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Heinz Erhardt being Heinz Erhardt
For fans of the comedic national treasure, Heinz Erhardt, this will be a treat. Anyone unfamiliar with Erhardt and his humor may find this film rather idiotic.
The Hirsekorns are a dysfunctional middle class family. Constantly competing with their neighbors in everything they do. A scene with the wives at the grocer's sets the stage for their feud. One housewife wants a long list of exotic food, then the other demands twice the amount of those same items, only with domestic brand names! "Anything you can do, I can do better!" Although middle aged, they act like spoiled children.
The main characters (along with this tone setting scene) are all introduced within 10 minutes. Aside from the constant talking, shouting and aimless running around (90% of which are done by Willi Hirsekorn and his daffy wife) there are many little jokes, put downs and thinly veiled insults a la Heinz Erhardt, which are probably worth the price of the DVD. The story and the overall production, however, is very dated and not quite up to the quality of other films of the classic German fluff/comedy genre.
The Hirsekorns' two elementary school age children are extremely poorly behaved. The family could certainly benefit from a visit by "Super Nanny". If you like Heinz Erhardt, you will enjoy his "schtick" and gloss over the obvious shortcomings of this film. I love Heinz Erhardt, and I watched the entire film for all of the gags.
La lectrice (1988)
World Literature coming to life in this "very French" Comedy
Our heroine Constance (played by Miou-Miou in yet another role where she seems to play the same character as always...herself) turns her passion for literature into an exciting and profitable "profession". Her little newspaper advertisement eventually brings her a variety of eccentric clients who take advantage of this young woman's services (literally). Hired to read to the disabled, the elderly and the bored, Constance creates, fulfills and participates in her employers' fantasies and peculiar dreams. Warned by the clerk who helped her with the initial advertisement not to be surprised if her ventures yield complications and trouble, Constance seems to not only meet the challenge, but to enjoy the sense of danger and surprise.
The degree of tolerance and acceptance of human sexuality displayed in this film may appear over-the-top to viewers unfamiliar with French culture, and French society's extremely liberal social mores. This film was produced in the 1980s, not the 60s (you'd never know it). The "anything goes" mentality is likely to perplex the average viewer, and it may even offend some. The twisted freshness and daring situations eventually seem gratuitous. We "get it" pretty early on, yet the soft-core peep show continues throughout the film. The intertwining of actual literary passages and storyline are fascinating. Unfortunately my fascination with this film ends there.
First Rate Handling of the Legendary Tragedy
This obscure film version of the Titanic Tragedy easily ranks with the big budget Hollywood productions. Filmed during the dark days of WWII, this German effort lacks none of the luster or acting quality of important cinema produced under less stressful conditions.
The film shows some obvious political propaganda, aimed at pointing out the "greed and ruthlessness" of British stock market speculators. This story angle is an interesting one, as the focus is not only on the human drama and several sensitively portrayed love stories, but also on placing blame for the loss of 1,500 human lives on a few greedy men.
I can highly recommend this version of the tragic, yet fascinating story. Far above most films produced with equal or better resources. The 1943 German film "Titanic" will continue to dazzle generations of movie lovers to come!
Parks and Recreation (2009)
Amy Pohler only light in dim sit-com
Amy Pohler's character, a 34 year old city hall "up and comer" has just been appointed to the assignment of her career: Head of a committee to turn a hazardous abandoned construction site into a beautiful recreational park. Public support appears to be minimal, yet our heroine presses on.
A side plot reveals the star's unrealistic ambitions to take public service all the way to the Oval Office, as well as an inferiority complex toward her mother, who (in contrast to young Amy) is a high ranking city official.
I'm a big fan of the star, and I'm glad she didn't retire after having her baby and leaving SNL. The new show "Parks and Recreation", styled after the extremely popular "Office", offers a few laughs here and there, but leaves very little for anyone to anticipate and look forward to subsequent episodes.
This is a spotlight for a very talented comedienne, but I see no chance for anything remotely comparable to "30 Rock" coming from this humble sit-com. Unless someone knows something I don't know, the buzz should fizzle long before a full season goes on the air.
Home is where your love is
I've seen this film when it was first released, and I found it to be not only very unique in the ambitious story told, but very uplifting for people on both sides of "The Wall". The hero gets a taste of the "Golden West", but soon finds that all of the material advantages, even the freedom to travel, don't measure up to the warmth of family, friends and the love of your life.
To make for a more interesting story, there are a series of outrageous circumstances and fantastic situations, all adding to the adventure, but nonetheless ending in the confession that happiness is within the heart of the one experiencing it. "Meier" decides that he belongs with his girl-friend and the many people who have always filled his life with joy. Rather than have a wall separate him from all of this familiar warmth, he would sooner go on living amidst all of that, than in "the west".
As a former citizen of West Berlin with many close friends on the communist side, this film was particularly moving for me. No one could have sensed, that only about four years after this film's release, the wall would be torn down, and the two Germany's reunited. The tragedy of the wall will remain an open wound for many who had suffered because it ever existed. Almost like the concentration camps in the Third Reich, The Berlin Wall left scars on the minds of millions. "Meier" directed some light hearted criticism at the East German Regime, but always maintained that, despite Geograohic boundaries, there truly always was only one Germany.
I can highly recommend this film, not only as a very entertaining comedy, but as a culturally relevant piece of German History.
The Garden of Allah (1936)
An 85 Minute Campy Dietrich/Boyer Technicolor Dream
The pioneering Technicolor Cinematography (Winner of Special Technical Achievement Oscar) is indeed enchanting. Add an endless variety of glamorous costumes and a romantic cinema dream team like Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer, and you've got a rather pleasant "picture".
Unfortunately the contrived plot as well as the over-blown acting leave much to be desired. Still, there have not been any more breathtaking Technicolor films before this one (1936), and very few since then, that can top this breathtaking visual experience of stunning colors. Cinema fans who have enjoyed the glorious color cinematography in "Robin Hood" (1938), "Jesse James" (1939) and "Gone With The Wind" (1939), will not be disappointed in the fantastic work done here. "The Garden Of Allah" will always be synonymous with brilliant color cinematography.
National Velvet (1944)
Elizabeth Taylor - National Treasure
Two of Hollywood's great child stars (Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney) are perfectly teamed to deliver one of the all-time family classics. The story of a determined 12 year old girl, whose adoration for horses won't allow her to turn away from her goal to win the British Nationals. Mickey Rooney is the newly orphaned drifter, looking to tie himself over until he can follow his own dreams.
A beautiful side plot reveals that the girl's mother had ambitions of her own as a young girl. Repeatedly overruling the father's decisions in favor of their spirited daughter, it is mother who seems to know best. The scene where the exhausted Taylor rushes to go to school is priceless: father protests "why did you let her go to school, she'll drop from exhaustion before noon!" - Not to worry, she'd be back within a half hour; it was Saturday! The brilliant Technicolor, the sumptuous music score, and those beautiful faces, all telling a bittersweet story. Here's a good reason for the old saying: They don't make'm like that anymore!
The Incident (1967)
Pre-Guardian Angels Subway Terror -- An Independent Film Classic!
Despite budget limitations, the final product in this Independent Film Classic is outstanding. With a few familiar faces (although everyone looks so incredibly young here), and a relatively confining story line, the viewer becomes acquainted with several very unique characters. Two street thugs on a crime spree decide to continue their night of "fun and games" by accosting the passengers in a subway compartment. Regardless of appearance, ethnicity, age or gender, everyone appears to be free game for the hooligans.
Although it may be painful to watch how innocent people are subjected to threats as well as emotional and physical abuse, this film offers much more than simply insight into an all-too-familiar nightmare. Through this "incident", people with their own problems are suddenly compelled to share with the world what they had kept hidden for so long. The outburst by the middle-aged woman, fed up with her small-time life as a school-teacher's wife, shows how emotional exhaustion can lead to an eventual explosion. As able bodied men look on in fear of the violent punks, a less likely hero emerges in defiance.
This is a quiet gem of a film, much overlooked at the time of release in 1967. Fans will enjoy a look at the very youthful Martin Sheen, Donna Mills and Beau Bridges. Even Ed McMohann looks like a "kid". I highly recommend this film to enthusiasts of Independent Films. "The Incident" is easily among the very best of them!
Strangers' lives intertwine in emotionally moving story
Without counting the actual number, I am sure there were at least 13 conversations in this intriguing collection of character studies. It doesn't become clear until very late in the film that about 2 years are elapsing in the story line. The "one thing" (believe it or not) isn't sex, but happiness.
The questions "why are we here" and "is this all there is" come up frequently. What makes life worth living? Is happiness a gift, or can it be acquired? Several characters experience ups and downs, while some seem chronically malcontent or skeptical. The ones who boast about having achieved greatness in their work soon become to doubt their accomplishments, while others are desperate to find a way to regain the joys they once knew. Coming to terms with mistakes made, as well as showing remorse for wrongs committed against others, each in their own way must conquer this one "thing".
Along with effective acting from the entire cast, there are many other reasons why a film buff would enjoy this movie. Several brilliant camera shots, done in a mysterious stand-out color-scheme, are perfectly intermingled with the story to show reflection, a sense of deep thought. Outstanding editing, connecting separate scenes into a common idea, is clearly superior to most films.
The sum of these characters spell out pessimism and gloom. Look for the middle-aged man with that undying optimism who has many scenes. When all others insist life is one big disappointment, this little guy will assure you that it really is just a bowl of cherries. We need more smiling optimists, and more films with that important message.
Hilarious "Macabre" Sketch-Humor
One of Germany's best comedy-ensembles (Dieter "Didi" Hallervorden, Helga Feddersen, Uwe Dallmeyer and Regina Lemnitz) serve up 25 minute sets of bite-size sketch-humor, usually with a surprise ending. The average sketch is about 4 or 5 minutes in length, complete with set-up, story and punch line.
An example of the "macabre" humor: A middle aged woman of comfortable social standing is speaking with police, after her home appears to have been violently burglarized, with no signs of her husband. The interview goes on for awhile, until the woman breaks down. The reason for her being so upset: She just learned that her husband is unharmed, working at his office, unaware of any trouble at home. Just when she had come to accept all that had happened, her husband lives!
The "Abramakabra" series consisted of 12 episodes, spaced about 4-6 weeks apart. Some of the jokes were definitely for mature audiences, although the series had a considerable following among pre-teens. German audiences (similar to viewers in England), have always been partial to a more sophisticated, risqué kind of humor. "Abramakabra" is a gem among the jewels of early 1970s German television. Disappointment with this program is very unlikely!