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Monthly Archives: July 2010

The German FAZ Newspaper discusses the future of US Late Night tv. And who is the only hope in all this streamlined sadness? My year-long favourite Craig Ferguson! TutsiFrutsi! Zukunft von Amerikas Late-Night: Wer macht die Nacht zum Tage? – Fernsehen – Feuilleton – FAZ.NET.

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad – AMC.

what a joyful situation to be in the company of adorable drug manufacturers and murderers, to sympathise with the plots of the Crystal Meth Mafia, to dislike the wifes that want a divorce because the husbands follow the path of crime and evil. It has become a habit of establishing the wicked guys as the central characters of US cable tv drama.

Whereas with Dexter, this was a kind of playful variation on the topic of CSI teleplay, with basically the one twist of the murderer and the investigator occasionally being one and the same, Breaking Bad takes this to a new level. Here, decisions mostly are made very rationally:  if a chemistry teacher needs money, he starts cooking Meth. If his wife finds out and has to decide whether to sue him, kill him or go ahead with him for the wealth, she may come to the conclusion the latter is a good choice. When shooting bad guys … sorry: badder guys in the head after running them over with the car is a measure alternative to obeying the wish of the drug godfather, then… then the teacher discovers a certain ruthless skill.

The only concern I have about the show is that it is one of the kind that needs s resolution, you cannot run it forever. Are there two different kinds of shows? the “CSI or The Office category” that can run forever on the concept of showing an excerpt of regular life in a certain environment, and the “Lost or Battlestar Galactica category”, where the audience will punish you very quickly if they find out you are delaying on the quest for resolution. Breaking Bad could be either – but it would be better if it moved towards a fixed point instead of turning into an everlasting crystal meth soap.

Maybe it is exaggerated that this is the best-written tv drama currently on – I don’t know any better.

See what the friends at Filmspotting came up with for the best films of the year so far. Some catching up to do…

If you want to participate in their poll, go to their homepage at

A Prophet –> About time I catch up with this one, it is on the shelf for a while
Cyrus –> never heard of it before, description does not sound too appealing
Winter’s Bone –> never heard of it before, but sounds like worth checking out
Toy Story 3 –> yes, not too bad, must be “The best Movie Trilogy ever” (Kermode)
Inception –> cannot wait to get near an IMAX with Inception playing

A Prophet –> About time I catch up with this one, it is on the shelf for a while
Restrepo –> I am eager, heard an interview with one of the directors
The White Ribbon –> my best film of the last… don’t know, three years, I guess
The Kids Are All Right –> hmm… will probably skip this one
Please Give –> never heard of it before, description does not sound too appealing

Scott Tobias:
Dogtooth –> yes, I love that kind of thing. Weird, Haneke meets von Trier chamber play. Gret film!
Winter’s Bone –> never heard of it before, but sounds like worth checking out
Shutter Island –> I was a bit disappointed, but I was also very tired
Everyone Else –> that sounds like the kind of German film I do not like…
Exit Through the Gift Shop –> sounds interesting, but will prbably not check out anyway, as the scene it portraits is very much beyond my scope of interest

Why, you wonder? Because the friends at Filmspotting are in the middle of their Billy-Wilder marathon, and I really had not seen those films in a long time (some actually never before). “The Apartment” I have seen, but literally decades ago, and what a treat this is. Roger Ebert correctly asserts that the quality of this film has nothing to do with context of the time. It is just outstandingly written, directed and played. It is also a bit sad to see what a great actress Shirley McLane was before she went bonkers. Jack Lemmon… what can be said that has not been said about his performance. Not many actors get such a chance for a lifetime performance, and the apocryphal story a bout the directors needing to stop him acting in order to get the best out of him may only be too true, because he balances on the thin line between charging and understatement, and he does never fall off (my favourite: when he keeps dealing the cards while the girl lies in bed, she wants to talk but clearly is too weak, he does not want to get involved now, not now… so he keeps dealing and counting). And the nice neighbour Dreyfus and the sad barfly at Christmas night, and all those great lines of dialogue about the broken mirror and “shut up and deal”… what a masterful way of cornering poor CC Baxter and then letting him out in the last minute.

Ebert Review

While [rec] created a very nice original idea (or let’s say: original within the clear-cut confines of the zombie- or crazie-genre), the second part varies this theme with traditional elements, or shall we call it: superimposes the topics of “Exorcist” and “Omen”, some say “Da Vinci Code” (actually, the blood testing is more or less inspired by “John Carpenter’s The Thing”, but maybe all blood-testing-for-vicious-things is. And “species” and and and… Some clever ideas prevent the film from going stale after a few segments: the perspective changes with the cameras available, and through tricks like defects and empty batteries, the film gets occasional changes of perspective without necessarily being guilty of neglecting an available perspective (with one exception, and that is the original camera from the first part, which we will meet again at a stage a bit too late to help anybody). The film is outright creepy: the subjective camera does that, the ferociously attacking infected tenants (and guests) of the house, and the fact that we already know that there is something wildly more dangerous and terrifying than just rabid zombie-thingies lurking in the penthouse. And through a nice twist of narration, we are forced to live through this nightmare in a mostly ill-lit setting (because sometimes, there’s more to be seen in the dark …). It would actually be much better to watch this in a movie theatre with the big screen and the lights out and a nice hand to grab your shoulder in terror… but even the home cinema watching was creepy enough. Interesting that through some complete coincidence, I watched that briefly after Haneke’s Hidden / Cache, not realising until now that both have the same theme: the importance of perspective and point-of-view, and differ in the important question of who’s in charge, the watcher or the watched.

Most stunning questions is how they got all those actors: Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes? Sam Worthington is still in a category of acting where B movies of this sort do not do much damage, but he may want to be alert of Vin Diesel’s career and stay alert for his next choices.

While some of the effects are quite nice (the flight chases with Hades’ winged creatures was excellent kinetics, watch how some of the monsters get thrown off balance when over-pacing… nice!) and some of the ideas cute (riding the scorpions, or those  jinns, that reminded me of the desert creatures from Return of the Jedi, I think…), at the end of the day, the questions remains: why, oh why??? The original story-telling was better, the character motivation more convincing (why change the role of Calibos when you do not have a need to? Now I have no idea what his role is, why he does what he does. ). The only crappy special effect in the old movie was Poseidon opening the gate of the Kraken’s lair – is that reason enough to remove Poseidon altogether and make the Kraken a creature of Hades? No really: Pegasus was more noble, the witches more creepy, Calibos more human and hence more wicked in the original movie – and in particular: Medusa was not a pretty-girl with a cute tail, she was a monster, and now look at her…   a very strange case of remaking a film because of the new technology available, and then falling behind the old film in almost all aspects …

Oh yes, and there were no titans involved in the clash.

Looks a bit like a home video, grainy and a bit shaky camera. But makes it feel very natural in its atmosphere, and all the more terrifying when things go wrong.
The story (as many “based on real events” stories) suffers a bit from predictability, but then again, once they are all in the water, the feeling of paralysis and helplessness comes across nicely. Why do they not just swim towards the coast? I don’t know, they may have their reasosn, I would have done something, I guess. Don’t blame the sharks!

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