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Love's Brother (2004)
This year's worst movie
This film is so bad - dialogues, story, actors and actresses - everything! - that it's hard to imagine that we'll see a worse movie this year or in the following years. "Love's Brother" (set in Australia among Italian immigrants) has nothing but shallow clichés about Italian culture to offer, and it is quite telling that even the Italians from and in Italy speak ENGLISH in the film. The message of the film - ugly people have to marry ugly people, beautiful people have to marry beautiful people - is truly discomforting. Giovanni Ribisi is quite good in films like 'Suburbia' or 'Lost in Translation', but here his pseudo-Italian accent is hard to bear. See this film at your own risk. Trash as trash can!
Funny gangster flick based on true story
This is the story of two German bank robbers who left Germany in 1934, only to create more gangster style mayhem in Basel and fall in love with two girls in Basel, Switzerland. Unlike say "Bonnie and Clyde" it's pure entertainment, although there are a few boring bits (unless you want to see the Basel zoo and other sights) and some rather shallow dialogue). Nevertheless quite funny and mostly entertaining. Violence and some nudity! And lots of laughs, actually.
Un oso rojo (2002)
"Mundo grúa" meets "El Mariachi"
The pulpier elements in contemporary Argentinian cinema (eg, the brilliant "Nueve reinas" with its Mametesque antics) meet more kitchen sink oriented films such as "La ciénaga" and "Mundo grúa" - and the effect is quite smashing. Director Israel Adrían Caetano tells us the story of a man who lost everything - but after seven years of prison, Oso ('bear') wants to come back to his wife and their young daughter Alicia. However, Natalia, his wife, is now living with a new man... what does Oso, the criminal, do? The answer is surprising, and no spoilers shall be contained in this short review. With its postmodernist mix of action genres (western especially) and kitchen sink drama, Caetano and his brilliant actors and actresses have created a film that is both socially aware and entertaining.
The Ragu Incident (2000)
Brilliant Italian-American Comedy
"The Ragu Incident" is a brilliant comedy about 33-year old shoe salesman Paulie who just refuses to grow up and still lives at his parent's place. He meets beautiful Victoria, Italian American like him and definitely his soulmate. But then he discovers that she uses "Ragu" sauce instead of making home-made sauce. He breaks up with her... all his friends tell him he made the right thing. But somehow it just doesn't feel right.... warmly recommended!
Brilliant documentary on Mizrahim in Israel, on being a foreigner in your own country
Samir strikes again! In "Babylon 2" he was asking sons and daughters of immigrants about their experiences - he came to Switzerland as a young child, his parents are from Iraq. His father always told him about his Jewish colleagues in the Communist Party of Iraq. Samir wanted to talk to some of them - he didn't find them, but he found other former members of the Iraqi Communist Party, among them Samir Naqqash who still writes literature in Arabic and is viewed by Nagib Mahfuz as one of the best writers of literature in Arabic. He also talked to Sami Michael, beststelling author in Israel, also a Jew from Iraq. Last but not least, he asked Professor Ella Shohat from the City University of NY what it means to be an Oriental Jew in Israel. She wrote a book about the image of Oriental Jews in Israeli films - Samir quotes from Ephraim Kishon's "Sallah Sabati". He juxtaposes other cliches: Paul Newman in "Exodus", evil Jews and Arabs in "Jud Suess" and "True Lies".
A.K.A. Birdseye (2002)
Very funny mockumentary
This is a very funny mockumentary about a Swiss artist named Urs Vogelaug who went to the US and became a legend...Sheriff Nolan Sharpless (Fred Ward) is convinced, that Vogelaug was killed by a Mickey and Mallory style couple. In order to prove his theory, he's willing to end his career. But unlike boxers, legends always come back...
Déjà vu (1999)
(Post-Colonial) Documentary 2002!
This is probably how documentary features should be in the new millennium. Voice-over in many languages (also German and English, Portuguese, and some languages I don't know at all, well, Arabic probably among them), a post-colonial experience that you don't wanna miss. One of the parts I understood was an African-American woman talking about how she experienced her stay in Sub-Saharan Africa - very interesting. On the visual side of things there is obviously some found footage; very interesting in any case. This film is not like other documentaries who already tell you how to interpret things, there are no common-place elements in this film either (compare "Megacities" also by an Austrian film maker: you get what you expect). Here you're on your own, seeing things you've (probably) never seen before and not quite sure how to interpret things...
À l'attaque! (2000)
anti-realist gem, "One Night at Mr Cool's" à la française
"À l'attaque" is one of the best french films i've seen this year, and it will stay one of the best if not the best of 'em all. The films tells the story of two screenwriters - the younger guy mostly writing, the older guy mostly critizising the younger guy. They tell us - meta film y'all! - the story of an Italian French clan striving to survive in the city that's ruled by ruthless globalizing capitalists who want to ruin their business. A very funny comedy as well as a parody and strong social criticism - all in one!
Mordi e fuggi (1973)
Very funny comedy with (hidden) political content
In this film, Marcello Mastroianni plays a rich guy who wants to spend a well "Dirty Weekend" with his young girlfriend. He gets kidnapped by a gang of communists (led by a guy with a heavy German accent) who just robbed a bank. What's gonna happen now? Is his family gonna give the communists (called "terrorists" by the media) the ransom? Is the rich guy gonna play hero and succeed? "Dirty Weekend" is a very funny comedy with an attitude, a comedy that has something to say about the role the media play, about the state and last but not least about capitalism. Check it out!
Family Name (1997)
nice documentary on a heavy topic
Macky Alston discovered that lots of Black kids seem to have his last name when his father, a fighter for civic rights and Reverend like Run, sent him to a black school. Now, as a grown up (gay) man, he goes on to discover the roots of his family and why lots of black people have the same last name that he has. - "Family Name" is a nice documentary on a topic that lots of people, including Alston's grandma, don't wanna talk about.