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Monthly Archives: July 2006

Update for German readers: nice review on the German “Superman returns” start can be found here:

To make this very clear: nobody forced me to go, I was actually looking forward, because this time I knew for sure that I would not get disappointed, because my expectations were zero. Superman has always been a whimp, has no muscles (and, I supposed until recently, no testicles) and no brain, just lucky with his super powers from Krypton. He is noone to be adored, noone that you ever want to be yourself. He is good for catching burglars and saving the world, but that’s about it. There is no chance you make a really exciting film out of this dull character. Spiderman had his chance, and failed. Batman had his chances, and failed mostly. About Fantastic 4 we better speak no more… But: Superman was probably one of the first movies I ever saw in a cinema, and I still remember having been very impressed by the side-fact that they had to pay 1 Million Dollars to Marlon Brando to make him wear a wig and say some pathectic lines. I must have missed one or two of the sequels, so it is a bit hard to follow the plot… just kidding, but I was indeed surprised to learn that Superman called and flew or teleported home to pay tribute to his no more existing home planet (which is a bit like going to see the place where Titanic sank – not much to see, I reckon). So now that’s why he “returns” and the last and only mystery of the film has been resolved. Apart from who convinced the woman who is Lex Luthor’s side-kick to take that job, because her career will not be fostered by this new piece of her own history. The film has some nice humour at times (related to canine cannibalism, for example), and a sympathetic villain (Lex Luthor has always been the only reason to read the comics). There are two seriously annoying things about the film, however, so you may wait for the director’s cut collector’s box alternative version DVD thing which might do away with them if enough of us write emials to the producers: (1) Louis Lane, (2) the story. There have been about 23040 more interesting ways to take over control over the planet, and there have been 0 more boring superhero love interests. Apart from that: to be recommended if you can get it at high volume while the weather is rainy and you already have had dinner, but there is still no major sports tournament on tv.

… the difference between the taste of audiences (or merely their behaviour?) and critic’s choices.

From Chinese Media Project:
“July 13 �C Attempting to put an end to the mainland distribution of
unauthorized domestic and foreign documentaries and other audiovisual works
about China, China’s General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP)
issued orders yesterday that all audiovisual works (DVDs, CDs, etc) dealing
with the Cultural Revolution and other “major topics” (�ش�ѡ��) must be
registered before distribution on the mainland. A GAPP official in charge of
audiovisual and web publishing said that in order to boost sales a number of
audiovisual publishers had produced or imported works without first
obtaining permission.”
Full story:

There is hope, even in the US: news item from E!Online, July 10th 06:

"Call it a clean-cut victory.
Siding with 16 of Tinseltown’s biggest directors, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Steven Soderbergh, a federal judge in Denver has ordered several companies to cease and desist from editing out movie content they find offensive.

In a 16-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Richard P. Matsch said the actions taken by Utah-based CleanFlicks and retailers such as Clean Cut, Family Flix and Play It Clean Video to cut out profanity and graphic scenes of nudity and violence from DVDs and then redistributing the sanitized versions over the Internet and to video stores across the country violated U.S. copyrights laws."

Full Story:,1,19458,00.html

Rather long article in the German daily "Die Welt" about the Chinese film market … ehm… situation (in German):

I kind of stopped watching Coen films some time ago. I don’t know why and when it happened. I only know that the comedy with Zeta-Jones and Clooney (can’t remember the name of the movie) was so uninteresting in description that I only very late realised that it actually was done by the Coens. What happened to them? The bite is gone? I never had as dangerous a laughing fit as when I watched "Raising Arizona", I am even among the few people who watched "Hudsucker" and I am one of … er… one who likes it. That mixture of slapstick comedy by people who you don’t expect to perform it, the mix of production design and camera that always tended to have a slightly surreal touch. Amazing. But gone… Ladykillers has been an attempt to revive those old days (for me, I mean – but maybe also for them, by using one of the most hilarious comedies of all times as a script), and it was very boring. Very boring, indeed. One wonders why you have to take up this pathetic habit of remakes, in the first place. If you do, you must either have a genius’ touch on twisting the story into new directions, or maybe your aesthetic vision allows you to reinvent the optics of a film. Ladykillers does neither. The lady is black, and she sings the Gospel. That’s basically it about the variations. Tom Hanks is not up to the role-model he is supposed to be following – and looks detached from the part, maybe be became aware of the imminent failure, but that may also be sheer interpretation. So he remains the most over-rated and under-subtled actor of the last two centuries, but let’s leave it up to taste: I just don’t like anything about the film, and I wished they hadn’t made it. As it’s too late for that: would it be inappropriate to suggest not to do another one? You lost the touch, boys…

One of these crazy little films where you wonder where the borderline between a prank and true art is. Or whether it matters. Brilliantly conceived variations upon a 1960s short film by a Swedish director whose name I forgot. And the one who made up the creative twists is none less but Lars von Trier, the still-Wunderkind of European cinema. He is consequent in not losing too many thoughts about the artistic implications of his directives (or at least he is keen on leaving this impression) and throws artistic idiocies such as "no take longer than 12 frames" at the old man, knowing exactly that the well-established genius will find a brilliant way to cope with this.

Not all five "obstructions" (to making a normal film, one should add) are equally innovative and original, sometimes the claimed and pronounced desperation appears real, as the film scenes meander about without too much concept. It does not matter, however. The film perfectly presents ways to chew on stories and aesthetical ideas, efforts to find new approaches to established stories in a medium that requries re-invention by the Denish now and again. Great to watch!

There are these bad habits in life that one just cannot really control: smoking, eating ice cream, reading Stephen King books and watching “24”. Actually, at any given time I am a frequent user of 1 tv show at max. Usually I hate them, primarily because they don’t have one conclusive story, but pretend to have one every week, they don’t have one line of tension, but one every week, the kind of pretend to build primarily on the characters they deploy. Admittedly, I am not very interested in these people haunting “Desperate Housewives”, “Aly McBeal”, “CSI” or the “Sopranos”. I don’t even know how to spell them correctly… I like 24 because it is not a tv show. It is one film, a bit over-lengthy, but that’s alright, I also like Angelopoulos. Thinking about it, the only tv shows I ever really liked in the last decades (with the possible exception of the X Files) were those that did have a weekly format, but only to the annoyance of the audience, as they were really one long film: “Twin Peaks” most prominently, or the German “Heimat” masterpiece. This specific preference of mine disallows me to watch them on tv, of course. That would be akin to stepping out of “King Kong” after one hour, with a ticket to come back next week for the middle part.

Ah well: 24… Not much to say without spoiling the fun, apart from stressing that every single one of our favourites is back in play, some for longer, some for shorter periods. Fortunately, among the short appearances is Kim Baur, the nerv-killing daughter. Tony and Michelle, Chloe and Edgar, Audrey and her daddy, the president and the ex-president. I still keep wondering whether either Nina Myers or Palmer’s wife (whatshernameagain?) might turn around the next corner soon, but the script spares us this. It might be worth checking the IMDB entries whether everybody is actually played by the same actors, as there are some very-short-term appearances and I was wondering whether the actors had already checked out before shooting and needed to be replaced for a short getting-killed take. Oh yes: some people get killed, most tear-jerkingly at 6:55 pm, if I remember correctly. It is interesting to see how the makers have improved on their abilities to make some characters come alive. I am thinking of Aaron the White House security guy in particular, who had always been some form of sympathy pillar, but now the pillar turned from stone to flesh.

The Emmy nominations have given many reviewers the opportunity to stress that this season may have been the best one. I am not sure, but I am sure that they need to be very careful with the pattern they use, with the succession of issue-resolution-new issue-another resolution-etc. It worked excellently for me this time, again. It only felt a little bit as if next time, it might wear off a bit.

Eternal truths: (1) a happy end after 24 hours of catastrophes is a bit too much to expect, (2) there is no room for humour of any kind when you are busy saving civilisation as we know it.

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