Donnerstag, 31. März 2011

Amarcord (1973) - TSPDT #83


An Italian village and its eccentric inhabitants is followed through the course of one year, some time before the second world war.

I remember seeing this when I was a teenager, and although it left some kind of lasting impression I am sure I didn't like it too much back then. It had a pompous, artificial feeling and the over-the-top caricatures of the teachers were just a little bit too real for me then - I was in high school and some of those people could have easily been my own teachers.

Like "Another year" this film is too segmented into chapters, but the transformation between the episodes is not too abrupt. The big difference that in this film the cyclic nature of life is the central point of the story.

Mittwoch, 30. März 2011

Another year (2010)



A happy family turns out to be the safe emotional haven for all their failed friends, especially for the wife's unlucky co-worker who just can't seem to get a grip on life and her expectations.

A really really beautiful film. Very simple setup and slowly takes you in. I'd love to see the directors commentary on this one. There are a couple of things I noted for myself.
Compartimentalization into four seasons: I love chapters in films. I have no idea why.
The other thing is that the character of the brother is not really introduced until the last quarter of the film. This really surprised me, because he becomes the center of that last episode.
Beautful, very simple camerawork. Fantastic acting. Nothing wrong with the film, except maybe that two or three quirks of the characters are hard to understand for Non-UK viewers.

Roma, Citta Aperta (1945) - TSPDT #98


We follow a group of rebels during the Nazi occupation of Rome and how politics, faith and human values try to succeed.

A surprisingly gripping film given the bad quality and my total lack of knowledge about the historical situation in which the film seems to be taking reference to. (Did that really? was my first reaction). The priest treats his shift from devotion to taking sides with the rebels with simpleness that is astounding - although the transformation is small the consequences for the priest are much worse. Great acting in some of the scenes - I especially remembered the scene where the older German officer gives a little speech about how their war mongering gets it all wrong.

Donnerstag, 24. März 2011

Tropa de Elite 2 (2010)


An ex-special unit policeman is forced up the ranks and tries to be a good subsecretary. Only when it is too late he realizes that his unit instead of fighting crime is actually supporting it.

A very slick sequel to the first still very watchable, but it is definitively a one-sided account with the usual payback emotions thrown around I would normally expect from a Mel Gibson movie. The villains are flat and uninteresting except for the Fabio character who gets some in-depth treatment (and he is the "clown" of the pack) possibly because he was the only villain who survived the first installment.

Dienstag, 22. März 2011

The Battle of Algiers - TSPDT #96




Follows the fate of one of the heads of the National Liberation Front in Algiers during the uprising in the first half of the 50s and the moves of their French adversaries as they - fruitlessly - bring down the revolution.

A very well made film, with an unexpected documentary feeling to it. Some fantastic camerawork using out-of-focus shots and a very careful mixture of handheld and tripod shots. Also the editing towards the end seems to have mixed in real news footage - it completely blends in.

The director chose the Algerian actors wisely, they are all extremely good looking. I must admit that Ali was drawn a little bit too simple, he is basically constantly angry and has no doubts about himself and his mission, very much in contrast to his other conspirators. But the French colonel also did a fantastic job in portraying the fine line between being a soldier loyal to his country and a sadistic madman.

Montag, 21. März 2011

Micmacs (2009)


I have always liked Jeunet's films, even the ones that nobody else seem to care about. Not this one, though. There is a huge problem with the story - I couldn't find Bazil's motives strong enough to keep sympathy enough for him. There was way too much eyecandy (contortionist overdoing it completely). And although I am in awe of some of the visuals, the whole thing fell apart for me - I think that the bullet should have killed him in the end... that would have been far better for the story.

L'age d'or - TSPDT #90


Unfortunately, I didn't like this one at all. It is fairly short, but the bad quality and the thing only in French without subtitles made the surrealistic setup completely incomprehensible. I caught myself at least half a dozen times wandering off with my mind. I do remember the cow in the bed, though...

Maybe this should be rewatched in a cinematic release at a retrospective or in a new scan from film.

Samstag, 19. März 2011

Odyssee - read Ian McKellen


This rather fantastic work took me forever to listen to. The sheer imensity and density of the opus forces one to re-listen some of the books many times.

It amazed me to see how modern the old tale is constructed. There are many jumps, flashbacks and the book where Telemachos and Odysseus are re-united is a pacing up of back-and-forth cuts between the two.

All the other readings I have listened to pale in comparison to this fantastic performance. And this is also most definitively the best translation.

Junge Talente 2010

Interesting performances on this one were: Nina Marie Köhler, Luzian Hirzel and David Casada (french performer)

City Lights - TSPDT #23


Also rewatched this in HD - much better than Gold Rush in my opinion.

I liked the score and was surprised to see that Chaplin actually wrote it. Amazing.

The open ending/close-to uber-happy ending is set nicely leaving me with an uplifted spirit without a visual conclusion of happiness of the "new" couple.

The film looked very "broken down" into scenes - but the buildup towards the end worked extremely well. Maybe some reading into the conception of this film might prove extremely useful.

Trape de Elite - Berlinale 2007 Golden Bear

A reckless special police squad caught in the social network of the modern brazilian society in Rio de Janeiro.

The film is definitively not a "fascist" view but is told from the perspective of a definitively fascistoid police captain Nascimento. The other characters seem to struggle more with their role in society and the poor black law student seems to be left no other choice by the script but to join the ranks of the elite troop on the verge of lawlessness.

An interesting movie trying to give a (possibly not-so-real) look in the actual mechanics of the society in Rio - some nice editing work and the build-up to the second part is amazing. After that there are some moment where you lose interest, but generally still very good. I don't think I would watch this a second time but a documentary about the "reality" might prove interesting.

Sonntag, 13. März 2011

Sin Nombre (2009)


A very well crafted movie about a family trying to from Honduras to the US, where on the way they run into a mexican gang member who has to flee from his own troubles.

The movie was well done, although it had a rather conventional and therefore predictable story arc. I really liked how the film effortlessly engulfed me in this rather surreal universe of those desperate people trying to get north. The audio commentary is something to look forward to.

Mittwoch, 2. März 2011

Gold Rush - TSPDT #27


Watching this one in glorious HD is a revelation. It proves lots of Chaplins attention to (visual) detail and confirms his mastery of timing the scene. I had the feeling that this film biggest weakness is the use (or lack) of camera movement.

There are some visual highlights, like the little fellow staring out of the dark into the saloon and some of the visual effects, which were mercifully used with lots of restraint, are really nice. The high resolution unfortunately also reveals a little bit of the artificiality of the set, but it doesn't distract from the story.

Chaplins voice-over narration was bizarre to say the least.