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Here we have the story of Lukas - a young man doing community service
(delivering meals-on-wheels) as his penance for avoiding compulsory
national service. Early in the film he meets Isabella, a rather
troubled girl, on a bus. She hands him a note that simply says "Help
Me". Why she needs help is not immediately clear, but during the course
of their relationship Lukas does indeed discover the meaning of her
'note'. This sends them both on a downward spiraling course that
neither of them could foresee....
I quite enjoyed "Schussangst". It's a story of how society has lost its sense of 'community' .. that even in a large city, we are essentially all alone. Much like a Hal Hartley film, we meet a number of interesting, sometimes quirky, characters along the way -- all of who contribute something to the final outcome. There's also a thriller undercurrent to it (as the title would suggest) that is very reminiscent of Claude Chabrol.
One of the better German films i have seen. Worth a look.
GUN-SHY (Dito Tsintsadze - Germany 2003).
I've seen this surreal mixture of comedy and drama twice now, once at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2004 and recently on television and liked it even better the second time I saw it.
Lukas (Fabian Hinrichs) is a quiet loner who refused to join the army because of his pacifist beliefs, and is employed in the Civil Service instead, delivering meals to the elderly in some anonymous former East-German town (the film was shot in Halle). One day he encounters the mysterious Isabella in a local tram, where she leaves him a note saying "Help me!". After this encounter they develop a platonic and somewhat awkward relationship, making Lukas feel even more estranged than before. Lukas spends many of his nights rowing at the local river and one night he kills a man by accident and decides not to report it. But soon a local police officer/detective questions him because he was the only person present at the river when the body was found.
The film is not just a dark comedy and has some strong and violent scenes in it, but the tone remains light. I think the murder mystery is one of those crucial plot elements that keeps the story going. The police inspector Beckmann (great role by Rudolf W. Marnitz) - a very "German Krimi" kind of name - bares some resemblance to Peter Falk in Columbo. He is a bit shabby, he already knows all the angles from day one, is unmarried and always has a cold.
I just loved this odd little film, not because of the great story or ingenious plotting, but for all the colourfully sketched characters with some truly wonderful vignettes. There is a very old one-eyed former WW II sniper, to whom Lukas delivers his meals, and a Turkish arms dealer who keeps on telling Lukas how he learned German through citing the works of Goethe! Could be corny, but it works wonderfully, thanks to a great cast and Georgian-German director Dito Tsintsadse. A cast of unknowns, especially Lavinia Wilson, really carry this home. I found this a touch weird but nevertheless a very pleasant experience on both viewings.
Camera Obscura --- 9/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a lightweight movie, which doesn´t take itself too serious. I saw
Guadalajara festival "muestra", where it was well received.
As a more serious intention, it gives a portrait of an insecure and inexperienced young man, who works as a "Zivi" in the social service, delivering food too senior citizens. He meets a girl he can't really catch up with. Simple-minded as he is, he feels he has to protect her, so in the end we see a gun go off.
From the point of view of filmmaking, a problem is that the lead character is quite shallow, so the movie does not work very well as a psychological study. Neither could the actor convince me totally of his dark sides as a nice boy loosing contact with reality.
On the other hand, the film depicts quite well some scenes of everyday life in Germany, and it deals with a fine sense of humour intoducing some very funny contemporanean citizens, so that in the end you might like it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Schussangst" or "Gun-shy" is a German 100-minute movie from over a
decade ago and probably the most known work by writer and director Dino
Tsintadze. He adapted Dirk Kurbjuweit for the big screen here. The lead
actor is Fabian Hinrichs and I have to say I am quite a fan of him. He
has really good talent and proves this also in this movie here. i think
the only reason why he is not more famous is that he falls exactly into
the same niche like Daniel Brühl in terms of which characters suit him
best, namely young men who are as sensitive as unstable. I do believe
he is more talented than Brühl though, even if the general public may
disagree. His female co-lead here is Lavinia Wilson and I thought she
did her part well too as a young woman facing her very own demons, the
toughest you can actually imagine in her own family.
These two are the heart and soul of the story. But the supporting actors are probably even more famous. Christoph Waltz shows up as a police detective before his international breakthrough with Tarantino. And Axel Prahl plays a man who likes to swim in the moonlight. And while I like both as actors, I must say I did not like the way they were included in the film. They appear so random and it is such a coincidence that they keep running into the protagonist that I seriously consider the idea that they only exist in his mind. It's not 100% clear.
The one thing I liked about this film the most is the ending. It is shocking yet extremely realistic at the very same time and that is quite an achievement. It fits perfectly to the main character that he cannot deal with rejection and that he would pursue his initial plan despite the target being dead. He sees himself as a victim now and hates the woman, the way he says her name when he sees her for the last time also makes this very much obvious. The final shot was absolutely outstanding. It makes complete sense in the way Hinrichs' character was written and in the way he was portrayed by the actor. He sees himself as being used by her when she felt bad, but now that her biggest problem is gone, she does not want anything more to do with him and also has fun with other guys as we see in the scene I previously mentioned. I also really liked that we don't see Hinrichs again in that final scene and that the credits roll in seconds after the shot. It is perfection. No need to bring back Waltz for the protagonist's arrest. The movie certainly could not have gone out on a higher note. I was almost tempted to give it a ****/***** because of that, but I refrained from it because some of the discrepancies from earlier in the movie, i.e. also those I have mentioned. But nonetheless as a whole it was a pretty good watch and you should definitely check it out.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
very nice thoughtful scenes and love-story of two foreigners. The inspector "Christoph Waltz" had a roll which remembers to Colombo. And the trist scenes when bringing the "food" to the skuril people make enough impressions without loud action. The action and content follows in the construct and fantasy of the spectator. The actors play their longing-full scenes authentic. I've seen it at night, tired, before going to bed on German TV some week ago. The best situation to watch it. It is no action film. The problem: I fell asleep at the last maximum 20 seconds of the film. I just heard but didn't see it the last seconds. If someone has seen it, please eMail me, what happened to whom at the end. And if it was a happy end or not?
The plot of this movie is simple: Lukas meets Isabella on a bus, he
comes to discover that she is in trouble, and he takes steps to resolve
the problem. This tale has been told myriad times.
The characters of this movie are superficial: Lukas is estranged from his father, but we never quite learn why, or why it's even brought up (as Chekhov's gun sits idly on the wall); Isabella refuses to talk about the cause of her problems when Lukas brings them up several times; Lukas, fulfilling his compulsory government work delivering food to senior citizens (in lieu of military work), meets several characters who are revealed to be tantalizing complex (such as a still-active prostitute who's on the dole) -- but are only lightly explored.
The depth in this movie is in the interaction of fear, rage, and eroticism, even though each of these get only marginal screen time. Some of the symbols do verge on being ham-fisted, such as the use of the gun as a surrogate for masculinity (and impotency). However, the denouement is existentialist in its understatement, especially in the final frame: There is still a lot of story that could have been told, but that story simply doesn't matter. The problem has been resolved, so it's time to roll the credits.
It is overall a lonely film, a mood that's established early with a single, immobile shot of Lukas walking past a nondescript building; he walks for a block but passes nobody, and the beige-and-glass of the building oppresses the image of him in his white delivery frock.
Boating on the river recurs in several forms, between Lukas's hobbyist nighttime scullery and idyllic afternoons with Isabella in a rowboat. It is an accident involving the former that attracts the police to him, but the detective, playing out a stock cat-and-mouse story, remains at the sidelines (held in tacit reserve for what might happen in the days following the ending).
Each person has their own experience of a film, but I don't see how this could be characterized, as it has been, as a comedy, even a dark one. It's a calm film, typical of its existentialism, well worth watching but even more worth discussing afterwards.
Just good enough to keep me going late at night in a German hotel room. Best seen like that. Titillating and quirky, no more no less. But enough so for me to remember the title and hunt it down (...). The scene with the neighbor who's obsessed with North Korea is worth the price of admission (in my case, free, but who's counting?). The girl is sick, the guy's a dreaming loser. The writer who mentioned Hartley and Chabrol should add Rohmer to the list of influences (it's like a slasher Chloe In The Afternoon). I have to write more, but there's really nothing much else to say. Arte is a good channel for travelers who don't want to go completely brain-dead in front of the TV.
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