Horst_In_Translation

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Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Zoey's Extraordinary Failure
(2020)
Episode 5, Season 1

Certainly not a failure
Here we have the fifth episode from the first season of the now already cancelled show "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" and this means it is also the fifth episode from the entire series. We are really deep into the story already with all kinds of characters, much more than you would expect after five episodes, even if those run for 40 minutes each or slightly over. This one had 41 minutes. At the center of it all is Jane Levy and I still like her. She was the biggest, if not only reason for me to check out this show, especially with her awards recognition. So yeah, with this one here you can also say for sure that they packed in so much into the running time here, maybe too much. I still don't want to complain. I think the show had an okay start, but then things really went south with the episode that focused on her boss' life, but by now we are again back to the decent quality from the beginning luckily. What is going on in this fifth episode? It is basically all about romantic relationship struggles (and some other stuff) and Zoey is more of an observer and adviser and friend than truly involved herself. The romance parts include the protagonist's brother, her best friend and also her mother, even if the latter only to a smaller extent and the struggles are with her man, but not necessarily romance-related. There is more. Work becomes an issue for Zoey too as anonymous reviews in her company play a role and these have an especially massive impact on one character where you would not expect it. I am not sure if his reaction felt authentic with what we have known about him so far. But these big globes where you can sleep in were pretty cool. Basically, almost everybody gets something rather poor to hear in terms of how the colleagues perceived them. This also includes Zoey's best friend, but he is more busy with his romance relationship than to really worry about these devastating reviews. So yeah, this is really enough for minimally over 40 minutes. As a consequence, the neighbor (we only find out briefly about her potential Latin lover and that she knows what a duet is) and Zoey's boss (luckily) do not have a lot of impact in this episode.

The music side is really the second reason why I am watching this show. The song selections are pretty cool most of the time and enjoyable and bring back some pieces to my memory, which is something I definitely appreciate. Here Pink fans will maybe have a good time (I am not one of them) as her song results in a bit of a special moment for Zoey when she hears a duet for the first time. This is really only to introduce Zoey's brother's problems and the song and duet scenario do not play a major role later on. I personally enjoyed the Beastie Boys song more. And with R. E. M. I am always happy to come across a number. The song we hear towards the end from Peter Gallagher's character was maybe a bit too obvious for the situation and dilemma, but somehow Gallagher made it work. Props to him. Also it can be said that at the very end for the first time we see that Zoey's (engaged) crush may also see more in her than a friend, so you can be curious where this is heading next, especially with his fiancée being supported by Zoey's mother with the wedding preparations. Said crush also has his own struggles that have to do with his late father. This episode was maybe more on the serious side, but here and there the songs and other light moments keep it from becoming too heavy. An approach that exists since episode one. I also liked that they decided not to return to the pre-episode state at the end of the episode, but included conflicts that can be elaborated on in the next episodes. Not only with her crush, but also her colleague seems even more mad at her now and her brother is still mad at her too. With the latter though, time can maybe help in fixing this issue. A bit unrealistic nonetheless that he was at the same bar like Zoey early on. There I preferred how Zoey found him through the name of the place the second time. Okay, that is pretty much it. Alright episode, certainly improved compared to the previous two and I like it more now again where this show is heading. Let's see how things continue as we are approaching the end of the first half of season one. Go watch this one here oh and I wonder if you will agree that there was not a lot of failure from Zoey here, even if the titles says so. Maybe only that she told her brother's partner about what her man is doing. (tt11690862)

Deponia Doomsday
(2016)

A second shot at a happy ending for Rufus and all the players
"Deponia Doomsday" is a video game from 2016 by Daedalic and the fourth and, most likely, final installment to the Deponia video game series that started back in 2012, so this final chapter here was released slightly under five years later. The man mostly in charge here was once again Jan Müller-Michaelis, who is better known as Poki. Unfortunately, there is no commentary from him for this one like there is for the three previous games, simply because those were released in some kind of edition long before plans for this game existed. The time gap between games three and four is pretty self-explanatory. No problem though. Even without Poki's audio commentary for almost every single screen, this is a fun ride from beginning to end basically. I will not include a great deal of structuring here, just brainstorm everything I remember and that comes to mind when it comes to this pretty creative video game from five years ago. The reason to some extent that this got even made was because the majority of fans was not too happy with the ending of the third part, mostly because it was not a happy ending for the key characters, most of all Rufus, the one you see on the poster here on imdb as well. For me, it was the second time that I played this video game here and I must say kinda enjoyed it. Admittedly, before replaying it this time, I thought it was not on par with the pretty great three previous games, but now after playing it again, I think it is indeed the exactly same high level. Maybe it is a bit darker than the previous games. I mean these have their fair share of serious moments too like when Donna's henchmen get shot, but nothing really on a level of how Goal for example says on one occasion that this place creeped her out. We see skeletons lying around. We have apocalyptical scenarios once again and even see Rufus in the opening sequence in a deserted world of snow many years after the action of Deponia 3, a world flooded with creatures that look like really big Gremlins in their evil form. Guess who's responsible for those. There even is a Gremlins-reference on one occasion in this game. Also there is no tutorial this time or let's say no tutorial the way they did it in the previous three games.

So, does Poki give Rufus his happy ending with Goal now? Spoiler alert! The answer is once again no. Just like at the end of the third game, Rufus is in space falling into nothingness. No way to save him. I must say honestly I was a bit more sad this time and maybe that is because now I care more about Rufus than I did back then? I still liked the explanation how it still makes sense and is perhaps better than reliving it all over again, making the same experiences all over again, only that with every single time they are a little bit less special. I definitely also liked some of the ways in which Poki poked (yep I went there!) fun at the background. Look at the fella very early on, who survives in the a serious accident in the water, but then the sharks come and eat him. This is for example something you will only recognize if you have played this game before. He gets a second chance, but the outcome is the same. There are more examples of that. Also spoken ones in which it is almost directly referenced how people were hoping for a different/better ending to the franchise, but they are not gonna get it. I think Goal said something on one occasion and looked directly into the camera afterwards, which was pretty nice. Surely also helped that I definitely really like the actress' voice. As for Goal, pay attention to how once again she falls unconscious almost immediately when finally united with Rufus for the first time in Elysium. And Rufus is the reason of course. Some things never change. As for Rufus, he is his usual self. Always full of himself, but the stuff he says is quite funny. Just like with the previous parts, I especially liked those moments when he talks stuff that seems to be about something or somebody specific, but then turns out that it is just connected indirectly to this person. This refers for example to a comment linked to McChronicle's hat if I remember correctly, even if that was a bit mean. Or to a ring that the Goal dummy is wearing for their photo.

There I mentioned McChronicle already and as this game is really totally all about time travel, this character seems like a really fitting inclusion, even if I have never been a huge fan of him. There's other characters I like more. For example Bozo we are sadly not getting this time. But I will get to that later. As for McChronicle, he maybe even had more lines and screen time than Goal because he was really included from beginning to end almost and Goal was not yet included in the very first chapter. She joins in later on with a pretty different style and haircut. She looked like a guerilla there pretty much. Oh and she has a piercing too! In this first chapter I just mentioned we also meet again many, many characters from Rufus' hometown. This includes Rufus' previous girlfriend Toni, who is already pretty fed up with him and they are still a couple there because it takes place before the events of Deponia 1. We even find out why she finally decided to leave him and what exactly happened to solidify this decision. Still I must say Rufus is right with the wine glasses standing out there. Come on, if you don't want them to break, this may not be a good place to put them. Not that it in any way justifies the chaos Rufus once again brings to his hometown. Still, it seems that at the beginning of Deponia 1, everybody had forgiven him again. Also interesting to see Rufus has a decent relationship with Toni's father and the two are buddies almost. Another character (one of not many) Rufus gets along well with is the barkeeper Lonzo. He is also included in here again, but no big impact on the story. At his bar, the maybe most interesting scene from this game is when we find out about Lotti's life-changing encounter. Another memorable transformation includes the "rat boy". Too good to explain. You must witness it yourself. In general, really amazing comedy and attention to detail on so many occasions. You will be very amused when playing this.

This has mostly to do with the characters. I must admit with the time travel and loops and everything they lost me a bit towards the end especially, but the dialogues are always so much fun to follow. Maybe one of my favorite parts when it comes to that was the inclusion of Rufus basically being a lecturer to three rising scientists. One of them we cannot even understand, but it was still hilarious. Rufus surely brought the arrogance needed for the job there and was disagreed with only once by his students I think when he compared a complex phenomenon to something simple. This happened on other occasions too, like with a pizza and its slices or something. Don't remember entirely anymore. This is also the chapter in which we meet McChronicle's father. However, what really, really stayed in the mind for me with this scene was the way how it ended. Maybe some people find it a bit kitschy, but I probably have a soft spot there and thought it was really cute how Goal with her negative attitude before that in the end reveals that she also created a Rufus dummy in the previous chapter, so the two are not that different. How we see her from very close and how her grumpy face expression turns into a cute smile is a definite contender for my favorite moment from the game. And the platypus symbolism basically standing for our two protagonists I thought was quite sweet too. Especially the way the female platypus resembled Goal and how the two are united in the end despite being caged before that. So close to each other, yet so far. In terms of animals, I remember Poki saying during his commentary in a previous game that if he makes another one day, he will include wombats. And well, he remembered too, so there are some wombat references. The biggest one perhaps being a retro fight sequence against a pretty strong wombat that took a ring from Rufus in an earlier scene. Rufus even recruits a little army to fight this wombat. So there are many characters here that can be described as antagonists. Another example is Ronny for sure. What can I say about him? (I think it's a male.) Maybe nothing. That little flower is one you have to experience yourself. Also the pink elephant (in the room) / Utopians.

There is a lot more to mention. Impossible to include it all. Most of all, that we meet Goal as a baby this time. It would have been so much nicer to enjoy this scene fully without the time pressure. Also this scene reminded me a bit of the final battle between Guybrush and LeChuck in one of the Monkey Island games. Not sure if this was intended by Poki as a little tribute there. Even a biblical component is in this game with the scenes in the desert and how the conflict seems solved, but then something else happens when Goal and Rufus are gone. Oh and Goal gets married to the wrong man on one occasion. And flashes her boobs to said man on another occasion. There we see two platypuses too to keep it kids-friendly. Rufus cannot really look elsewhere either that moment. Oh and we get to see Goal as an old woman too on one occasion. Her chemistry there with the still young Rufus was kinda cute and also the young Goal watching these two and how she reacts. By the way, the old Goal sharing these memories in this scene felt a bit like what happened at Bozo's family's home in the third game. Not too much music in this game from Poki, but he voiced a boat captain once again. And one of the peanuts. The dialogues in this bar scene were also pretty funny, especially the caveman. That's it then. Finally, I must mention that there is a half-hour making-of on the Daedalic Youtube channel that you can also check out. I give this game, the longest of the four, a very high rating, very positive recommendation. One of 2016's finest. (tt5538754)

Goodbye Deponia
(2013)

This is the end. Or is it really?
"Goodbye Deponia" is the final installment from the original Deponia trilogy and was released back in 2013, so not that long anymore until this game is a decade old or maybe it happened already depending on when you read this review of mine. I wrote "original" because actually there is a fourth game too that came out in 2016 and the reason for that was that many people did not like the ending to Goodbye Deponia / the trilogy, so creator Jan Müller-Michaelis, better known as Poki, gave in and added a fourth, but really final chapter. There is a lot of chaos going on in this game and series with Rufus at the center of ot all (the fella you see on the photo here on imdb too), so forgive me for taking the chaos route as well and writing a review that is not particularly chronological or well-structured. I reviewed the first two games lately as well and I will say one thing that I also said on those other title pages: You should go for the edition that has Poki's commentary included because it is really insightful and interesting what he has to say and offers a great deal of new perspective. There are minor inclusions in this commentary that I did not like too much, but I will get to that later and I don't want to go into detail 100% either because if we are very strict, it is not a part of the game. The fourth game does not have said commentary and this also makes sense because this fourth game was really not planned (yet) when they released this trilogy here with the commentary. As for the basics, I read that this third installment is allegedly as long as the previous two, but I do not agree here. I think the first was the shortest and you can easily play it on one day. The second was a little bit longer, but still fits into one day. This one here is the longest and even if you rush through it and solve every riddle immediately, I don't think it fits into one day unless you are super fast perhaps. But you shouldn't be. Instead you should enjoy all the dialogues, try to use every item with everything etc. There is so much fun and wit to the writing here, especially the dialogue writing that you do not want to miss out.

The plot is taking really new directions too and some of those are incredibly spectacular. Let's look at Rufus dying in the middle of the story pretty much and how he basically manages to revive himself with the help of his self-sacrificing creator. Or look at Goal dying too (does she really?) and how Rufus saves her too while she is transformed into a baby version of herself. Rufus finds out that he is one of many clones, but one of only three who survived and there we have the explanation why he looks so much like Cletus. I guess Poki really had to come up with a proper explanation now that he brought in a second Rufus lookalike. As for Goal, we meet her father towards the end, but yeah this felt a bit like a rushed inclusion, also how she is the young woman there on board with him and he never would have pulled the trigger on Deponia (and himself) if he knew his daughter was present as well. Now a few words on the commentary: Rufus' bragging there is as appreciated as Goal's pouting. It's kinda true. She once again does not really have the lead moments. Transformed into a baby, pretty much unconscious again for the long first sequence at the hotel and in the end waiting for Rufus inside the car. Pretty cool car though. Yeah, on the negative note, in terms of the commentary I want to say that once again I did not like the inclusion of a famous German let's player, even if him playing the game had a positive effect on sales figures. But they really should not include him for one screen where he does the commentary and his talking is really just pointless brambling. Sad, but true. Not as sad though as him (with a character that looks just like the man) even being included as a voice actor in this game. This character was already featured in the second chapter Chaos on Deponia and here his story is even bigger. At least, it was a kinda decent story and really terrible what Rufus does to him and his ingenuous sweetheart. Instead, as Poki even stated, the focus should have been on characters loved by the fans such as Lotti, who easily could have replaced Goon.

Aside from that, I also could have done without Poki's really long singing sequence when Rufus wants to enter the place and see the new general. Here and there, Poki was a bit too full of himself maybe, also when we are in this washing machine screen and first thing he says is that he is one of the people there and also pretty much the only one talking on his own on two occasions or so. This could have been alright, but Poki having forgotten the names of other Daedalic employees there was surely a bit embarrassing. The rest of the commentary was really nice though and it would be an amazing inclusion if every video game developer did that. Which is of course impossible. As for the laundromat scene I just mentioned already, this summarizes the absurd genius of this franchise nicely. What do we have here? Oh yes, an apocalyptic cult performing strange washing machine rituals. Enough said. Now I think I will just brainstorm some moments and inclusions that stayed in the mind. One thing is of course the growing romantic relationship between Rufus and Goal. Be it the prospect of them together in the same bed. Be it Goal admitting that she sees cuteness in the weirdest Rufus commentaries and she says herself she is so stupid because she does. Be it the voice in Rufus' head telling us that he finds her so sweet when she is in a specific mood, but cannot specify said mood. Goal looked hot there, not gonna lie. Or be it the end of course when all three Rufuses (or Rufi) know that Goal will save the real Rufus and all three of them say they are him. There are some cute romantic moments for sure. And of course there are tons of minigames again. Poki loves them we must not forget. Maybe the toughest for me was the one with the toothbrush. It may not seem so difficult at first sight, but people with poor eye-hand coordination like myself can have a truly hard time there. I have seen others struggle with it as well while some solve it within seconds. Of course, I must also mention all the "Your mother" jokes on one occasion in the game. Maybe you will find them childish, but if you like this game, liked the previous games, I have a feeling you won't.

The voice acting is again really good here from everybody involved. It feels smooth. I played the German original of course. Monty Arnold delivers from beginning to end even more than he does in the two previous parts and surely sounds younger than he actually is. Or was back in 2013. This game was also the first time that Sinikka Compart (Goal) really won me over, maybe because she did not have a gigantic amount of lines in the previous games, especially the first. But also in those very dramatic moments like when she tells everybody that they would have been just as lost if not more without Rufus she does a pretty good job and I would like to hear Compart in other games too. But also those who give their voices to really minor characters are convincing. I could talk a lot about Smudo and Cowboy Dodo of course too, but I won't as for that you should just listen to Poki's in-game commentary. So it is also a good watch and listen for fans of German hip hop group Die Fantastischen Vier. But even with a pro like Smudo in charge of this character, the biggest music thumbs-up goes to composer Finn Seliger. His Organon hymn is so incredibly catchy, no matter if we are talking about the situation when we hear it from the three soldiers up there or when we hear it from 11,000 soldiers. The latter was combined with a music riddle, but even I as somebody as unmusical as it gets could solve it quickly. Thanks to the reactions basically and to how we could see how far away we were from the right note every time. In general, the game does a very nice job again with providing hints. Just like the two previous ones. If you talk to the characters and use all your items, you will find little tips on many occasions. And make progress. Here I can also elaborate a bit on the slums down there, the sewers if you want to call them that. Also truly brilliant and hilarious. Look at the creature Rufus mistakes for Goal in the dark. Look at the vegetarian monster there resisting the temptation. Many other examples. Of course, the three Rufuses being able to exchange items was also an interesting inclusion, even if it made the game more difficult. The sewer scenes with the pedophile and the Black woman posing as a monkey were pretty edgy though. I still liked them because I object political correctness.

Finally, I must of course mention Bozo, maybe my favorite character from the entire series. Really nice we find out a bit about his family. Meet his mother, granddad, little brother. And also get to cure him, which results into an unexpected moment of anger from Bozo. But hey, Rufus destroyed his ship. As for Rufus, the end with what happens to him is pretty controversial and you can argue if Rufus had reacted like that in this specific scene. Maybe more likely than the other two, so it makes sense. And you can still like an ending, even if it makes you a bit sad I suppose. So I would not really have needed the next chapter. These three chapters here (this being the third) are magnificent really and I highly recommend checking them out. Then again, just play the first and decide for yourself if you want to keep going. The quality stays the same luckily. Much more to talk about here. Barry did not do too much for me. Where did he come from in the end anyway? Seagull's return was okay. Toni is always a welcome inclusion, also in the tutorial. Janosch too. As for Doc, not sure. Where are his legs though? We'll never know. The reception desk clerk was quite funny. I felt pretty bad for Oppenbot. Awesome Super Mario tribute here. (tt3318018)

The French Dispatch
(2021)

Still has its moments, but a massive drop in quality in the second half keeps this way below Anderson's finest career achievements
"The French Dispatch" is the newest film by writer and director Wes Anderson. He is in his early 50s now and is probably considered among the most overdue filmmakers in Hollywood to finally win an Oscar, especially in terms of writing. Unfortunately, this work here will not get him any closer because I believe it is inferior compared to most of the stuff he has done in the past and if it gets nominated, then for art direction or something. But first things first: This runs for briefly under 110 minutes and Anderson once again worked with Hugo Guinness, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman and this quartet came up with the story. Basically, it is several stories in one film. We have the framework and three pretty much independent stories that are articles from the paper this is all about. The French Dispatch. The cast, as always with Wes Anderson, is packed with big names and he also has a tendency to cast people who he worked with in previous films. I will not give you all the names because you can check out the list yourself. Even some characters who had almost no screen time at all are played by very familiar faces (Henry Winkler for example, I recognized him immediately, but the name I just could not remember while watching). But some actors who get a lot of screen time are Oscar winners Benicio Del Toro and Frances McDormand. Also Timothée Chalamet is included a lot here. Jeffrey Wright gets a solid amount of minutes in the final chapter. I personally also found it nice to see Adrien Brody here as one of Anderson's regulars because I liked the actor (another Oscar winner) and I don't see him that often in other projects anymore nowadays. Tilda Swinton I must admit I did not even recognize. She is so much better usually than in this film, even if the material is to blame for the most part. Nothing to work with kinda. One of three females though exposing their breasts. Lyna Khoudri (another one) was easy on the eyes for sure. Willem Dafoe definitely did not have a lot of screen time and I would have liked him to be featured a lot more here. What can I say, I like the actor. A lot.

One thing that came to my mind again is that Anderson likes to include young, here even very young, actors for his stories. Of course, not as heavily as in Moonrise Kingdom, but those scenes with Saoirse Ronan were all about the little boy that got abducted. Steve Carell is not in this film though even if I was almost certain he was when I watched it. Ah yes, but Christoph Waltz is in here. He did a lot (when sitting on the table) with the nothingness he was given really. Another performer/character that would have deserved a much bigger deal of screen time. It also came to my attention how this film featured a decent amount of Bond actors. I mean with Seydoux, Waltz and Wright, it was a big reunion of the most recent Bond, even if they all share absolutely no screen time here because they are in different chapters. Add to that Amalric and Del Toro who have also played antagonists in Bond films in the past. Maybe others I forgot. Or who will show up in the post-Craig era. Sorry, my 007 obsession is once again getting the better of me. Anyway, I thought that Seydoux here was part of the by far best segment, the one with Del Toro at the center of it all. She also added a lot to that. How she looked into the cell there when Del Toro's character was talking to Brody's was hilarious in a typical Wes Anderson way. We also see her naked from really close. I mean she has been naked in other films, most of all "Blue is the Warmest Colour" ("La vie d'Adèle"), but still I was amazed how stunning and breathtaking she looked in this one here when she posed as a model for Del Toro's character's painting(s). Admittedly, this chapter still got a bit messy here and there, also in the end with the prison riot and an abrupt finish, but it was nonetheless the easily most enjoyable aspect to the entire film.

Things do get worse immediately afterwards. Way worse. I like Frances McDormand otherwise, even if maybe not as much as five or ten years ago. Three Oscars seem a little much. This film here is not helping either as far as I am concerned. The layers they brought to her character felt unauthentic and for the sake of it. Like how she is troubled, struggling with solitude maybe, but enough of an important fugure to see Timothée Chalamet's character naked in that pseudo funny scene from the trailer. Or make a connection with the same young man when they lie in bed together. Just as friends of course. Or how they leave the apartment on one occasion. Or how we hear the voice in her head saying to herself that she should stay quiet, stay out of it, but she just can't and steps forward and makes a speech to the young woman. That almost felt like an Oscar moment. She must say something. It is inevitable and what we hear is oh so true and thoughtful. But it was not just her of course. It was the entire chapter. Especially with Chalamet. With him I am not getting the hype at all. This cleaner rebel take on James Dean with curly hair they have been giving us for a while now I am not buying at all. His acting seems nothing special to me and I have seen him in quite a few films. These moments when they try to turn him into some icon like also with this movie when he is on the scooter with Khoudri's character, his head in the wind, the cigarette in his mouth. Really all make-believe. So exaggerated, but the sad thing is that there the film really took itself seriously I think. It was not one of the many comedic moments. Still, I am happy Khoudri got to star in here with the attention the film got. The last segment then with Jeffrey Wright whose character's name was also Wright was a bit better again, but also nothing inspiring. Looking at how well Anderson did in the past with food- and kitchen-themed segments, it was a bit of a disappointment too. The opening shot with what people drink at the place mentioned in the title was pretty much better than the entire third segment. Even if it was this brief, but typical Wes Anderson there. Very easy to identify. Just like the scene in which we have Owen Wilson's character cycle through the streets and all that happens there. Also the animals included.

Bill Murray I must mention too. He plays perhaps the most influential character of the entire film and like Wilson a regular with Wes Anderson too. However, he is just part of the framework, okay also talks to Wright for example, but he does not have as much screen time as you could have thought from the trailer. What else deserves to be mentioned here? Oh yes, there is a fairly long sequence of animation. No big surprise as Anderson has worked on animated movies as well in the past, but still felt a bit unusual to be included as a segment of a live action film. It was okay. Like the rest you could say, but did not stand out in terms of style either. Maybe it was funny how the really big and strong guy was up there holding on to the front shield of the car. I mean there are some fine moments that will make you smile and there is always creativity to Wes Anderson's films, but here I felt it was maybe a little less than you usually get with him. Perhaps it also had to do with the lack of color in this film from beginning to end. At times, it is even black-and-white, but it is never really a colorful film because it maybe would not have fit the subject too well. Beige is incredibly dominant here, especially with these scenes that take place at Bill Murray's character's office. Anderson also played a bit there with us. We think that Murray's character is already dead at the beginning, but then it is just all about the preparation of the actual death of Murray's character. We can be glad he is alive. Are we really? Do we care? In any case, in the end he is actually gone. We even see his corpse. But hey, no crying in his office. So yeah, I like some of Anderson's works a lot, but here I am almost tempted to give a negative recommendation. Only the strong first segment with Del Toro keeps me from doing so. I will still not judge you in a negative way if you turn off the film after said opening segment before the 45-minute mark and skip the rest of the movie. Admittedly, you would not be missing much, especially during that occasionally awful Chalamet segment, also with the character's death out of nowhere that turns him into an even bigger icon. Troubled genius, sigh. That's all and I hope with the next film(s), Wes Anderson will be back to his best again. I am optimistic he can be. (tt8847712)

Chaos on Deponia
(2012)

Chaos for everybody involved, but a joy for us players
"Chaos on Deponia" is a point-and-click adventure video game from 2012, so this one will soon have its tenth anniversary already. This is the second game from a quadrology of Deponia games starring the utterly chaotic Rufus, who is of course also the character you see at the center of this poster here on imdb. You can also see from my rating that I enjoyed playing this quite a lot. Before I go further into detail, let me say that I will just go with the title of the game and do some brainstorming about what I liked here and what I did not like (not a lot) and I will not make my statements in chronological order and there will not be a great deal of structure either. The writer and director as it says here or, more accurately, the key creator of this game was of course Daedelic's Jan Müller-Michaelis, better known as Poki, and he was the man in charge of all four Deponia games, even if there were many, many helpers too. This was the third time I played this game since its release and it is still a lot of fun. I particularly recommend that you play the edition that combines games one to three because this one has a commentary by Poki and you see his head as if he was a game character there in the top corner and you can click and he will tell a few details about almost every single screen. Very informative and insightful and also a nice tribute to animators and people who worked with Daedelic a long time ago. Back when he recorded this, he did not know yet there would be a fourth part even (because many players did not like the end of part three) or maybe he kinda knew it, but was telling things in a way as if it all ended after chapter three. It was also nice again to have little cameos from Rufus and Goal in this commentary even if the latter was mostly angry because of all the stuff that happens to her character. Rightfully so probably, but it still brought some comic relief. One thing I did not like too much was the inclusion of one of Germany's most famous Let's Players. One reason is subjective because I do not like the man, but the other is that I do not know if there were any contract deals like he would play the game on his channel and therefore he gets not only one screen to do the commentary, but even voices one character. Sadly, this character is featured even more in the third chapter.

But now we will talk about the second chapter. I will not truly go into detail on the characters. If you come here, I assume that you have already played the very first Deponia game/chapter/installment whatever you wanna call it. One key difference to the first game is that Goal is not unconscious from beginning to end basically, but we see her character a lot, hear her talk and she is clearly the one and only female lead now. This is mostly good. Sadly, the consequence is also that Toni is not a factor here at all. However, she appears briefly in the later stages nonetheless because Poki was missing her a bit too. Still, Goal takes over and she is pretty annoyed with Rufus too on a few occasions, so nothing has truly changed. And with virtually no Goal in the first game, we have up to three Goals in this one. This is because Rufus decides to go for a lollipop over high-quality disks and this is basically the bad decision that is the foundation for everything that follows afterwards. Goal's conscience is split into three and Rufus has to woo these three different Goals to convince them to go back to Doc, so he can repair her. Let's just ignore for now that we still don't know why Goal does not have a normal brain. Then again, the action does not take place on Earth, so maybe everybody has these things in their heads? Or only the females? Because another female character does so as well as we find out. It was still a lot of fun to move forward there. The scenes at the pub (yep, always pubs with Daedelic/Poki games) were so much fun and the dialogues are hilarious, especially when the barkeeper talks (mostly to Goal) about the questionable hygiene there. I laughed a lot. But it's also other moments during which the game shines like how Rufus once again creates his own reality by saying he beat up a few guys when the truth is it was exactly the other way around. These brutes by the way are taken care of by Goal later on when she shoots them in cold blood. Yes, people die in this game, even if it is not graphic or anything. Another funny moment involving these brutes was when one of them has a gun and he talks about his itchy index finger and then cites some medical reason for it.

I mean the story is fine too, but the heart and soul of this game is really the comedy. An uncountable amount of quotes I could list here that at least put a smile on my lips. The characters too. A few do return from the first game, especially Bozo who is always a nice inclusion with his Bud Spencer looks, but others don't. Just take the mayor, Lonzo or Wenzel. These are not a part of this game, but at least they are mentioned once or twice. It does make sense though because the location where it all takes place is entirely different. There is a parallel though. The first two thirds approximately in the first game were set in Kuvaq where Rufus lives and here the first two thirds are set in a place called the "Swimming Black Market" (I used the literal translation of the German name there). And I think these parts were those where the game was at its best. I mean it is not weak or anything afterwards, but a minor drop in quality happens, also because everything early on is just so great. I think this game here is a bit longer than the first one, which is also not a given for a sequel, even if it was always a given that it would not end after the first installment. You can play this game within one day if you replay it or if you are really good with these games, but there is not a lot left of the day afterwards. I highly recommend though not to rush things. Just enjoy it. Use all items with everything and maybe you can even find out about the easter egg this way and what happens when you have 26 items that do not fit inside the 5x5 inventory. Is that the right word? Anyway, of course I mean your coat basically where you carry around all the equipment. At the very start, there is also again a little tutorial, not that anybody really needs it I guess. Tutorial schmutorial! This time, it is not Wenzel in charge of instructing Rufus (or being trolled by Rufus), but Bozo.

As for the characters, there is also some development with the other folks. Rufus stays basically the same you can say, even if there is talk about him having changed. But when he deals with Oma Utz's home (and bird) early on, it becomes clear that nothing has changed. Or how Rufus builds this bizarre application with the rotor blades that has him end up right inside Goal's emm.. Hochboot. Don't know the English term because the German word is pretty fictitious too. The vehicle that is supposed to get Goal back to Elysium after the first chapter I mean. So yeah, the action here happens really fast. My thoughts after the first chapter were that Goal would get back to Elysium, then return, but it all just happens immediately after. Not sure if this was the right choice. Also of course it is crucial here to keep concentrating all the time, so you do not mix up the Goals and what they are doing. Especially when Donna got into the game too in the end, it gets a bit much. Surely it helps that she is who she is and not capable of talking anything other than random, frequently violent, phrases. So yeah, surely Donna is among the most memorable new inclusions here. Another contender for the title there is Janosch, the leader of the resistance, actually really a fighter towards the end. Who would have thought! But his inclusion was especially interesting to me because of my language background. The game where you have to explain your plan in a way that does not make you laugh afterwards was just one example of the massive creativity. I can go on and on about these, but let me just mention those games that were a bit different. One would be the fight sequence between Rufus and Goal. Another would be when you have to disable the sound, so the character can remember a certain code. And also simply being quiet and doing nothing to defeat a fisherman was a really interesting inclusion. But what is almost as good as all these games are the hints you get on how to solve stuff. It is not too difficult this way, but still smart and inspired and challenging. And encourages you to really talk to everybody because it will help you make progress.

Finally, I must of course mention the animals. Be it robot dogs, be it little birdies, be it dolphins, be it fish, be it cats... There are many more I probably forgot. Deponia may not play on Earth, but they are all there and add further quality. However, of course the biggest mention here goes to the platypuses (is that the plural)? They are included on so many occasions with all these riddles and the stuff you have to do to make sure they will not offer platypus anymore at the restaurant. Again, incredibly creativity there with the hatching and everything that surrounds this part of the story. I do not want to go further into detail there. You just have to experience it yourself. This was also quite challenging I remember when I played it the first time. Overall, a really great video game and especially with Poki's commentary you get many references to other games, but also pay attention to a poster etc. So I surely like the fact that this game also succeeded in terms of awards recognition and it's telling that a German video game has a triple-digit amount of ratings on an American movie website. Yes, it is this good! Music's great and the voice actors are spot-on from beginning to end too. I still think Monty Arnold sounds younger than he actually is. He was of course in charge of Rufus. Alright, that is it then, big thumbs-up. A must-play. (tt2691658)

Deponia
(2012)

How it all began with Rufus on the garbage planet
Here we have Deponia, a video game from 2012, so this one almost has its tenth anniversary already. I did not play it back in the day right after it was released, but somebody directed my attention to it a little later and now I thought why not also review it and this is the third time already I am playing it, which should make clear that I really liked it a lot. You can also see this from my rating. I will just do a great deal of brainstorming here and not be too chronological or structured, but I hope you will like my review nonetheless and I guess with the chaotic protagonist you can also say that a chaotic review style is what this game deserves. I will just talk about everything I liked and disliked a little later. For now, let's focus on the basics: The man mostly in charge of the outcome here was Jan Müller-Michaelis, who is better known as Poki and has worked a on quite a few games released by video game publisher Daedelic. This also includes three more games that follow after this one and once more take us into Deponia, Elysium and other places that play crucial roles in this series. Actually, it was supposed to be a trilogy, but many fans were not happy with the end of the third installment, so Poki agreed to come up with a final chapter. That we shall talk about on a different occasion though. For now, let me say that I think you should get the collector's edition or whatever it is called of these first three games because this includes something truly amazing: We see Poki (or his comic-style self) up there in the left corner of every new screen basically and you can click him and he will elaborate on this screen and scene in particular. That was a really cool idea and you get so much background information that make it even more fun to play this game a second or even third time. He talks a lot about his designers who worked on these scenes, how he drove them crazy with his ideas, but also about all kinds of other stuff. Just watch it. It can also be added that here and there he is joined by the heads and voices of Rufus and Goal, which makes it even more special.

As for the voice actors, they all did a really nice job too. This page here lists the English ones first, but as I am a German native speaker, I played the original of course and can only comment a bit on the German folks. The main character is voiced by Monty Arnold, a German actor who has been in some fairly trashy films too over the years, but his voice work on all kinds of projects was never something one should talk about in a negative way. He was also considerably older than the Rufus character back then, but it does not show at all. I thought this was done by a man in his 30s max. The other voice actors are less famous, but one mention goes out to Marie Biermann too, the daughter of German singer Wolf Biermann indeed and it's probably a good thing that she took this career path and not the one of a yellow press journalist. Biermann voices Toni by the way, Rufus' ex-girlfriend, but with Goal, the female protagonist mostly asleep/unconscious for this first chapter, Toni is pretty much the biggest female character in here. Okay maybe not in terms of impact on the story, but definitely in terms of lines. As for Goal, they also pok(i)ed some fun at that because she is not too happy when interviewed by Poki up there that she barely has something to do in this opening episode. As for the Rufus interviews, he is really his true self the way we also witness him in this video game in terms of character. How he talks to and about others, what exactly he has to say and most of all how he sees himself. A great deal with this game is about the comedy. There are just too many examples to mention, so I will keep it short there. Take the moment when Rufus talks about a sponge at Wenzel's home. How we think he means the sponge, but actually means Wenzel. Take the moment when he talks about a capsule or something and says it is strong, resilient and only shows minor scars. There he talks about his reflection and we think he means the capsule. In addition to that, I also really, really enjoyed the running gag towards the end when he keeps saying that one character is an evil pirate who abducted a doctor and a young woman, but truth is he is no pirate, but completely harmless.

There are many, many other fun parts. It all comes down to personal preference what you like the most, but feel free to send me an email and tell me if you like. I cannot say anything bad about the comedy at all. One thing from the developer commentary I did not like too much was how Poki kept talking about a famous German video game streamer, kept praising him and that really did not belong into this game here or the commentary, even if I understand that he was happy that the streamer's popularity also helped the game in becoming more famous, but he could have done that in one of the sequels only when said streamer even voiced one of the characters. Another thing I am not too happy about to "buy" popularity like this, but I shall not talk about it on this occasion here. Maybe when I review the sequels. Now back to this game here. I am not sure how long I needed back then originally when I played it the very first time ever to get through from beginning to end, but if it is not the first time you play it or if you are really, really good with point-and-click adventures, then you can easily do it within one day, maybe considerably less even and under ten hours. I am not sure I'd recommend it though. The reason is that this game really invites you to use everything with everything because of the smart and entertaining words coming out of Rufus' mouth when he uses a with b. And there are so many examples when he does not just use a standard phrase with everything, so trying it all out is really recommended and makes this an even more rewarding video game. Of course, there are also some segments during which he says exactly the same like for example again with the sponge I heard "Schwamm drüber!" (as we say here in Germany) again and again and it means vaguely "No hard feelings!".

One thing that maybe slightly bothered me was that the video game struggled with likability in terms of characters and settings. Of course, you cannot make a garbage planet look like a holiday paradise, but still. With the characters, it was even more crucial. I must say I did not like Rufus with some of the stuff he said. It may be true what Toni said on one occasion that he does not have any friends. Surely his perhaps closest friend Wenzel is not a friend at all. I mean he calls him a miserable small worm or something on one occasion and Wenzel also does not respect Rufus one bit as we see when it comes to Rufus' stuff and how Wenzel is (not) willing to share in the event of a lucky coincidence. Maybe Rufus' relationship with the barkeeper is a little bit better. At least he does not get annoyed by Rufus, even when the latter leaves and does not help him with the cleanup after their big explosion. The maybe biggest part of this game is all about finding all kinds of ingredients for a very special drink. Something he can use to wake up Goal. I mean this was a bit confusing with all the different kinds of water there honestly, but it's much more about getting closer to the solution and the dialogues en route than about the key plot I suppose. And with the importance of this "potion", he also gets to use it a few more times, even on cats. These mail cat plays on words were awesome, probably impossible to translate though for the international versions. There are many other animals in here too, like a parrots, whales, pigeons, bulls and others that I do not remember right now. Those I liked. I generally preferred the biggest part of the game early on. Later on, I found some of the twists confusing. Like how Cletus (real charmer when he talks about Goal) looked like Rufus, which added nothing for me except a few jokes on who is more handsome. Or also why Goal has this metal in her head instead of a brain/memory. No explanation there either really. And the "cleaning" part was not good and entertaining enough to forget about this idea. No pun intended.

What I did like though, even a lot in fact, was the ending. It felt a bit confusing, not gonna lie, with these disks and which one is in Goal's head right now, but how Rufus tricked them basically in the end and inserted the one that has Goal remember was a pretty smart move. Well done. Also interesting name creation there for Goal. She (i.e. Her affection) is the highest goal for Rufus here. Or is it really? Maybe not yet entirely here in game one. Some moral dilemmas are included as well. There are other interesting verbal inclusions too of course like Elysium. You will recognize them when you hear them. I could and would like to elaborate a lot more on the comedy, but here is not the place for that. Let me say that the parts there in the garbage, also this mine or what it was, did not win me over too much. The end, also with the amazing sky and horizon and the historic take on Deponia even with these mosaics was better again, but my favorite inclusion was definitely everything that took place at Kuvaq during the first stages of the game, also because there weren't so many technical gadgets yet. The little tutorial early on was okay too, even if I strongly dislike Wenzel. Especially with how much like a player he felt with Toni in his shower. Or the water vein under his house. Okay, he has to deal with Rufus and his shenanigans constantly, but that doesn't make me like him. Had a touch of Gustav Gans (Gladstone Gander) with all his luck. Oh and I must mention all the references to Rufus' dad. Those were some rare emotional inclusions from a dramatic perspective. That is all then. Of course, I highly recommend this game and I will definitely continue playing soon and review the other parts as well. Until next time then. Hope you enjoyed the read. (tt2300978)

The Letter Room
(2020)

I enjoyed the watch for the most part
"The Letter Room" is an American, mostly English-language live action short film from 2020 that runs for slightly over half an hour and managed to score an Oscar nomination earlier this year. This may have had to do with the lead actor here because Guatemalan-born Oscar Isaac (with a massive mustache in here) has won a Golden Globe in the past and he was a lead in a Coen brothers movie and also part of the recent Star Wars films. Definitely not a coincidence that he was a part of this project here and I will tell you why in a second, but it's always nice to see really established actors appear in short movies. The genre needs them and more should follow in Isaac's footsteps. This film was written and directed by Danish filmmaker Elvira Lind and she is Oscar Isaac's wife. The two have collaborated on other occasions too and Lind has a pretty interesting body of work anyway. From music videos over documentaries and a series with a rating below 2.0 here on imdb she moved on to this film here and the Oscar nomination makes it her biggest success of course. This is about a man working in prison and there are some interesting aspects to him. Seems as if he gets along better with the inmates than with his colleagues at times, at least the more harmless inmates you could say. Look at how he makes sure one fella to receives a birthday song from everybody. He seems to be quite a loner and his only non-professional contact with the female species are magazines with naked women. Still he kinda cares for people as we find out when he breaks the rules and heads out to visit a woman who (he thinks) is about to commit suicide. That one is played by Alia Shawkat and fans of Arrested Development will surely recognize her. So yeah, if we briefly summarize this entire thing, we have a man working at a penitentiary and he aspired to get a new and better job there and you can see that he has some ambitions with his talk about how animals can help prison inmates, but for now he has to deal with the letters sent by and sent to the inmates. Steps are small there as well. This is where he comes across the (former) girlfriend of a man on death row and what she includes in her letters has a lasting impact on Isaac's character.

I liked some things about this film. Mostly that it felt pretty realistic all in all. There is no big sob story or anything, no great drama or emotions, even if location and story could have justified it. Also that this film does not try to make a statement for or against the death penalty was a wise choice. The subtlety to it all was nice. Still there are memorable moments like when Shawkat's character talks about the absurdity of Isaac's character trying to save her life while he works at a facility that takes lives on numerous occasions. The guy responds that that is something entirely different and there are no deep discussions that follow up which was good. The film does not try to be more than it actually is. The soundtrack was interesting as well. Drums are something that you really do not hear too often in film soundtracks, so a bold choice and I think it worked. If you like the solution that most of what the woman wrote in these letters is not truth or reality is up to you. She just wants to make her former boyfriend feel better. Some of it is true though as she mentions on one occasion that he was the love of her life. Earlier during this film I thought that maybe the story with the Black man hoping for mail from his daughter would be more at the center of it all, but nope. They move away quickly from that again, but it makes sense as there were no letters waiting for him. In the end, this is referenced again and perhaps this was what I liked the least about this film. How the protagonist, even if we understood he wants to help and do good, writes a letter and pretends it came from the Black man's daughter. It felt a bit like an overly happy ending to me and I would not have needed it. Did not have the most realistic vibe, but maybe it's just me. I also wondered if the Black guy with his comment realized that it was not his daughter writing him, but I think not and this only had to do with how amazed he was that Isaac's character helped him. Overall, the good is more frequent in this film than the weak, so I give the outcome a thumbs-up. The Oscar nomination I am also fine with because I really like Isaac in general, but a win would have been too much. Admittedly, the actual winner is really terrible, so I'd have preferred this one here to take the crown. Still need to watch the other three. (tt11962160)

The Last Duel
(2021)

Fine entertainment for over 2.5 hours
"The Last Duel" is a co-production between the United Kingdom and United States from 2021, so still a very recent movie and also a very long movie as you can see from the title of my review. This one makes it past the 2.5-hour mark, even if just barely. The language spoken here from beginning to end despite all the French names of the protagonists is English, certainly because of the actors' background. There is one very brief occasion in which we have Adam Driver use the German language, which was especially interesting for me as a German native. So there I mentioned one of the actors already, but I will first of all stay with the people who made this movie and are not seen on the screen. The director is Ridley Scott, way into his 80s now, but more prolific than ever. I saw they even announced plans of him directing a Gladiator sequel? Anyway, Scott has never been a prolific writer, so they got a trio of very interesting other writers instead. The first would be Nicole Holofcener, an experienced director herself, and she collaborated with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, which is especially interesting because of the characters they play in this film, but also because of their shared past. It all started for them when they wrote Good Will Hunting and won an Oscar for it when they were still really young. They did some writing in the almost 25 years since then too, but not super often. For Damon, this film here was the first writing credit since 2012 and Affleck has also worked on one screenplay only in the last ten years. As for their characters, they are antagonists here, which is also interesting because of how these two are really close friends in real life and have been for a long time. Remember Ricky Gervais announcing Damon as an awards presenter and what he said about Affleck? I think it was at the Golden Globes. Anyway, let's stay with this film now. Of course, I must mention Adam Driver too. His career is really going strong with Star Wars, this film, the upcoming Gucci movie (again by Scott) and another film where he is the lead next to Marion Cotillard. Life's good for him. The female lead here is Jodie Comer, an Emmy winner from Killing Eve. She seems supporting for the first 90 minutes, but that changes quickly afterwards. Those are the big names, plus Harriet Walter maybe.

So this film takes place several centuries in the past, which should be obvious from the poster here on imdb already. Pretty impressive cast for that I would say, especially with the three big names. These do not too often get Hollywood powerhorses in films like this, but Scott directing surely helped the matter, especially because he had already worked with Damon on the really successful The Martian a few years ago. Now, let's focus on this one here and the story here is much more Earth-bound. You can divide this film into four parts basically. Three of them are the key story being told from the perspective of one central character (Damon, Driver and Comer each in this order) and number four is basically the prologue that already takes place after these three segments in terms of chronology and the actual duel in the end and the prologue is basically an appetizer for this duel. However, let's focus on these three long middle segments for now. There are scenes in those that are shown twice, which is one reason why the film is this long. This refers most of all to the tragic rape scene that is basically the center of the plot, also with the film's title, so it makes sense they put it in twice. I still think it maybe could have been a better film if it had been 20 minutes or so shorter, but I must admit that I do not really know what to cut either, so let's just keep it all this way. Besides, it was safe from beginning to end for me that this film would get a positive recommendation and there was no doubt there. Unfortunately, I would also only call it a good film and not a "great" film because the truly memorable segments were not frequent enough for such overwhelming appreciation. Technically, it is almost a flawless film in terms of everything that falls into this category. Doesn't matter if we are talking costumes, visual effects, sound, art direction and cinematography too. Probably others. I do believe this will score Oscar nominations in some of these fields.

For the acting probably not, even if it don't think it would be totally undeserving. I mean Comer brought one of the strongest film females of the year to the screen here. Damon (with a big scar in his face) and Driver had quite a few moments in which they really shone and Ben Affleck, with unusually blond hair, also made an impact, even if his character is maybe not significant enough for massive awards attention. But he took a risk here, played something different than he usually does and did a good job with it. I must even admit it took me quite some time to realize it was him, which definitely had to do with the looks, but also with how he truly disappeared in character here. Good for him! With the #metoo debate still going on in 2021, it is no surprise that the film still made some powerful statements when it comes to the ways how women lived centuries ago and what rights they had. Namely, almost none. After the rape, Comer's character talks to her husband and tells him that she can only go through with it if he supports her. It's true. She could not have done anything on her own and Driver's character's words that maybe her husband could even kill her did not feel impossible either. She is basically her husband's property and her father's military history is not helping with her standing either. But it seems Damon's character really loves her because he marries her despite her father, despite getting less than he was promised and stays with her despite what happened to her when everybody was out. There's more "scientific" talk there. A woman cannot get pregnant from rape. A woman cannot get pregnant if she does not have an orgasm. Or little death as they say. Oh what were times like back then. Maybe people who complain about lack of gender-adequate language should think about that instead of literally seeking stuff to mistake for discrimination. Or take the comment about how she considers Driver's character attractive. That's a completely different subject though, not entirely uncommon in 2021.

As for the actual duel, it was okay I guess, but still not overwhelming. They sure tried all they could with the two fighting up on horseback first, then the horses are killed and they just fight like foot soldiers. I did not like too much that they really made it look all the time as if Driver's character was in charge and ahead only to turn things eventually into a happy ending with Damon's character prevailing. Maybe you remember the quote from Driver's character about how he would never bet against Damon's character in battle and this surely was a bit of foreshadowing. Also the idea of God's will (no matter if you believe in God or not) could not have been any more absurd, in the sense of him deciding if the rape actually took place by choosing a winner. I must say I would have thought the duel to be more one-sided with Damon's strength in battle and well Driver's character having fought in battle too, but he was more of a leech. Still somewhat equal. In the end, all his dignity and reputation are gone because his death branded him as an actual rapist and there he hangs like a dead animal. His attitude towards Damon's character must still be discussed: The two once were really close friends and he keeps defending Damon's character when he talks to Affleck's for example. Or also how he says on one occasion that nobody ever said a bad word about Damon's character's father. He respects the man for sure. However, at the same time he is quite a brute as we see on another occasion and how he deals with women there. Still he is smart, good with languages for example. But he also possesses a massive ego. Take a look at what happens right before Damon's character heads to Paris. How the latter shows up there and complains to Driver's character that he does not call him a sir or sire. One of the two. He really exposed him there in front of everybody, despite Driver's character trying to make peace and saying it was not Damon's character's fault that the mission in Scotland was a failure and that he still deserves his money. However, after this talk he received it seems as if he knew exactly what he was about to do when he wishes Damon's character a lot of fun in Paris. Then the tragedy happens.

Admittedly, Driver's character probably also would not have expected this duel to happen because on one occasion we find out that life-or-death duels were not really a thing back then anymore, but the very young king with his appetite for sensation agrees to Damon's character's proposal and so be it. Right before the duel, we also find out a bit more about the female component of it all, about how Damon's character's mother had her own dark past and how living to bring up a child may be more important than seeking justice. This conflict is also in Comer's character's head near the end, but nobody gives in. Comer's character as well as Driver's until the very end stay with their versions of the story, which also shows us that Driver's character is not scared of God and keeps lying despite asking for forgiveness from the Lord earlier. You could say that Comer's character in the end is maybe the only good character here. Damon's is also not evil, but there are acts from him that seem vile, but fit in with times back then. Just take a look at how he forces his wife so briefly after the assult to have sex with him so that Driver's character is not the last man to have had her. There is a lot more to elaborate from this film because of really good attention to detail, such as the stallion/mare scene (also the colors), but I shall leave it at that. Good film. Watch it. (tt4244994)

Titane
(2021)

Not a titanic movie, but a trunk filled with appeal that comes through its strangeness, a bit like a 21st-century Christine
France's Oscar sumbission "Titane" is a pretty new French/Belgian movie in the French language that was released here not too long ago. What got me curious about it mostly except my francophilia and that I am always curious about new French films was that this won the prestigious Palme d'Or in Cannes this year. Now after watching I wonder why though. I mean it's not a bad film or anything, but also not too great and I don't know maybe it helped them that a female filmmaker was in charge, that a woman was posing as a guy for large parts of the film and also simply how strange it all was. I mean the one thing that this film certainly is is different. The director is Julia Ducournau and she is also the writer here, actually the only writer if we do not count the two consultants. According to imdb, Ducournau has been making films now for a decade and it's maybe gonna be a close fight between this one and Grave when it comes to the question what film of hers is most famous. We will have to wait and see how much people will be going for these almost 110 minutes. In Grave, the lead actress is Garance Marillier and Ducournau has worked with her a few times already, so no surprise that Marillier is also in here, even if not in the lead this time, but instead playing a character that does not have a huge amount of screen time and is not featured in the second half at all. Well, I guess Ducournau thought that lead actress Agathe Rousselle (surprised she received zero awards recognition) was more fitting for the part here, especially in terms of being able to portray cold-blooded, but also with pretty much the entire second half, they also needed a lead that could be mistaken for a young man to some extent. So Rousselle got the part eventually and to me personally she looked a bit like the young Uma Thurman (and August Diehl) and there was definitely a touch of Tarantino to this film in the first hour, especially in these scenes that mixed violence with music.

The second half was completely different though. A few words on the key plot now: We have a young girl in the prologue or something and she is in a terrible car accident with her father after she annoys him and he looks briefly away from the street to make her stop. Daddy is unharmed, but little Alexia's blood we see from afar and there is emergency surgery and we find out she has to carry a piece of metal now in her head. And that makes something with her. By the way, after the surgery we see them ask a few questions to a doctor and said doctor is also the only one to mention titanium in this movie by saying the exact word. Or saying "titane" in the original version of course, even if this title is as much of a reference to what you could call the protagonist as it is to the metal. The scene that follows when they leave the hospital for my liking could have needed some more subtlety perhaps. I mean I would have believed the girl to be really confused and in pain maybe as it was not a long time after the surgery, but her running out and hugging the car, even kissing it was of course some foreshadowing, but still too much in-your-face I thought. Then again, this film was in-your-face on many other occasions as well, but there it usually worked better. This of course refers very much to the scenes that I mentioned earlier already, very violent scenes at times. The first killing is still somewhat justified because she really was harrassed and attacked by the stalker and sexual assault could have followed this molestation, even if it was still very bloody what she did with the needle in her hair. This needle also becomes a bit of her weapon as the film moves on and she is genuinely worried when somebody took it from her early in the second half.

But before we move to that, a few more words on the second killing: That was a bit of an orgy already. She kills her (potential) girlfriend first, then several other people show up and she takes pretty much care of them one-by-one. Only one girl somehow manages to find a way to run. That girl was not the one played by Marillier. She is the first victim in this scene. With the music running. Music that does not evoke tragedy, but is almost playful and joyful. And as tragic as this scene may have been, there was also some dark comedy to it when she moans and complains about how many more there are that she has to kill, so they cannot identify her or something. One of really not many comedic moments at all. The one other slightly funny scene that comes to mind was pretty brief too, namely when we find out about a male character talking about how he is God to a group of young men and how that makes the title character Jesus. That was funny because of how exaggerated it was. So now we are in the middle of the second half already. This half includes less violence for sure. Nobody is really killed, we only see two very minor characters struggling with their health and there the title character is more of a savior even than a murderer. This scene also made something with her and made her bond with Lindon's character even stronger. Yep, Vincent Lindon is in this film. People from France who love movies will recognize him immediately. He is always easy to identify. He is even first credit here on imdb, but he shouldn't be. I mean his presence in the second half of the film makes it possible to consider him a co-lead, even if it's a really close call. Alexia is 100% number one. He plays a character whose son disappeared many years ago and our title character decides to pose as said son and pretend he has returned. Of course also because she must make sure to get away from police and find a safe haven somewhere. I must say this general idea how he really accepts her as his son and she kinda knew he would seemed a bit much and not too realistic, even if it is easy to understand he was so desperate that he would have accepted anybody probably slightly resembling what his son would look like in the now.

So the introduction and general idea behind this twist did not make too much sense to me, but all that followed was better. This includes the way how she is treated disrespectfully by one younger character especially because he quickly realizes something's wrong and also calls her "she" during the final stages of the movie. But it also includes the relationship between Alexia and Lindon's character. How at some point he just cannot close his eyes anymore to the fact that she is not his son and also tells others to not talk about this alleged son anymore. When he sees that she is a woman at the very end, he is not surprised. It seems as if he takes whatever he can to be close to his son. Even if it just an illusion. This was nicely handled overall and among the film's better aspects. It was also telling how the movie kept playing with us in terms of how Lindon's character could be about to die. Be it from an overdose. Be it when he catches fire. Be it when the music plays, but he started it. Be it when he is unconscious and Titane thinks she is ready to kill him. In fact she isn't because she knows that his love for his child is infinite and that he is a good father and also that she enjoys being taken care of like this from her dad. From her "dad". Because her real father, the man we see on several occasions early on, also in the car, was the opposite of loving when it comes to how he treated his daughter. And in Lindon's character, she found this paternal love she would have loved to receive from her biological dad. So it is also a family drama to some extent, even if she does not kill her father or anything.

Now, I shall elaborate a little more on the metal aspects here. I already mentioned the car hugging almost at the beginning, but there is way more in fact. Our protagonist gets pregnant at some point and we could have guessed that it happened during the sex scene she had inside a car. With the automobile. Yep! The father of her unborn is really the car. This may sound absurd and gimmicky, but the way it was portrayed, it somehow felt credible. Still this makes it a fantasy film or science fiction film or whatever and this idea is really where the film cannot be called realistic whatsoever anymore. Especially if you take into account that she was bleeding occasionally because of the pregnancy, but it was not blood that came out. It was motor oil if I was not mistaken. At least, it was really dark, black pretty much. We could not smell it in the theater of course to be sure, but it looked like motor oil. In the end, there is the birth scene and that I did not like too much again. Or the scene was okay, but the outcome well with a human baby that has lots of metal in its back. Looked like a zip (fastener) pretty much instead of a spine or something and there was metal on the baby's head too. Well, daddy was an automotive, so what can you say? The moment with Lindon holding the baby and him alive and her gone, which you really could not expect, was pretty good again though. Maybe I liked the way the circle closes there also because of his own vanished son and now he holds a "new" son in his hands. So the last shot leaves an impression . Other than that, maybe because of how much I like Marillier, I must also mention all the nude scenes in the first half, no matter if we are talking showering or erotic affection, but yeah with the protagonist's soft spot for metal, a nipple piercing is maybe nothing you would want to show her. Otherwise, things could get a bit painful. And they do here and there when the oral nuzzling becomes a bit too wild. Watch for yourself. And if you are a girl, be prepared to scream like one female in my showing because she could feel Marillier's pain in two scenes. In general, not only lots of violence, but lots of nudity here. This is a film for adult audiences. Mostly enjoyable, but real greatness I don't see with it. The fascination really comes mostly from how bizarre it all is. (tt10944760)

King's Quest
(2015)

This game truly deserves to be called a king of video games without question
"King's Quest" is a 2015 video game, so also over five years old now and I played this with somebody else for the first time from beginning to end not too long after it came out. And I played it again very recently and I will try to memorize my thoughts on it and give you a full-length review here, so getting close to 10k characters. As you can see from the amount of stars I gave it, I really, really enjoyed the outcome here. I will start with the basics: There's a total of five chapters and an epilogue here. The first chapter was released in summer 2015 and the epilogue came out around the Christmas holidays 2016, so the entire release took almost 1.5 years. There were gaps of roughly four or five months between the release of two chapters with the exception of the gap between chapter four and five, which was minimally under a month, so they were really going for closure quickly then, which is a bit surprising because they released an epilogue then two months afterwards again, even if this was really not part of the key story anymore, but just an addition for the fans. I am still glad they made it. I will elaborate on the individual chapters a little later. What they were all about and how I liked them. For now, it must of course also be added that this video game here is closely linked to the story King Graham that already started with the very first King's Quest back in 1984, the year I was born, so a really long time before this one here came out. Over 30 years in fact. Needless to say that approach and graphics could not be any more different. I have actually come across some people not really being too happy with The Odd Gentlemen and Activision in charge of the making of this video game because of other stuff they worked on in the past, which was maybe not the highest quality (and I at least slightly agree), but if there was any need for them to make up for past sins, they sure did it with the newest chapter to this long-running saga of video games. I applaud everybody who was a part of this.

You will find a few familiar names in the voice cast here too. I am of course mostly talking about Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future who voices the protagonist here and also about Wallace Shawn who voices the key antagonist this time. However, I cannot say anything about their work because I played the synchronized version in my language German, but there the voice actors did a pretty good job, so I am also sure the original ones did fine. Would be shocked if I did not like them. Now the two characters I just mentioned are really part of every single chapter from this game. No surprise at all. I will focus on these chapters now and just keep going through them chronologically. The first chapter was probably by far the longest if I remember correctly. Maybe you will be slightly disappointed afterwards then than the other chapters are not that long after playing the beginning, but it's all good. This beginning is really about how Graham taking part in a knight tournament first of all and not yet about how he became king. The framework is the now with a really old Graham and he tells all these stories to his granddaughter. In this first chapter, there is a massive contest in which Graham has to deal with a handful competitors. Most of these become his friends in the process, but the one who seems to be his closest ally early on turns out to be his biggest foe eventually. I would not say that I give this first chapter really the highest rating right away, but it was still very good and entertaining. The characters were amazing no matter if we are talking about Whisper or Acorn or Achaka or the other villagers there like the Hobblepots, Wente and Amaya. With the last three, it was a crucial story line who is the most similar to you. Will you be courageous, witty or compassionate. These three words may not be 100% correct, but I do not remember the exact terms anymore. But I do remember that the adjective was added to "King Graham the xyz" eventually. So your choices there in certain situations (what you say and what you do) will have a major impact on how all this turns out then. Oh and I shall not forget about Olfie. No way I could. He also brought some great delight in this chapter. In the end of chapter one, you get a summary which traits fit you the best, depending on if you stole etc.

I am actually not yet finished with the description of this really long chapter because I also have to talk at least briefly about Achaka. He is Graham's mentor to some extent, even if they are rivals and he teaches him a lot, like how to use bow and arrow. But his inclusion also results in maybe the first emotional highlight of this video game, namely when he is caught and killed by the dragon down there in the well. Graham and Achaka may not have been friends for a really long time, but you can see how much he meant to Graham with the statue later on or also when he sees Achaka's spirit when he himself is old. And the epilogue offers a very special surprise there too, one that gives us back a little bit of Achaka and his muteness. The second chapter was maybe my least favorite from them all. This also had to do with the darkness attached to it. It all takes place down there in the caves of the goblins. It already starts pretty gloomy when Graham has to go outside into the pouring rain and is abducted. How we see the invaders move there on the roofs and see him not seeing them was still nicely done. The rest of the chapter all feels a bit like Groundhog Day. You have to prove you are a worthy king and leader not only by getting out of prison somehow, but also by serving your people and saving them. However, it is unfulfilling in a realistic way if I remember correctly because you cannot save each and every one of them. This made me a bit sad, which already showed how this game really got under my skin because I wanted them all to live. Yes, also Mr. Fancycakes or Herr von Schling how he was called in the German version. This was maybe the most moral-themed episode as you need to decide who lives and the question about who is the strongest fighter to support you comes into play as well as the mathematical quantity of people and also an unexpected pregnancy. I may have said this is the episode I liked the least, but that does not mean I did not like it. It was really good and smart too and with awesome attention to detail and I cannot begin to describe how happy I was when we find out that actually everybody lives in the end.

The third chapter then is the one that is really, really close to the Frozen movie with these two girls up there in the tower. It is almost a bit of a dating game here with how he talks to the girls, does (or does not) favors to each of them, how they even play a boardgame together, how the witch there sends them on a mission (i.e. An adventurous date) together to obtain something. Yep, there is a witch in here too, but, as we eventually find out, she is more of a tragic character than a really evil character and in the end, she is even a friend and Graham helps her out of the castle and tells her it is not too late yet before climbing up there to save the girls before they are killed. I think this was a very sweet and inspired chapter as well with many nice inclusions and ideas. Whisper shows up again unexpectedly and it was funny how he could easily break the barrier because he loves himself so much. Also this chapter almost felt like a bit of a statement against obsession with physical beauty which I liked, at least in terms of the witch and her mistakes. The two young women are of course pretty stunning. Kinda smart also how they mentioned the women's names in short form and how they both could be Valanice. In-between chapters three and four, there is a lot happening. We see how Graham is now together with his queen and they have kids and Manny shows up and abducts the boy and then there is a huge jump in time, like 20 years and all that happened during these years is the story from an old King's Quest game. Very smart how they handled this. For chapter four, Graham's son is back already, managed to flee from Manny, who is the evil sorcerer Manannan, something the fans of the old games probably saw coming way before me. Anyway, there is not a lot to say about this fourth chapter. It is maybe the one that Portal fans etc. Will love the most. Riddle-packed from beginning to end, but basically all the same key idea behind it. Like Tetris a bit too. I thought it was good that they included it. Lots of plot before that, so time for some riddles. What really broke my heart though was the ending with Vee and Neese. Actually, I thought that the big cat there would be the one left behind, but turns out it was Manny. Really, really surprised me, although we knew about his feline background before.

The last chapter got me emotional again with Triumph's memorial, also how he has aged a lot in the previous chapter, of course with how the villagers are all dead with Graham himself old now, even if he meets the Feys again in some retro video game 2D reference. Or also the idea of Graham forgetting about his past slowly with the fire everywhere. It is not even that something heartbreaking happens there. It really is just how time is more destructive than anything really and will end everything sooner or later. Struck really close to home this game and ending, even if the epilogue is uplifting again. Before I run into the character limit, let me also mention my favorite quote here. It was something that Graham said to his wife when they were both old that went like how he never loved her more than this very moment. Utter sweetness and something everybody should want to find. Not being together out of habit, but because you still love your significant other after all these years. All in all, a wonderful game and I recommend playing it so much. Or at least watch a Let's Play if you're not the gamer type. (tt4375664)

League of Legends
(2009)

Far from perfect in some areas, but highly addictive
"League of Legends" is a MOBA video game and it all started back in 2009 with this one, which means it exists over a decade now, but is still a huge success drawing in millions of players from all over the planet. I started playing it I am not sure how many seasons ago after my then-girlfriend mentioned it to me because she started playing a little earlier and enjoyed it and until then I did not even know this game existed. I mean maybe it was just me, but I felt that it is not something like World of Warcraft that you constantly hear about or so. Despite how popular it is. Anyway, forgive my personal brainstorming now, but I will go on this way with this review here simply because it is impossible to talk about a chronological plot or story or something with a video game, especially one like this. There are several options you can choose from. Several maps like one that is all about 3-versus-3 matchups, while another, the most popular one, is all about 5-versus-5 matchups. You can play with human teammates in your room or also people from far away. Same in terms of playing against them. You can also play with four other characters that are computer-controlled against five other computer-controlled characters. Gee, you can even play all on your own against five other computer-controlled characters if you want to. So there are really many, many options available here. The thing that most people like to do, however, is play with four other human teammates against five enemy human players. You can pick normal mode or ranked mode. In ranked mode, you can constantly improve (if your teammates let you) because you get points added to your ranking for every win. At the same time, you lose points every time you lose a match, so once you have reached the ranking where you pretty much belong, it is a constant up-and-down. I myself managed to climb as high as Gold II during those days when I played the most. This is not super good, but also not too bad and there were two leagues below that with Silver and Bronze and each of these leagues included five divisions back then, so pretty much 13 divisions worse than mine you could say. Nowadays, they have included Iron down there too, so I only got to Silver lately, but I have stopped playing ranked games now altogether.

As for the leagues above Gold, there is Platinum, Diamond, Master and Challenger if I am not mistaken. If you get really far up there, chances are that a professional League of Legends team recruiter could contact you because eSports are not too different anymore compared to real sports when it comes to that. A lot of money to make and there is constantly stuff like competitions and even world championships. These world championships, however, are not contested in the format of nationalities, but there are teams that buy players. I think the very best players still come from South Korea, even if other nations are trying to close the gap. This mostly includes Chinese, Americans and Japanese, although I am not sure about the latter, but yeah if we take the Koreans and compare them to the best German or French players, the difference is massive, so playing for one's country would make no sense. These championships are broadcast online at least or you can also buy tickets and watch on location. This is pretty much one of the game's most inspiring aspects. You can get better and better and there is nothing to stop from becoming a professional athlete if you have the talent. Okay, you need an okay computer, but that's it. Maybe for football fans of Schalke 04, this feels especially tempting because they also have a League of Legends Team or at least did at some point. Other sponsors include Samsung for example. Away from the competition now and back to the game: I will focus a bit on the 5v5 mode now. In general, there are 4 lanes. The non-written rules are that one player from each team goes to the top (maybe the lane with the smallest chance to make an impact if the teammates screw up), one goes to the mid lane, one goes into the jungle and is very mobile (like a sweeper in football or "Libero" as we say here in Germany) and he is ready to show up on all three lanes to help his teammates. And finally, there are two people on the bottom lane, which is just called bot lane. These two are often people who know each other in real life or at least play together on several occasions and are not complete strangers because they need to harmonize even more than the rest.

The amount of players also has negative consequences and this is where maybe the worst aspect from this game comes into play. I am talking about the ways in which players interact with each other. There is of course an in-game chat and the consequence is that if somebody plays poorly or even plays poorly intentionally to upset the others (yes, that happens a lot), there is a great deal of toxic atmosphere to said chat. Be it insults, threats, passive-agressive rambling - you name it. It is all there. This has stopped many people from playing this game unfortunately, even if the amount is still insanely high. I mean Riot Games, the company who released this game, tried some stuff like banning people for good or just temporarily or forcing them to wait additional minutes before they can join a new game, but nothing has really stopped these unpretty events from happening. Still, you would not want to imagine what the situation would be like without the report function, even if many use it in a way that is exaggerated and report people for reasons that do not justify a report according to the rulebook. This is also a key reason why I refrained from playing ranked games now that the current season is also approaching its final days. It always ends around mid-November. Another reason would be what I also mentioned already that they made it much more difficult to reach new heights with the introduction if Iron as an additional bottom tier. Or maybe one reason is also that I pretty much only play three champions, even if I am pretty good with all of them and can use them on almost every lane (except support, which is one of the two bot lane roles). One thing I was not specific about is that in the broadest sense you can call League of Legends (or LoL as many call it) a tower defense game. The goal is to push forward as quickly as you can and conquer the enemy headquarter. Destroy their towers. While doing so, you level up from 1 to 18 max and can constantly buy new weapons, armor items etc. One game on the 5v5 map usually lasts around 30 and 40 minutes, even if 20 minutes is possible too and you and your teammates can also surrender early if the gap is already too big. Games longer than an hour are an absolute rarity.

The key to being successful is pretty much killing your opposition. May sound harsh, but it's true. Then again, they respawn quickly anyway, so it's not eternal or anything. And the next game, you can pick again from all champions. That's what the playable characters are called. These champions you can buy if you have enough points from playing. It's quicker to buy them honestly through real money, but if you have the time and enjoy the game enough, then you can also be patient and simply buy the champions with in-game currency. However, there is really, really a lot you cannot buy with in-game currency or actually you can, but with that kind of in-game currency you only get in exchange for actual money. So League of Legends is a gigantic cash cow for Riot Games to this day. You can for example buy boosts, but what deserves to be mentioned more than anything else is skins. You can give your champions a more individual look this way because certain colors are used or certain pieces of clothing that are not part of the original champion. I am usually somebody who never really invests money in games other than buying the game itself, but I also left a solid amount of money with LoL here and that shows you how tempting it is. And I even play only three champions, which says it all. Somebody who plays 30 champions will probably invest a lot more. There is for example a character riding on a huge boar in the original and you can buy skins that have her ride on a huge bear, a big fluffy creature and many others. I don't remember exactly because I do not play this champion. However, I must say that these buyable features are one reason why I deduct stars here. They are simply too expensive. Sure you can say say nobody is forced to buy anything and you cannot buy an advantage in the game in terms of climbing the rankings, but 20 Euros or so for a new skin, maybe more already, is not on the fair or tolerable side anymore. So the costs and also the toxicity are the major downsides to this game, maybe also that it is too addictive and may not be great for your health sometimes, even if this is somehow also a pro because of how much fun it is.

Finally, as I am approaching the end of my review, I can add that there is also some lore to all of this. There are in-depth stories about the champions in terms of who is affiliated with whom. Some are friends and others are enemies. However, all of this is not a factor to the game and maybe that's why almost nobody knows or cares about all this lore really, even if they put a lot of effort into it with cities they come from or the Void etc. I myself also don't know much there. I know a bit about the champions I play (Kennen, Karthus, Malphite), but that is pretty much it and I don't care too much either. Maybe because in the game it does not matter anyway and characters who are friends with each other can be in opposing teams or foes can be allies too. But I get it why they come up with this stuff, also for new characters (one every two months or so) because they somehow have to keep the game going. Besides, new champions, even if there are too many already, are the only way to stay new and fresh. Or pretend to do so. Ability changes only are not enough. (tt2071507)

South Park: Medicinal Fried Chicken
(2010)
Episode 3, Season 14

South Park on drugs
"Medicinal Fried Chicken" is the third episode from season 14 of the successful long-running animated television show South Park. Just like the other episodes, it runs for approximately 22 minutes and deals with some of the current issues of our time. You can read what the focus is on here in the title of my review. There are basically two seperated stories. The first involves marijuana, the second is about Kentucky Fried Chicken. The irony is that Cartman is a real KFC addict and shows severe signs of withdrawal when he has to get along without his favorite chicken food for a while. So the many, many drug references are in this part of the story, not the one you would think them to be in. For example we see Cartman at a rehab center where he is given a small amount of chicken sauce, so he can cope. Or the people with guns entering the building at the very end as if it is some drug war. Or a very brief inclusion when we see Cartman consume chicken near the end and he cuts it into rows and sniffs it as if it was cocaine. Or of course the scene in which he pulls a gun because the stuff he is about to buy is not pure, but has been cut. Many other examples. In the meantime, Cartman rises in the world of drug (well, chicken) crime and becomes an influential leader himself, although all he really wants is eat KFC all day long.

The second story is about Randy and he is as crazy about weed as Cartman is about chicken. The consequence are gigantic testicles in here. Pay attention to how he is so all about the law and does not want to offer anything to his buddies, but the law backfires and he cannot get anything himself in the end because he cannot enter the building anymore. I think this episode could have done with a duration of 30 minutes. The endings to both stories felt abrupt. I am a bit surprised people here on imdb really, really enjoyed this episode. Okay, there is some bizarre comedy to these men jumping on their huge testicale as if those are spacehoppers, especially in this playful scene when they are jumping down the street. Maybe not a good watch for actual cancer patients this episode. Everybody else can give it a go I guess. Celebrities mentioned are Jamie Oliver and the Pope. You see all four kids on the photo here on imdb, but really only Cartman is included. Thumbs-up. (tt1629114)

South Park: The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs
(2010)
Episode 2, Season 14

South Park's take on literature
"The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs" is the second episode from season 14 of the long-running television series South Park and this aired already over a decade ago originally. Gave it another watch today and I enjoyed it overall. It's at least as good as the season premiere, but maybe even better. Parker and Stone are/were still going strong after all these years, especially with the ideas they keep coming up with in terms of stories. Maybe it is too big of a statement, but perhaps South Park is the voice of a generation. The voice of a generation in this episode is Butters and those who like him can be happy because it is the second episode in a row in which he is featured heavily. The four kids at the center of it all are not amazed at all by "Catcher in the Rye", the book they have to read for school and they don't see the controversy supposed to come with it. So they decide to write their own book. However, when one of their parents gets a hand on it, they are scared of the consequences they may face because there is a lot of truly disgusting content in there and they decide to put the blame on Butters. However, the book is quickly considered an obscene masterpiece and Butters becomes a star. Wears different clothes and glasses that make him look intellectual and the girls at school appreciate his talent as well. And we constantly hear his real name. Still he is on house arrest.

Maybe the funniest thing about this episode was the vomiting running gag. It shows how something disgusting can be really funny, even on several occasions and this has been key since the beginning of South Park soon 25 years ago. As for celebrities, the Kardashians and Sarah Jessica Parker get their share this time, especially the latter (maybe a bit too much even), even if her fate is not the most tragic in here. Morgan Freeman gets a little tribute too because of how great a narrator he is. John Lennon and Ronald Reagan are referenced during dialogue and the talk about how a book can(not) turn somebody into a murderer was among the more memorable aspects surely. Butters is in danger of becoming a killer on two occasions, but his potential victims are already deceased. He is also the closest to an antagonist to the gang this time, even if he really does not do anything wrong. You rarely see Eric, Stan, Kyle and Cartman as harmonic with each other as they are in this episode. No insults or anything. The only minor argument they are having is when early on they talk about who gets the blame for their book. If there is a lesson or something to this episode in the end, then it is that people should not mistake garbage for art. I enjoyed the watch here. These 22 minutes are closer to a great watch than a weak watch, but overall I would call it a good watch. Go check it out. (tt1624774)

South Park: Sexual Healing
(2010)
Episode 1, Season 14

Tolerable celebrity-packed start to season 14
"Sexual Healing" is the first episode from the fourteenth episode of the long-running television series South Park. I would not say it is one of the best or worst episodes this show has to offer, but you have to give credit to Parker and Stone for still coming up with this level of entertainment and quality after so many years (especially because they are not only in charge of the writing and directing, but also the voicing of many characters, a bit of a two-man show from beginning and very likely until the end) and this even happened over ten years ago if we look at the year 2021 now. Well, fittingly with 2020 and 2021, there is also major focus on a bit of an illness now, but sex addiction is probably not linked to certain viruses. More to money as we are told here in a bizarre experiment that involves apes. The thing that stays in mind the most about this show was a running gag about how golf video games can actually be exciting with the right approach. Kinda funny how EA Sports really went for stories and not just exclusively the game anymore in more recenet releass like FIFA most of all. So a bit of unintentional foreshadowing here. I doubt this was already the case back at the beginning of the previous decade. Anyway, this idea brings Tiger Woods a great deal of screen time here, but as I stated in the title of my review, you will find many other familiar faces here. These include Letterman, Roethlisberger (I will admit I thought it was Reggie Bush because of one quote, I know nothing about American Football), Thornton, Duchovny, Michael Douglas, Bill Clinton etc. You can easily check out the list if you wanna know all the names of famous people struggling with sex addiction back then. It can also be said that it is pretty impressive how nicely they animated these celebrities in here. Easy to identify. We still get the names of those mentioned in something that almost feels like a bit of a list of shame. Oh yeah, Batman is in it too in a pretty bizarre connection to the subject. At least they left David Carradine out though or let's say his name is not mentioned. His unusual death happened less than a year before this episode aired.

On the downside, the inclusion of Obama and this alien wizard did not feel too great for me. Maybe the weakest part of it all and a bit of a pity this story got more screen time as the episode continued. What do we learn from it? Don't get caught. Oh yeah, also a decent episode for Butters (or should I say Bummers?) fans. He is featured a lot in here with the bush mystery from beginning to end. All in all, I enjoyed the watch. Could have been better and could have been worse, but there was not really a moment when I considered giving this a thumbs-down. I mean even the alien wizard part is somewhat saved with the absurdity when there really shows up a creature like this in that very special building. The biggest strengths were elsewhere though for example when we see the class sitting there so innocently staring at the one performing this handkerchief experiment. Or also with the golf video game how it bores the kids again in the end and it's also always these small moments with which Parker and Stone shine with their creativity, the small comments and quotes like how one character found something specific in the water level or how a pre-nup (somehow I thought wrongly it was "pren-up") can make for a good laugh. Or how over 90% of teenagers are about to become sex addicts, again according to this experiment. Oh yeah, final note: Kenny dies in here too once again and for once he is wearing something other than his usual orange outfit there. Still, you cannot really see his face as usual. Tough moment for Batman fans maybe. Go watch it if you like South Park. If you got to season 14, then you don't really need a recommendation from me though even if this is also a fairly decent watch if it is the first ever episode you see from this seemingly endless show. No need for chronology. (tt1615374)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Zoey's Extraordinary Neighbor
(2020)
Episode 4, Season 1

Slightly improved, but still underwhelming
"Zoey's Extraordinary Neighbor" is the fourth episode from season one of "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" and I thought the series had a solid start, but with episode three, it really all went wrong. This episode here that runs for minimally over 40 minutes just like the others is slightly better again, but sadly still relatively far away from the level I want this show to have. Maybe things will get better with the following episodes. Once more, the focus is on one person from Zoey's life and this time it is the one that she barely had any contact with before the series started. She did not like said neighbor apparently and the neighbor thought Zoey was really boring, so I still wonder why said neighbor is the one that Zoey trusts with her secret. Then again, said secret seems to become less and less of a factor as the show continues unfortunately. By the way, the neighbor is in fact her landlady as we find out too because she gets the rent from others and is busy fixing stuff too here and there. This came also a bit out of nowhere. They apparently also did not care that much about this definition that they did not call the episode "Zoey's Extraordinary Landlady". Or is the title reference here linked to the other neighbor, the Asian who barely leaves her apartment? Debatable for sure. I'd still say it is more likely that it is about Alex Newell's Mo. The actress was on Glee too by the way, so no surprise that she gets to be a supporting player on another music-themed television show. But I did not like what they did with her here. The inclusion of religion seems clumsy to say the least and the only somewhat good moment Mo has all episode is when the tells Zoey that she does not want to sing for her, so she should not listen to her. That was pretty tense and atmospheric. However, the entire idea of Zoey posing as a guy when singing with the choir felt as poorly elaborated on as the idea of feeling alone very early on. As for the pretty progressive priest, I am still undecided. I think I maybe only liked him a bit because the rest of the episode was this forgettable. Then there is this big revelation moment in the end with Mo showing up as a woman for the first time and yeah, with all her previous doubts I must say I did not buy the transformation. Did not feel credible, but for the sake of a happy ending sadly.

This transformation had to do with the witnessing of a miracle before that and this is where the other neighbor comes into play, the Asian lady. She is the one who always stays inside. Zoey hears her sing as well and the karaoke party comment was actually a bit funny. The rest though did not do much for me. I think it would have been better had they included said neighbor kept behind closed doors here and included in future episodes again, definitely not in every episode before she maybe manages to come outside eventually. I mean she has a mental disorder or something. That says it all. Way too rushed putting her entire story into one single episode once again with the solution they needed to offer. I must also say that I struggled with Zoey turning into some saint here almost trying to fix everybody's issues that they cannot talk about initially. This also refers to her boss' broken heart. Don't even get me started on Lauren Graham's soulless version of Miley Cyrus' "Wreckingball". Whoever from Miley's team gave permission for that should be fired. I am not sure anyway what's up with Graham's character. Is she getting one song per episode now and that is it? Maybe still better than further elaboration on her shallow character. On the romance front, almost nothing new for Zoey. Her best friend is fully focused on his new girlfriend instead of his romantic feelings for Zoey and her crush is still engaged. Her mother even helps these fiancées. Speaking of the mother (Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen), she gets some more time for herself now, but this story with Zoey's father was almost the only positive aspect from this episode. How the fact that he may have improved cannot hide that he is still suffering from a fatal disease, so you can wonder for how long Peter Gallagher's character will be a part of this show. Here we also see him talk for once in an old wedding video, but he also does a lot with everything else he is given and that his character allows him to do. That story alone, however, is obviously not enough for a positive recommendation. Episode four is sadly one of the more forgettable Zoey episodes. Have to give this one a thumbs-down and I hope they can step things up soon again and then stay on better-quality territory with the second half of the first season especially. Let's see. (tt11690850)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Zoey's Extraordinary Boss
(2020)
Episode 3, Season 1

Surely no satisfaction for the audience with this one
"Zoey's Extraordinary Boss" is the third episode from season one (and thus also from the entire series) of "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist". With the episode title they are apparently still going for the next episodes with the focus on one extraordinary aspect or person from the title character's life, but don't be fooled here at all. There is nothing extraordinary in these over 40 minutes. On the contrary, this was a really, really weak episode and a contender for worst episode from the entire show I would say and I am not only saying this because I strongly dislike Lauren Graham and her character is at the center of it all, but the writing has been so poor here from every perspective. It's also during these small moments when it sucks. Take for example the Uber mention. Yeah right, Graham's character's man was in charge of this as well. The entire idea with the watch did almost nothing for me. But it was not just the focus on Graham's character's story here that turned this episode into an abomination, even if it took a special kind of absence of talent to turn Katy Perry's "Roar" into something that could help a baby fall asleep. The solution at the end with alleged girl power and independence from men could also not have been handled more stereotypically uninspired. No surprise Emmy nominee Justin Kirk did not return later on during the series. The way how he was introduced was already highly gimmicky with some Jesus comparison and all the other programmers in the room admiring him so much. I know this was meant in a comedy way using exaggerations for comedic delight, but it just wasn't working at all.

As for the other stories here, Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen gets material that gives her a first chance to shine too, so this was about the older actresses this time with Graham too. Unfortunately, the protagonist's mother's plot here was just as terrible as the boss story and the lemonade elaboration was simply not working at all as a key plot point. The solution that mother needs more time for herself and the kids are willing to help to give it to her felt just as generic and forced. I mean it could have been okay if they had managed to lead us there in a more convincing manner, but the entire idea of Steenburgen's character so baffled because of her husband's desire for fresh lemonade did not feel credible and please don't tell me this was just because I am not in this really challenging situation that Steenburgen's character has been in for years. Simply not working. As for Zoey herself, her romance issues were a bit of a thing again too and the previous episode was all about her being unhappy with her best friend crushing on her and now that said best friend (also pretty rushed) has somebody else, all of a sudden we are led to believe there is some actual competition between said friend and Zoey's actual (engaged) crush. Not working. They are just spitting on the decent developments from episode 2. By the way, the crush got a bit of a story line linked to his unwillingness to dance. Well, this also felt like something they just included for the sake of it, so they could give him something, just something at all, no matter what. Another disappointing thing with this episode was that it felt that in the face of these garbage twists, they already moved too far away from the key idea that Zoey is able to hear these people sing. Here it was really all about the famous Rolling Stones number that I made a reference to in the title and even I as somebody who has never been big on the Stones must say that they deserve better than this terrible episode being a tribute to their music. So yeah, I genuinely hope that the next Zoey episodes are better again. This one here was really failure from beginning to end to be honest. A lot to improve and a gigantic step down quality-wise from the first two episodes. Highly not recommended. (tt11690860)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Zoey's Extraordinary Best Friend
(2020)
Episode 2, Season 1

Tiny step down in quality, but still very much worth watching
This is the second episode from season 1 of "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" and this of course also makes it the second episode from the entire series. Zoey is still capable of hearing people's emotions and she has adapted to this "superpower" nicely now as if she had it all her life. This is a bit surprising. A bit too fast perhaps. I mean she still struggles with aspects of it, but this is really only because of what it is that people are singing to her and not because of the fact that they are singing to her. This mostly refers to her best (male) friend as you can see from the title of this episode as well. At the very end of the first episode, we found out in a bit of a cliffhanger ending that he may see more than a platonic in her and Zoey is not happy about it at all. You could wonder if she just does not want to allow herself to have feelings for him or if there aren't any. Future will tell. In any case, she is so busy with her promotion at work that she cannot really move forward in that department. As for her actual crush, she is interacting with him a lot still, not only when they hold a presentation together, but he is engaged to another woman, so no great opportunities there either. We will see in the coming episodes where all this is heading next. Of course, there is once again a solid amount of interaction between Zoey and her parents too with major focus on her father's illness and Peter Gallagher once again gets to perform a song to his daughter. These music numbers are really all he has in terms of spoken language. Otherwise, he is bound to sit there and cannot really do anything because of the aforementioned illness. The female new (best) friend / neighbor who is the only one that knows about Zoey's special ability is also featured throughout the episode, but still does not do a lot for me. Feels too stereotypical her character.

This episode is really a prime example of how everything seems messed up during an episode, but in the end it is somehow magically fixed. This applies mostly to the struggles at work though that are solved through a kinda sweet diary entry reading sequence and also Zoey's relationship with her best friend is not as stressful anymore as she does what she can to get him together with the female barista from the local coffee shop and he also seems to develop an interest in her. But even their friendship was at stake at some point. That's how serious it was. On a different note, I still wonder why and don't like it that Lauren Graham's character is standing there like some omnipresent character always right behind Zoey somewhere to see how she deals with difficult situations, basically when she manages to fix these situations. Okay, I am biased there because I do not like the actress. Sorry, Gilmore Girls fans. Okay, what else is there to say here? Jane Levy still has these pretty amazing looks and overall I think the second episode was a small step back in quality, but nothing too serious. Still some decent moments overall and all in all the positive outweighs the negative and I will keep watching and I am curious how the story continues for all the protagonists. Most of all for Zoey herself of course. Must also add that the songs used in here were a bit less impressive compared to the first episode, but no surprise at all because of course they started with a bang and cannot keep going with it every single episode. Absolutely fine this way. So this episode gets a thumbs-up from me too. Solid creativity overall, even if there is definitely potential for improvement still there and they need to find it if this show wants to be remembered fondly and also still seen by people 20 years from now. It's a positive recommendation, but a bit more on the cautious side now, even if Levy is really the epitome of likably quirky in this show, even if the scene with the coffee poured all over her shirt was too much again too. And even if the computer nerd component with Zoey is not exactly there, but then again why does she have to be a socially awkward nerd only because she is a programmer? That's maybe just in our minds. Go watch. And keep watching. (tt11690804)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist: Pilot
(2020)
Episode 1, Season 1

Great span between the best and the poorest moments from this episode
This is the pilot episode for "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" that premiered in very early 2020 and I think the show is already approaching its end now or already has, but I read not too long ago that there will be a full feature film to offer closure to the fans. I myself have only come across it too. The show won Mandy Moore (not the famous singer/actress) an Emmy for her choreography and lead actress Jane Levy who plays the title character here managed to score a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal, which is surely her biggest career success so far. I have followed Levy since Suburgatory, also watched her in the movies and yeah I cannot deny I kinda like her, maybe even crushing on her a little bit (I'm not the only one if we look at the cliffhanger), so a series with her at the center of it all surely caught my attention. But now let's take a look at this opening episode. It runs for slightly over 40 minutes, just like the others, and is basically a mix of comedy and drama with a gigantic amount of music. This is what the show is all about: the music. The central character, after being in the MR during an earthquake (Alex Mack, anyone?), is suddenly capable of seeing the people around her in a totally different light as they tell Zoey their inner thoughts in a musical fashion. Very confusing for her initially, but she quickly accepts her new "superpower". By the way, it all started with R. E. M., so it cannot be a bad thing. Other than that, we have many other really nice songs in here. The Beatles are featured. The eternal Mad World. Phil Collins (okay the original "True Colours" was not from him) and Cat Stevens also get included and the very first song was also quite nice, even if I am not familiar with the singer. So you will 100% find some really nice music if you watch this show/episode. Some music you maybe came across already and forgot about it, other music you will maybe discover anew. In any case, a win-win situation.

Aside from the music, it is all about the protagonist's fate in here. And there is a lot elaborated on in this first episode already. What do we have? Neighbor struggles. New friendships. Sick fathers. Dead fathers. Career prospects. Office crushes. And much more. Almost too much even. I must admit that it did not always feel too realistic, but sometimes a bit scripted. The first conversation between Zoey and Lauren Graham's character was surely on the cringeworthy side, but maybe I am just saying this because I dislike Lauren Graham and see no acting talent in her. But especially the pilates reference in there or what it was felt cringeworthy too. You cannot even blame the actress. As with the father, on the one hand it felt heartwarming/heartbreaking to see him like that, on the other it was maybe a bit too much of a sob story. The moment when the potential lovebirds talk about their fathers was the same. I must say the idea with a beloved person gone and how the potential love interest tells her that she should use the time she still has was really nice though and I found it touching. Not gonna lie. But yeah, overall still perhaps a bit too much tragedy drama. Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen I should also mention. Seems this show is how she continued after "Last Man on Earth", a show I really like(d). I wonder if her material gets better in the next episodes. The female best friend character here did not do too much for me, maybe also because who they went with felt quite stereotypical, but also has to do with the writing. I mean our protagonist apparently did not like her, saw her as a nuisance, while the neighbor herself found our protagonist totally boring and yet we are led to believe that she is the one Zoey would tell about her great new ability. Hmmm makes little sense. So yeah, overall there are some really, really good moments to the first episode of this new show, but also some pretty bad inclusions. I hope that, as the show continues, this will improve a bit. It has to for this show to be seen as something more than a guilty pleasure with good music. I still recommend the series premiere all in all and I'll surely keep watching. Curious about what happens next, so the show did not miss its target. Mission accomplished. And the final boat trip made me want to buy a boat too. (tt9149788)

Luther: Episode #1.4
(2010)
Episode 4, Season 1

The Luther in Winter
This is the fourth episode from the very first season of the British successful cop show Luther, which means it is the first episode from the second half of season one because the entire season only had six episodes. At approximately 50 minutes, it is also minimally shorter than the previous three episodes. The formula is once again similar to the earlier episodes. We have one key crime/case in the middle of it all and at the same time Luther's private life struggles are elaborated on and so is the Alice Morgan scenario, even if with the latter Luther emphasized that he does not want to be in touch with her anymore. This does not keep Morgan from committing another murder though and the victim this time is the child killer from the very start of episode one who has been in a coma ever since back then when Luther lets him fall down into that hole. Here the man awakens and seems on the road to recovery, so that he will put the blame on Luther for what happened back then. But Morgan, the devilish guardian angel gets in the way of that. This attracts further attention to the guy from internal affairs who is in charge of observing Luther anyway, especially with that really loud phone call. And as Luther is not happy at all with what Morgan did, she is not happy either and is angry because she does not get the appreciation she thinks she should be getting. As a consequence, she goes and talks to Luther's wife's new man that his girl/woman has been cheating on him with Luther again. So this story gets some new spice again as well. At the end, it seems as if he forgave her because she apologized to him in a heartfelt manner. This was also the biggest moment where the other man is once again depicted in a negative light, almost boastful, as he pretends towards the woman that he saw through it himself when reality is he had no idea and only knew because Alice told him as an act of revenge. By the way, Luther's wife is also quite a handful with what she is doing with several men here. I mean it's just the two, but still a constant back-and-forth. As for "just the two", it's still always very nice when Luther and Alice share the screen, even if it's not that often anymore. But I also want to mention the seductive theme song now, which is so Alice/Luther in terms of atmosphere, tune and temptation.

Before we move on to the case at hand here, it can be said that it's snowing in London, which is pretty nice to watch and the moment we see the killer's newest victim when we are initially led to believe they (almost) have him was a thing of beauty (despite the horror), also with the music playing at the same time. So yeah, what can be said about the killer this time? He seems like a really normal guy who snapped at some point because he thinks he is not getting the appreciation he should have been getting, in terms of both his former profession, but also in terms of his wife who has been cheating on him. His ego was characterized in that scene when he whispered something naughty into the ear of his "friend". In general, this episode once again is mostly worth watching for individual scenes and strong attention to detail. When the killer takes in the woman who initially doesn't want to, it's a scene as memorable as heartbreaking. Flaws are there, but not too frequent. Once again, the investigation process is a bit exaggerated in terms of how they find him. The conclusion that he must be a taxi driver feels as rushed as how he is selected from these over 20 other potential suspects. Still nothing too serious and I was well-entertained here too. The scene with the call girl near the very end was also as atmospheric and dramatic as it gets and the level this show has after four episodes is still immensely high. If you like what happens at the very end with the murderer's hammer and wife is up to you to decide. I think it was a very spectacular finish and I did not feel it was unrealistic, so I think it was pretty good closure. Maybe it also had something to do with the way Luther let the woman understand what was going on with her husband when he left her alone in the interrogation room. Smart scene and also nice to see Luther's completely lack of sympathy there. The necklace inclusion was also pretty memorable. In general, this show is not scared of killing off characters at all, which is something I applaud. No need for false harmony. Take the victim in the snow I mentioned twice already or also take the man who is the killer's wife's affair. Another easy thumbs-up without hesitation from me here. Start watching this show or keep watching this show. I surely will do the latter. (tt1607149)

Luther: Episode #1.3
(2010)
Episode 3, Season 1

Another episode, another winner
These once again approximately 52 minutes we got here were the third episode from the successful British crime/cop drama series Luther. This also aired over ten years ago for the first time, so no huge surprise that the show is over by now, especially in the face of lead actor Idris Elba's Hollywood success, but these episodes are nonetheless very much worth watching today in the early 2020s. No matter if we are talking first watch or rewatch which it was in my case. The writer is once again Neil Cross for whom this show may still be the biggest career achievement and the director here was Sam Miller, who has enjoyed very recent success too awards-wise with his newest project. But we shall talk about that one later on. Instead, let's take a look at what happens in this Luther episode. Once again, we have one key antagonist at the center of it all and this is an occult killer played by Paul Rhys. His character, after a terrible crime, many, many years ago, with which he got away, returns and takes on a new victim. This one here starts with the villain at work just like it was the case with episode two. Also in terms of disguise. We have this killer pose as a cop and ring the door of his victim. Definitely one of the most haunting scenes, also with how Rhys really has it here to look very creepy. Yet competent at the same time. Physically, he reminded me a bit of the young Dieter Laser, especially with the connection to Dr. Heiter from The Human Centipede and the two are equally insanse. I mean Heiter and Rhys' character. The case felt a bit like the very first one from Luther's series premiere because Elba's character is on the bad guy's trail right away and it is all about finding a woman/girl quickly enough so that she will live. Can Luther succeed again? Watch for yourself. I must say that with how much I liked almost everything else about the killer and the investigation here, the eventual solution and how the villain is caught did not impress me too much. Still, just a minor criticism, but I did not think the psychopath would have surrendered as quickly as we are led to believe here. His lack of physical strength was not a problem, but with his mind I expected more resistance. I still like how with these first three episodes, probably more, the question "Who did it?" is never at the center of the story.

In addition to all of that, the plots from the previous episode(s) are continued. Alice Morgan almost turns into a bit of an aide this time already and to me it feels as if we should at least see her as more likable than the rival when it comes to vying for the affection of Luther's wife, especially in that scene in which Alice and said rival share the screen. By the way, they still tried their very best here, just like also in the previous episodes, to make this rival seem as incompetent and despicable as possible. His key story here is that he is beaten up by a bunch of girls, maybe junkies. Enough said. As for the wife, she is almost not present in this film at all. The big exception is the final shot in which we really see that Luther can hope again to somehow get her back. He could actually not be any more different than his competitor. Also like in the previous episodes, Luther is struggling with internal affairs as usual. This almost feels like a running gag by now to be honest and, also as always, he once again manages to get away unharmed in the end. Still there are conflicts, especially with his closest colleague at work and how that one is not totally ready to risk his own job for Luther. In any case, I can say again that these over 50 minutes flew by quickly. They are probably a better watch even when you see it the first time, but the rewatch was still good enough for me to hand out a pretty high rating once more. It was also those small moments that counted. Take the antagonist's tongue in the first scene. Take the first meeting between him and Luther (posing as a fan), take the idea of Luther maybe also becoming as savage as the other cop who almost killed the bad guy years ago or finally take the idea that Alice Morgan maybe really thought in her sociopathic mind that she could help Luther with what he did. Well, actually she did in the end. Was that really the plan? Is she romantically attracted to Luther? I think in terms of sexual attraction, there cannot be any doubt. The relationship between these two is in any case one of the best things about this series and great choice to turn Wilson into a recurring character. This series has been really good with episodes one and two and the high level continues with this one. One of the very best crime series from the 2010s without a doubt. Keep watching. (tt1607148)

Luther: Episode #1.1
(2010)
Episode 1, Season 1

Tops right from the beginning
Here we have the very first episode from the successful British television series Luther. The show scored many nominations with prestigious awards bodies, most of all for lead actor Idris Elba, also in America, and these 52 minutes here were written by Neil Cross and directed by Brian Kirk. We are thrown right into the action as we see Luther chasing down a criminal in something like a warehouse building. At least the construction is not particularly safe as we get to witness quickly. Luther gets some important information out of the suspect and does not save the man in time, so the bad guy falls down and is in a coma for the rest of the episode. But the girl he abducted is safe. So they need another case for this series premiere and this is where Ruth Wilson comes into play as her Alice Morgan becomes a bit of a nemesis (with an ounce of sexual tension too) to Luther for much more than this episode. It is about the death of a respected couple and also the death of the couple's dog as the canine gains some extra significance as the episode goes on. It's a bit of everything really. We find out about the title character's aggression issues at the same time as we find out about his professional genius. His wife, however, has really had it with him and his struggles and in this episode she tells the man that she is with somebody else. Not much of a surprise that the first thing Luther does is destroy a door and a little later, actually almost at the very end, we also see Luther end up in a physical struggle with the new man in his wife's life. Still there are indicators on several occasions that she is not over him yet and maybe he can hope. Be it the "next time" reference or be it the tear-filled response to whose turn it is to apologize at the very end, you can definitely be curious how Luther's personal life will be affected in the upcoming episodes, especially if we take into account that it is all connected with his work. Alice made Luther his next project and this also brings in his wife to some extent, especially in this one scene in which the two women share the screen. One of the most tense (or is it "tensest"? Sounds weird.) moments from this episode.

It is already Idris Elba's great physicality that elevates the okay story and screenplay into something special right away and I am sure this show and also this opening episode would have made much less of an impact without him. Extremely commanding screen presence and not a surprise at all that this show was what turned him into an international superstar and prolific Hollywood actor pretty quickly afterwards. If you are curious about how it all started, then it is very much worth seeing. I think the second episode was even slightly better, but I am saying this from a rewatch perspective. Not sure which I liked more when I watched them the first time. In any case, something I definitely like here is that the psychological element of the crimes and criminals gets included in a crucial way. I always find that interesting. Of course, there are also weaknesses in terms of the writing, like how Luther's yawn idea is maybe a bit too far-fetched to make a definite statement that the young woman is the killer, but together with all the other elements of suspense, it works fine. Or also with how Luther's wife's new partner is depicted and what he has to say at times, they could have done a little better maybe. But all these criticisms are nothing major at all and the good and even very good is way, way more frequent in this episode compared to the weaknesses here and there. The idea how he hurts the killer's ego near the end by throwing away the ashtray was also quite nice. I know there are many shows and films about rogue cops, but this is one that stands out in a positive way most of all because of the impressive lead performance here. I am pretty glad they got Elba to star and this was the beginning, definitely not yet the highlight, of something great and for me Luther, now that it's been over 10 years since it started, is definitely one of the best crime series of the 2010s. If not the number one. This episode here reflects said quality on quite a few occasions. I definitely think you should give it a go and maybe you will be as hooked as I was. Entertained you will be 100%. Also very much necessary here to watch chronologically because the episodes build on each other. Big thumbs up for the very beginning of Luther, also good example here on how to include a massive jump ahead in time. (tt1622278)

No Time to Die
(2021)

Craig's time as 007 ends on a fairly high note, but I still hoped it could be better
"No Time to Die" is a co-production between the United States of America and the United Kingdom from 2021 and this is of course the most recent James Bond film we have here. It is a definite contender for most awaited film of the decade because on the one hand the viewer numbers are self-explanatory and on the other hand this film has been delayed so many times because of the corona pandemic that it was truly high time for it to actually hit theaters everywhere. Which it did not too long ago. Being a a huge Bond fan myself, who has seen all the other films (no exceptions), I was curious enough to watch several hours of red-carpet broadcast from London a while ago when the film had its world premiere there and most key cast members showed up and the Royals were also there to check it out. It runs for over 2 hours and 40 minutes which makes it a truly long film and even if it is an hour or so longer than another Daniel Craig Bond movie, nobody can really be surprised. It was already an option that Craig could end his Bond career before this one here, but he returned again for a fifth and final 007 performance. Unfortunately, as you can see from the title of my review, I don't think this was as amazing as it could have been. I still think that Casino Royale and Skyfall are his two best movies and clearly ahead of the rest, even if it's not easy at all to pick the number one. But that is another story. Let's look at this one here now. Director is Cary Joji Fukunaga, who is mostly known for his work on True Detective, so the outcome here is surely his biggest big screen success as of now. He is also one of the writers and the other two are again Purvis and Wade who were already there during the Brosnan era. Enough said. They could very well also be there again when the next 007 takes over. Whoever it will be. I mean we already have a Black female 007 in this film, even if I doubt she will become the new lead to the franchise. But we will see.

As for the cast, there is nothing to say about Craig anymore. Some of the others are people who reprise their characters from previous movies. Especially the one before. Léa Seydoux is back playing Bond's one and only love interest in this film and it's very serious as we find out, not only because of the child that joins them, but also because of the long sequence early on, which is linked to Vesper Lynd again and her story of betrayal back in Craig's very first Bond movie, so it is a bit of a framework you could say. Is he betrayed again? This time by Madeleine? Christoph Waltz is in this film here too. No surprise obviously, but he does not have a lot of screen time unfortunately. He is an actor I like and I definitely think that there could have been much more to his Blofeld than there was in this film and the previous one. Let's be honest: With what they did with/to him here, it maybe would have been better if he had not been in the film at all. I think Fukunaga was basically only looking for a way to get him out of the picture somehow and put all his focus on the key antagonist in here. That would be the character played by Oscar winner Rami Malek. He is a new addition to the cast and (if we don't count the very first masked scene) it takes quite a while for him to finally join the action, namely when he sits there in Madeleine's presence, but once he is there, he is bound to stay. Great screen presence as always and his villain character is among the better aspects from this film, especially in that scene where he takes the girl from her with the aura of poison all around him. Another antagonist character is played by Dali Benssalah. Very easy to identify too with his physicality. Not just the eye, even if this eye, especially in the final fight scene, and how he/it is taken out is maybe the biggest cult moment from this film and I had to think of Oddjob's hat back in Goldfinger there. I could go on and on. Jeffrey Wright is there again, so is Ralph Fiennes. Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris. New faces with a decent amount of screen time include Lashana Lynch, David Dencik and Billy Magnussen. All no really big names, so they made sure nobody takes away too much attention from Craig's farewell performance.

Comedy is once again nothing you find too frequently in here. There was some banter here and there between Bond and the new 007 about who is allowed to carry this number. There was this eye scene linked to the gadget, the one I just mentioned. Oh and maybe for my comedic highlight of it all I must mention Ben Whishaw. His talk about the guest he was about to have was more of a politically correct failure piece of comedy, maybe also linked to the actor's own sexuality, but when he tried to pretend in front of M that he had not seen Bond before this encounter, it was pretty funny. I give them/him that. Big smile there. As for the more dramatic moments, of course the one that stands out the very most is the exact ending. Bond has never died before in these films, so they were taking completely new directions here. I am not sure if I like it though. Big challenge and they probably could not have depicted it any better, but Bond always had this unkillable aura and maybe they should have stayed with it. Like breaking an unwritten rule. Oh well, this was not the first time Blofeld died either and they killed Leiter in the process of it too, but they will all be back sooner or later. In any case, these rockets hitting the island were pretty spectacular. Also bittersweet that they came from his side and 007 ordered them to be fired and you could say that M or MI6 messed up themselves by the fact that they lost this Heracles, this priceless killing program, to the bad side. So his own folks' shortcomings result in Bond's death in this movie. But he still makes sure that evil is buried with him and this gigantic factory of villainy goes down as well. The island between Russia and Asia here I liked the way it was depicted. The isolation of it all, but also these water areas (or liquid areas) in which people were working in thick riot gears. Not sure this is the right word.

As for the Bond song by Billie Eilish, I remember not liking it too much when I heard it first. Then it grew a bit on me over the months in the process of looking forward to this film perhaps. Now, as I heard it connected to the movie, I again am not too big on it. Also felt to me as if it was not used on many other occasions except the opening sequence where they always use the Bond song. So yeah, this will surely be one of the more forgettable Bond song and I am pretty sure that it will not repeat the awards success that Adele and Sam Smith had with their previous Bond songs. But we will see. An Oscar nomination seems like a big success already from my perspective. The win is not an option as of now the way I see it. I should probably also mention Finneas as he is co-writer, but I just don't really understand the Eilish hype at all. The music that stands out way more here is certainly Louis Armstrong's "We Have All the Time in the World", a timeless classic that you will hear with the closing credits and you also hear the name of this song being referenced on several occasions during this movie, key occasions really. The timelessness of this piece is something Eilish and her brother can only dream of. And it's also a beautiful jump back in time because this was used back in the day during the early 007 movie days already. For Dr. No if I am not mistaken. So yeah, the film had something to offer on the music front as well, not only with Hans Zimmer's soundtrack. The technicality we don't need to criticize. Costumes, sets, makeup, cinematography, sound effects etc. All this is in competent hands here and could not have been much better. But story is key and this is the reason why I don't give a truly high rating. By the way, I thought on some occasion that Madeleine's father here could be Blofeld. I mean we hear about him being a killer, a doctor which he is in the old film, always carries the title Dr. Ernst Stavro Blofeld and here in the previous film he even went with Mr. Bleuchamp, so a French connection was also there. So when we know that Bond can kill Blofeld with his hands because of the virus, I thought that he would kill Madeleine too, but they touched and kissed and she did not die, so we did not find out about her real father.

As for Malek's character, he is of course also a tragic figure with what happened to his family earlier and his revenge idea in terms of killing the killer's family can be related to somehow, but what he turns into is definitely insane. I mean this was a touch of Thanos already I felt. Killing millions of people and causing some kind of natural selection this way. While with Thanos we were getting this idea of a relentless god, I still felt that they could have elaborated a bit more there on Safin's approach. Not the tennis player. Sorry, I just had to. Overall, this is of course unsurprisingly another Bond film that people who like the franchise should not miss out on and it is also definitely a better watch in movie theaters. Go see it on the big screen and preferrably do so now while it is still on because I have made the experience that at least here they do not really show past Bond films in movie theaters. The old ones. Maybe because they are all on television still from time to time and actually several times each year. I am not sure what you will like most about this movie, but I think there is enough to pick from and there are definitely more positive moments to the outcome here than negative moments. Actually, almost no negative moments. Ana de Armas could have been given better material. I mean she is second-cast on imdb because of her name, but barely a factor. Oh well, maybe we will see more from her character in the next movie. It's still also never really a great film unfortunately. I feel like Fukunaga was playing it safe overall, which hurt the film. (tt2382320)

(2021)

Where is the love?
Here we have "Nö", a new German movie from 2021 and you don't see it too often that films consist of two letter only unless they are dealing with evil clowns perhaps. The director and writer here is Dietrich Brüggemann, certainly one of Germany's more (if not most) successful filmmakers these days and has been for quite a while. He has made the headlines also from other perspectives not too long ago when he was the alleged leader of a campaign here in Germany that expressed disapproval about the way the German government handled the pandemic situation in terms of the cultural sector, especially the film industry, but also those inevitably linked to it such as movies-goers like you and me. However, that is another story. It still felt obvious here and there while I was watching this movie and it is certainly no coincidence that one character here talks about vaccinations in a really drastic manner and another is told with determination to put down his mask. The contexts may have been different and weren't linked to the pandemic situation, but still. Pretty smart nonetheless. In any case, I applaud Brüggemann for his courage to speak freely during times like these. So now let us look at his movie finally. He was toying a bit with the audience/script in these situations and on many other occasions as well. I will get to some of those a little later. If we take a look at the basics, it can also be said that, as short as the title may be, this is not a short film at all as it stays only marginally under the two-hour mark. Not unusual when it comes to historic dramas from Germany, but films that focus on romantic relationships rarely run this long. The co-writer is Brüggemann's younger sister Anna, a successful actress too and she is also the woman you see on the poster here on imdb, even if that kissing situation may be a bit misleading because, as you can read from the title of my review, love (in the sense of passion) is something you hardly find in here. Anna is probably the more known from the two leads here. Even I as a German film buff am not familiar with Alexander Khuon. Kinda fitting that he has no picture here on imdb too.

The supporting cast includes more famous names. The likes of Schmidt-Schaller, Waschke, Vogler and Zischler are actors that have been truly prolific over the years. With Vogler, one thinks immediately of his Wim Wenders films, even if they happened a long time ago and Zischler maybe Munich. Vogler has been in many really bad films too though lately unfortunately. Waschke plays a doctor in here who reminded me a bit of Dr. Cox from Scrubs. He may have had one scene only, but left quite a mark there. He was also the one wth the vaccination quote I mentioned early on. He may have been entertaining, but really likable or a true professional he was not. Look at how he tells the baby's gender and then asks if they even want to know and then even rubs it in by making a reference to the genital on the screen that this is where the two should not look. This was definitely a bit of an extreme scene and character, but still somewhat tolerable. However, I felt as if afterwards (the) Brüggemann(s) was/were exaggerating a bit as if the intention was to really go over the top as much as possible and despite how absurd it all felt, still get the message through. The best example was maybe the gunfire scene. I must say that did not fit in at all for me sadly. Those scenes were the reasons why it feels impossible for me to add another two stars. The scene in which the male protagonist was talking to Vogler's character there was slightly better. Also pretty absurd, but the contents were kinda fitting at least and we learn about the male protagonist's insecurities. How there is still really another woman on his mind, but also how he is not exactly a man who is steadfast at all. He sucks in Vogler's character's words, no matter what he is told and agrees to everything basically. Also the script played with us a bit too there because I surely was not the only one in the room who thought that Vogler's character is probably going to die after this scene and this was a bit of a last-words scene, but nope.

It's really all about the dialogues for the entire film. The camera is always 100% static in these segments. Oh yes, there is a double-digit amount of segments here and between two segments we had a few days, weeks or even months time. One of the last segments is the one at the dentist's. Thise was maybe the weakest for me again with how it went really over the top. I definitely preferred the scenes early on. The first conversation in bed was quite good from several perspectives. How she says they fit together because they agree on what it is that doesn't matter. That felt very true and meaningful at times. The "nö" from the title (colloquial "no" in German) is also referenced there when she responds she does not think they should break up. At the very end, when they finally have some time for themselves and each other again and they are at a bar having a drink, it escalates though and the tables are turned. She says she cannot go on like that and his response is "nö" on one occasion. But it is pretty doubtful if he really loves her nonetheless. Maybe he just adjusted to the situation. This is one of a handful frameworks you will find in this film. Some are really small and not easy to find, but it's always obvious Brüggemann enjoyed a lot playing with the audience there. Take the random bulimia reference from one character when the female protagonist is actually pregnant and later on we find out that this smaller character had also not been wrong at all. Or take the idea of the two finding happiness with their child(ren) at an annoyingly noisy place. That is mentioned early on and in one of the last scenes, they really are at such a place, but there is no harmony, no happiness. Brüggemann does not give the viewers this kind of satisfaction. You can even say that it is a pretty depressing film here and there, especially with how they break up at the end or are really close to. There I also did not really get why the flower seller returned as they both stated repeatedly they don't want any. Not even white ones.

The really last scene is a flashback to several years back when romance was still in full swing and we find out about a scene from their past that stayed in both their heads, but we also know how reality by now has basically taken its toll on what happened back then. I could of course also mention the funeral scene after the male protagonist's father died, but this is pretty self-explanatory and you will remember it without my words. I'd rather speak about some of the early scenes. Let's take the one at the ship. There was also some massive irony to it because we have the couple announce to his father that she is pregnant and briefly afterwards we see another passenger collapse with a heart attack most likely and it could be that for one life about to begin, there is one life lost that very same time. We don't find out what happened to the man. Also pay attention to the bonbon bowl there moving back and forth. This scene was really random and interesting at the same time. I also liked the wedding scene, not only because it mocks the gender-inclusive language nonsense. Obviously not our two main characters getting married, but friends of them and the male protagonist catches the bouquet and how he is on his knees was a bit clumsy and cute at the same time. I thought this very scene really fit the idea of what he said later on that they are just acting in a way that invisible people around them want to see them act. (We in the audience?) Even if the other party guests were not invisible. But yeah, how their own wedding kept getting delayed, also because it did not mean a lot to both of them in terms of marriage as an institution, was quite self-explanatory.

There is really way more to write about this film (for example about all the scenes involving the female protagonist's mother from the very first conversation between the two central characters or about the acting class) as, even if I felt that while it struggled with the for my liking too showy big scenes here and there, there was amazing attention to detail to the screenplay here and a lot more that could be elaborated on. Instead, my suggestion is that you watch the film yourself if you get the chance. It's not a movie that must be seen on the big screen really, but also a pretty nice choice to watch with your partner at home in the evening when it's cold outside or so. I give the outcome a thumbs-up here for sure and I am glad I got to watch this tonight as it was the last occasion for now at a movie theater. Admittedly, I am biased because I've liked Anna Brüggemann for a long time. She still reminds me a bit of Scarlett Johansson. And her brother has also risen a lot in my appreciation for the aforementioned courage reasons. I wonder if "Nö" is also a bit of a statement towards everything pandemic-related going on here in Germany. Maybe I am thinking too much into it. The one thing which I am sure about though is that this gets a positive recommendation from me. You will find so many small moments and inclusions in here that make it easy to appreciate the outcome and show us how talented the Brüggemann siblings are. I hope they stay in the industry for a long time to come. Many decades. So the only thing still missing is the response to my question in the title. Where is it? Well, it was there in this one scene in which he uses a Bavarian accent when talking to his partner, but that was really it. Not much love here. More convenience. And the look into the future with the baby monitor and even the baby as a teenager was also not sweet, just sobering, even if I did not particularly like this scene. Nonetheless the good and creative is more frequent than the mishaps and I happily give this film some love. Surely deserves to be seen. (tt9409660)

Luther: Episode #1.2
(2010)
Episode 2, Season 1

Strong quality from episode one continues
Here we have the second episode from the UK series Luther that won Idris Elba an SAG Awards and Golden Globe. The series I mean. The episode ran longer than most television episodes otherwise, but still stayed under the one-hour mark, even maybe a bit more than it says here on imdb. Episodes one and two are often shown as a double feature. We are thrown right into the action this time as we see how a man pretends to be unconscious to trap a few police officers and he murders them in cold blood. So men in uniform are the killer's target here and we find out about a most unusual connection with his imprisoned dad (Sean Pertwee, who reminded be a bit of Gary Lewis) as the latter seems to be the one really behind these crimes. Involving him, perhaps Luther's moment with what he shows the man in prison to frame him, was the most memorable moment. Otherwise, this is a really tense episode too. The very start already, but also when the killer opens fire at these police officers while they take a look at a previous crime scene. And also how he out of nowhere shoots the woman in the stomach. Luther there smells quickly that something is wrong, but not quickly enough. In general, his perception was top-notch, maybe a bit too good to be true. I am talking about how he suspects the killer is a former soldier, but also how quickly they really get on his trail as there was almost no evidence pointing to him or so. Still some smart inclusions otherwise too with the exchanged phones for example. The confrontation between Luther and the perpretator near the end with Luther provoking him felt a bit rushed as well and also how then he is really almost won over by Luther despite his hatred against him and the consequence is a round of Russian roulette. Here and there, Luther reminded me a bit of Bobby Goren from Law and Order: Criminal Intent, because of the way he dresses and also because of how he sees through everything so easily.

The story line from the first episode involving Alice Morgan (is she his Nicole Wallace?) is picked up here and there again and we realize that for sure she will be a recurring character in this show and a bit of a nemesis to Luther, even if there seems to be not 100% hate from his side. Also the other way around. To some extent, they are impressed by each other's genius and perfection. Just on different sides of the law. Morgan (Ruth Wilson before The Affair) maybe more than Luther who mostly wants her to leave him alone or at least leave his wife / ex-wife alone. The idea of Luther getting in trouble with internal affairs is wiped away quickly at the very start because the guy hit by Luther in the first episode (his wife's new romantic partner) is convinced by said wife to not ruin Luther's career. There are also always these moments in which Luther's dedication plays a huge role, also his masculinity. It is even a bit of an issue between Zoe (the wife) and her new partner as they have an argument there that has directly to do with Luther. Admittedly, these moments when Luther calls her and the new man asks if it is him and shows us that he is not too happy about it were a bit cheesy. But yeah, no love between these men and the character's statement that Luther only defended himself is the only positive between them. He also thinks that when Luther warns them about Alice Morgan it is just another lie or trick, but she still finds them and we know it is not and Luther was right all along. Even if she disappears quickly again afterwards. But they know that she can find Zoe anytime. Alice is a bit busy here anyway with hanging around on the bedside of the fella who fell down in episode one after his confrontation with Luther and is in a coma ever since.

Another thing that caught my attention here is really the connection to a death wish that may or may not be a part of Luther. Does he have one? He is even asked that explicitly by the bad guy. Does he still see purpose in life with his wife gone, but with all his demons still there and new ones coming? He is standing up there on a roof and there is talk about jumping and falling and the colleague rather focuses on America's Next Top Model instead of (suicidal) discussions like these. Then there is the aforementioned Russian roulette scene as well that is perhaps the dramatic highlight of it all, even if the scene in/after which the bad guy tricks everybody to stand very close to each other, so they make for great targets, is also quite close. The third execution basically with these people storming the building was also devastating, but not as memorable as the previous two assaults. Interesting though how the killer always ruthlessly exploits the errors from the police. Anyway, still with the Russian roulette scene, Luther was never closer to dying you could say than in that one. Okay, this is only the second episode, but he was really close, even if we kinda knew he won't die there. The villain (played by Sam Spruell, who reminded me a bit of a British Jesse Plemons) lives in the end and is not shot and does also not commit suicide as it was suggested earlier with the 50% reference and his last words in the interrogation scene were also quite memorable. How he completely turns into a soldier there, a man taken captive by the enemy. That is all now. I enjoyed this episode really a lot, also because of Elba's great physicality, and I think it deserves a pretty high rating. I hope the show continues as strongly as it has started. Namely among television's very finest from 2010. Not just from the UK, but worldwide. Big thumbs-up. (tt1622886)

Schachnovelle
(2021)

Really cruel movie, but frequently also really good
"Schachnovelle" is one of the defining German 2021 movies and the international title is "The Royal Game". This one basically excludes the book element because the German title also includes the form of the book this film is based on. A bit difficult to explain. Just like "Dreigroschenoper" includes "Oper". Anyway, we read the book at school, the one this is based on and I remember it was one of not too many books that I liked, maybe because I have liked chess for a long time as well, already as a child or maybe also because of other reasons. So I was a bit curious about this film and I wonder if it is a coincidence that it came out now not too long after a certain chess-based series in America made massive waves and received a gigantic amount of praise. Anyway, this movie here runs for 110 minutes and the director is Bavarian Philipp Stölzl, perhaps one of the most successful German filmmakers these days and I remember really liking his The Physician from a few years ago. So the premise, not only in terms of the book, this film is based on looked promising. And I was surely not disappointed here. But I will get to that later. One reason for the success is surely writer Eldar Grigorian and with him I am a bit surprised that he was in charge here. His body of work before this film and also his focus on direction did not make it obvious that he would be picked to pen such a huge project. However, luckily he did really well and I enjoyed the outcome quite a bit here. Also thanks to him.

Then there is the cast of course. You see the people on the poster here on imdb. The big head on the right belongs to Oliver Masucci. The cast list here on imdb is a bit confusing because it is alphabetical and not ordered by significance or screen time. He is the one and only lead in this film of course and in almost every scene from beginning to end. He has surely turned into one of Germany's most successful actors by now, especially if we are looking at domestic movies, even if from what I have seen he has also been in international television projects lately. His take as a certain someone who is back again a few years ago was a bit of his breakthrough as a lead actor and since then he has scored one interesting lead role after the next. He also won the German Film Award this year for his portrayal of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, even if he could have been nominated for this film we have here as well. He was nominated (and won) for both films at the Bavarian Film Awards I see. Also nominated for a German Film Award in the supporting category was Birgit Minichmayr. She is a bit of the epitome of the (relatively) young German supporting actress since her turn in Der Untergang. You don't see her play lead characters like she did in "Alle Anderen". I am not sure her performance here was really nomination-worthy though. I mean she was good and everything (and her voice was nice indeed) and a revelation about her character is pretty memorable, but the performance alone did not leave a huge impact on me. The main antagonist you also see on the poster. That is the character played by Albrecht Schuch. He managed the rare feat not too long ago to win both German Film Awards for male actors in one year and he played the antagonist in Berlin Alexanderplatz and plays a totally different antagonist in this film here. Even if both are ruthless and evil you can say. Then again, the films are set during completely different eras, so no surprise the characters differ a lot as well. There are other familiar faces here like Finzi (who I don't like too much), Lassgård (who I liked more) and Andreas Lust. The latter I always like, even if he was nothing but a violent brute this time and his thick Austrian accent was also impossible to understand.

Oh as I just mentioned Berlin Alexanderplatz I can also say that this film here is not a modern take on an old book, but really they stayed with the story and settings from back then. The good news is that the result is also technically a pretty good movie. This refers to all kinds or production values, no matter if we are talking costumes (the only German Film Award it won, pretty early during the ceremony, so I thought there would be more to come, but nope), sets, cinematography or make-up. Very nicely done. Also the physical transformation from Masucci's character was pretty devastating and added a lot to the depressing tone this movie delivered almost from beginning to end. It's tough to really find anything wrong with it. Honestly, at the start, I thought that it was not entirely realistic that he randomly runs into Minichmayr's character when entering the ship, but later on we find out she was never really there. Only in his imagination. She stood for his hope. We don't know what happened to her and if she is real at the very end or if he has been crazy from the very start or if it is just a consequence there of all that happened earlier when we see him in the insane asylum with the others eventually. As for the very best moments, surely the first encounter between the protagonist and the chess champion comes to mind and how the former presents his idea of not losing at least. The player there, the ship's captain I think, was initially overwhelmed too and did not take him seriously at all, but after the protagonist mentions a few names of old chess champions from the 1920s, he becomes curious and afterwards is overwhelmed. Oh yeah, said captain's change of mind from how he really wants Masucci's character to play to how he says that he should stop because otherwise he could lose more than a game of chess felt a bit abrupt to me. But I have to dig very deep here for inclusions that I did not like.

Here and there, I was even tempted to give the overall outcome 4 stars out of 5 and not just 3. But the (almost) final scene with how he really sees everybody there in his illusion with the antagonist (looking like the chess champion), his secretary, the violent Austrian, his own maid, his executed friend, his wife (I think they were married) etc. Was a bit much. It was probably like this in the book, but still. At least I did not like the way too much how it was presented here then. Really just a minor issue. The good moments are much more frequent. Take the scene in which the main antagonist finds the chess book and and also the chess pieces immediately afterwards and how he breaks one of those. You could really feel Masucci's character's pain there. They were all he had. Also his begging that the guy should not take the book from him was heartbreaking. The villain sees right through this and how this book (and the pieces) basically destroyed his plan to break the man completely to get the information he wants. He was a smart man. Here and there I felt a bit with Schuch as if I was watching Waltz in the Tarantino movie (IB) with the way he acted and the approach he gave the character. Especially the poof scene comes to mind. There, however, it was as much about Masucci how he fired back by saying he wants back to his room. It can be a prison, even if it is a nice room when there is no contact with other humans for such a long time. It was a year as we find out in the end. The protagonist has to go through other forms of torture too. Take the violence from Lust's character. Take the scene with his friend, who is shot in the head right in front of him. The Emperor of China reference there I did not totally get. There is a lot more to write about. I personally cannot really compare the book this is based on with the screenplay/movie now because it has been almost 20 years I think since I read the book, but the film is good enough. I could say "enjoyable", but that is probably the wrong word in this context. It is highly depressing and not only during scenes like those when he tries to cut his wrists and commit suicide. Slightly contradictory though because briefly before that he said that it is his knowledge (the codes) that keeps them from killing him and apparently he really wants to live.

Also look at the beginning and how the main character really does not take the situation seriously at all and thinks it will be over soon. Frequently with films, I am not too happy about intermittent flashbacks or actually flashforwards because it's not always easy to understand where/when we are right now, but here it was pretty easy to grasp, so they did well from this perspective too. It's not about the (missing) moustache, but all about the location probably. The ship was always easy to identify and so was the hotel, except maybe when he was alone in a room like when he locked himself in for a moment, but got help immediately. At the end, it also felt a bit quick and out of nowhere when he is let go and walking out of the hotel, which makes it more difficult to understand what was really going on and what was going on just in his head. They also told us early on who the hotel belonged to initially. That the Nazis stole it basically. This moment of freedom when he walks out was also pretty good, but still not as great as they intended it to be I would say. Alright, there are quite a few more scenes one could elaborate on, but I shall leave it at that now I think. This is a film you certainly wanna see. 7 out of 10 might be more accurate. Some great scenes and overall a good movie. It's also nice to see they can still turn such old books into great quality. Some great scenes (most of them devastating), overall a pretty good movie led by one or two (if we count Schuch) strong performances and if anybody doubts Masucci's talent, then there is no way he still will after seeing the outcome here. Don't think any other actor could have lifted the material to higher quality. He always reminds me a bit of Tobias Moretti, just a bit younger. "Schachnovelle" clearly gets a thumbs-up and there is certainly way more to discover here and many other interesting scenes that I did not reference in my review. (tt12058584)

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