Mittwoch, 21. September 2011

Scabbard Samurai (Matsumoto, 2011) - Locarno 2011

 Bring the prince to laugh in 30 days or die.

Although it is totally repetitive the movie is really funny and full of very amusing ideas. There is a little bit of Takeshi's Castle everywhere you look but nevertheless enormously enjoyable stuff. The guy behind me laughed so hard that his chair broke apart. Some of the sidekicks are hilarious (I loved the guard who cannot shut his mouth!) but also the main actor works really well. The whole movie is basically carried alone by the little girl, her abilities are amazing!


Dienstag, 20. September 2011

Sanma no aji - An autumn afternoon (Ozu, 1962)

An elderly father needs to marry off his 24-year old daughter to make everybody happy. Lest her and himself.

The story has basically the same structure and outcome as Late Spring. But it's very different in the way the ending is developed. Ozu focusses much more on the father and how he realizes the tragedy in the whole story. It becomes clear, that he revels in memories of happier days and will never be able to escape them. Like in the other film the ending reveals a deep insight into the sorrow of the characters.

Great use of colors and very interesting framing. Loads of hallways, doorways and other interior structures frame pretty much every picture and are very carefully arranged. (Study this for interior shots)

Sonntag, 18. September 2011

Book: The Bacchae (Euripides)

Dionysos comes to the "unbelieving" Thebes. Not a happy camper. His revenge is brutal.

First greek tragedy I've read in English - Wikipedia at hand helped quite a bit. Structure is interesting, and the subject deeply disturbing. I wonder if one could make a modern day version of it. The translation by Sutherland is very readable - the notes in the end are more for the director of the play than answering many questions.


Samstag, 17. September 2011

Onder ons (van Geffen, 2011) - Locarno 2011 CO

 A polish babysitter in the Netherlands grows increasingly scared of her new surroundings.


It's a very well constructed film and it was also a pretty interesting watch. The Dutch suburban culture is a rather weird universe in its rigid appliance of political correctness and moral superiority. The shell is cracked when we learn (on the side) that there is a rapist and serial killer among them. The story is retold from different viewpoints which heightens the suspense as the story holds back the crucial part of the information until the end.

There is a very important scene that is retold twice in the garden of another nanny. Maybe that scene should have been a bit more underlined because it would have made the terror in the empty house much more realistic.

Donnerstag, 15. September 2011

Monsieur Lazhar (Falardeau, 2011) - Locarno 2011


A refugee from Algeria starts to teach traumatized children in French Canada.

A very touching story and well constructed. I did have a little bit of a problem with the premise with the children being slightly too much traumatized for my taste. In my memory, me and my mates were surprisingly good in getting over grief when a classmate/teacher or so died (also suicide). But in itself the film works great and it deserved the price of the audience.

The awkward dating scene was very well constructed. Acting was very good. Main actors performance even reminded me a bit of Kingsley's character in Schindlers: devout at first glance, but does his own thing because he has to and he wants to. And he gets his way in the end.

Mittwoch, 14. September 2011

Schindler's List (Spielberg, 1993) - TSPDT #212


 A shady German entrepreneur in occupied Poland becomes a saviour of Jews.


An interesting film but has all the pitfalls of a docudrama. As all the stories told were true, and there were many, the movie felt a bit crammed at points. The pacing is surprisingly slow. It does its main job well: visualize what happened to the extent where we can still grasp the monstrosity of events.

In terms of drama Goeth could have been much stronger in opposing (or even threatening) Schindler. Even a quick Wikipedia search seems to suggest that he was by far more evil than depicted in the film. (Reason for that?)

Fiennes does a great job trying to make him look banal but the direction wanted to bring out the "crazy maniac" in him - eg in the basement scene with the housekeeper. (I understand why my mother hated the film so much - as she was in Lviv at the time. Spielberg is caught in the impossible choice of demonizing and trivializing to make this more accessible and unwillingly has to capitulate by the sheer complexity of the human and social tragedy)


Ben Kingsley was amazing. The script gave him a bit of a stereotype but he filled it with life and dignity.
 

Dienstag, 13. September 2011

Spoorloos (Sluizer, 1988) - TSPDT #1627


After his girlfriend disappears at a gas station years later the man gets letters from the abductor.

The structure of this film is amazing. It jumps effortlessly back and forth in time - first it just recounts some of the steps of the kidnapper, the rest is revealed through direct speech. It is really amazing how the stuff was interwoven. Definitively worth further analysis!

Acting was really good, except that maybe the kidnapper seemed a bit too youthful, and the beard is rather exotic. Anything with backflashes should really study this one.

Sonntag, 11. September 2011

Dead but not buried (Mulloy, 2011)


Yokomata saves Mr. Christie out of the tunnel he wanted to dig to Australia, but his motives are sinister.

A really cool script, with some great twists. Funnily enough the story would have made a wonderful blockbuster. But here it is, the animation is crude, aggressively crude. The visuals get a bit tiring (especially after a long festival day) - just a tiny bit more visual diversity would have made this a fantastic film I believe.

It's quite close to Pixar but then again maybe not. I was quite surprised to see some of my friends names in the credits. Great work!!

Samstag, 10. September 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides (Marshall, 2011)


Good ol' Jack sets out for some new adventures. But - beware! - evil is awaiting.

Characterwise, an interesting blend between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Odysseus. Structurally, I felt that the whole thing was lifted from Indiana Jones - showdown in a cave and all. Two or three more things were added to heighten the pace: the mermaid and the rather diffuse back story with Penelope Cruz' character.

The love story between the mermaid and the priest was not very convincing. Why did she save Sparrow? They had barely met. The relationship between Depp and Cruz didn't work in the end, because she ended up being a totally cliched woman - great potential for fantastic dialogue. And Depp seems to be able to deliver - he could be a great comedian.

Ian McShane has fantastic screen presence.

Donnerstag, 8. September 2011

Banshun (Ozu, 1949) - TSPDT #190

 A happily living woman is coerced into marriage by her family and friends.

This is definitively a masterpiece. Totally economic but very rich in symbols. Fluent transitions between scenes sometimes hinging on a single word - a spoken tree becomes the image of a tree becomes the symbol of life becomes ... etc. Fantastic acting, hovering between naturalistic and over the top - but this is possibly because the actors tend to talk straight into the camera.

Ozu is the master of subtlety. This rather simple story managed to totally draw me in. Worth another view. How to use economy to silently transport messages. Possibly not one single superfluous millisecond in the whole movie.

Next viewing I should check details on Noh plays. No idea what they are for.

Montag, 5. September 2011

Madadayo (Kurosawa, 1993)

An inspiring teacher is protected by his former students from the relative perils of old age.

In his last film, the humanist spirit has succeeded. The glowing inspiration of the child-like teacher has transformed his students into devout and very considerate do-gooders. The film is recklessly optimistic, maybe even leaning way too far into the side of a perfect world. I couldn't figure out the reflection behind that setup - and I'm not quite sure that I support the underlying meaning as far as I understand it. This perfect world can become a bit boring once in a while - some very interesting insights into Japanese everyday life, anyway.

Again, some amazing mass choreography that Kurosawa has brought to perfection over the years. At many times here it not only resembles but becomes actual dance. The ending sequence is breathtaking!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1 (Yates, 2010)



Potter has to destroy stuff to kill the baddie. It's hard. More to destroy in Part II.

Loads of special effects porn. I like how somber moods have become accepted by a wide audience. The images are amazingly low light and low contrast. Some way too fast editing in the chase sequence - I got aware of it. Loads of characters wandering around alone in the wood (reminds me of Korean films). And why is the sword in that pond?

It's interesting to see that with this kind of film going into sequel 7 or so there is a LOT of exposition. They've managed to hide it more or less successfully in the first part of the film. And the director really tried to keep the lid on over-explaining things.

The scene in the coffee shop reminded me of something..

Sonntag, 4. September 2011

Audiobook: Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad, 1902


A very dense account of the trips up an African river in search of a mythical man.

Very dense, and greatly performed by David Kirkwood on the freesite loudlit.org. The structure is very interesting since all the events are foretold again and again, building the suspension until we finally get to "meet the man" in the tale.

Samstag, 3. September 2011

Children of Men (Cuaron, 2006)


In a world without children an ex-activist suddenly finds himself protecting mankind's last hope.

Very dense script in terms of story steps and intelligently done, some very nice photography, although the greenish-tone was a little bit too self-referential. Direction great, many small ideas, editing practically invisible!

The subject of death and birth is really explored beautifully and I enjoyed the references to Christian culture when I spotted them (the barn with the "titties dialogue" was an amusing comment).

The theme of sacrifice is quiet strong through the picture and I was amazed that I took rather strong side for Owen's character even though he seems in a weird way very detached to what's going on around him. Michael Caine was great, what a beautiful performance!