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It's an okay try but strangely and inappropriately American for a German film
First of all, you have to give Till Schweiger some credit for trying to film a decent action movie that takes place in a German environment. The film almost worked out okay, it is a good try.
What is very strange about "Schutzengel", is that Schweiger just copied and transferred classic US-action-movie-virtues totally unfiltered into his film: First, you have all kinds of smart hollywoodesque patterns dropped by different characters. Problem is, that those kind of lines really don't come out cool when a stiff German says them. German is just not the language for that kind of talk. It made me only feel embarrassed for the actors. Then the choices of characters are very "American": You have the tough ex-soldier, the tough righteous woman lawyer, the immoral bad guy's lawyer, the purely evil bad guy, a dirty politician and a crazy crippled ex-comrade. Most of the characters are shallow and you couldn't care less about them, by the way. However, some of the dialog works but for instance the repartee between the lawyers is over the top and would be appropriate for maybe a "Michael Clayton" but certainly not for this environment. For no reason at all, the bad guy sometimes even switches into English (What the fu.k?").
Then there are these corny moments that everyone knows from almost every action movie: a cop on his last day tells somebody how much he is looking forward to go on a trip with his beloved wife just before getting shot by some bad guy etc. I don't want to put spoilers in here so I'll just give away that there is a moment like this in the film - awkwardly staged and very, very obvious. You don't know and thus really don't care about the character before he gets killed, so Schweiger tries to use his klutzy fist to punch some empathy right into your stomach. This try, off course, is in vain and so bad, that it cost the film at least two stars. You are actually glad the guy dies for Schweiger used him to spice up his film with some pubertal fart jokes. And last but certainly not least, Schweiger uses the Bundeswehr, the German army, as background for his main character and his best buddy that helps him and the girl during the movie. Heroic soldiers, that proudly served their country This is naturally very appropriate in US-films- it comes with the culture. If you do such a thing in a German production, though, it just seems weird, out of place and improperly propagandistic. Giving a character a war- backstory wound is not such a bad idea, especially when traumatized ex-soldiers are still a pretty new thing in Germany. But the way it's presented here is just superficial and has nothing to do with anything in the film. At some point someone says about the main character, "He always was a soldier, he always will be he's a warrior". I think it is safe to say that in Germany there isn't anybody who is a "true" soldier for life and a real warrior. This again has to do with our understanding of this countries past and would rather fit to an US-soldier.
I also found the cinematography during dialogues is way too close-up. If it was a TV-movie I'd understand due to the limitation of the smaller screens. But on the big screen I felt a little annoyed having to be way too close to the characters. All these close-ups also bare the problem, that during dialogues, the cutting from one character away to the other and back, is really hard to follow: One face would fill out the right side of the screen and the other would fill the left side, which forces the audience to turn their heads as fast as when watching a tennis match. Also, the editor must have had a hard time editing the dialogues due to mistakes or so, since he cuts away between the talking instantly without any obvious). In addition the editing of the action sequences where just confusing and made no sense at all: People were shooting in different directions and a lot of times you had to wonder what they are shooting at. I guess, they tried a "Quantum of Solace"-thing, where the editing was crazy fast. But it didn't work out for them in "Schutzengel".
However, all in all, I am convinced that the script was written to be shot in the US. I am sure the script was written in English originally taking place in an US-environment. That would explain the scene in the American-style dinner, the American cars and some of the props they used in the main character's best buddies house which looked like it was in the Midwest and not Brandenburg anyway. They probably couldn't get a green light in Hollywood so they just translated the script and changed the setting to Germany. Eventually, after having good revenues over here, they will remake "Schutzengel" over there, I am sure.
As I always say, you have to respect Schweiger for what he is trying to do. In the end he usually succeeds. At least, it was an interesting Try kind of.
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Maybe I just expected too much...
Maybe I just expected too much. For the last two years I've been excited about The Simpsons Movie, I could hardly wait for it to come out. I grew up with the Simpsons and, as many others, have watched about every episode at least 10 times. Since I was so eager to see it, I went to the first screening on the day of release. I was so sure this movie couldn't be bad, since South Park and Family Guy made great feature versions of their TV-shows. I was wrong.
Right on from the beginning, I had to realize that the film would not come up to my expectations at all. It began with the Itchy and Scratchy scene, right in the beginning. The typical absurd brutality and violence of the Itchy and Scratchy Cartoons have been softened down, so that after getting stabbed the cat doesn't even bleed. It seems the makers of the film passed on the violence to get a lower rating. An understandable step on one hand but after 18 years of staying true to the Simpsons-Style, very disappointing on the other. However, next to this little detail that bothered me, the whole plot is constructed relatively poor. All the time, not knowing that the film is only 85 minutes long, I thought "Okay, now the film must start and come to it's point". This thought would stay in my head until the end. The story is everything but sweeping.
Also I didn't like that The Simpsons Family are about the only characters that play a part in the plot. There is just a little bit of Flanders but almost no Mr. Burns, no Moe, no Major Quimby, no Sideshow Bob, no Krusty and so on. They all have about a line and that's it. Instead of the already existing beloved characters, a pig is introduced, which disappears as inconspicuously as it was introduced. But, the most disappointing fact was the jokes. They couldn't be cheaper and more harmless . Missing the ambiguousness and depth of the the jokes in the TV-version, it seems as they have only been designed for a very young audience. The humor reminded me a lot of the one from movies like Ice Age (which would be okay if I weren't talking about the Simpsons).
Also, I missed a political level, as seen in the TV-series or the South Park movie.
All in all, since the plot and jokes are sloppy and faceless, I wouldn't recommend the film to anyone who likes the Simpsons TV-series.
The Tracey Fragments (2007)
Exhausting but good
I just saw the world premiere of this film at the Berlin Film Festival and I was quite surprised. When I got the tickets I had no idea what it was actually about. When I was told it was about a 15-year old girl dealing with puberty I wasn't very happy about it. But then what I saw surprised me. During the first 2 minutes I prepared myself for two hours of overdone artistic cinema. But after some time, I got into it and even got attached to the girl who everybody just calls "Its". However, according to the director, this film may have been shot in only 14 days but, it took them about nine months to edit it. No wonder, since the director Bruce McDonald took the "Fragment"-part of the title by word. The film consists of hundreds of fragments of pictures, each showing different perspectives of the same moment mixing up reality and thoughts and fantasies of Tracy, the 15-year old protagonist. There are only rare scenes in which there are less then 3 fragments to be seen on screen. And the more emotional the protagonist gets, the more fragments appear. So, thus confusing you with just too much information it leaves you overwhelmed with impressions and emotions that are just too plenteous to handle. Off course, McDonald did this on purpose. It's all just a try to visualize what a teen must have to go through in puberty. After a while you get sucked into a world of bullies, disturbed parents, unanswered love, doubts and fantasies, sympathizing more and more with Tracy. Even though it was exhausting to pay attention all the time, I'd say the film is worth seeing (if you have the stamina). I have seen a lot of movies but this one was actually something new. Well, it may be exhausting but when you think of it, wasn't puberty too?!
Nice try but not as good as it could have been!
Here's a short summary of N.V.A:
Jung Henrik Heidler (Kim Fischer) wants to serve his time in the military as inconspicuous as possible. His comrade Krüger (Oliver Bröcker) in contrast will try anything to oppose his superiors and prove that he is definitely not a soldier. But none of these two strategies comes out even: Henriks girlfriend brakes up and he falls in love, again, with in another girl, while his friend and comrade Krüger has to pay the price for his rebellious behavior towards his superiors and their ideology.
Well, I just saw this movie and I must say I it didn't really knock me off my feet. It has some funny moments in it but all in all I can tell that it's not really my kind of humor. The jokes are not subtle enough as I would have liked it in connection with the topic, everything is just too obvious and that seems to make it a comedy that is too much dull. The topic itself, I think, is good and interesting but the film couldn't convert this properly. I always have lived in West Germany so I don't really have an appropriate idea about the NVA. But I can imagine that these jokes are based on actual customs and probably experiences of Leander Haußmann. So, if you forget the jokes this might be a good and authentic movie about serving time in the NVA .
But one thing that was really, really bad in this film was the acting of Kim Fischer. You see, this guy is the singer of a German pop band named "Echt". His music is not my taste either but this is just the way I feel about it. But this guy just shouldn't act and I am sure that everybody who saw this movie will agree. Maybe he just needs some more practice and experience (this is his first film). But he definitely wasn't ready to play a leading part in a big German blockbuster when they shot NVA .
Altogether I give it 5 points.
Feuer in der Nacht (2004)
The first German "Live-Movie" since 1958 and therefore more interesting because of the new (old) method than because of the movie itself
Karl Winkler (Christian Berkel), a police officer, is in danger of loosing his job, since he lost control over himself while doing his work. His wife Paola (Martina Gedeck) attends to leave him along with their daughter Angie (Alice Dwyer) but Karl refuses to let them go. To stop his family from leaving him, Karl is not afraid of using his gun. Angie anonymously consults the young honorary telephone-pastor Lukas Stein (August Diehl) who considers the situation as dangerous. Together with young taxi driver Eyla (Idil Üner), in a race against time Lukas tries to locate Angie to prevent the drama that could happen...
I have to say, that this film bored me. But that may be, because I was never interested in the German tradition of TV-thriller. But the technique used caught my attention. The latest transmission technique was used and the film was shot on authentic sets and the action takes place in real time. It must have been a great expenditure to shoot the scenes in which Lukas and Eyla drive through Berlin. They where lucky that nothing happened- no traffic jams or other catastrophes that could have happened.
All-in-all an interesting experiment.