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Monthly Archives: November 2006

these are the days of unexpected films, I guess: Wes Craven, plane, red eye… I only watched it because I heard a lot of decent comments about it, noen stating what it was about. So I formed my own expectations based on the named facts, and: it was not a film about some horrible occurences in a nightly plane, maybe with half of the people disappearing mysteriously or the plane touching down in a world without population. Indeed, I did expect something like this, as laid out in one of the "Four Past Midnight" ( stories by ours truly SK, "Langoliers" it was called (reminder: need to get that). What did I get: very solidly done thriller with all the necessary ingredients for a bit of late afternoon entertainment. Wes Craven apprently has decided to spend some time in the thrill rather than the horror department, and the required talents are doubtlessly there: the characters are well picked and casted (even though "Jack Ripper" has too apparently these crazy eyes that will turn out to be evil ones, one can be very sure from the beginning). The layout of the story is quite clever, yet not sensationally clever, I have to say. Being stuck in a plane for a while is fine for any form of suspense, but it’s not really clear what that means when you actually have a phone connection. The benefits of being locked up in the skyes is a bit wasted if you allow that. But at the end of the day, I would say the majority of the film does not play on the plane anyway, so maybe the title is misplaced rather than the script. I also had the impression that the plot was a bit hurried in order to check all the relevant boxes on the scriptwriting turorial sheet: in particular, the events at the hotel were not really dramatic. Everybody did what other people told them, and that was that. 90 minutes (not even) over, did it, done with.

A review just reminded me that there was this exposition of details linking the various plot elements. I would have completely forgotten, because it’s irrelevant, while nicely filmed. At least that: nicely filmed applies to most of it.

Review Overview:

"Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta" by The Master Miazaky was not, as I thought when I saw the DVD box, the latest groundbreaking piece, but a very ealry, even more groundbreaking piece. Being rather ignorant about the history of animated pictures, I did not realise immediately that this (from 1986) must have been really an amazing for the time. But when you watch it, you realise immediately that there is something special about it. There is a very elegant seriousness about the whole story, and I think this film shows particularly well what it is that distinguishes the Asian (or maybe it’s just Miazaky’s) art from the Holywood version: the most fantastic (in the "fantasy" meaning of the word, among others) occurrences hit the characters, who face their fate and fight their way with the greatest sobriety, neglecting the urge to despait in the confrontation with all these witches and wizards, ghosts and ghouls. To introduce this form of fantastic element in an otherwise completely straightforward and regular world makes the charm.

All in all: the story and its fantastic characters are not as over the top as in his later films, but this is made up by the charming characters and the big morale, of course. As rewarding an experience as ever. And if you want to know what Mark Hamill was doing recently…

Of course there is absolutely no reason for a remake of the 1972 "Poseidon Adventure" (, because that film had all it needs to make a classic: ridiculous peril, close escapes, tacky characters, and Ernest Borgnine. Wolfgang Petersen’s "Poseidon" ( has none of that, but Kurt Russell, which makes matters worse. The days are long over when Mr Russell was the coolest "call me Snake" asshole around, and I cannot really remember having seen anything of considerable esteem since. Wait, I will check IMDB… oh yes: "Big Trouble in Little China" will be the only other film from his Oeuvre to be remembered (I just realise he was quite busy, indeed, but most of these films have titles that sound strangely like straight-to-video…).

Anyway: the wave looks better than the one in "Perfect Storm", so the Petersen people are able to learn from their mistakes. Everything else is equally predictable and boring as in that other film ("Storm", not "Poseidon Adventure", of course), only that George Clooney (to his own benefit) is missing. There is a surprising share of the main characters dying between beginning and ending, which is quite satisfying, but the thing that I found really hard is to believe that the Kurt Russell character is a super-millionaire with a political career. He always just looks like some dude climbing out of his truck after an 8-hour shift behind the wheel… anyway, nice entertainment if you have seen all other blockbusters already. Unfortunately without the tacky and cheesy parts a true disaster classic requires.

Schnitt-Review (German):
Guardian overview:,,-112577,00.html

Interesting – I had read a review about the film before I watched it, but had practically no idea what it would be about, aprt from it being about two rivalling illusionists. So I had an almost ideal setting and could allow myself to get surprised by just about everything I encountered: the plot twists (many, may too many) or cast: it took me 100 minutes to recognize the guy from “American Psycho” (Christian Bale) – but then it came to me with a vengeance, when he started acting like one, psycho, I mean. I admit that I could not quite grab from where and whence I knew this untalented actor who played Nikola Tesla. And in a setting where three time levels are intertwined and the protagonists make a living out of appearing not to be what (or where) they are, it took me some time to distinguish all these people and their respective social environment.

After I got around these troubles (which have a lot to do with me being utterly unable to remember actors’ faces if I don’t know them for years – I might recognize Robert de Niro and Meryl Streep on the street, might…) the film started to entertain me. It did that for half an hour, then I started wondering why the script did not decide on a direction to go, and I started to get a little bit bored. And then the finale came about and I am not lying when I say that I was sitting there with my mouth open (is “gawping” the correct term?), frewuently uttering those little crazy bursts of laughter that declare incredulity and disbelief, but also blessed satisfaction about what films still can do. Surprise you and stun you, in this case. I would never have thought that this film would take the direction it did, and indeed one needs to ask the question of whether the one element of “true magic” that happens in the film is not endagering the whole construction of these illusionsists fighting their eternal, but still human battle. There is a moment when I thought “oh no, you must be kidding” and almost lost all sympathy – but then the film takes this one element seriously, works with it results in a truely hilarious resolution. What a showdown!

Interesting side”fact / opinion”: All the film’s females are irrelevant or annoying. The director is a magician in his own right (Christopher Nolan)

BBC 5live Audion Review:
Movie Maze (German):

Attention Attention Important Announcement! I have been completely ignorant to the movie reviews by Mark Kermode on Five Live so far. When I listened to his bashing as Elizabethtown and his mourning over Brothers Grimm today in the Five Live Archive, I promised to myself that I will never miss a single Podcast of this show and that I will not rest until I have (a) found out how to download shows from the archive, (b) downloaded every single bit of it or got all streamed or whatever. I was in tears when he raged about Elizabethtown’s outrageousness and was swimming in vomit, calling for the barf bag in vain! Yes! Greatest Podcast ever!

Being a bit detached from German cinema at the moment, I had never heard of this one before I stumbled into the cinema, half an hour late. The only familiar thing I realised was Juergen Vogel’s face, which is always a pleasure to see, especially because of the three films in which he stars at any given moment simultaneously, usually only one is worth seeing. The whole setup of the film promised that this would be the one – and then there’s is hardly anything better than Juergen Vogel in a good film. Indeed, this was a good one. Vogel plays somebody (missed the beginning, so I am not exactly sure what or who he is) who flees his life and a disease and falls into the arms of a young peasant lady (played by wonderful Joerdis Triebel, and I just had to look up what else she played, but: she is actually a cinema novice, what a revelation! I guess she must have done some serious stage acting before.). He is grumpy, she is nerdish and messy, they fall in love and live happily ever …  something like that, but not quite like that at all. In beautiful circles, the two approach each other, only to realise, once they found each other, that this will be a very short encounter, indeed. Big drama, big emotions!

With Terry Gilliam, a disclaimer is usually required: Yes, I am aware that he usually creates so much chaos in his projects that it is a miracle we have seen any film of his in the theaters. And yes, I am one of those people who like his after-Pythons cinematic adventures better than what he did in that comedy combo. AND I did actually quite like the Adventures of Baron Muenchhausen. Now that’s a bummer, because I guess with this combination, I belong to a minority of, say, globally, three people. And now “Brothers Grimm”, the first finished film after the Don Quichote disaster, surely produced under closest scrutiny by whoever had his money in. In some scenes (usually involving pretty women and ugly witches) you can actually feel the hand on the writer’s / director’s shoulder, clawing him to do a bit more of this and show a bit more of that. But the result is: surprisingly good. It’s not a masterpiece, but you can find all the elements that make a good Terry Gillaim movie – maybe with the exception of this dark and lost atmosphere which caused “Brazil”, “Fisher King” and “12 Monkeys” to be more than just some Fantasy straight-to-video material. Less fantastic than Muenchhausen, less visionary than Brazil, less funny than Fisher KIng, Brothers Grimm is still a very convenient way to spend to hours. And that witch is very beautiful, you have to give!

And Mark Kermode’s audio review

And now to something completely different… Tideland… soon to come …

The good thing about traveling woth the most uncomfortable airline in the world is that first they keep you from sleeping (by trying to poison you with their food first, then by making you realise that the seat actually has exactly half the size of your bum), and then they usually offer some Austrian backlist films in their onboard entertainment programme. As I had missed "Der Ueberfall" when it was in the cinemas (in the same year as "Komme suesser Tod", apparently), I was quite please with them this time. Josef Hader being the greatest comedian that side of the Alpes (and, since Hanns-Dieter Huesch dies, probably in the whole continent), the story of a moronic bank robbery / supermarket robbery / ah well – tiny tailorshop robbery going wrong had many promising elements that would allow Hader’s talent to unfold. Now I seem to remember that the reviews had not been too good when the film came out, and I also remember that (maybe as a consequence of that, or because Austrian films tend to kill German box offices) it was a very limited theater release. But it’s worth it! It does not have the hilariousness of "Komm Suesser Tod" (because it does, of course, not have an equally brilliantly and outrageously funny novel on which it would be based – because there is no such a thing that would equal Wolf Haas’ Brenner-Trilogy). But the combination of the loser-gone-robber, who desperately needs some cash for his son’s birthday present and that son’s mother’s monthly demands (Roland Düringer), of  the tailor who does not seem to understand what a ferocious professional crime he has become victim to (Joachim Bissmeier) and Josef Hader, who is the hypochondric customer who is desperate to get back to mother before 6 pm, who is willing to take any side in the conflict that is the least dangerous, and who organises a nice and sardonic happy end to the story. A very fitting trio, with surprisingly harsh moments of violence – you are never allowed to laugh for too long, as you might swallow on the blood. I have no idea how well all this translates into foreign countries, but in the German-language world, this is surely a comedy by one of the more talented teams.

Der Ueberfall – The Hold-Up:
Komm suesser Tod:

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