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Official Secrets

The longer it goes the better it gets
"Official Secrets" is a British/American co-production mostly in the English language and this (already) award-winning film is the most recent directorial effort by South African BAFTA nominee Gavin Hood (Tsotsi). He is also one of the writers because he and the Goldsteins adapted the book into a screenplay of 110 minutes here. The big star at the center of it all is Keira Knightley and I like her, so I am glad her career is still heading in the right direction after her Oscar nominations really happened a long time ago already. But maybe she can sneak in for a third time with this film. Time will tell. I think she played her part really well and proved without a doubt that she is still among the best the UK has to offer in terms of actresses under the age of 40. Plus she is only 3 months younger than me, so basically my age. Here she plays Katharine Gun and before I get too much into detail explaining who Mrs. Gun is and why she did what she did, let me just say she is basically the British female equivalent to Mr. Edward Snowden. This summarizes the premise really well I would say and I will talk a bit more later on about everything that happens after she becomes a whistleblower. But as for the film, it needs to be said that you will probably recognize more faces. Matthew Goode I like as always, even if he was a bit tough to identify at times here. Former Doctor Who Matt Smith I am not really that big on, but that is just personal taste. Rhys Ifans is also easy to identify as always. And then there is Ralph Fiennes, who plays a major supporting character int he second half of the film, namely the main character's lawyer. He is a big name obviously, so he is the only one who gets scenes without Knightley's character too because he has the star potential. We see him outside with his wife in the nature and at the very end it is even him, who gets the final scene when he is fishing and talking to a man who is his friend as well as rival.

But now back to Knightley. I must admit I struggled a bit with the film early on. The introduction, so basically everyhing before her really getting the document out did not impress me too much. They were basically showing us her family, her friends and, most importantly, her political attitude and how she disagrees considerably with (then) Prime Minister Tony Blair's foreign policy. It was too much of the same I would say. And when the character is screaming at the television, it almost felt a bit too much and slightly cringeworthy and I thought about that more than about her dedication. Glad her husband saw it the same. But luckily, the film gets better and better afterwards. I could mention so many scenes and moments that had me on the edge of my seat. Be it the actual act when she prints the email. The interrogation. The moment she goes in there and confesses to help out her friend. The relationship with her husband. The moment when her husband is forced to leave the country. The legal ideas she discusses with Fiennes' character. The Scotland Yard fellows. The idea that she is not allowed to talk about her job. And finally of course the moment at court. Which is really nothing but a moment with what happens there. Now that was totally unexpected. I guess in my personal case it also helped that here in Germany, there simply wasn't as much talk about her as there was about Snowden or Assange for example, so I did not know if she would get convicted. But the actual explanation that in order to convict her, they would have to expose highly classified government documentation that could really cause a lot more harm potentially than Gun (funny this is her name) getting free. Very smart, very well done.

So mission accomplished for the filmmakers here. I enjoyed the watch and I also learnt quite a bit here and I am certainly curious too see what Gun has done since then. So don't be distracted by the sub-par beginning when it comes to this film. Keep watching. You will not regret it at all. At this point, I would say it is one of my top5 2019 movies ad maybe the best political thriller I have seen all year. Really nice that there are new developments happening constantly, so that we get films like these based on actual events. Obviously, there is a lot fictionalizing in here, but it doesn't matter. At its core, it is based on real events and characters. I would even say that i enjoyed this film as much as I enjoyed Spotlight a few years ago and as the latter won Best Picture at the Oscars, that certainly means quite something. Now, this one here will definitely not achieve the same, but I am positive it will get a great deal of awards recognition nonetheless. The subject is definitely one in terms of political contents and political spectrum that great awards bodies will eat up immediately and I am sure this film will score many many BAFTA nominations, perhaps also get in once or twice at the Oscars. I mean there are many many Brits at the Academy. As for the acting, nobody has a real chance except Knightley and it would be nice if she manages. Fiennes definitely won't. He is solid as always and the epitome of a supporting character, like really supporting the protagonist, but the material is simply not baity enough, even if he was smartly written. Oh yeah, fans of the television series Episodes will also be positively surprised here. It was kinda baffling really because I thought the scene before Tamsin Greig actually showed up that she would be a good casting decision for that other female character working for the non-profit lawyer's office. Okay, I am sure that if it wasn't like 10 hourse already almost since I watched the movie I could make a few more statements and comments on specific scenes, but there really is no need to because you will see the makers' attention to detail constantly when watching this movie. And you should definitely go for it. I highly recommend checking it out. Big thumbs-up.

Der Metzger muss nachsitzen

Pretty much one too many already
"Der Metzger muss nachsitzen" is an award-nominated German movie from 2015 and the second Metzger film that aired really immediately after the first on television. It also runs for 90 minutes and again director Andreas Herzog reunited with writer Holger Karsten Schmidt, who adapted the Thomas Raab novel for the small screen. As you can see from the title, there is a bit of school involved here. A former classmate of Metzger (Palfrader) is killed and actually Metzger finds that one surprisingly himself, but when he goes to inform the police, the corpse is suddenly gone. But it shows up again no worries. However, I must say him finding his own class mate was already slightly too much coincidence for my liking. Now just like the first it is again a film that does not take itself seriously most of the time, but something was missing here. I liked the first film more, maybe because I am just not too big on Palfrader as the lead actor for more than oen movie. I don't know. I mean he lacks charisma a bit, but that actually would have worked in favor of the story here because we constantly see flashbacks how Metzger was constantly bullied by his classmates back in the day. The class reunion idea and execution is not helping matters either and I felt it was just getting too personal and no loonger the crime film it should have been, even if the investigation is of course always an important matter. And just like in the first film, a second character dies here and it was not the same killer for both of them. Maybe one problem I had here was that Dorka Gryllus, who is basically a co-lead in the first film, is barely existent in this one. At the end, she gets a little more screen time (and she brings her dog again too), but even if she elevated the material again, it just didn't feel right. Her character felt wasted somehow and the material she had, such as also her knocking down the bad guy despite his gun, felt not particularly realistic. This is a bit of a pity because I quite like Andreas Lust and he was a good addition, so the cast was certainly there for another good film. The bad guy was also interesting enough, but yeah the first hour really did not feel too authentic and also dragged more than I wanted it to. So honestly I am not too surprised that in the almost five years now since this came out, they did not make a third film or even more and it seems it is over for good now. With the drop in quality for this one here (only the last third felt interesting and still had its flaws), I cannot say I am too angry or sad about that. Eventually, it was a bit of a close call, but this one gets a thumbs-down from me overall. The very final scene with the guy jumping down I did not like too much either. It would have fit better for the film to end on a lighter note, even if they obviously had to explain somethhing about the story still and I get that. And perhaps Palfrader's and Gryllus' character now becoming a couple as it is indicated also at the very end was not good enough for me either. So yeah, I suggest you skip this one and maybe only watch if they really make a third film at some point to be back in the story or if you really really loved the first, so you don't mind this one here getting a bit worse.

Der Metzger und der Tote im Haifischbecken

Good beginning
"Der Metzger und der Tote im Haifischbecken", which roughly means translated "The Metzger (it is his name, but the word means "butcher" and the dead person in the shark tank" is a German television movie from 2015, so this one will have its 5th anniversary next year and it was directed by Andreas Herzog (not the former football player), who is neither new to making films nor really experience. The writer here, Holger Karsten Schmidt, is definitely more experienced and he was in charge of adapting Thomas Raab's novel for the screen. The outcome is this 90-minute movie that probably feels more Austrian than German though because of lead actor Robert Palfrader, who is certainly more known in Austria than he is here in Germany. I'd say he was okay all in all, even if he is nowhere near my favorite Austrian actors out there. And while he is solid, I must also say that his female co-lead Dorka Gryllus helped matters a lot here, not just looks-wise, but also mostly to lighten things up comedy-wise. My initial idea that she may be a killer quickly vanished. Anyway, there is more than one victim here and the second dead person is found in the aforementioned shark tank. You can of course speculate a bit yourself what happened and who did it, but you don't have to. I did not really and preferred enjoying the film with all the comedy attached to it. They are really toying with the audience at times like when we have the masseur move up to her neck and talk about a little sting where you could think je injects her some poison maybe. Then again, he seems to be crushing on her or is it just fake? Actually all men seem to be crushing on her somehow, also the police guy at the crime scene. Well, is our "hero" too. If so, then he is certainly pretty good in hiding it and maybe that is the challenge she likes. Honestly I must say when he went to drink some wine in the early hours of the day instead of spending time with her and also says some nice words to his wine buddy I thought that perhaps he is even gay. Which he is not. That much I can say. Oh yeah, a dog is included here too, but luckily for once it does not die. I think in the second half, the film gets a little more serious in tone and includes less comedic references and that is why I would say that I preferred the first half. It was typical Austrian dark tongue-in-cheek comedy as I have seen it many times before that and it still doesn't feel like it is getting old or anything at all. So in the end, there is family drama and tragedy exposed which shows us the reasons and motives for the killer. The one thing that did feel a bit uncreative though was the scene how the main character was taken hostage by the killer near the end and I could have done without it. Or with a better revelation all in all anyway. At least the God-given punishment (you can really call it that looking at what happens exactly) is really dark and funny again then with the car crashing into the Jesus figure. Okay, overall this would be all. This one aired back in 2015 and immediately afterwards they showed a second crime movie starring Palfrader as Metzger. Since then, nothing new and that is alright. I think there was a decline in quality already for the second, so no need to keep going like that. But I will talk about the sequel later on, namely right away. Just not here. These first 1.5 hours geta thumbs-up from me and there were many smaller scenes that made me smile like when the woman is staring at the masseur and Metzger makes some noise on the table to get her attention, but it's never really safe to say if he wants her professional (i.e. assistant) attention or her personal (i.e. romantic). And there was also some investigating going on later on with the help of food, so this was not too good in my opinion and I can't deny this film also had occasional weaknesses. Like I really adore Johnny Cash, but his song inclusions here did not work at all with the tone of the story and specific scenes they were used for. I never really thought of giving it less or more than 3 stars out of 5. Worth seeing.

Ich heirate meine Frau

Quality-wise on par with the first
"Ich heirate meine Frau", which means "I marry my wife", is a German television film from 2007, so this one is also already way over a decade old now and it is the sequel to "Der Traum vom Süden" from 3 years earlier. Most of the actors are back again to reprise their roles. The only exception is Elke who was played by another actress in here. Hollinderbäumer is also out of the picture, which basically only leaves Wepper, von Weitershausen and Mues, who was only for seconds in the first film, so yeah I must take that back as it is basically just the two in the lead, but they are enough for this sequel to be made. And you can add to that Nadja Tiller (almost an icon here in Germany and she turned 90 this year), who plays the female protagonist's mother, as well as Peter Sattmann, another very experienced actor who plays an Arab surprisingly. Also writer Ammon and director Kabisch reunite again. So the Wallners are back from their unsuccessful journey to Spain where they intended to move and spend their retirement years in the first film, but now they are in Germany again. The mother is working out a lot at her daughter's bakery, basically running the business eventually, which does not make the daughter too happy, but this is just a side-plot. I guess you can call von Weiterhausen's character a workaholic here. On the contrary, Wepper's character is really not fulfilled at all and does not know exactly what to do with his time. That is why for the main part of the film he spends fighting for his wife (well what his character understands as fighting) when she meets a very charming customer from Saudi-Arabia who orders no less than 500 gateuas for an important wedding ceremony. And the two grow closer, so just like in the first film there is a jealousy story line and that the protagonists' marriage could be in danger because of that. But the dad does not get a love interest this time. This would have been too much then I suppose, too similar to the first. Also back are the two blonde twins who I must say I thought were really annoying with how they seem a bit like Max and Moritz. LLuckily they have never acted in a film before or after that according to imdb. Okay what else can I say about this one. I guess Tiller overall did fine with what she was given. Sadly it must be said that script-wise this film is equally weak as the first, but the cast somehow keeps it from becoming a failure. Then again if the writer-director team is made up by people whose biggest career achievements include "Das Traumschiff" and "Rote Rosen", both really trash, then that says it all. One of the worst examples of the writing in 1.5-hour film here is perhaps how the son at the very end completely out of nowhere leaves the country to move together with his new girlfriend, apparently one they did not even know before the family I mean. So that hardly makes any sense, especially as she must mean a lot to him if he considers that. There are many other slightly cringeworthy moments related to the plot in here, some related to the key story, others linked to side plots. You will know what I mean when you see them. No need to go into detail. Way too many for a 90-minute film anyway. So yeah, it was not really necessary for this sequel to be made. It may not be worse than the first, but that is just because the first was also not exactly a revelation and if I say this did not turn out worse than I expected, then you can see how low my expectations were (also given the cringeworthy title that is simply not smart at all and surely not as funny as it wants to be). You can definitely say that von Weitershausen and Wepper hold it together sort of. Especially the latter is always a welcome addition for me. I like him more than his brother. At the end, their two character renew their marriage oath, so it really is a super happy ending (not unexpected of course), certainly happier than the one in the film before that. And this sheer happiness also indicates that it is highly unlikely there will be a third film and with time passed now, it's 99.9% safe to say this is not going to be a trilogy. Good news. This one here gets a thumbs-down from me too. Not recommended.

Der Traum vom Süden

Remember how you forget your dreams so quickly? Same applies to this film.
"Der Traum vom Süden" is a German television film from 2004, so this one has its 15th anniversary this year and like most other small screen releases it runs for 15 minutes. The director here is Christine Kabisch, already a fairly prolific filmmaker back then and while nothing really stands out about her, she is also not among the worst the film has to offer. That would be the script by Katrin Ammon and it shows that according to imdb this is only her second writing effort for a movie. There is almost nothing interesting in here. Attention to detail is not existent at all either. It is neither the key story and central characters that stay in the mind here nor the minor plots. But let's take a look at the basics. We have an elderly couple, pretty well-off and successful and they decide to leave Germany and move to Granada in spain to enjoy their retirement years. The son gets the business, the daughter gets the house, so at home all is taken care of. However, in Spain things turn out far more challenging. There are crucial problems immediately like there i no water during the place where they live and that is not just because of some misfunction, but it seems to be an accepted state for a little while because it is really hot there. The neighbors accept it at least as apparently they know this happens every year once or twice. But it sure makes for a change compared to Germany here, so I can see why the duo at the center of the film is not amused at all. Add to that that their furniture just won't arrive for days because the carrier's car had a breakdown, so there they are without water and without furniture in a foreign country. They still try to make the most of it and spend a romantic night outside with candles and fresh air, but this also does not turn out as expected with mosquitoes getting in the way. And as if thes logistic challenges weren't enough already, their relationship also gets a negative tendency because their neighbors express more than just a neighborly interest in them, although they are couple too. There are two of them and while the female neighbor is not excited at all that her husband spends a lot of time with the German woman, there is no trouble for the other neighbors at all because they are leading an open marriage. Still, obviously it causes many tensions and the result of all this is finally that the female protagonist returns back hope, but the guy stays there for a while still until he realizes that there is no point without his wife because she is where he belongs. The cast is pretty decent I'd say. von Weitershausen and (especially) Elmar wepper are known here in Germany for sure. Hollinderbäumer, Schubert, Schöne, Mues and Bodenbender are actors that I as a German film buff also recognize. I guess this expertise in acting is what kept the film from becoming a total failure because honestly it does not feel particularly realistic most of the time because of the script, but yearh you cannot really blame the cast. Especially Wepper is always nice to watch and I personally prefer him over his brothers. Despite the film's struggles, however, I guess enough people watched it on television, so they made a sequel not much later. I shall get to that one in a minute. There are moments in this film here that already point at said sequel like it's not a perfect ending with the two not (yet) living together and the second film starts with the wedding between the daughter and the guy she falls for, although it needs to be said that it is a bit unrealistic. I mean either they married super fast or the parents had their own apartment for a really long time. I don't know which it is of the two, but once again credibility, realism and authenticity here were sacrificed for shallow entertainment purpose. I give this film a thumbs-down. Not recommended, even if luckily this film is not the nightmare I thought it could be.

Was machen Frauen morgens um halb vier?

Eventually nothing works out
"Was machen Frauen morgens um halb vier?", which means "What is it that women do at 4 o'clock in the morning?" is a German television movie from 2012 that runs like most other German small screen releases for 90 minutes approximately and the answer to the very clumsy title for this film is: They are working. For, as you can see from the title, the central character in this movie here is in charge of running a bakery. She is not too experienced, but when her father is rushed to the hospital for what could have been a heart attack she has to take over and keep things going. Of course, as always with these films a lot happens at the same time as if this new challenge would not be enough for her. She is dating a guy, even if not at the center of the film, there are problems with the bank and there is imminent danger that the bakery may have to close because they cannot pay the mortgage anymore etc. Luckily she gets help. The help she gets is from Muriel Baumeister's character and yeah I totally forgot the central character is played by Brigitte Hobmeier. These two are also the faces/actresses that you will maybe recognize if you have seen many German films. They are kind of known here and successful. But this does not necessarily mean they are giving good performances here. Of course, the script is not helping at all. The best example is when the two women end up arguing over nothing in a pseudo-dramatic plot twist that their close relationship could be over. There are many unrealistic moments in this film and itg is the screenplay that makes or breaks a movie and for this one here, it breaks the movie for sure. So it is kinda good news that Martina Brand has not worked on any other projects after this one here. Director Matthias Kiefersauer has been more prolific for sure and that is alright. He is among the better aspects here, but of course his camera work cannot save the writing mess. A few other examples. The dream sequences. These sheikhs entering at the end when utter desperation and hopelessness are there of course brought in by the main character's love interest. The screaming attack by the female protagonist at her love interest also close to the end. And finally the scenes "abroad" which look honestly so cheap (for once not Brand to blame) that you know immediately they are not somewhere actually in the desert. And that is like just the final 15 minutes. Everything before that does not look any better. I would like to exclude Peter Lerchbaumer though. Actually seeing him grumpy at the hospital because of the food they are serving was kinda entertaining and he was a bit of a scene stealer anyway every time the camera caught him. So atg least he is entertaining. His father-daughter story about him not having the confidence in his girl that she can manage also felt shoddy and forced. They are going for emotion here many times and the film takes itself completely seriously, which makes things even worse and is probably the main reason why it all turned out so weak. Failure territory. Big thumbs-down. Highly not recommended, although there is no denying Baumeister still looks really good for her age.

Ernest et Célestine

It's about the heart and there the film mostly delivers
"Ernest et Célestine" is a co-production between France, Belgium and Luxembourg from 2012 that is in the original in the French language (mostly) and at 80 minutes only it is not a long film by any means. This one was nominated for a Best Animated Feature Film Oscar over 5 years ago and while it received a great deal of other awards recognition, this was still a bit surprising because at other really big awards ceremonies it was not necessarily present. But not a bad choice for an Oscar nomination I'd say. I'll get to that maybe later on. At least they managed to make a story where a grown-up man becomes the best friend of a little girl not seem one bit creepy, so they definitely must have done a good job. The animation is certainly a success. You should not expect Pixar or Disney style here obviously, but instead you get a more basic approach, which still required great attention to detail. Well, what can I say. I think 75% of the time I liked both character animation as well as landscapes, houses etc. Or maybe I even loved it there. Especially in terms of the mouse protagonist I really liked it. She is so cute. I believe this film started on a bit of a high that it could not keep until the end or else I maybe would have given another 2 stars. But the scenes at the place where all the little mice are sleeping (is it an orphanage?) were just as sweet as it gets. And the old mouse who reads the stories was just a riot on at least 2 occasions. You will know what I mean when you see it. However, also true about the little mice how they aregue just like kids was really executed with precision and how it all mounts into a big pillow fight.

This was a bit of an introduction also how we see Ernest really hungry and not capable of catching the robins in his house for a meal. He is a bear after all, so no surprise he also intends to eat Célestine at first. But how he mentions her name when talking to her is already a sign that he is fond of her too. You know very well like with Thanksgiving meals, the moment you give it a name is the moment you won't eat it. So a lot that follows afterwards is the two being together then, even if initially after Célestine helps Ernest to break into the sweets store both go their own way again, but quickly they are reunited when she helps his new friend to get out of his cuffs and the police car for what he did before. This is when we find out how teeth are really a valued resource in their world. Or I should say "worlds" because basically the bears live at the top and the mice at the bottom and their paths do not really cross. Well, at least not until Célestine takes Ernest down to her world when he helps her in exchange and gets her so many teeth that she is allowed back into the society of mice after her teeth "harvest" was not really successful before that. We find out that teeth are so important there because they are the basis for being able to create extraordinary constructions for the mice. Okay, I could have done with a better explanation. Also for people who are scared of dentists, it may not be the perfect watch. But in the world of bears, there are references too. The (sort-of) main antagonist family of bears has the mother working as a dentist and the father as a sweet seller, so basically the more he sells, the better for the mother too and this is also why they do not allow their son to eat sweets because they know very well about the consequences and it is sort of an evil scheme, even if it is not referenced later on in the film in detail again. Still, the best scene involving them is probably when early on Célestine shows up at their house. They do like mice as part of stories to tell their boy and act as if it was good if they come and play tooth fairy, but when an actual mouse shows up (i.e. Célestine) then a big mess ensues and they are not happy at all about that.

So yeah, in the second half of the film, both title characters are in a big mess really and they have to flee and end up in a remote house. It almost feels like a Bonnie&Clyde film at that point in a more child-friendly version that obviously lacks romance whatsoever between the two. However, they are caught and taken to court, Ernest to a mouse court and Célestine to a bear court, so basically tables turned somehow. But there big drama happens too because a fire breaks out and both of them manage to save the judge's life and that's why their crimes are forgiven and they are granted one wish and they both say they want to be together with the other once again, so of course a happy ending here. This statement was especially funny when Célestine tells it the big bear judge and he does not understand and she says but he does live with a (female) bear too and then he says exactly that is why he does not understand. That was somewhat hilarious really, a little marriage joke that is one moment where grown-ups will also laugh. And while there is a lot of heart and soul in this film, I still think that maybe younger audiences will enjoy it more than grown-ups. But this does not mean grown-ups shouldn't watch. Not at all. It was very rewarding and I am glad I saw it. There is wonderful attention to detail and really smart and often also touching dialogue writing. Like when Célestine says multiple times that she is a castoff and nobody loves her, that felt so sad and it was sweet to see Ernest comfort her. One thing that surprised me a bit was that while there was this mention of all of Ernest's relatives being lawyers, this was not elaborated on later on despite a lot of courtroom action. Not a criticism or so, just something that comes to mind. So yeah, this film based on comic albums certainly gets a thumbs-up from me. The (surprisingly many) directors did a very good job breathing life into Ernest, Célestine and everybody else really. I am not surprised they also made a television series apparently based on the same material not too long ago. Nice success story and the Oscar nomination is nit undeserving, even if I would not say it is absolutely required either. For that the general story involving teeth at the center was perhaps not good enough. But it's really one of the very best friendship-based films of 2012 I have no doubt. So go see it. With or without your small ones. You will smile a lot here and no problem if you don't speak French. I watched the German dub and it was really good voice acting as well and I am sure same is true for your native language.

Im Weissen Rössl

Hardly a classic
"Im weissen Rössl" is a West German (even if it feels Austrian) movie from 1952, so this one is almost 70 years old now, but despite the age it is already a color film, not in black-and-white. And I think this was a pretty good choice, bescause the film's energy, esprit and music would not have worked so well on a black-and-white film. But first things first. There are many writers credited here, which is because they also list those that wrote the play and operetta. I am not sure how accurate this is, but I guess it is alright if the names are actually shown on ths screen. The one and only director is Willi Forst and this was one of his final filmmaking efforts, even if he lived on for a long time afterwards still. Same is at least partially true for lead actress Johanna Matz. Yes she acted in the 60s still in quite a few projects, but given the fact that she is still alive today, she has not exactly done a lot in the last 50 years, even if she acted in some stuff in the 2000s. But now approaching 90, she is retired and well-deserved so. The two males at the center of this one here have been more prolific. Walter Müller acted frequently until his relatively untimely death and well Johannes Heesters what is there to say about him. He is a bit of an icon, which mostly has to do with him making it to the age of 108(!) and acting in films when he was a centennarian already. The rest of the cast also includes names who were very prolific back in the day, even if probably today only German film buffs will recognize them.

There are actually really many versions of this film. "Im Weissen Rössl" is a title that many will recognize, even if most probably do not remember the exact contents of the story. Very popular pretty much to this day. The most recent version is a little over 5 years old and the oldest go back almost a century now. This one here is definitely among the more known and it is occasionally still shown on TV here in Germany, usually in the afternoon like it was today. It runs for 1.5 hours (plus a few more minutes for the credits) and tells us the story of a female innkeeper who is crushing on a doctor who is a guest at the hotel while she herself is courted by the head waiter of the establishment. So romance is at the key of it all and it involves side stories too involving characters I haven't mentioned so far and do not really intend to in detail. But I do wanna say this film once again made it obvious to me that I usually dig dark-haired girls more than blondes because honestly Matz did nothing for me, but Wischmann and Pan I found kinda cute. This could not really make up though for the weaknesses in story-telling for me here unfortunately. The jokes are rarely entertaining I must say like the old guy at the table who does not know the alternate names of the dishes on the menu and realizes he is about to order the one meal he likes the least. But I do not want to waste my (and your) time on these weaker jokes. Instead, let's focus on what I enjoyed. This would be the romance scene near the end between Pan's character and her suitor (that one seemed so gay haha, he would be in a more modern movie) and also the boy talking to the male protagonist was a bit fun too speaking as if he was 30 years older looking at the experiences he made with women. But sadly, these better moments are the exceptions. I must say I also sometimes struggled to keep Heesters and Müller apart, which made it more difficult to understand the story in detail, let alone appreciate it. It did not feel too realistic to me. I think it is quite a challenge to depict the female central character's change in mind in a credible and realistic manner that all of a sudden she likes her waiter the most after having eyes only for the doctor for the 80 minutes before that and here they certainly did not manage. First of all it felt really stupid that she would bother the Kaiser with her love struggles, especially because she was such a touch and professional womanm before that, but that she then changes her mind because what said Kaiser tells her judt did not cut the cake for me at all. A really weak elaboration on maybe the most important moment of the film. Everything else is only so-so too. No real failures here to be honest, but also no real good moments regardless if we are talking about the music (I still liked the orchestra more than the singing), the romance, the acting and everything else basically. Maybe the sets were 3 stars out of 5, but the costumes also weren't really and that is weak for a film with a subject like this. So all in all, absolitely not enough for a positive recommendation. It's a thumbs-down for me. Watch something else instead.

Sexuele voorlichting

Sweet, dreamy and, most of all, really informative
"Sexuele voorlichting" or "Puberty: Sexual Education for Boys and Girls" is a Belgian Dutch-language short film from 1991, so this one is almost 30 years old now and it was directed by Ronald Deronge and written by André Singelijn. Both have never worked on another film before or after this one here. Same is true for the two young voice actors we here for this one. I am not entirely sure if they are also the ones we see in front of the camera, but it isn't too important anyway. Also this is the only film by production company Studio Landstar films. In my opinion this lack of further activity has nothing to do with this one here potentially being a bad film. Not at all. It is really a perfect summary of key sex education in under an hour. It starts very basically as we see two babies and how their genitals look different because of which gender they are. Then the film moves on to how genitals change during puberty and how attraction to the other sex comes into affect. There are no taboos either, which is a welcome statement about a film from the early 90s. Masturbation is seen as something positive and they say that myths related to it are nonsense. And finally, the film elaborates on what happens exactly during sex and how this can result in pregnancy. Or cannot result in pregnancy if you use one of the several ways of birth control elaborated on here. It's really all you need to know in a nutshell. Oh yeah, menstruation is also part of this. I thought overall it is a pretty good work. Sometimes it actually felt really sweet like when we see that (wet) dream sequence with the mention of stars and foam/steam coming up from the ground. It's somewhat romantic even. Also when we get to the part where one (older) character is pregnant and they say when explaining how it happened biologically that the most imprtant foundation for pregnancy (and sex in general) is that the two are deeply in love. Come on guys, you cannot feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I mean okay those who have ONS on a regular basis may agree and that is perfectly fine, but I personally thought it was somewhat sweet. There are 2 or 3 other moments like these that feel just right. Annd I also liked the narration choises they made with picking young people from each of the two sexes to elaborate on what you see and not one sterile grown-up narrator for all of it. So yeah, this si certainly a success. Did not expect such a high-quality outcome, but this is one of the best short films from 1991. It is exactly the kind of movie you want your kids to see during biology (sex education) at school and I disagree with the other reviewer that there was too much awkward nudity in here. It was just completely accurate in terms of quantity given the subject I would say. If I found anything a bit awkward or baffling, then maybe the reference that girls when masturbating think of how they played doctor years ago with their friends. I am not sure how accurate this is, but then again I am a guy, so I'll just believe them that. No flaws here really. Highly recommended.

Die göttliche Sophie - Das Findelkind

The actors try their best, but it's still not a good film by any means
"Die göttliche Sophie - Das Findelkind" is a German television film from 2011, so soon this one will have its 10th anniversary or maybe it had this one already depending on when you read this review. It runs for 90 minutes like pretty much all German television films do and as you can see from the title this is a sequel to another movie about Sophie from a few years earlier. That one already had its10th anniversary I believe. Anyway, I watched it years ago and it was not a particularly good film. Neither is this one here it must be said, even if luckily they managed to avoid a further decline in quality and this one here is not a failure or so. This has mostly to do with the fact that they gave most of the screen time to Jan Fedder (Großstadtrevier) and not to Michaela May, who plays the title character Sophie. Great choice. The latter is as bland and forgettable as it gets and Fedder at least can build on making an impact through charisma and comedic talent with his Hamburger Schnauze. He had some okay moments like also at the very end when he sings "Junge komm bald wieder", a pretty nice song admittedly. And the guy who sings with them and plays another memboer of the church, the one who always struggles to cope with Fedder's character's shenanigans because the latter is also a priest, but lets say not the most traditional. As for the story, it was not fulfilling. They did get the director and writer back from the previous film, but quality-wise it does not really show. Luckily Sebastian Bezzel is on board and he is way too good for this kind of movies as he has shown us in his own comedy cop film series. Or is still showing us as new installments are being made. Anyway back to this one here. You can see from the title that there is a foundling in this film, one that appears right at the very beginning and from that moment on, it is the protagonists' task to find out who is the mother and why did she give her baby away. So there is a bit of suspense too, but it is all pretty light and comedic, never drama, even if leaving behind one's kid is a serious act. The mostg serious other than that that happens is that we find out about one character cheating on his wife. Nothing to be proud of either, but like I said it is alll handled in a light way. Even at only 90 minutes, it felt way too long and they could have cut a lot here, like kept the film at one hour pretty much without all the weaker scenes. A lot in here was forgettable, but yeah like I said films considerably shorter than 90 minutes for German television is really very very rare. Or actually, in general, not just German television. Okay that would be all then. Seems as if the series ended with this movie as a duology and that is alright because if we are really honest the forgettable moments here were far more frequent than the memorable moments. If there were any at all. Nonetheless I am glad that Fedder was on board because he elevated the material many times and given how the character was written, probably nobody else could have done a better job. That's all. Oh yeah, not completely. I definitely want to say thatg despite how cute baby kittens are, you cannot distract us from making a weak movie by showing those several times, especially at the end, so we forgot about all the mediocrity before the closing credits roll in. This is a film that is shown here and there on German afternoon television (just like it was today) and well honestly, this is the only place where it belongs. Not recommended.

Ein Geschenk des Himmels

I wanted to like it, but it was impossible
"Ein Geschenk des Himmels" is a German television movie from 2005, so this one has its 15th anniversary next year already. The director is Olaf Kreinsen who was already at that point pretty experienced and prolific and his effort here is certainly among the film's better aspects. The writer is Marcus Hertneck and his script is certainly the film's biggest weakness. This is no surprise though because the only thing he worked on before 2005 was Lindenstraße and it is not a good show by any means, even if it has a great tradition here in Germany. What is more surprising is how Hertneck was really employed many times afterwards despite how bad this one here was. I really hope he managed to step his game up. Now let's get to the film itself. The reason why people watched it and why it is shown in television like it was today is leac actor Walter Sittler. He is easy to recognize and has a lot of charisma. The rest of the cast are not well-known, not even to film buffs likke myself. One guy was in "Das Boot" and maybe you recognize him if you love that movie (which I don't), but that's it. So yeah as you can see from the title I wanted to enjoy these 1.5 hours. Sittler's charisma as well as female lead Suzan Anbeh's looks are tempting, but in the end I just couldn't and I must say it is not only a weak movie, but really a failure. The script is too much of a mess to really see anything positive in here. I could give you a million examples. I think the best example is everything related to the boy. He was not only a bad actor, but also wrotten in the most cringeworthy manner, especially with the sunglasses on at the very end. The film starts with him being bullied by two bigger students right away, so we are supposed to feel sorry for him. But we do not know him one bit at that point. Maybe they knew how garbage the character is, so they tried to create sympathy right away. There are more examples. Everything related to the biker gang is ridiculous and not in a good way. Or individual moments. Like at the very end when Sittler's character sits with the church group and nobody saw him get in. Highly unrealistic. Or of course back to the boy, the most horrible moment involving him was this God-given sign at the church and how he says afterwards now he understands. This could have worked in an animated film at best. Or when Sittler's character is at the house early on and the mother asks if he wants to sit with them and the boy would really like that to happen, but before that he was very mean towards the woman's other suitor. I did feel bad for him honestly. He was a likable guy, way too normal perhaps to be appreciate by the female protagonist and her son, but he had only good for them in mind, even if they tried theor best to depict him as an antagonist. Guess who I consider the main antagonist? The one who does not visit his old and sick mother for years, the one who runs away immediately after having sex with the beautiful girl. Oh yeah that is just his character. We have to forgive him. And after all, he days early on that his mother should have called him and he would have helped her when he comes to her house. Oh my. Okay these were some examples why this movie is a massive failure. Like I said, there are many others. You will recognize them when you see them. Like the mother beating her boy (she did on one occasion didn't she? totally not her style). Or everything linked to Sinatra. Only the most shallow will see this as a quality tribute to him, although I feel kinda bad for the actors here. They were basically let alone from that music perspective just like they were completely exposed by the screenplay. Then again, nobody forced them to accept these roles, so they do not deserve a thumbs-up by any means either. This is a film that is shown in German afternoon television here and there despite how old it is already, but seriously even for that it is too bad. Massive thumbs-down. Horrible film.

Die Alpenklinik - Notfall für Dr. Guth

Pseudo drama for the easily influenced
"Die Alpenklinik - Notfall für Dr. Guth" is a German television movie that according to imdb is from 2011, but I have read other sources say 2013. I am a bit surprised this exists anyway as an individual movie title here on imdb because it also could have been handled like the installment of a series because this is so far the most recent Alpenklinik episode. Like the others before that and most German small screen movies, it runs for 90 minutes and features Turkish/German actor Erol Sander as Dr. Guth. Kinda ironic really the name because he is pure good the way he is displayed. But at the same time they are trying to convince us he is also just a human who makes mistakes. While at the same time when something goes wrong with a patient they are trying to convince us that he still did his very best. At the same time, he receives a letter from a child with a hand-drawn picture that depicts him as a saint. At the same time he realized that when one colleague wants to leave the hospital, it is not because of her mother, but there is something else, namely that she has a brain tumor. And at the same time he has to deal with other doctors who are jealous of his position at the clinic as well as superiors who both want to burden him with a massive medical error, so that he cannot keep his position. It is pretty ridiculous. If you think that all this happens in the series, you are wrong. This is just what happens in this one episode. And there is more. Of course. At the same time, Mr. Guth has to juggle his family life too obviously. Or I should say his romantic relationship because his child (yep he is also a caring family father) is not present until the very end. I mean all this I just mentioned is only the exaggerated and highly unrealistic stuff that involves Dr. Guth. I haven't even started talking about his colleagues, even if most of their story lines are directly linked to Guth. There is of course also the young doctor who admired Dr. Guth and is not scared to say so and show it to others without being a suck-up. He is age-wise and in terms of competence not a risk to Dr. Guth, so he is fine. Actually, in terms of medical knowledge of course nobody is on the same level as our beloved hero here. Really really cringeworthy stuff. I would say the big problem with this film is that the characters lack shades, but this is only partially true. Looking at how one character has shades, namely the attractive female doctor who wants Guth's job, boy are they bad in writing characters with shades, so maybe it is good they did not try to do so with other characters. It is just a bad film from any perspective. In Germany we call it a Schmonzette or Arztschmonzette and that basically means a (medically themed) cheesy movie. So yes in the end all is fine again and this includes the rushed-in tumor operation plot. Sigh. So bad. Needless to say they also quickly shove a euthanasia statement into our faces because of course everybody working on this projectg is so progressive. Shame they aren't talented when it comes to filmmaking. Director Sämann and writer Freund have worked on more than just a few highly forgettable (gently-speaking) projects in the past and this one here seems to fit in nicely with both their bodies of work. Most cast members here are also not known to me despite being a German film buff, but Sander and Valencia I have come across and it seems unlikely they are ever getting out of this niche again. This filmis not even good enough for afternoon television, even if this is exactly where it was shown. So the best solution is obviously to not show it again ever. Good news is it seems the series ended with this project. So apparently audiences did not watch and showed them this is garbage. Highly not recommended. I mean the moment I heard that "although you're sexy when you're angry" I knew this was complete crap.

Eine halbe Ewigkeit

The title is what this film felt like
"Eine halbe Ewigkeit" (which means "half an eternity") or "Ein Herz und eine Haube" is a German television movie from 2011, which runs for 1.5 hours exactly pretty much like most German small screen movies. Director Tiefenbacher is really prolific and his writer here Volker Krappen was not too experienced when this film came out almost a decade ago (maybe more depending on when you read this review) and sadly it shows. The script is a mess at times and it rarely feels realistic. This takes place at its core at a monastery here in Germany and I believe that when this was made, the ARD series "Um Gottes Willen" was pretty popular and had millions and millions watching on a regular basis, so maybe that is why they decided to make this film that has a similar background. Froboess instead of Speidel, Habich instead of Wepper. It kinda fits. I am not too familiar with this series, but the extracts I saw I didn't like too much, so I am not surprised I did not like this film either. Kinda embarrassing to see Froboess even received awards attention. I mean she is clearly not the worstg actress in here, but even she despite all her experience has a fairly weak moment here and there, although it needs to be said that the script did not exactly help her. Or any of the other actors. The maybe worst example is the young student who wants to become a full-timer at the monastery. Oh well, she was really bad at times. Like unbearable to watch and she made the already poorly-written lines even more of a failure, also with her body language and face expressions. She is also the one who gets a story line about another character potentially being related to her and this felt all for the sake of drama too to me and never authentic. Same for the romance story at the center of the film between the two older actors I already mentioned. Their relationship is the title of the film basically because they meet again after decades and of course they fall in love now and what did not happen when they were young (at least not permanently) happens now. There is never any denying there would be a happy ending. Screw cancer, another part of the plot that felt very cheap to evoke emotion only in the pretty simple-minded. Kinda shameful to handle a serious subject like this in such a shoddy manner. They really rushed in all they could to evoke any kind of emotion from the audience and it would have been enough for a 6-partg 9-hour mini series. Oh well, I guess I am glad I only had to sit through this for an hour and a half. The characters also all lack shades completely it must be said. Either completely good or bad. At least that is what they were trying to sell us in terms of Lambert Hamel. He was sort of the main antagonist, or at leastg they wanted us to see him like that. I personally felt sorry for him. He loved the female protagonist for decades (God knows why) and is eventually pushed away from her for hardly any reason. He is the kind of actor by the way whose face you recognize immediately, but the name not so much. So here it is again: Lambert Hamel. He was good, certainly too good for his character, and I almost found myself cheering for him. Oh sorry, I am supposed to hate him right? Thanks, but no thanks. This film was a big mess that lacked realism from beginning to end. Plus acting chops. But most of all a good screenplay. When was the last time you were heading to a pharmacy and the pharmacist at the counter tells you about another guy's illness. Not even doctors are allowed to do that. Come on. But yeah, then the dramatic music plays and we are supposed to feel bad for Habich's character because the secret is out right? I know I didn't. I felt nothing for this film at all. Except surprise why it was made. Massive thumbs-down.

Pulp Fiction

Occasionally great, overall a genuinely entertaining movie
"Pulp Fiction" is an American film from 1994, so this one has its 25th anniversary this year and the director here is of course Mr. Quentin Tarantino, who made this film around the age of 30 and it was his 3rd filmmaking effort already, although most people have not really heard of his first work and only know Reservoir Dogs from his very early years. Anyway, this one here is the one that not only brought him a Palme d'Or, but also introoduced him to and kept him at the Oscars for years, no decades to come. Until this day, in fact. So lets take a look at what is most memorable about Pulp Fiction. I think last night was maybe the third time I watched this movie and the first time at a theater. It's a really long film at over 2.5 hours, but it does feel shorter for sure and that is almost a given as this film is still in the imdb top10 hightest-rated movies, currently at #8, but it was even top5 a few years ago I think. Anyway, by now it's been rated by 1.7 million voters. Enough said about the movie's popularity. So many have seen it. As for the film's success with awards bodies, I already mentioned something, but it also needs to be said that Tarantino won a Screenplay Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA for his writing and that is of course a huge trifecta achievement and he was really young back then, so truly nice that he certainly delivered in the decades afterwards. I cannot really think of one filmmaker these days around the age of 30 with such a bold unique approach to filmmaking. You can really see in almost every scene how big of a film nerd Tarantino is. And his cast here profited a lot from that too. Travolta got an Oscar nomination. He deserved it. Uma Thurman did too and I am not so sure about her. Love her in Kill Bill and recent films where she is a scene stealer with very little screen time when working with Lars von Trier, but I don't know if her performance here is really good enough for a nomination, even if I am quite fond of her in general. And then there is Samuel L. Jackson of course. Everybody who knows him (only) as Nick Fury needs to see his works with Tarantino. He is so good in here, such a memorable character, easily the best from the film. And he worked a lot with Q afterwards too. His turn in the Foxx/DiCaprio/Waltz western is also magnificent. But back to this one here: I would say basically the first scene when he and Travolta enter the apartment is when the film is at its best. Judging from this one only, I would have given 4 stars out of 5 and said it is one of my favorite films of the year, but sadly it does not stay that great when we have the Butch scenes (even if also for Willis, it is a contender for career-best) and also the long sequence with Travolta and Thurman and also the final scene at the restaurant again with SLJ.

Now I would like to speak about a few very specific scenes and moments and, in general, inclusions that stayed in my mind here. First of all, the restaurant with all these waiters in costume was amazing. I totally wanna go there. Did not even recognize Buscemi as Buddy Holly, even if I knew he worked with Q in Reservoir Dogs. Another great actor. Same for Harvey Keitel, even if he is not one of my favorites like Buscemi. Still Mr. Wolf is such an icon. When SLJ's character hears Marsellus is sending the Wolf, it is so hilarious. We know immediately that dude is a respectable fella who knows exactly what he is doing. I'd be happy to have Mr. Wolf bark orders at me and he also would have deserved his own film. I think he had a little cameo in another Tarantino work. This character has aged really well, just like the film as a whole. Then the food: The Kahuna Burger even makes me as a vegetarian immediately wanna take a bite. And that milkshake at the restaurant! Totally worth it. Kinda hilarious by today's standards how five bucks is a lot of money for a milkshake back then. But boy is it worth it. Even Vincent agrees. Speaking of Vincent, there is a lot I can say about him. Not just his funny posture at the Wallace residence that has been used for many memes, but also for example how keeping stuff secret when everybody goes their own way is something that occurs twice after somewhat memorable events during which characters are in life-threatening situations. You will know what I mean when you see the scenes. But an act of courage and integrity by one character (even if it is indirectly also about saving one's own life in both scenarios) saves the other person too. As for Tarantino: He once again also acts in here just like he did in some of his movies, also the much later one with Waltz, SLJ and Leo I mentioned earlier. There his inclusion is probably even more fun than here. But I still loved how he makes fun of himself directing in this one we got here during the water splashing scene near the end when he is basically directing Keitel in-character. Hilarious moment. Coincidence is also a big factor in this film we have here. What if... can be asked on so many occasions. What if the girl (the stunning Maria de Medeiros) had not forgotten the ring? Vega would not have been killed and actually this really put major emphasis on SLJ's character's decision. Had he not retired, could he have been there too, killed Butch and saved Vega? What if Vega had not left the gun in the room? What if Butch had never run into Marsellus when driving back to his girl. What if all these bullets had not missed the two during the apartment? What if Vega had not accidentally killed the boy in the car. No Tarantino and Keitel in this film then. And they would not have ended at the restaurant where in the end the circle really closes and even if I do prefer chronological films most of the time, there is no denying the lack of chronology here works very well. For example we see Vega knowing he is going to die later on. Charming moment also between Willis and Travolta when they meet for the first time.

Okay, now one aspect and recurring joke I want to talk a bit about too.: Vincent Vega's toilet breaks. Every time he takes a bathroom break, catastrophe ensues outside really. Be it Mia ODing, the guys at the restaurant launching their robbery or Butch entering the apartment making toast for himself. Or indirectly also the guy at the apartment who storms outside. Okay this is not Vega taking a toilet break, but still the bathroom is really an aspect there too. This really shows you the bizarre humor Tarantino includes in his movies all the time. Kinda symbolic how toilets are significant here. And Vega apparently also does not have the best bladder or bowel movement with hof often he goes. He even asks for a toilet break at his dealer's apartment after they reached an agreement. Hilarious stuff. There are many other scenes about which you will laugh. Like for example when we see Marsellus with heavy injuries from the accident "walk" towards Butch in order to kill him and he walks like a zombie basically firing left and right. Or the toast moment I just mentioned giving us a parallel on what/who is finished that very moment. Or also the anecdote told by Walken's character about the gold watch. I mean it is meaningful, even historically meaningful in a sense, but at the same time it is also a reference on a guy hiding a watch for years in his butthole. It's kinda gross humor, but never childish fart humor or something like that. There is so much creativity and even intellect to it that it is a really great achievement and I am happy Tarantino received all this awards recognition for his work here. By the way, it is also a rare occurence that he is not the only one credited with the script. Finally, still one minor scene that stayed in the head for me, namely how they say when they enter the apartment (where a familiar face from NCIS is in btw.) they should have brought bigger guns because there are many thugs inside (also referenced later when there was one more than they expected, so Q even delivered in terms of mathematics) and with how Vega actually brought a big gun for one enemy (i.e. for a big gun) to Butch's apartment, but it wasn't enough, so taking care of your gun and situation is eventually more important than what kind of firearm(s) you bring. And the (non-chronological) ending scene is also memorable not just again for Jackson (even if I prefer him laying actual gun vengeance on people), but also because it is pretty much the only scene and sequence in which nobody is injured and people leave the restaurant all safe and sound, despite all the potential violence that could have happened in this scene, which also shows again that SLJ's character has sort of found his path to God. And there is no bloodshed. This would be all for my review then. I am a bit sad the film did not stay as strong as it started, but it is still a big fun ride and I recommend checking it out to everybody, even if it is not one of my favorites from Tarantino. SLJ's portrayal alone makes it worth watching I think and if you are one of the 3 or 4 on this planet who haven't seen it yet, then totally go for it or I will lay my vengeance upon you! Thumbs up.

1918 Aufstand der Matrosen

Okay documentary with some better, some weaker aspects
The award-nominated "1918 Aufstand der Matrosen" (roughly means "1918 Revolt of the Sailors"), also known as "Novembersturm", is a German documentary film from 2018, so this one is only slightly over a year old now and it was written and directed by Jens Becker. Only days after its original airing, it was also shown as part of the television series (i.e. as an episode) "Unsere Geschichte" (Our History). The contents were exactly the same with the exception that for the latter you could read the letters of the series on the bottom left. So much for the basics. For Becker, it is still his most recent filmmaking effort (according to imdb) and looking at everything he did before that I would say the subject suits him well. He is pretty experienced. The outcome is accordingly. I enjoyed the watch of these slightly under 90 minutes overall. The best thing for me was probably the really old original footage. I mean this was over a century ago now, pretty much 100th anniversary when they made it, which perhaps explains the occasion. But it was pretty special to see the people back then and the historic recordings. The interviews were okay too overall, for me they would come in second I'd say. And with that I mean interviews with people commenting on what happened back then. It surprised me a bit to see Sahra Wagenknecht there. But she won me over with what she said on the subject and it felt as good as what most historians would say. I read recently that she was leading polls in terms of how popular politicians here in Germany are and I can see why, especially with her moving further away from Die Linke. Anyway, her political left-wing orientation is probably the key reason why she is in here as well because forces on the politically left scale back then also made a major impact in shaping the final days of World War I, also far away from the actual military action. I will not say anything further about the other interviewees. They aren't that famous, but what they contributed was fine as well. Next up, I would say quality-wise are the reenactments. They were decent. Most of the actors are pretty good and if you have seen German films, you could have come across them in other projects too. Most likely this is the case for Confurius and Wöhler I suppose. I guess they decided to include these fictitious sequences for entertainment purposes mostly and for elaborating more vividly on certain events other than just people talking about what happened. The only thing I did not really like were these scripted interviews with characters from back then. They felt really wooden and the only explanation I can give is that the actors also performed in a way where they clearly weren't made for a life in front of the camera and did not know what this film technology was about back then. But I feel that is just grasping at straws and not what they had in mind. They should have done without these. Nina Petri also did not really convince me as the narrator, even if she wasn't horrible. Luckily she is not constantly talking. Overall, it was a pretty good documentary (this was the dominant part for me) that is informative about a subject that really has not been elaborated on too frequently in detail in the past, not even here in Germany, where focus is most of the time still on 1933-1945. And if it is about the years before that from the 20th century, it is mostly about World War I, but not necessarily about conflicts inside Germany during that time, even if this one here made huge waves looking the impact it had on the emperor. So it is good this was made and you should check it out unless you really don't care about the subject. I give it a thumbs-up and positive recommendation. Certainly worth seeing.

Unsere Geschichte: 1918: Aufstand der Matrosen
Episode 122, Season 1

Okay documentary with some better, some weaker aspects
The award-nominated "1918 Aufstand der Matrosen" (roughly means "1918 Revolt of the Sailors"), also known as "Novembersturm", is a German documentary film from 2018, so this one is only slightly over a year old now and it was written and directed by Jens Becker. Only days after its original airing, it was also shown as part of the television series (i.e. as an episode) "Unsere Geschichte" (Our History). The contents were exactly the same with the exception that for the latter you could read the letters of the series on the bottom left. So much for the basics. For Becker, it is still his most recent filmmaking effort (according to imdb) and looking at everything he did before that I would say the subject suits him well. He is pretty experienced. The outcome is accordingly. I enjoyed the watch of these slightly under 90 minutes overall. The best thing for me was probably the really old original footage. I mean this was over a century ago now, pretty much 100th anniversary when they made it, which perhaps explains the occasion. But it was pretty special to see the people back then and the historic recordings. The interviews were okay too overall, for me they would come in second I'd say. And with that I mean interviews with people commenting on what happened back then. It surprised me a bit to see Sahra Wagenknecht there. But she won me over with what she said on the subject and it felt as good as what most historians would say. I read recently that she was leading polls in terms of how popular politicians here in Germany are and I can see why, especially with her moving further away from Die Linke. Anyway, her political left-wing orientation is probably the key reason why she is in here as well because forces on the politically left scale back then also made a major impact in shaping the final days of World War I, also far away from the actual military action. I will not say anything further about the other interviewees. They aren't that famous, but what they contributed was fine as well. Next up, I would say quality-wise are the reenactments. They were decent. Most of the actors are pretty good and if you have seen German films, you could have come across them in other projects too. Most likely this is the case for Confurius and Wöhler I suppose. I guess they decided to include these fictitious sequences for entertainment purposes mostly and for elaborating more vividly on certain events other than just people talking about what happened. The only thing I did not really like were these scripted interviews with characters from back then. They felt really wooden and the only explanation I can give is that the actors also performed in a way where they clearly weren't made for a life in front of the camera and did not know what this film technology was about back then. But I feel that is just grasping at straws and not what they had in mind. They should have done without these. Nina Petri also did not really convince me as the narrator, even if she wasn't horrible. Luckily she is not constantly talking. Overall, it was a pretty good documentary (this was the dominant part for me) that is informative about a subject that really has not been elaborated on too frequently in detail in the past, not even here in Germany, where focus is most of the time still on 1933-1945. And if it is about the years before that from the 20th century, it is mostly about World War I, but not necessarily about conflicts inside Germany during that time, even if this one here made huge waves looking the impact it had on the emperor. So it is good this was made and you should check it out unless you really don't care about the subject. I give it a thumbs-up and positive recommendation. Certainly worth seeing.

Meine Tochter und der Millionär

Funny at times, but eventually just too absurd
"Meine Tochter und der Millionär" is a German television movie from 2009, so this one has its 10th anniversary this year and like the vast majority of German small screen releases it runs for 1.5 hours approximately, slightly under in fact. I won't go too much into detail about director Meyer and writers Limmer and Uhlenbruch because they have not worked on anything really famous, but still while they were very prolific with television projects, you also find the occasional big screen release in their bodies of work. Now back to this one here: You could say that in the widest sense it is a Romeo and Juliet story line, even if the families are not really enemies or so, but they come from different circles of society when it comes to the financial background. The man's family is really rich, the girl's not so much. Her dad is working as a garbageman and there are many references about that throughout the film, also because it starts with him at work and we see that on several occasions too that he is in his car, frequently with other people. There are also some references about class conflict, but really it's so on a level where you never take it seriously from a dramatic perspective, which is alright because this film never wants to be. At least that was how I felt. So it is way more about the comedy and, to a lesser extent, the romance as well. His father carries a very big name. We don't find out too much else about him really and lets be honest the material the actor was given here was not exactly challenging. But I still liked him because Ulrich Noethen is just always good. I don't like Jan Fedder that much, but he is fine too I guess. Television is just more his thingey, so no surprise that he got the bigger role here and not Noethen. The rest of the cast are solid too I suppose, all of them really established actors here in Germany and maybe if you are into German films, you will recognize some of their faces. But sadly, they cannot really make the script work here either. I did not like Güldenberg especially anyway. He felt like an even less talented Martin Freeman and that scene early on when he cites the paragraph on labor law was utter cringe, admittedly not just him, but also how the scene was written, also with the phone call before that.

Sometimes the film delivers through its charm and also the uniqueness of some of the characters, but the big picture in terms of story just isn't good from the screenplay perspective. I could ignore it for the most part because slightly unrealistic moments like the wedding announcement early on were made up for by better sequences like the football parallel, even if maybe that he was a HSV player was a bit too much too, but at least they werfe not going for the obvious like St. Pauli or when they pick the two representants that they pick Fedder's character immediately or so. However, the one thing I cannot forgive them for was the ending, or lets say the last 10-15 minutes that has the millionaire('s son) marry a woman from a rich Spanish family out of nowhere. This really went against everything from before that. the man would never agree. His parents are not heartless individuals and it seemed they would agree to the wedding with the not-so-rich girl. And then they do that. Now that was really totally pointless and unrealistic creating some pseudo drama although of course we knew he would pick the "right one" eventually right from the altar. And as the Spanish girl was not too into the guy either, she is happy too with being left there unmarried and everybody is basically happy. The garbage truck sequence with the loud singing was also a bit for the simple-minded it felt to me. So yeah, overall the negative is a bit more frequent than the positive here and I must give this film a thumbs-down, even if there are good moments like the comedy or also several Hamburg references. How fitting to see this film today given the fact that I was there yesterday watching the Lion King musical. Anyway, lets not drift apart. Only watch this one if you really like Fedder or maybe if you are really into Hamburg and goofball romantic comdies. It's not a failure where I would say everybody should skip it. Quality-wise pretty much what you could expect from the not so great title. But also not good enough for a positive recommendation. Maybe it would have, had they not messed up this much at the end.

Das singende, klingende Bäumchen

I like this modern take
"Das singende, klingende Bäumchen" is a German fantasy film from 2016, so noth really new, but also not old at all and this is the modern version of the old DEFA movie with the same title. So this is of course based on another Brothers Grimm fairytale and ARD and ZDF (and their many smaller copycats) have been producing modern versions of old fairytale for many years now and this is one of the more recent. Most of the time, they run for exactly an hour and this is also true for this one here. The running time stated on is incorrect, maybe something got mixed up with the old version, but there is only one one-hour version of this television film. No director's cuts or anything. Director is Wolfgang Eissler and he has worked on several of these new fairytale movies and same is true for his writer Gabriele Kreis. Actually they have also worked together on many occasions, mostly for the long-running German children's hit show Löwenzahn. Everybody knows it here and their late host Peter Lustig. But now back to this one here: We got the usual: A princess, a suitor who has to go through quite a bit to win her heart, a king, some people working at the royal court and of course a main antagonist. The latter is a gnome here that has magical powers and reminded me slightly of Rumpelstiltskin, even if initially it is not even safe to say he is really a bad guy. I mean he did not force anybody into any contract and the fact thatg animals and flowers are living creatures too is totally correct. But yeah at the end, it does get obvious because he is clearly abusing his powers for evil. Maybe not the very best choice because like I said earlier he seemed to be a man of integrity and honestly looking at how he is mocked by the prince, the latter is far from likable as well. Same is true for the vain princess. Both of them are really turning to the good side after being pretty nasty individuals early on. And the fact that they turn into these nasty creatures visually through magic in the middle of the film emphasizes this. They need to look and really sound the way they are in order to see their mistakes and let goodness into their hearts. And at the same time the gnome transforms into evil. Well, he sort of was evil all the time, but didn't really show it. As for the cast here, it is pretty impressive for sure. Perfect example of how also big name actors enjoyed appearing on these fairy tale movies and there are many other examples, even if they do not have a lot of screen time at all. Here of course, you will recognize Heinz Hoenig immediately and for him it is true too with just playing a supporting character. Steffi Kühnert comes to mind as well and her role is even smaller. Or Bodenstein whho got out of retirement for this and basically everybody else here is pretty experienced, also the young actors. A tremendous cast if put into perspective. Maybe not a tremendous film overall, but still a pretty good one and I don't think it is consideraly worse than the old version. If it is worse at all. If you like fairytale films, then go check this one out. Another example how it was a good decision to remake all these old fairytale movies, even those that do not immediately come to mind as the Brothers Grimm's most famous. Thumbs up.

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love

I am a huge Leonard Cohen fan and I loved it for the most part
"Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love" is an American mostly English-language documentary from 2019 and in the title you can already read that the focus here is mostly on Canadian singer Leonard Cohen. But first things first: The director is London-born Nick Broomfield and looking at his body of work and how it was appreciated here on imdb, it seems to me that well I do not want to say there is a circle of haters, but definitely a large group of people, who apparently are not too fond of his style and approach to filmmaking. i do not exactly know what their problem is. Or if I even second this idea because I just haven't seen enough from him. But I heard about the Whitney Houston documentary from not too long ago for sure. I think Broomfield has a tendency to be a part of his films more than other documentary filmmakers, sometimes only as narrator, sometimes even in front of the camera. Anyway, here we also hear him partially narrate and his voice has great recognition value and sticks out and you know it is him. Which may not be too perfect for the subject if it takes attention away there, but it is also not a bad voice by any means, so for me it wasn't a problem here, especially because we also have many other narrators. And this also includes audio recordings from the two in the title. Or just people who had a (close) connection to either Leonard or Marianne.

Now lets focus on the contents of the film. First, however, I want to say a few words about myself. I really adore Leonard Cohen's music and he is one of my top3 favorite musicians ever. Saw him live several times here in Berlin and I am so happy I got the chance to do so. So I was of course very curious about these approximately 100 minutes. And I would say they got better and better the longer they go. The first half/hour is okay, nothing too outstanding, but interesting nonetheless and easy to appreciate for a Cohen fan like myself. I also liked that I still learned many new things about him in here. For example I had no idea drugs (LSD) were such a common occurence for him that he permanently took them. Or also how much of a womanizer he was as we find out through the anecdote how the next woman was already waiting when one left his company. And a lot more than was new to me despite how much I know about him. For example the video where he is about to discontinue the concert because he wasn't feeling it and tells the audience I have seen on Youtube before too, but I did not know that he shaved his beard during the break he took before continuing. Now that was extraordinary. So much for Leonard right now. A few words on Marianne of course too. You hopefully know the song he recorded for her and if not, then you definitely should check it out. We find out a lot about the relationship between the two and how she impacted Cohen's life during his days on Hydra mostly. We hear about how she is joking that the song is not about her or we also hear how Hydra can be a really difficult place for many, which for example also includes her son who led a very troubling life altogether or this family of artists who all died quickly after leaving Hydra. Kinda shocking stuff. So the film is not only about the relationship between the two in the title, but all the rest we find out also has directly to do with them really.

So yeah at the end it is just super touching and personal for me and my eyes got wet pretty quickly when I heard him say at the microphone in London that he has not been there for a while. Or also when we find out how Marianne got tickets in the front row for Leonard's concert in Oslo. Or of course everything really about the letter. I will definitely not go into detail here because I really don't want to spoiler anything, but I found it incredibly moving and I also like how they lead us there by mentioning said letter at the very beginning of the documentary, so eventually the circle closes here. It is very tough for me to find anything I did not like about the film as I think it was competently executed from beginning to end and is really informative and also delivers in terms of heart how I explained earlier. I have to dig deep. Maybe one thing is how Suzanne is included, which I found a bit disrespectful the way they describe her, but maybe that is just me. I mean Leonard still has love for his agent who cost him millions of dollars, so I am sure he would not be too happy about the depreciatory way how we find out about Suzanne. Or actually find out almost nothing about her. This could have been handled better. Or just exclude her completely, but in the end, she is vaguely in the same spot like Marianne Ihlen, namely a woman who had a big enough impact on Cohen's life to write a song about her. Anyway, back to the agent I just mentioned. Even with what she did, I guess Leonard Cohen fans can be happy she lost him all that money because otherwise he never would have gone on tour again and it seemed as if he really liked it. I know he made me happy and otherwise I never would have seen him live, which would have been super sad for me. Oh yeah, another aspect: The monastery life for Cohen is also something I was not aware of. Or how really Leonard died only months after Marianne. May they rest in peace both of them and their legacy will be with me forever. Thank you for the music. A top movie for me, so I give it a perfect rating, but also for non-Cohen fans it is a good watch I think. Maybe the great use of music that still gets me goosebumps will turn them into fans, so maybe from a really neutral perspective 4 stars out of 5 is accurate. In any case, a huge recommendation from me here. Thanks for making this movie Mr. Broomfield and getting Mr. Cohen back into all our lives. His art makes me happy.

Madame de...

Kinda fun early on, but does not stay that strong
"Madame de..." is a French/Italian co-production from 1953 that is mostly in the French language too and this one is already over 65 years old now. This was directed by German filmmaker Max Ophüls and definitely a late career effort from him. He was 50 when he made this, but his untimely death happened less than five years later. Today Ophüls is sadly almost forgotten by non cinema buffs here in Germany, which is a bit of a pity, but also nice that theaters are showing his films from time to time again like this one here so people remember him. And there is of course this festival named after him. But now let's be a bit more specific and take a look at his work here. He is also one of the many writers who adapted the novel for the screen. The result was an Oscar nomination for the costume design, where (as always) Edith Head won the category back then. But the nomination is okay too. It is definitely not undeserving, the costumes here are really nice for both men and women and I could only imagine how they would be even better if this was a color film. But it is not and that is alright. I find it a bit strange, however, that this is classified here on imdb as a drama (and romance), because I thought there was a lot of comedy in here, most of it pretty dark. Just take a look at the ending. This is the best example. And I mean even the title is a comedic connection to (at least) 2 occasions when we hear the central character's name being cut off after the "de". One would be because the carriage is moving away. The other would be because an assistant does not care about aristocratic heritage.

I would say this film is at its very best early on. Basically the first 30 minutes or so until the moment when the husband gives the earrings to the woman on the train. That was really entertaining I would say and I laughed a lot about several scenes, also some really short moments like when the husband is looking for the jewellery at the theater and we see one man raising his head and making a sound to indicate that he wants silence. Now that was quite funny. And there were many moments like these early on. Maybe the fact that I liked it so much also had to do with Charles Boyer, a 4-time Oscar nominee at that point and Honorary Oscar winner. He was really really a lot of fun and spot-on with his mannerisms, body language and face expressions. I thought he was much better than Vittorio De Sico who really did almost nothing for me unfortunately and his frequent presence in the second half did not exactly help the movie from my subjective perspective. As for Danielle Darrieux, she was good. Somewhere in-between the two guys in terms of how much I liked the performance. But overall, she does a decent job as lead actress here and she is the only female with major screen time, so overall a respectable turn from her. Actually she only died a little over 2 years ago at the ancient age of 100. Just a random snippet of information. But yeah, I thought that after she was also pretty good in the first half hour of the film, then the following 70 minutes of this 100-minute film, she was not at her best. Again, I would say it was a comedy to see the earrings move from one character to the next in a pretty hilarious fashion. The guy who gets them and sells them back to the husband early on was pretty hilarious too as a running gag. Well done. However, it does get a bit chaotic later on. You must be 100% awake, 0% sleepy to really follow up on everything that happens to the earrings and every character to completely understand what was going on. I must say sometimes I did not and once you're out of the loop, it is even more difficult to find appealing features in here. And I felt this was also true for many others in the audience. So I would say the first first half gets an 8 and maybe everything afterwards a 5 out of 10, the pretty showy ending then a 6 perhaps. You could say that the apparent death of two major characters eventually contributes to this being considered a drama and the "I don't love you" quote add to the romance genre, but still you should make up your mind yourself if you like this film for its more serious or lighter moments. For me it was the latter. Thumbs-up all inall, but the rating here is still way too high. This great it was not unfortunately, just one of the better (not best) films of 1953.

Wie heiratet man einen König

Nothing extraordinary, but okay watch if you like fairytale films
"Wie heiratet man einen König", which means vaguely "How to Marry a King", is an East German movie from 1969, so this one has its 50th anniversary this year already. The film is in color and was written and directed by Rainer Simon, who was quite young back then when he made this and is still alive today, but also probably nowhere near as famous as his co-writer Günter Kaltofen, who worked on many of these fairytale films from the GDR. So now you know what genre to expect here and this means of course that it is a DEFA film and at approximately 75 minutes not a long one, but it is not unusual. Some of these fairytale films are rather short. Like not really short, but under 90 minutes I mean with that. As for the cast, there are two familiar names that are still alive today, even if they only play minor supporting characters. You can recognize them by the fact that they have a photo in their profile. I am talking about Gudrun Ritter and Winfried Glatzeder. Aside from them, nothing clicks. Lead actress Cox Habbema sadly is not alive anymore either, which also has to do with the fact that she was not as young as other leads in DEFA fairytale movies, but in her mid-20s already, even if this is obviously also still young. What surprises me even more is that she is Dutch, so I have no idea how a Dutch actress ended up in this East German movie. Most likely, there is an interesting background story to that.

Anyway, as for the film itself, it has ups and downs. I thought it started pretty nicely until basically the donkey cabin riddle and afterwards it did get a bit boring at times and also had lengths, perhaps because they included too many characters or so. I am not sure, but the flow wasn't that much there anymore then. And it needed a pretty long time until it returned from my subjective perspective. Nonetheless I think it is a good watch because this film is never on failure territory and pretty entertaining at times for sure. And costumes and sets are of course always top-notch in DEFA fairytale films. This shall not be ignored here either. They add some nice tradition and charme for sure. The performances weren't too bad either and kinda funny in how they turned out to be over the top here and there. And the music of course was pretty good. So I forgive them for some of the lengths here. Like many other Brothers Grimm adaptations, this one here (based on "Die kluge Bauerntochter", which was also the working title) succeeds for the most part. It is not one of their most known works and I have not read it (or it's been far too long to remember), so I cannot go into detail about differences between the film and tale (except the title), but rating the film as a standalone creative achievement, I give it a thumbs-up and positive recommendation. Certainly worth checking out.

Die Fischerin

Tolerable family drama that misses right the marks way too often
"Die Fischerin" or "The Fisherwoman" is a German television film from 2014, so this one has its 5th anniversary this year. The director is Jan Ruzicka and he is a really experienced filmmaker, which is probably why direction-wise there is not too much wrong with these 90 minutes. However, the script has many flaws and you can call it a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth because there are 3 (female) writers in here and they really messed up on some occasions despite being no rookies at all, even if they are also not as experienced as Ruzicka. But their gender is not a big surprise because the one and only central character here is also a woman. This one is played by Alwara Höfels, kinda known here in Germany and she has been in some big films, even if only playing minor characters. But here she is in the lead and she does an okay job I would say. Nothing outstanding, nothing bad either. And she looks more stunning than I remembered. The only performance she ever won an award for according to imdb. But lets not go into detail there any further. Instead, it can be said that Max von Thun especially, but alsok Golo Euler, who play her love interests, are character German film buffs have certainly come across in other movies. Or of course Rüdiger Vogler thanks to his several collaborations with Wim Wenders and here he plays the title character's father. So it is somewhat fitting that there is a crucial father-daughter story line that involves her brother's death years ago. It is okay, probably among the better aspects of the film thanks to Vogler's expertise. The idea of how they got it in with the heart attack scare that was obviously just a collapse from exhaustion because Vogler would be very present the rest of the film.

About the love relationship struggles, I cannot say too much positive honestly. I could have done without them entirely and they simply should have skipped the story line of Euler's character. Or only included him as the father to the boy and that is enough. It is not the problem how he is acting, even if it not helping either. The damage was done by the screenplay here. It just rings false that she starts kissing him, almost ends up in bed with him despite her boyfriend at home. Did not fit the character somehow and if this is the writers' take on how the character is flawed (yet likable) and struggles emotionally, then they should stay away from writing in the future. Very shallow, very superficial and barely no attention to detail. There are more moments when things went really wrong. The boyfriend's call the very moment when she is about to kiss the other guy is truly cringeworthy. The two playfully fighting with these big rods later on is utter cringe as well. Or away from this part of the story, the scenes when the father and his grandson go missing and their boat is found. Come on. Pseudo drama at its worse. We always knew nothing happened and it feels so much for the sake of it that it was a bit unbearable. So the longer the film went, the more they were messing things up. The father perhaps moving out at the end also feels rushed in for such a crucial decision and character writing just wasn't there on a sufficient level, if defining a character by saying he got grumpy after his wife died is all they have to offer here. And sadly it is. Kinda difficult to find many positive aspects here. The ending shot was kinda nice and the song played with it as well. Overall though, the negative was just more frequent or lets say worse than the positive was good if you know what I mean with that. I also found it a bit disappointing visually looking at where the film takes place. They sure could have done more with the landscapes there. So this is a film that only runs in the afternoon program here in Germany and this is sort of where it belongs. Thumbs-down. Not recommended.

Versicherungsvertreter - Die erstaunliche Karriere des Mehmet Göker

Pretty smart filmmaking approach, but the subject just overshadows everything
"Versicherungsvertreter - Die erstaunliche Karriere des Mehmet Göker" is a fairly long title for this not very long documentary movie from 2011, so this one is almost a decade old now already. It is perhaps the most known filmmaking effort until now by writer and director Klaus Stern, whon you also hear in this one when the man it is about talks to him near the end. You can see Göker on the photo here and this picture is kinda telling enough for sure. There was never any intention to make Göker look good. And Stern does not even have to put in a lot of effort for that because Göker is so unlikable, loud and obnoxious that he basically does it all by himself already with his mere presence every time you see him on the screen and he probably has over an hour screen time. The rest goes to Göker's colleagues and employees, some of them former employees actually and what they have to say about their former boss is not really too nice either. But it feels realistic and accurate as much as I can be a judge of that. decadence, boastfulness and just an exaggerated approch to hyperactivity were a constant accomplice for everybody in this company it seems. And of coruse, the one thing that should totally not be forgotten is the money component. It is all about money. Nothing else. It is really ridiculous how Göker says on one occasion profit is not crucial or something like that and the irony is priceless or how he says he is no longer a slave to money. I am not buying it at all. No pun intended.

I guess the only reason why I did not see this as a total failure is because in terms of the basics of documentary filmmaking, this was not a bad approach and even if the man at the center of it all does not deserve a film made about him at all, this should not be neglected. How unlikable the man is, it is still not a bad documentary. And Göker surely likes being in the spotlight here. He likes it enough for a second film made (again by Stern) four years later, but I wonder what it is about because at the end of this one here Göker is in Turkey and head of a small company after German authorities closed his business because of apparently illegal activities. I am not sure how many court decisions happened, at least Göker is not in jail. Like his idol you could say because it is pretty fitting that he wears a jersey of football club Bayern Munich on several occasions as they were presided until just a few days ago by convicted criminal Uli Hoeneß. But lets not drift away. Like I said, at the end of the adventure/movie Göker's enterprise has to shut down and we hear him comment on that too in the sense that he did not do anything illegal in person, but he cannot speak for all his employees. This is of course correct, but still it shows that he is really ready to throw anybody under the bus if it serves his purpose of making more money and getting away with dubious activities. Early on in this film, there was even a mention of alleged connections to organized crime. Oh well, I guess it fits in nicely with how we hear on one occasion how Göker's company dealt with employees who did not make enough money. They are not just let go fairly quickly, but stuff like notice periods do not exist in this world. Instead, hunky security staff members make sure they are out of the building as fast as possible.

Die Geschichte von der Gänseprinzessin und ihrem treuen Pferd Falada

Not one of the best by both DEFA and Brothers Grimm
"Die Geschichte von der Gänseprinzessin und ihrem treuen Pferd Falada" is a really long title for this relatively short film as it clocks in at under 80 minutes and of course this one is based on a tale by the Brothers Grimm. This film was made in 1989 in the GDR and it is among the final DEFA production who are actually known for quite a few fairytale films. Maybe this is the film genre that East Germany was most famous for. And many times they collaborated in one way or the other with Czechoslovakia. Here it is really an East German production in the German language, but if you take a look at the names of the two lead actresses, you can see the parallel too. Anyway, the director here is Konrad Petzold (not related to Christian) and this was his final career effort. He was a truly prolific filmmaker in the GDR, but he did not manage a successful transition to reunited Germany. According to imdb, he lived for another decade afterwards, but did not work on any other films, although age-wise he certainly could have. His cast members here were luckier for the most part. There are no big stars involved here, but still for most of them the Fall of the Berlin Wall did not mean the end of their careers. Nonetheless, this film is still a contender for most known and most successful work for pretty much everybody in this film. This also has to do with the fact that it is still shown occasionally on television, especially with the holiday season moving closer and that maybe one reason why it was on TV today as well. So yeah, even as a German native I can't say too much about the cast, so I won't even try.

Instead lets focus on other aspects. The Grimm tale is just called "Die Gänsemagd" and it is known, but definitely not among their most famous, so maybe that is why there aren't too many adaptations into movies. This is perhaps the most known we have here. But I was not too impressed. I do think it starts solid and also at the end it gets better again, but in-between there were simply too many lengths and for such a rather short film that means something crucial in the negative sense. Many characters were introduced, too many, that added almost nothing to the movie, at least for me. One example would be the boy who is relatively close with the title character. I don't think I have read the Brothers Grimm tale for this one or it has been decades ago, so I cannot say if the problem here is the original or the adaptation. But I can see why people do not usually think of it immediately when mentioning their favorites from the legendary writers. Anyway, lets focus a bit more on the film here. Costumes and sets are really good, there is nothing to criticize here. East German films always deliver in these fields you can say. What I found a bit unusual is that the main antagonist here was the sister of the protagonist. Or I should say the "sister" because I think they grew up like sisters, but weren't really relatives genetically. This chocie does not happen too often in Brother Grimm fairytales. And even when there is a sister involved like in "Frau Holle" for example, she is frequently just lazy and useless and not necessarily really evil and obsessed with power. At the end, however, it backfires for her when she tells the people and us what should happen with those criminals and then is exposed as a faker herself. Honestly, this revelation did feel a bit too easy. And the very end (of course a happy one) is also kinda rushed with how they all run to the meadow and quickly afterward the closing credits roll in. Maybe one thing why I also did not like this one too mich was because honestly the good girl (i.e. the title character) did feel really forgettable. I am not sure if it was the actress or a mix of her and the writing, but there was literally nothing interesting to her where I would say I get it why the prince is falling for her. Let alone me falling for her myself. I was far away from that. So yeah, story-wise this left me hoping for more. The horse mentioned in the title is not a revelation either, at least during the scenes when the head is on the wall and it still talks. This looked really cheap and honestly not worthy special-effects-wise for almost the 90s. Overall verdict: Only worth seeing for the very biggest old fairy tale fans. I give it a thumbs-down, also because (for me as an animal lover) the geese did not get half as much screen time as I wanted them to.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

A pretty nice modern tale on finding yourself
"Where'd You Go, Bernadette", or just the brief version "Bernadette", is a new American 2019 movie that runs for 110 minutes almost and features some pretty famous people in front of and behind the camera. The latter is Richard Linklater. I really adore his "Before"-trilogy (maybe quadrology at some point) and also found Boyhood fairly amazing, so I was naturally curious about his new release. As for the cast, at the center of it all is 2-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett and her I like as well, so the basics certainly looked promising for me. And I was not disappointed. While it really took me until almost the end pretty much to give this 4 stars out of 5 and not "only" 3, there is a lot I liked about this one nonetheless. I do think Blanchett is one of the best actresses when it comes to dramatic characters. This is a dramatic character and she nails all the more serious moments and I never felt as if I wasn't watching a genuine character, even if admittedly she is not always 100% on the more comedic moments and there are many. It is a healthy mix between these two genres. But still, she is also good enough in those and it is certainly not a letdown. The only consequence probably is that she is not as much the heart and soul of the film as you could have guessed from the title and poster and she has better performances in her body of work. Still she carried the film nicely. I also think her character is pretty unique the way she was written. I mean she is clearly really anti-social and does not get along well with people. Or I should say with people outside her family because honestly the bond between her and her daughter is something truly unique and as strong as everything I ever witnessed when it comes to touching mother-daughter relationships. Certainly the most memorable aspect of the film for me. The scene when the two are talking to the neighbor (played by Wiig) and really standing up for each other and fighting like lions is really memorable. But there are shorter moments too that stay in the mind, for example when we hear a nickname that Blanchett's character calls her daughter and her dad uses it and the girl says she does not feel comfortable with it really. Or when we hear the voice-over close to the end already when they are looking for her and there is a brief inclusion whether the character may be dead, the girl says something her mother is out there and she wants to be with her daughter at this point. That was really sweet. There are many more examples. You will recognize them when they are there. As for the death suspense I just mentioned, of course Bernadette is alive and we know it and only a bad filmmaker would have really turned this into serious drama on this idea. Linklater is too good for that.

Back to Bernadette: What is exactly wrong with her? Difficult to explain for sure, especially because I am not a doctor or something, but I kinda liked the somewhat final explanation that the lack of creativity and creating in her life turned her into who she became. This was the result she received from a bit of a trauma when that game show host bought her creation decades ago and just destroyed it. It is kinda ironic that her basically destroying her neighbor's house with her own carelessness and indifference was one of the things that really made for a change in her mind. But the one thing that is pretty safe is that the shrink hired by her husband is not what she needs. She needed this trip to the pole and the invitation to work as an architect there again to somewhat find happiness again outside her family. Also it must be said that it is not all Bernadette's fault. Her husband left her sort of alone over the years and just focused on his work. The latter is played by Billy Crudup and I am not too familiar with him. But other supporting players I recognized immediately were Laurence Fishburne (whose character was right all along) and Troian Bellisario (from Pretty Little Liars, even if I initially mistook her for Noomi Rapace). As for Crudup, he probably plays the biggest male character, the one with the most screen time I mean and there is also some character transformation for him the longer the film goes. No need to go further into detail. But one I did not know (because she hasn't virtually acted in anything) is Emma Nelson who was just really good and I am not too happy she was billed so far behind in the cast list because she was amazing and should have been included in the top3. Now I would love for her to receive a Supporting Actor nomination at the Oscars (or awards attention in general), but looking at how the film has not really been received too well, it's probably not gonna happen. Quite a pity, but I am still curious how she is going to do in the future. She could have a great career ahead. Actually, physically she reminded me a bit of Ariel Winter in Modern Family, maybe also slightly character-wise.

Her scene in the car with her mom when they sing "Time after Time" was maybe my favorite moment from the entire movie. That was just so amazing. Like I said, there you also see what a unique bond is between them. Also how Blanchett's character started crying from joy because of this special moment was touching and she said something along the lines of how it is important to appreciate and enjoy these moments that make you happy and I really liked that too. A lot to do with mindfulness and gratitude in general. I felt in general like her character is also a bit on the highly sensitive side and this moment really showed it. Also when she just fell asleep at the store showed how spending time with strangers is really a difficult thing for her that exhausts her immediately and she needs a lot of time for herself, which explains the virtual assistant she has and why there is constantly conflict when she is among others. I mean it shall not be an excuse or anything, but you also find out that she has been through a lot in her life that maybe made her who she is in this movie. It's only briefly mentioned, but she had many miscarriages and when she finally gave birth to her daughter, it was really on the edge if the girl could survive with her heart disease. But I am glad she made it because this way we have one of the best characters of the film year 2019. Yes, I mean the daughter. Now back to this virtual assistent I just mentioned: I must say that this story about a Russian spy organisation being behind all this was one aspect I did not like too much, even if the FBI agent was kinda funny. There really wasn't a lot I did not like about this film. Another minor thing was maybe that I was surprised how Wiig's character still helped Blanchett's when she was on the run with what happened between them before that. Did not feel too realistic to me. Then again, Wiig's was never an antagonist. We know that from how she says that the girl turned out great despite her mom. Okay what else? Sometimes this film reminded me a bit of Walter Mitty from a few years ago. Another film on a similar subject with a big journey ahead for the protagonist and that one was received better by audiences too than by critics I think. Oh yeah, another scene I really really liked was the phone conversation at the end when Blanchett's character is leaving a message for her man and girl and the two hear it only a few meters away. And when Bee finally runs to her mother and hugs her, it is supersweet and impossibly not to feel all warm and fuzzy inside that moment. During that scene I really recognized how much these characters were in my heart already. Which started already from minute one when we hear Bee's voice-over about what is going to happen in the second half of the film. So I say: Ease up critics! This was a really charming movie and when it comes to the heart, I think it is among the best of 2019 I have seen and I highly recommend checking it out. And I genuinely hope I am wrong when thinking about its award chances and that it will not get too much recognition. Blanchett sure has good chances for a Golden Globe Comedy/Musical nod, but maybe that's it. But it is not too important anymore. More crucial is that you give this film the attention it deserves and see it at your nearest theater with family or friends. It could become a really nice experience and the happy ending we get here from almost every perspective is not one that felt too forced or unrealistic either and that is always a fine achievement, especially if the ending is as happy as this one here.

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