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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Jack and Meg White have the cameras join them on their Canada tour through not just the big halls, but also the bowling alleys, Inuit community centres and tram cars. For people like me who have only the slightest knowledge about the White Stripes, it provides a nice introduction to their music (with the specific challenges of only two musicians, only one of whom is what can be called a professional musician), their attitude, their relationship and Canada. A nice viewing experience not so much as a documentary, but as an extended music video, with often gripping music.

Under Great White Northern Lights – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

With a thrilling background setting for the story, and a very watchable “England look” to it (the look you can find in 80’s films about the Northern Ireland conflict, maybe best presented by Neil Jordan), the film won my interest in the very first couple of minutes. I somehow seem to crave post-Apocalyptic settings, so this was a film made for me. Really good character faces at the heart of it, too, namely Clive Owen and Michael Caine.

The odyssey of a little group of survivors trying to save the first baby to be born on Earth in 18 years allows for a lot of changing drama, but what I found most interesting about it is the desire of the people to follow the road to a hypothetical refugee institution that will allow them to be human again. Whether this will ever happen, who knows – whether the institution actually exists or is just a government setup to conveniently collect insubordinate characters, who knows. The mood throughout the film is one of hopelessness, despair, but the kind of despair you find in Kafka or Tery Gilliam’s works (being incidentally the same, of course): it is the kind that drives action, that disallows heroes to just sit down, because they are being shoved around all the time. And it gives opportunity for interesting breaks: the way to fight an uprising in the future has more to do with World War I sieges than with sophisticated science fiction logistics that you may expect. War and crisis, this seems, throws civilization back not just intellectually, but also technically and procedurally. Just put a tank in front of this rebels’ headquarters and start shooting the crap out of them… There could have  have been more vision and less fighting, but on the other hand, the lack of vision fits well with the people’s inability to understand what the problem about their world is – and the fighting is Full Metal Jacket enough to provide entertainment through the film’s last third.

Pretty enthusiastic review at Roger Ebert’s


Mark Gatiss


A BBC Four overview over the history of classical horror movies, presented by British screen and tv writer Mark Gatiss. Nowhere near comprehensive, also not presented in a formally interesting way, burdened with too many not very interesting interviews with some survivors of the good old days, on topics sometimes not much above gossip level. However, there are some gems: John Carpenter sits down and talks a bit, there are some nice snippets of very early classics and an interesting bias towards Hammer movies, of which I have basically only seen the Dracula ones, I think. So worth checking out if you like the genre. If you like it a lot, not too much news here, only a bit of nostalgia and a gaping black whole between 1979 and 2010. “Three episodes are not nearly enough to offer even a cursory survey of movie horror”, as the reviewer for the Irish Times correctly wrote.
See also

A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss on BBC Four.


It is the age of non-superheroes. After the impotent fools that populated the previous failed efforts at making something of a comic book (yes, ok, “graphic novel”… nerds!) (and, yes, I am talking about “Watchmen“), now we have somebody who is at least a nice guy, if with slightly underdeveloped intellect.

Arthur Poppington (if ever there was an anti-hero name) is dumb by day, and ridiculous by night. He dons his scotch-taped Defendor costume, throws glass marbles at the villains and follows his mission – which is a bit of a misunderstanding, as it turns out. But he knows no fatigue in hunting down Captain Industry, who killed his mother, and will not stop until… somebody beats him up, which happens with frequency.

Teamed up with his sidekick (a hooker he takes in, but has to pay by the day), he goes into the great finale against the corrupt policeman with the irresistible charme of the big fool. A Mice and Men-like character, we do love him, while being unable to take him serious. But as the police psychiatrist points out: his secret is his unconditional honesty, and that makes “Defendor, The Movie” kind of irresistible, too.

Defendor Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.

It was advertised and praised as a monster film that does not care too much about monsters, and that’s true. The creatures from outer space form a perilous setting that is not much different from other perils you would experience (or at least believe to experience) when traveling without passport and money through central America. Occasionally somebody gets killed, occasionally there are scenes of stunning beauty, when the landscape is allowed to play into foreground. In the effort to travel from the unpleasant Southern border of an alien-infected zone to the safe Northern end, it is a straightforward road (or jungle path) movie, pleasantly unexcited about the fact it is alien creatures instead of drug lords that are lurking in the jungle.

Andrew and Sam develop their relationship, as they should, and they kind of make it through, as you would expect. And they learn something on the way, and will go back to their previous lives, but changed. Or will they? Not a spectacular film, but a small low-budget road movie with nice lead characters and some very charming side characters – honorable mention to the creatures in the final scene – love is all around us!

Monsters Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.








I did not realise how often I apparently watched that film during my youth – the first Omen movie did hardly contain any scenes that were not linked to specific memories or associations. And that even though (or because?) one aspect that I remember is complete annoyance at the tv censors who apprently butchered the film for tv disctribution, and in a clumsy way so that each cut element was very apparent and led me to want to see the uncensored version. Only now I did, and indeed there are some very nice and gory details. I never realised how well the decapitation scene is actually done, and I guess the same applies to the second part’s “elevator scene”, which I could hardly remember, because in the tv version it is rather unremarkable… not so in the uncut film.
Part 1 is clearly the much better movie, with a mean-spirited script that gives the regular viewer of Gregory Peck movies some hope and comfort, plays with his stamina as hero head of family and career politician – only to use it against him. A very nicely cast young Damien is just outright creepy, especially in the passive role he has to take at this age. He hides behind a chair when things get rough, he has no means against his enemies but to cry and scratch his mother’s face.
Part 2 needs to establish a more active Damien, but in a transition period of discovering who he actually is. That is not bad at all, but in order to raise the level in contrast to part 1, the film falls into the trap of overdoing it and creating too many set pieces to show in how many ways you can get killed if you start messing with the Antichrist. That is nicely done for each of the scenes, but a bit tiring in its steady rhythm. Still, there are remarkable scenes: when one character drowns under the ice, that is a scene that has been haunting me since I first saw the movie decades ago. The opening with the return of the (unfortunately in both films under-utilised) Bugenhagen character and him meeting his fate… very memorable as a form of death you do not want to encounter.

So both films with their considerable production value, pretty fine acting and tense atmosphere are fine entertainment. I am still shying away from part 3, cannot remember whether I ever watched it, but the Tomatometer suggests that if I watch  it, I should downscale my expectations first…

Update: I actually did watch the third part, and it’s not very good. Surprising to see Sam Neill taking over the Damien role, must have been one of his early appearances, and a surprise his carreer did not end there and then. Actually, he has a good enough face for it. A bit pretty-boy, a bit creepy. But the film as such disappoints by turning around the premise of the second one: now it is suddenly not all seven daggers that can kill the Antichrist, but one is sufficient, so the plot rolls out in exactly the expected fashion. I cannot think of any memorable scene, except maybe the fox hunt, where a streak of silence creates some form of threat. The end comes suddenly – and how shall we ever be happy without Damien and his minions?? Oh, easy.

The Omen (film series) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I do have a soft spot for John Carpenter movies, a very soft one. And I find it stunning how utterly re-watchable his films are. “They Live” I probably watched half a dozen times, and it’s still fun, even though it is utterly stupid and silly. And now there is a shot-by-shot analysis. Go for it! 


“They Live”: Jonathan Lethem explains a cult classic – Slide Shows –


It is a nice idea to make a movie out of a fake trailer  – but does the idea last longer than half an hour of movie time? Not really. Danny Trejo is always fun to watch, but you maybe should not put him in the positoin to carry the weight of a movie on his own. Unless you cast against cliché, he is just the rude weird Indian dude, and that works much better as a side character.

The essentials of the film are being served in the first five minutes: excessive violence and female nudity – after that it’s possible to do some long-delayed phone calls and some newspaper scanning in parallel.   

Machete Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.


The oddest thing about this movie is to see Adrian Brody in full combat gear, and with quite a bit of a six-pack on his rack. Is this the guy who played the piano with so much sentiment? The same guy who now blasts away the alien teenagers in their hunting grounds?? Ok, once accepted, it kind of works, as his physique is rather impressive. Director Nimrod Antal is rather well-skilled in having his staff run around a nice forest with some useful accessories to hide in (spaceship) or to get trapped in (camp). It’s a bit like a late-night edition of “Lost”, where the “Others” shoot laser blasts but are rather stupid despite their high-tech gear. That may be even interpreted as an ironic comment ot hunters at large, who are having a great time hanging out with their buddies in the woods, shooting some animals at daytime and chewing the fat and doing some cuddling around the camp fire at night.

Odd appearance by CSI’s own Ray Langston – Lawrence Fishburne seems to be nostalgic about the good old times when he still was some form of action hero.

It is really strange how immortal this Predators concept seems to be – I never understood the facination with the original, in any respect sub-par movie. But it looks as if the concept will be around for some more installations…

Predators Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.



Nice misunderstanding: the trailer made me think this is some nice family comedy, maybe with a serious touch derived from the religious and ethnical situation of the Israelian / Palestine setting. What I got is a drama in which everybody suffers, and everybody deserves the their misery. A mother loving her son in such a twisted way that she is willing to destroy his happiness. A girlfriend who is able to put her own interests so much behind traditions and family values that herself, her boyfriend and her kid all only reap despair. A society that is bent under the pressure of traditions and habits, and where under the veil of family bonds most ruthless and cold-hearted decisions are made.

The best all-purpose advice I have heard on this subject: Never marry anyone you could not sit next to during a three-day bus trip.

Late Marriage Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.

It was something to look forward to: Paul Greengrass has delivered a number of remarkable films over the last years, showing that he can give a certain intimacy to situations of action and peril. Most recently in United 51 and the Bourne movies, he found the perfect balance, following the story and finding the right intensity of expression.

Green Zone, for me, was out of balance. A combination of conspiracy thriller, pseudo documentary style, and war movie, I never felt really at home here. There are no weapons of mass destruction, still they have to look for them? Ok, but we heard that story for many years. Maybe it should not have been the driving force behind the film. The book that apparently inspired the film also takes a completely different approach: what I remember from the book is that some interns and ignorants, together with a small group of enthusiastic regional and subject experts, were tasked by a foreign government to rebuild a whole country, including government, infrastructure and economy. I thought that would have made a great thriller, without a combat unit in the center of attention. I suppose that after the “Informant” experiences, they did not want to put Matt Damon into the position of an office worker again. Thanks for that, anyway.

Highlights: Brendan Gleeson, one of my favourite guys since “In Bruges” (and a nice Mad Eye Moody, too). And hello to Jason Isaacs… had I not known it was him…

Green Zone Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.



Fatih Akin is one of the current stars of German cinema. A generation or two after Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders, growing up in a completely different Germany that is characterised by immigration and re-unification. He brings social drama, cultural conflict and the coolness  of young generation to the table. He is willing to be excessively dramatic (Gegen die Wand / Head On), casually global (Auf der anderen Seite / The Edge of Heaven) or just silly (“Solino”). Soul Kitchen is mostly the latter, with dude-like characters populating a junk food restaurant in Hamburg, Turkish bone-breakers repairing Greek spines, a psycopathic maniac with a heart of something like gold ruling over the kitchen, and a truckload of cliches about real-estate developers and health administration officers pushing the story. Very entertaining for what it is, and especially some nice acting on part of the main characters (Adam Bousdoukos as Zinos Kazantsakis, Birol Ünel as Shayn Weiss, and Moritz Bleibtreu as Illias Kazantsakis).
Soul Kitchen Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes.

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