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Monthly Archives: October 2010




I stopped doing content descriptions a while ago on this blog, as in most cases the plot is rather well-known. Not here: a former porn actor, who now lives with wife and kid, gets the offer for one final high-end big bucks movie, but he does not learn about plot or other characters, to keep authenticity of acting high. He is in, and the production turns into a drug-ridden psychedelic and violent nightmare of abuse and death.

Thanks a lot, IFC, Miss Alison Wilmore, for pointing me to this… in a way, I mean this serious, it is fascinating to see the ways in which minds can deviate. IFC Podcast discussed this under the torture porn headline. I think the film is much more thoughtful, however, than the typical examples under that title, such as the Hostel films. It is a provocation on so many levels I cannot even begin to describe. But it avoids the monotonous schematics of Hostel 2, Saw 5 and their bretheren… “A Serbian Film” is a completely different beast, and what a beautiful-looking ugly one (oh so very stylish!).

The topics are domination, power, thrill-seeking and all those that have been processed in Pasolini’s Salo (surprise… comments coming up, I just happened to watch that one some days ago). As in Salo, there is definitely gratuitous violence and sexuality, but the motivations in “Serbian film” are a bit more manifold – there are even valid artistic considerations for pushing some envelopes – not on part of the film-makers, but on part of the film-in-film-makers. The main character who gets drugged with some bull aphrodisiacum (as if he needed it…) gets entangled in a downward spiral beyond believe… and ends up in situations that cannot be conceived to be more destructive.

Interestingly, in terms of self-analysis, most of this, as gruelling and abhorrent as it was, was not of the “I have to look away” kind (whereas some less violent elements of Salo I hardly could bear). The film has an overall dreamy quality, maybe that is the only explanation. I agree, however, with I think the NY Times review that this – whether you despise the film or find it interesting – is not a film to revisit any time soon… not in the next 50 years, I would say.

via A Serbian Film – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


A group of Italian fascists gathers some young and pretty / handsome kids in an old mansion and abuses them. Listening to stories of sexual adventures, they rape their victims, make them eat feces and kill them.

Art is also always entertainment. How is this entertainment, how is this art? Let’s say, the allegory is quite clear, and the settings and production design is well ready to depict the animalistic arrogance of those in power. Dominating the weaker humans by even more degrading them seems to be the strategy, and the film does not shy away from exemplifying the forms of degradation that are physically, but also mentally possible.

The film bringing with it the reputation that it does, I was rather distanced, and actually caught myself kind of waiting  for the next gore. It is very hard to appreciate this kind of film as it should be, from a position of ignorance, being thrown into a similar downward spiral as my other feelgood movies of the week, “A Serbian Film” and “Killer Inside Me”. Escalation is inevitable, and it arrives with full force. The beautiful music by Ennio Morricone and the strange actors chosen make this an almost surreal piece of … something. I am not sure what.

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Goddammit, what is it this week that drives me into the arms of some vicious filmmaking? Another movie that does not shy away from violence, but here depicted in a completely different context, without artistic or stylish or allegorical ambitions, but straightforward, as a tool to achieve a goal.

The main chracter here is somebody who wants to get ahead, and due to a complete lack of morality he does whatever is necessary in any given moment. Casey Affleck (I can now say by far my favourite of the Affleck dudes) plays this with a similarly eerie jolliness as in “The Assassination of Jesse James…” (I hope he can play anything else, or I withdraw my admiration heavy-heartedly…). He needs a girl dead, ideally beaten, so he beats her until she is dead. Later, he does the same in a socially much more terrible situation, but that first killing is what distracted many people who wrote reviews or comments from the rest of the film.

The murder is graphic and vicious, but I did not perceive it to be an irritant in the fabric of the whole film. It is shown where it is supposed to be shown and in the way it needs to be shown to understand what kind of person this guy is.

I admit I had some language issues – the dialect spoken stressed the seams of my language fabric and sometimes I just stared blankly at the screen, not clearly understanding why this development or that would benefit the Affleck character. …

For this reason or because the overall narration sagged a bit halfway through, I had some situations of slight lack of concentration, but we have here a new villain of cinema who can easily work his way into the pantheaon of legendary psychopoaths if enough people get to see the film.
See Roger Ebert’s thoughtful review.
The Killer Inside Me Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.

This is a slow-paced thriller, the story of a man who has accepted to be in a situation that is slightly over his head, to the point where it might threaten his life.

The first ghost writer of the former British Prime Minister’s memoirs has died, maybe was killed, and Roman Polanski, very closely following the plot lines provided by Robert Harris’ novel, follows the replacement on his way to repeat the same revelations that got his predecessor killed.

There is not much happening, some of the research is found in documents, some in conversations …  almost no action, but a ghastly atmosphere driven by terrible weather and a barren landscape (where did they shoot anyway, Northern German coast, from the credits it seems the film was almost entirely German-financed).

I can’t say I am enthusiastic about the film, but solid acting by Ewan McGregor and somebody whose name I forgot who played the former First Lady makes this an atmospheric thriller worth watching. I have an issue with the end, but that is rather through contrast to the book’s ending, which most people will not have read and hence won’t care.

The Ghost Writer Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.


Oh did I expect something different… I only knew the title, had no idea this plays out in New Orleans in modern times, I expected more a fairy tale setting. Best thing about the setting is the accent and the music, the film is kind of the light-hearted finale to “Treme”, only plus some alligators (which would be a nice idea for Treme, too, they can apparently play the trumpet).

Already forgot the plot, something with princesses and frogs, apparently involving some kissing and eventually marrying, but nicely done altogether. It does not have the loud laughs for an elderly person like me as Pixar or Dreamworks films have, but it has a feeling of pleasure about it. And the lightbulb-bug is hilarious.

The Princess and the Frog Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.


Some of what was nice about the first part is missing here – in other cases, it is that you can use an element only once, second time around it seems stale. Example for the former: doubt, inner conflict, possibility of failure. Example of latter: cool wisecracking billionaire as lead hero.

I know some may disagree with me, because all franchises build on repetittion, but then again I believe that most franchises are terribly boring because they fail to bring character innovation.

If you are dealing with a character like Tony Stark who is drawn as a remarkable personality on which the film builds, but do not change this character over the period of several movies, then your story needs to get stronger every time around. You can only stick with nondescript storylines if your main chracter is weak and does not overshadow the plot (as in Superman, maybe, where the hero basically is dull, but which allows for focus on plot and action).

The plot of Iron Man 2 is forgettable. Even the addition of a character with revenge in his heart (usually good) is oddly underused, because Mickey Rourke apparently was only given three shooting days, so he is strangely absent from the film. The plot line of stealing technology, the ruthless father figure … left abandoned.

Instead we watch some robot skeleton armies beating the crap out of each other. That is a bit too much Ray Harryhausen and not enough … well: Iron Man (1) for its own good. I felt bored.

Iron Man 2 Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.

A documentary by the director who brought us Al Gore’s Powerpoint presentation… Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, White Stripes’ Jack White, and U2’s The Edge meet to chat guitars. If you are very interested in guitar construction and amplification hardware and if you do not mind listening to select samples of half-played classic solos, then this is quite entertaining. I just kept wondering: The Edge?? Don’t tell me they really wanted the Edge… this should have been Neil Young or Ry Cooder or somebody of that caliber. Jack White is perfectly fine as the rogue enthusiast. Edge is not one future generations will look back to admiringly, like they did wit Robert Johnson in the film, or actually with Jimmy Page? Anyway: I knid of liked it because I like the music, but don’t go for the documentary filmmaking values.

It is a good ambition in life to watch everything Michael Winterbottom does, because firstly it gives you plenty of excellent films to watch, and secondly you will be exposed to the whole range of ambitious filmmaking, from full-fledged star vehicle with a brain (Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart), over science fiction (Code 46), arthouse porn (Nine Songs) to wartime documentaries. Now on the latter, he curiously enough made two pseudo-documentarian  films in a short period. The first one, “In This World”,  got me hooked on Winterbottom in the first place (not the least, I think, because I watched it in the premiere at the Berlin film festival, and Winterbottom was there to talk about it in his very humble fashion). The second one, that I see with a bit of delay now, is “Road to Guantanamo”.
It is not as intentisive and strong and rough as “In this World”, maybe because the form of fake documentary cannot be used too often without the realism effect wearing off, maybe because some of the acting is not as intensive, or because the studio statements of the supposed Guantanamo detainees is just a bit too much for this form to still be acceptable as make-believe. However, the story of three English guys of Pakistani origin travelling to Pakistan and then to Afghanistan for a laugh, getting caught up in the bombing of Kundus and ending up as supposed Al Qaeda-Warriors in Guantanamo Bay prisoner camp for several months … that story is not bad. It gives an opportunity to show what the prisoners experience close-up, how they are being disgraced and de-humanised – and for me it was most interesting to realise that at some point I thought that it does not matter to me whether they are innocent (which we are made to believe) or not. There is no way to treat anybody like this, be it your enemy or not. From this perspective, the fact that we are witnessing the innocent guys, but hardly see anything about the real fighters and terrorists who undoubtedly have also been incarcerated in the same camp is maybe even counter-productive. The most human message would have been a message on how to treat your worst enemy.

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