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Monthly Archives: February 2006

Als ich den Film das erste Mal sah, da war es Montag Nacht, ich hatte
eine halbe Flasche Rotwein getrunken, bin ueber die huebsche
Hauptdarstellerin gestolpert und habe den Film ganz gerne gemocht.
“Nuechtern” betrachtet ist er ganz schoen banal und auch nicht mal rein
wenig lustig. Romantisch ist er auch nicht. Er ist, na ja, halt so ein
deutsches Filmchen. Mit einem Hauptdarsteller, der nicht so recht auf
der Hoehe ist (Bleibtreu) und ein paar Sidekicks, die fuer den ein oder
anderen Schmunzler immerhin gut sind (die Akins an der Grenze, oder den
Tuerken, der seinen toten Onkel im Kofferraum nach Hause ueberfuehren
will, um den Scherereien mit den deutschen Behoerden zu entgehen).
Ansonsten muss man sich nicht an viel erinnern, ausser daran, dass Fatih
Akin sich von hier an gesteigert hat.

What’s interesting about a freak environmentalist who does not understand that the best one can do to protect endangered bears is to stay away from them and leave them to themselves? There is a bit of a sensationalist aspect involved, because you do not very often get a chance to observe an egomaniac at work, live and in colour. Sorry: two of them, as Werner Herzog directed the movie and grabbed another chance to mention the Kinski hardships he had to endure in his rich live. So Herzog takes the footage filmed by Tomothy Treadwell, adds some moving interview scenes with people who either believe him a saint or a nutter who got what he deserved. And what I really hate about Herzog is that he takes every chance he gets to put himself on center stage, as happens when he has a chance to listen to the audio tape that recorded the last minutes of Treadwell and his companion, being eaten by a bear who got fed up with all the gibberish this human kept talking into the camera. The film ends sadly, because the bear gets shot.

Let’s quote the reviewer of arte-tv, who happened to see the film almost at the same time as I did: “Chen Kaige, der sich für die schulmäßige Produktion ‘Lebe wohl, meine Konkubine’ (1993) noch im Ruhm der Goldenen Palme sonnen konnte, scheint mit diesem fürchterlich hässlichen und armseligen Monumentalepos seinen absoluten Tiefpunkt erreicht zu haben.” Meaning: it’s disgusting rubbish, a waste of money, fortunately not of talent, as there is none to be found… my own interpretation. But the picture gets clearer when you realise that the most expensive picture mainland China has over put out is still only around 35 Mil. Dollars, meaning that all of the technical stuff, the cgi and mattes and whatever is around needed to be bought at cheap suppliers in God knows where – or produced in-house, in China. As with most more sophisticated technological ventures, the result becomes apparent: It claims to be basically the same as the “real’ stuff (the Lord of the Rings or Matrix stuff), but you see immediately that all of it is nothing but the plastic variety of
the original. Special effects is nothing you can just copy, you have to know it – and the places where people know are far away from Beijing and very expensive, too.
Even more expensive are good scripts, because you cannot just go out and buy them, even if you had unlimited amounts of money. Shame is that when you try to run for Oscar material “in the style of….” (Tiger Dragon, in particular), you are stuck to a certain kind of narrative, even if
you don’t know what story to tell. So WuJi is the result of a gigantic effort to shove offical Chinese cinema on a global plattform (including forcing the film on all Chinese screens for a while), with the result of Ang Lee running for Oscars with his little love story (banned in mainland China) and Chen KaiGe defintitely not running for anything, maybe away from the critiques. Sounds fair enogh.

It’s always a pleasure… No wait… Hang on, I realise that I have seen
this film actually once, when it was initially released, but never
since. For some reason, though, this lttle group of people feels like a
small familiy: Auggie with his tobacco shop, Forest Whitaker struggling
with his smartass boy, William Hurt more vulnerable than anybody can
possibly be in his effort to get over his wife’s death… Funnily, I had
completely forgotten about most of the plot and was always waiting for
Jim Jarmusch to enter the scene, announcing that he would like to smoke
the last cigarette of his life together with Auggie. This, apparently,
would have been “Blue in the Face”, but does it matter? A wonderful
picture with mostly wonderful people in it. Apart from Auggie’s
girlfriend, of course.

The first part of Saw was a very interesting thriller, indeed. A nicely claustrophic story, pleasantly disgusting visual style, good twists in the plot and a very satistfactory ending, with all the good efforts of the nice people in vain. I like that. What to do after that: Lock up more people, involve more outsiders and kill more of both. While the plot of the first film is still very vivid in my memory, I have to admit that while I remember the outline of part 2, it is hard to remember the outcome of it all. Too many people, most of them dead by the end of the film, and no real improvement on any aspect of part 1. Regular sequel fate…

The thing that must be said about each and every Tim Burton film ist
that it’s great that he made it, and that noone else can make this kind
of moviem and that it could have been much better! Lack of competition
in your market segment leads to short opening hours, ridiculously silly
newspapers, and not-quite-perfect Tim Burton films in the market segment
of “Tim Burton films”. This is another example of a very amusing and
also touching one. Remember the Nightmare before Christmas, which is
much less perfect in many respects, pace and timing in particular, and
wonder why this one is better. I think one answer is that you could
imagine the characters in a real-life environment, and it would also
make a nice and romantic, a little funny flic. Not a very special one,
but entertaining just as well. The fact that we have some stop-motion or
cgi adds something and makes it more than just average Julia Roberts
meets that slimy whatshisnameEnglishman, Hugh something who should not
be named … film. And allows for a nice set of underground characters
(Corpse Bride relatives, most of them, but also some regular
Living-Bride family that is quite creepy). Worth watching, worth waiting
for the next Tim-B. and hoping that it will have yet another little
improvement in the script efforts…

There is a lot to be said about King and about Kong. I like Stephen King
a lot, but unfortunately, the film is not based on one of his stories.
About Kong: one of my first movie experiences was watching Kong in the
backroom of a Northern Bavarian restaurant, in a special Sunday
afternoon 16mm kids’ screening. Only the second half, though, so all the
rubbish about explaining why anybody would go to this island in the
first place was left out. (this was the 1980s version, by the way). The
monkey was alright, however, I have to defend it against all these
nasty reviewers who refuse to loose a good word about this version.
Matter-of-fact, in 1985, there was a reason to remake King Kong. In
2005, admittedly, there was not. Fortunately, most of the tales about
production costs is an outright lie, of course, because every child can
see that 76 per cent of the film is just a director’s cut of Lord of the
Rings and Jurassic Park and Evolution and some of the related BBC
material. The rest is not very good, but a nice distraction on a Sunday
afternoon. And most of it is very loud, too, so you can try the settings
of your hearing aid, if you had one. If not, you will need one.
Now the objectively reviewing part: the airfight at the end really made
me dizzy, so I guess it was well directed. Unfortunately, the monkey
dies at the end (I really crossed my fingers for him, but I had tried
that before when watching “Titanic” and to no avail, so I was not too
surprised). I hope that there is KingKong II – The Curse of the
Were-Monkey, or that maybe they let Terry Gilliam direct it. I want to
see that woman pregnant with an 8-meter baby monkey and breastfeeding

The interesting thing about the film is the box office figures. Is this
the film that disappointed most over the last year with respect to box
office? 50 Mio Euro cost, according to IMDB, and a US revenue of $ 2
Million, not much more in the UK, and a devastating 50.000 Euro in the
Netherlands… How come? Maybe because you need to subtitle this one in
every country of the world. No way (at least for me) to get through this
Cockney language and follow the drama. But maybe there is no drama in
the first place? I was left quite unaffected by it all, with all the
expected things happening, all the bad guys getting what they deserve
and all the good guys surviving at the end. Well, maybe not quite
Polanski’s fault, but one could suggest that this kind of narrative may
not be the thing that the modern audiences are waiting for.
Old-fashioned, that’s maube the key, the story is old-fashioned, and in
order to make something out of it for a film, you need to contrast it
with modern style of narration, maybe by breaking up the linear
narration or using a specific visual style. Hell, how should I know, I
am not the scriptwriter or the director… But I do know that none of it
is in the film. Very traditional visuals and narrative, even the actors
look the same as you would imagine them to look when you think of 1950s
movies on the same or similar stories. Solid work, Roman, but next time:
please be more original.

Germabn Review at

In diesem Blog gibt es kurze Kommentare zu den von mir gesehenen Filmen zu lesen. Sei es im plüschigen Filmtheater mit Brokatvorhang – oder in Saal 18 des Vorstadtmultiplexes – oder auf dem Sofa, zwischen DVD-Schachteln und mit der Bierdose in der Hand. Content ist King, und wenn der nix taugt, dann wird das hier vermerkt, als Warnung an mich und an die Nachwelt.

This blog will feature short comments on the films I’ve seen, wherever and whenever: be it in the cozy comfort of the proper film palaces, or the shabby malls, or on the home sofa cinema studio, between stacks of DVD boxes and canned beer. It’s content that counts, and if it sucks, this site is here to remind me and those who come hereafter of it.

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