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Kocár do Vídne

A Sublime Tale of Revenge and Innocence
One of my all-time favourites, this movie is refreshing, because of the carthasis it offers, and I have never experienced carthasis as intensely as here. As the young widow Krista is setting out to exact revenge for her husband's death on Hans, the rather juvenile German soldier, both of them discover forgiveness and innocence in the most unlikely place and time and constellation, in the middle of the turmoil of the final days of WW2 between two people who have every reason to be mortal enemies. Acting, cinematography and music are superb. And on another note, I also highly recommend reading the novel by the same name, that Jan Procházka has written based on his film skript, first of all it gives more detail about Krista's background and secondly it adds a whole dimension to the film's ending. Apart from the Czech original, there is at least a Dutch translation entitled "Koets naar Wenen".

Finsky nuz

How to deal with guilt
The movie focuses mainly on two friends, Honza and Tonda. During a fight Honza seizes a knife from their opponent and stabs him while defending Tonda. In fact the opponent had been predominant all through the fight hitting them both very hard. To avoid punishment Honza and Tonda decide to escape to Poland. Their road trip first takes them through rural parts and later on to Prague.

What intrigues me about the movie is the way it deals with the question of personal guilt. First it shows the natural impulse of its two very young protagonists to simply run away. Yet the movie also illustrates that his deed places Honza apart from everyday life from the very start. How he is doomed to watch from the shadows at people going on with their common life. Another favourite is when they eat some poultry and Tonda is cutting the meat with a knife. Honza notices this and immediately stops eating though he surely must be hungry, because to him a knife means something else than a more or less innocent tool. So it becomes obvious that in some way there is no running away from your conscience, and I definitely love the ending.

Jen o rodinných zálezitostech

The Party Is Always Right
Carl Zuckmayer in his autobiography remembers how the greatest fear some of his friends had concerning detention in a concentration camp wasn't so much physical destruction, but to be mentally broken. Stefan Zweig's Schachnovelle features a similar sentiment. And this is exactly what Jen o rodinných zálezitostech is dealing with and quite drastically illustrating: How to mentally break real or alleged traitors or enemies of the Communist party. The setting is Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s and in pseudo-religious show trials defendants are coerced into confessing by all means, for they must be found guilty beyond any doubt.

Die Hölle von Manitoba

Preparing to Kill or be Killed
The thing that intrigued me about this movie was the character of Clint Brenner and Lex Barker's portrayal of him. Of course there are the usual Western clichés like a range war, the loner coming to town, one man facing a whole gang of hired guns or even the gunslinger fight at the end. Though this one has a nice twist, in that it is an annual prize fight leaving one contestant dead held by the obviously sensationalist, voyeuristic and bloodthirsty population of the town of Glory.

Back to Clint Brenner, one of the gunslingers: He is the essential loner who in a rather funny dialogue verbatim expresses that he chooses not to get involved with other people. Nevertheless he is no sociopath, he has got humour and he gets along with people, he even helps them if it cannot be avoided. What might be a deficit, the fact that it is never explained how and why he got to dislike human company, (there are some hints though) is rather an advantage because the focus is now on how opens up again. In the end there is one, maybe two or three relationships he has got. Two scenes are really outstanding in this context. The first is when the wounded Jade tries to ask him to abandon the fight and Lex Barker's facial expression, especially his eyes, grows suddenly very hard and unforgiving when only the moment before he was very soft. His whole demeanor is saying that he won't discuss this with anybody. The second scene is him lying on the bed just before the fight staring at the ceiling and giving the impression that he is pretty well aware of the fact, that this whole business will boil down on either him killing somebody or him being killed, with every implication this might hold. I also love how this is contrasted with Reese', his opponents, preparations. He is almost carelessly easy and light-hearted about it.

The Strange Awakening

The Perfect Trap
Like Gordon or rather Peter says: "There was only one fiend after all." - and it's almost too late when he discovers the truth. In retrospect it feels like she's been setting this up from the very first moment she meets him and executes it with cold precision. Definitely a wonderful little thriller even with some satirical barbs against teetotalers.


Of deep absurd, surreal and poetic beauty
Though this movie is categorized as fantasy, surreal would be more appropriate. The main plot device is the transmigration of the soul, in fact Ristol's, an actor's, soul and his lover Ana looking for it or rather him. Ana has gathered a rather motley group to assist her. There is the clumsy detective, who serves to have some slapstick moments in the movie; or a crazy woman, who gets somehow involved with the detective. There are two lovers, who also join the pursuit. And Constantino, a naive servant, who unwittingly delays Ristol's soul because he takes away the doll that is possessed by his soul. And there is a woman and her murderer, whom they also encounter.

This sounds like a pretty odd movie and yet it isn't. To me it was a wonderful journey of love and maybe the only way to show such a deep emotion. The way Ana is searching high and low, the narrow places she is getting herself into. Or my favourite scene, when Ristol, who in the meantime inhabits the murdered woman's body, meets and recognizes Ana, only to lose her yet again and how, in his final manifestation as a stone handed by Ana to the woman, he is calling out her name.

Last but not least I'd like to mention the cinematography, which displays some stunningly beautiful pictures of the Asturian seaside.

The Deerslayer

Not So Racist After All
Judging from other reviews this must be a quite racist movie, when in fact it isn't.

First of all the Native Americans, here represented by the Hurons, do not carry the main conflict. In fact they are quite civilized, for they agree to let their sworn enemy, Hutter, go free in return for the scalps of the people Hutter has killed.

The actual conflicting parties are Old Hutter and Harry March on the one side and mainly Deerslayer and Chingachook on the other. The main mystery for Deerslayer to solve - and it is no McGuffin - is why the Hurons are attacking and it really is something despicable and dark: Old Hutter has been hunting for Native Americans and with the help of Harry March been selling their scalps. Old Hutter does it to revenge his wife and March is in it for the money, which in fact will bring Deerslayer and Chingachook in pretty bad trouble. Something that Deerslayer decidedly is horrified by.

Even though one might argue about the happy ending, it is the movie's merit to explicitly show this horrible practice of putting a price on Native Americans' scalps.

The Accountant

Father Figures
"Christian Wolff" suffering from Asperger is exposed to two kinds of abuse. First his father who is unable to cope with his son's affliction and deals with it the only way he can by exposing him to the Spartan rule of what doesn't kill you just makes you stronger because he feel that is the only way to protect his son. Then after a funeral that went terribly wrong "Christian" gets arrested and the state discovering his mathematical skills uses him to go after terrorists. So again abused as a tool "Christian" learns the skills to make him a brilliant accountant and assuming the state should be a father two fathers have failed him so far.

In prison he gets to know Francis Silverberg, who introduces him into the criminal world of accounting for the mob, who also from the little glimpses we get of their relationship acts like a father to him. Once he learns that Silverberg was brutally tortured to death his path is set and he takes revenge. Yet and this is important he meets yet another father J.K. Simmons' Ray King. And there will be another "father" John Lithgow's Lamar Black, who will go to any length to protect his "child".

And this is only one aspect under which to watch this movie because it also deals with for example art. I certainly enjoyed it and will most probably watch it a second time.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman
What I really liked and didn't expect is that the conflict suggested by the title was the central one, but that the roles were different than I had expected.

This is really a major spoiler, so don't go ahead if you haven't yet watched the movie!

It is actually Batman who wins and he wins because his wrath and hatred has left him void of almost any human emotion. Lex Luthor really knew which note to strike to push his irascibility. Technically defeated - which I did not expect - Superman was only lucky to hit Batman's only soft spot.

A more than honourable mention of Jeremy Iron's Alfred, whose wry sense of humour and eloquence only leave him once. I'd really, really love to see more of this Alfred and Batman.

The World's Greatest Lover

"This is fake! This is NOT real life!"
Interesting how people rather would comment on their expectations that have apparently not been met by this movie than on the actual movie. Obviously many reviewers expected just a hilarious comedy and their anticipation at least in their view was disappointed. Well, the odd thing is that The World's Greatest Lover is a hilarious comedy offering very funny scenes, but it is also much more than this, it's a brilliant satire. As such it is a comment on Hollywood and not a very pleasant one, though it is set in an era that had at least according to this portrayal not yet succumbed to the mere business side of filmmaking. What one can see - if one chooses to - is a city completely revolving around make-believe. Everybody is a movie star, everybody behaves like one, may it be Rudy on his arrival at the hotel or Uncle Harry and his family. After all this is the dream factory, which btw is an oxymoron. Yet despite of the absolute irreality of movies, there is a craving for reality and truth at its heart. When Rudy finally wakes up and comes to terms with himself realising his love for Annie, the mostly female audience gets hysterical for this is what they are longing for. Thus this movie can also be viewed as a romantic comedy of a man finally waking up from the dreams and expectations imposed on him, which also runs in his most private, sexual life forcing him to use and apply a manual, to the reality of his own dreams, which he can and will make real.

My Name Is Bruce

Pushing the Limits
Sometimes in good satire it is necessary to push the limits and I really admire Bruce Campbell for not shying away from it. There are a lot of things he satirizes here: stardom, cheesy movies, fans, people who cannot tell the difference between reality and a movie - in times of 'scripted reality' it probably will grow even harder to tell. He even drags it onto a meta-level, for of course this movie and the 'reality' it presents, ie the story-line featuring Gold Lick and Guan-Di, is again fake and only real in the context of the movie. And yet I fancy, if one listens close to some dialogue, there might be some real issues hidden underneath this make-believe.

Lola Montès

Max Ophüls' Legacy and So Much More Than Just Lola Montes' Story
Being German I was especially impressed by the passage set in Bavaria, because at that point it became obvious to me that it was not just Lola's story Ophüls was telling but he sort of identified with her.

There is this storyline when the king and Lola are still focusing on art while the self-righteous revolution is breaking out, and though I did not know at the time, I realised that it must have been the same for Ophüls when he was a director in Germany and the Nazis were gaining power. The king's longing look out of the window at all that was lost haunted me. Then there is this scene where Lola gets saved by the students, fleeing Munich in the middle of the night, just like Ophüls left Berlin at the last moment. When I was at the Parc de Bercy in Paris to watch the restored version, I sensed the great silence in the audience. Maybe like me they were thinking of all these people, who had not been so lucky.

I'm so sorry that this masterpiece was not regarded as such when it was first released and even more at the fact that it was butchered subsequently. Sorry also that Ophüls himself witnessed this, but yet again grateful for the effort displayed in restoring it to its original beauty.

Running Time

When my husband recently asked me for a movie
I almost watched this one with him, but since we were in for a calm evening I rather refrained from it.

This movie makes your adrenalin rush, for the camera and action is almost moving constantly. As other reviewers have already pointed out this is a movie shot in one continuous flow, making it feel like one shot though technically speaking it was edited. Because of this it also plays in real time and it is an awfully packed and complex story for its running time of ca 65 minutes. Whole life stories are condensed in it. At least the ones of the main character Carl and his girlfriend lost and recovered, Janie.

First at all though I'd love to talk about the cinematography and its effects on the audience, which must be me. Since there is this constant move and since the camera has to be positioned inbetween the interacting actors, I got the feeling of being much more immediately involved in the whole story than usually. I became a sort of silent, close witness of it all. And to push this effect even beyond this, at times the camera angle would change drawing me really into the character's standpoint, especially after Carl is shot and his dizziness gets reflected by the camera's constantly tumbling around.

Back to the story, basically it's about a well planned heist that goes horribly wrong. The main character is Carl who is being released from prison when the movie begins. During the ensuing 65 minutes the audience witnesses the heist, learns about Carl's relationship to Patrick, an old pal, who helped him organize the heist, a former girlfriend, Janie, gets shagged and then recaptured and maybe lost again, wrongs dating back from schooldays get resolved, even the question why Carl and Patrick ended up as criminals gets touched. The underlying current is a theme of reunion and reconciliation. In this whole scheme Carl undergoes the greatest evolution, from the hard-boiled ex-con to the sincere and responsible lover.

Sometimes when the lights go up I imagine what would happen after the movie's ending and in this case, though in reality they wouldn't stand a chance, I imagine that Janie and Carl would be happy because both of them discovered something precious, something to give them hope.

Man with the Screaming Brain

A Wonderfully Absurd Oddity
If you've got a taste for the absurd this movie is surely it. The characters are absurdly exaggerated, they are like caricatures of the clichés they represent. The American businessman is THE ugly American businessman, the scientist is weird, his gofer is inapt, the communist is the communist.

And yet this movie manages to put absolute sincerity into one of the weirdest love scenes I've ever seen: a sort of Frankenstein's monster declaring his eternal love to a robot. It's got to be true that at the very heart of it this is actually a love story. And in a more daring approach I can even see it as a sort of love-hate story between William and Yegor, after all they have to learn to live with one another if they want to survive. Live, learn and above all communicate.

Though the movie definitely is a low budget production and hence suffers a lot from this, it still offers some good cinematography, like the final fight between Tatoya and William/Yegor.

Jakobs Bruder

Nothing is like it appeared to be
During the course of this movie nothing remains like it appeared to be at the beginning. And I am not just talking the question who is truly suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but rather the relationship between the two brothers and their individual characters. Whereas at the beginning and the first half of the film Jakob is portrayed as being in every aspect the more capable of the two - this is especially stressed by flashbacks to their childhood -, in the course of events it becomes clearer that it is in fact Lorenz, the ne'er-do-well, who knows so much more about life. He is the one being able to call things by their proper name and when there is a life-threatening emergency he is the one to know the remedy. When at the very end it dawned on me with how much courage and acceptance of life he performed what must have been his ultimate aim, to re-unite his family again, this totally blew my mind. A movie that left me torn between crying and secretly, pretty warmly smiling at its main character, Jakob's brother. Thanks a lot, it's been a unique pleasure.


I'm definitely glad I'm Rhenish
Like most everybody I'm also a fan of something and some people, so I definitely do understand people going a long way or doing their utmost for the admired person. Yet the world of conventions seems to me the most bizarre thing I've ever come across. Watching this documentary I begin to wonder if to some people movies, TV-shows etc supply a sort of heightened reality, that nevertheless is pretty real to them and sadly enough more real than their real lives. So instead of having a life and simply entertaining themselves or getting inspired watching a movie etc, this movie etc becomes their life. This is the one side and Bruce Campbell does his best spotlighting it and it's remarkable that he lets and gets these people to talk for themselves. Then there is of course the other side the person who is admired and who sort of has to put up with it. Strangely enough this person seems to be the most lonely person at times because people do not actually want or dare to communicate with him or her. But then who wants to talk to an idol, simply to find out that this idol is just a human being like you or me?!

In the end this documentary - and this reaction may seem odd - made me glad to be Rhenish and that there is carnival over here and that I can get dressed up as whatever I like at least once a year.

The Evil Dead

"Why Are You Torturing Me Like This?"
Let me start by telling that I'm not actually a fan of gory horror movies and that the movies that scare me the most are those in which the horror is not graphic but rather happening in your head. Like the most scary movies to me are "The Phantom of the Opera" (1925) and especially the scene when the phantom is described and one can see the horror on the face of the person who is describing him, or The Haunting where the horror is also only conveyed by the reactions of those exposed to it.

The other preliminary is that the first thing I learned about this movie is that it was banned in Germany for being too brutal and yet I watched it and am glad I did for I was pleasantly surprised - if one can talk of pleasant in the context of a horror movie. For what I found was a movie that takes its brutality and gore and the effect on its protagonists seriously.

For me the conflict became evident in Ash's exclamation: "Why are you torturing me like this?". First of all I took it as being directed against the demons who are of course threatening him, but then I discovered some other deeper meaning here. For he is the only one who actually knows the remedy against them, which is dismemberment, but he is also shown as being very reluctant to actually apply it. So what is tormenting Ash is also this knowledge and the effects it does or would have on his soul. Which according to Peter Brook also happens to be the central one in Hamlet. Hamlet is ordered to revenge his father's death, but at the same time the ghost also demands him not to taint his soul. In both cases the choices are horrible and both are quite classic.

Hui Buh: Das Schlossgespenst

A surprisingly wonderful movie
I must admit that my young daughter forced me to watch this movie and my expectations were pretty low, thus slightly bored and awkward I joined her after she had already watched about half of it...And what a surprise, I instantaneously fell in love with it.The sets are wonderfully old-fashioned and German, the thing German viewers would probably get annoyed at is that a lot of German clichés are made fun of, e.g. ghost soldiers wearing spiked helmets, a castle that is reminiscent of Neuschwanstein Castle - I felt like being way back in Texas in 1987 and being asked if Germany still was a kingdom - and if they had watched this movie beforehand, they would have definitely believed so -, especially because it is hard to tell which specific time this movie is actually set in. In a way I can imagine that this feature would be more appreciated in the countries outside Germany, I do not exactly know why but most Germans do have an exceedingly hard time laughing about themselves.

Though the movie's namesake the ghost Hui Buh may be a little bit over the top according to my taste, the acting is superb, especially Christoph Maria Herbst as König Julius,der 111.; his timing is absolutely brilliant (and this is probably the closest he will ever get to playing a romantic lead). The humour in this comedy is at times hilarious and silly,but never ever turns nasty.

BTW I immediately ventured to watch the entire movie... ;)

The All Together

Watch it even if it was but for the wonderful soundtrack
I can imagine that some people might be put off by the film's ironic attitude towards the media and gangster movies. Maybe it takes a spitefully uncommon sense of humour to go along with the teasing and (self-) depreciative mood that at times is exposed. The opening scene already dwells on this attitude, when exactly those things are performed that the lead character, a scriptwriter and would be writer, tells us he would never do in a movie. All the while you will get off comments that either give a deeper "truth" to or foil what you are seeing, and almost every aspect of modern culture is made fun of: TV, modern art (I believe Velibor Topic's character is not French like some reviewer said, but rather ex-Yugoslavian - hence his comment that it would be easy for him to get corpses in his home country, I simply cannot imagine that of France ;)), the close relations between the USA and the UK, religion, Batman, French movies etc.

The real highlight of the movie is the wonderful soundtrack, music you are not likely to hear in other movies and I must admit that it incited me to look for at least digital copies.

BTW Danny Dyer and Martin Freeman do get a scene together but one of them is no longer able to talk.

Swinging with the Finkels

I'd love to see Martin Freeman in a classical screwball comedy
Midway through this movie exactly this phrase came to my mind. There are some really lovely moments where (t)his potential shines, something like Hepburn-Grant, wow - oh and the chemistry between the leads should be a little bit better. Yet of course this movie isn't a screwball and if you expect a lot of swinging, you'd be disappointed as well. The gags were foreseeable and all I felt was an air of compulsiveness, as regards marriage, sex etc. When Peter (Jonathan Silverman) mentions that he misses the fighting and nagging, this subsumed exactly my feelings about the script.

So please, please, if anybody reads this do me a favour and have Martin Freeman do a real screwball comedy, for I fear he would be excellent - just the right timing. The 6 out of ten is for the acting!

The Robinsons

Hilariously funny!
Imagine a family, that features every possible eccentricity, and you've got the Robinsons. And imagine a series not afraid to go that tiny step further - yet also know where to stop unless it would get too silly - , then also imagine very good acting - I didn't realise that my Cymbeline Richard Johnson was in it, great. There is in fact not much more to have me laughing to tears. The funny thing is that though I often anticipated what will happen, the actual execution made me laugh even harder, like: Oh no, they won't do that now?!" - as a Rhenish person this was somewhat reminiscent of Rhenish carnival speeches. Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni have got a very vivid imagination indeed and are great observers of the human condition.

The Good Night

We are the stuff that dreams are made on
My vote is somehow better than I would give if it were not for the acting.

The story, I'm afraid is sort of a letdown and in the days of virtual reality seems far too dated. Somebody getting absorbed by his dreams feels so obsolete in these days when there are so much more real and effective ways to dilute your mind.

The final catch does not really come as a surprise, it's something like "the perfect kiss is the kiss of death", Gary finally ends his quest - or was it Mel's - and ends up in the perfect dream.

I've not yet made up my mind if this movie is a satire, mocking its characters, or if it is a more serious drama. In the best case it would be both, in the worst none actually and just talky I'm afraid. My personal view on dreams, which gets also touched in the course of the story, is that they do encourage you to make them real.

The Girl Is Mime

Silent Movie Acting Is No Mime
Imagine a team given just 48 hrs to create a short movie and then you've go the concept of 48 Hour Film Project. This is Far From Home Films' entry to the last year's London competition, and it deservedly won them some of the awards.

Basically it is a silent movie starring a mime and that's about all I'd like to tell about the story. For the thing that really intrigued me as a silent movie aficionado is that Lillian Gish insisted on the fact that silent movie acting was no mime and now here we've got people exactly playing with this idea. The mime really lives in his mime world, in contrast to the "real" world of his girlfriend. Yet the excellent Martin Freeman as the mime manages to subtly work out emotions that run beyond the mime's painted surface. If you come across it at a short film festival in your vicinity, be sure to catch it.


My personal work in progress review
This will not be your usual review, watch this space as I go along watching this so far excellent movie.

The first scene I've chosen to watch was the scene in which Rembrandt is drawing the dead Saskia, my first reaction and it was an emotional response was that I was crying with my tears streaming down my face, all the while I was intellectually realising that Rembrandt was learning an important lesson at this very moment. Whereas in his works and paintings he is the creator and god, he cannot for one iota change or influence what is going on in the "real" world. His potency regretfully does not stretch that far, moreover he has to submit to it and feels as defenseless as a little child. Somehow lines from my favourite Shakespeare play Cymbeline keep coming to my mind and so they be here "You snatch some hence for little faults; that's love,;To have them fall no more"! Indeed a moving scene and I'm sure that I've only just scratched its surface. Important question raised what impact does art have on life and vice versa? Added August 16th: Now I've watched the opening scene I come to realise that my initial responses were correct, in a way I should have thought of much earlier. One of my favourite books is Memoires d'Aveugle:L'Autoportrait et autres Ruines/Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins. Basically it's the catalogue of an exhibition of drawings curated by Jacques Derrida. Its main topics are art, blindness and truth and it feels like Peter Greenaway is talking about exactly the same, add maybe the dilemma between art and life to it. Other references watching the second scene would maybe escape people who are not really into the matter, but one of the hues of yellow is distilled from the urine of cattle that have been poisoned before. Just to show that this is a highly complex movie.

Because it definitely is I've started a thread on the message board entitled "Starting a series of posts about it on my blog".


Tour de Force
Force is the subject of Richie's, Nonne's and Paule's life. They all practice the sport parkour, where they train to overcome obstacles in the most efficient way, only employing their bodies. A high scale of concentration and equilibrium of body and mind is necessary for the successful performance. This equilibrium gets disturbed when Richie begins developing a jealous attitude towards his girlfriend Hannah and her aim to better her position in life. Slowly but distinctively this jealousy grows pathological and alienates him from his friends, to what degree is only revealed at the end of the movie, when it becomes obvious that Richie needs medical treatment. Yet he and his friends face their athletic masterpiece at the end of the movie. Nonne and Paule succeed but Richie's body and physical health have been wrecked by his pathological state and the medication The movie has an open end, though there are hints that Richie at least has overcome his morbid jealousy. Truly a great physical and emotional effort by the young cast, especially by Christoph Letkowski,whose calm and controlled yet forceful performance very convincingly portrays Richie's drifting away into a split personality. Ingeniously Rensing avoids all showing off of actual physical violence directed against other beings or oneself, though he definitely highlights the consequences.

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