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Dear Frankie (2004)
A real charmer
Like all the best stories, this one is simple and affecting.
There's not a lot in Lizzie and Frankie's lives to aspire to, constantly on the move and clearly in fear of something. All Lizzie wants is to give Frankie the life he deserves, and in the process she sacrifices her own comforts and happiness. The letters Frankie receives from his 'Dad' (written by Lizzie) afford him the comfort and release of imagining far-away adventures and his replies speak to Lizzie in a clear voice which Frankie's deafness denies him in real life.
The prospect of meeting his father, when his ship comes to town, is Frankie's dream - at last the chance to meet the exotic and mysterious man who loves him so much - and Lizzie's completely unexpected nightmare. How they deal with it, more together than they realise at first, is the heart of the film.
Having painted the slightly depressing picture of a mother and son caught in a life which they wouldn't have chosen for themselves, the film runs the risk of mawkish sentimentality to achieve a satisfying conclusion. This, of course, would only appeal to the most sweet-toothed romantics in the audience. But the film's skill in involving the viewer makes for a rewarding experience and the danger of tears being shed by even the most hard-hearted who see it.
Bis ans Ende der Welt (1991)
A rare pleasure
In its full length version this film is a really absorbing and enjoyable piece of work. I saw it at the National Film Theatre in London years ago, expecting to find the length a serious problem but knowing that I might not get another chance.
As it turned out there were two intervals and the fact that it took a whole afternoon added to the enjoyment... the absorption drew me in.
I never saw the short version but its relative lack of success suggests that the edit wasn't wholly successful. I don't know if the long version circulates in any form these days but if the chance arises to see it take an afternoon off, make sure the cinema has a nice cafe and settle down for a unique film.
Der Himmel über Berlin (1987)
Beautiful, poetic, stimulating
A calm and wonderful fantasy with such a simple vision that makes you want to believe in angels. Perhaps they are there... whenever my mood changes, seemingly unprompted, I always wonder.
Hijacked and debased by people who don't know any better (even U2, I'm afraid, and the American remake must be avoided at all costs - ideally it should be wiped from the record and the memories of all who saw it) this film has become iconic and has infected the imaginations of countless filmmakers. Look carefully and you will see its influence in the most unexpected places.
I always thought that one masterpiece is all that anyone can aspire to in life. Wim Wenders has made several but for me this one stands out above all others. My favourite film.
Tedious beyond compare
Perhaps it had a great ending but the stilted dialogue, clumsy structure and mindless use of clever-clogs effects tried my patience so much that I will never know. I eventually snapped during a seemingly endless battle sequence structured mainly around showing us how clever George Lucas and his geeks were to create incredible mega-vistas and lots and lots of very big CG war machines and robots. This is the first film I have ever walked out of.
Pointless. The absolute proof, when compared to the original Star Wars films, that less is more.
Kiss of Life (2003)
Mesmeric and demanding
As long as you are prepared to go at the film's pace this is a mesmerising, sad, uplifting and ultimately extremely rewarding film. It tells a story by painting a picture: absorb the imagery as well as the words if you really want to understand it.
Perhaps peoples reactions to it reflect as much their own experiences as those of the characters in the film. Go with it.