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Das Leben der Anderen (2006)
one of the best films I've seen
This movie paints the creepy picture of what it is like to live in a state where Big Brother is always watching (or at least listening). It lives off of a very well-written script, characters with a lot of depth and different facets. And it gets along without seeming key ingredients such as action scenes, which seem to make up most of the films we see today.
This movie is a textbook example (in the best sense) of how to build up story arcs, tension, and suspense. Despite its runtime (well over two hours) and its virtual non-existence of action, gore and special effects, the film is not boring for a second. While action and gore are absent, the film is not free of violence. The interrogation scene at the beginning where the prisoner is deprived of sleep until he breaks down displays this type of violence most visually. It appears more subtly throughout the movie whenever the Stasi invades Dreyman's privacy and listening to his conversations. However, it never takes any spectacular dimension.
"The Lives of the Others" shows that films don't need spectacle to be spectacular, as long as the other ingredients that drive narration (script and acting, in particular) are as well-crafted as they are in this film.
Love & Support (2001)
all the things that can go wrong when two broken-hearted guys going to get together again with their girlfriends
I've seen this movie when visiting the United States last year. I was staying at a friend's and she came across this hilarious indie film. It doesn't have the usual "star power" but makes up for this "lack" through a funny and well-crafted screenplay. Also, if you've just broken up your relationship with your boy- or girlfriend, this is probably good medicine. The contrast between the two main characters (Martin and Russell) couldn't possibly be bigger: Martin is the overly-concerned guy who can't deal with his loss to the point where he calls up his ex-girlfriend but being unable to say anything. Russell, on the other hand, is the not too bright go-getter who is not afraid of crashing parties and drawing the wrath of a group of college athletes onto him and even more so onto poor Martin, entirely uninvolved except for hanging out with seemingly the wrong guy. At the same time, they couldn't be more similar in that both follow the wrong approach to re-invigorate their relationship. They say "the way is the goal" and the ending is not the Hollywood-typical happy one, but not entirely sad either. I haven't found or seen it anywhere since, which is a pity. I hope to get hold of it here in Germany at some point again.