Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Der Nachtmahr (2015)
Mind the strobe! (and beware of sordid, surreptitious sound frequencies)
I watched Der Nachtmahr as part of the Glasgow Youth Film Festival, and enjoyed it very much. Depending how you look at it, it's a monster film or a coming-of-age drama. The film blends both in a smooth way, which introduces clever twists and fresh takes that will appeal to fans of both genres.
Carolyn Genzkow delivers a striking performance that clearly marks the many stages in the struggles of Tina, the protagonist, against the challenges of growing up alienated and misunderstood in 2010s Berlin. Commonplace locations come across as eye-catching visuals because of the lavish cinematography, matched by a booming club soundtrack. Likewise, it's always a pleasure to see Kim Gordon on screen, and an even greater one to hear her voice (the Sonic Youth vocalist has a minor role in the film as an English language teacher discussing William Blake with her students).
Der Nachtmahr is one of those films that don't give you a fully rounded, unequivocal plot with a nifty moral message attached. It requires you to think about it and come up with your own interpretations. That's what makes it so enjoyable to watch: the characters, situations and outcomes are very powerful, and fun to explore as you put them together to understand their significance.
If you're expecting flashy CGI peppered with jump scares, or schmaltzy self-help masquerading as fiction, you won't find it here. Der Nachtmahr is a poetic, low-key movie about monsters, whether real or perceived. The dangerous sound frequencies it warns you about in an introductory disclaimer are probably no more hazardous than those in Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, but be careful with the flickering lights of the club scenes: a friend of mine came along and had to leave after five minutes to get some paracetamol. And he's not even epileptic (it was just a petit mal migraine, though, no more).
Tem Gringo no Morro (2013)
Very good film showing both sides of the Anthropological Tourism industry
If you've been around developing countries, you've probably seen foreign tourists visiting underprivileged areas. They often spend good money that boosts trade in those places, but quite a few people consider that kind of attention a dismissive activity that reduces locals to mere spectacle for wealthy globetrotters trying to look smart or socially aware. Is tourism beneficial for poverty-stricken areas?
"Tem Gringo no Morro" (AKA "Gringo on Slum") answers that question with authentic on-location footage from Rocinha in Rio, Brazil, and excellent interviews with both locals and visitors, including tour guides and community leaders who actively promote and profit from foreigners' visits.
Mixing human interest and socially engaged journalism, the movie offers an in-depth look at the industry and the concrete, often amusing experiences of locals and tourists. It is a clever and thorough account of an economic reality that remains largely underexposed, and an enjoyable, thought-provoking film to watch. As a film editor who's worked on documentaries myself, I know that is quite an achievement for a documentary that lasts less than half an hour. Whether you find this online, on TV or at some festival, give it a go.
La cena (1998)
Pure Poetry - great art and great entertainment, hand in hand
This film is no small feat, by most criteria. There is not one scene, one piece of dialogue that doesn't work perfectly in its own right and in relation to the broader context of the movie. All characters are solidly conceived and utterly believable, and the flawless, well-measured acting of the WHOLE cast render them authentic and charismatic.
Depicting simply a night at a traditional Italian restaurant, the movie doesn't have a major unifying plot. It never needed one in the first place. The situations particular to each group of characters, to each table, are more than enough to keep the audience following the action flow through the place. The viewer's attention is held at peak throughout the whole movie, from beginning to end, which is a very rare and amazing achievement for any film. Even more amazing a feat it is for a movie which happens in one single place, with no more than a restaurant's few facilities for the action to spread.
As a whole, 'La Cena' showcases an intriguing and thoughtful, yet pleasant rendition of people's dilemmas, joys and relationships, contrary to the perception that "art" movies are tiresome, intellectual, self-indulgent exercises. This film potraits the beauty and poetry of life and human nature (corny, but nonetheless true), as masterfully as few but the European cinema masters can. A great example of the Italian tradition of moviemaking, ten out of ten, no doubt about it.
And on top of everything else, aren't there ugly, charmless women in Italy? Madonna mia!
The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)
Arguably the best computer game ever
The first Monkey Island game is a landmark in computer game history. It pretty much begins the adventure genre (actually Maniac Mansion came before, but it is very limited and primitive when compared to the subtleties of MI). At its time, games were simple jump-hit-and-walk side-scrollers and flight or sports simulators, no more than an afternoon worth of fun for kids. Then came MI and introduced complex plots, not unlike movie´s (so much, in fact, that you are reading this on IMDb), complete with meaningful dialogues which affect the plot´s direction (instead of mere interludes between action scenes). In MI, as well as in the adventure genre it helped create, interaction with computer-controlled characters went beyond physical confrontation, including dialogue, negotiation (even bargaining prices!), seduction and intrigue. And, perhaps its most remarakable feature, the humour. Satyre, irony or just plain good nonsense, in the tradition of Monthy Python. Indeed, the experience of playing MI (and all subsequent Lucasarts adventure games) is very much like watching a movie, except that you direct the action of the protagonist(s), changing events and outcomes in the plot.
Way before videogames got into the present 3D trend, spawning tiresome clones of the likes of 'Doom', 'Tekken' and 'Tomb Raider', companies like Lucasarts and Sierra made games with subtlety, malice and humour, best suited for intelligent, mature players instead of competitive children with aching fingers. Today these adventures might seem tecnically rough in comparison with all these vectorial 3d shooters that require endlessly more memory and more processing power. But in terms of creativity, of mature entertainment (and I don´t mean porn), modern games seem to be dull, technologically-enhanced versions of the same old Nintendo and Genesis action games of the past.
Belonging to the same line of adventure classics of the Monkey Island series are Sierra´s 'Leisure Suit Larry' series, 'Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis', 'Sam & Max', 'Full Throttle' and 'Grim Fandango' (Lucasarts´ foray into 3d, although keeping the adventure genre´s highlights). But I don´t think any of these, great as they are, have half the importance of the Monkey Island games. Technology is ever-evolving, nonstop, but these adventure games offer a kind of entertainment mere technology cannot.
On a final note about 'The Secret of Monkey Island', look for a CD version of this game, updated with more songs (carribean rhythms like reggae and calypso) and a visual inventory - see 'Alternate Versions' in this entry.
Blue in the Face (1995)
great flick for pop culture lovers - five stars, three thumbs up
This is a light and fun - although intelligent - movie, worth seeing, if not for the whole marvellous opus of pop culture, for his cast alone: Harvey Keitel, Roseanne, Victor Argo and precious appearances of Lou Reed, Jim Jarmusch (as Bob, in my favorite sequence of the movie), John Lurie and Madonna, to name a few. Soundtrack by David Byrne only adds to the mix.
´Blue in the Face´ cynically, cleverly and ironically chronicles the life and the history of Brooklyn, NY. Watch it, it´s independent cinema at its best.