the feud, why the fire eater girl returns, why she returns on her own, in the middle of the night, by foot, why she leaves ahd so on.

Behind the sun hardly touches the surface, and tries to sell actually heavy stuff as pretty romantic drama in soft and colorful pictures -


Kill Bill: Vol. 1

kill bill = charlies angels + 20000 l blood
Fist: this movie is boooooring! It demonstrates the complete lack of new ideas in tarantino's mind, which he tries to compensate in vain by having martial arts wizards doing 85% film's work. The rest is a story as constructed as wearisome, told in musicclip style without the least credibility or authenticity.

This is why the alleged cruelty doesn't matter. It just isn't touching at all watching comic-like characters without the least depth chopping each other into peaces.

Unfortunately "kill bill" is another example of movies lacking just about everything but still made successful by tremendous promotion efforts, a media hype and the directors reputation, which he in fact deserved in the past but not any more.

November Days

most unmasking documentary ever!
Marcel Ophüls, a frankfurt-born jew who emigrated to England, draws a genuine picture of the leadership and people in the gdr. By offensively pitting the heads of the gdr-leadership against each other, by relentlessly entangling them in their own lies and inconsistencies, he reveals the true face of the real existing socialism - its mediocrity, its narrow-mindedness, its lack of taste and its lack of character.

It's amazing to see how Ophüls adresses the former gdr leaders in such a direct and concise manner and how these people - who are used to think in stencils and who are talking in empty phrases - are nearly paralysed by this approach. Ophüls never accepts dodgy answers, instead he persistently keeps asking.

Ophüls arranges his observations and interviews in an adept way. No other documentary about the so called "wende" (the fall of communism) shows the essence of the socialist societe like this masterpiece!

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