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In praise of … Top Chef, the Michelin-starred reality TV show

Heading into its 14th season the reality show for real foodies doesn’t need to deal in wine throwing and hissy fits, it’s far too good for deep-fried cliches

In Patrick Süskind’s 1985 novel, Perfume, an 18th-century French orphan is born with an extraordinary sense of smell and Süskind describes every scent and odor experienced by our protagonist. “Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will,” says the writer. “The persuasive power of an odor cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.”

In the same way Perfume takes the reader on a journey of fragrances without actually smelling anything, Top Chef does the same with food. From the kitchen to the final dish, we experience every bite with the chef and the judges.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Schtonk! director Helmut Dietl dies aged 70

  • ScreenDaily
Schtonk! director Helmut Dietl dies aged 70
The German film and TV industries were mourning on Monday the death of director, writer and producer Helmut Dietl from lung cancer. He was 70.

Once described as “the German answer to Woody Allen”, Dietl was known to international audiences largely for his send-up of the fake Hitler diaries saga in the 1992 film Schtonk!, which was subsequently nominated for a best foreign language film Academy Award.

Bavarian-born Dietl had already made a name for himself before Schtonk! on German TV with critically praised audience favourites such as Münchner Geschichten (1974/5), Der Ganz Normale Wahnsinn (1979/80), Monaco Franze and the six-part series Kir Royal, a biting satire on Munich high society and tabloid journalism.

According to the late TV commissioning editor Jörn Klamroth of Cologne’s Wdr, the inspiration for Kir Royal came to Dietl in 1984 when he and the director saw a photo in a cafe showing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict) sitting together with the conservative Bavarian politician
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Helmut Dietl, 1944-2015

  • ScreenDaily
Helmut Dietl, 1944-2015
The German film and TV industries were mourning on Monday the death of director, writer and producer Helmut Dietl from lung cancer. He was 70.

Once described as “the German answer to Woody Allen”, Dietl was known to international audiences largely for his send-up of the fake Hitler diaries saga in the 1992 film Schtonk!, which was subsequently nominated for a best foreign language film Academy Award.

Bavarian-born Dietl had already made a name for himself before Schtonk! on German TV with critically praised audience favourites such as Münchner Geschichten (1974/5), Der Ganz Normale Wahnsinn (1979/80), Monaco Franze and the six-part series Kir Royal, a biting satire on Munich high society and tabloid journalism.

According to the late TV commissioning editor Jörn Klamroth of Cologne’s Wdr, the inspiration for Kir Royal came to Dietl in 1984 when he and the director saw a photo in a cafe showing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict) sitting together with the conservative Bavarian politician
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Review: Magical Realist 'Treading Water' is an Enjoyable Hit-and-Miss Coming-of-Age Tale

In Patrick Süskind’s novel “Perfume” (which was turned into a film back in 2006 by German helmer Tom Tykwer) the central character is born with no body odor and becomes fascinated with the scent of others. This defining trait affects his relationship with the world around him terribly hindering his social skills. Even though tonally both stories couldn’t be more disparate, filmmaker Analeine Cal y Mayor’s debut feature “Treading Water” revolves around a protagonist who suffers from essentially the opposite problem: his body secretes a fetid smell, which resembles that of fish, and there is nothing he can do to change it. And just like the murderous protagonist in the German tale, the hero here is also shaped negatively by his unique relationship with bodily aromas.

Born to a Mexican mother, Sophie (Ariadna Gil), and an American, mostly absent father, Richard (Don McKellar), curly-haired boy Mica (played by Brian Bridger and Douglas Smith) learns very early on that people are repulsed by him. Though it’s clear this reaction is nothing personal, it has an atrocious effect on his self-esteem. As if such strange physiological condition wasn’t enough to make him feel abnormal, Mica and his family live in a house that’s actually a museum honoring legendary Mexican singer Guillermo Garibai (Gonzalo Vega) – a fictional character that appears to be based on classic performers from a bygone era. Sophie is the defacto tour guide, but not surprisingly Mica’s smell becomes a problem for the visitors - a clientele made up almost entirely of elderly women. Isolated and wearing a tree-shaped air freshener around his neck, grade-school-age Mica gets used to navigating life on his own having his therapist Catherine (Carrie-Anne Moss) as his only friend.

Cal y Mayor’s visual and tonal approach, particularly in the opening sequences, is reminiscent of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amelie,” even with in the darkly comedic way that a tragic death is handled. The quirky nature of the world allows for the filmmaker to showcase its eccentricities in all aspects of the story. Ostentatious portraits of Garibai, colorful wallpapers, a vintage gramophone, and many other bizarre objects and mementos conform the delightfully elaborate production design. A unique narcissistic shrine like this is fitting for this often irreverent coming-of-ager.

Fast-forwarding a few years, teenage Mica has become a skillful swimmer, as he knows that while underwater his smell isn’t as noticeable. Used to his lonesome path, he has decided not to go to college and instead runs the house/museum by himself. The only source of care and human interaction he knows is Catherine, who has definitely gone beyond her professional duties to help him. Unavoidably, this cycle is broken when a love interest emerges. Running into each other at the local pool, Laura (played by charismatic “Divergent” actress Zoë Kravitz), and Mica begin a romance that is not dictated by his uncommon stink or her secret life as a janitor.

Laced with magical realist elements, “Treading Water” suffers from an uneven use of its collection of odd qualities that loses sight of what makes it special and relies on safe genre conventions for leverage. It centers on an abruptly conceived relationship that drives the attention away from the initial self-discovery premise and introduces an easy solution to the lead character’s core issue. Mica doesn’t really overcome his struggle with his unchangeable “curse,” but instead hopes that by finding someone who likes him enough to ignore, he might also accept it – the familiar “love cures all” card comes into play.

Interestingly enough, even if the film rushes to find a feel-good conclusion, there are multiple instances in which Cal y Mayor confronts her characters with more somber truths. Mica is perpetually depressed and craves companionship so much that he confuses platonic love with sexual attraction. Cynicism consumes him. When Catherine tries to reassure him, he explicitly calls himself a “freak” and attacks her for what he considers default, empty statements to make him better. These responses read as sincere from a person who has experienced alienation from birth, and it’s here that the film conveys engaging sincerity.

Exuding genuine emotions while in such singular surroundings, fresh-faced Douglas Smith is a talented discovery. His receptive demeanor and gullible personality blend with the surreal reality and weird fairytale–like occurrences: renowned Mexican actor Gonzalo Vega has one scene in which he is basically a funny fairy-godfather dealing with high cholesterol. Despite it all, Smith is promising and was able to carry “Treading Water” by making such an unordinary concept into something relatable, and occasionally moving. An added bonus is the subtle way the director imbued the film with her Mexican roots through the use of traditional music, even if the story doesn’t reflect it as much thematically.

Aesthetically amusing and with a handful of notable components, “Treading Water” is hit-and-miss, yet enjoyable offbeat romantic comedy. With this imaginative tale, Cal y Mayor establishes her fondness for idiosyncratic storytelling, and though this might not be a perfect example of her abilities, it sure smells like her work promises to have a memorable fragrance

"Treading Water" is playing now in Los Angeles and New York, and it's also available on VOD

Follow SydneysBuzz on Twitter @sydneysbuzz and on Facebook

Follow Carlos Aguilar on Twitter @Carlos_Film and on Instagram @carlosfilm
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

Ship of Theseus Movie Review

Ship of Theseus is the first feature film from director Anand Gandhi, and, as its title suggests, it explores the philosophical concept of the paradox of Theseus. As described by the Greek philosopher Plutarch, the paradox is this: if an object has any or all of its parts replaced, does it remain the same object?

The film, then, traces the stories of three individuals, all of whom are affected by this conundrum. Each of them must deal with the change that is wrought in their lives and in themselves either after an organ transplant (in the case of the photographer Aliya and the stockbroker Nivan), or before it (the monk Maitreya).

Aliya (Aida Elkashef) is blind as a result of a corneal infection. Despite this, she works as a photographer, relying on her intuition to fuel her creative output. In addition, she has developed a way of working with her
See full article at Bollyspice »

Tiff Special: Ship of Theseus Movie Review

  • Bollyspice
Ship of Theseus is the first feature film from director Anand Gandhi, and, as its title suggests, it explores the philosophical concept of the paradox of Theseus. As described by the Greek philosopher Plutarch, the paradox is this: if an object has any or all of its parts replaced, does it remain the same object?

The film, then, traces the stories of three individuals, all of whom are affected by this conundrum. Each of them must deal with the change that is wrought in their lives and in themselves either after an organ transplant (in the case of the photographer Aliya and the stockbroker Nivan), or before it (the monk Maitreya).

Aliya (Aida Elkashef) is blind as a result of a corneal infection. Despite this, she works as a photographer, relying on her intuition to fuel her creative output. In addition, she has developed a way of working with her
See full article at Bollyspice »

Bernd Eichinger

German movie mogul known for Downfall and The Baader Meinhof Complex

In 1977, Wim Wenders proclaimed: "Never before and in no other country have images and language been abused so unscrupulously as here [in Germany]. Nowhere else have people suffered such a loss of confidence in images of their own, their own stories and myths as we have." The film producer Bernd Eichinger, who has died of a heart attack aged 61, went further than most to bring back that confidence to German cinema.

Still suffering from the fatal legacy of nazism, German cinema emerged from the doldrums of the 50s and 60s into the next decade with directors such as Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorff. Eichinger dreamed of re-establishing the glory days of German cinema of the 1920s, when the world-renowned film company Ufa was both a commercial and artistic success. He believed that art without financial success, which attracted small audiences,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, and Natalie Portman Might Join Tom Tykwer’s Cloud Atlas

Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, and Natalie Portman have been offered roles in Tom Tykwer’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas. The book spans thousands of years, several genres, and has six leading characters. In their article, The Playlist notes that the material appears to be un-filmable. But that hasn’t stopped Tykwer before. He managed to tackle Perfume: The Story of a Murderer when author Patrick Süskind thought that only Stanley Kubrick or Milos Forman would have the skill to do it. Production Weekly notes that production is gearing up for a spring 2011 start, so the cast has plenty of lead time to put this in their schedule should they decide to sign on.

Twyker is also writing the adaptation and the Wachowski Siblings are producing. Hit the jump for a synopsis of the novel.

Here’s the product description for David Mitchell
See full article at Collider.com »

Eggers Joins Tom Tykwer's Book Club

First Patrick Süskind, then David Mitchell and now Dave Eggers... Tom Tykwer seems to be developing something of a thing for highly ambitious literary adaptations. Following last week's news that the German director is planning an adaptation of Mitchell's wonderful Russian doll of a novel, Cloud Atlas, comes the revelation that he's also well underway developing Eggers' What Is What: The Autobiography Of Valentino Achak Deng for the screen.Eggers' semi-fictional memoir tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese teenager orphaned when his family is killed during the country's civil war. Deng becomes one of the refugee 'Lost Boys of Sudan', embarking on a perilous journey across Africa before eventually arriving in America where he discovers life can be equally hazardous. It's powerful, emotive stuff, and offers plenty of scope for Tykwer's trademark pedal-to-the-metal narrative style.It looks like a hectic year ahead for the German director.
See full article at EmpireOnline »

'Perfume' for Hoffman, Rickman

'Perfume' for Hoffman, Rickman
Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman are set for the feature film adaptation of Patrick Suskind's international best seller Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Constantin Film is producing the project, for which the two actors have been touted since the fall (HR 11/30). Hoffman will play Guiseppe Baldini, the perfume maker, and Rickman will be Antoine, the merchant father of a young woman who becomes the subject of obsession for Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the central character in the film, to be played by British actor Ben Whishaw. Grenouille's obsession turns to murder when he seeks to bottle the scent of the beautiful young virgin. The tale is set in 18th century Paris.

Ridley Scott Confirms New Project

  • WENN
Ridley Scott Confirms New Project
Gladiator director Ridley Scott has revealed his new project - an adaptation of Patrick Süskind's dark novel, Perfume. The Oscar-winning filmmaker, whose last movie was the war drama Black Hawk Down last year, has confirmed he will helm the adaptation of the renowned work - but refuses to comment on which actors he has in mind for the lead role. He says, "Perfume is about the boy Grenouille who is born with an exceptionally developed olfactory organ and therefore kills people to steal their body odor. I have two or three candidates in mind who are suitable for the role of Grenouille. Who they are? I won't tell yet. If names are revealed now, their salary's will boom skyhigh."

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