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Monthly Archives: November 2011

This is clearly the most misconceived film of the decade so far. How can you possibly call a film “cowboys and aliens” and then just play it straight without the slightest bit of humour, no twinkle in the eye, no tongue-in-cheek? This film should have been Men in Black, but all it is is … I don’t even know. It is excessively unoriginal, to the point of even being over the top violent when the battle between the cowboys and Indians on the one side and the alien District 9 clones on the other gets underway. So it’s not even wittily straight, it is just dumb straight. And you have these two great actors in the center, Daniel Craig with probably the most superhero body of any living good actor, and Harrison Ford who looks all the grumpy and dangerous old man he is supposed to play. But then, no tension at all between those, all you get is altogether 20 minutes of Craig’s naked chest, plus some Miss Wet T-Shirt Wild West broad the purpose of which I cannot remember (and who has the most undramatic exit from the movie ever…). When the final credits rolled I kept waiting, and waiting, clearly they cannot possibly mean this pointless and camp ending, they cannot possibly play it serious, this lone rider off into the sunset, with the crane shot rising above the western town… they do, it is pathetic.
I have no idea how anybody at any meeting could have thought that this could be a good idea.
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cowboys_and_aliens/

This may be the perfect combination of the notoriously under-appreciated genres “teenager comedy” and “ superhero movie”. If you in general do not appreciate either – then this is the movie for you. The superheroes are everything but super, Kick-Ass himself is in puberty, not very good at fighting, and has the most embarrassing costume since Spiderman’s early wrestling costume, only more ugly snot-green colour. He is mostly canon fodder for muggers and carjackers, and he gets plenty of hits and kicks in the course of the movie’s 100something minutes. This contrasts with Hit Girl, the cute and quick and vicious and foul-mouthed little fighter who shocks her father almost into cardiac arrest when she asks for a Barbie doll for her birthday – only joking, of course it is a nice set of butterfly knives she really craves… Nicholas Cage’s only good part in the 21st century, I think, especially because he firstly does not have too much to do, and is mostly merely  a stage on which Hit Girl can play her brilliant performance, and secondly because he plays a nerdy superhero-wannabe anyway, which sort of suits the range of campy abilities  Cage has available.

The action is terrific, the violence comic-like appropriately over the top and choreographed in a mix of Batman-Sin-City-John-Woo fashion. And in the end he alomstg gets the high school hot chick. Almost. There is hope for a part 2, to which I would look forward.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1217700-kick_ass/

Nobody will ever manage to make me believe that Jason Statham is an action superstar. Just try to imagine what “Killer Elite” would have been had Stallone or Schwarzenegger played in it: a crappy piece of breathtaking action, with an entertainingly over-the-top wooden performance in the center. Now, with Stathem it is … a crappy piece of forgettable arbitrary action. Full stop. It seems that Statham’s agent decided that any too specific or characteristic performance of his client would be detrimental to future cash flow, so whatever he puts him in is so forgettable that the whole of the “star”’s oevre melts into generic memory porridge of flying cars and exploding gunshot wounds. In Killer Elite that happens with the decorative contribution of Clive Owen and Robert de Niro, the latter looking utterly ridiculous running around with an gun in his hand – he should not do that anymore, honestly! What comes as a plot “based on true facts” circles around Statham  needing to kill somebody to get somebody else (de Niro) saved, and that is all you need to know. Then there are some secret service or CIA or what not institutions chipping in, and after about one hour I was so bored out of my mind that I stopped watching.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/killer_elite_2011/

This is bold: you make a film that illustrates your favourite music, have the most beautiful images contrasted with the banality of small town USA, paint your canvas with all the colours of existence, only to state that this (the existence) is finite. The film starts with the creation of the universe, and it ends with “Amen” (or almost), signifying (spoiler alert…) that we are mere mortals.  In-between, River Phoenix’ Stand By Me clone brother (no, not that real crazy brother,  a fictional one) suffers the disease that is called growing up, with an oppressively well-intentioned father, a beautiful and tender mother, two brothers and many questions about the meaning of life. Not that he would voice them, but his face constantly expresses the pain of not understanding why things happen in the way they do. As in all Malick films, he enjoys the touch of nature, his hands gliding above the high grass blades, admiring the tenderness of the tangible parts of reality, while the intangible human interactions seem to elude him. Being out with the brothers and friends is fine for a while, just enjoying the dynamics of running and shouting, but it wears off, and more intensive action must replace it, which is when you start throwing stones into windows or blowing up frogs to smithereens.

The Tree of Life is the story of an angry kid, but also of the irrelevance of this anger – the grown up does not understand the anger anymore, he seems to not understand emotions at all anymore, and is nostalgic about it. He moves on towards a time where it does not matter what he did nor did not feel, the afterlife, or after-existence, and there everybody is happy and forgiving and rather indifferent, it seems, to everything that happened before.

The Tree of Life is not a movie – it is an audio-visual installation of great beauty, maybe bearing more relation with a poem than with a novel, its messages hidden in vast allegories, wrapped in wonderful images. I find it quite odd that this film has been so very successful both critically and commercially, but it is a good thing that it has. What we can learn from the film and from its impact is another matter, I am not so sure about the lessons here. Maybe, as some great art, its beauty is all the message that is needed.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_tree_of_life_2011/

Terrific entertainment, and with heart! Yes, heart, and not the steel heart of robots, but the heart of a story that deals with father and son, with old buddy and girlfriend, passion and endurance. All corny and clichee-ridden, but what the heck, extremely well done! All that, and robots hitting the living daylights out of each other. The greatest thing about the film is maybe that it almost completely avoids humanizing the machines, making them warm-hearted and faithful compatriots of our human heroes. None of that crap Transformer infantilism. Even more clever, the script and the director do not only avoid that, but they play with the possibility, bringing the plot sometimes near a point where you would expect the robot to do something stupidly independent, claiming its being a living soul. And then they withdraw and it just does not happen. The audience has been fooled, because it waited for the lie and did not get it. These machines are strong, and heavy, and vicious, but in this they are merely a reflection of their makers and their operators. To the point where Atom, our “hero robot” gets into shadow boxing mode, merely copying the movements of Mr Huge Action’s (sorry, another of these Kermode bonmots) , who is the real boxer in the show.

No need to say how unbearably handsome Jackman is, seems he just will not get old, and if he does, age shapes him into a new genetic reference pool for all the world to drink from… sorry, got carried away there. He is a very watchable actor, is what I am trying to say, and gives as some form of Kurt Russell v.2.1, more handsome, more human, more emotionally approachable, sometimes awkward. Of course the kid he stumbles across is a prototypical smartass one, but I found him still on the acceptable side of the annoyance border. And there is one scene towards the end where he pulls all the stops, when we can witness his love for and admiration of a father (and a girl’s love and admiration for a man –  Freckles from Lost, actually) virtually stopping the world, all attention in the middle of  a huge fight all of a sudden sucked up by two people watching one, not caring for a moment about what is going on around them. That was a terrific scene, to be remembered.

And honestly, at the end of the Twin City vs. Atom fight, I almost jump up from my cinema seat cheering, almost… damn, why didn’t I?! Awesome! And then when he rope-a-dopes Zeus… awesome!!

59 per cent at http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/real_steel/ ? That is ridiculous, I will send Atom to kick the crap out of these critics!

This is barking mad, indeed … raped Mormons, marshmallows stuffed in parking meters, Korean dog cloning doctors, people dying to become Gods with their own planets, spread-eagled handcuffing, power insemination weekend, kinky ads, manipulated nude pictures, vicious killer dogs… and in the center of all this: a woman who feels that she was subjected to all this craziness, while being the queen and source of crazy herself.

I never heard of Joyce McKinnon before, it seems almost every British person over the age of 35 knows the story in great detail, as it mostly was the wet dream of British tabloid newspaper wars. Who gets the more juicy details and shots and interviews and inside scoop about the former beauty queen with the hilarious Southern US drawl? And listening to the newspaper staff today, you can see how this works, how detached they are from their objects, how they do not believe this is all serious, and it cannot be possibly serious for either the people they are writing about or for their readers. That is maybe the important bit about  Erroll Morris’ new documentary: media cynicism. The story itself is the way tabloid stories are: completely irrelevant from the outside, the world’s greatest drama for those claiming to play a part in it. And of course always two sides to the story: her version and his version, the big-boobed alleged rapist vs. the guilt-ridden Mormon missionary. Cheekily commented on by former Mormons and journalists, this feels almost like the interview section of a Daily Show episode.

Errol Morris himself is clearly is having a blast, he encourages details, and he lets her talk talk talk and  perform, being the camp self-proclaimed celebrity that she is, in something like a pre-Norma Desmond stage. “Dogs and kids love me, because they sense in me the innocence” may be one of her most hilarious sentences, but all through the interview you can hardly believe what form of self-delusional construct led her to believe it would be a good idea to have this film made about her.

Towards the end, the former journalist summarises her as being not evil, but just barking mad – and Morris is clearly happy that he was delivered with such a nice tag line for her that only the British could have come up with…

The film won’t save the world from the next war or future judicial injustices, as Morris’ earlier works did, but in the typical Morris-style of subjective documentaries, it is another example of how to tell a hilarious story in an entertaining way!

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tabloid_2010/

Life is too short for bad movies, so let’s see another good one: “Beginner” makes a great double feature with yesterday’s “Melancholia”, and it also allows for a strange pitch line: guy’s mother dies, father comes out as gay at age 75, then dies of cancer. How’s that for an entertaining night out?

Very good, actually! “Beginners” is an uplifting film, with people who are willing to enjoy that bit of life that they are given. Ewan McGregor sits in the middle of this, sometimes incredulously looking at all these people doing these liberating things: joining the gay pride movement (his father, played by Christopher Plummer), pretending to be dumb (his girlfriend-to-be, Melanie Laurent, of Inglorious Basterds fame), barking and whining until you are allowed to come to the party (his indeed very cute little dog). McGregor is rather passive in this, but he makes it all work together because it is his story of trying to understand, and as he is a person who needs to express himself through his art (mostly doodles with caricature-like sketches), we get to see a wide array of quite impressive visualizations that he produced to get a grip on what’s happening around him.

This is something really enjoyable: a movie about sadness, nostalgia and (yes, again) melancholia, that is entertaining and often funny. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/beginners/

The film starts with the end of the world, and it goes downhill from there. I think Mark Kermode said that, and it could not be said better: after the apocalyptic overture (just like the whole film drowning a bit in a Tristan und Isolde score), we are thrown into an almost nostalgic “Festen / The Celebration” set-up, wondering whether the elaborate and beautiful opening sequence (as in “Antichrist”) is intended to make the fall into Dogma territory even harsher. I think partly that is the case, only that this wedding sequence where so many open wounds are salted and where a family basically celebrates nothing but its own state of fake existence, is only one of the parts that follow. I liked the weddings sequence (named after Justine, Kirsten Dunst’s character) because it also takes apart one of my own old enemies, wedding planners and their customers. If you believe that a celebration as personal as a wedding needs to be turned into an over-planned military operation, then whatever happens is what you deserve. In this case, you get a depression, a pink slip and no husband, all within a couple of hours.

And then comes part “Claire” (named after Charlotte Gainsbourg’s character, Justine’s sister), in which the world comes to an end. This second part is so different in that it completely ignores the first segment (and I am not yet sure whether I should call this a bold achievement or a mistake) – it takes the story from Justine living with her sister’s family, trying to survive a severe depression. The brother-in-law is annoyed (Kiefer Sutherland, even here with heavy panting and looks across the shoulder, seems he is still looking for terrorists to run away from or towards), Claire’s son sometimes a little frightened by his beloved aunt, and planet Melancholia is closing in. As it does, it stays in the background of the story and the characters’ minds as long as it possibly can (until it drops on their heads, really. Nobody seems to own any form of current news media device expect one computer and a printer), but it allows von Trier to turn around the dynamics of the character interaction: depressed Justine is the calm center, terrified Claire does not know how to deal with her panic, rational Sutherland-guy cannot deal with his science failing.

To be honest, “Melancholia” was a bit painful to watch, and felt as if it went on for some hours too long. However, mostly it did this in a good way, by exposing the characters’ fears and feelings, the vacuous desires and pointless cravings. In this it is a very strong back reference to those painful but brilliant Dogma movies, and a good example for proper movie making about real issues, and about the use of allegories and metaphors in art. This is an art film, with all that comes with the term, and it is a very good one.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/melancholia-2008/

Dirty Harry: made in 1971 by Don Siegel, this is a cold-hearted masterpiece. There is little heroism in Harry Callahan, the cynical cop with plenty of back story, none of which he seems willing to reveal. We follow him doing his job (hunting a serial killer who already killed some random people sniper-style, and now holds a girl ransom), being disappointed by the policy and justice system (whose rules he seems unable to follow), being set up for the kind of thing you can imagine him doing (beating up a suspect), and ending the whole thing according to his own rules. I did actually remember the film vaguely from decades ago, but was profoundly surprised that Callahan was no vigilante, but just a cop trying to do his work. The film has a great villain with all the eeriness of a very very unpleasant person, and a hero who could not be any cooler and on top of what he is doing. Fantastic sceneries, the location scouts did a great job in finding special places for showdown situations between the two main characters, such as a football stadium at night, dimly lit in the midst of the city, with crane shots providing very unsettlingly distant perspectives. And some cement factory for the finale, which provides in particular for an unnerving tapestry of industrial sound breaking through which even the large-caliber gun of Harry Callahan has a hard time. “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

Magnum Force: The second Dirty Harry movie was directed by Ted Post in 1973 (not by Clint Eastwood, who was originally scheduled to do it, it seems), was astonishingly enough written by John Milius and Michael Cimino! How’s that for a trainee center of the great! The scheme is the same, the villain is different. There is somebody killing off people, only that now the victims are notorious criminals that slipped through the web of justice, at least according to the assassin, it seems. This allows for some nice morale (thou shalt not kill, even if the victim is a murderer… ok, noted), but does not really affect the film. Instead we have strange set pieces that are nice to look at, but (only from today’s perspective) look a bit surrealistic: especially a shooting contest between Callahan and another police office in some form of combat training ground. Also here, not too subtle, but a little: Harry shoots the puppet depicting the good guy in the end, but was it by accident or did he tell us (or rather, the visitors) something? The Dirty Harry movies suffer a bit from the habit of time of using synthesizer music generously to fill any silent second of a film, but luckily a lot of this one is not filled with silence, but either with heavy gunshots or with the roaring of car and motorbike engines. Only when this suddenly stops in the finale did I realize that this has been the only sound for quite a while, and it creates a great (very “noisy”) silence. Hal Holbrook is quite young and very great in the film, but made me realize that apart from Clint Eastwood himself, it seems that these films have not been too good for the careers of those involved… “Man’s got to know his limitations”

The third movie (“The Enforcer”) lacks a decent villain, to be honest. There is a group of rather pathetic “people’s liberation front” kind of hippie terrorists who want to achieve something that I did not really understand by stealing weapons and explosives and blowing up stuff. Harry Callahan is sidelined when he seeks the cooperation of a black church community, and gets crossed by the city government that would rather arrest them instead of work with them. So it all comes down again to the showdown man against man, Callahan against the leader of the terror group. As you would expect, Dirty Harry disposes of them, in this case with a rocket-propelled missile. Had this been the first Dirt Harry movie, I guess I would have enjoyed it more, but the mechanisms of the films turn out to be repetitive, and no chase or fight in this one has too many optical values or surprises. Interesting is the effort to bring in a female inspector and give the film a sexual revolution / emancipation spin – that does not really work. The girl looks cute enough, but spends most of the time trying to catch up with her partner Callahan on her high heels and in a costume clearly not tailored for foot chases. She does, however achieve to involve Harry into a lengthy conversation, the first I believe in the whole trilogy. Also a first is the effort at humour, mostly in the dialogues involving the new girl cop, but also e.g. in falling through a rood into the midst of a porn production set (the series has never been shy about violence or nudity, preferably both somehow combines).No memorable quote that I could remember, though… http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1006646-enforcer/

All in all, the trilogy on the downward spiral… and I read that the rottentomatoes ratings for the remaining films are getting worse. So I guess a good time to call it quits… to me, it will remain a trilogy. Just for the fun of it, the others are Sudden Impact (Clint Eastwood 1983) and The Dead Pool (Buddy van Horn 1988)

Lewis Teague is the director not only of this episode film, but also of “Cujo”, and that film really creeped me out when I first saw it like almost no other before. It should all be handled with perspective, Cujo is a bit more funny than scary today, and Cat’s Eye is more scary than funny. This is an episode film that has all the best Stephen King characteristics, especially the sardonic humour so omnipresent in his stories, particularly from the early shorts collections. As he still is among the few defendants of the art of the short story, no wonder there are some good ones that make good and fun film episodes. A lovely collection, with one great and two solid episodes:

Quitters, Inc. may be one of my favourite King short stories ever – and thanks to goofball James Woods, the film may be even better. He is on cold tobacco turkey after being more or less tricked into quitting, he is paranoid about people following him and telling his smoking missteps to the creepy management at Quitters, Inc., and he is hysterical when he finds out he could not be paranoid enough. James Woods always had a great comedic talent, and here he uses it for creepy.

The Ledge is a bit more grim, with the lover of a rich man’s wife being trapped in a revenge game, not so dissimilar from “Something to tide over you” from “Creepshow” the  other day. It lacks, however, the humour of the first episode, and seems devoid of too many surprises. Still satisfactory and grim enough.

Finally, Cat’s eye, where the young, very young Drew Barrymore hosts the title giving cat in her bedroom, and while the parents still argue whether a cat won’t steal a kid’s breath in sleep, the brave cat fights the jester-clad little goblin with the sharp teeth and the pointy dagger. The filmmakers do take this with the humour it needs to have, because clearly the little monster   is not scary enough for serious horror elements. The showdown involves a record player at 66rpm and a fan with dangerous blades…

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cats_eye/

 

One of my old VHS Stephen King collection that I have probably seen 35 times, but never in English, and never without the VHS tape scratches and the whining sound that comes from an exhausted tape. I really liked the simplicity of the book when I read it, and the movie is even more simple: dog gets the rabies (minus the slightly paranormal influences the book features) and starts attacking the people around him (again, minus the voices in his head and the subjective perspective of the book, which I guess is the better idea for a movie). Through some simple plot contrivances, a woman and her son get stuck in a car on a godforsaken yard where Cujo rules  now that he eliminated all the human tenants of the farm, and Cujo is suffering from infection and decay. His demise is reflected in his more and more gory fur and nozzle, he is salivating and bleeding, and he is terribly annoyed at all the sounds the humans make. I can understand he has had enough, and not without sympathy did I watch his rampage. A little like a canine version of Michael Daouglas’ “Falling Down”maybe, minus gun, plus teeth.

Awesome simple terror cinema, with appropriate acting and what King later described to be an accidentally sincere ending… Of course I am blinded by nostalgia, but still!

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cujo/

 

 

I saw that film 9 years ago when it was in the theatres, I remember thinking back then “hah, I did not know that the guy could pull that off”, meaning Eminem being a true pop star, but with a credible acting performance, working his life into a script of hip hop battles, economic despair, and desperate search for love and affection. I have since learned a lot about Eminem and in particular about the life he led during the making of the film, and triggered by the intensive (basically 40 valium and plenty of other stuff per day) and it adds to the enjoyment that the life depicted in the movie is so close to the life as it happens to the man behind Eminem himself, and his friends and family. Soundtrack is, of course, fascinating, even though the stark format of the rap battle sequences does not allow for big musical tapestries. It is all pretty no frills, and that is what makes to movie great: it stays close to creating a realistic representation of a rather dreadful part of society, but it adds enough joy and positive emotions to make the audience understand why it is that these people call it home (and some of them – like Eminem himself – never consider leaving).

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/8_mile/

Hah, John Carpenter still makes movies? And movies that stick to the idea that as long as you put a pulsing soundtrack on top of everything, they will end up being creepy? Don’t get me wrong, the Carpenter films I love I do love more than many films from most other directors, but maybe Carpenter is a creature of the 80s, and should never have left them. With the almost-all-girl setting in the mental hospital, the general motif is such a common and overused one (think the terrible Sucker Punch, the mediocre Section what’s the number, or the ok Shutter Island) that it would be very hard to make something out of it under the best of circumstances. The circumstances here are less than ideal: it seems apart from the setting, Carpenter has very few ideas on what to do with his characters. The plot is so generic that trying to think of the resolution is terribly hard… was it a real ghost that was haunting the girls, or was it some locked-up and forgotten prisoner? There is plenty of lobotomy, in any case, and performed in a nice and gory fashion, but without dramatic consequences really. A bit of a sad story for Mr Carpenter, I am afraid there is little hope left that he will return to the form he once had. Sad as it is, the 80s are over… Oh, I just remember the final plot twist, and I have to say, it is more copy of than reference to one of the other films mentioned above.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_ward/

What else is there to be said about the franchise? The production value of the films seems to go up, the darkness of the plot thickens, most of the former child actors seem to develop some form of adult physique and screen presence. With the world of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows turning into a Gestapo nightmare, the lightness of the early parts is gone, and with it plenty of the humour that is a strength of the books. The films do not have time for these subtleties, and chase along to cover as many drama points of the book as possible in the slightly more than four hours available. Thinking back on those two films, I am not sure whether there were any scenes where I thought that it surpassed the imagery laid out in the book, maybe with the exception of the curse and spell lightning bolts thundering down on Hogwarts at the beginning of the final battle. Most of the film is the way it is and was through most of the series, an executive summary of a lengthy novel. And not the best book in the series, either, as displayed in particular by the role the title characters, the Hallows, play in the overall story, which is virtually none. The actual finale, with the stand-off between Voldemort and Potter, is even a bit underplayed, the supposed and as it turns out temporary death not really played to its full effect for those who had not read the books. This could have been a great cinema moment, with a solid hero sacrificing himself… but it was gone in an instant.

Now it is over, and I have the feeling that the argument of the time of the first film – whether the simultaneously initiated Lord  of the Rings trilogy or the Harry Potter epic would be the most lasting ones in cinema history – can be answered with: neither, really, it seems that history has already drowned the Lord movies in oblivion, and I cannot imagine  that in 10 years from today people will have one of them good old Harry Potter movies for their Saturday night in the home cinema….

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows_part_1/

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows_part_2/

 

I thought watching The Abyss again would bring me some of the Summer popcorn movie flavour that sadly I have been missing so much in this year’s real Summer popcorn movies – and the ones from the year before, and the year before… what it did, actually, was to remind me what a poor script writer Cameron is in most of his movies, and how much likes to bloat a perfectly simple action story into something messy, sticky and murky that runs for an hour too long. Ed Harris is, of course, great in The Abyss, as he is almost always, but he is entangled in stereotypical bad Navy Seals guys, dumb love back stories and an alien story that is just too Close Encounter to be of any interest in a 1989 movie. Of course it does not help that effects are not on a level that maybe would be required for such a film, with a bit of clumsy water tank action and a certainly at the time impressive water snake thing (paving the way for the T2 morphing action). The couple of good action scenes do not make up for the underwhelming majority of what you have to endure. And the grand finale is the worst of Spielberg without the best of Spielberg offsetting it, meaning kitsch and camp, hard to endure. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/abyss/

This seems to be a German phenomenon at the moment: films that look professionally made, but that are outright disasters because of their thorough lack of originality. Germany is the engineering country, after all, so why to expect a funny and inspiring and witty story? Right, and somebody decided it was necessary to make this story into a 3D version so that the expensive equipment pays off. There is not a single funny thing in here, everything is ripped off other films, none in a good way, all in a clumsy, “it worked in Ice Age, we should do that too” way… there is no funny character, there is no witty dialogue, and if you are older than four and hence able to read, you will have no surprises with the plot whatsoever. Boring, uninspired waste of time.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/animals_united/

Andreas Dresen is, sorry for repeating myself, among the three most interesting and relevant contemporary German-language filmmakers, so whatever he does is worth serious consideration. Halfway through this film I had my doubts whether this trust is still justified. During his previous movie “Wolke 9 / Cloud 9” I already experienced moments of, let’s admit it, boredom, when I had understood the characters and their dilemma, but still nobody took them any further for a while. In “Whisky / Wodka”, something similar happened when it was repeatedly stressed that the Otto character is beyond his peak and has to face the challenges of ageing (and he turns the saying “getting old is nothing for cowards” into a “getting old is nothing for ascetics”), and that he is not able to let his human side loose, and that he treats his surroundings like shit etc. Again, the narration stalled, and did not move on for another 20 minutes, when the development took an expected route into catharsis. There were not many surprises in the film, but the story was told with a genuine affection for the characters. This helps, and maybe it is what makes a “Dresen film”. I particularly like Henry Huebchen, whose face has aged very well and who has a stunning presence, a magnetism drawing attention to him in every setting (the previous film with him I had seen, maybe the only film I have seen, was “Alles auf Zucker / Go for Zucker” (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/go_for_zucker/) , a hilarious comedy by Dani Levy). At the end of the day, the sentence is still valid: better an average Dresen than a good whoever, but I would love to see more intensity “Halbe Treppe” or “Willenbrock”-style, which are highlights of German film’s last thirty years, no doubt. Next time maybe. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/whiskey-with-vodka/ (not too much information there) and http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisky_mit_Wodka (German)

The script author does not understand a thing about horror movies – if the plot is a sequence of unavoidable deaths, and if you know from the beginning that there is no mystery, but just some ghost… then where’s the thrill? I kept wondering whether the film lures you towards some kind of plot twist, I thought it cannot possibly be that simple and straightforward, really? Can it? It could … The story is dumb as it is, anyway, apparently contrived by an elderly person in a writing room who got very exciting about this new internet thing, and shouting “hey, we need to do something with that internet, maybe ghosts coming out of it because of information overflow and stuff, and then it’s the end of the world and you know, zombie things? “ – “yeah, cool, can we have a blond chick in it with big breasts?” – “blond, yeah, but we need to have it PG rated”… and on it went, and out came a joke of a movie. Embarrassingly bad in every single respect. In case you are wondering: too much communication kills us by inviting the ghosts from beyond the broadband…
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/pulse/

No doubt, the Ring series – American or Japanese – has its nice bits of atmospheric horror, and outright moments of terror towards the end. I have seen the Japanese original some years ago (see https://thomas4cinema.wordpress.com/2007/05/03/ringu/), now the American – and I have to say that it does not really hold up. If you know what is going to happen, the whole thing feels like a waiting loop towards the final scenes, as the main plot and the characters’ adventures are, honestly, not very interesting. The finale is pleasantly creepy (even though I think not half as creepy as the Japanese one), and there is a nice scene involving a horse going mental. Also, the video at the heart of the film is a bit better done than the one in the Japanese version, that must be because Gore Verbinski saw more Bunuel during his university time, I assume. All in all, it lacks that certain atmosphere that maybe exist in Asian horror films only to the eyes of a non-Asian audience – but it is exactly that what makes these films attractive to me. I would dare saying that The (American) Ring would not have established a multi-part franchise had it been the first of all these.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ring/

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