Montag kommen die Fenster (2006) Poster

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"Are they dead?" - "No, they are just sleeping." - "I think they are dead."
J_J_Gittes1 October 2007
Sometimes the beginning of a film already sums up everything that is going to follow. The first moments of "Windows on Monday" reveal to us the world through the eyes of a child. A hospital, patients resting in their beds, and the first line of dialogue spoken by young Charlotte. An innocent question, which is nevertheless emblematic for the whole movie. What is it here in Germany (and it's not only Germany) that gives you the impression that some of the people have become the living dead when you are walking through town? That if you'd try to talk to them they would probably keep on staring while realizing that they have lost the ability to speak. Something they probably haven't noticed for a long time. That I am not alone in my perception of our present-day society, can be witnessed in numerous films by a new generation of German filmmakers whose films need to be seen.

Germany 2005. A normal life, a normal couple. Nina works as a doctor, her husband seems to have quit his job. They have a bright young daughter and are building a new house. Money isn't the problem. She may be getting pregnant, though. Some movies need a second chance. When I watched "Windows on Monday" for the first time at the Berlinale in 2006, I was already a firm believer in the talents of Ulrich Köhler, an emerging new talent, who already startled the movie world (or the ones who were paying attention) with his first feature-film in 2002. But although assured by the mastery of Köhler's direction through a couple of re-watches of his masterpiece "Bungalow" and his earlier student film "Rakete" (1999) – both available on an excellent subtitled DVD from the German quality label "Filmgalerie 451" – I still wasn't prepared for the impact which "Windows on Monday" would have on me. It's not so much the possibility that Köhler has changed his style (I think he hasn't) or that I didn't like the movie. It's simply the fact that you shouldn't watch certain films when you are depressed. As the film has finally been officially released into German cinemas, I decided that my initial reaction to it needed some balance. What can I say after I've seen it again? The second viewing not only reaffirmed the qualities of the film, but was also a pleasant experience in itself. Next time I watch a film by Ulrich Köhler it will hopefully be in a relaxed frame of mind.

Although his films seem to be treading the surprise formula, the biggest surprise may be that nothing much seems to be happening. People come people go, they eat, they @#%$, they talk, and more than anything else they walk. Movement is the only constant in Köhlers work, where everybody seems to be connected with everybody else, but even the characters aren't able to decide what it is exactly, this unseen bond between people. In this way, Köhler's cinema might be related to the mysteries of Jacques Rivette. The relations between people are the focus of the films, as well as the search for meaning in their lives. The characters aren't able to figure out what they want. Having only a vague idea of their dislikes they practice rebellion. But a rebellion that seems to be related more against the self. There is the sense of being trapped in something one doesn't understand, and the world has become unfamiliar as the usual strategies of perception seem to lose their absoluteness.

What if we don't follow the rules anymore, what if we choose to ignore the structures of society? What if? Köhler isn't interested in revolutions. His protagonists' acts seem more as a reworking of a situation, opening up a parallel world because of an extra step which has been taken. When Nina leaves her family she simply does it. There are no grand gestures, no dramatic scenes in the usual sense. The spilling of blood happens between the images. What's left is silence. It's hard to decipher emotions when a face appears motionless, the body only functioning in its basic routine. Still, there are moments when you notice a change, a slight adjustment to each singular situation. With the beginning of Köhler's films, the movement has begun.

The camera keeps following the characters, observing them, and showing us what they are observing in return. But an explanation isn't given. Another act of rebellion, this time from the filmmaker himself. Ulrich Köhler avoids simple explanations. His cinema is rational in the best sense, as he doesn't pretend to know more about the characters than they do themselves. As such, it is up to the viewer to decide - if he wants to decide at all that is.

If we ask what reality is, Köhler maybe answers that it is something which happens and which we can change through our actions. But can we change ourselves? When the Windows arrive, they are the wrong ones. And as our characters follow a funeral, the question remains. Death is not a solution.
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the best film I've seen all year
randy-26016 August 2006
The term "exquisite" is largely insufficient here. Ulrich Koehler has accomplished nothing less than a cinematic masterpiece with WINDOWS ON Monday; a patient and poetic look at the linear nature of human behavior, as well as an observation on the anatomy of the relationship between man and woman disclosed elegantly in images that have the tonal and luminary texture of classical paintings. Rather than rely on expository dialog to detail the all-too-common predictable series of plot-points that plague most of modern cinema, this filmmaker and his astonishing cast instead illustrate the power of subtlety within a story that never ceases to captivate and fascinate; a choice that rings very true and very human (without losing an extremely unique dreamlike quality that saturates the film as well). Tarkovsky, Antonioni and Kieslowski come to mind here, although Koehler maintains a style all his own. Those with small attention spans and little patience for a film that refuses to spell everything out explicitly to its audience will doubtlessly be frustrated with WINDOWS ON Monday. The fact is, life itself is not predictable, nor is it always fast-paced; it is sometimes calm, yet full of confusion, contradiction, uncertainty and distraction. And, as Koehler masterfully demonstrates, love is also made up of such things. Both humorous and austere, surreal yet human, vulnerable and bold…this is true cinema, and truly art.
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Monday the windows, today the boredom Warning: Spoilers
"Montag kommen die Fenster" is a German movie from 2006, so this one had its 10th anniversary last year. The writer and director is Ulrich Köhler and this was his second full feature film, maybe his least known as of today. Still it is an award-winning work. The film runs for slightly under 1.5 hours and this already includes end credits, so not a long film at all. The fact that this one is not really popular in my opinion has a lot to do with lead actress Isabelle Menke. Her bleakness and "normal" looks may fit in with the film's tone perhaps, but I am not sure she has the talent and potential to be first-cast. And she is also the major character here, maybe the only major character really as she has by far the most screen time. I personally would have preferred more scenes with Hans-Jochen Wagner as she has much more charisma than his female co-lead as he has also proved in Maren Ade's "Alle Anderen". But he plays second fiddle here only unfortunately. There are a couple more known names like Tatja Seibt, Fassbinder regular Harry Baer and Devid Striesow, which show's this film's prestige, even if they did not really have more than one scene to shine overall. The most interesting aspect about this film, especially for me as a tennis lover is the fact that this film includes the only acting performance in the career of former world number one player Ilie Năstase, who plays basically himself and I would not really be surprised if he has women in his hotel rooms at times too like he does in here with Menke's character. But besides that, there is really nothing memorable about this film or the characters sadly. It is a very slow movie, but there are some controversial moments. However, to me these only felt for the sake of it and the final shot is a pretty fitting example of how the film is really much more about the attempt at being controversial and multi-layered than about it actually being this way as they quickly rushed in the hot of male genitalia eventually. All in all, I was not convinced at all by this one. It may have worked out better with a more satisfying lead actress. Thumbs down. Don't watch.
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easily one of the worst movies i ever saw
ft-511 February 2006
this movie tells you for the 3.000.000th time the story of a couple with problems. you may ask, oh, if the story has been used only 2.999.999 times before why not use it once more, but on the other hand why should one? but first: this is how the movie goes: couple builds house. couple has suddenly problems (yes, it goes with a supposed pregnancy, yes it goes with a guy that mirrors their own story). she takes a few days off. he finds her and follows her with their child. she avoids him. he returns and dates another woman (the girl from their daughter's kindergarten). They almost give it a second try at the funeral of a guy they knew, but only almost... You see, the story is really old. This wouldn't be the problem, if the director had at least made something unconventional with the plot. He didn't. So basically the problem is that you have seen the whole movie hundreds of times before. There is really nothing (and i know that is hard to say) interesting about this. And by now i really find it annoying that there are so many German movies that cost a heck of a lot of money and still are such a pain to watch. And this is a extreme example of this problem. The actors don't really act the just happen to appear in a movie. The camera is wanna-be inspired. And the director has no ideas whatsoever. It's not even cheesy, it's just a waste of time.
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