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Not nearly as good as it could have been!
This version of EICHMANN (as a biography, biographical, or as any of the several excellent documentaries about his trails) apparently has a dream cast and technical crew to make the "definite" EICHMANN "fictionalized" film. Was Thomas Kretschmann born to play the perfect Nazi of our nightmares and dreams, or what?
Well, here his "Naziness",in total contrast to his brief but impactive appearance in Polanski's THE PIANIST, and in DER UNTERGANG (as Hitler's brother-in-law)is a waste. It's a waste because the script of the film is horrible. His stereotype Nazi features would have been better spent in the USA 1960's sitcom HOGAN'S HEROES.
I live in Brazil and have spent a good part of my life here, in Argentina and in Germany, though I'm American and grew up in the 60s when WWII was still as fresh as the collapse of the USSR is now. So, any well-rounded movie fan from this area (or news junkie) would have as a compulsory experience, followed on radio and TV (no cable back then) the before & post-war antics of these Eichamnns, Klaus Barbies and their cohorts.
Now, I sat through a 5 or 6 hour film in Berlin in 1998 or 1999 (or was it two 4 hour sittings)of the COMPLETE Eichmann trial in Israel. The documentary was a "big release" as Documentaries go. It was playing in several art cinemas in Berlin, one near the Memorial Church, another in Kreuzberg,and in the Oranienburgerstrasse "art film multiplex" where I saw it.
If anyone knows which film I'm talking about, please submit as anew title or e-mail me. It is not any of the options this site gives: (Displaying 8 Results) 1.The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996) (TV) 2."Adolf Eichmann 2003) (TV) aka I Met Adolf Eichmann" - UK 3."L'Hidato Shel Adolf Eichmann" (1994) 4.Operation Eichmann (1961) 5. Eichmann Trial (1961) (TV) 6. "Eichmann and the Third Reich" (1961) 7. The Trial of Adolf Eichmann(1997) (TV) 8. Witnesses to the Holocaust-the Trial of Adolf Eichmann(1987)(TV).
I thought it was Number 7 (the 1997 TV version), but it's too short and has a moderator, which the long film I saw lacked). Anyway, with that film as DEFINITE, REAL and irrefutable genuine human emotion, tragedies, and wrecked lives revealed, WHY make a feature film?
Well, as the list of seven above show, there was no shortage of "Eichmann films" when this film was shot, and released. And it has been released. In the Rio Festival, EICHMANN had 4 screenings in the main large cinemas, and was held over for a third week of "Last Chance For the Best of Rio" which ended last week. And the copy had burned subtitles in French, with electronic Portuguese subtitles below the screen. So, it has been somewhat shown around the world.
As this looks like a probable straight to DVD release. I had never even read about the filming of this feature, which also (mis) casted the German (but dark and with a star power name) Franka Potente as the Israeli's prosecutor's wife in one of the boring and pointless subplots. Potente, like everyone else including Eichmann, only spoke English, though she and her Prosecutor husband had met in France, and supposedly spoke French with each other.
But not a word of German, Yiddish, French or Hebrew is heard.
FINE. English is the international language. But this being a criminal court case movie, with loads of depositions, at least one of the victims could have spoken in the 4 major languages related to the case. Just for effect, like Arien Brody's attempts at German in the PIANIST, for some authenticity, with English, though not one of the four languages related to the case, as the main language, but not as-the language spoken 100% of the time!
Anyway, there is a "real film" with authentic testimony from the actual victims in their mother tongues, plus a couple of hours in Austrian-accented German deposition Eichmann gave. That documentary was basically in Hebrew, but both sides staunchly used their national identity languages. Eichmann spoke only German, and the Israeli prosecutor, judges, and victims did too - but chose to ask in Hebrew (so the crowd could understand apparently). Thus the translations to French, English, Russian & Yiddish, which I'm counting here as German added to an already long documentary, in black & white, with no visual power film of it all, two sets of subtitles running all the time. It was difficult to watch, but authentic, and a real treasure, something this EICHMANN is not.
Again, the hours of the real trial is what you should look for. The Israeli Prosecutor was not a gorgeous and elegant leading man, nor was Eichmann nearly as attractive and "Nazi-like" (as defined by the Hollywood stereotype).
This film gives NO new insight on Eichmann. The screenplay is shamefully bad, and the scenery is SO not-Israel. It screams MALTA (where it was shot),though NO southern Mediterranean island would have given us something that looks like Tel Aviv. These islands are ancient, and Tel Aviv started to become a city in the late 1920s and 30s (not in the 15th century).
My suggestion: if you are die-hard Thomas Kretschmann and Franka Potente fans, go. But just to see them. You won't find any substance or anything new in this movie - such a terrible waste of time, money, story, and great (and beautiful) German actors!
Le voyage de Louisa (2005)
Your typical "North African illegal immigration to Europe" story
This French TV movie is yet another typical North African "illegal immigration to Europe story." Moreover, it's of the the tired Algerian/Tunisian migration saga to their mecca, France.
The difference between this one and the other ones is the sick cute kid, Louisa, in this case. But apart from her character, all the overworked personalities from the genre are in the film: the conniving thief offering expert advice to the "poor refugees", the corrupt officials, the heartless boat runner, Italian farmers exploiting cheap immigrant labor. In short, nothing you haven't seen before, if you're the sort of viewer attracted to this film in the first place.
For better takes on the genre, I recommend, just of the top of my head: "Loin", and "Exils" (not really the same, but with similar characters). At least this film offers some interesting views of Tunisia and its capital, Sicily and the Italian countryside as consolation.
Le frère Irlandais (1999)
Family drama within a stunning portrait of country life on both sides of the channel
This is a wonderful 2 part mini series, or a nearly 3 hour TV film when shown together. Eurochannel, a major cable TV channel to Canada, and Latin America has been showing it for some time now, and still running it this year. I just checked transmission dates in their website. It's definitely worth seeing, particularly if you like family dramas, Irish themes (dubbed into French), the wonderful countrysides of Normandy and Ireland on either side of the "English Channel" ("Las Manche if you're French), and particularly if you like horse stories.
The story begins in Ireland where the romantic & temperamental Eric Conelly (Bruno Slagmulder) is in constant conflict with brother Sean (Gregg Fitzgerald). Their mother's untimely death combined with a failed fratricide between them makes Eric run away to France, where he was actually born. Once there, Eric loses his memory after falling from a horse. Jean Langlois (Victor Lanoux), a champion horse breeder helps him with the help of wife Louise (Catherine Salviat).
Constantly tormented by memory flashes, Eric attempts to establish a relationship with the cute chick in the area, Delphine (Lisa Martino), a neighbor & enemy of the Langlois family. She helps Eric, not only in recomposing his past but encourages him to become a jockey, something Eric shows an uncanny knack for. His talent is noticed by all the horse "aficionados" in this part of Normandy where he was born, where the 3 main adult characters hide secrets from the past.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, secrets from the past are also under the lid. Eric's brother, uncle-priest, and ailing father go on with their lives. But the key detail about the brothers' mother's death is withheld by the brothers' father. Yes, it's a "long-distance soap opera" with secrets to be revealed, where everything which needs falling into place does in due time. The contrasts and the similarities between the 2 brothers, the two locations, the two feuding families, and the two main horses competing for a big title all interlace nicely.
I recommend it highly, and can't understand why a group of users gave "1" ratings, which no film deserves, much less this top of the line European co production. I suspect it may have been a group of English speakers objecting to the Irish characters dubbed into French. But I think that had to be done to make the whole series spoken in one language only, and most of the locations and characters are in fact French. But I'm sure there's a version all dubbed in Irish accented English. But it's not the version the "Eurochannel" has been showing. Don't let that language detail deter you. It's worth a watch.
Espelho Mágico (2005)
Archtypical De Oliveira Drama full of familiar themes and style
The latest film by the world's oldest world-class director Manoel De Oliveira is heaven-sent for fans of the director. Addressing his favorite themes: religion, the decadent Portuguese aristocracy, and using his heavily theatrical and hermetic filming style with very Baroque sets, he places once again his latest muse Leonor De Silveira, and his grandson Ricardo Trêpa in the lead roles. They are the protagonists of this story, based on the novel "A Alma dos Ricos" (The Soul of the Rich), by Agustina Bessa-Luís.
One can't help but wonder if people like these characters still existed or have existed, and lived in this style anytime during the last 35 years in Portugal or indeed anywhere. De Oliveira's set-in-Portugal films of the 2000's all have similar upper bourgeoisie characters living in a style all but erased from the map in the past 35 years. Curiously, they are dressed in modern clothes, but live in palatial homes, or palaces themselves with the most austere, and over the top decoration seen in the interior settings of any modern films. The characters are also served by more servants than the Queen of England, another possible anachronism.
It is in this over the top, surreal setting in modern Portugal that the aristocratic Alfreda (Leonor Silveira) experiences a Biblical fixation and awaits a second annunciation of the Virgin Mary. She believes that the families of Mary and of Jesus also belonged to the aristocracy of their times.
It seems she's determined to reconcile her lofty position in the socio-economic domain with her religious beliefs; to compare her family's position to the Virgin Mary's supposed privileged family position, as she confuses her devotion to the Virgin with her own identification of the Virgin, or being a new appearance of the Holy Mother herself.
She is childless with her biological clock in its last years of ticking, and married to an older, idly rich husband. He seemingly couldn't father a child even with all the Viagra and fertility drugs he could buy. All this suggests Alfreda may even be waiting for an annunciation of an immaculate conception.
In her totally unbelievable wait for the Virgin, she does get a holy visit of sorts from a mysterious Spanish nun (Marisa Paredes). Meanwhile she also tries to find support in her husband (who looks like her father) played by another frequent De Oliveira collaborator. He, in some ways, also awaits redemption, though it seems he's actually more removed from reality than his younger wife.
Alfreda is fearfully sick, from a never mentioned sickness. She's also very attached to an English professor of theology (played by another De Oliveira regular, the French actor Michel Piccoli), who dies early on in the film. He and a local priest keep her busy with endless (and boring) discussions about the Virgin Mary.
But her definite buddy has yet to appear at this point. A couple of good-for-nothings, introduced in the first part of the film while imprisoned, are released from jail. One of them has an uncle close to Alfreda's family, and gets his nephew a job in Alfreda's estate. The nephew quickly gains Alfreda's confidence and affection, and becomes only too aware of the financial opportunities in exploiting Alfreda's obsession to see the Virgin.
This special servant/friend (played by Ricardo Trêpa) is hired as Alfreda's secretary or "gentlemen in waiting", as it seems his job description is simply following Alfreda around, keeping her busy with their idle chatting, and participating in an undeclared relationship, underscored by obvious and mutual sexual interest. Yes, the Virgin Mary wannabe parades around her not-bad body in a sexy bathing suit during her frequent swims in her pool and nearby bodies of water.
The nephew quickly gains Alfreda's confidence and affection. Pushed by the other jailbird, the real brain of the scheme, they proceed to exploit the aristocratic couple's fortune. They decide to stage the apparition of the Virgin Mary, hiring an actress and a dressmaker to recreate the Virgin.
I won't go on. But I will say that, unfortunately, the plot does not come off on screen as interestingly as what I have just described. After reading the above, I realized the plot was not remotely as interesting as it may sound. So, don't expect a lot of action, but rather a lot of futile dialog, serving De Oliveira to make a much simpler statement: the state of the Roman Catholic State in modern Portugal (in his vision) presenting extreme religious views from diametrically opposed segments of society (aristocrats and jailbirds).
To those familiar with the long duration of De Oliveira's films,the film is mercifully short (a mere 137 minutes), and is made more pleasant by the appearances of De Oliveira collaborators Leonor Silveira (Alfreda), Luís Miguel Cintra, Marisa Paredes, Ricardo Trepa (Alfreda's servant), Michel Piccoli (the English Theologian), Glória De Matos, Diogo Dória, and Brazilian Lima Duarte in his second appearance in a De Oliveira film, both times as a priest.
For those who can somehow appreciate DeOliveira's films in this late phase of his life, I recommend it and give it an 8. If you don't know De Oliveira's style, and dislike theatrical, dialog intensive films with severe claustrophobic sets, do yourself a favor, and skip this film completely.
Le silence de la mer (2004)
Wonderful remake of the 1947 Classic
The story starts in November 1941 in Nazi occupied France. A pretty, young and orphaned girl (late teens to early 20s) lives with her paternal grandfather, her only relative, in a comfortable villa. Proud but reserved, she gives piano lessons with unusual zeal and passion. One day, her house is invaded by the occupying Germans, and her parents' suite becomes the home of the local German Commander.
However, this Nazi is a refined Francofile, a classical pianist and composer. He's also extremely handsome, and tries to make this embarrassing situation as acceptable as possible.
This film is a remake of one of the best movies made in post World War II Europe, with a few adaptations to the original script, based on the novel 'LE SILENCE DE LA MER', published underground around February of 1942.
With a French actor speaking slightly (but not caricature) German accented French, the German lieutenant character is quite believable. His Aryan looks certainly confirms his "authenticity" as the cultured (French-like) though disciplined (German-like) Nazi; an enemy a refined girl could possibly fall in love with.
The original novel was practically a sacred book in France during the 1942-45 period, and a powerful symbol of the French Resistance. The 1947 film, due to budget and mainly personal and political problems, was, in hindsight, not as believable and well filmed as this new version. That said, the 1947 will probably always remain the definite version.
But, nevertheless, this new made for TV movie is well worth seeing for its timeless anti-war, pro-humanity themes. The gorgeous cinematography, and excellent performances by perfectly casted actors make it a pleasant experience for the eyes and the mind, regardless of all else, including the inevitable comparisons to the 1947 film and the novel. It is now playing on the cable TV "Eurochannel" transmitted by Satellite and "DirecTV" in the Americas, and should not be missed!
Dated, but still relevant
An unjustly imprisoned man is released after serving 3 years, in Communist Poland of the mid 1970s. He only wants peace, and the most normal life imaginable: work, a wife, kids, and a simple home of his own. But above all, peace.
As he is introduced into the Socialist society of the time, he soon discovers peace is not an easy goal; perhaps not even attainable in that society. The film shows outdated lifestyles, and scenes which would be considered kitsch by today's standards. The whole scenario showing us the conflicts to attain peace is totally outdated.
However, it is a little known, controversial (in its time) film by a great deceased director - reason enough to see it. And the conflicts faced to achieve peace are all completely different to those faced now, in the new order. Some are obsolete; such as the strict controls on one's movements in Communist times, the puritan ideals of sex and marriage, the machismo and submission to it by all women shown, the excessive vodka drinking (literally until you drop) and smoking anywhere and everywhere.
But, the conflict between balancing one's relationship with the boss on one side, and colleagues on the other, is still basically the same, whether it's in the communist system or in the capitalist system. Still, I think it's much easier now to avoid the conflicts and achieve some peace, as long as you lower your expectations.
That's why many viewers may not understand the film, or they understand but find it's a waste of time to see all this which they already know or lived through, rehashed once again. It's a Kiezlowski film, yes. But you won't find anything new, unknown or unrevealed about Kiezlowski in it. It's not for everybody who might think it's for them.
Shah-re ziba (2004)
Great Iranian movie for those sick of Iranian films
The slow, endless Iranian art films, so omnipresent in film festivals since the 80s, are by now, an either love it or hate it proposition. I now fall into the hate it category, jaded and bored by their sheer numbers, similarity of themes, characters, boring landscapes, and slow pace.
However, I do still see a couple every year to confirm, or review my perception of them. Besides, one can't judge all Iranian art films in a certain light, though the art form does tend to make the viewer take those extreme positions. So, I saw this film (called "Beautiful City")here - the name of the juvenile detention center the main character comes from. I found it entertaining and fresh, though the drab scenery and sameness of themes, landscapes, and characters are there.
It's an interesting (and again, entertaining, not endless like most) look at parts of Iranian society not often shown. These include delinquent youth, drug dealers and their hoods, the very negotiable (economically and religiously) Islamic death penalty, and prostitution on various levels.
I wonder whether films like this are shown in Iran? Of course, the masses would never run to see this movie. And obviously, all these Iranian films are intended for foreign (mostly western viewing), particularly at festivals. But I wonder whether anybody can just show up at a cinema and see it, or is it shown at semi-private showings for a select audience. If it is, how can this distorted Islamic government continue?
Anyway, that's the most interesting point of the film. It shows (whether true or not) that the government in Iran is not that Islamic, not that intolerant, somewhat democratic. But the society, under those black clothes, and automatic "God is great" messages, is as corrupt as the world's most corrupt, and more purely capitalistic than the social democratic capitalism we have today.
In the film, everything, from death sentences to pardons, from marriages to an opportunity for a life-saving medical operation, not to mention drugs and people, can be bought and sold with Tomans (Iranian cash).
Conversaciones con mamá (2004)
The best mother-son relationship drama in years
This Argentinian film, currently in the international film festival circuit, is not-to-be-missed. It stars the 80 something year old South American diva of theater and cinema, China Zorrilla and Eduardo Blanco (of the 2001 Oscar-nominated hit "Son of the Bride"). A truly poignant story, it is nevertheless delivered with lots of humor - with the best exchange of one-liners between mother and son I can remember, making the film light and thoroughly enjoyable. There is not one dull moment, nor is there a climax. It is uniformly entertaining, thought-provoking, and emotional throughout. None of the corniness one would expect (I did) about the subject matter ever surfaces. It is fresh, delightful, and uplifting. If this film is not a 10, then there are no tens. Enjoy it.
Na Cidade Vazia (2004)
Fine, unusual feature from a largely-ignored African country
This film caught my attention at the recent Rio Film Festival just because it came from Angola, a country rarely seen in the movies. After the civil war ended, and news subsided about the terrible land mine situation in the country (both themes addressed in the film), this large oil-rich, and relatively Westernized African country seemed to disappear from the scene. In cinema, only some Angolan characters are frequent in Portuguese films. But we never see the country itself, except on TV here in Brazil due to extensive cultural, linguistic, and increasingly economic ties.
All that said, the film presents a poignant story about a boy molded by the civil war in his country. As he journey's through Luanda, the capital of Angola, we discover a city and people who are not very different from those in a similar-sized Latin American city. We find a very Westernized society, much more so than the native African ones in Johannesburg or Cape Town. People only speak Portuguese amongst themselves exclusively (no native tribal tongues), and their habits and values are as globalized as anywhere else - definitely much more than in the rest of Africa. The buildings, layout of the city, apartments, homes and lifestyle of several socio-economic classes seem more like the Eastern Europe we see in art films than Africa. At least in Luanda and in the large cities of Angola.
Through the different characters and locations in the country's capital, the director gives us excellent insight to life in Angola's capital. Yes, from her point of view, but I understand she's held in great respect there, and known for fair portrayals of her country. For that alone, the film is an unusual treat and definitely worth seeing.
La puta y la ballena (2004)
How to make the most out of a co-production
If you want a lesson on how to make the most out of a co-production between 2 countries which share (more or less) the same language, this film is a primer.
Expertly baptized with a catchy title (The Whore and the Whale), the film does achieve its aim of explaining the title (perhaps an overkill in that department), and deliver some good cinema for two hours with three locales, two time frames, interesting characters, with even some tango, Spanish civil war, and breast cancer education thrown in.
The dialogs are excellent. But their greatest value will get lost in subtitles. They highlight the contrasting language, particularly slang (period vulgar expressions and brothel language) between Continental and Argentinian Spanish. The relation between the characters and the two time periods, while seeming far fetched at first, end up rather nicely. The visuals of Patagonia, and the cinematography and art direction are all top notch. Highly recommended