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10 reviews in total 
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3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
French mores, Hollywood sensibility, 4 January 2006

This film manifests all that is degenerate about the "coming of age" genre: saccharine sentimentality, numbing cliché, jarringly unsubtle plot devices. Don't be fooled by apparent spiciness of a movie about a sixteen-year-old boy's experimentation with prostitutes. This movie is entirely conventional. And you won't be able to redeem your one-and-a-half hours by just listening to the soundtrack. It's crap too. All of the dramatic tension is relieved after forty minutes, which means that the film wanders aimlessly and pointlessly for another forty. Omar Sharif's commentary on the DVD is similarly inane. There is really nothing to be said in favour of this movie along any dimension.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
human and political: a rare combination, 11 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the things I found most interesting about this decidedly politically conscious movie is that the heroin, Emmi, has almost no political consciousness at all. She is not interested in righting any historical wrongs, nor in atoning for Germany's Nazi past. She does not court a coloured man because of liberal values or liberal guilt.

Quite the contrary: on her wedding day she is eager to eat at a swish restaurant where it was said that Hitler once dined. Moreover, she desperately wants to be accepted by her family and peers: she is no maverick or desperado. Emmi is simply a genuinely good person who is lonely and falls in love with a man who comes from Morocco who is also a genuinely good person who is lonely.

Brigitte Mira is beautiful, endlessly fascinating in this film.

7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
worth a viewing for Fassbinder fans, 11 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You can see this short film as one of the "extra features" on the Criterion Collection DVD of Fassbinder's original "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul". It's about ten minutes long, and not a completely bore. However, you definitely should not see it if you haven't already seen the Fassbinder original, since it will make no sense.

The short film tells the true story of the fate of one of the actors of the theatre version of Fassbinder's film who was beaten up by Neo-Nazis on his way to the playhouse. The film is shot completely from the point of view of this man, so you never actually see the protagonist's face, which makes for an interesting, if not wholly original, effect. The best parts of the short film are the close-ups of Brigitte Mira's beautiful, endlessly fascinating, face. Even better is the interview with her on the Criterion Collection DVD.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
mystifying reception, 10 January 2005

The good reviews this movie garners never cease to amaze me: I thought it was a steaming pile! Melodramatic, sententious, and oddly macho, this is one of the most over-rated movies of all time. It is "drama" in the worst sense of the word.

The movie is horribly contrived. Eastwood attempts to artificially infuse the film with emotional "heft" by heavy-handedly inserting an orchestral swell here, or an anguished look there.

The only thing "mystic" about this movie is why so many people seem to think it has any depth. It's one of the most unsubtle movies I've seen in a long time.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
a quality movie, not ultimately successful., 2 January 2005

This movie has a lot going for it: excellent performances (Goodman especially), lovely camera work, subtle and artful sound effects, and a promising theme (a callow, mediocre writer with a brittle ego tries to write an epic for the common man).

In the end, however, the movie is puzzle with multiple solutions. This would be an achievement, if any of the solutions were fully coherent. But none of them is. And so the film's ambiguity is without justification.

If you're already a member of the Cult of Coen, you should probably see this movie. If not, see "The Big Lebowski" or "Fargo", both of which are superior.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
aesthetic perfection, psychological depth (**minor spoilers**), 1 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is a success, both aesthetically and psychologically. Sven Nykwist's spare cinematography is complemented perfectly with artful dabs of Bach's warm and lonely D-minor cello suite. A central theme of the film is the existence of god in a world of suffering and doubt. Bergman provides a somewhat pat solution ("God is love, and love, god").

Much more interesting is the insight Bergman brings to bear on human relationships and specifically, the possibility of altruism. David, dutiful husband of mentally fragile Karin (Harriet Anderson) is utterly faultless in his devoted care for her. Martin, Karin's father, is an emotionally detached writer. He is frequently unavailable; moreover, he exploits his daughter's mental disintegration as fodder for his novels. However, in the end it is Martin rather than David who is able to emphasize with her, and to love her. The film is complex in proportion to its subject.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
pretty people, angsty., 30 December 2004

This movie is not a complete bore. There are a couple of funny lines, a few interesting shots, some nice archive footage of magnetic Monsieur Cohen.

However, the writing is thin and the actors don't have much character development to work with. As a result, they ham up diffidence, gesture at alienation, and feign sensitivity. It doesn't amount to much more than pretty people looking pretty while angsty. Read "Beautiful Losers" or "The Favourite Game" for the genuine article.

Leonard Cohen fans will be disappointed that none of L. Cohen's songs are in the movie, although the music is pretty good.

19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
funny, original, intriguing., 30 December 2004

Don't be scared away by people who warn that this movie is too difficult or bizarre. This film will appeal to more than just the usual cabal of obscurantists and nerdy cultists. The plot is quite straightforward: a depression-era beer baroness commissions a contest whose aim it is to find the saddest music in the world. As a result, scores of zany musicians from around the world descend on frost-bitten Winnipeg to win a $25000 prize. Hilarity ensues.

That's not to say the movie doesn't have its fair share of the absurd, the bizarre, and the dark (it *is* a Canadian film, after all). Lines are delivered with strange inflections, characters' motivations are screwy, filmic styles are mixed. None of these, however, comes off as pretentious or forced.

The film explores the interesting paradox that despite the reality and ubiquity of real sadness, authentic expressions of sadness are difficult and rare.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
style (and not even stylish style) over substance, 7 May 2002

After all the hype, I was a little disappointed with this flick. The characters are two-dimensional and never developed, and so the movie resorts to extremes of suffering, pain, and humiliation to elicit an emotive response from the viewer. It's kind of akin to a drunken storyteller at a bar who is always afraid of losing your attention, so he exaggerates and he lies.

There is definitely a lot eye-candy in this film, but even the "innovative cinematography" often comes off as gimmicky and pointless.

Sometimes power lies in restraint.

12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
sehr süß!, 4 May 2002

I rented the video from the local Goethe Institute hoping to find a less painful way to learn some German. I feel as if I've uncovered a treasure. The film is uncannily realistic for anyone who has done a really long journey by train. A few scenes were so convincing I found myself having flashbacks. Funny, unpretentious, and humane - a "romantic comedy" that won't make you want to hurl.