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You might want to check out my director ranking lists. I prefer to do it if the lists get a little longer since the name of the movies becomes less apparent when the lists are longer, a poster helps to connect one to the movie and I also have some text on some of them.: ▶Ingmar Bergman ▶Werner Herzog ▶Steven Spielberg ▶Andrei Tarkovsky ▶Alfred Hitchcock ▶Stanley Kubrick ▶Luis Buñuel ▶Martin Scorsese ▶Woody Allen ▶Lars Von Trier ▶Mario Bava ▶Christopher Nolan ▶Louis Malle ▶David Lynch ▶Eric Rohmer ▶Roman Polanski ▶Richard Linklater ▶Fritz Lang ▶Brian De Palma ▶Jean-luc Godard ▶Max Ophüls ▶Buster Keaton ▶Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (aka. The Archers) ▶Ernst Lubitsch ▶Claude Chabrol ▶Wladyslaw Starewicz ▶Akira Kurosawa ▶Orson Welles ▶Charles Chaplin ▶Rainer Werner Fassbinder ▶The Coen Brothers ▶Krzysztof Kieslowski ▶Pier Paolo Pasolini ▶Howard Hawks ▶David Cronenberg ▶Raúl Ruiz ▶John Ford ▶D.W. Griffith
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Ideas of Space: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Breakfast at Tiffany's is perhaps of the most enduring films of the 1960's. It owes that endurance one might think to the (somewhat whimsical) Weltschmerz it so acutely embodies, or to the cute love story at its center. However personally I was very fascinated by the way it treats space and I think this might be one of its most enduring qualities and the one that truly sets it apart.
Breakfast at Tiffany's takes place in a world of small apartments (echoing some kind of personality) and vast open spaces (seemingly more lifeless and mechanical); it's a story about imaginary cages and real ones. The film works its way around those concepts in fascinating ways: First of it is wonderfully photographed, the full scene is always lighted, the shadows are very soft, the contrasts clear but not dazzling; the whole scene is always visible, yet the 2 main characters are just about always the focal point of the scene, rendering the world around them redundant (in that sense it got a little from the ballet or musicals). This works both with concept of the outside/inside (apartment vs. public New York) and the concept of a cage, as the main characters are always wrapped in a bubble or perhaps a cage.
Which leads me to my next point: there is an inherent ambivalence about what a cage is in this film. On one side there's Holly's disdain for names and for belonging to someone (as she sees this as a cage), on the other side her hunt for property (money) and her eagerness to marry and to sell herself. There's the real cage Sally lives in, the conceptual cage of an apartment or a city and the psychological cage of oneself and yet on the other side there's an aimlessness to the main character's lives that resembles freedom. However they achieve nothing with their freedom (Holly earns no money, Paul doesn't get his novel finished) and thus it might also be a cage, while dedication to one thing might become freedom (or obsession as highlighted by Doc Golightly). Either way, the lines are clearly blurred.
The film further does something very interesting with the insides and outsides. It plays around with the superficiality of the characters, which is mirrored by the films structure that is centered around apartments and the public life in the city. The apartments would traditionally be seen as the inside, a shelter from the world and a place for quiet, intimate introspection, while the city (and in 1961 New York was the biggest city in the world) would be seen as the outside, a hectic and nameless world where everyone is a stranger. Still the film manages to turn that upside down. Usually the furnishing of an apartment would reflect its owner. It does so in Breakfast at Tiffany's but only in the sense that it is completely impersonal. Paul's apartment is decorated by his mistress, thus it is only her projection of him, while Holy decorated her apartment in an impersonal way in accordance with her values. Even the Chinese man's furnishing, recalls rather his cultural heritage than himself. Thus the characters become strangers to themselves and the world, they swim around anchorless in a modern, fragmented world, without any true representation of self. I think it's fair to say that this is a general point about society and not just applicable to the main characters.
Interestingly from here the film goes a path which few other films thread as it connects connotations of home to the outside world. For instance Holly cherishes Tiffany as the most homely place in the world (maybe again a product of her self-projection away from herself) and the salesman there is humanized when he is memorizing his past in a sudden moment of sentimentality, while beforehand he was only seen as someone with a function, a nameless salesman, who might as well be a machine. Further the film challenges our conventional ideas of space, when it fills an apartment to the edge of its capacity (for Holly's party which is a rather impersonal moment) and renders a big public space almost completely empty in the conversation between Paul and Doc (which is in turn a rather intimate moment despite the 2 people being complete strangers).
It is in such depictions where the film is at its most free-spirited, when it starts to show us a world beyond our own property (our apartments), that is just as much our home, a world where everything seems to be fleeting but our own dedication and ambition. It is a world where people pass through others apartments just as through a public space (I'm referencing of course to Paul and Tiffany) and where people become people again instead of a mere function.
Of course in this review I completely omitted the idea of personhood which this film also challenges by Holly's double identity and the double identity she imposes on Paul (Fred) and I also didn't focus on how Melancholy plays into the film (of course the rain at the end is very important here) and how the film subverts it twofold, by ridiculing and cherishing it. However IMDb's character limit allows for no more space than 1000 words, which ties in neatly as a finishing point to this little review about space (the film makes a somewhat similar point with Paul's short stories).
All in all it's a great film, worthy of its enduring reception and as I hope to have portrayed (be it in a limited format), there is more to the film than just enjoyable fluff which some reviewers were quick to put it off as.
Into the Inferno (2016)
A contemporary reflection upon an ancient theme
You might think that this is a documentary about volcanoes
in which case you wouldn't be wrong. However you have to keep in mind that this is a Werner Herzog documentary about volcanoes. Herzog is not so much interested in the facts about volcanoes (I'm sure he'd tell you to read a book if you want facts) but what volcanoes can tell us about ourselves and about us as a species.
So how does he do it, you might ask. Herzog reaches very far back, very far, in fact right back to the dawn of man – through an archaeological expedition in Ethiopia that aims to uncover a complete skeleton of such an ancient human beneath the blazing sand. And indeed Herzog captures something prehistoric with this documentary; amidst our digital age which often tricks us to believe we've conquered nature, he renders man once again so incredibly small and fragile against the (in contrast) everlasting thermal forces of the earth.
Herzog explores this feeling of impuissance by traveling to tribal communities in the Pacific and by exploring the state of North Korea and the oppressive, propagandistic cult around their leaders (with some at times truly fantastic footage, you have to keep in mind that it's almost impossible to get a permit to film there). In both communities a volcano plays an important role and Herzog expresses multiple times his interest in how volcanoes "create new gods", once again questioning the permanence of our culture which we so often take for granted.
In the end what makes this movie so special is that it's surprisingly contemporary despite being about a phenomenon (volcanos) that is almost as old as the earth itself and that Herzog found new ways to once again render the Vanitas motif from medieval times vividly alive. Herzog reminds us that even today with all out technological progress, we are still small, fragile animals against the mighty forces of nature. Memento Mori, they said in the Middle Ages, remember that you have to die.
Some have commented that the film is really shattered; however I'd argue that it's actually really focused on its theme. Don't expect my review to follow the film chronologically though, it takes it's very own spins and turns. And don't expect the film to be sad, it's actually quite witty and filled with funny ironies. Likewise it assembles a large array of different great and fascinating footage from all around the world. However I'd still like to leave you with a famous old poem from one of Herzog's fellow countrymen (which I'm convinced he knows as well), here's Friedrich Hölderlin's "Hyperion's Song of Fate" (be sure to read it in its original German form if you speak the language):
Up there you walk through the light on delicate grounds, Elysian Spirits! Shimmering breezes of Gods touch you as softly as the hand of the harpist touches her sacrosanct strings.
Unencumbered by fate, like a slumbering newborn, are breathing the heavenly dwellers; chastely protected by a bud unassuming flowers for them eternal the spirit and their hallow'd eyes shine in serene clearness forever.
But to us it was given never and nowhere to rest: we suffering humans vanishing, falling blindly from one hour to the next are thrown like the water cliff down to cliff, yearlong into the unknown abyss.
Social realism & war
I generally liked Westfront 1918 but I have slightly mixed feelings towards it. Especially the combat scenes were incredible (and it's a major part of the movie so it shouldn't be undervalued). Close to the beginning there's a scene with a trench collapsing while there are still soldiers within. This more or less has engraved in my mind. Also generally the approach is really physical. Unlike many other WW I films it renders the battlefield very vast and barren. The climactic long battle which leads directly to the dreadful end at the camp is overall an incredible sequence. Which in my opinion grasps something that other WW I films do not. A lot of it is really connected to the social realism that was so integral to Pabst style. He has a fascinating and compelling take on it as the movie is general, yet not impersonal, apathetic or exploitative. It makes you see a much broader picture than most other war films. The delivery from the battlefield to the camp at the end plays out almost like a metaphor for institutionalized death, like being controlled by a machine. The squeezing of the soldiers under the collapsing trench also connects wonderfully to this imagery, empathizing the desperate position of the soldiers. The spare time spent at home and social establishment seems like an escape from this but it ultimately only draws the soldiers back in.
The problem is though that while I greatly admire Pabst sensibilities and unique touches the film feels sort of fragmented and not that dynamic. I really didn't want to see that time spent of the front as I had the feeling I had seen it all before and I knew exactly where it was going and it's not particularly dramatized. It's quite dry in short. I don't really see this as a weakness in general (as keeping it realistic and relatable was essentially the goal of social realism) but it didn't work for me. I thought that the film felt kind of dated in that respect as I would argue that the film was immensely important when it was released but today a lot of the personal context (which people back then brought with them in form of their own experiences) is lost.
Pauline à la plage (1983)
Whoever talks too much does himself a bad turn
Eric Rohmer (the director of Pauline at the beach) is perhaps most well-known for his film-cycles. He would take one main theme and approach it in a cyclic (some might even say repetitive) way through multiple movies. In his life he made 3 cycles: The 6 Moral Tales (in the 60's and 70's), The Comedies and Proverbs (in the 80's) and The Tales of Four Seasons (in the 90's).
Pauline at the Beach is part of the Comedies and Proverbs cycle (it's the third installment). As the title suggests the reoccurring motifs in the comedies and proverbs are a comedic approach and a unique proverb that each film is based on. Pauline at the beach is based on the proverb: "Qui trop parole il se mesfait" (a quote from Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval) which roughly translates to: "Whoever talks too much does himself a bad turn". The proverb is displayed as part of the opening credits.
The plot is very simple: The 15 year old Pauline and her significantly older and just divorced cousin (Marion) go on summer vacation to a house near a beach that belongs to Marion and her brother. During their stay they meet 3 men: Pierre, a former friend of Marion who is (still) in love with her, Henri, a divorced ethnologist who praises freedom and independence, and Sylvain, a boy not much older than Pauline. The movie tracks Pauline's and Marion's vacation and their affairs with the men. The catalyst for all their meetings is the beach and the characters express themselves through elaborative speeches about their love life and how one should love. Often their actions contradict what they say.
Rohmer counters the rather static talking by exhibiting layered backgrounds, beaches, gardens, clubs, streets, thus giving us a rich and detailed panorama; an atmosphere that feels just like holiday. He also focuses on body-language – subtle movements and quick glances give us a better idea of the characters and their relations. Especially Pauline gets her fair share of screen time. When Pauline, Marion, Henri and Pierre meet at Henri's on the first evening they have a lengthy talk about their love lives or rather their ideals concerning those. Pauline says nothing (until she is later asked to) and while all the other characters sit and talk the camera follows her when she walks over to the chimney (and later back again). In fact the movie seems to draw a line between Pauline and the adults – by framing and by the arrangement of dialogue. Pauline says relatively little. She seems to focus more on actions – when Henri kisses her feet to wake her she kicks him in the chest before saying anything.
A central conflict in the film ensues when Henri meets with Louisette (a girl who sells candy at the beach) and sleeps with her when he is already romantically involved with Marion. Marion comes back while both are still in bed and Henri convinces Marion that Louisette was really together with Sylvain (who is also at Henri's house) although he is romantically involved with Pauline. Subsequently the gossiping arises, Marion tells Pierre and Pierre tells Pauline who is as a result disappointed by Sylvain and doesn't want to see him anymore; and although Pauline later learns the truth her affair with Sylvain is over, the talking did all the damage.
A very defining aspect of Pauline at the Beach is if you look at it as a coming of age movie, a movie about the loss of a child's innocence, that Pauline doesn't actually lose her innocence – she never sleeps with Sylvain. However it could yet be described as a loss of innocence. She has now been exposed to the love-games of the adults, in fact without wanting it she has been a part of them. Thus she didn't lose her innocence by herself but her surroundings achieved that.
The movie has a very closed feel to it: it starts with Pauline opening the fences in front of Marion's house and ends with her closing them. It singles out Pauline's vacation and makes it stand as something unique from the rest of her life – thus highlighting the importance of the events that happened but also trivializing them as something that's over, closed and locked away in her memory, and has little connection to the rest of her life.
With Pauline at the Beach Rohmer paints an almost mystic painting of innocence and childish naivety. Through the contrast to the love-games of the adults he is able to single out Pauline who seems like someone stuck in the wrong painting. Amanda Langlet (Pauline) plays this role exhilaratingly well – she seems at the same time young and naïve, yet also wise and knowledgeable.
Pauline at the Beach is a love letter to childhood. It stresses the importance of naivety, openness, shows us the vile entanglement that detaches us from the world around us and from ourselves. Rohmer achieves a fresh and vibrant tone; he treats each character with respect and grants them the room that they need to not become objects, subject of the story but subjects by themselves; he effortlessly emulates the relaxed and laid back atmosphere of a summer holiday – yet over this joyous ambiance loom the dangers that the future will bring – all the entanglements that the world will plant upon you.
Star Wars - A Myth
Star Wars is filled with references and influences. However how the whole thing was put together (mixing all kinds of different stuff ranging from Metropolis to age old myths and sagas to old serials to Kurosawa samurai movies) was strikingly original.
I think TFA lost a lot of the original vision. Sure it was technically competently made (only generally some of the cuts seemed a little too fast for me - it took away from the momentum) and overall fun to watch. Also the new actors did a surprisingly good job.
However I think it lacked the mythological atmosphere of the originals and it really didn't try more than just being an action flick and to please everyone... To me Star Wars was more. Kind of like a modern myth with heightened reality and an endless galaxy full of possibility. This movie used surprisingly little of that potential. When I was a child I always imagined how amazing stories you could tell in continuation of the saga and I also read the Timothy Zahn's "Hand of Thrawn" books which had an amazingly original and well told story which was generally accepted as the continuation of Star Wars back in the day (Lucas even acknowledged it and used parts of it - like for instant Coruscant - for his prequel trilogy). Also I played the Knights of the old Republic role playing games (the original 2 which are like 10 years old now) which are just as well full of amazing original designs and questions. Instead of referencing Star Wars they questioned the universe setting up some amazing scenarios (many of which were really grounded - the most emotional part in the first game is awhen a droid wnts to kill himself because his master has an unhealthy love affair with him... yeah I know it sounds weird but it's fantastic once you have all the context and are pushed into that situation yourself). The 2nd one even becomes incredibly philosophical (at least for Star Wars or videogames) and questions morality in a really compelling way.
And actually that's what I would have kind of wished for: an adaptation of one of the best existing stories in the expanded universe. They had amazing material to choose from, really.
TFA was just full with references to only the originals. I don't at all mind inspirations or references. They could have made "Star Wars the Shakespeare Adaptation" and I would have been incredibly excited. It's just that thematically this felt really incoherent and it didn't end up saying or expressing much. They weren't doing much more than recalling the originals and they kind of just rushed over the entire background (in general the entire movie feels much too rushed because there's too much in there). I mean how does this movie even follow up Return of the Jedi? It twists the entire ending and nothing is explained. It's not because I want the movie to be overly explanatory but I think some things ought to be explained because of the giant departure from the ending of ROTJ. Like what's the entire political situation (really, they could have put that in the title scroll and they'd be done with that)? What is the resistance? What is the First Order? Who reigns the galaxy? Shouldn't the rebellion technically have formed a new government after they defeated the empire? And shouldn't Leia (a politician) be involved in that and not in that resistance thing? It just seems like they very cheaply tried to recreate the positions from the original trilogy (even with a new Death Star which is by far the worst rehash from the original trilogy - it already made less sense in ROTJ seeing as it failed once already in the original Star Wars and now they do it a third time?). Also the characters suddenly seem very jumpy. Luke doesn't at all seem like someone who would just go away and abandon his friends. I really did not buy it (but technically Luke wasn't really in the movie yet so I suppose it's fair to wait out for the next movie). Also the entire Solo family just kind of fell apart with only some very rushed explanations which I didn't entirely buy the way they were conveyed. After all family was always a very important theme in Star Wars.
Generally it had some interesting concepts like the Stormtrooper ethics, Rey waiting for her family (this kind of recalls the originals as well but its different enough to not make me care about that), Poe Dameron possibly being gay (as pointed out in an analysis I watched), the entire medieval mythology stuff surrounding Kylo Ren ("The Knights of Ren", his lightsaber), Kylo Ren's state of mental health or whatever (I don't really get all his character motivations honestly even though the film tries to explain some). However (expect for Rey waiting for her family) it's all incredibly underexplored.
I'm rather forgiving to the story flaws though (some of which seem quite catastrophic as of now) as technically this was only the first installment. If it becomes coherent in the final act in the last movie I'm entirely fine with that although I very much hope some things are resolved in the beginning of the 2nd movie. In the end the starting position for the 2nd movie seems really intriguing.
Ultimately I had fun. However it seems like the prequels reversed. No ideas but good execution vs. interesting ideas and bad execution. I suppose that's what most fans are happy with now but ehr... it's nowhere near the originals for me (which are all 3 top 20 of all time).
Also I'd like to point out that the scene that felt most like Star Wars was on Han's new ship with the monsters and smugglers/bounty hunters (?). Oddly that's the one scene which was entirely voluntary to the rest of the plot...
Sanma no aji (1962)
The first Ozu film that fully clicked with me - a short review
At times I find Ozu's films a little stale. I liked the films I've seen yet (Late Spring, Tokyo Story and Floating Weeds) however I couldn't fall in love with any of them. This time around (in An Autumn Afternoon) I really loved the atmosphere - it's absorbing. Ozu frames the cityscapes in a completely unique and spellbinding way (really, wow). Even characters walking along a hallway gave me goosebumps. Maybe it's the most spot on movie about post-modernity. All scenes capture that feeling so brilliantly. All the small moments (the son playing golf, the daughter and her brothers friend waiting at the train station, the father and his friends talking together or even just the father and his children sitting in the house) add up to an incredible picture. Almost every shot is well framed that the composition always indicates some sort of distance. There's also that brilliant scene at the bar with the father and the guy who was part of the military as well. It's when you realize that the illusions broke but that there isn't much left now. There's that wishing you could return (what if Japan had won the war) but it's not possible. It's indicative for much of the film, the characters know what they want but it's incredibly hard to get. However the film yet has some happiness about it and Ozu's use of music is magnificent. It hums its way right into your heart.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
A very packed Last Stand
I went into X-Men: The Last Stand without knowing anything much about the characters, the original comic books or the previous movies which I hadn't seen. As the X-Men movies have had remarkable success and set their mark on culture however, I knew about a guy with "lasereyes", I knew that Hugh Jackman was Wolverine and I knew that I'd get Patrick Stewart in a wheelchair
Perhaps it seems ironic to blind-start (well, almost) into a franchise with a movie called "The Last Stand" and I didn't decide for myself that this would be the best place to start as the TV stations decided to air The Last Stand one day before the first two X-Men movies. However maybe the TV stations had a point well, they probably hadn't but maybe there's a point to starting with the Last Stand:
So what is the point?
The Last Stand is incredibly packed and I mean incredibly packed. It races through themes of cultural, social and philosophical relevance like a short-distance runner. It builds up metaphors, links concepts to individual characters (and their powers) and draws from a seemingly endless stack of themes. It lives in a limbo of themes that define political debates today. In only 104 minutes it makes us think about social conformity, the gay debate, genetic engineering, distribution of power, terrorism etc. The actions the characters do and the concepts explored are truly worth thinking about. In presenting them The Last Stand might be rushed and it barely reaches a conclusion (well, should it?) but it's undeniably very interesting.
The movie enters where the 2nd part left. It introduces us to new mutants (notably a guy with angel wings which he's ashamed off – a metaphor for homosexuals and coming out) but also returns to the ones established in the previous films. After the events in X2, the team seems to be building up (as suggested in a training sequence at the start of the film) but the past is not yet over Scott in particular mourns the loss of Jean, distancing himself from the others in the process.
Afterwards two main plot lines emerge: The government produces a cure for mutants, which rids them of their powers and Jean reemerges but this time as a being called Phoenix that acts only on it's instincts. Over the course of the movie we learn that Jean is in fact the most powerful of all mutants, that her powers are matched by no one. She's an allegory on absolute power.
The problem this movie faces isn't that it lacks content. It outdoes any other superhero film in terms of content. But when compared to it's predecessors it actually lacks something: A competent dramatic structure. While in terms of content the stakes are very high, in terms of characters they are very low. Scott, a main character from the previous 2 films, vanishes without the others caring much and any other character development that happens feels either rushed or barely happens at all. If you've watched the first 2 movies before watching The Last Stand you'll probably be disappointed by the way this movie handles it's characters. That's why watching The Last Stand first might actually be a good idea.
The movie has been rightfully criticized for all of this. 104 minutes just aren't enough for the story it attempts to tell. But while it's important that we use our heart, we also shouldn't forget to use our brain. It takes an incredibly amount of thematic weight to the final battle which the title suggests will happen. Close to the end we are confronted with a sequence of lyrical beauty: While Jean destroys everything around her, Wolverine, being in love with her still, approaches her. He moves further and further despite his skin being ripped off in the process. When through all that destruction, he finally reaches in to her you'd think he just wants to hug her It's a very tangible moment that makes you feel the characters and makes you relate to the pain and trouble you might have sometimes had when trying to reach through to people you love.
In the end The Last Stand isn't a perfect movie, not even remotely. But it's an interesting and unique movie that in a genre often packed with fast paced action, manages to bring a lot of thought, even if it might not be fully coherent.
If you look beyond the shadows you might see something beautiful
This was the first silent feature film I ever watched. At the time it was obviously a little strange as I was only used to "talkies" however Nosferatu has haunted me ever since. I don't mean to say that I wake up at night, sweating and riddled with terror – however part of the movie stayed with me since then.
Of course there are the technical aspects. Murnau had been a director for 3 years when Nosferatu was made, yet he commands the technical aspects like he'd been at it an entire lifetime. With him he has an entire toolbox full of visual devices: Deep focus (screw you Citizen Kane!), time-lapse, stop motion, shadow-plays, low angles, etc. And then there's the cutting compared to other movies made at the same time, the movie is actually cut quite fast. However it's not cut chronologically and some of the things make little sense seen only in the context of the story. For instance we are shown a random scene of a professor showing his students a flytrap when none of the characters features before or after. The narration is truly impeccable and entirely unique. It adds up better as a dream than as a story...
Now the story, that's a peculiar case It's an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula which wasn't all that known back then. So the production team simply got at it without acquiring the rights. They changed a few names and settings, omitted a few characters and then went on to work with the story which stayed largely the same (one of the major differences is the ending of course). As it stands it's really simple: Graf Orlock (aka. Nosferatu) orders a guy named Hutter to his castle to sell him a house in Wisborg (a fictional German city). Hutter goes there but is captured by Nosferatu who travels to Wisborg and takes at Hutter's wife (obviously this is omitting some major plot points). While the movie resonated well with critics and audiences at the time, there was one major problem - Bram Stoker's widow was yet alive and apparently she wasn't very amused so she dragged the production company, Prana-Film, to court. Nosferatu became their first and last film and it was ordered to be destroyed. However that effort ultimately proved to be pointless as the film existed in too many copies already. So the film remained, Bram Stoker's novel received renewed interest (ultimately leading to a stage adaptation and the Lugosi film in 1931), Murnau became a big name and Prana-Film vanished.
People like to talk about Nosferatu in relation to expressionism. Of course it makes sense given the cinematic movement at the time (German expressionism), Schreck's makeup, the dark theme, the connections to nature (e.g. the aforementioned flytrap) and Murnau's use of shadows. However personally I think it links much, much better to romanticism. For Nosferatu Murnau used mainly natural settings, shooting mostly on location (he even went as far as Slovakia for the exterior shots of Transylvania). He uses wide establishing shots, showing us nature which is either void of humans or renders them insignificantly small. The entire movie is in vein of a strangely melancholic mood that culminates whenever Murnau (a former art student) copies the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich (one of the leading painters in romanticism and a personal favorite) in still shots (Consider Friedrich's Moonrise at the Sea and Hutter's wife, Ellen, waiting for him by the sea, Friedrich's Woman at the Window and the symmetric shot of Ellen opening the window or Friedrich's The Abbey in the Oakwood and Nosferatu's destroyed castle at the end).
Although Nosferatu is (in my opinion) the most terrifying portrayal of Dracula, it's also possibly the most daring, complex and human. The movie stresses nature (as evident in the large establishing shots) and above all doing as one's nature bids one. The movie shows arrays of living creatures (wolfs, horses, rats, flytraps, flies, spiders, cats and even bacteria, amplified by a microscope). They all do as their nature bids them, the wolf stalks horses, the spider devours its prey and the flytrap eats flies
If we relate this to Nosferatu, what is he? The manifestation of evil or merely an outsider who doesn't fit in by nature? Given he's a vampire him sucking blood is only natural. He follows that urge that defines him - and he dies. He dies by the sunlight, he can't withstand. Is this a "happy end"? Is it a tragedy? Is it neither? Personally I found the death to be very sad: The sun shines through and Nosferatu clutches to his heart and slowly dissolves into nothingness.
It is debated whether or not Bram Stoker was gay. We're certain about Murnau. Given the disdain for homosexuals at the time, I think the ambivalence is very much intended.
If you look beyond the shadows you might see something beautiful - Nosferatu is one of the most visionary examples of artistic realization I have ever witnessed and maybe the best horror movie of all time – 10/10
Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (1995)
Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud
Silence, Talk, Silence, Talk and the again Silence, occasional dinners at different restaurants, the daily meeting to edit a book manuscript, routine and the mass of exception that goes along with it and the humans that meet in-between.
Nelly & Monsieur is all that and more. It's about humans leading their lives as good as they can, they care for each other but in the end they all live their own quiet desperation. This probably sounds much worse than it is. Through the routine they get close to each other, express tenderness and affection for each other, but the exceptions never seem quite big enough to top what the routine gives.
Still Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud is a delightful movie. It's a slice of life drama which isn't quite drama or really slice of life.
During the entire movie something builds up, the yearning for a big leap of faith. When Nelly leaves her husband at the beginning of the movie it seems to be nothing much, it's over in about a minute and her husband does not claim much more of the running time. That's how it goes during the entire movie: What should be big changes in Nelly's life are written off as nothing much. In fact what triggers most emotional response from her are the routinely meetings with Monsieur Arnaud, a man perhaps 40 years older than her. In these routinely meetings they edit the book he wants to publish and they talk, they talk about themselves, their lives, their past, but also about the book... clearly something is building up and this is where I'm going to tell you: "go see the movie to find out!", it's much worth a watch or perhaps some more.
The conflict is clearly there, yet the movie never becomes overly dramatic, in fact it's quite restrained and that's what makes it so delightful. We witness all the characters meetings and their talk which is often comic, not in the way that you would loudly laugh, much rather in a way that could make the characters themselves chuckle, and in fact, they do. There's never done too much to drive the point home, that's the slice of life aspect about it. What makes it not so much slice of life is that it's actually about a very special part in both Nelly's and Monsieur Arnaud's life; both of their lives change drastically after their meeting.
Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud delivers the atmosphere of all the afternoons when you're doing something rather unexceptional but still have a fine time. This movie will be a delight for people fond of such an atmosphere but even people who might not be especially enthralled by the atmosphere might still find joy in the careful treatment of the theme.
If nothing convinced you yet I have to note that the acting of both Emmanuelle Béart (Nelly) and Michel Serrault (Monsieur Arnaud) is absolutely exceptional. Emmanuelle Béart delivers everything with her face, especially with her eyes. Michel Serrault has a stunning presence; he sustains a sense of mystery around his character without ever becoming sentimental.
It's 8,5 from me and I deem it a great last movie for any director. Even though he was over 70 when he made it, Sautet still very much had it.
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
"D'you like that? I knew you would. They say I'm a wonderful lover."
In the core of this movie is the fictive character of Emmet Ray who says of himself that he is the 2nd best guitarist in the world right after Django Reinhardt (who actually lived). The movie tackles some other subjects but focuses on Emmet and his problems. It works quite well because Sean Penn gives a terrific performance. The movie also portrays the 30's quite well and it got some good cinematography (like most of Woody's movies).
Woody pays homage to Bergman's The Passion of Anna with the interviews he uses to narrate some of the story and express some thoughts from another point of view. The interviews are a very minor part of the movie, but a fun (and unique) little element. The movie is also a homage to Fellini's La Strada. The 2 main characters in Sweet and Lowdown resemble the two main characters in La Strada so if you enjoyed Sweet and Lowdown you might find these two movies interesting (it probably also works the other way around).
If you haven't seen it yet here's my conclusion: It's not a masterpiece (far from), but it's a good movie that should especially be a treat for musicians, other artists and Allen or Penn fans. If you like character drama and don't mind the comedic touch this is a movie for you. If you're not that interested in character dramas you won't hate it but it's not a movie I would highly recommend to you.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Don't expect anything!
People are complaining about this movie and I think it has something to do with their expectations. I've read reviews saying something about Woody and romance. If you're searching for that don't search here. This movie isn't romantic and Rom-com is hardly fitting for it. It's an intense drama done in a really lighthearted way (it is also a comedy although it's subtle and the laughs are few but well placed) and it works without denying the depth of the drama and that's why this movie is charming: A great script with some great lines, an outstanding cast with 4 very strong performances in the center (yes 4!) and some good capturing of Spain through the photography. It makes you think but while it's very serious in the core it's quite uplifting. The movie could have been negative so easily but it delivers through the right atmosphere.
You should probably watch this movie if you like more subtle comedies and appreciate some depth in theme and a good approach to it.
This is not one of Allen's best but it's a good one and you should absolutely watch it if you're a fan of his.
Match Point (2005)
It's hard to define the genre. Because it's not a rom-com, it's not a drama and it's not a thriller either. Until a certain point the film is mainly a drama about a man who marries and has an affair (it's a little more complicated than that though) with some comedic hints. But at one point (I'm not gonna give a way when it happens) it turns and becomes a comedy and it works. It works because the characters are extremely shallow and nearly cliché. This allows the comedy to work since you're not extremely into the characters but it also allows the drama to work because society kind of is as depicted in the film and because you're unable to see the thoughts of the characters and have to figure them out by yourself. The film is social satire through it's depiction of the characters and their decisions. But especially the ending is extremely biting.
The movie is easily thrilling enough, dramatic enough and witty and it even got some depth. The cinematography is really great and helps establish the mood of the film. All in all it's a great pleasure to watch and I can only recommend it.
They don't make em like this anymore
L'inferno is a pretty early feature length film. In fact it's one of the earliest that still exists today. 1911 is more than hundred years ago and the impact of all that time shows in the movie. It's highly unlikely that they'll ever make something like this again. A Mayor production with a lot of naked people suffering the tortures of hell is a no-no today AND THAT'S A SHAME because this movies gives one of the best and most outright visualizations of hell there has ever been. The movie takes Dante's portrait of hell and puts it on the screen in big fashion and it's not so much the story that matters but the images. Broad lands of people suffering in hell and it looks absolutely believable even when souls fly around and the Devil eats people alive. The visuals are terrific and a one of a kind experience. So if you want a movie that portrays hell go with this one. It's not a movie you'll watch over and over again but it's a good idea to watch it at least once in your lifetime and let it have an impact on you.
Most of the movie is believed to be lost...
...But there is a 13 min. long fragment with Italien intertitles. It's only a very slight relief but at least we can get a glimpse of the movie and it looks very promising. Despite the fact that you can't really connect with all of the story (since it's only a fragment - and I'm not even sure if all the scenes were originally in that order of if some scenes in-between are missing) this movie shows us a lot of what makes Murnau so great. Most of the scenes weren't extremely special. But some stand out quite much; In particular those with Marizza on screen. These scenes are really well done by the actress and by Murnau who set them up very well. Some of them even have a genuinely good composition.
I watched the fragment with the glorious New world Symphonie which I'd recommend if you want music to accompany it.
I'd be extremely satisfied if they find some more of the movie. It would even do if they find a major part of it. Some of it can be replaced with intertitles if necessary.
I'd recommend to watch the fragment for the great scenes to any Murnau fan.
La maison ensorcelée (1906)
One of the best shorts ever
I don't why only about 50 users have rated it. It's in my opinion better then "A trip to the Moon" which way more people have seen.
This movie features some of the greatest special effects. The story is good. It's actually somewhat creepy and the visuals look good. When it comes to shorts it's in my opinion a must watch.
Now let's go a little more in to depth: The best thing about the movie are the special effects which nicely fit into the movie. They either add something really great to the picture or make the entire picture. All special effects are really well done and none are unnecessary. The special effects really work here. The people who made this movie knew how to make good special effects and how to put them into a movie to make the most out of them. The special effects make the story and thats great. Concerning this it's the Space Odyssey of it's time in some way. I'll highly recommend you to watch this.
A great film version of Shaws play
This is my first review and I will try to make it short. This movie is based on Shaws play "Pygmalion". Its basically an adaption of an old Greek myth. You can read more about it by just searching for Pygmalion on Google (I do not want to somewhat spoiler). Its not like all the comedy nowadays. You do not sit there and laugh at big jokes. This movie rather makes you smile continuous. You have to look at the movie as a whole and not at the single little jokes. The acting is brilliant. Both Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller do a great job and they really get into their roles. If you like comedy with a little more content, you should try to watch "Pygmalion".