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Sucker Punch

Completing the trilogy which "Van Helsing" and "Sky Captain" began: "Melting Plot III - Moron Rouge"
I got into the car on Sunday afternoon. The friend who invited me for a movie of my choice for my birthday leaned over to me; "This one got a really bad review in the paper," she said. "Look, …" I replied "all I'm asking is that I don't wanna need to think, okay?" Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Sitting in the theater, next to me there sat two smelly noisy guys who commented regularly and loud the scenes, eating nachos like pigs do and apparently thinking they were funny. The sad thing was that after a quarter hour or so they didn't distract or annoy me anymore watching the film. Can there be any worse verdict? After 20 minutes I thought that any movie gets the audience it deserves. The … story … no, I can't call it that way! The film starts with an orphan-story from the cliché-wing. A Britney-Spears-lookalike brat accidentally shoots her sister in an attempt to protect her from their violent father, just briefly after the mother passed away. The greedy pop uses the chance to get rid of the only other heir and dumps her in a lunatic asylum. There the girl is supposed to lobotomized (an irritating "Cuckoo's Nest" reference) and –facing the traumatizing process- her mind disconnects and she "flees" into an imaginary world where she gets abducted, sold to a strip-club (an allegory to the asylum) and practically enslaved with the other girls to dance and to … well to do what can be imagined. In order to escape this fictional joint -into which she actually already hid from reality- she convinces the other dancers of a break-out. To acquire the items they need (knife, fire, map and… uh… y'see?), she mentally flees during her dance-performances once more from that meta-level into the NEXT meta-level, a fantasy-world which is a pop cultural and historical melting-pot of various alternated historical events, steam-punk- and other computer-game-scenarios, Anime/Manga and bubblegum-philosophy. WWII (or WWI?) is one of the settings, as well as "Lord Of The Rings", a Shinto-temple and an OuterPlanet. Goofs found: the Nazi-troopers were supposed to be zombies. Zombies don't mind a kick to the crotch and thereby can't be stopped that way AND they have no use for gas-masks! The mediocre and tension-free action sequences are interrupted by "Baby-Doll's" back-falls to the "reality", the strip-joint, with pseudo-tragic, cliché-drowning scenes and main-characters which show one other of the films most essential problems: it blatantly serves the reactionary and indifferent Arabophobia by introducing the club-owner "Blue", a poorly performed but clearly racism-feeding parody of a Persian. Compared to that, Kevin J. O'Connel's performance in "The Mummy" was balanced, fair and PC. About the way, the factual psychiatric function of Disconnecting as shown here I must say: I'm fairly skeptical. But worse than that, the premise that a traumatized woman seeks relief by mentally escaping into a dreamworld where she gets sexually abused might imply that women dream of being sexually exploited more than anything else. Regardless the fact that rape-fantasies exist and are as legitimate or not as most others, for a movie that addresses a juvenile audience this is simply irresponsible. Another "PPPffffffrrrrzzz" goes out to the character's names like "Baby-Doll", "Sweet Pee", "High-Roller" or the likes; aw come on… As if the author took the promoters speeches from "Mad Max II" for serious. Yes I'm aware that this flick WANTS to play with clichés but face it: it sounds plain idiotic. Period. So all in all this film's premise is basically the pattern-bastard of the terrific "Pan's Labyrinth", where also a little girl in a traumatizing and hostile family-situation during the fascistic Franco-reign in Spain mentally escapes into a- world of unlimited imagination and so beyond life and death. But while Del Toro's masterpiece can even be named in one line as for instance great old European classics as Ingmar Bergmann's "Fanny and Alexander", this kaleidoscope of trash hasn't any own identity, nor any value as a movie-reference-galore. Not to mention any substantial message to take away. As a social-worker who works with mentally ill people for 11 years now, I furthermore have to state that mental institutions in earlier times surely must have been hell. I don't have problems to see that used as a stylistic element or scenario in a movie – not even in a blockbuster. But here it only serves voyeuristic pranksters and feeds the prejudices about mentally affected people in a dangerous way. I'm also an RPG-player for over 15 years now and I must point out, that if ever one of our games-masters would have dared to show up with such a pile of sedative "powergaming" (roughly for "when it's too simple and obvious", such as killing a dragon with one slit – yeah. Sure.), we would have hung the bastard. It's a dance-movie … without dance-sequences, a horror-film …without being creepy, an action-film… with boring action, a war-movie… where you tend to root for Nazis because the heroines are so annoying. I can't believe that this idiotic crap was done by the same man who did the excellent "Dawn Of The Dead"-remake in … 2007? Don't waste any money watching this rubbish, you better watch "Barb Wire" once more (Yes! I mean it!) or best of all: call all your friends and make a complete "Firefly"-DVD-Session over the weekend; at least that was my decision after the "Train Job"-sequence: this series action was better, the characters too, the sexism was more enjoyable and had more style, the wit was funnier – in short: forget this waste. I would have never ever expected that someone could shoot a movie BELOW "Van Helsing" or "Sky Captain…" – but here we are … deeper underground. Trilogy completed. In many years at least we will be able to say: "Oh yes, there once WAS one crappy movie, even Scott Glenn couldn't rescue. What was the title? Hrmmm…"

Death Proof

"Yes, I'm the 'Unknown Stuntman' who made a lover out of Kurt"
Tarantino's roadkill-movie sends two groups of young and attractive women a few weeks after each other on a fatal cross-course with a lunatic killer (Kurt Russel), a maniac whose lethal motivation remains as unexplained as that of the truck-driver in Spielberg's "Duel".

Set in the early 80s, the film salutes the "Cannonball-Fever" movies or H.B. Halicki-films such as "The Junkman". Since I didn't like "Planet Terror" so much, I made a mental note and would suggest, that this one would perfectly and rather match in a 'double-feature' with the excellent "No Country For Old Men", which is also set in that time.

There ain't much plot to tell (and spoilers are therefore practically impossible) but the nevertheless movie is even so richer and cooler than many others with a more complex story-structure.

We follow a few beautiful women on their weekly tour to their favorite joint where they first meet their hangman – the 'Unknown Stuntman' "Mike". Then -at dusk- the tour goes on to the open interstate where Mike waits in ambush and kills them in a kamikaze frontal crash, sacrifying his car and putting even his own life at stack just for the killthrill.

Months later ... Mike is on the road. Again. Some girls are on their weekly tour. Again. They meet. Again. On the open county-roads the next duel begins. But these ain't no average girls...

The major part of the film is that following race-off and as you see it has in about the same amount of plot as the terrific 'Cardigans' - videoclip "My favorite game".

Hilarious is the scene where Mike finally mourns over his broken arm – the entire audience in my theater laughed their asses of. That, and his brief smile right into the camera before made Mike not the most unsympathetic fella to us. But we rooted for the girls and his fate anyway.

QT has a minor part in the movie, mainly playing himself and the usual State Trooper/Sheriff shows up too so the movie is regularly embedded into the QT-canon.

The rest is: cool cars, cool chicks, cool music, cool carchase with nice crashes. That'll do for me.

Star Trek

Arrested Development
I had very low expectations when the current ST-movie was announced and when I read, that it was meant to show the academy- and early years of the TOS-crew and ship.

And the point-of-critic still remains valid!

The makers and cast delivered a good SciFi movie. Nothing less and nothing more. That's all, folks. Throughout the entire time since the "Next Generation", even a blind could see that the execs in the company and the creative staff behind the whole franchise didn't have neither the guts nor the creative potential to evolve, cultivate and develop the franchise forward. That they completely lacked the pioneer's spirit which all ST-series ever pretended to cherish and portray. Thereby the Closing Argument by "Q" in "All Good Things" was *imho* always an adequate description of the entire franchise's problem as such, surely without any of the addressed executives noticing that.

What this film mainly suffers about is a problem, which already affected two ST-motion-pictures before: the first movie blatantly ripped-off the TV episode with that NOMAD-probe, for part two they revived Khan. Here the plot delivers an enemy-ship, reminding very much of that one in "Nemesis" and just like there the villain is on a vendetta against one of Enterprise's clueless senior-officers who doesn't even know of his opponents existence. The whole thing is a "Dejà Vu". For the climax the two main-heroes have to fight it out over there – again. Before the whole thing blows away - again.

At least they spared us too much idiotic technobabble this time. There's action, good lines, erotic and a logical predesign of the original Enterprise. Unfortunately it's predictable, that the makers will fall back to the old "Patterns of a Dead Horse" after this brief vitalization. But too many people don't want to hear about the Prime Directive anymore, about Klingon honor, technological bullshit, captain's doubts and constructed conscience-conflicts or about ensigns in their pubertous-prime whom the script don't allow to let themselves get laid.

I recall seeing the first three episodes of the last series 'Enterprise'. "Aha... they dress it into a rock-song and think we'll buy it..." Unfortunately that song sucked (Joss Whedon did better!). And again: the same lame dialogs, onedimensional characters (looking concerned all the time doesn't automatically mean good acting) and those crappy Star-Fleet-uniforms I can't bear to watch anymore. And just as "Enterprise", this movie also plays in the past and is the same foul compromise. So all in all this is giant leap back to where everyone has gone before. The only good point (apart of Zoe Saldana) is that they once and for the first time consequently showed, that messing with the timeline ends in irreversible mayhem that even the Enterprise can't fix anymore. But when I think that they only did this to restart an all new timeline with the old crew instead of creating new characters who are truly original and interesting I have to freak out. And you really don't wanna tell me that Janeway was an interesting character do you? That would be like selling Chancellor Angela Merkel as Michelle Obama and you don't really mean that.

This STAR TREK-movie is good and highly entertaining but it also reveals the still unsolved problem of the franchise and –guys at Paramount: you better get it going to the right direction. SciFi-franchises came and went, some better, some worse. Hell, even George Lucas screwed his own one up!

The best in last decade was surely the most short-running: "Firefly"! There's none higher. Make it so.

That'd be all, dismissed!


„Aahhh – the FOX-towers ... Boy, it sure would be nice if we had some grenades, don't you think?"
It's now 2 years away or so that friends had me the DVD-box for my birthday and since then I myself chose it for two or three other birthdays to give. Most recently to my best friends girlfriend who both definitely don't like SciFi-series at all and they looked at me really, really ... really, really, really skeptical and were like "?... urm ... You really mean it?"

A month went by 'til we met again and I asked for it: "...could you already have a look on...?" *shinyfacebigeyes* "WE WATCHED THE WHOLE THING IN A SWEEP LAST WEEKEND...!" *eyeswet* "... I could keep watching this for years now..." *sobb*

"Firefly" (and the up-following movie "Serenity") definitely created something new and admirable in the SciFi-world.

Joss Whedon created a franchise on the line between the genres "Western" and "Science Fiction" and in the same step managed to make those two distant relatives new neighbors.

What did we have 'til then in the genre of SF? "Babylon5"? Very well particularly in the second half but long gone. "Space - Above And Beyond"? Folded too soon as well. "Star Trek"? Conservative and held down by it's own parents, betraying the audience by selling idiotic techno-babble labeled as "developement". "Battelstar Galactica"? Came later, was good but also transported too much blind obedience and hailing militarism under pseudo-critic main-characters. Nevertheless at least they revived a franchise I admired as a kid but which was deader than dead since then. But they also benefited from the aesthetical and dramatical patterns, initially made popular by "Firefly".

And in Western? Hm at least there's the excellent "Deadwood".

"Firefly" served the starving' fan-bases of two stagnating genres with a fresh and offensive mixture of both worlds: dirt, violence, rude and smart humor, wit, both stimulating AND hilarious ways of sexism (enjoyable for both male AND female audience), excellently drawn characters who each could give a plot line each possible, credible but unexpected twist, coolest production design, a devoted cast, terrific dialog-lines (which among my friends many "Firefly"-fans and me regularly quote at any given occasion), political incorrectness to laugh about and –apparently before and beyond camera- the most important thing of all: an incredibly strong familiar sense.

Again: FOX took all this away! So it's obvious that they don't want to stand for particularly that last virtue!

Different from the "Star Trek"-producers, the "Firefly"-makers also served us an outstanding main theme which is already in my Hall-Of-Fame of the best TV-themes in history, while on the other end of the universe the "Enterprise"-title-track (a horrid piece of boring, conservative mainstream-rock à la Eagles) instantly made me run like hell, never to re-zapp.

The story of those 16 "Firefly"-epsiodes rotates around the crew of an independent freight-spacecraft name of 'Serenity' -a fresh and unique offspring of the Han Solo world- who try to make their way between half-legal or illegal space-havens, the SpacePatrol (the series obvious criticism of any military-industrial complex which surely was one of its coffin-nails), cheating business-partners and an omnipresent anonymous threat called the "Reavers", spacecraft-mobile cannibals whose background is explained in the follow-up-movie "Serenity" (another criticism to man- and nature-exploiting companies). The crew has to take also unwelcome cargo or compromising jobs to get through and has to struggle with their conscience several times – and the final decisions ain't always ethically certain and therefore not predictable for the audience (another plus, the next coffin-nail).

The threats shown are truly terrifying and they really scare the viewer: the "Reavers", the Gestapo-alike "BlueHands", merciless bounty-hunters or lethal technical devices as for instance in "Our Mrs Reynolds".

"Firefly" was what I had hoped for for years after being more and more annoyed of the usual regular SciFi and it even served my love to western. And now it's gone. Thank you FOX! (you know, "Thank you" as mumbled by James Belushi in "The Principal").

"SERENITY..." says 'STAR TREK's tombstone.

District 9

"The name is Plissken ... 'P R A W N' Plissken!"
This (in "Blairwitch"-tradition) documentary-alike motion picture tells a story, loosely reminding of the James Caan-movie "Alien Nation" but set in the townships of Johannesburg/South Africa.

The basic premise is that a couple of years ago above the city an alien flying saucer came to halt and the crew stranded here. They couldn't get the wrecked rig afloat anymore so they were deported into a slum at the edge of town, in the following the "regular alienation" gets replaced by "average apartheid" (insert irony here). The status of the colored southafricans in the film apparently switched with the arrival of the aliens and they also fall in in the racistic patterns which they themselves suffered through for centuries. This may be basically a realistically portrayed mechanism: for instance if you enter a train-compartment were already 3 other passengers sit for a while, you are the "disturbing newbie" and it's something you can even feel. When the next one comes in, your status gets passed on automatically.

The viewer accompanies a bureaucrat from the Joha-municipal authorities and some soldiers and police-squads into the ghetto to hand over and execute an eviction for the mockingly called "Prawns". The aliens already work in hide over a plot to escape and/or set their sails again, a suspicious reagent is the stuff to go. The bureaucrat –actually a harmless guy on the edge to marriage- is the poor guy to get sip of it; after that his well-sorted life turns into a kafkaesque metamorphosis, where he is forced to change sides, gets hunted by his own authorities and his own father-in-law who administrates the martial show and who anyway didn't like him too much in the first place.

Actually it would have been the more revolutionary movie, if it was shot 20 years earlier but fascistic ideologies even after being removed have a long fallout among many people so maybe it's even today enough up on current events (I live in Germany so I guess I can tell).

Regardless, this is an excellent and highly entertaining movie with a nice b-picture-appeal, good actors and FX and an inventive premise – no revolution but very well!

Facutally it's the kind of movie John Carpenter would have been doing in the 80s. There's a strong connection to "They Live" and the dystopic, satirical aspects of "Escape from NY", also regarding the apparently relatively low budget and the dramatical consequence, this flick plays very much in the same league. After watching this, it's once more unclear, why Carpenter couldn't continue to fulfill the standards he himself had set 'til then. Obviously others can do excellent.

Anvil: The Story of Anvil

"In the end, the music will remain! Okay, maybe the debts will do too . . . "
On Monday April 4th my best friend DC and his band finished their 2-year-lasting work on their latest release and send their MasterCD and -booklet to the factory so it may be ready on time for their release-show tonight with German thrash-cult-band "Tankard" here in Kassel.

That Monday, DC and me met at our local indie-theater and watched "Anvil", the documentary we were looking forward to see for almost a year now since the first trailers.

"Anvil" are roaming the scene since the early 80s with a brief success-phase in the mid 80s and since then on a stony, painful path through the underground without the success they surely would have deserved for their hard and honest work, not to mention for the sympathetic characters, optimism and wits of the two remaining firstmembers.

"Anvil" –DC even owns two vinyls- inspired the great ones such as Metallica; early in the movie, Lars Ulrich among other Metal-stars- give brief statements to the status of the band in the mid/early 80s. Btw I'm glad that this was only a short section – the ego-wrenching drummer of "Zerfallica" regularly annoys the hell out of me! Then the docu continues to show the regular daily life of the two Anvil-chiefs with old and new footage from privacy, their average 9to5-workdays and old and latest recording- and tour docu-footage. The film shows the emotional edge and stress of self-financed recording-sessions, the risk and disaster of bad-planned tours, the embarrassment to play practically empty arenas, nevertheless giving their best with highly professional attitude, the anger about crappy promotion and being betrayed of the payment. THIS was surely one of the most touching and emphasizing parts of the film: the desperation and disappointment over lacking success no matter how hard you give your best jumps off the screen and virtually tied us to the band! Again: forget those whimpy divas from Metallica... Some kind of Monster my a$$! THIS is truly heart-melting!

After about 90 minutes we left the cinema and here it comes: this was surely one of the best rock/metal-documentaries we've ever had seen and probably there wouldn't have been any better day to watch it than the day DCs own band ("Mortal Terror", est. 1986) finished the work on their own album. This is real and authentic! If you want to know something about how the metal-underground fells like you mustn't miss this movie!

Oh by the way Lips: we even laughed our hearts out over your Germany-inspired painting! Well done buddy! Just in case you thought Germans ain't got no self-irony ;-) Can I get a copy?

(Please regard the thread "Allies Of Anvil" on this discussion-board.)

Germany's Next Topmodel

I dissed a girl and I liked it.
"DOG - The Bounty-Hunter", "Flavor Of Love" and ... "Germany's Next Topmodel presented by Heidi Klum" - the axis of evil is complete.

It's now the 4th season or so that Heidi Klum -German fashion-model and wife of British pop-star Seal-, accompanied by varying cliché-role-models, blindfolds and teases young women and girls with false promises to enter the grind-house of fashion, then tearing them to pieces.

The arrogance and the lack of respect and sensitivity (not to mention constructive ways to criticize) Heidi & Co display to that poor girls is hard to cope with; nevertheless it's a successful format in Germany. We really eat sh!t here. But to regard the initial line-of-comment again: others do too.

Entertainment? With our brains running on auxiliary-power maybe. Dignity? Dictionary please! Content? Women, exploited.

Heidi Klum, time for a lash-back: in German teletext a couple of months ago, German fashion-designer Wolfgang Joop stated that you simply aren't an international Champion's-League supermodel, no big name at all and I'm sure the man knows what he's saying. As far as I'm concerned: compared to a real catwalk-icon such as Tatjana Patiz, you are merely an unerotic minor-league-model. Tatjana had (and still has) truly style, character, sex-appeal, an adorable face and brains. You? Zippo. Not that you look bad, but it's just mediocre. But the lack of character and dignity you admit here in your show makes you ... not an option!

Therefore I can hardly understand why all those young women give anything on your comments or that of your profile-neurotic fellows. Where are the parents? Is there a contact-ban between them and the candidates during production?

Aside the whole ethical problem this show piles up, there are numerous simple things to rate-low: for instance it's obvious that all of your comments have been written before but you failed to learn your text properly, you don't (and surely can't) perform them credible at all. You pause that often, that it's easy to see it's not meant a dramatic break but you need time to recall your "dialog". Anytime you try to stare one of the girls down I recall that mysterious (but meaningless) dog at the end of that "Simpsons"-episode - Hrm-hrm-hmmmm. If you demand credible performances from the candidates, start with yourself first!

I get back to Tatjana briefly just to send one more torpedo: in "Rising Sun" she performed a corpse, I must assume you couldn't even do that! You demand a sexy walks from the girls, but then your own attempts to show them remind me more of a heavily damaged AT-AT.

I also have to state and criticize, that you still serve that "Hungerhaken"*-body-ideal that the fashion-scene pretended to ban a couple years ago to tame the brief public outrage about the issue. As far as I watch this alienated universe I can't see that accomplished at all so far.

I wanna hope that most girls left in this season will get a chance to work as models, not because I support this business, but because they wish it so much, they all look nice, they earned it and suffered already enough under your provincial reign. And to proof you wrong.

To all young women in Germany: before you start getting anorectic in order to join this idiotic hypocritical format or for other reasons, please take a look at Barbara Schöneberger or Jennifer Hudson - those look great!

In the meantime I recommend to watch "Zoolander", a brilliant movie made exactly to unveil this narrow-minded misanthropic business.

* German gossip roughly translated with "starvin' hook"; a male or female, that thin that you can count all the bones.

Flavor of Love

„... diots +++ It fakes a mansion of idiots +++ It fakes a mansion of idiots +++ It fakes a mansion of idiots +++ It fakes a mansion of idiots +++ It fakes a mans..."
To even the score I jumped from „D.O.G. - THE BOUNTY HUNTER" right here. I enter another room in the same mental cellar. Flavor, what makes you tick these days, it's not your clock. Your clock is gone. To quote the German band „Die Sterne": „Was hat Dich bloss so ruiniert?" (="What has only just brought you that low?").

Man, your PE-records were like lead on my turntable; in the late 80s, early 90s I couldn't turn them off! And now? You used to be one major influence on my political education, and now ... (sorry, it'll get ugly now but you asked for it) you abandoned all self-esteem and present yourself as the "brainless bimbo", that all the white racist-pigs tend to see in your skin; are you fraggin' out of your mind? That the show is probably a fake doesn't make it any better, rather worse.

You wanna get laid... Okay you wanna get laid, get the gal-reel served on a silver plate and also get paid for it if possible. I can relate to that... somehow. But does the whole world gotta know and watch? Okay I admit: that's their idiotic decision. But you didn't spend all your millions to survive on such a lobotomized format, did you? Do you suffer of a profile-neurosis? Well, I probably do, for writing a comment on such a brainless show and hope, it might bring you back to the Mic. Poor riddle me...

Your sound was a vision, your records my gyro, you aborted the mission, now you're channel zero!

By the way, you got a colored POTUS lately, you noticed? Mission accomplished and ... oh great, you're still in bed.


Tatort: Schwarzer Peter
Episode 718, Season 1

Leipzig Sin City
Zu „tatort: Schwarzer Peter" („crimescene: Black Peter"), first aired Sunday, January 18th 0815pm.

Set in the German city of Leipzig, this is the 5th case of Lieutenants Eva Saalfeld (native Leipzig-born Simone Thomalla) and Andreas Keppler (Martin Wuttke), who replaced the great previous Leipzig-buddies Ehrlicher & Kain. Time for a review.

In the „Weiße Elster" (="White Pica", a sidearm of the river Saale) a family on a boat-trip paddles over the corpse of Peter Schneider, a Leipzig tradesman. Schneider got tied-up with a bondage-rope and -knot, his legs cut of at knee-height. Then he got mortally stabbed and thrown into the canal approximately a week before the discovery.

The Lieutenants meet a messed-up family left behind and a company-staff, who mainly have not much good to say about their murdered boss. It is an aluminum-refining and -trading outfit which was just about to cut a rich prosperous deal with Iraqi partners. But Schneider's aggressive and reckless leading-patterns even to his closest employees made him a hated man.

There appear to be some mistake with the cast-list here on IMDb: Suzanne v. Borsody is the widow 'Gitta SCHNEIDER', NOT '-Kuhnert'! Chiara Schoras* plays her daughter 'Susanne Schneider', married 'Kuhnert'.

Susanne Kuhnert revives her parents relation in her own screwed-up violent and sex-exploiting marriage, including the impossibility to just leave her brutal and weak husband for the sake of –or despite?- their daughter.

We have an accomplishment here: I rank this episode in the „tatort"-all-star-hall close to for instance „tatort: Reifezeugnis" („crimescene: Certificate Of Graduation", GER 1977, by director Wolfgang Petersen of „Das Boot" & „In The Line Of Fire"-fame). The human drama behind the case is filmed and performed with astonishing authenticity.

Great remarks go out to Sandra Borgmann, an actress who earned broader attention in the successful cult-series „Berlin, Berlin", a daily comedy loosely conceived after the international successful Franka Potente- („Jason Bourne I & II") -movie „Lola Runs". Borgmann evolved from this more comedian work and image to an outstanding character-actress in several recent productions, showing another awestruck play here as daughter 'Yvonne Schneider', the „cool blonde", a resolute but in fact fragile soul, haunted by the brutal education in her violent father's house.

Martin Wuttke ('Lieutenant Keppler' and soon to be seen as 'Adolf Hitler' in Quentin Tarantino's „Inglorious Basterds") is an established stage-actor and director but I gotta be honest here: I don't know much about German theater or theater in general, so I'll just give you my point. Wuttke's interpretation of 'Lieutenant Keppler' is my personal 'Humphrey Bogart' in „tatort". Keppler is a character who can't get along with other people very well. He's too directly, up to the point of ignorance and refuses to be sensitive to colleagues, witnesses or even relatives of victims when he gets annoyed or believes to be lied to. He and Saalfeld were a married couple approximately 10 years before this new team-up and in the second or third case it's already been revealed, that they had to divorce due to the loss of their common child. In an interrogation in this episode it becomes clear that Keppler once had a drinking problem, and his general habit not to drive by car implies that the kid died by a car-accident that may have been caused by him, probably under alcohol-influence.

But that habit of Keppler to rely on public transport or taking a walk is of strong dramatical potential for the films: Keppler is an old-fashioned trace-hound in his district, avoiding the distance that the use of a car creates to the environment by taking cable-cars, buses or his feet instead and thereby being closer to „the street". His worn-out clothing, greasy hairdo and grumpy personality make him an authentic human being and a valuable German TV-relative of 'Philip Marlowe'. He's strictly relying on his instinct but often seems emotionally distant.

SPOILER AHEAD: Suggestion: what the script -at least to me- leaves an open option, is that they probably „got the wrong guy at the end". I cling to the theory, that Schneider wasn't killed by his wife but by his three children. Gitta Kuhnert goes into jail for them because she feels in debt for giving them birth to such a violent father and her children still have their whole life to live. In the confession she claims she sawed her husbands legs off because she „had a disc-slip (german: „Bandscheibenvorfall") last year and shouldn't lift too heavy..." a line of grotesque comic-relief. Daughter 'Yvonne Schneider' is a nurse and might therefore be capable of basic amputation-procedures. Daughter 'Susanne Schneider' -due to her brutal husband- might be into basic bondage-knots. The gay son 'Michael Schneider' (Loram Voelklein) has just opened a comic-store. As a decorative application there's a Scottish claymore attached – a possible 'corpus delicti'. Also the cutting of the victim's legs reminded me of a scene in Frank Miller's marvelous graphic novel „Sin City". I don't know whether this was intentional, but I like the thought, that the cops caught the wrong person, that the actual killers go free and the viewers are as clueless about that, as the two detectives. That would once more prove the realism in „tatort".

trivia: „Schwarzer Peter" is the German name for the card-game „Old Maid" or „Vieux garçon". The term is also German gossip for as much as „Shortest Straw". When you get the „Black Peter" you're meant to do something nobody else wants to do. A more contemporary but also gross version of that phrase is „die Arschkarte" (=„to draw the ass-card"). Here it might be a hint that the three adult kids pulled straws (or the likes) to decide who had to do the lethal stab. SPOILER END

Parental advisory needed: brief but clear sexual images in combination with sexual violence, domestic violence and performances of mental instability and nervous breakdowns.

*About Chiara Schoras: please also read comment for „Falling Rocks" (2000).

Tatort: Häschen in der Grube
Episode 712, Season 1

Reine Routine...
(= "average routine" or "same old")

About "tatort: Häschen in der Grube" ("Crimescene: Bunny in the pit"), first aired Sunday, November 23rd 2008, 0815pm.

Munich homicide Lieutenants Batic & Leitmayer investigate the death of a man, whose family along with others shelters a war-orphan from Middleasia (maybe Afghanistan) which suffers of leukemia and is in a treatment-program.

The intention is okay but the plot is less a criminal story but more a vehicle to transport the question how far medical research must go and where the ethical boundaries should be drawn. The background concept follows *imho* vaguely the same general question as for instance "Extreme Measures" (1996).

The writer didn't demand too much personal conflict or a conscience-struggle about the issue from the two Detectives, which makes this episode a little below it's potential.

Otherwise it was probably even more realistic, to show two cops who accept that ethics ain't their job, that the moral conflict is too big for them to solve anyway and that they would just get distracted by the issue and their personal emotions about it, and so instead simply do their duty. That way I might find it an okay episode but ... hm, well, just okay.

But even with a deeper personal affection of the detectives, I think it would still only be just "okay" to me; there are simply too regularly "tatort"-episodes which do so as just recently for instance "Der glückliche Tod" did too.

trivia: "Häschen in der Grube" is a classical German child's chant.

Ihr könnt euch niemals sicher sein

Higher learning . . .
April 20th 1999, Columbine, USA: Eric Harris (18) and Dylan Klebold (17) enter their high-school armed, opening fire, killing one teacher, 12 fellow-students, injuring 24 others before shooting themselves.

April 26th 2002, Erfurt, Germany: after being banned from his school just prior the graduation-week, Robert Steinhäuser (19) enters his school, the Gutenberg-High' with a pump-gun and a glock17, kills 12 teachers, two fellow-students, one secretary and a cop before shooting himself.

November 7th 2007, Jokela, Suomi: 18-year-old student Pekka-Eric Auvinen enters his school, opens fire, kills 5 fellow-students, one nurse, principal Helena Kalmi and a college-student before killing himself...

„Ihr könnt Euch niemals sicher sein." – „None of you can ever be sure."

17-year-old Oliver (Ludwig Trepte) has to haul with his parents to the German city of Cologne. At his new high-school, the quiet, introverted and serious student quickly becomes a maverick. In German-lesson he writes a review of the Goethe-classic „Die Leiden des jungen Werthers / The Sorrows of Young Werther" in a rap-lyric-pattern. His teacher Selma Vollrath (Anneke Kim Sarnau) disagrees with his way of interpretation, she finds it rude, improper, not attractive and not politically correct, so she disses him in front of the class and gives him 0 points. If you recall John Cusack's teacher in „The Sure Thing" („Der Volltreffer"): this one is the opposite. Oliver reacts upset but not yet overly aggressive. Briefly later, Vollrath finds a note with a rap-lyric-excerpt from Oliver where he talks dirty about her and mentions violent thoughts (serious: who of us never had one against a teacher and vice versa?). In hysteria she strikes alert.

In the next briefing, the faculty argues about Oliver and whether or not he should get banned from school. An other German-teacher cites excerpts from Oliver's „Werther"- review and acknowledges it as lyrically interesting, highly expressive and definitely a new form of doing a review. Furthermore he realizes that Oliver obviously can set himself into the emotional situation of the main-character, inserting similarities from his own life-situation. The progressive teacher argues with Selma Vollrath: „Well, I find it amazing! We have a student with obviously a fine sense for language, versing and it's rhythmic possibilities and expressive options. And YOU as his teacher fail to see that! I'll take him."

But it appears to be too late. The police searchers Oliver's room and confiscates his PC, to find a banned violent game on the hard-drive, and in his closet an old gun from Oliver's deceased WWII-vet-grandpa. Oliver's father –despite his uncertainties- remains calm first, trying to keep further pressure away from his son, but can't succeed about it against his sensible wife, the teachers and the cops. Oppressed by the faculty and the cops, his scared parents get him into a mental-institution instead of seeking convenient discussion with him and listen to what's in his heart & mind. After a couple of days his therapist correctly analyzes that Olivers mental situation is that of a stressed and uncertain teenager but in a normal scale for that age and life-situation and releases him.

Oliver then has already bonded friendships to a young, mentally unstable woman from his unit, as well as outside to a Russian-German immigrant and his posse. Those two persons will play significant parts during the climax and thereby critically reflect and outweigh the narrow-minded clichés and conservative prejudices, that the broad German public tends to associate with to those two „arctypes" – another great accomplishment of this terrific movie. In his newly won peer-group, Oliver can score with his rap-talent (the scene reminds a little of the „stage-battle" in „8 Mile") and -for the first time- earns respect, regardless his not-Russian origin.

When I was in 6th grade at the „Orientierungsstufe I" in Hann. Münden (a school-format that was folded approx. two years ago), I took English-lessons in the A-class (in the Orientierungsstufe, students were sorted into A-, B-, and C-classes, depending on their skills), taught by regularly Make-Up-overdosed Mrs. Julia W. for about half a year. This particular teacher finally mobbed me so far to leave the A-class -despite generally good figures and skills- and on own demand joined the B-class of Mrs. S. I mean, what do you say about a teacher who regularly verbally bullies you with comments like „Enzo*, if I ever get a heart-attack, you'll surely be one of the reasons!"?

Or Werner F., my class-teacher in the „FOS-Desgin" in Göttingen/Godehardtstrasse, who oppressed me that regularly, that I one day vented my frustration into a quick drawing, showing me chopping his head off with a medieval Axe, rich detailed with a 3 feet blood-fountain and identifiable faces. Unfortunately I lost it, I guess...

Did I ever consider to really do it? No. The feather is mightier than the sword and now here it is for everyone to read, you two dorks.

In the following years I also played DOOM and other brutal games and still today I listen to Heavy Metal (among others) and watch zombie-flicks – and? I'm a social-worker today, age 36, set in my tracks and consider myself a mainly convenient person. Only that „Volksmusik" and „Schlager"-crap on German TV makes me wanna go havoc...

I wonder what would go on in my hometown Hann. Münden, when a broad public would come aware of the fact, that the local high-school („Grotefend-Gymnasium") has already been virtually rebuild by a student in 1994 with a DOOM-editor. That fellow measured the whole school with a scaling-tape systematically for that purpose (...).

Surprisingly nobody in such a discussion ever did or does acknowledge, that such a programming demands exact planning, rich creativity and technical skills, a huge cognitive pending and a sharp perception for the architectional environment, which also gets trained in the process (...).

(please read the full comment in the discussion board and let's hear your experiences from YOUR school-time and raise an argument. Thank you)

Falling Rocks

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead
Normally I don't expect much of straight-to-TV-productions from the German commercial TV-corporations – too often the outcome is a clumsy attempt to copy American premium-big-screen-products by just transferring them 1:1 into German landscapes or cities and cultural contexts (without transition), resulting in overdosed action, unrealistic car-explosions, plot-holes, low psychological character-performances and idiotic shoot-outs "...where someone catches 14 bullets and wipes them away with a grin..." (Andrew Vachss, "Flood"-afterword, German edition). Contrary here: A group of friends starts a one-week-backpacking-tour through a deserted area in rural South-Africa. After two days the group discovers a dead parajumper in a pond. By searching him for ID they find a small steelcase full of diamonds, which the dead man obviously wanted to take out of country. The group argues what to do –deliver the stones to the authorities and report the corpse or just steal the stones. Nevertheless the group has to walk on to their destination – a boarded SUV at the next interstate, 4 days away. They take the diamonds with them to decide later. In the following the group realizes that they get stalked when the first one of them dies. Did somebody watch them taking the diamonds?

Day by day they lose more friends, leaving them behind buried under rough stonepiles. Desperation, paranoia, conflicts and distrust increase in the group which –by not just dumping the stones- is already beyond the point-of-no-return.

The last survivors consider themselves safe, when they meet –and accidentally shoot- an old prospector in the outback after finding one trekking-item at his camp that they considered lost 'til then.

But this production refuses such foul compromises and drags the characters on towards the deadly climax – no quarters but a tension-curve to cut your teeth into! This film combines a credible plot, well shooting and editing with an excellent conduction, terrific sceneries and some of the finer but lesser known German actors (Anica Dobra, Aleksandar Jovanovic). It's surely one of the most qualitative premium flicks in German TV in recent years.

Tatort: Salzleiche
Episode 711, Season 1

"Welcome to our fortress-halls, it'll take some time to show you 'round. Impossible to break this walls, for you see the steel is much to strong..." (Megadeth)
About: „Tatort: Salzleiche" („Crimescene: Salt-corpse") first aired Sunday, November 16th 2008, 0815pm.

Just one week after the latest nuclear-waste-train crossed Germany towards the terminal-disposal-site in Gorleben, State of Lower-Saxony this "tatort"-epsiode picks up the authentic setting as background for the latest case to be investigated by State-Bureau-Of-Investigation (German: "Landeskriminalamt, LKA") Lieutenant Charlotte Lindholm (Maria Furtwängler). The storage-facility is a former salt-mine and –along with the "Runway West" of the Frankfurter Airport- one of the most notorious battlegrounds for The People vs. The State. Allthroughout the 70s, 80s and 90s there were rallies, activist-operations, dogfights between organized locals, environmental groups and police-forces.

In fact, once more massive protests accompanied and periodically blocked or slowed-down the latest toxic-train, annoyed police-units carried away protesters, occasionally loosing their nerves, politicians revealed themselves as opportunistic, power-seeking ignorants – same old same old... That was late October, early November now.

On the salt-dumps near the nuclear site a corpse was found, washed out of the salt –where it was dug- by latest rainfalls. The trail leads Lindholm to Gorleben, a place of her mother's rebellious phase against "the system" during the late 70s when Lindholm joined her at most occasions by the age of approximately seven. It turns out, the dead man was undercover-agent for the German counter-espionage, and his death the side-effect of his fake undercover-biography near Gorleben. Lindholm gets into a twirl of international nuclear black-trading and has to go to Barcelona to follow some loose ends.

After Lindholm gave birth to her child a year ago, her commissioner tried to force her to do more office-work which kinda annoyed Lindholm; now he knows more than he tells her in the briefings and lets her go for Spain totally uninformed, knowing that the German version of the MI6 wants her there as a teaser. First to go, last to know. "That was derelict!" Lindholm shouts at him in the end.

Lindholm is always good for droll and clumsy situations with a self-ironic sense of humor. For instance here, when she shows a pic with her at age 9 on a rally at Gorleben to an elderly local woman, stating: "Here look, that kid's me. Cute, eh?" and the woman just replies: "Yeah, but, gosh kiddo! It's 30 years away!" (Lindholm caught off-guard).

Also great is a scene where Lindholm needs contents from the dead man's cellphone and has to ask an illegal hacker for help. As a sign of convenience he gives her a joint of marijuana, watching what she will do before he works for her. Lindholm pauses but then does the right thing – takes a draw. The following scenes showing her stoned which is hilarious! I can already hear the protests from the public and the factual police against the filmmakers and authors for daring to show a stoned police-officer in prime-time. Relax, for Christ's sake!

This one is an okay thriller, but what makes it really great is the integration of current events into the plot (more up-to-date is impossible) which shows that "tatort" is more than just a detective-series, but can at best be a valuable, almost documentary reflection of life in Germany today.

Tatort: Wolfsstunde
Episode 710, Season 1

"... he looks so average ... so harmless ..."
about: „Tatort: Wolfsstunde" („Crimescene: Wolfhour") first aired Sunday, November 9th 2008, 0815pm.

A brutal rape-murder at a young Student-Of-The-Rights haunts the actually lovely, small city of Münster in the German state of North-Rhine-Westphalen. The killer held the victim tied-up for hours in her apartment, watching her TV, drinking and eating, using the toilet, before unbinding her (apparently to gain lust out of her fight), abusing her and strangulating her to death. The crime is shown in flashy cuts.

Particularly shocking is also a brief sequence after the body is found, when Sergeant Thiel (Axel Prahl) inspects the balcony-door and turns back to the room just to directly look into the half-open eyes of the victim (she stares into the camera). Thiel – then in 1st person-camera - tumbles out of the house, leaving the CSIs at work.

The prime suspect is the victim's ex-lover, a professional photographer, who spent several years in war-zones and crisis-regions and is obviously mentally unstable.

Thiel is reminded of a former girlfriend who also suffered a sexual violation, resulting she had to end their relation and –as he reveals after a while- committed suicide. Also an earlier unsolved case comes to his mind and soon he clings to a "serial"-theory; as the only one from his squad. His only "evidence" for that is the young and attractive bank-employee Anna Schäfer (intense performed by Katherina Lorenz) who reported an intruder a couple of months ago, who's work-pattern fits into this one's. She appears suffering from PTSD, so Thiel carefully but clumsy continues questioning her until she admits it was a rape, something she held back ashamed. But apart of Thiel no one believes Anna, confirming what she already feared: nobody believes a rape-victim. Neither Thiel's Detective Nadeshda Krusenstern (Friederike Kempten), nor "Chief M.E." (german: "Leiter der Rechtsmedizin") Professor Karl-Friedrich Boerne (Jan-Josef Liefers) support the theory of a serial-rapist-killer.

Boerne is Thiel's landlord, house-mate and professional and stylistic counterpart in all the episodes and much of the humorous moments mainly derive out of the contrast between Thiel's proletarian and sometimes rude nature and Boerne's snobistic manners and almost anachronistic and old-fashioned virtues. But the funny tones, which were characteristic for the Münster-"tatorte" were reduced here to underline the danger, which in such a small city can affect everybody. This is also stressed by a sequence when halfway through the episode the killer takes photographs of potential next victims on the streets – all beautiful young women.

Sergeant Thiel is actually already on his way to the train for Hamburg to watch his favorite Football-team, the legendary FC-St. Pauli, when he instinctively turns on the heel to rush to Anna Schäfers's apartment, sensing another assault. Highly dramatic is the climax, when Thiel receives a mobile-call from Boerne while observing Schäfer's house and turns away from the house (to hear the call properly) just the moment when signs of a struggle appear at the window. Fortunately Boerne calls from the criminals flat and gives the essential hints for Thiel to instantly bust the apartment. A little unclear remains the question, how Thiel –armed merely with a fire-extinguisher- manages to break-down the solid safety-door (three locks and one block) to rescue the Damsel-In-Distress. But otherwise: who knows what a frustrated Footballfan is capable to do when -after weeks of investigative failures and public and institutional pressure- he's forced to skip the game to solve the case. Thereby –in a sense of political incorrectness- I admit I found it quite refreshing to watch Thiel beating the hell outta the villain, even bashing his head against the wall. A display of police-brutality rarely seen that directly in "tatort" in purpose not to disgrace factual police-work.

The episode's title is a little misleading. During the autopsy, Boerne mysteriously states as "Time of death: 03:30a.m. ... the Wolfe's Hour..." and the viewer expects some relevance for the case, considering a murderer with a mythology-based crime-pattern (as for instance in "The January Man" with Kevin Kline or many other modern thrillers), but it doesn't really mean anything particular, except sounding martial. But *imho* this ain't no valuable point-of-critic. The story is well-laid and easy to follow, there are no twists or turns which appear constructed or implausible – nevertheless the ending ain't predictable. The atmosphere is dark and menacing and transports the urge and the pressure the detective has to take from the public, the former victim Schäfer, his colleagues and his own biography.

Trivia: in a sense of dramatical irony, Thiel wears his FC. St. Pauli - jersey while fighting the rapist in Schäfer's apartment. The shirt shows the team-brand, bold subscribed with the word "RETTER" (= "saviour" or "rescuer"). This jersey was a special print which was part of a fund-raising campaign in 2003 to rescue the broke team.

Another rooting goes out for Axel Prahl's courage to show a full-frontal-nude take (and: No, I'm straight.) when he rushes out of the shower and through his flat to find the phone. And he is anything but a "model". Prahl hereby outscores former "tatort"-detective-legend 'Horst Schimanski' (Götz George) who "showed the moon" (in the episode "tatort: Zweierlei Blut/Blood-Differ" from the early 80s) after been beaten up by a gang of Football-hooligans and left naked in the Duisburg-Footballstadium centerfield.

"By the way: St. Pauli won 2:0..." Boerne comforts a strung-out Thiel during their way home.


"The Waltons" - by other means... no waitasec: the SAME means *rollseyes*
I mainly second the comments of 'paladinmtk' "an apocalyptic disappointment" and 'sneezewiz' from D.C. "Nobody is in charge".

A friend borrowed me the first season on DVD, I watched 8 epsiodes and I think I'm not going any further –sorry.

When I fell asleep at the beginning of epsode 6 or so I woke up again when the whole town comes to help to bring in some harvest that would have been rotten otherwise. With a dizzy head I was like "Aw, here we go again...". A quote from George Bush came to my mind suddenly: "America needs less families like "The Simpsons" but more of those like "The Waltons"". This is it! "Jericho" is basically "The Waltons". Somebody must have heard your prayers, old chap.

In episode 5 or so the public library burns away but the US-flag at the front rooftop (only 2 feet away from the flames) remains undamaged at all. This shows the whole problem: "Jericho" sacrifies credibility and realism for discounter-emotions and -dialogs, a thin plot-execution and characters who even a month after the nuclear war still look like fresh from the catwalk. Unfortunately their character-development was the first casuality of the fallout in episode two. Or was that three?

Anytime there is something to do, somebody just goes, mainly it's Skeet Ulrich, an actor who deserves better than this engagement. The action then is to drive to the waterplant to open a vent, using a rifle as a leverage. So much for the series' constructive comment to the gun debate. And the tension-curve made me hold my breath (insert irony here).

Then the town makes a giant barbecue on the mainplace to spend all the meat from the supermarket which would have been bad the next day since the fridges were out, and it feels cheesy to see this fiesta taking place almost like no war happened.

And regularly we get annoyed with the worst samples of uninspired mainstream-rock which comes totally unexplainable from somewhere into the scenes.

I stress the question why series like this get produced while the really good stuff like for instance "Firefly" gets folded? (edit: ah just read it was folded after the first season too; that's fair)

America needs more families like The Simpsons and less like the "Jerichos". Urm... wait, whose name was that? But I'm only a German; who am I to dare?

Dog the Bounty Hunter

"Who let the hogs out??? Who? Who? Who?"
Okay let's skip it: this is crap; or even lower.

Aside of the whole "Wrestlemania"-issue (this serves the same customers) I've never seen such a no-brainer. I zapped through the channels one late night couple years ago and saw three episodes or so.

I thought "...that can't be true...". To get arrested by those guys and seen that aired all over the world is truly "capital punishment". Pardon that poor subjects and set them free, they are branded for life. It's surely the only show, dumber than "Knight Rider".

System requirements: IQ 20. From 50 upward there might be system-failures. Doesn't run on average brains.

No Country for Old Men

"NEBRASKA" . . . the movie.
„From the town of Lincoln, Nebraska with a sawed off .410 on my lap through the badlands of Wyoming I killed everything in my path..."

'round the age of 14 (1986 or so) I bought a copy from Springsteen's 1982 solo-album for 5,-DM (2,50 €uro or approx. 2$) in a second-hand-record-store, listened to it twice and put it away – disappointed for finding no "Born..." party-sound but a dark and scaring side-path of the American Way. I obviously made the same mistake as the shop-owner then, underrating this album (good for me, so I could buy it for toffee). It was only the early '90s when I put it on again to find out that it's the most essential of all Springsteen-albums. Since then it's among my all-time-top-five-records, the only one carved in stone there.

„License, registration, I ain't got none, but I got a clear conscience about the things that I done. Mister State Trooper, please don't stop me..."

Years ago a friend gave me a copy of McCarthy's "All The Pretty Horses" which was practically glued to my hands in the following months, making CM one of my all-time-favorite authors. Unfortunately since then I have neither seen the „Horses..." screen-adaption, nor read „No Country...". I was nevertheless pleased to read this movie to be made by the Coens, some of my main favorite and un-compromising filmmakers. Uncompromising as the novels of McCarthy.

The film is set in 1980 but it even appears as it was shot then; Josh Brolin comes along as a younger Nick Nolte in „E.P.". The opening sequence instantly devastates all eventual hopes for a „good" en-ding, as Walter Hill preferably did too around that time. Watching Javier Bardem's first appearance with his lunatic eyes and haircut reminded me of Powers Boothe in „Southern Comfort". His interpretation of Anton Chigurh to me was the most terrifying psycho-killer-performance since Benoit Poelvoorde in „Cést arrivé près de chez vous" (1992)

Only by the second time watching it I realized what the final consequence of his „sole-inspection" in the sequence on the porch was. A brief but meaningful gesture, performed so minimalistic that it could easily be overseen, but strikes the viewer the deeper as soon as it's been noticed.

„Seeing a man standing over a dead dog lying by the highway in a ditch. He's looking down kinda puzzled poking that dog with a stick..."

The Coens revive the early 80s with a love for the detail and the certain atmosphere which Hill and Tarantino probably envy and enjoy too. I'd therefore say that this film would fit better in a double-feature with "Death Proof" than the clumsily "Planet Terror". "Death Proof" also works with the Tarantino-typical sense for the hilarious, which the Coens cultivate that well and preferably; but "No Country..." is no fun, only bitter. Maybe a little like "Reservoir Dogs" (mind the torture-scene).

All in all there are gorgeous actors, a great script, no annoying score and an adequate because unromantic display about what violence is about – something truly horrible (as soon as it happens to yourself) that simply should not be:

"...People accept the most idiotic and unrealistic use of sex, violence and politics in any other book (...) I don't' take the reader into a world were all the girls are sexy and all the guys are dress-men, were somebody gets bashed with a rod and doesn't even have a headache next day, catches 15 bullets and wipes them away with a grin. Such a world I don't know..." Andrew Vachss,"Flood"-afterword, German edition.

Right. Neither does "No Country..."

I'm glad that the Coens worked once with Tommy Lee Jones now, a perfect match. As the character closest to the viewers point to lead through the plot, Jones was the right choice, his character Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a valuable alter ego to look through his eyes, an old, experienced but disillusioned officer who tries to outweigh his sense for duty against his hope to reach retirement unharmed. Thank you all, cast and crew.

"Well I chased him through them county roads 'til a sign said Canadian Border 5 miles from here. I pulled over the side of the highway watched his taillights disappear..."

Dawn of the Dead

"High-velocity-zombie at close range can damage the mind"
I can't recall whether there was any zombie-movie before this one, that accelerated the guys as seen here but it surely revived an ... well, at least "undead genre". To me it was a new impulse, a new element to present zombies rather like rabid-raging fast animals, than slow-mo man-eaters who mainly get dangerous in numbers; now even a single one can kill. That's new and cool.

There's basically not much to say about zombie-flicks, everybody knows the deal. The only question is: "Was it good or bad?" or to express it properly: "Have you been thrilled and entertained clever but without brains?" The answer here is simple and not negotiable: "Yes!"

If after only 10 minutes the whole neighborhood is burning down, the world tumbles into devastation and they are playing Johnny Cash, then... yes well, then I'm supposed to love the movie.

When I dragged my buddies into the theater (I had already seen it 2 days before), some asked me: "Man, are you certain? I don't know." I paused, smiled and just replied: "Trust me." In recent years I've come away of saying that, because it can end in a nosedive for the expertise-rep among one's friends. Here I was absolutely sure. It was the attacking girl which suddenly emptied all their popcorn-buckets after 6 minutes; theater-staff must have hated this film. After the end-credits they were all strung-out but happy; me too even by the second time.

Another good point here were a bunch of fine and not too known actors and also a script which allows the characters to avoid the typical horror-movie-mistakes we gotten annoyed of through the years: "Aw, Sally is gone. Let's all take flashlights, spread out in the woods and search her." Yeah. Right. Die you idiots. And take the authors with you. Or when finally an armory is found, this idiotic pattern to take a shotgun, bash the ammo-box on the table so all shells spread away, grab three shells into the pocket (instead of directly loading) and go, as seen for an instance in "Jurassic Park".

These guys are smarter, their ideas are good (see escape-plan), once in a gun-shop they're truly gearing up, and parts of the group finally only fail by a tragic accident (anyway: secure your working-space! I told you once, I told you twice...). The end leaves the survivors fate open; good for a sequel but not necessarily.

I'm pleased to see that the DVD is available since 2006 uncut for 8,- Euros (approx. 5$). Nevertheless I'd even say that "DOTD" is one of the few zombie-flicks which is recommendable to be seen on the big screen.

Other Recommendations: "28 weeks later", "Resident Evil I" (screw the sequels), "Rec" (Spain 2007), "Night Of The Living Dead" (1990), "Evil Dead II", "The Descent" (UK 2005, Hello Bigwolf ;-)), "Shaun Of The Dead (UK 2004).

Tatort: Borowski und die einsamen Herzen
Episode 707, Season 1

Einmal den Autoren Kiel-holen, bitte!
( = "Once keelhauling for the author, please!")

Zu „Tatort: Borowski und die einsamen Herzen" („Crimescene: Borowski and the lonesome hearts") first aired Sunday, October 12th 2008, 0815pm.

"I feel like in a bad film," the annoyed Sergeant Borowski (Axel Milberg) quarrels halfway through the story, set in the German "tatort-city of Kiel. Yeah. Right. It IS a movie, as the passionate moviefan among the viewers has already realized after five minutes this flick as a blatant rippoff from "Sea Of Love" (1989).

Borowski's line cited here comes right after the restaurant dating-marathon, a scene which is cloned 1:1 from the Al Pacino-movie. What's this supposed to mean? Running out of good ideas?

Among my friends, the majority like the Borowski-episodes less than the other "tatort"-units. I actually do like the Borowski-films, because of Axel Milberg's play, his Borowski (a divorced and single-educating father of a freshly pubertizing girl) is truly the most average guy you can think of, which makes his interpretation one of the most "uncool" and therefor realistic of all "tatort"-cops to me. Mil-berg can work pretty well with his mimic usually with the least of effort.

But this episode didn't do him any good. Not only that it was a borrowed plot, it was also poorly done.

At least there was a lot to see from Kiel, which is a nice city at the German east-sea-coast, close to the Danish border. The location alone should bear enough potential for terrific stories, due to her close range to the baltic sea and Scandinavia (read some Mankell-thrillers or watch "Forbrydelsen", Dansk 2007, to know how it should be). Okay, let's call it a day and wait for the next Borowski...

(edit from nov. 8th: Ah, Axel Milberg lately revealed that Mankell would write 2 scripts for the Kiel-"tatort"; I look forward to those ;o))

Oh and please don't title "tatort"-films with that "Borowski and the..."-pattern anymore as done over years with the "Bienzle"-episodes from Stuttgart. It gets boring and more boring and lacks any dramatical ambition. Is there a new bourgeois 'Maigret'-fever on the rise or what?

And for God's sake let Borowski and his precinct-psychologist Frieda Jung (Maren Eggert) have their romance at last, they both hesitated long enough now! Those scenes were Borowski daydreams about her while listening to her were the only funny moments here.

Tatort: Der glückliche Tod
Episode 706, Season 1

Live and let die
About „Tatort – Der glückliche Tod" („Crimescene: The satisfied Death") first aired October 5th, 2008.

On the banks of the river Rhine near the German city of Ludwigshafen a partial-combusted female body is found. Ludwigshafener homicide-lieutenants Lena Odenthal (Ulrike Folkerts) and Mario Kopper soon identify her as Sabine Brodag, an activist of a euthanasia-outfit in Frankfurt upon Main. Due to the clear legal restriction of euthanasia in Germany, that company connects clients to similar organisations in the near European neighborhood (here: Switzerland), where "assisted dying on request" for mortally ill people is legal. The issue of euthanasia is shown with all it's difficulties and controversial motivations and this episode thereby shows once more why "tatort" is that critically well-acclaimed in Germany.

Outstanding to me was the performance of junior-actress Stella Kunkat as Julia Frege. Julia is suffering of cystic fibrosis and has only days left. In one of the strongest scenes the nine-year-old girl has to trade with her approximately equally old brother Nils about her favourite puppets. Nils has just begun to understand that his sister won't be there for long anymore, but isn't yet fully aware what that truly means. Julia does and Stella Kunkat's eyes show the struggle between that cold knowledge and her warm love to her clueless brother. Or in another scene when Julia after a harsh coughing-attack whispers to her mother Katja, that " I'm through fighting..." and begs to be let gone. Young miss Kunkat's play belongs to the most emotionalizing moments in recent years "tatort"-productions. Her name oughta be well-reminded!

Susanne Lothar plays Julia's mother Katja, her face reveals the years at the doorstep of a nervous breakdown.

Lt. Odenthal: "How can you just stand all that?" Katja Frege:"I don't."

The situation gets out of hand when Katja tries to force Heymann (Frank Giering), another employee of the company for a lethal dose for her daughter, openly trying to blackmail him. Heymann, whose wife is highly pregnant and who recently got threatened and dog-attacked by a relative of a deceased client, already got into the investigative focus. The observational activities, the stalkings, the attacks, his fragile marriage and at last the pressure from Katja Frege result in open assault and violence against the desperate woman.

Julia's passing-scene at last –with all the tragic events we took to know through the episode as connected to it- is performed and filmed that despairing, that I was close to switching off (a compliment).

Odenthal and Kopper are the only roommates among all the "tatort"-buddies and therefore have a special relationship, but make no mistake: actress Ulrike Folkerts is a declared lesbian and also her character Lena has been vaguely revealed as such, when in one of the recent Ludwigshafener "tatort"-episodes she was briefly attracted by a lesbian suspect. Folkert's anyhow once mentioned that she wouldn't consider to reflect her sexual nature on Lena too much because it a) would only distract and b) wouldn't matter too much anyway to bear any real dramaturgical value. True, it doesn't matter. But it shows that Mario's and Lena's relation is of a more unique nature than that of average friends, colleagues and roommates where one day the option of romance or sex might put it at stake. That way, both come with contrary positions and emotions about euthanasia to the case and, by each others personal affection to the tragic events, see their friendship strengthened at the end, folding the legal discussions but –without words- agreeing about the essential questions that came along with it: life, death, comfort, dignity, empathy, decisions and whose moral right it is to make them.

An extra-mention goes to the tasty and sensible selection of music-tracks that support some of the scenes and work out better for the emotionalisation than a usual background-score (I spotted an excerpt of "About her" by Malcolm MacLaren, as known from "Kill Bill 2"), closing the case with a cover-version of Leonhard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Good choice...

Tatort: In eigener Sache
Episode 702, Season 1

„Tatort – In Eigener Sache" („Crimescene – Personal Intent")
The second case of the new-installed "tatort"-law-enforcement-unit Lannert (Richy Müller) and Bootz (Felix Klare) in the German city of Stuttgart opens up with a shoot-out in a hotel-suite, pretty-well filmed because the viewer can't see it directly. What exactly happens behind the half-open door, who shoots who, how often and why? Even screams and shots are heard only low through the -once more- atmospheric score. It's great that a modern TV-thriller gets based on one of the most oldfashioned (or classical) questions in crime: "What happened in that hotel-room?" and still derives tension from that as here. Already in the IMDb-comment for the new Stuttgarter's first case "Hart an der Grenze" I cheered for the successful crossover between traditional- and tomorrow's detective-storytelling, the new Shwabish-"tatorte" accomplish.

First, everything at the crimescene implies a messed-up police-raid against a member of organised crime from elsewhere and his local contacts, all of them KIA. Then the hints aim more towards corruption or unlawful benefiting within the police. In the climax the case then takes another turn. It could hereby be criticized that the audience couldn't predict or see that before the investigators. But "tatort" ain't "Hercule Poirot" (chapeau!) and not meant to guess along, but is meant to reflect reality were investigators are also often confronted with unexpected twists.

The pity of police work against colleagues comes to light when Bootz stresses Lannert his ethical boundaries about investigating against one suspect who is also Bootz' friend in and off-duty: „I will not enter his flat as a cop. I won't do that!" The only unclear question in this episode is why in such a constellation no one from IA (german: "Dienstaufsicht") shows up, but the regular cops have to proceed. But maybe it's truly different than from for instance the US. Or maybe it's because the anyway close cooperation between Lannert, Bootz and DA Emilia Álvarez (Caroline Vera-Squella).

The two cops, their CSI-assistant (german: KTU) Nika Banovic (Miranda Leonhardt) and the DA start to lower their moderate antipathy from the first episode, increase their cooperation and systematically reconstruct the shoot-out; while cooking dinner together. A nice move to introduce an upcoming sense of partnership. A taperecording from the crimescene -surprisingly one of the cops was cabled- reveals a ringing cellphone and a very low suspicious whisper which lets even the viewer hold his breath to catch it's content. The easiest tricks are the best to create tension.

Also private background is more and more revealed, such as Lannert's first visit at Bootz flat, meeting his wife, raising glasses or an apparently pointless romance between Lannert and his neighbor; power failures can still be romantic on TV; is the Stuttgart municipal-power-agency really that lousy? Two total-collapses in three days?! Anyway it was romantic...

Furthermore the mysterious bullet (see comment for „Hart an der Grenze") is back and Lannert rolls it through his fingers looking off-guard. His face shows that the case reminds him of his own blown operation in Hamburg which took him -and the bullet- here.

All in all, the Stuttgarter team and the filming-crew behind them have delivered a very solid and entertaining „tatort" here which makes you come and beg for more. Good script, good actors, camera, editing, directing and excellent dialogues – continue!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Raiders Of The Lost Art
When the excellent (!) „The Mummy" was released and friends asked me how good it was, I always replied: „Better than „Tomb Raider" but of course can't compete with Indy3." Within that grid one must sort „Indy 4" on one step with „Tom Raider" now! Many people I know, consider "Temple" the worst of the series. I never agreed because even though it wasn't as excellent as "Ark/Crusade", it was still terrific!

This one is far, far ... farfarfarfarfarfarfar worse than "Temple"! Bottom line.

"Crystal-Skull" is the continuation of "Van Helsing" by ... well, unfortunately by the same means. The jungle race and the sequence along the cliff was identically in "VH" and sucked already there. They should have avoided CGI! It's the Dark Side of adventure-movies. And even though there was lots of it in "The Mummy", it's makers accomplished it better to integrate and sublime it to the story and characters.

What made "The Mummy" as well as the other "Indy"-films better than this was also scenes when the heroes fail or get caught in a mess and their facial expressions then. To shoot straight: the dumb look on their faces! They have spared that too here. Now "our" heroes can do everything! Booooring *ZAPP*.

It's the same problem as the leap between Carpenter's "Escape from..."-films: Snake Plissken is a nihilistic streetfighter in "NY" and all of a sudden an omnipotent Superman in "LA" which spoiled the character and the spirit of the film.

Some dialogues and conceivable funny scenes in "Skull" –like the quicksand-confession- simply weren't comic but clumsy.

The spirit of the first three movies went gone. I remember after "Crusade" I've read an interview with Steven were he told about and praised his crew, specifically his chief-editor. Spielberg said, he always asked his editor something like "How many panels? What cutrate do you use?", and that old chap always replied: "I don't know, it just FEELS right!" Sorry I can't recall the source, but I definitively read it like that. Here's the dilemma: "Skull" doesn't FEEL right! In another note before the release of "Phantom Menace", Spielberg claimed he already got a private screening in Lucas' homecinema and " was so good that I will avoid to compete with that for quite a while...". It's plain obvious that both fellas would better consult fan-advice before their next eventual sequels.

It's not understandable why and how Spielberg, who even mastered to emotionalize issues like WWII without getting pathetic or euphemistic, but therefor highly emphatic, could now fail about that in a "simple" adventureflick after doing it right at least two times before with that franchise.

In fact the best scene is the one with the Marcus Brody statue, which reprises the father-son-eye-contact-take from „Crusade" during the motorcycle-chase. Also the following library-exit-dialog from Indy which refers to his study-advise from „Crusade" was the best reference.

It's also quaint -but actually could have been predicted- that the attempt to introduce an extraterrestrial background couldn't be accomplished as credible as even the spiritual ones from all earlier flicks. Actually not credible at all. Besides, it's only attractive for „X-Files"-fans who understand all the „Area51" references too. And for those -my former roommate is one of those- it's just amateur-stuff.

Another odd thing is, that the idol looks crappy. Even the "Sankara"-stones were more impressive even though there wasn't'anything spectacular about them. So were the sets. The graveyard was a studio, right? They'd better found a real one. Everybody who loved the first movies just KNOWS that this is studio.

And the freezer-scene... aw, c'mon! It left me cold, to cone a phrase.

The good point is, that now they have to do a fourth part - right now! They can't shelf the franchise like that! Little advise to Steven and George: "The Amber-Room" and "Odessa"; let's fight some Nazis again. PLEASE!

Oh, at least in my theater, "Skull" featured a trailer for the next "The Mummy"; looked cool. We'll see...

V for Vendetta

„Vermurkste Verfilmung Von Visionärer Vorlage"
(="Screwed up theatrical adaption from a visionary tale")

The Wachovskies continued here what the already did with their „Matrix trilogy: while the first part was an interesting and highly entertaining variation of Descarte's methodic doubt („do I really exist, or is all that I see, hear and smell just the coincidental one-second-glimpse imagination of a one-cell bacteria which I truly am?"; watch Carpenter's „Dark Star" for more details), they dismantled it themselves with two sheer-below-mediocre sequels with virtuous but pointless action, plot-hole-chains, horrible performances, grotesque attempts in coolness and hazardous dialogs.

When I read „Vendetta" first in about '91 or so, I was once more reminded that we're yet not safe from the menace which my country unleashed over the world in the 30s and 40s last century and that it can occur anytime anywhere again. The vision of the novel was as credible, authentic and fearsome as many news-broadcasts today. Which is what the author tried to accomplish as he mentioned in his foreword in the trade-paper-release I owned then. If I recall correct he mourned about „cheeky (cheery?) and cheesy, soaps, comedies and music-shows" and about „... people who turn off the news..." there. He dedicated the novel to „... people who don't turn off the news..."

The „Vendetta"-movie-adaption is for people who turn off the news.

A valuable blueprint of a possible dystopia which played in the same league as „1984", „Fahrenheit 451" or „Brazil" has been turned into a useless action-flick, lacking any political ambition or any attempt to subversively play with the viewers perceptions and political convictions. You leave the theater without anything to cut your teeth into or a matter to discuss controversially. And that despite the fact that the story today has enough actual events to function as an allegory for, as it had when it was written (war-propaganda, media-control, cutting of civil-rights, unbalanced and misanthropic economy etc). Hell, even „Mad Max II" was probably more political than this flick.

All the characters were real in the novel and became comic-characters in the film. Especially „V" is now a one-dimensional clown who rushes through the dialogs like a rabid rocket and through all the fighting-scenes like the energy-cell-rabbit: „It has no blood, no animae..." („Grosse Point Blank"). All those brilliantly placed quotes from literature-history that V used on any given occasion and during any terrorist action in the book turn into a what-did-he-mumble jelly here. Too fast for everybody who didn't read the novel, hell even too fast for those who did and -worst of all- too fast to celebrate the punchlines behind them. Who swaps drama for dynamic, deserves to lose both.

The story is an only fast forward. The fear of a fictional but credible fascistic regime that drowned out of every page of the novel got replaced by constant sensory-nervous-system-attacks and by the annoyment and anger about todays regular one-cut-per-second-editing-for-the-Mtv-generation; „If it's too slow, people can't follow." God, I miss Alfred Hitchcock...

I paid much attention on the Konzentrationslager-background of V but it didn't struck me at all as it did while reading it. Au contraire: „Look what a cool fighter V has become there. Gee, Concentration-Camps can't be that bad..." Folks, this is dangerous!

It's plain obvious that it was the wrong decision to let some non-UK-filmmakers do the project; some British would have better done this. No anti-americanism here, not at all, but the priorities would have probably been set elsewhere then and for sure on the more essential aspects than just on the visual and martial-arts. All the important side-stories were cut too. They should fold the „Watchmen"-project right now.

„Turn on, Turn on, Turn on - THE NEWS!!!" (Hüsker Dü)

My recommendation: „Das Leben Der Anderen"

Polizeiruf 110: Wie ist die Welt so stille
Episode 3, Season 37

„If you only stare long enough into the abyss . . . "
About „Polizeiruf 110 – Wie ist die Welt so stille" (= „How oh so quiet is the world"), first aired april 13th 2008.

The German Detective-series "Polizeiruf 110" (= "Policecall one-ten") was the most popular cop-series in the former eastern part of Germany and thereby the righteous brother of the west-German "tatort"-series. Therefore after the Reunion, the ARD (First west-German broadcasting agency and "tatort"-producing company) took over the franchise of "PC110" and established it as an additional high-quality premium series for the Sunday evening. Just like "tatort"-teams were established in east-German cities now, 110-law-enforcers were introduced in west-German urbanisides. The ARD had therefore her share on a factual reunion. I myself only started to follow "tatort" that strict that I never miss an episode a few years ago and therefore longly backed off to open up to one more detective franchise. Not for an anti-eastern-attitude but more from a lack of patience and time. Last Sunday's "110"-episode drastically changed that! I'll cling to the "Policecall" now too!

Lieutenant Jo Obermaier (Michaela May) and the one-armed lieutenant Jürgen Tauber (Edgar Selge) are on the trail of an obvious lunatic. The killer sneaked into a house in a Munich suburb at night, brutally killed the adult sleeping son with a supposed racket, then cold-blooded waited in that room until the parents arrived two hours later, waited 'til they went to bed (obviously knowing they wouldn't look into their sons room anymore), fell asleep and then killed them too the same way. The upper rooms look like a slaughterhouse and the film doesn't spare to confront the viewer in quick editing and (not so brief) police-pics from the scene.

Aside of the tension of the case as such, the authors and filmcrew dare to break a taboo for German cop-series: they show a complete investigative failure and a human catastrophe in the police-squad, whose members can't cope with the extreme brutality of the crime.

Obermayer's marriage is put at stack, since she's tormented by case as much as the audience. The District Attorney is a career-eager, opportunistic idiot. The task-force gets folded due to the lack of investigative success. Tauber is more and more losing it, oppressing witnesses, sleeping in his office, suffering of insomnia, trying to stay awake by power-drinks and quarrelling with his assistants. Both cops get regularly haunted by flashbacks. Camera and editing support that with various first-person camera-angles and partially with simple but nevertheless strong camera- and lense-fx.

Finally Tauber is forced to go into rehab after a nervous breakdown he had (outstanding performance!) because one suspect committed suicide when the pressure from the investigation destroys his social grid.

The actual case in the end is solved by „Kommissar Zufall" (german police-gossip for „Commissioner Coincidence") months later. Tauber has returned from rehab but has changed. In a final interrogation he faces the slayer as cold-eyed as that one must have been in the first place. Case closed. But the tragedy doesn't even stop at the doors of the police-tower. And there's nothing the two lieutenants can finally do.

I've waited for such consequence in German TV for years! For that, it must be said that this „110"-epsiode plays in the same league as the best British or Scandinavian detective series you can tell, the novels of UK-crime-writer David Peace or the works of Henning Mankell, visually somewhere near Fincher's „Seven"; in a TV-scale of course!

To any responsible TV-award-jury in Germany: this deserves various German TV-awards and demands attention from all jurors! It also deserves more than the 10 stars that IMDb offers, I'd stack'em high on this. So add another 5 mental stars.

Tatort: Hart an der Grenze
Episode 690, Season 1

"Crimescene - Close Call"
'bout "Tatort – Hart an der Grenze", first aired March 09th 2008

This "tatort" episode introduces a new couple of detectives in the German city of Stuttgard after the character of Detective Bienzle (performed by Dietz-Werner Steck) retired and quit the series after long years of screen-duty. Bienzle was a more moderate, conservative character and so were the episodes. The ARD (First German Channel) introduced a more contemporary crime-unit now. And they succeeded.

Richy Müller (Det. Lannert) and Felix Klare (Det. Bootz) perform in best buddy-tradition: the motive of two detectives with contrary characters who must get used to each other to clean the streets has become a standard throughout the years and has also found it's way into the "tatort" – the best German detective-series ever! Here it has been performed better or worse throughout recent years, but this match could become a classic easily.

The detectives Lannert and Bootz are on the trail of an illegal adoption-outfit that trades and sells children abducted from eastern europe towards Germany and western europe and whose henchmen are willing to even kill the kids to stay covert. The discovery of a child's body initiates the case.

Among many good points and despite the serious issue, this episode's funny moments were truly funny, even in a better way than the "tatorte" from Münster where the humor has lately begun to appear too "constructed".

Outstanding is propably the scene when Bootz & Lannert investigate in the suspicious agency, impersonating a gay couple with an adoption-wish, both trying to score each other's "authentic behaviour" and thereby irritate each other more and more - hilarious! Also scenes when Lannert double-crosses Bootz about his authority, or later Bootz impressing the DA with "knowledge" about a (made-up) constitutional amendment, are excellently reprised classics.

Lannert initially tells that he "can't show up there (Hamburg, his former beat) anymore" and at the very end of the episode he leaves a mysterious bullet on his desk. Those hints about a blown operation during his Hamburg line-of-duty give hope for more interesting background for the characters to be revealed in forthcoming episodes.

The music score deserves an extra mention as surely one of the most outstanding background music works ever conceived for a "tatort" episode. It's not far fetched to draw parallels to John Carpenter's "Escape from NY"-score here.

The episode also features a cool chase (car vs. enduro) which (spoiler ahead!) ends up in the ditch and is particularly therefore accurate.

This, the tension between the two cops and even the wardrobe for the characters reminded me a little about for example "Starsy & Hutch" or other cop-classics. Vintage meets Forward here in a good stir.

A couple of days before the episode was aired, regarding the car-chase-scene actor Richy Müller in a talkshow actually almost disqualified himself when he admitted regular highway-speeding and criticised an anti-speeding campaign. SLOW DOWN, DU NASE! It's cool on screen, it sucks in real!

A couple of days after the episode was aired, actor Dietz-Werner Steck, who performed Detective Bienzle mourned about the lack of local identification, the dark urban pattern and the more action-bound up-tempo of the new Stuttgard-"tatort". True, but that is not criticisable. This "tatort" is simply contemporary and therefore of course can't slow-around as the more set Bienzle-films anymore.

I look forward for this buddies, as much as for the new "tatort"-Detective for Hamburg.

To all non-German users: "Hart an der Grenze" is German for "Close to the edge", "Close Call" or "To The Limit". "Grenze" also means "border" and refers to the transeuropean character of story.

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