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The Dig (2021)
We All Fail. Every Day.
What will be left of us when we're all gone, is there anything of importance, any deeper meaning we leave behind for future generations?
A beautifully photographed movie about an excavation site in England on the verge of WW2.
A fragile magic lies in the unspectacular treatment of all human relationships being involved, in and around the place of the digging. The most touching moments suddenly reveal itself with subtle understatement, deeper meaning in seemingly unimportant details, unspoken words, the way people look at each other, or refuse to look, tells more than any outburst of drama, as if the emotions have to be excavated in a similar way to the ancient Anglo-Saxon ship in the ground, hidden under layers of dark earth. All the actors deliver great work, Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes are wonderful. A gem of a movie!
I Care a Lot (2020)
Life among sharks
Rosamund Pikes gives a breathtaking performance in this acid entertaining satire offering some dark, and yes even unpleasant twists. A morally corrupt out of control capitalistic business exploiting a health and care system for nothing than making profit out of it. Forget humanity, forget morality. Try to die before getting old.
An advice for all the One Point Low-Raters and - Haters here: open up your dictionary, in case you own one, and try to comprehend the concept of what a SATIRE is. You feel disgusted and shocked? You think what you see is unbelievable? You don't like it?
Learn a lesson: reality easily outdoes the cynicism of this movie. Believe it or not: reality is even worse. You feel sick watching this movie because you refuse to swallow the simple truth. That's it, nothing else.
News of the World (2020)
Nothing new in the Western World
Maybe I was expecting too much from the 2nd collaboration of Greengrass and Hanks, hoping for some kind of reinvention of the Western Genre.
The result is worth watching, but no surprise. Hanks never disappoints, portraying the loneliness of his character almost with too much routine, and child actress Helena Zengel is very promising. But the collection of genre stereotypes here, the clichees of the villains, the shooting sequences, crossing a desert running out of water, the traumas of post civil war (with some references to the divided nation of today) really doesn't do an exceptional movie for me, but just an average one, giving me the feeling I had seen all of this a hundred times before.
Pieces of a Woman (2020)
Pieces of a Screenplay
The screenplay and the resulting formal structure of the movie left me a bit puzzled.
Did they try to parallel the experience of this young woman, surpassing a deep life crisis after a miscarriage, on the formal level and the structure of the movie? The film never recovers from its strong first 30 min, after this you have the feeling it breaks into pieces, like the life of this young woman itself. Sequences seem fractured and shattered, not really motivated or combined in a convincing way. Dialogue and acting often seems loosely improvised and unconnected.
La Beouf's part for example, the most unconvincingly motivated character for me, suddenly loosing any connection, vanishing out of sight. But that's exactly the way the grieving mother must have felt it herself! Maybe they did that intentionally to give us the feeling of loss, pain, anger and emotional estrangement this woman is going through. Strong supporting acts by Ellen Burstyn and Molly Parker. But the movie's core and center is Vanessa Kirby here, giving a breathtaking performance, she carries this film almost alone. In the end it doesn't leave you frustrated, it seems there's enough hope left for a new beginning in life.
The Prom (2020)
Love thy neighbor!
A touching message, an engaged ensemble, but mediocre music, which doesn't leave a lasting impression and a kind of plastic atmosphere all around.
I am not sure if form and content made a convincing match here. But I enjoyed the actors, led by the great Meryl Streep, good moments brought in by Jo Ellen Pellman and Keegan-Michael Key.
Nicole Kidman performs a charming number, reminiscing the good old ( and way better Musical times ) of Bob Fosse, for me the only number with some individual personal character. The rest sounds and sings more or less the same quite stereotypical way with choreographies executed in a very athletic, almost robot-like perfection, not adding much to lacking charisma, inspite of the fact that the movie's message is worth to be heard and understood.
Fincher doesn't disappoint on the formal level of his latest movie, the reevaluation of the 30's and the Hollywood studio system is visually stunning and convincing. Acting is solid throughout. It's clear he shows the business as a morally corrupt system of mutual dependencies and exploitations. Manipulation on social and political levels leading into destructive and self-destructive consequences in almost every shown relation. I think the reason why it left me a bit indifferent, even bored in the end is, that the script often meanders in many aimless directions, when a bit more of focus and concentration could have tightened it up.
Not the masterpiece I was expecting, but maybe I was just expecting too much.
Hillbilly Elegy (2020)
Glenn Close and Amy Adams shine in this predictable shallow Ron Howard melodrama about the struggle of an ambitious law student getting out of his social class he's leaving behind. No deeper social or political analysis in sight. Exploiting the misery of the lower social class for dramatic show effects, people constantly yelling and beating at each other. What made these people behave like that? What made them fall under the conditions they're suffering from? What does it take to escape from his own social background and family roots? If you expect serious answers you'll be disappointed.
Playing with time
Nolan is certainly one of the most brilliant film makers of our time. I loved Inception and Interstellar. Both are breathtaking examples of his concept of highly entertaining movies on an equally high intellectual level. But, and now that's the difference to his latest film Tenet, they have a touching emotional background as well, which turns them into masterpieces.
In my opinion this time he overdid it a bit. Technically brilliant of course, breathtaking sequences, but you can reach a point of intellectual smartness, which quickly can turn into simple boredom, when you forget to deliver a heart and soul too. Sorry, but this time it didn't work for me.
In his latest highly concentrated and haunting movie Polanski renders a portrait of a mendacious, thoroughly corrupt society using the example of the tragic case of Dreyfus, a victim of the French military system at the end of the 19th century.
A system based on strong anti-semitism, seeking and finding it's victims, mercilessly outcasting them in order to survive itself.
Self-Righteousness, hypocrisy and moral depravity create an inescapable, nightmarish hopelessness for those outsiders, in this case Dreyfus.
Polanski doesn't leave a single second unclear that such a case could still be repeated today, at any time.
He shows himself in top form, actors, set design and camera work outstanding!
Little Women (2019)
Little women, great movie!
An emotional heartwarming experience, the cast is outstanding, so much collected talent, it's almost unbelievable, naming only one here would be unfair to the rest of the cast, making this movie totally warm and believable. The movie is absolutely beautiful, with a masterful direction by Gerwig, always keeping the lightness, even when tragic circumstances shadow the action. Wonderful photography, set design and music score. The fact that Gerwig isn't nominated for best direction in this years Oscars proofs, that women's struggle for autonomy and emancipation is still worth fighting for.
A Hidden Life (2019)
Of human Dignity
In times like ours, in which hate, lies and ignorance rule the world, a movie masterpiece like this comes like food for the starving, like an intense prayer for truth, faith and humanity. Just open up your senses and surrender yourself to Malick's artistic vision.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
This is a bit too much of everything in my opinion, coldly calculated only for superficial comedy effects, which are not so funny at all. It neither worked as a satire, nor a drama. You feel the strong effort throughout, they wanted to be original, they wanted to be daring, they wanted to be emotive. Ever so strongly.
I am always a bit frustrated when I feel this effort a bit too much while watching.
They didn't fail completely, the boy is cute, some sequences are entertaining, but sometimes emotional efforts fall flat and turn sentimental. It's not enough for a classic. Watch Lubitsch or Chaplin instead.
That's what war does to all of those young soldiers: turning them into alienated wayfaring strangers, just trying to survive in all the madness around. Sometimes the technical aspects of creating the illusion that everything we see is being shot in one take, dominate the story and the human implications.
But Mendes manages to keep the balance most of the time, supported of course by extraordinary young actors, who make the journey believable.
What i liked most were the moments of silence, of grief, of melancholy, the singing soldier in the wood, the surrealism of huge burning buildings at night, the loss of orientation in life-threatening situations. This exciting experience wouldn't work without Deakins brilliant cinematography, which is the real Oscar-worthy part here in my opinion.
The Two Popes (2019)
Don't stop now. Keep moving!!
The crisis of the Catholic Church personalized in Pope Benedict and the relationship to his follower Pope Francis, both marvelously performed by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. It's so enjoyable to watch them act with a great sensitivity for their characters, depth and humour. Intelligent cinema for adult people, you don't get this much too often these years.
Their conversations, discussions and disputes are based on an intelligent script, characterizing their personalities with respect for both of their different views to humanity and christianity, turning a slight antipathy between them into a kind of friendship in the end.
Church can only stay powerful when it's able to generate the will for a change inside and outside.
Benedict's watch is telling him: Don't stop now. Keep moving...
Marriage Story (2019)
My first thought was: Oh no: please not another drama about a couple's divorce.
My motivation was low to watch it, but I read good reviews in some papers and found the ensemble of actors interesting. So I gave it a try and soon after the start I was very much intrigued by the modesty, humanity and emotional authenticity of the movie. It doesn't want to be too artificial, the direction keeps itself almost in the background, but all the actors , even the smaller parts, are very believable and true, even according to the sad and bitter process they're going through. The whole ensemble is very good without any exception. One of the best dramas I've watched this year.
The King (2019)
Kill them all!
This is a dark movie, brilliantly photographed and acted, maybe historically incorrect...but who wants to watch a High School History lesson in cinema?Watching Chalamet as King Henry with his angel like face demanding to kill all the prisoners of war was a moment which gave me goose bumps all over, one of many intense moments this movie offers. The Battle scenes are spectacular.
Chalamet is the most talented and gifted actor of his generation.
I hope he'll be having a great career ahead, as long as he stays true to the seriousness and the depth of his acting. He has a wide range of emotions to offer, between anger, fear, sorrow and sensitivity.
And that wars have always been built on fake reasons and lies...thanks for the screenplay to make me realize that.
The Irishman (2019)
Scorsese's Swan Song
Scorsese's latest artistic attempt to create the world of mobster mafia, with all it's familiar motifs, here surprisingly transferred into a geriatric phase with more melancholic than violent consequences.
I enjoyed very much to see all of his protagonists working together again, and Al Pacino joining this famous team of actors. They're still giving powerhouse performances, led by De Niro, portraying a character under growing pressure, torn between loyalty and betrayal, and true friendship doesn't mean anything.
But does it have to last for almost three and a half hours?
I appreciated Scorseses uncompromising vision, but I can understand that for some people it's an excessive demand on their patience.
I was a bit unsatisfied with the CGI make up results, sometimes they looked convincing, but sometimes not. But nevertheless another masterpiece by Scorsese! He's still one of the best!
Doctor Sleep (2019)
Another flat Horror Sequel
Why do they have to produce something like this? Do they really think today's audience is this stupid? Reading some of the enthusiastic reviews here they might be even right.
Exploiting Kubricks movie masterpiece in this cheap way? It's embarrassing, pathetic, and unbelievably distasteful.
Mediocre conventional predictable horror. A single frame of Kubrick's Shining is worth more than these endless two and a half hours of senseless rubbish.
Highly recommended! A refreshing and unconventional genre-mix of comedy, drama and thriller elements, based on a strong social commentary about still existing class struggles in highly industrialized societies. Sounds a bit weird? Well, yes it is, but that makes all the fun of it, especially when serving here as a great example for the importance of intelligent screen-writing. A highly inspired ensemble of actors join and you have the surprise-of-the -year-film!
A Cynical Movie For Cynical Times
Who is the crazier one?
The one who is able to adapt without contradiction to the conditions of a cynical, violent and morally corrupt time, or the one reacting on those conditions with uncompromising insanity, fighting back, using his own weapons of revenge, reflecting world's madness with an insane grimace?
This is the disturbing question the film poses in the figure of The Joker, equally fascinating, frightening and pitifully embodied by Phoenix, an unforgettable performance with great depth and a wide range of emotions: a Travis Bickle for the 21st century, and Robert De Niro himself paying tribute to this 43 years later after his own legendary performance in Taxi Driver.
A consequent and convincing artistic vision
I can't remember having seen such a strong artistic vision from an american director for a very long time. Ari Aster continues exactly where Hereditary, his former movie, finished.
In sharp contrast to the beautiful cinematography he presents a cult society, friendly in the beginning, a bit weird maybe and sometimes unintentionally ridiculous, but with strict rules and regulations, a Horror Vacui system which is totally convincing for those who believe in it, and absolutely murderous for any stranger unable to read the signs around.
And it transforms the viewer into exactly this kind of stranger.
It left an intense impression on me, i was shocked, stunned and speechless after the end for quite some time.
It's definitely NOT a conventional horror movie! It goes much further even on a subconscious level.
Ad Astra (2019)
The answers we seek might be so much outside our reach, because maybe they're laying hidden inside our own souls.
For me this movie delivered both: visually beautiful and stunning special effects, and a deep and touching meditation about a failed father and son-relationship causing so much grief and loneliness. The action of course is executed on an exciting level i wouldn't complain about, but even more convincing for me was the second part of the movie, a journey not into space but into a tormented soul.
Brad Pitt proofs his skills as a phenomenal actor here, he makes this adventure totally believable.
A recommendation for people who appreciate adult and intelligent entertainment.
Downton Abbey (2019)
All's well that ends well
Warmhearted and sympathetic light entertainment for fans of the famous TV series.
Presented by a marvelous cast of brilliant actors, handling the perfect balance of dramatic and comedic situations. Set design as it has always been, sheer eye-candy! The story-line is a flaw here: reducing so many beloved and well-known characters to simple stereotypes, almost citations of themselves, rushing into a cascade of Happy-Ends with too much hurry, due to the two hours of running-time only.
And for all those wood-heads complaining about gay connotations and scenes: GET A LIFE!!!
At least the dog had some fun
Tarantino proofs once more to be one of the most overrated directors of our time, here we have a waisted cast of actors : Pitt boring himself to tears, DiCaprio painfully overacting, ( at least funny sometimes). And Margot Robbie just being blond, watching her own movies, anything else? Ah, yes, Al Pacino, one of the greatest American actors of all time being wasted in an unimportant minor role. No, It's just not enough to show myself ( and the world): I am so cool I don't need to care about a story. There is no focus, no timing, no story-line at all. What's it all about for more than two hours? The only sequence that works is the final one, exploding violence in the most grotesque way you can imagine, at least we are familiar with that.
And by the way: rewriting history? Didn't Tarantino use this trick for a finale in Inglourious Basterds before, but more convincing there? 4 stars for set design and camera work., because I am generous.
Dolor y gloria (2019)
The pain of being an artist
The price you have to pay for Fame is Pain, both are on each sides of one coin . How an artist turns his life into art, a slow introspective and deep film, very unusual Almodovar, no drama, no hysteria, no sentimentality, almost no action itself. The drama is centered inside, in the tormented soul of the director himself. A chain of remembrances on his childhood, his awakening sexuality, his beloved mother, an absent father, catholic education, his first love, his creativity as a film maker and writer. Every detail directed with great care, tenderness, melancholic lightness and exquisite taste.
Banderas gives his most subtle performance ever. The sequence in which he meets the love of his life after 32 years again is an emotional highlight, as well as the wonderful scenes with Penelope Cruz as the young mother. Life is short, and it's Love which makes it worth living, nothing else.