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Le scaphandre et le papillon (2007)
A gorgeous experience
Not only visually incredibly impressive film about Jean-Dominique Bauby, the then editor-in-chief of "Elle", who suffered a stroke at the age of 42 and was completely paralyzed from then on - except for his left eye - but managed with insane willpower to dictate the literary template for this film letter by letter with a wink. Excellently filmed by Spielberg regular cinematographer Janusz Kaminski - the first part exclusively from the perspective of the one functioning eye and - although he has hardly any acting possibilities in this role - nevertheless superbly acted by Mathieu Amalric. A great great cinematic experience.
This film has the depth of a bird potion. It is not really creepy either. However, it does not matter at all, because stylistically, visually and athmosphically, it is excellent. For once, Nick Cages overacting fits perfectly here and Johann Johannsson has delivered a worthy requiem with his soundtrack. It doesn't bother at all that the revenge plot couldn't be more easily knitted and, as I said, there are only few really creepy moments, although the violence and gore are over the top, but it is really hilarious how some of the scenes are served with a certain wink .... just as the film - I think - it doesn't take itself too seriously overall.
Russkiy kovcheg (2002)
Wow, what a trip! Sokurov as an invisible speaker accompanies a French marquis on his walk through the Petersburg Hermitage, examines the art treasures exhibited there, experiences various historical events, completely detached from their sequence, meets historical, contemporary, fictitious and real persons, such as Peter the Great, Cathrine the Great (looking for the loo or jogging through the snow), Pushkin, the current director of the museum , several nowadays visitors etc.. The marquis squeals incessably, sometimes philosophically and/or with regards to the arts or history, sometimes completely non-sensical ... and sometimes even a bit annoyingly (but that is part of the amusement). The entire thing was filmed in one take and in captivating, sometimes strongly distorted optics, art direction, costumes and music are magnificent and the performers are also fabulous. At the end, the film culminates in a captivating dance extravaganza and a breathtaking final image. This is cinema in pure form, where you only constantly wish to be able to see the film right there.
Suzi Q (2019)
Your mamma won't like her
Documentary about Suzi Quatro, rock icon of my childhood. One may think of her as you like, but her contribution to the emancipation of women in the rock'n'roll circus is not to be underestimated and this fact is appropriately celebrated here, among others by members of the Runaways, Blondie, Talking Heads, L7, Go-Go's, Sweet, Slade as well as Alice Cooper, Wendy James, KT Tunstall, etc. (Oh my goodness, there are plenty of real scare crows among them - male as well as female). The film is interesting because of the detailed stories from the early days of her rock'n'roll career ... and when it went downhill. I had no idea that she played very successfully in musicals and also partly co-wrote on them, hosted TV and radio shows for the BBC, wrote poems and children's books ... meanwhile, with all this hustle and bustle going on she always remained quite down-to-earth and makes an extremely sympathetic impression. Respect!
Tripping with Nils Frahm (2020)
Puts you directly back to your own live experience if you had the privilege of it. For all others it's nothing less than the best equivalent to it - particularly in times of Covid. A great performance by a genius musician brilliantly captured. Highly recommended!
Shut Up and Play the Hits (2012)
They should have shut up more often ....
This is a documentary about James Murphy and the final concert of the LCD Soundsystem in Madison Square Garden just before the band's temporary break up. The concert excerpts are some of the best I have ever seen and heard. The camera work is particularly great - sometimes unusual perspectives are taken, not just filming the stage frontally with an occasional glance at the individual musicians. No, some cameras had been positioned in the middle of the audience or the audience was even filmed from above, plus all musicians - not just Murphy - get quite a bunch of screentime. The editing is great, too - constantly changing between the different camera perspectives, but not too hectic either. Likewise the sound mixing: the audience is always audible, but when it matters, the music is mixed into the foreground. All these qualities result in the effect that only occurs in very few concert films: you really have the feeling of being there. I had been given goose bumps quite a few times.
The only thing I didn't like about it was that on the one hand you get into a party mood, but on the other - due to the many interruptions - it is slowed down again and again. Between the live footage montages of interviews, Murphy home videos, backstage and afterparty footage, etc. are shown - a concept I can relate to, but I would have appreciated if the filmmakers sometimes would have let the music speak for itself longer. It was particularly annoying when the band played "Losing My Edge": during the instrumental passages the music was mixed into the background while those snippets were played in parallel. It took away a lot of the power of the music and this was a shame. Nevertheless: a very likeable and recommendable music documentary.
In den Gängen (2018)
Great German lower class drama
If you can't imagine how to make an impressive film out of the everyday life and work of a supermarket staff, you should watch this film. This is of course not inconsiderably due to the two - as always impressively acting - main actors Franz Rogowski and Sandra Hüller (plus a no less brilliant Peter Kurth), but ultimately the decisive factor is the warmth and sympathy with which the writer/director Thomas Stuber draws his characters under the most adverse circumstances (= the monotonous work in this juggernaut of a supermarket with its endless aisles and towering shelves) treating each other warmly and respectfully and occasionally celebrate the small unauthorized freedoms. The delicate bonds between Hüller and Rogowski are so adorable in all their clumsiness and speechlessness, nothing more is wished for them other than the main prize in the lottery and great luck. I don't give away too much, I think - everything will turn out differently, of course, but you will still be able to dream and it is and remains a wonderfully charming film.
Die geliebten Schwestern (2014)
A speculative drama about the loves and life of one of the best German writers
Historical drama about the triangular relationship between sisters Charlotte and Caroline von Lengenfeld and Friedrich Schiller, which was not documented, but is indicated in various sources (letters, diaries). Schiller then married the former. Caroline was already bound in an unfortunate marriage - but the two of them don't really get away from each other. Wonderfully light, romantic scenes and moments of happiness and harmony alternate with blows of fate and crises, but the crackling between the three always remains and this is due on the one hand to the great book and the direction of Dominik Graf, and on the other to the brilliant performances of the three leading actors Henriette Confurius, Hannah Herzsprung and Florian Stetter. So, no fear of costume dramas! This film deserves all your attention.
Southland Tales (2006)
Unexpectedly great follow-up to "Donnie Darko"
Kelly's sophomore effort after 'Donnie Darko' - an unbelievable one in a positive as well as in a negative sense. Originally, this satirical science fiction / apocalyptic thriller was planned as a 9 part series - the first 6 parts as graphic novels and the final 3 as episodes of a TV series. In the end, only 3 comic books and this 2 and a half hour film got made, which was shortend by 20 minutes in comparison to the original cut. Hence, if you only watch the film, it is occasionally hard to understand the motivations of several protagonists or you only figure them out very slowly and /or vaguely. The plot jumps wildly form story line to story line which also doesn't make it easy to follow. But on the other hand, this film has spectacular imagery, plot twists, thought experiments (sometimes a bit off the rail), political, economical and social comment, pop-cultural cross references and great music (score by moby, songs from the killers, jane's addiction, radiohead, black rebel motorcycle club, blur, pixies, ...) and a cast against the grain who all go wild, particularly dwayne 'the rock' johnson in an unexpectedly nuanced but still fun performance, as well as sarah michelle gellar, sean william scott, justin timberlake, wallace shawn, miranda richardson, ... . All in all, this is big fun, you sometimes shake your head in disbelief but it doesn't matter - there is never a boring minute. I have seen it on MUBI where it is included in the series 'The beauty of failure' - a pretty accurate characterization of this film.
Vor der Morgenröte (2016)
A rare masterpiece of German cinema
What a masterpiece in quiet tones, insinuation and blank spaces. And the viewer needs to fill and interpret them. What Maria Schrader did not do is a biopic by numbers, but - by showing sketches of a few days of Austrian-Jewish writer Stefan Zweig's life in exile in Brazil during WWII - what happened without a doubt to many other artists, intellectals and others who had fled the German nazi regime. Josef Hader's acting is brilliant, how he hurries from government reception to PEN congress to press conference - always keeping up appearances but beyond his friendly and modest behaviour and the thankfulness to his hosts lies despair about the state of things in europe, his uprooting and depression. Only on occasion - when he speaks with his ex-wife (absolutely wonderful: Barbara Sukowa) and a befriended journalist (likewise: Matthias Brandt) who - coincindentially - moved into the neighbourhood of his last residence, Petropolis - he finally reveals it: 'How can anyone stand this at all?'. Or, in another scene you can see it in his touched-wistful gaze when an untalented brass band gives a poor performance of 'Auf der schönen blauen Donau" ('On the blue Danube') during an improvised (and very funny) reception in a province town in the jungle. The epilogue, shortly after his and his current wive's suicide, again shows the mastery of Maria Schrader's direction: dry police procedural, shocked neighbours and officials, mourning or praying friends, Matthias Brandt reading the suicide note - a panopticon in the wardrobe mirror that occasionally shows the two dead bodies. You only sit there and you are amazed and deeply moved. What a fantastic film!