Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933)
Fantastic start: perhaps things get a little out of hand somewhere during the latter half, though.
One of Fritz Lang's most wellknown works, and a classic piece of German expressionism. A sequel to the silent film 'Dr. Mabuse, der spieler', archcriminal Mabuse has now been driven way beyond sanity and has spent the last eleven years in an asylum.
Our dear doctor spent the first few years in a catatonic state, totally unreachable. Then one day something akin to progress was made. The patient started to scribble down what seemed like gibberish on the walls. The patient was given paper to write on, and since then Mabuse has been writing nonstop, line after line, paper after paper. Acknowledged doctor Baum has ever since taken a great deal of interest both in his patient and in this "work" of his. If one momentarily could just step inside Mabuse's sick and twisted mind, then a cure might be possible...
And then it happens. Baum manages to decipher the text, and realizes that what he has in his hand might very well be a political essay of the same importance and power as Machiavelli's 'The Prince'. Throw mankind in the deepest abyss of despair, Mabuse says, using any means possible. Through random acts of violence, through organized terrorism, whatever will lead mankind to the brink of destruction. And then claim power.
Soon after this discovery strange crimes are being committed, and rumors of an organized criminal movement mobilizing underground are spread. It does not take long until Berlin is a city in terror.
This is where commissioner Lohmann comes in, doing his best to trace down the roots of the terrorist groups. Strangely enough, the evidence seems to point towards - the asylum and Dr. Mabuse!
The first half of this film is classic horror - through a visit to the asylum and a lecture by Baum we learn of Mabuse's work. And when we, together with Lohmann, is introduced to Mabuse (locked up in his cell) and meet his maddened gaze...well, it's a truly CHILLING moment!
We also learn of how a young man with good intentions through poverty is forced to seek work in organized crime. While trying to leave the group he realizes there is only one way out: death. Another claustrophobic and suspenseful moment in the movie.
Somewhere in the latter half of the movie things get a little out of hand. When the mystery with Mabuse's influence on the outside world finally has been solved, some of the incredible dark atmosphere is lost. Instead we get more of a traditional crime/suspense-kind of film, and the high amount of plots makes the film drag on just a little too long.
The eery atmosphere in the earlier parts of the movie, the fantastic expressionist style and many original and innovative moments makes this a 'must-see' for those with an interest for early German Cinema, or those looking for the roots to genres as horror and film noir. While the early parts of this movie is a definite masterpiece, the latter half feels somewhat flawed though.
The Trial (1993)
A faithful translation to the screen: fails to give new perspectives to the work though.
When a novel is to be translated to the silver screen, the director will immediately face a dilemma. How will he approach the translation? Will he try to be as faithful to the original piece of work as possible, avoid to give his own interpretation of the novel, not risking the wrath of devoted readers?
Or will he try to see to what he believes to be the true spirit of the work, and express it in a new way? After all, books and films are different medias and thinking of how much is lost without the author's special language and distinct style - for an example -, shouldn't a director try to make up for that loss by adding something unique for film?
I would go for the latter. Otherwise your filmversion of an essential piece of literary work will be just that: a version of an essential book, not an essential film in itself.
Of course this can cause a lot of controversy, and there's no doubt that some directors have managed to completely ruin an excellent book when trying to make 'their own' version of it. BUT, look for an example at 'A Clockwork Orange'. Burgess intricate play with language and manipulation of the reader - slowly taking him into Alex's world and way of thinking - simply will not be translated into film. So instead Kubrick used the unique opportunities of film and managed to combine the use of audio and vision to stunning effects. Kubrick managed to make something own out of it, no question about it.
And that's what I feel is missing in 'The Trial'. Yes, it is a perfectly well-done job. I couldn't think of a more suitable actor for Josef K than Kyle 'Agent Dale Cooper' MacLachlan: that's EXACTLY the way I envisioned him when reading the novel! Also the settings in Prague provides the movie with beautiful and suitable backgrounds. Though some scenes, for lengths sake, has been cut short it also stays true to the events in the novel and manages to catch some of the atmosphere in the novel.
The movie is carried through very competent, the actors are talented and there's a a nice 'Godfather'-esque grainish color on top of it all. No, this isn't a bad movie. On the contrary!
But why shouldn't I rather read on the novel myself? Because what is really comes down to is this: if a translation from one media to another is to be successful, it can never be just a translation. It has to stand on it's own legs.
And that's where this film fails. We aren't offered any new perspectives or different ideas on Josef K and his torments. Quite simply, it's an enjoyable watch but probably holds appeal mostly to those who don't have the time or interest to read the novel instead.
A blending mix of beauty, ultraviolence, action and intelligence
First of all, let's state that 'Akira' definitely holds interest for cineasts in general, not only those with an interest in anime.
I'm sorry to say that I'm not as familiar with the original manga (=comic book) 'Akira' as I would like to be, but the graphic novels are kind of hard to get by where I live and expensive.
I do know however that the film translation of 'Akira' doesn't come close to match the rich intrigue presented in the manga, and that many characters have been given less importance and screening time, if any at all. Then again, not too surprising, considering the comic was running for over ten years.
The setting of the movie is in Neo-Tokyo, about 38 years after a mysterious and extremely lethal weapon wiped the whole original town out. That's when World War Three started: since then most of the town has been rebuilt, except for the heart of the city that to this day remains empty. Post-war Japan is far from a peaceful and stable place to be in, though. Both religious fanatics, awaiting the return of the great 'Akira', and discontent revolutionaries cause violent riots from time to time, which is violently struck down by the military. There is also a great deal of unrest in the government: corrupt politicians and an army, that will maintain order at any cost, fight about who's more fit to save Neo-Tokyo from itself.
*I wouldn't call this a spoiler really, rather an introduction to the plot - but I figured I'd give a warning first. You decide*
All this political nonsense doesn't get to social misfits and vigilant bikers Kaneda and Tetsuo though. They're just happy to hang around the local bar with bikerfriends...oh, and that occasional pill and bloody confrontation with other gangs of course.
All this changes though when their gang is racing around in the heart of old Tokyo, after a confrontation with nemesises 'The Clowns'. Tetsuo collides with an odd-looking boy, standing in the middle of the road. Though Tetsuo is seriously hurt, the boy not only remains without a scratch but disappears right in front of Kaneda's eyes. From this on, things just get shadier and shadier...the military is called in, and Tetsuo is taken away. Through his encounter with this mysterious boy it seems something has awakened in Tetsuo. Something extremely special - or something extremely dangerous. In his search for his lost friend, Kaneda gets in touch with enigmatic and attractive revolutionary Kei and soon finds him drawn into something way beyond his understanding. Politicians, revolutionaries, scientists and army alike seems to have their mind bent on something mysterious called 'Akira'. But exactly what is it, and why are they so anxious to get to it?
*End of possible spoiler*
'Akira' is usually described mostly as a violent movie, not giving much thought for plot or moral. Don't let them fool you: though it cannot be denied that it contains a fair amount of violent action - and at some points - gore, this is a movie with an extremely rich plot and complex intrigues. It constantly keeps you on the edge, even after a couple of viewings, and I always find new dimensions to it. Also, Katsuhiro Ötomo's truly creates something unique and stunningly beautiful with his portrait of a Tokyo close to the brink of ruin. And then there's the music...or the ending...to put it short, never before has the apocalypse been so beautiful.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920)
Still makes for an interesting watch
As I write this, 83 years have passed since they shooting of The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari. Since then sound, and later color, has made it's entrance into the world of film, and most of the films from this era has long since slipped into obscurity.
Not this one tough. Through the years it has gained a somewhat legendary reputation, somewhat thanks to Bauhaus and other arty bands and their heavy use of imagery from this movie to design single-sleeves, T-shirts etc. But of course the main reason that this and a handful of other early expressionist works from Germany continues to hold a tight grip over cineasts worldwide is that it's distinct style makes for a fascinating watch.
Here the expressionist style is taken to extremes, and most of this early horror movie plays against a background of twisted and tortured buildings and labyrinthlike streets. Forget everything you've ever learn about perspective and realism: more than anything else, this quiet little town is a portrait of the human soul in an extreme condition. It is unsettling but also eerily beautiful.
The story of the reappearance of the infamous Dr. Caligari (a medieval monk, hypnotizing his victims thus forcing them to carry out his will) in a nice and quiet sleepy german town is carried through well, and his somnambulist (and perhaps Dr. Caligari's tool of murder?) Cesare can be quite frightening. There is also a nice twist to the storyline right at the very end that gives new dimensions both to the plot and the movie in general. However, the main catch with this movie must be considered to be it's twisted imagery and innovative style.
That is what have kept us coming now, for over 80 years.
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
Actually, I prefer this one to the original...
...which doesn't mean I think of Hellraiser: Inferno (5? Does anyone keep count?) as a modern-day masterpiece, exactly.
*Minor spoiler* *Minor spoiler*
The storyline of a thoroughly corrupted, egoistic cop slowly being led (or rather leading himself?) into his own private hell, is perhaps both predictable and somewhat silly. But, to the films credit, I thought the story was executed with a certain elegance. Contrary to many other who've commented on the movie, I thought it was a nice touch to let Pinhead take a step back, not revealing himself until the end of the movie. In this way a certain aura of true horror was created around 'the Architect' that I haven't seen in the earlier Hellraiser-movies.
*End of minor spoiler* *End of minor spoiler*
Hellraiser: Inferno is not the kind of movie you watch over and over again, and it leaves the viewers mind shortly after the end credits. However, if you feel like wasting some time with a low-budget horrormovie you could do worse than renting this one. Not everyone will stomach the rich amount of gore, though.
Low-key Hal Hartley, view at least twice or don't
I didn't understand it right after the first viewing, but 'Trust' certainly is of Hal Hartley's finest works, excelled only by the somewhat more conventional drama 'Henry Fool'. As with many other of Hartley's earlier works, it takes a while to let the film sink into you. But with the second viewing one starts to appreciate the film's subtilities, both the dry absurd humour and the fine, deeply compassionate portraits of the characters.
The story starts up with a scene typical for Hartley: rebellious teenager Maria Coughlin informs her parents that not only will she drop out of high school, she is also pregnant. A quarrel takes place, and when her father calls her 'slut' she slaps him in the face. He drops down dead. The movie can begin.
Things get ugly for Maria. Her boyfriend, a chauvinist pig, leaves her when she informs him that she's pregnant, claiming he's not the father anyway. And at home her mother waits for her and coolly claims that since Maria's killed her husband, she is now forever in her mother's debt and have to work for her. Never again will she do housework... This is when she meets up with Matthew Slaughter, a truly gifted engineer but with a somewhat sociopathic behaviour, and filled to the brim with anger and hatered.
Martin Donovan truly does an outstanding portrait of Matthew, and perfectly manages to forge his paradoxal feelings of extreme anger and vulnerability into a fully working unit.
A deeply moving story of two scarred, somewhat maladjusted souls manage to find each other, told in a low-key mood that doesn't get to you immediately. But eventually it does, and when it does...you're hooked.
Overrated and rather dull: influential though, I guess.
Well, this movie was a disappointment for me. I've always felt the horror genre have been mistreated in Hollywood industry and seldom is given a chance to reach it's full potential. That's why I expected something more from Hellraiser, I suppose. That other 80's slasherflicks such as Friday The 13th, low on both budget and intelligence, fail to scare me doesn't exactly surprise me. However, after seeing a few sequels to this movie I was favourably surprised. It sure isn't Dostoyevsky, but at least there was some substance to the script, and once in a while the director managed to create a chilling scene or two. So, after hearing people praise the original for it's originality and atmosphere, I figured this could be a truly frightening movie. It isn't, really. Unpleasant perhaps, being somewhat gorier than other Hollywood-produced horrormovies. But that doesn't make for an interesting watch. I found the plot badly executed, predictable and well...as I said, it didn't scare me. This is quite an influential film though, since several other movies lend the film's S&M-inspired style. But if you truly want to be scared out of your mind, I'd rather recommend In The Mouth Of Madness, a book by H.P. Lovecraft or perhaps one of David Lynch's darker moments.