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I wonder what Klara would have thought of this
This is an almost 50-year-old one-hour documentary about the life and death of Klara Heydebreck (born before 1900), who was an old woman that committed suicide. That is really everything about her. She was no celebrity and there was nothing out of the ordinary about her life, only that she was a bit of a loner. The writer, director and narrator is Eberhard Fechner (fairly known for his work in the 1960s and 1970s) and he won a Golden Camera for it. It's actually a pretty sad movie (especially her farewell letter) and I have to say it tells me almost as much about the people who lived with/near the deceased than about herself. The way they are talking about her is fairly despicable. Who are they to judge the life that Heydebreck chose? If she does not want to have to do anything with them, it's her decision and it's fine that way. She had her interest in art and if that was enough to fill her life, that is perfectly fine in my opinion and it is entirely her business that she was unemployed for quite some time.
What I liked maybe most about this documentary was that it was not only about the person in the title, but also about life at that time in general and about society in general. Some interesting historic references in here. Still, it is mostly a very personal tale and even if I was entertained watching this, I wonder how Klara Heydebreck would have liked her life and death being turned into a fairly known documentary. It was humiliating at times I have to say, even if a grand part of it was very objective and factual, like listing the entire income she had during her life. Rest in peace, Klara Heydebreck.
Der Zinker (1931)
Only for hardcore fans of Edgar Wallace
This is a black-and-white adaptation of the Edgar Wallace novel, which was made shortly before the Nazis claimed power in Germany. The film runs for only little longer than an hour and is probably not even half as known the version which was made a couple decades later. The film has no less than three writers and three directors. Maybe too many cooks spoil the broth as this movie really leaves a lot to be desired. The cast is not entirely unknown. Lovers of old movies may have heard of Lissy Arna and Paul Hörbiger's family is still present in movies today (Tramitz, Christiane Hörbiger). Another actor from this film played a major character in "Casablanca" a couple years later. People in "Der Zinker" keep talking about getting "verzinkt" all the time, the problem is only that it is not clear at all what they mean. The verb just isn't common in German today anymore and the only context when it is occasionally used is for cheating during playing cards as far as I know. The crime story here is fairly forgettable in my opinion, but I liked how this film used comedy occasionally to lighten up the whole atmosphere, for example with the guy finishing sentences for another. Also the soundtrack (which was done not too long ago) was very playful. And you get this very common camera position when you don't see the killer, but you see another character interact with him, sometimes also a possible suspect. And frequently in these scenarios, the guy you see gets killed, just like here near the end by poison. All in all, I wasn't too impressed with this film. There are many 1930s movie which are better.
Am Ende der Lüge (2013)
At the end of the embarrassment
"At the end of the lie" is one of these German 90-minute television movies which are fairly forgettable. The best thing about it is probably that they did nod include a cringeworthy love story here as well just for the sake of it. The film deals with the relationship between two sisters, one of whom the biological mother to a teenage daughter. The daughter, however, believes that the other sister is her mother. The real mother tends to step more and more into the lives of the two and becomes more and more a threat due to her bipolar disorder. In fact, not a bad plot, but the weak acting from many of the key players really hurt this film. Böhm was unbearable from start to finish and basically only showed one face expression throughout the entire movie. Szyszkowitz was almost as bad, but gets slightly better near the end. Schumann proves again that he has no range at all. The only main cast member with an acceptable performance is Jochen Horst, maybe also the most known because of "Balko". A bit shocking to see that all the actors in here have thriving careers with the little range they possess, even if none of them are really famous. Says a lot about German television currently unfortunately.
The film's title tells about a lie, but basically everything involving the sister is a lie, also in terms of her professional life. One question I kept asking myself is why all the men in this movie wanted to have sex with her, even when they were in a relationship. Completely aside from her disorder, there was nothing remotely attractive about her physics. I guess the reason must be that she was not downright ugly like her sister. Generally-put, this film also had a big problem with subtlety. All the actors are completely in your face with their performances and not in a good way. Also, there is not a single likable character (apart from the daughter maybe) in this 2-year-old film. The writer and director is Markus Rosenmüller, the lesser known of the two. In terms of his writing, I was fairly disappointed too. A whole lot of this film was very predictable. At least, he went for a rough ending instead some feel-good nonsense. But this cannot make up for everything before, including the ridiculous death of Schumann's character. Another really big fail during these 90 minutes is the over-the-top music. The guy who produces this film's score should never work again until he actually improves in his field. A baity title, but a very weak effort from almost everybody involved. Not recommended.
Pitch Perfect (2012)
Like a movie made out of weaker Glee episodes
With the everywhere-talked-about release of the sequel to this 2012 movie, I thought it was high time finally give the original a watch. It proved not a good idea. The humor in here basically includes the level of vomiting, terrible word plays about penetration and menstrual cycles. This is a 105-minute movie directed by Jason Moore and written by Kay Cannon based on Mickey Rapkin's novel. Cannon returned for the sequel, Moore did not. Instead they went with Elizabeth Banks as director and she has a common past with Cannon, who is mostly famous for writing "30 Rock" episodes. I quite like this television series, so i was really baffled how bad her writing for this film here was. Anna Kendrick is an actress I actually quite like. She has charisma, looks and talent, a combination which is not too common these days. And she tried her best so that her performance could make up for many other flaws with this movie, but in the end it just wasn't enough. The script is just too bad. They start the film with giving Beca's main rival in the group a moment as embarrassing as it gets, so we could dislike her right away and prefer Kendrick's character. Rebel Wilson is like a younger Melissa McCarthy with the difference that she is entirely unfunny. I mentioned bad plays on words earlier and there are more of these. The repeated use of "aca-scuse me" was a negative highlight. Another flaw with this film was the ridiculous idea to include a guidebook according to which the singers were not allowed to have relationships with the guys from the rivaling men-only singers group.
I said in the title that there are some connection with Glee and it is true. They picked band members of all kinds of ethnicities, of all kinds of sexual preferences and of all kinds of body shapes, only they did not elaborate on it any further really. Basically, we know nothing about any of the character's except Kendrick's and that is quite an achievement for a film which has so many characters and runs for not too much under two hours. A very very negative achievement. One of the very few positive things about this film is the music, which wasn't as bad as the rest really. However, the band's final performance which apparently blew everybody away did not particularly wow me. I was pretty disappointed by this film. I hope Kendrick's next projects will be better. She showed us a couple times in the past that she is one of the best actresses from her generation, but movies like this one here do not do her justice. Not even close. Not recommended.
Geri's Game (1997)
Pixar's take on chess - fairly forgettable
This is a five-minute animated short film from almost 20 years ago. Basically all we see in this short film is how an old man plays chess against himself and tricks himself at some point to victory. This is a decent idea on make-believe. If the camera is in the right position, we do not realize that he is the only one playing if we hadn't already known from the start. Maybe this revelation would have been better at the end. Anyway, my guess is that the old guy is slightly senile and that is why he believes himself that he is actually playing somebody else. He is looking down on the chess board, so he does not perceive nobody is sitting at the other side just like we don't see it when we only see the old man. Attention also to how one of the "two" players is clearly meaner and really willing to win, while the other certainly looks much more careful and defensive, even cowers down at one point. But he is as playful a trickster as his enemy. He even fakes a heart attack at one point.
The film's director is Jan Pinkava and he did not have a full feature career as I would have expected after this short film. The only other impact he made was by writing "Ratatouille" 10 years after "Geri's Game. But maybe it's fine this way as I really wasn't too wowed by this short film. The animation is good, but there is really nothing entertaining to the whole story about it in my opinion. I am a bit surprised to see it won an Oscar. To me, it is one of Pixar's worst efforts sadly.
Die Freischwimmerin (2014)
Religion vs. athletics
This is an Austrian-set television movie from roughly 1 year ago and has nothing to do with the 2007 film "Freischwimmer" starring Frederik Lau. The film's director is very experienced and the two writers have worked together on quite a few projects as well and this paid off here. The core story is about a (sometimes too involved) teacher who is new at a school and she runs into trouble when she has an Islamic female student who refuses to wear a swimsuit due to her religion. All in all, this is a pretty solid movie. There are no moments of greatness, but there are no really bad moments either. I could have done without the romantic storyline between the teacher and the girl's brother, but it's not entirely bad either. Also, pay attention to how the title refers to both female protagonists in this movie, one of them actually and one of them metaphorically.
The lead actress is Austrian, don't be confused by her British name and I felt she looked a bit like Anna Kendrick at times. The ending is expected, but that's not a problem here either. I liked how the swimmers won only silver in the end and not gold. This film managed nicely not to go over the top. There are a couple nice details about this movie. Actually, I learned a couple new things about the religion of Islam, but I also liked how they made the possible illegality of the girl's swim suit an issue. One thing that could have been better initially is that basically all students in her class were exactly the same and against her. Maybe some more differentiating would not have hurt. However, this is also fixed near the end when the girl seems to have a pretty good relationship with the other members of the swim-team. Good job from everybody involved and I recommend these 90 minutes.
Excellent breakthrough performance keeps this film from being a failure
"Kriegerin" (German term for a female warrior) is a 4-year-old 105-minute movie written and directed by David Wnendt. The best way to see this is not as a film which will tell you accurately about life as a Nazi or life in a Nazi community, but as a character study of two females and what factors caused them to end up in this company of right-wing extremists. It has a lot to do with the behavior from their parents including emotional and physical (the cigarette scene) abuse by those who are supposed to protect them and help them finding their place in life. The way these two girls developed during the movie makes it obvious that they do not necessarily believe in the ideal of Nazis, but their acting in accordance with them is really more a consequence of wanting to belong somewhere and being accepted the way they are. However, quite ironically, they are changing in order to be accepted and they willingly do so. I am not really sure if I found Levshin's or Haase's character more interesting. However, it is obvious that Levshin's character sees parallels to herself in Haase's character. And as she becomes more tolerant (also thanks to the boy), she tries to be a helping hand to Haase's character and maybe prevent her from making the same mistakes she did.
This was the big breakthrough film for Ukrainian-born Alina Levshin. She won a German Film Award for it and is since considered among the top actresses of her generation on the German market. And it was also one of Haase's breakthrough films. David Wnendt won a German Film Award as well for his screenplay and the film itself was honored as the third best movie of the year. Wnendt went on to direct the heavily-discussed "Feuchtgebiete" (based on Charlotte Roche's novel) after that, an in my opinion terrible film that couldn't be more different from "Kriegerin". Still, somehow I expected more from "Kriergerin". I really do not believe the screenplay is that good. It's almost entirely Levshin's performance which holds this film so well together. At times, especially at the very final scene near the sea this film could have done with tome more subtlety in my opinion. But Wnendt went for over-the-top showiness instead sadly. Also, I would have preferred an approach which not only displays the women in the Nazi community as victims or as somewhat good people. Maybe one of the guys helping the girls would have been nice as well. It's almost sexist. With some slight alterations, this could have been an actually great film and not only a decent one. Still, all in all, I recommend watching it.
Blackadder Back & Forth (1999)
Very British, and sometimes funny too
Basically if you consider watching this, it is probably not the first time you have come across Blackadder. I would rate the entire 33 minutes good, but not great. Sometimes the humor is spot-on, sometimes it is just childish and unfunny. These latter moments hurt the film even more as the whole air and appearance of Blackadder and this short film is fairly elitist, so it's a huge gap to bridge if they want to make humor on a character having sex with sheep credible. Anyway, the entire time traveling plot and what Blackadder did in these different periods was entertaining to watch. The ending when he returns back to his time could have been better and less self-indulgent. I am not the greatest fan of Blackadder, Mr. Bean or Rowan Atkinson's approach to comedy in general, but he was bearable in this one. And it also helped to see famous actors such as Hugh Laurie (wow he looks so young here), Colin Firth or Stephan Fry (a personal favorite) in many scenes here. All in all, I recommend this 15-year-old short movie by BAFTA nominee Paul Weiland.
It's not good because it's gay
This film's IMDb rating is pretty ridiculous as is its awards recognition and people finally need to understand that two men kissing in front of a camera makes a film a quality movie. There are many gay-themed short movies out there, some mediocre, some downright bad and sadly not too many worth the watch. This one here can be summarized quickly. Two boys (French and German) are at a beach, talk a bit, joke around a bit and then one of them starts making out with the other in a random Nazi barricade. And if this wasn't weird enough already, the other joins in, only minutes after he told his friend how he's looking forward to banging girls all night. Of course, people will say he tried to convince himself (and his buddy) that he is not a homosexual, but that's just a strategy you watch in literally every gay-themed film these days and it's gotten so old already. The only positive thing about this short movie (apart from the beautiful sea) is that it only runs for slightly over 20 minutes. I am not surprised that the film's director and writer Stéphane Riethauser has not worked on any other projects in the last three years. Honestly, I cannot see much talent here. The actors don't really have much either. For one of them, this is perfectly understandable as he has not acted in anything else, but the other has a quite prolific career and it's bad to see he still doesn't have an ounce of talent really when it comes to showing emotion. Not recommended.
I'm Fine Thanks (2011)
Odd and in your face
This is a 5-minute BAFTA nominated animated short film from 4 years ago. Basically we follow one person, first as a kid, then as a young man how he keeps running into trouble from start to finish. All the negative impacts on his life have made him become cold and ruthless toward other people. A crucial factor to this may be how he had a crush on a girl when he was young, but she was not interested in becoming his girlfriend. The scene when he reaches out for her hand, but she does not respond is a bit sad in retrospective and changed him for worse I guess. In the end, when he meets (again) two thugs three times his size, the situation escalates. Actually, it was fairly difficult to understand exactly what was going on here. The fact that the protagonist basically only swears and insults all the times does not help. All in all, this short film did not impress me. The story was okay, while the animation was not my kind of preference at all. Not recommended.