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Stellet Licht (2007)
See the light
If you want a very different experience, try this film - but not if you are in a hurry. It is called Silent Light, and those are pretty much the themes that recur throughout the film. It has beautiful and unusual filming, starting with minutes of "silence" as the stars rotate over-head and then break into a glorious dawn, with time lapse photography. Whilst I say silence the entire film has an amazing assortment of background sounds (no music). For example, with the dawn shots you hear the braying of animals and background chirps of insects. Light, skies and contrasts fill the film. Most shots are incredibly slow, compared to the speed we are used to in normal films, but if you can slow down this gives a relaxed feeling of being right in the scenes (although I think it could well have been cut to shorter than 131 minutes)!
The "acting" is almost non-existent, and plot pretty minimal, although if you have patience it develops progressively and surprisingly. The participants are genuine Mennonites speaking Dutch and living in northern Mexico, who were instructed not to act. It shows, with some scenes looking as if they had forgotten their lines and are wondering what to do, but ultimately delivers something that gives a greater feeling of truth, more like a documentary than fiction.
This makes for an unusual film, but if you have patience and an interest in beautiful filming and moral issues, then give it a try - you may be pleasantly surprised!
I Am David (2003)
This is a strange film. It is set as a road story of a traumatised teenager travelling across post-war Europe, with little more than a compass, and with flashbacks to the appalling prison camp he has left, and a beautiful woman, whose identity is never clear until the end. The scenes individually can be attractive and reasonably filmed and there is some excellent music, and a positive message, and so may appeal particularly if you like sentimental encounters.
However, unless you can totally disengage your rationality, the chances any of this ever actually happening, or everyone being happily able to communicate in English, are clearly zero, making it impossible to engage with the film. The combination of a wooden David a random selection of encounters, and periodic flashbacks gives the whole film a discontinuity, and although I enjoyed some of the characters and the scenery, overall I felt that the film was poorly produced and failed to respect viewers' common sense (by expecting them to believe the impossible).
This is a very clever film, where you have to think hard, particularly for the first half. The acting (and effects) are excellent. Because of the complexity of the plot, it was only in the second half that I began to (understand) and felt increasingly involved with what was going on.
Brilliant scenes on the beach, flashbacks, imagining childhood, running from erasing memories and at the doctor's. Another part of the film's brilliance was to make the science fiction of memory removal become totally believable. And the progression of the plot never lets up, with constant addition of new aspects right up to the end.
In contrast with some films where reality and fantasy are intentionally confused (which I generally find annoying) this film gives sufficient clues to help the viewer to identify the scenes which are reality from others that are flashbacks or imagination.
A lot of lessons on relationships - particularly the ultimate value of memories, even if they are painful.
The Gods Must Be Crazy II (1989)
This film would be okay if you hadn't seen and enjoyed the original "The Gods Must be Crazy". Now I see why there wasn't a III brought out!
This film takes most of the original ingredients, and stirs in extra of crazy stunts, silliness, drama, wildlife, and heartwarming bushmen (children) shots. But the whole thing lacks the cohesive storyline of the original, and comes out half-baked and mostly quite impossible to believe in or identify with.
Having said that I would definitely recommend watching it for the good bits - although you may get bored in between, or just fed up with 2 stupid comedy. There are some amazing shots of wildlife, crazy stunts with a microlight plane and storms, and the bush-children really steal the show - but don't expect anything like the original.
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
A unique film with a brilliant combination of slapstick, subtle humour, wonderful music, brilliant wildlife and scenic shots, all beautifully woven into a piece in an almost "road-style" movie around the adventures of a bushman.
Like any story, there are some aspects which are slightly unbelievable if you stop to think - but the skill of the film is that it is sufficiently convincing to suspend such unbelief whilst you watch.
The message of the film is brilliantly presented, subtly challenging the belief that white civilization has all the answers, gently poking fun at many of our western assumptions (no idea why anyone thinks it's racist - it may be the opposite)!
Some of the high points for me personally were the scenery, the wildlife, and the African huts, children and music. Having lived in Africa for 3 years it was absolutely true to life, and brought back fond memories. This is a classic that will bear watching time and time again, and so different from the run of the mill films generally churned out.
A classic - 9/10.
L'amour l'après-midi (1972)
Yes, I couldn't stop yawning, nor could my partner. Incredibly boring - 90 minutes seemed to stretch to at least 3 hours - and I'm not even a fan of action films, but this just falls asleep on its feet - unless you are a 70's polo neck sweater fan!
** SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW ** If you were expecting ANYTHING to happen, don't hold your breath - it doesn't!
But seriously, it totally fails to convince or involve the watcher. It's like a long, boring and rather disjointed dream. Frederic floats through it, able to leave work whenever he wants, and with attractive secretaries bringing tea and messages constantly. Obviously not real life! And an office with virtually no paper or files - just a giant calendar to let you know that the film really is taking 6 months to watch.
Frederick never seems to be touched by any real emotion, neither does his wife, and the children behave like rag dolls - in stark contrast to any real life. Even Chloe, despite her strong views, never gives the appearance of really feeling anything. The only 3 seconds of any real feeling occur between a couple overseen in a cafe, and have nothing to do with the plot.
Okay, so maybe there are some moral considerations, but if it's entertainment, or even good cinematography you are looking for, I think this film is incredibly over-rated by most other viewers.
Personally I found this one of the worst films I have ever seen, and one of the few that I was not able to watch through. Unbelievable - okay so its meant to be fantasy - but the art of a good film is to make fantasy believable, not ridiculous. The entire approach appeared to be woodenly acted to the point where it appeared more like an amateur attempt at pantomime where the acting was so poor that it became funny.
On the positive side the background of some scenes shot in the middle east was authentic, but this was only for short periods, and added little to the general story line. It may have been considered erotic when originally filmed, possibly because of nude scenes, but personally I found it (if possible) the reverse. Sorry, to be frank there is no way I would recommend anyone to watch this.
All the Real Girls (2003)
Good music, great cinematography, wonderful scenery - but sorry, just no story!
The film intentionally jumps between a wide range of different scenes and shots at a generally rapid pace, rather like a slide show, and ends up loosing the plot. The viewer is left with far too many puzzles to unravel, and too many questions unanswered. The acting is only mediocre. As a result it is just not possible to identify with or get involved in the film, and in spite of the beautiful filming it never really gets going in terms of human interest!
Unusual (and good) filming features include quite a few speeded up shots e.g. clouds. The sound is excellent too, with a clever scene in the park where two conversations are heard simultaneously - just as you might in real life, with the camera panning back and forth between the different groups. Another scene in the motel includes good background sound from the next room etc. But it still doesn't save the film!
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
Boring - are you bilingual?
This never goes anywhere.
Inoffensive, and adequately filmed, but nothing happens and no real story line - more of a sitcom without a start or end. Conversations seem to make up much of the film, but you won't follow much of the film unless you speak Spanish too - certainly my DVD version did not come with a subtitles option, which seems extraordinary.
I was never gripped or even moved by this film. All a bit hammed up, and never really got going. It didn't have much message either - possibly it's okay to be fat? At the end you are just dropped with loads of loose ends.
The good points were the background scenery and the Catholic touches, but if you really want this, you might do better to watch a documentary - at least you will understand the commentary!
Indecent Proposal (1993)
Excellent - thought provoking
Surprised to see so many adverse comments.
The film is well filmed, lots of clever, beautiful shots, captures the excitement and depression of gambling and poses serious moral questions. Such as, "Can anything be bought?," "What is the impact of adultery on a relationship" and forgetting versus forgiving.
I found the film entirely believable, and people's reactions very true to life. Demi More's acting as "D" was outstanding, and Woody as David good (especially lecturing on architecture)! Robert as John Gage was rather intermittent. The labrador (dog) was good! Lawyer too!
If you are interested in relationships, and thinking about serious questions, as well as good filming you should enjoy this.
POSSIBLE SPOILER HERE: Downsides? Yes, what the others say about some of the inconsistencies and whether John Gage's sudden turnaround is credible are true - but I only found this a small detraction from an excellent and thought provoking film, which pictured the emptiness of living for money, and the strength of love.