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8/10
Playful meditation on the old and the new
1 March 2015
"Li Wen at East Lake" is a free-form work, hovering between feature film and documentary. Fact and fiction intermingle and improvisation plays an important role.

The films follows the languid rhythm of the shores of iconic East Lake near the city of Wuhan and touches on themes of the development and transformation of the Chinese countryside, both socially and physically. The old - e.g. a local myth concerning a dragon in the lake and fishermen that are rendered obsolete - is contrasted with the new, e.g. an art protest against real estate development and changing attitudes among the younger generations towards sexual diversity. A subtle humor and overall light tone run through the film. The likable amateur actor Li Wen delivers a fine role. Interviews with locals only add to the documentary feel.

Thanks to its striking form and tone, "Li Wen at East Lake" was one of the more memorable and refreshing films I saw at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
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Grill Point (2002)
9/10
A real gem
24 June 2006
I want to thank the American reviewer who explained some of the movie-making details of this film, because I was truly bewildered by the quality and the realism of acting. The first time I saw it (maybe a couple of years ago) I rated HALBE TREPPE only a 7. Now, after second viewing, it has become a 10. Out of 1000+ films, I rated only 17 movies this high.

But it was an easy "full tenner". The story is just so engaging and there are no dull moments at all. That's quite an accomplishment for a movie with this subject matter, I think. Also, the cinematography was very competent. It captured everything that had to be captured, every meaningful move and look. When you watch closely, you'll even notice some beautiful outdoor shots.

I like the movie more than several Dogme films I've seen, which are made quite similarly, but in my opinion are less vibrant, funny and involving. HALBE TREPPE makes you think about relationships, commitment, morals and personal conviction. Try to see this one.
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Globe Trekker (1994– )
Nice concept
4 May 2003
I like the mix of "serious" bits of culture and the more bizarre, comical elements very much. I have to say I'm a real fan of Ian Wright, I always laugh my ass (excuse my French) off when he hosts a show.

I believe the series is called 'Globe Trekker' on Discovery Channel.
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Donnie Darko (2001)
9/10
A movie like a dream
13 April 2002
I saw Donnie Darko yesterday at the '18e Festival van de Fantastische Film' in Amsterdam and I am glad I did! Movies like this one are too rare in this world, although it fits in the 'mind screw' movie trend of the last few years. (see Memento, Usual Suspects, Sixth Sense, The Others)

Not everything immediately makes sense after viewing, and maybe it never will, but that doesn't matter at all. The movie is like a dream. Scenes seem to melt into one another and there's this constant feeling of hidden meaning and symbolism. The sound effects, the music, clever use of slow-mo and minimal but good digital effects draw you into the twisted world of Donnie, played perfectly by Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie is a lot funnier than you might expect, there were a lot of giggling viewers and at least 4 laughing-out-loud moments! In the movie, every character has its place and is developed well. Donnie's family, his friends, his teachers... they all form his weird but believable universe. I predict that Jena Malone (Donnie's girlfriend Gretchen) and Jake Gyllenhaal himself will have a glorious future in the world of film. This movie is a mix of the dreamy teenage melancholy of 'The Virgin Suicides', the psychological terror of 'Jacob's Ladder', the criticism on American society of 'American Beauty' and the complex plot structure of 'Memento'. And then to realize this is a DEBUT of writer/director Richard Kelly! I can't wait for future projects of this guy.

The applause at the end of the film wasn't precisely impressive, but what do you expect with an ending like that...

10/10
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Run Lola Run (1998)
8/10
(almost) NEW from Germany
24 February 2002
The only thing I could think when I finished watching this film for the first time was: WOW. The second time (and last, for now): COOL. This almost never happens to me, so I gave this movie a phat 10. I really can't understand people who say that watching it is a waste of time and money. Even if you don't like it, it's still good and refreshing film making and there's no reason to advise other people to avoid it. I don't like movies like 'Some Like It Hot' or 'Singing In The Rain', but they're good time pieces and just perfect films in their own right, just like Lola Rennt/Run Lola Run. It's full of memorable scenes not found in other movies, the directing is perfect, the soundtrack is as modern as you can get (even 4 years later) and the scenario will keep the real movie buff glued to the screen. And let's not forget the beautiful and obviously very fit Franka Potente, a rising star in movieland. In short: Lola Rennt/Run Lola Run is a perfect addition to a DVD collection or your own must-see list. Sometimes you just have to trust a recommendation, and hey, guess what, this comment is an example of that!

It's fast, it's funny, it's exciting... it's Lola Rennt!
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Sleepers (1996)
6/10
Not really bad, not really good
16 February 2002
This movie was a kind of disappointment for me. Although the actors do a good job (I especially liked the Fat Mancho type), the story is not very realistic and both the cinematography and directing aren't breathtaking, to say the least. The shots are far from original, and the continuity in the poses of the actors between different cuts isn't flawless either. Normally I don't really pay too much attention to those things, but the story just couldn't captivate me at times, and then I automatically start to notice such little errors. I got the feeling that the movie was rushed in some places; especially the first part about Hell's Kitchen and the childhood of the four friends was too shallow and edited way too fast. The most interesting moment was the one with the older John Reilly and Tommy Marcano, who I thought were also the most interesting characters, but they unfortunately didn't get much screen time. The talents of Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Minnie Driver and Dustin Hoffman weren't exploited like they could have, they just did their job, nothing more.

All in all, there really are better (more independent) films with the same uplifting theme. I'm not saying there aren't good moments in this film, but overall it didn't do it for me. But hey, Minnie Driver never looked so good in a movie! 6/10
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6/10
Doesn't suck that bad...
12 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
...for a movie based on a Stephen King novel. No, I don't really mean that last part, because The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Dolores Claiborne and Misery were all fine flicks of course. Despite being an SK fan, I haven't read Needful Things yet, and I think this movie can't be compared with the book. It sure was shallower because we have to miss all the italicized thoughts and elaborate descriptions from the book. But I have to say that it was better than I expected. It was well acted, even the kid playing Brian Rusky did a good job. Kids tend to ruin a lot of movies, but this boy lets you believe that he is gonna do the thing he intended to do (I'm being vague to circumvent a spoiler alert). Anyhow, there were good performances all over, but what do you expect from people like Ed Harris, Max von Sydow and Amanda Plummer? And Bonnie Bedelia (= the wife of Bruce Willis in Die Hard 1&2) does a great job too. But there are just too many flaws to make this a good movie. For instance, Ed Harris finds out way too quickly what's going on. In some movies that moment is delayed much too long, here it's the opposite. ***SPOILERS AHEAD!*** Also, the characters are not developed well, it's almost laughable to see them attack and hurt eachother, while devilish Max von Sydow chuckles in front of the fire place. And it's really too routine to end a movie with a sermon from the good guy and, like that isn't enough, a big blast. ***SPOILER END*** The ultimate ending, on the other hand, is quite unusual, but not scary or haunting, like it was supposed to be I guess. The cinematography looked good at times, other times it was B-movie quality.

How can one like a movie that is never funny, surprising, spooky or suspenseful? With a tad bit more care and some better directing this movie could've been a 7 or even 8, but I have to give it a 6, despite all good intentions.
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5/10
Where's the inspiration?
11 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** This movie is only for those people who expect a 'simple popcorn flick' with some creepy moments and some laughs. Even then the problem is that those two ingredients only occur in the first half of the movie. There are some funny conversations with wise-ass remarks between the two protagonists, which can look familiar for those who have a brother or sister. Also, there was even a gloomy sense of doom to be felt at times. The second half is just too stupid for words. The actions of the protagonists are often too unlogical, the (forgettable) events don't contribute to the story and atmosphere, a unnecessary character is being introduced... Now, one hour after watching this flick, I'm thinking that the writer a) faced a killing deadline, c) let somebody else write the 1st or last half of the movie, or b) loses his inspiration very quickly during the writing process. *BUT*, maybe that this is a failed attempt to create something like a cliffhanger for the sequel. ***SPOILER ALERT!*** That would somewhat redeem the bad ending, which I think a simple popcorn flick shouldn't have. I like bad endings, but not in this movie. It seems like nowadays every untalented director can make a crappy-but-hyped teen movie and get too much $$$ for it. Anywayz, I didn't have to pay for my ticket, so what the heck. Worth seeing when you've had enough of collecting exotic deodorant advertisement poster elastics etc bla bla.

5/10
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5/10
Not really funny, baby
3 February 2002
I'm afraid this movie is only truly enjoyable for Bruce Campbell/Sam Raimi worshippers. It doesn't even get close to Evil Dead II, Raimi's previous movie with Campbell, when it comes to hilarious fun. Of course I had to laugh, but only for 3 or 4 times (just like the 3 guys I was watching it with), and mostly because I couldn't believe we rented such an unfunny B-movie. Besides that it's certainly not creepy or even exciting, due to the incoherent directing by Raimi. A movie with a crazy plot like this has so many oppurtunities for good jokes and 'shocking' moments, and it's really a shame that only a few are being used by the director. Go watch Evil Dead II or Braindead/Dead Alive by Peter Jackson instead if you want to see some serious over-the-top gore and fun.

But I have to say that there's one good thing about this movie, it somehow brought back that nice "elementary-school-birthday-party-creepy-but-funny-movie"-feeling...

Rating: 5/10
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Derrick (1974–1998)
Simply unique police series
5 January 2002
This fantastic German 'Krimi' is unique because of its sterile depiction of murder investigation. Derrick's only weapon is his reasoning. He needs no gun to arrest suspects, he fires his arguments one by one at them, so that the murderer (often a neat & rich person) simply has to surrender. The settings are always great: cool, white villas, sleazy nightclubs and, as another commenter said, an absolutely spartan office. As far as I know there are no references to the families and friends of the protagonist and his introvert sidekick Harry, and you need a magnifying glass to find frivolities like humor. The sterility and formality of the series may be repulsive to some viewers, but I think it's a haven for people that are fed up with them Hollywood-influenced police series on steroids.

There are rumors that Derrick is back on Dutch television, so: "Harry, hol' den Wagen!"
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8/10
Short & dark fun
24 December 2001
"Mor(d) i mødregruppen" is a funny short film about four young mothers who form a 'mother group'. They gather at the home of one of them to exchange tips about motherhood and such. Then, during one of those meetings, their hostess confesses that she has murdered her abusive husband. What to do next?

This film is very uncomplicated, but the dark sense of humor makes it all worthwhile. Maybe the story would've been better when it was a little bit longer and had more layers, but with the current hype of 'thinking movies' of at least 2 hours long, short films like this one are refreshing.

You will never look the same at women with baby buggies again...
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6/10
New epic trilogy? Where?
28 April 2001
First I have to admit I'm not very familiar with the Star Wars universe. I still have to see the trilogy once again, to fully understand the story and get to know the characters better. But I like what I saw, and that was a nice, slow-paced and epic trilogy, with a lot of attention for the story and characters. It was even so slow-paced that my father managed to fall asleep in the cinema in those days. But that easy way of telling a good story is the reason that people nowadays still love or are beginning to love the old Trilogy...

What a difference with The Phantom Menace. The only things that kept me interested in TPM were the truly magnificent computer graphics. They are detailed and often funny, except for Jar-Jar, who makes me wish my remote control had a built-in digital eraser. But the really bad thing is that the acting of the humans is horrible too. For weeks after seeing the movie I couldn't stand Liam Neeson when I saw him on TV. He acts like he has constipation or something and is saying his lines with no expression at all; just watch the scene where he and his friends are chased in their craft. Jake Lloyd (Anakin) has obviously not much acting talent (yet). Why didn't the makers contract Haley Joel Osment (from the Sixth Sense) or another natural talent for an expensive movie like this? He's the main character, for heaven's sake.

I'm afraid I'm still not done, although I did my best to like this movie. I think it's really, really too bad that this new trilogy has kicked off like this. There aren't that many "hard core" sci-fi movies made nowadays, let alone trilogies, so as a sci-fi fanatic I thought that this trilogy guaranteed me a good time in the cinema. Of course, you can always find a reason to like a film, such as beautiful graphics, but an exciting story and brilliant acting would add so much more. I mean, when I want to see nice computer graphics, I'll just start a video game. Now, after seeing TPM, I really don't give a thing about what's going to happen next. I'm still going to watch the next movie, but I can't image that the acting and the story are going to be better all of a sudden.

What keeps me wondering is why the makers succeeded in messing up a film and likely a whole trilogy, when there are millions of (of course critical) fans waiting to see it! And what about all those good examples in film history? Forget epic dimensions, even Disney is jealous of the childish level of this film. It's a bad thing when you leave the cinema thinking: 'I certainly knew what to do with those facilities and such a budget at my disposal...!'
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