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Horst_In_Translation

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From Rats to Riches, 22 March 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Die Story von Monty Spinnerratz" is a German movie from 1997, so it has its 20th anniversary this year. And despite the age, it is one of the more recent film works involving the Augsburger Puppenkiste as you can clearly see the strings in here with the help of which the rat puppets are operated. Besides them, this is a film however that consists almost exclusively of "real" people. The movie runs for 90 minutes and has actually quite a handful known actors in its cast, for example Ben Stiller's dad or also Golden Globe nominees. You can check the cast list yourself to see who is on board. The writers and director are probably not too well-known, but they still did an okay job I guess. If you manage to embrace the fantasy aspect and don't take it too seriously, then you may be in for a rewarding watch. I personally quite liked the rat characters and this maybe made a difference for the positive side in my opinion. I also liked that the film was not scared of making crucial decisions, like a character's death. One weakness was perhaps that the film tried to be too emotional and too mind-provoking with its message, but it's all good. I still think this can be a film, especially for younger (not too young) audiences that can teach them an important lesson and entertain them too (the most important thing). I know I was entertained and it's also not a problem that the film is really all about the rats overall and that the other human characters (no matter if friend or foe) don't get that much screen time. Check it out.

Totmacher light, 21 March 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Now it may only be personal perception, but when I hear the German title "Ein Leben Lang Kurze Hosen Tragen", I think of a relatively light mix of drama and comedy, maybe a coming-of-age film. But this is none of that at all. My guess couldn't be any more wrong. This is a mix of drama and thriller with crime references from start to finish. It is the most known work by writer and director Kai S. Pieck who adapted Paul Moor's book here and also includes direct quotes by Jürgen Bartsch, who is also the protagonist in here. We hear him reflect on his crimes, partially fictitious, partially actual words from Bartsch. I think this is one of the rare occasions when the screenplay and writing is not a problem at all. It was pretty well done I must say and I also liked the ending for example. But I still did not enjoy the watch. This has mostly to do with lead actor Tobias Schenke because from start to finish of this relatively short 80-minute movie I had the impression that I was watching Schenke and not Bartsch. I may be a bit biased here as I never saw a great deal of talent in Schenke, but also he did not manage to win me over with great material, a truly baity character and a pretty good script. And the younger version of Bartsch (many flashbacks) isn't any better. He is played by Sebastian Urzendowsky and he is on the same, maybe even higher, level of overrated for me compared to Schenke. Such a shame, they did not cast more capable actors here as there was certainly the possibility to make this a pretty memorable movie. It is basically with the exception of the previously mentioned flashbacks a one-man show for Schenke and while he had some solid moments, he wasn't up to the challenge to carry this film all alone on his shoulders. Eventually "The Child I Never Was" (the English title) is a relatively similar movie like "Der Totmacher", but in that one Götz George showed everybody what a difference a strong lead performance makes in relation to the overall outcome of the film. So yeah, it's fine this film was made if it gets people to take a look at who Bartsch was and what he did, but from a mere cinematic perspective I cannot recommend this one. I suggest you watch a documentary on him instead or just read the book this is based on. I give this movie a thumbs-down. Not recommended.

Funky Pete (2004) (V)
Funk no, 21 March 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Funky Pete" is another little add-on to the famous British zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead" and the release year is also 2004 of course. There are more like these and I must say that this one here is not my favorite. It is really short though at slightly under two minutes, so it is all good I guess. Maybe it is essential to really know and care for the characters of the full feature movie this is based on in order to appreciate this one we have here. I don't know. But as a stand-alone movie (and I think every film should be seen as such one way or the other) it is not really working out. It relies too much on what we don't know to make an impact and as a consequence not only the characters are slightly forgettable, but also it is somehow a negative deal-breaker. At least for me, i am afraid. i think this one is way overrated here on IMDb and I give it a thumbs-down. Only worth checking out if you really really love "Shaun of the Dead".

I am surprised to admit this worked out nicely, 21 March 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Alpha's Magical Christmas" is a 23-minute spin-off television special from the early years of the television show "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers", This special came out back in 1994, so only two more years and then it will have its 25th anniversary. The central character here is Alpha as you can already read in the title, apparently a robot who is a friend of the Power rangers and helps them with their quests. It's been so long since I saw stuff from the long-running show, so I just say what i think from seeing in these slightly over 20 minutes. The Power Rangers themselves were away for Christmas and we find out they are helping Santa with all the work. Seriously? Christmas Rangers? Oh well, it's all good nonetheless because this special delivers where it counts the most: the music. We have great songs sung by children's choirs for most of the time and actually at the very end some of the Rangers appear themselves in here and make up for the complete lack of Rangers in the first 17-18 minutes. I would not say this saved the film, but it elevated it. It is nonetheless a decent TV special in my opinion, just not really as much about the Power Rangers as it could have been. But like I said, the ending very much makes up for that. There will be a new Power Rangers film in 2017, so maybe more people will also take a look at the old stuff again. Promo campaigns like the one on Twitch currently are certainly helping. As for this title we have here, I recommend checking it out, not only during the holidays, but anytime of the year. I was really positively surprised and it hits all the right notes where other Christmas special of equally famous small screen shows frequently fail. Oh and a final note: It absolutely doesn't get any more stunning than the young Amy Jo Johnson. I am blown away.

Fun Dead (2004) (V)
Okay at 65 seconds, 21 March 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Fun Dead" is a little add-on to the British zombie comedy film "Shaun of the Dead". At roughly one minute, "little" is basically still an exaggeration. You know these game shows like "Taskehi's Castle"? Here we have a group of zombies trying to reach a huge piece of meat. Problem is they are tied at their waists to where they come from, so they really have to give it their everything or they will be pulled back away from the meat. The entire thing is basically a visual joke I guess. But it fits the tone of the film I mentioned earlier and it is not so long that the commentator gets annoying already. I'd probably have given it a much lower rating if it had run for another minute or two. This way, it's certainly worth checking out for those who love these game shows like the one I already mentioned and also for those fond of the film "Shaun of the Dead". It is fun indeed and I recommend it for what it is, especially the absurdity. See it.

Hiking hullabaloo, 21 March 2017
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Or alternatively camping chaos. "Good Scouts" is an Oscar--nominated Disney cartoon from 1938, so this one will have its 80th anniversary next year and it is one of the works from the Golden Age of Animation. It came out briefly before the beginning of the World War II and if you need evidence of how much everybody loved Disney at that time, then a look at the Cartoon Category at the 1939 Oscars is enough. 4 out of 5 (including the winner) nominees were by Disney. This one here has everybody's favorite duck Donald go hiking with the nephews. I thought it was at its best early on. The music at the very beginning is so contagious that you really wanna be with these guys. Yes, even with Donald. And the petrified tree scene is perhaps the comedy highlight from this cartoon, also great build-up until Donald finally makes use of his ax. It does get a bit worse, but the bear and geyser scenes aren't that bad either. All in all this 8 minute cartoon (1 minute longer than they usually were) is not one of best or worse by Disney and starring Donald Duck. I recommend checking it out.

Rocky transition, forgettable comedy, 21 March 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Boxing Gloves" is another Rascals short film and this one is from 1929, so almost 90 years old. Watching it makes really clear how they were on the transition from silent to sound films at that era and you can definitely make an argument for the kids from Our Gang being the first sound film stars in that new era, especially if you are only talking about short film. This one here is of course also in black-and-white. This is one of the rare Rascals movies when grown-ups are totally nonexistent: no crooks, no teachers, no parents - just the kids. Two chubby rascals go up against each other in the boxing ring, so if McGowan and Walker take on the subject of boxing here, you can see how popular a sport it already was a decade ago. Actually there are many silent short films from earlier even that deal with boxing. Anyway, another interesting aspect here is how one of the two boxer child actors went on to have a long life after his career ended, but the other died really soon an untimely death. The "love interest" only died very recently here. As for the film itself, I think it is weaker than most other Rascals films and I only recommend it to the biggest fans of the series, especially if they also care for boxing. At slightly under 18 minutes this is one of the longer Rascals films, but not the longest. I found it relatively forgettable. Thumbs down.

At least as bad as the film it is about, 21 March 2017
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Hotel Torgo" is a Canadian English-language documentary from 2004 that runs for slightly under half an hour and takes a look at the making of the 1960s Harold P. Warren movie "Manos: The Hands of Fate", what is widely considered one of the worst films ever made. Strangely enough the filmmakers even won awards for their work here, but I cannot share any of the praise for this little documentary. It becomes painfully obvious that the people who made this (directors/producers) had no experience in film before and it does indeed look pretty amateurish. Honestly, the only reason this documentary is known today is because of the film it is about. The interviewees here are all forgettable. There is a film critics rambling on about Manos without telling anything interesting, a judge and I have no clue why he was allowed to give his opinion and finally Bernie Rosenblum (who died recently) and cast and crew member from the movie who had basically nothing memorable to say about the film at all. Maybe they could have included an actress instead as some of them are still alive today. And lets be honest, Rosenblum had such a tiny minor part in the entire project that they really should not have picked him. Shockingly weak documentary we have here. The part with the interviews of cinema-goers at the very end basically summarizes this film perfectly. I guess they needed to get past the 27-minute mark and that's why they included this viewing. They had no idea what they were doing and they were doing it pretty badly. Stay far far away. I see the producers I mentioned earlier are back to working in film after a break of a decade roughly and I really hope they improved since then. For us and for them.

Desaster (2015)
When Germany tries Tarantino, 21 March 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Desaster" is a German(-language) movie from 2015, so still relatively fresh. It is one of the really rare efforts by writer and director Justus von Dohnányi as the man in charge of the script and behind the camera, actually his most recent. He is of course a very successful and prolific actor. But I must say this movie that runs for slightly under 1.5 hours was not a success at all. Looking at the cast members, I am not too surprised that von Dohnányi got a couple big names in here as he is simply a household name and he also acts himself in here, but if we are honest than there is no denying that the likes of Liefers, Looks, Peschel, Kurt and Winkler have also acted in many films where it is still really generous to call them mediocre and that's why the cast should not really make anybody think that this would be a good or even great movie.

This is a mix of crime and comedy. As the film is about hit men and people dying all the time, there are some serious moments in here as well, but honestly JvD went pretty much exclusively for the comedic approach here. Basically you could say this film is a Tarantino film in terms of the action and comedy, only that it is a very very poor man's version unfortunately. The dialogues ("bitten by a monkey" just one example) are not half as smart and entertaining as they aspire to be. And the general plot idea oozes mediocrity and there is just nothing memorable at all about it. The characters may seem bold initially, but eventually they all have a turn for the gimmicky side and it all feels a bit for the sake of it. I never had the impression I was watching authentic people in here and this is one of several negative deal breakers that keep this film from being a good viewing experience. So I guess overall, von Dohnányi should maybe stick to acting. Then again i am probably a bit biased here as I never saw much talent in Liefers and he is maybe the one with the most screen time in here. Germany really struggles with comedy films these days sadly and here we have another exhibit for that. Watch something else instead.

Usual Rascals problems here, 21 March 2017
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Teacher's Beau" is a black-and-white short film from 1935, so this one is already over 80 years old. It is among the more known entries to the famous "Little Rascals" / "Our Gang" series, so like the others, this one here is already a sound film. It features several of the most known child actors from the 1930s, such as Stymie, Spanky, Alfalfa and Buckwheat. The story this time is once again about the kids' teacher, but not Mrs. Crabtree this time. Instead it is Miss Jones, played by Arletta Duncan who we see in one of her final career performances and her only short film work. The children try to keep her from getting married as the consequence would be them getting a new head teacher. This is maybe one of the more interesting aspects of this film. Marriage back then implied the woman would stay at home, at least for a while, and stop working in their original profession. But there aren't too many other interesting aspects. The comedy as many other times with the Rascals has not aged too well and at times it is pretty difficult to understand what the kids are talking about. The face expressions are still the best thing here, like the one scene when one kid tries to take something away, but keeps getting interrupted by one of the party guests. As a whole, this Gus Meins film did not convince me. I am glad it ended after 19 minutes, even if this is still relatively long for Rascals standards. Don't watch unless you really adore the series and I know many do. I am not one of them though.


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