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Black and white like the fields on the chess board
Highly gifted mathematician and computer specialist (Bruno Ganz) develops a chess program that should be able to defeat every opponent but one day loses against the world champion. Therefore the mathematician "swears vengeance" and becomes a chess pro himself, but his passion for the game turns to sick paranoia.
This could be seen as a critical movie about the chess scene but there's more to it. Ganz (exceptional) plays a man who's trapped in his own dream world and finally succumbs to it (there are parallels to the later "Erfinder" (Inventor) Ganz stars in, and other parallels to the abysmal "Knight moves" with Christopher Lambert). Furthermore, the whole film is an allegory for a politic and economic system that's become unbearable. It's only drawback are it's TV roots. Otherwise this could have been a great cineastic pleasure.
La reine Margot (1994)
This is certainly one of the greatest historical movies that's ever been put on celluloid. The massacre of St.Bartholomew's night (1572) and it's aftermath which led to the fourth religious war in France is used as the background for a drama.
Not only it's an impressive family story imbedded in intrigue, desire, sexual excess, murder, sacrifice, love and hate - it also depicts in a very elegant manner the dark and the light side of Renaissance, the nobles' mentality and their mode of living. The dialogues are filled with superstition, fatalism and hope but the overall emphasis lays on connecting religion, church, state, past and present to an authentic cosmos.
Over the Top (1987)
Have some decency, Sly!
They urged us to watch the "Over the top" video during a hot and dusty bus trip through the South American Pampas. The view of the Pampas was very boring, but it was a real challenge compared to the boredom this movie evoked. Nearly half the bus had fallen asleep at the end!
Of course I forgot the plot. All I remember is Sly and his son talking, talking and... talking. It seemed he wanted to show his audiences he's got a soft side too (and it was a very, very soft side!) What I'm perfectly sure about is that it's one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen!
Edge of Honor (1991)
Salenger: Emotional vigilante
This time it's scouts/kids vs. gun-runners/killers. The plot is exchangeable, the faces are exchangeable, the fights are exchangeable.
Nothing new here or so it seems... But there's something very odd and it's got to do with the character played by Meredith Salenger who seeks revenge on the crooks who've killed her family right before her eyes. Salenger's traumatic conversion from happy and likeable country girl into gun-tooting, vengeful vigilante doesn't help the whole movie (which rapidly goes downhill afterwards) but it remains a very impressive sequence. >
Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979)
Not a movie but a movement
This must be a terrible movie from the horror buff's point of view. It's slow-moving and there's (almost) no blood and gore, no action...
In my opinion it's nothing less than a movie about European and most of all German culture. It reflects Romanticism, Naturalism and the whole Berlin movement of the late '70s/ early '80s - remember David Bowie's "Heroes". In at least certain parts of Europe it gained cult reputation as THE classic of the Punk/New Wave movement. Indeed: Isabelle Adjani with her pale expressionist beauty, Bruno Ganz and his sleepwalking, depressingly tragic figure, and Klaus Kinski's lonely Nosferatu must have been perfect Generation X icons. The whole movie stinks of rotten death and downfall, of "No future"! I remember this movie in the first place because of it's very impressive and haunting visual moments: Ganz's Transsylvania hike (underscored by a great soundtrack), Adjani sitting on a bank near the sea, the depiction of the plague and people's reaction to it - striking moments which elevate this movie to a masterpiece.
Il bisbetico domato (1980)
Shakespeare it ain't
This is a very sexist and unfunny comedy with an illogical plot. Macho farmer Adriano Celentano treats lovely Ornella Muti worse than his farm animals, but she still tries to seduce him - a poor excuse for her two nude scenes. One moment is worth remembering though: That's when Celentano drives with a tractor through an Italian village, having taken in tow a bed with the quite furious Muti in it.
Simple Men (1992)
Philosophical suburban grotesque
There's Hollywood, there's Dogma... and there's Hal Hartley. The absurd storyline of "Simple Men" reminded me of Pedro Almodóvar, it's visual impact made me think of Hitchcock's suburban nightmares like "Shadow of a doubt" or "The trouble with Harry". It's either a deeply philosophical movie which raises many questions (without providing the answers), or some sort of grotesque (Elina Lowensohn's performance!), depending on how you look at it. "Simple men" is one of those movies which leave you with the impression that there was more than met the eye, and maybe there was. Above all, it's an unusual, tranquil and highly entertaining film with very likeable characters.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Let's do the timewarp again...
Bill Murray has to watch the same day go by over and over again and he grows on this "surrealist" experience. The same goes for me with regard to the movie itself: It still reveals new insights even after having watched it for the umpteenth time. This first rate comedy of ideas is not only deeply moving, it's also a perfect treat for a cold, gray and boring winter day.
Disturbing trip downhill
This 90's oeuvre of well-known French director Bertrand Tavernier is certainly one of the most impressive dramas about alienated youth in movie history. The way Nathalie and her friends (excellent performances, especially from lead actress Marie Gillain!) behave towards each other and the human beings they encounter and destroy on their long trip downhill, raises deep questions about contemporary ethics and moral values. The story, based on a true account, is depicted in a cold, almost documentary style, which makes it even more disturbing. Not for the squeamish!