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Monthly Archives: July 2007

Ouch, that was one find. Out of the repertoire of nastiness comes one trendsetter in gory entertainment. I don’t actually know how come that I suddenly had the urge to find and watch that one, but I think it had to do with the director being out with a new film. Check IMBD (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089885/) … hm, seems he had his share of wavering carreer moments, but at least he did do a movie this year, even though I don’t remember having heard anything about it. As for Re-Animator: it is the story of Dr Frankenstein retold, now named Dr West, but also Herbert, who worked in Switzerland for too long, which leaves its mark on people, and unsurprisingly, he starts developing potion that reanimates corpses. Pet Semetary-ish, but without the painful process of carrying the bodies up to the natives’ graveyard. The effect is the same: the living ones get greedy, the dead ones get nasty. You cannot really call it a successful experiment when everybody you reawakened starts jumping at you to pull your guts out. The whole thing gets increasingly hilarious, as it should, culminating in a fantastically ridiculous finale, with decapitated bodies raping cute non-virgins, the army of the re-animated rising and falling again, the morgue turning into a slaughterhouse, with whipping intestines and everything. Very good fun, I have to say, and really well paced, and with the right level of not taking itself too seriously (I assume it is intentional, there is no other excuse for the body carrying its own head around, while having a crash test dummy head stuck on its shoulders). I would expect that the film had a brilliant cost-revenue ratio, and whoever spends more than a million dollar on his modern rubbish slashing torturing franchises should watch this one first. 20 times, rather.

Stuart Gordon Interview at http://www.timeout.com/film/features/show-feature/3123/stuart-gordon-interview.html
 

I never played with the toys, I recon I was about five years too old for them, which means that the whole folklore around the film, the truckload of geeky expectations, the debates about whether or not any robot should have lips, is very much very not interesting to me. It’s a film about a bunch of robots gotten off-track, crashed into Earth and unable to get away. As they are here anyway, they can just as well split up into good and bad and kick each other’s stainless steel butts.

Starting with the final assessment: the film is much better entertainment than any film costing more than 100 million Dollards that I’ve seen this year. It has a more original idea ("more" meaning: take out all the threequels, as they did not have any single original idea, and "300" was not very original, either) than the rest, it does its CGI much better most of the time (the robots look like robots, that’s for sure), and the lower part of the lead girl is rather attractive (which is not true for "Pirates3", "Shrek3", or "Spiderman3", all of which have green Ogres as lead females – of course, Ms. Fox’s face also is a bit misbegotten, but I only realised near the end of the film). Now this more original is not a lot, because having big robots that turn into cars on Earth wears off a short while after the opening sequence (which does not even feature a car, but a helicopter). The director realises this and accelerates the transformation bits quite a bit, which makes them shorter and hence less boring, but you don’t see anything anymore of the twenty million dollars they cost each. As for the cgi-robots themselves… Actually, the shame is that they are just robots that look like the toys that were on the shelves around 1980, meaning they don’t look really cool today, a bit old-fashioned, as if they were big brothers of Rubik’s cube, which they are, of course. Strange colours, and only Megatron has some mystique about him(it?)self.

I usually like the villains, and Megatron had the potential to be liked, but Mr Bay manages to neglect him. That was a bit disappointing, espacially as the saved screen time was used for this annoying little transistor radio pain-in-the-arse that keept doing snarling noises as if … as if there was any use in this.

I mentioned Mr Bay: he is and remains the worst of the bunch of big-scale blockbuster directors (ah well, let’s stay fair: the one I like least. Because he’s the worst). The whole story falls apart, the drama develops at random, and the fights are distrbuted arbitrarily aver the 140 plus minutes. And suddenly it’s over. Just like that, because the man does not know building up tension, climaxing it and allowing it relieve space for breathing. Which means the film is, at the end of the day, not much more than a succession of digital robot set pieces, and that is a shame, because with these characters and the technology, some nice comic feature could have been made. He would be better advised to be second-unit director for the action sequences, which he does rather well. As for the big picture, the characters, drama, tension and relief – he appears to be rather lost in the thicket of CGI things.

There is something about really good films that makes them really good films. I think that something has to do (apart from skillful writing, directing, photography…) with identification. Everybody can appreciate Lawrence of Arabia as a very good film – but only if you are the kind of person that craves the idea of running barefooted through some murderous desert, only to turn up in the English officers’ casino to spread cynical witticisms, only if you want to ride on camelback with Omar Sharif at your side and shoot your rifle out of full speed – only then will you be able to love the film with every fibre. Same with “Hoellentour”. I think (I cannot really judge) the film is just a very well made film in most quality criteria documentary film-making has to offer. It also benefits from a very good Tour de France (2003?), which was dramatic and unforgettable. But if you don’t love the idea of being able to ride the Galibier, to challenge Mont Ventoux, to curse Alpe d’Huez while trying to beat it… if you never fought your way uphill on a bike, at 40 degrees and with too few speeds on the gearshift and running out of water not even half-way up – and enjoyed the fact that you almost died trying… If you never did that, you can only like it a lot. I love that film, and the sheer soberness of its heroes (I think there’s nothing more blunt sober non-glamourous than professinal bikers), the knowledge about their live being an endless road painted with pain, the lack of individual success for almost every one, and hence the ultimate team sports that professional cycling is, that is so fantastic a topic that discussions about doping or epo or Spanish doctors just cannot touch the substance of it. Any doping pro-cycler still performs on a completely trans-human level. To watch how these performances are being integrated into the logistical craziness of the Tour de France is just sheer pleasure.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0411498/

My 2004 assessment:
“Höllentour” (BI, Astoria, 28.07.04)
Hervorragend! Nun bin ich natürlich etwas prädisponiert, weil ich nichts lieber täte als während der gesamten Tour de France den ganzen Tag vor dem Fernseher zu hängen, eine kühle Apfelschorle in der Hand, und mit meinen Helden die Berge hochzufiebern. Es ist aber auch so, dass gute Dokumentarfilme ganz einfach ausgezeichnete Unterhaltung sind – und das kommt hier alles zusammen. “Höllentour” ist exzellent gefilmt, ausgezeichnet geschnitten, mit einem vorzüglichen Soundtrack ausgestattet und hat – wenn man so will – Hauptdarsteller von selten gesehener intensiver Natürlichkeit… na gut, es sind eben Ete Zabel und Rolf Aldad, wie sie eben sind, und das heißt: ganz normale nette Kerle, die erst mal überhaupt nix Heroisches an sich haben, sondern einfach gottfroh sind, wenn sie nach einem Tag harter Arbeit im Hotelzimmer Fernseh schauen können. Die beiden sind lustig und nachdenklich, mit einem gesunden Maß an Altersweisheit, die man erst bekommt, wenn man einen Sport schon zu lange gemacht hat. Gleichzeitig sieht man, wie wenig Menschliches innerhalb einer so international zusammengewürfelten Mannschaft passiert: Slebst im Moment des großen Etappensieges wirkt Vinkourov wie ein Fremdkörper und Einzelgänger. Daneben der kauzige masseur “Eule”, der eher wie ein faktotum, nicht unbedingt wie Teil eines harten Profi-Teams wirkt.

Es war auch eine ausgezeichnete Tour, die die Kulisse abgab, mit dem dramatische Comeback von Ullrich, den zerbrochenen Hoffnungen und Beckenknochen von Beloki, dem angeschlagen noch unschlagbaren Armstrong, dem gebrochenen Steißbein von Klöden, und dem Helden aller Helden: Rolf Aldag auf seinem Husarenritt mit Virenque ins Bergtrikot!

Das ganze dann gefilmt mit glasklar-brillanten Bildern (hat das was mit den IMAX-Kameras zu tun, die eingesetzt worden sind? Oder ist separat ein IMAX-Film geplant? Keine Ahnung), die den müden Beinen auch dann noch Ästhetik abgewinnen, wenn man den Jungs eigentlich schon einen Schokoriegel zum Trost in die Hand drücken möchte. Die Bergkulissen! Hach! Ein Genuss!

Kurz-Bio Pepe Danquart <http://www.new-video.de/darsteller-pepe-danquart/> (Kurzfilm-Oscar für “Schwarzfahrer”

One thing to start: these mid-season breaks are as annoying as a rash on the butt. Nobody needs them, everybody hates them, and judging from what happened to "Lost", they cannot contribute too much to story development. The only thing that may happen is that audiences look for different hobbies and never come back. Similar in "Heroes": the show came off to a spectacular start, with interesting characters doing their best to keep up the tension, with two dramatic highlights (1. the death of the cheerleader, 2. the nuking of New York) being established early on. So everything set up to allow continuous and pleasant watching, suffering and even a bit of laughing, as the likes of Hiro, Claire and Claude (at least) do have their ironic (well, in Claude’s case: their sardonic) side. I really liked the way these people have their respectively very distinct ways of coping with their abilities – from being freaked out by them (most of them, early on) to using it for good business (the lady who can hear rain approachin three days in advance), to playing with its adolescent implications (Claire), to just having a wretchedly good time pickpocketing and running from the enemy (Claude). None of them is really a stupidly blunt Superman-style hero, every single one has to figure out a way to live on despite of the abilities. Being a true follower X-Files during the Agent Mulder years, the background story about the "company" running this whole secret programme to … without spoiling too much … collect the ability-improved guys (and preferrably breeding them, I guess) allows for a very nice villain setup in the story, namely Claire’s father who is established as a person of ambiguous motives and character, and who can serve to provide any necessary twist. Which he does.

Many complained about the season’s finale, which was called "anti-climatic" and "a downlet". I don’t share this opinion. On the contrary: I think most people are not used to having a propoer narrative ending to a show anymore. I am very grateful for a season finale that actually brings the story to a proper ending. I do not hate "Lost"-like finales because of the tension I cannot stand – I hate them for being bad story-telling, and for showing that the authors didn’t have a clue where they were going to begin with. So: Heroes, Season 2 will have a new story, and that is a very good thing. Looking forward to September 24th…  Even without cliffhangers, that is soo long. But in the meantimes, there’s truckloads of stuff to be discovered on the website: http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/

I just see that no, I did not like Sin City to omuch the first time around. Ok, I was watching it on a laptop screen in a pretty much worn down Beijing hotel room with plenty of jet lag in my head and not too much sound equipment at my avail to at least blow the ears free. Watching it again now (and again on a laptop screen, but with a stereo equipment attached…), I am slightly more tolerant (maybe old age) as for the lack of scriptwriting talent involved. The arbitrariness of the various story lines succeeding each other remains, but with a mind more awake I was able to savour and considerably enjoy the Noir atmosphere and the sheer viciousness of some scenes. And the dresscode of the chicks in Old Town is not to be missed, either. And I did actually fill in one thing that I missed last time (as I probably was asleep when it was explained), the not so unimportant fact that the yellow thing at the end is the Senator’s son again. At least one of these loops closes here… Another bonus is to see Clive Owen again, after having admired him in “Children of Men” (http://www.information-society.de/Cine-Blog/2007/05/children-of-men.html) and – that too a bit of IMDB-ing until I realised – all these BMW films.
Ok, given: better than initially assessed, quite a fun ride, with pleasant goriness factor.

Subject: Sin City (August 05)
Das waren jetzt nicht die besten Umstaende, unter denen ich den Film gesehen habe, mit ein paar Schlafkrankheitsbedingten Aussetzern inclusive. Aber der  Film ist daran nicht ganz unschuldig: liegt es an mir, oder gefaellt er sich so sehr in seiner Optik und dem Produktionsdesign und den Brueckenschlaegen ins Comic-Genre, dass niemandem aufgefallen ist, wie sehr man vergessen hat, ein Drehbuch einzufordern? Bei Rodriguez denkt man vielleicht nicht zuallererst daran, aber man hat ja schon in der Vergangenheit fuer dieses Versaeumnis arg schwierige Passagen ueberstehen und arg holprige Uebergaenge ertragen muessen. Not to mention the remakes… 
 Ja, also, ich weiss nicht so recht, warum es den Film gibt und wer die Zielgruppe sein soll, aber das kann natuerlich daran liegen, dass ich ihr nicht angehoere. Uin Erinnerung bleiben ein paar schoene Rot-Toene und die Vorfreude auf den neuen Jarmusch und – jawoll – Wenders!

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