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Horst_In_Translation

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Walk with Me (2017/I)
The subject had so much more to offer, 19 November 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Walk with Me" is a 1.5-hour documentary movie from this year, a very new release, and a combined effort by writers and directors Marc J. Francis and Max Pugh. The focus here is on Buddhism, in particular on Thich Nhát Hanh. If I am correct, this one is not a contender at the Oscars this year, which fits the film's anti-mainstream message. But it could be as the film brings British Hollywood heavyweight Benedict Cumberbatch as narrator, even if he is not used too frequently here. I personally am not a fan of his acting at all and as a narrator he did an equally bad job as his take on the subject gives the film a fairly pretentious note at times and the worst moment is probably when there is a pretty beautiful scenery that truly spoke for itself and then B.C. enters in and destroys the moment. This is especially disappointing as the film did not come even close to offering as many beautiful moments as I hoped it would and when there finally is one, they manage to botch it. Anyway, the film loses itself at times in random stories of Buddhists showing us how they meet old friends, family members or what their plans were and how differently they were before they picked the path of Buddhism. And shockingly, these moments were still the better parts the film had to offer. I sure did not expect a film that would be as informative and engaging on a level where I would join immediately, but I did expect more significance than we were offered in here. All in all, I was disappointed, even if it is somewhat honorable the film occasionally also talks about the negative aspects, i.e. the sacrifice. A very mediocre work that is not positively memorable whatsoever and occasionally hits rock-bottom even due to the narration/narrator being so full of it-/himself. I kinda wish I could have seen a German dub. So yes my suggestion here is to skip this one. Go for something else instead. The subject, no matter if you are referring to Thich Nhát Hanh or Buddhism itself, deserves way better than it is depicted in here. Maybe you actually needed to be already a Buddhist yourself to appreciate this one? But than could hardly have been the filmmakers' goal. It was also not as soothing as I hoped it would be. Sorry I can't walk with you this time.

Underwhelming history lesson, 19 November 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"La caduta di Troia" or "The Fall of Troy" is an Italian black-and-white silent film from 1911, so this one is already over a century old and it was written and co-directed by Giovanni Pastrone. The title gives away what this one is about. In slightly over half an hour, it depicts the Greek's idea to conquer Troy with the help of a gigantic wooden horse after traditional military strategies have failed. This actual conquest was also pretty watchable and entertaining, but everything before and after that I did not find too interesting. It could have needed more intertitles too, but it was on a level where it was at least understandable what was going on and you cannot say that about many other silent films. Regardless of color that may have been added afterward, this is of course a black-and-white silent film. Okay, that is all I think. At half the running time, with better focus on crucial events, it could have been a more poignant watch for sure. That's why as a whole I give this film a thumbs-down. There was potential for a quality film, but eventually this was not fulfilled, which is especially disappointing because the subject has a lot more to offer than most other works from over a century ago. Skip this one.

This charming cat, 18 November 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Zoot Cat" is another American Tom and Jerry cartoon and this one here is from 1944, later years of WWII, so it will have its 75th anniversary soon. These 7 minutes are probably neither among the most known these these two have to offer nor among the least known, somewhere in-between. It is perhaps their most fashion focused work as the title already gives away and it is not just Tom who is in a zoot here, but Jerry too as we find out at the very end. This ending was certainly among the better moments (next to the burning-paw scene) of an otherwise really forgettable cartoon that suffered from an unlikable female cat taking away too much screen time from Jerry especially. It was not bad or anything, but not very funny either. Plus I don't like these a lot where Tom is talking and he is talking a lot here. Overall, I give this one a thumbs-down and it's really only worth seeing for T&J completionists. Everybody else can skip it.

Cute underdog story, 18 November 2017
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Elmer Elephant" is an American 8.5-minute cartoon from 1936, so a bit longer than usual and this one had its 80th anniversary last year already and even if it is in color, this means it is certainly among the earlier days of the Golden Age of Animation. But this Disney production nonetheless includes several big names like director Wilfred Jackson and voice actors Nash and Colvig who were really defining for both the genre and the company for many years to come. This one here may not include the ducks and mice and dogs everybody loves until today, but it includes a little elephant. He visits his little tiger friend for her birthday and he brought her flowers. But sadly, the other visitors aren't friendly to him at all and make fun of his nose and ears etc. So he leaves the party, but meets some real friends who give him solace and eventually also help him when a fire puts Tillie's life at risk.

That's one thing I liked that it was not some kind of superhero performance, but that the giraffe and pelicans etc. made it a team effort for Elmer. And honestly animation-wise this was way ahead of its time, certainly a contender for best 1936 short film. On a side-note: This was the year that the Olympics were held in Berlin. Anyway, back to the film: I also liked the love to detail, such as the ways in which the animators breathed life even into those little fire creatures and it was also smart as this takes away from the tension and drama and makes sure it's not too serious for younger audiences to watch too as after all most of the characters in here are their age. Many anti-bullying films from recent history can learn a lot from the heart put in this one and maybe if the filmmakers actually would have watched this one, then their work would not have turned into such forgettable mediocrity (in the better cases). And finally, also a word on the really sweet ending that shows us that we should not pay too much attention to what breed everybody is in here. A cute kiss and little Elmer could not be any happier. His ears finally serve a purpose too. A strong cartoon with a slightly superior second half, I very much recommend checking it out to everybody. For cartoon lovers, it is a must-see and such a shame Elmer was forgotten quickly. I would have loved to watch more films starring him, no matter if short or long. Such a cute, charming and likable character.

Solid making-of documentary, 18 November 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First of all, it needs to be said that this title here directed by Josh Oreck and written by Richard Brehm is of course not the actual V for Vendetta movie. It is a little documentary including interviews with the cast and crew, scenes from the film and footage from the shooting of the movie. I think that's the key to it. I always like if documentaries manage to be insightful and interesting and at the very same time avoid spoilers. I cannot deny that these slightly over 20 minutes here got me a bit curious about the movie. I am not sure if I have ever seen it, but if yes, then it was many years back as I don't remember anything except Natalie Portman's bald head, not even Stephen Fry who I quite like and if I forget about him, that means quite something. Then again maybe I wasn't a fan back then yet. Back to this one here: It is pretty accurate, not too short, not too long, several interesting moments, yes a couple empty phrases and over-the-top praising each other too, but it tolerable as it's not that the entire thing consists of that. As a whole, this is definitely a good watch if you like the film, but also if you don't really know it and want to like it. I give a thumbs-up here.

Too much style over substance for me, 18 November 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"1001 Nights" is a wordless BAFTA-nominated short film from 1998, so this one will soon have its 20th anniversary and this one runs for almost 24 minutes. The director here is Mike Smith and as the man in charge this may still be his most known work as of today. However, he also worked in the animation department on many well-known films, so it's no surprise that this is an animated film of course. The Asian looks from start to finish are no surprise either as many Asian artists worked on this one including Smith's fellow BAFTA nominee. 1001 Nights is of course a title that comes with an obligation for the film, namely to make a thing of beauty about love and dreams and other aspects from centuries ago perhaps. This was only partially achieved here I must say. Overall, the visual side is the best here. It will be entirely subjective of course which parts you like more and which parts you like less as that refers to your precise taste in animation. There were moments I really adored, but also others that did almost nothing for me like a Brakhage work. The story-telling here did almost nothing for me. I found it incredibly difficult to find any kind of access to the characters and plot in general and when I did, then it did not last for long. And finally the music: It was maybe slightly inferior to the animation, sometimes okay to listen to, at other times incredibly forgettable. So overall, I cannot really agree with the awards attention here. I think this could have been much better given the premise and I give it a thumbs-down overall. Don't watch.

Maybe he indeed lost it, but really it's just fake, 18 November 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Here we have the 4-minute music video by Eminem for "Just Lose It" directed by Philip G. Atwell and the fact that this has its 15th anniversary soon shows you how much time has passed already since Eminem was really catching all the attention. The tune though at times is still familiar today and also sometimes relatively catchy. Maybe with a better music video I could have given this a better rating. But there really is no honorable reason why one should check out the video instead of just listening to the song. The people you see in here like Paris Hilton are mostly those who should not be in the spotlight at all while the ways in which he makes fun of several stars here are disrespectful (Gwen Stefani, that was her right?), not to say despicable with the reference to Michael Jackson mostly. But the fact alone that the audible component may be slightly better than the visual component is certainly not enough for me to give this one a thumbs-up or recommend it because honestly both weren't particularly creative to be honest. Losing it is definitely inferior to losing oneself, at least when it comes to Eminem. It's one of his lighter works, but definitely not one of his better. Skip it.

As part of a film perhaps, as a film itself not really, 18 November 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Space Between Us" is a Dutch 13-minute short film from 2015 written and directed by Marc S. Nollkaemper. But don't worry as this one is not in the Dutch language, but in English. Then again, spoken language is truly minimal in here. This one is more about effects, story and the visual side as a whole. It's about a scientist making a truly fateful decision when confronted with the power and beauty of nature. Sci-Fi has never been my favorite genre, so perhaps I am a bit biased here, but even if the visual component was overall convincing and the dark screens fit the film's tone and atmosphere most of the time, I must say that I was not satisfied enough with or entertained enough by the overall outcome here. Some of the parts could have worked well as part of a film I believe and actually have been worthy additions, but there is just too much unknown about the entire background (the world, the characters, the scientific component) for this to work as a standalone movie. So I sadly have to give it a thumbs-down and I believe it is only worth seeing for the very biggest Sci-Fi film fans.

Succeeds where it counts, 18 November 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Mahôtsukai no yome: hoshi matsu hito Part 1" or "The Ancient Magus' Bride: Those Awaiting a Star Part 1" is a new Japanese anime short film that is, as the title gives away too, at this point I think the first of three short films from this series. The director is Norihiro Naganuma and here he gives us an insight into the world of a young woman who gets in touch with magic for the first time. This is also the essence of this movie, the mix-up between our world and the world of magic which is a common subject in anime and has been for a while. And they still manage to come up with new creative stories, which is certainly appreciated. Okay, this may not be on a level where I want to check out part 2 immediately and cannot wait to see how the story goes on, but I still enjoyed the watch. If the writers can keep the decent level, it may also be a good idea to check out all episodes chronologically one after the other as if this was a full feature movie. Anyway, as for now I give this one here a thumbs-up. Good voice acting, good story telling and good animation of course too. Sure you will need subtitles if you aren't fluent in Japanese, but I'm sure you knew that already. A truly convincing watch for anime fans.

Sea Oak (2017) (TV)
Granny's back, 18 November 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Sea Oak" is an American English-language short film from 2017 that combines comedy with some other genres, mostly horror, and was released just a couple days ago as one of the suggestions by Amazon that may be turned into a full series. It is based on a short story by George Saunders and directed by Emmy nominee Hiro Murai. But the really big names are in the cast here. Glenn Close plays a (not so) dead old virgin while the younger generation is represented by Jack Quaid, Sarah Hay, Jane Levy, James Van Der Beek and a couple others. Of course, we shall see how these would return in terms of quantity if this actually gets picked up, but the star potential makes it likely for enough people to enjoy the watch here. We shall see. I think entertainment-wise it needed a couple minutes to really get going, but the second half certainly makes it worth seeing and it seems like a solid take that still offers something new and refreshing in a year where stuff like The Walking Dead has been running for ages, which also means something. Overall, it could indeed happen I watch this if it gets picked up, especially because I cannot deny being a pretty big Jane Levy fanboy, but the others are fine too, especially Glenn Close who really shines in the last couple minutes here. Go see it, this slightly over half an hour certainly has some fun potential.


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