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Die Sache mit der Wahrheit (2014)
The truth is this was not a good watch at all and probably never should have been made
"Die Sache mit der Wahrheit", which means "The thingey with the truth", is a German television film from 2014, so this one is easily over five years old already now and if it takes you a little longer until you read this review of mine, maybe even close to ten years. The director of these under 1.5 hours is Sibylle Tafel from Munich. I think a single look at her body of work is self-explanatory here to make clear that she is all quantity over quality with what she has done since the late 1990s. Absolutely disappointing filmography. The only things somewhat tolerable in there are her fairytale movies and this is probably also only because the base material was too good to be turned into atrocity the way it happened with almost everything else she came up with. Admittedly, you can say in her favor that she is a filmmaker that rarely wrote the scripts for her movies, so the fault may at least be partially elsewhere. With this film here, however, she did and the outcome is equally disappointing as those films where she was not in charge of the screenplay. Her co-writer here is Claudia Matschulla, who has been a prolific actress since the 1980s already, but recently focused more on writing. Looking at all she has come up with in both departments, I am anslo not one bit impressed and this is really the most gentle way to put things. Perhaps, a third area of expertise is what she should try. If it isn't too late as she already turned 60 not too long ago. But now back to this movie here. You see Christiane Paul on the right of the poster here and she is still a really known actress in Germany. I am always a bit undecided on her. Certainly not a fan and she has a tendency to play the same characters again and again in films because she simply does not have a lot of range, but normally she pulls off the likable part of her characters well and she also has some recognition value. Still a bit sad to see what her career has turned into (i.e. films like this one here) if we see how she was among the most promising German actors in her early years. Also no international breakthrough as one could have expected. Nonetheless, she is ten times better, probably more, compared to Jule Ronstedt, the woman you see on the left side of the poster. I have seen her in other films too and not only does she also play the same character over and over again, but she seems simply not capable of hitting the right notes whatsoever in films, especially when the characters have slightly more challenging scenes. Pretty ham and never authentic. The consequence for me is that the actress is so poor that I find her characters pretty unlikable at times too. Almost always. But they are meant to be likable. In this film here too. A bit surprised to see her this far behind in the cast list for the movie at hand, but I guess nobody from the production company really got in some order here. Of course, she should be (at least) second. Then again, I cannot be surprised because the film also lacks attention to detail and instead they shove one groundbreaking plot twist after the next into our faces. For the easily entertained. I will give you some examples later on. For now, also a quick look at the rest of the cast. No really big names here, but Duryn and Zeiler are at least actors you may have come across in other projects if you are not completely new to German films. Cannot say too much about Duryn. He is of course the lead actor in "Der Lehrer" and that show is pretty successful I think. He also looks much younger than he is. Zeiler is an actor who has been in some projects that contain much better quality than this one here, so he really should not have stooped so low and accepted the part here, especially with how ridiculous (in a bad way) and pseudo-important his character was written.
Now, as for the story itself, we once again have the same key problem that so many other ARD releases have or films that are still regularly shown on ARD's smaller stations: They are putting way too much in far too little. Consistent and convincing elaboration is not existent. What do we have here? A woman who is a pathological liar poses as a stewardess and in reality works as a waiter. Her boyfriend shows up at the place where she is working and she has to hide, so he does not find out. Also he wants to move in with her. Later on, she is pregnant and he makes her a marriage proposal. The woman sees a psychiatrist to deal with her lies, but quickly runs away when things become uncomfortable. She has an accident where she loses her memory or doesn't. You never know when she is lying again. In any case, her memory returns unrealistically fast. A miracle! At the same time she serves as the mentor to the son of a woman who is her friend. By encouraging him to pursue his dream of music and perform in front of an audience for a concert. I mean you hear him in the end and of course he must pursue this because he is talented. Guess what? He is not. Unbearabe to listen to, just like this film was unbearable to watch. But hey, it's all about the art of make-believe. Don't think yourself and you can deal with these ARD (Degeto) films very well. Just suck it all in. Like the Tagesschau etc. It's all paid by your GEZ money anyway, so you have no right to complain. Okay, so much for that. Now, let's talk about the other woman and how realistic she is. Her man is one who, as we find out, is in the closet and he has an affair with another man despite being married. Sigh. Of course, it all comes out. So again this film is another ARD movie with really strong ati-male tendencies. How are the men described here? One has to be really needy and treat Paul's character like a queen, even if she lies to him day in and day out. The other is the poor victim who is cheated on. Guess what, the cheating may not be right, but looking at the way she treated her man throughout the entire film, also long before the secret comes out, he should be glad to get away from her, no matter if he is with another man or his own. The only slightly acceptable thing coming from her were those attemps to convince him to spend time with each other. In the mountains for example. Also you can imagine very well what thinks would have been like if a male character had been a pathological liar in a film like this. He would be as low as it gets and the female protagonist would leave him immediately because of his permanent dishonesty. Not so here. Paul's character is just sick, even if she does not see it, so she must be desired nonetheless and met with the utmost amount of understanding about her situation. Guess what? I disagree. The words she said when talking to the shrink were really accurate. She is just sick in the head. Or maybe not because it also implies an illness. She just has no self-confidence and should work on that and not lie to the people most important to her. Or maybe they are not even that because then she would be honest with them. She is probably a narcissist that loves nobody but himself. What a likable character indeed, ARD. Worst scene of the film? Too many to choose from. I might be going with the one in the first half of the film when the two woman are standing there on the stage together singing. That was even worse than the cringeworthy errrr. lauded performance from the young man in the end. Of course, there is also a great deal of pseudo conflict in this film, like how we have a massive argument between the two female protagonists, but, also as always with ARD films, it is fixed effortlessly in the end again and the happy ending is there. The girls get along well with each other again and Ronstedt's character seems to be more positive too again and she does not need a man anyway to be happy in life. I don't know what else to say here. This was a very weak film, truly unwatchable at times. Highly not recommended. The only good thing about this film is that they never made a sequel and by now too much times has passed I suppose, so it's not gonna happen in the future either. Skip the watch 100%. Tafel at her worst.
8 Minutes (2017)
"8 Minutes" is a live action short film from Georgia that is also in the Georgian language with the exxeption of one or two sentences in English from the biggest female character. This one runs for 13 minutes, so a pretty quick watch, but the premise is kinda interesting enough to turn this into a full feature film. I wonder if it ever happens. The approval seems to be massive for this one if we look at the rating here on imdb, even if it was under 600 people at this point who rated it. A 9 left of the comma is still pretty big. You can watch the film on Youtube by the way with English subtitles. The director is Giorgi Gogichaishvili and this is his only filmmaking effort. In the closing credits he was also credited as the writer in contrast to this imdb page we got here. I trust the credits there at the end of the film, also because the imdb page in terms of cast seems a bit confusing. The order I mean. The first credit here may be the most stunning cast member, but definitely not the mist crucial. The key writer, however, seems to be Zaza Koshkadze and he is more prolific than the director. There is no awards recognition credited with this film here, but it is just missing I think. Take a look at the photos and you will at least see some of it and even more film festivals where this movie was shown. I think it also played in Cottbus here. Not entirely sure about that though. As for the story, we have the dark (no pun intended) setting that the sun is about to stop giving light to the Earth. Early on, you do not now if this is an apocalyptic scenario or actually you don't know through the entire film, especially if the man says he would have liked to find out more about the female character he is on the phone with which sounds a bit like farewell, but in the very end we see that the light is gone, but they are still alive. So civilization is not erased apparently and the planet turned into a gigantic ball of ice. It's an interesting movie I'd say. Makes you wonder what you would do in these last minutes of light. Very creative idea we got here with what the father does to/for his son. It's maybe even easier to appreciate this film if you speak Georgian, but it's also okay with subtitles. I enjoyed the watch, but I would not say I saw greatness here as the average imdb rating suggests and many people did apparently. I think they could hae maybe kept it a bit shorter early on and, as a consequence, under ten minutes in total. Many people who rated this with a perfect score were probably biased because of the great ending and as a consequence they forgot some of the mediocrity before that altogether. The build-up was okay at best. And how come, the girl all of a sudden has a caller telling her what happens when it happens? This felt slightly unrealistic to me. So there are flaws here, but nonetheless I give the overall outcome here a positive recommendation. Go watch it. Thumbs-up.
Really horrible film
"Die Liebe hat das letzte Wort" is a German television film from 2004, so this one is already over 15 years old. The title is not too easy to translate into English because it is not meant verbally or anything. Can you say "Love has the last word"? Or "Love makes the last sound/noise"? I kinda doubt it. It basically means that in the end there is love. The film runs for slightly under 1.5 hours and this it has in common with the vast majority of other small screen releases from my country. The connection to love of course too. This is a German German-language production, even if the company behind it is Graf Film. Then again, they are located in Munich too, just Klaus Graf (not Dominik, who is bad too, just not that bad) is the one behind it and he is from Austria. If you take a look and everything else Graf Film did, especially these many, many Lilly Schönauer adaptations, you already know that you should absolutely not expect the slightest bit of quality. If you take a look at who wrote and directed this film, then the last bit of doubt (if there was any) is also gone for good. Director is Ariane Zeller. She launched her career in the early 90s with the abysmal GZSZ and it seems there is no worse filmography possible for a director than what Zeller did between 2000 and 2010. So this is from her "peak". The writer is Mónica Simon. I wonder if this accent is real or if she just added it to her name to appear slightly interesting because here in Germany we put focus on the "Mo" anyway with this name. But it kinda fitting and perfect really to describe her also from the professional perspective as a screenwriter: Pseudo important while not making an impact at all. What has she worked on over the years? Well, she was still relatively new to the industry when she made this film, so you could say that maybe she just needs some more experience and is not that terrible. But then check out her works and look into the abyss of "Sophie - Braut wider Willen", "Sturm der Liebe" and Rosamunde Pilcher adaptations. Enough said. This women will most likely never in her career be part of a project that could get a positive recommendation from me. She happily takes everybody's GEZ money, but does not deliver one bit of quality. This also applies to Sabine Vitua, who plays the biggest female character in here. And maybe also gives the worst performance from the entire film. The most cringeworthy thing to watch about her is really that she was written as an Italian and I am not sure if the actress herself has Italian blood in her veins, but it doesn't even matter. What is very obvious is that she absolutely did not possess the range or versatility to make these dolce vita moments seem realistic, like when she talks in Italian, uses random Italian words (so fake) or starts singing in the car in the Italian language. That was actually one of the most cringeworthy scenes of the entire film, especially when the boy and man join in. The man is Günther Maria Halmer and I still think it pathetic that, after "Gandhi" and "Sophie's Choice", these are the films that he played in for the second half of his acting career. Then again, nobody forced him to accept and while I kinda like his aura, it makes me difficult to accept him as a remotely talented actor. Role selection is vital. He also just seems to cash in. Ruth-Maria Kubitschek does not have many scenes here, but I also think she is a very overrated actress, so I am glad I do not have to see more from her. The quote with the parallel between a river without water and a man without children was pseudo important enough already. Christian Kohlund is one who is always easy to recognize, even if you don't remember the name. He was wasted too with his role. I will mention it later on. And finally, the child performance comes from Jeremy Mockridge. This young man has actually stayed in acting, also as an adult now. No adult acting obviously, that's not what I meant. I think I have seen him in other stuff lately, but don't really remember and honestly in this one here, his character is so exaggerated and over the top (and this includes both the writing and his performance) that I have zero motivation right now to check out his body of work.
I think child performances are always a good indicator of how strong a movie is because it requires a lot to write a young chraracter credibly in terms of what (s)he says in particular, but also in getting the kid to deliver these lines credibly and realistically. They got it all wrong in both these departments. And in basically every other department too. Be it the idea that the female protagonist has to leave all of a sudden or that she has to leave the boy with Halmer's character, nothing feels authentic and real at all. But what is even worse is her spontaneous decision to quit the job that really felt only there for her to make a deal afterwards with which she agrees to stay not even five minutes later. Crucial decisions rushed in to dumb down the audience. It may sound harsh, but it is the truth here. Absolutely ridiculous. Of course, the kid's father who was supposed to pick up the boy the next day has an accident and ends up in the hospital (how convenient!), the Halmer's character has to deal with the boy a little longer. And these were still the better parts. I was actually glad that Vitua was out of the film and I hoped she would not return until the last five minutes or so, but of course she does, so they can get in the love story between her character and Halmer's that you can read about in the title. By the way, Halmer these days has his very first performance in a Rosamunde Pilcher movie. Yeah, no respect for him, no matter if he watches these films or now. How can he? So with this movie here, it was the key plot that sucked, but also the small moments really, like we have Halmer's character throw away his ice randomly on one occasion. What was up with that? He had to rush to something more important of course and that involves the boy as the two were slowly forming a bond. Apart from that, the usual. In these films, we always have kids run away at some point and this is also the case here and the dramatic search ensues, but as always everything is fine. Also as always, the female suitors in these films have more men interested in them and this is where Kohlund's character comes into play, even if he has also other ambitions. These from the financial/housing perspective result in more fake drama near the end, but of course, again as always, no matter how severe the drama may be and how much everything seems lost, there is always a solution waiting and everybody is having the utmost happy ending. As we see here when the two touch each other as the closing credits roll in. Of course, these are also distinguished people that love white wine and lobster. Oh and the boy only gets a juice or something. How funny! I found the kid annoying, not gonna lie. Then again, with this annoying mother, how couldn't he be? Just take the scene when they make all this noise early on and don't care about the fact that Halmer's character needs quietness becase he has to work and when he shows up and tells them, all he gets is a half-hearted excuse and then they basically laugh about him. Honestly, I wish he would have thrown these two intruders out of the house. But the opposite is the case of course. Take the scenes near the end in which he constantly apologizes to the woman. He has to act needy towards her and always treat her like his queen before she is finally vaguely interested in being with him. Of course, she has no interest in Kohlund's character before that. Okay, I think I made mysellf clear here. This was an absolutely terrible movie. There may have been no Degeto or Regina Ziegler involved with this one, but the quality is the same. If you know a bit about German films, you have heard of those two. Major thumbs-down here. The first decade of the new millennium was really absolutely horrible for German small screen releases and this is one of many examples. Absolutely not recommended.
Ein vorbildliches Ehepaar (2012)
Not entirely bad, but still major weaknesses
"Ein vorbildliches Ehepaar" is a German television film from 2012, late 2012, so slightly under two years until this one will have its 10th anniversary now. It runs for the usual 1.5 hours, minimally under, like most other small screen releases from my country. This is story-wise based on a French film from 2001 that probably even fewer people have seen than this one here. This also explains the inclusion of the two French writers in the credits here. The "real" writers are Jaspersen and Püschel and a look at the bodies of work from these two makes me almost sick. Physically. Absolutely terrible what these two have come up with since the end of the last millennium and I am not just talking about the abysmal "Anna und die Liebe", but also everything else pretty much. I refuse to name it, go check out their bodies of work if you care. Or better don't. Accept this suggestion from somebody who did. Kinda shocking they are still getting hired, but I am not shocked at all that it is for stuff like "In aller Freundschaft". So a bit surprising that the two writers are females here because the film is at its very core about two male characters. The director is male though. Ben Verbong turned 70 already not too long ago and he is from the Netherlands and this is also where he started his career, but quickly switched to German projects a long time ago. Also worked with lead actor Ochsenknecht in the old millennium already, so this film here is a bit of a reunion. There I mentioned one of the two lead actors already. Ochsenknecht is the one on the right on the photo here on imdb. The other, the one with the dog, is Heino Ferch. Both are very famous here in Germany. Ochsenknecht is probably the one with the better body of work, especially if we are looking at his earlier years. And while I do think that he is a bit overrated, he is nowhere near as bad as his sons, who honestly have no business being cast for movies because they simply have no talent, just a big name. As for Ferch, I never really liked him. He has a tendency to always play the same character in every film honestly, but this made it somewhat interesting to see him here because for once he is more of a shy guy and not the ruthless alpha male. I wish he would take risks more frequently really when it comes to his role selection. The female character, the three that have a major impact, are not even close to being as known as the guys. von Kessel I have come across in other projects and I don't really like her, but Kuhl, even if she has been in some (pretty famous) films that I have seen, and Abraham, who plays the mother and seems retired now, I am not familiar with at all. A bit fitting that these two also have no profile pictures.
Now, let's dive into the story. I think the weaknesses are more frequent than the good aspects, so two out of five is still a bit more on the generous side. I would even say far more frequent. It's not just the key plot that makes not much sense with the two men thinking that if they start seeing and manipulating each other's partners, then this will convince the women to return to them. It is also the small moments. Like how they kiss the other's ex the exact same night really. But also how Ochsenknecht's character, who cheated many times, apparently found his real love or something. As for the key plots, honestly the entire idea that one character's mother thinks her son is gay now is so absurd. I mean not that she thinks it from what she sees, but all the small things that lead her to thinking so. Really for the sake of it and not authentic at all. Equally bad how his ex gets the same idea from said mother and how the ex and Ferch's character are talking outside and both mean something different. Not too funny, but rather cringeworthy. I hope they handled this better in the French original. Also why does von Kessel's character still treat his ex's mother? I mean that could be explained with the long time they knew each other, but they can't even seem to stand each other. As for the good moments, I have to dig a bit deeper. I think you will find some truths about women in this movie, especially from Ochsenknecht's character, so I am not even sure if they wnat us to see those words a the truth because he is not treated too nicely from the two female screen writers. And there is this scene when one character says that women are almost always going for the challenge in men, even if it means that they get treated badly. This is not untrue at all. So there is some depth and truth in here on some occasions, but not just on too many and honestly with the two screenwriters we have here and what they have worked on in the past, I kinda doubt they came up with any of the quality here, but just took it from the original film. Then again, we can still be glad perhaps that they did not remove it to turn this film into an even bigger mess. As weak as the outcome here may be all in all, it is still one of the best works from Jaspersen and Püschel I assume. Cool names though. The former sound almost like one of these many talented Danish filmmakers these days and the latter rocks anyway. Definitely better than Verbong, although Wiebke and Aglef make up for it on the other end of the scale. Okay, what else can I say here. The title translated means something like "An examplary married couple" and the French title just said couple, so they changed it a bit into something that does not even make sense. So even if they wanted to get in the allegedly romantic connection between the two men here, then they are still not married or anything. Stupid title. And if it is realistic that von Kessel's character really believes that her ex is all of a sudden into men is also a valid question to be asked. Or if it is gigantic nonsense. I go for the latter. The more I am thinking about this movie, the weaker it gets. I am pretty close now to taking away another two stars now, but let's be generous. Just don't expect depth or authenticity in this film and take it for the (not too often) pointless fun. One thing that alsol bothers me here is that, like many, many other German television films, the anti-male component is impossible to overlook. Ferch's character must still want his wife back although she cheated on him. Not once, but even had an affair. I mean it is the man's fault that he did not show her anymore he loves and desires her right? On the other hand, we have Ochsenknecht's character who cheated on his wife several times. And the only reason he is not treated like personified evil in this film, although he sometimes is, is that it is Ochsenknecht and he is liked by many. But there is no way his wife would ever take him back. I mean the only difference between the two cheaters is how often they did it. Or maybe not even that. Just how many times they did it. And the needy ones are still always the men. And what has to happen for Ferch's character's wife to take him back? (Yes, she is the one who decides, although she did the cheating.) Ferch's character must sleep with another woman. Let's not even get started on the face expressions there. Cringe is real. That was Schweighöfer level. And he must also punch the alpha male played by Ochsenknecht in the face with bloody consequences. Charming. I actually felt a bit bad for the latter on some occasions. Ochsenknecht should not accept roles like this. Overall, I think this is just a weak and not a terrible movie, but honestly, it gets pretty close to the latter too at times and if I ever watch it again, but I doubt it, then maybe I will not be as generous with my rating as I was now. In any case, I give it a thumbs-down overall. Not recommended. It's just too absurd on many occasions. Also that none of the two men get and stay together with their new acquaitances despite kissing them. Little makes sense here. Which would be more acceptable if the film was actually funny. But it is not. Skip it.
Hannas Entscheidung (2012)
It's not terrible, actually better than expected, but, regardless of Hanna's decision, the best decision for you is to skip the watch here
"Hannas Entscheidung" is a German televvision film from 2012, spring 2012 actually, so not too long anymore until this one has its 10th anniversary, just slightly over a year. The language is also mostly German here, but the film itself was made in Austria. Director Friedemann Fromm (love the name!) and writer Benedikt Roeskau have been active in the industry for decades already, also for over/almost 20 years back in 2012 when this came out, so you can certainly say that they are both pretty experienced. Their bodies of work are alright I suppose. I've seen way worse from other small screen filmmakers on many occasions. Not that I am realy impressed by their bodies of work either. But at least Fromm needs to be respected here for directing a somewhat tolerable performance out of Neubauer here because she is almost always absolutely horrible and sinks every movie she is in, especially if the plays the central character, which she does here as well. I am still not sure what her character's decision here is exactly. There is not one decision that really stands out compared to the others and definitely not one crucial enough for the film being named after it. Maybe it is that Hanna in the end decided to leave her husband, but it's not too important either. The movie runs for 1.5 hours by the way, just like the vast majority of other small screen releases. A few words on the cast now: I already mentioned Neubauer and what I think of her. I would say that in this film it was the much more talented male actors that somehow pulled her through in these scenes with her. I am mostly talking about Edgar Selge, about whom I am also not always sure if he is a good actor, but he was good enough here. August Schmölzer also deserves a mention. he is the main antagonist here and he played his part well as always. It's kinda impressive to see the names of the films he has been a part of already. Some really big players there. Thumbs-up for him. He should be much more famous than he actually is. And finally, one of the younger actors here is Sebastian Bezzel, although not that young either. He was also 40 already when this got made, but he always looks younger to me. Kinda surprise to see he is almost 50 now already. There is always some youthful charm to his characters, even if they are really similar, and I quite like his crime comedy films. Those are very entertaining and lots of fun in my opinion. So it made me a bit sad to see him wasted in this film here. He had almost no screen time at all and when he did, then his character had almost no impact on the story at all. So much for the cast. There are other very established actors like Morzé or Samarovski, but I don#t really wnat to go into detail about those now too much. You can always check out their bodies of work if you care.
Instead, let's talk a bit about this film we have here and some specific scenes and plot inclusions. This was linked closely to World War II because the protagonist's husband returns from war and brings a lot of trouble. The real trouble about this film, however, is once again Neubauer and how her character is written like a struggling saint with the heart in the right place, so basically the way her characters are always written and it is so cringeworthy enough. Also, even if she was not as terrible here as she is in every other movie, she was also far from good enough to play the lead here, especially with the emotional impact to her character. She could not pull it off and never will be good enough to do so. Maybe you can really applaud the director (as I already did) and writer here because the latter's screenplay was good enough that Neubauer's shortcomings did not feel too obvious. However, she also has the "talent" to make the most simple scenes come off as cringeworthy. This already applies to the very first scene when she does nothing but run. Her random smile (almost a laugh) in this scene was hard to stomach and also made no sense. Maybe the actress was just happy to have scored another lead role in a film that is way above her. There's again those moments when she is full of herself and shouldn't be, like the idea how she gets attacked by her husband and how she has to act scared. Or how we have another character say that she is a better carpenter than her husband already. Or how she has to take that test, mathemtics or something, at the cupboard and fails and next we get a sexist speech from one of the professors. Or there always needs to be some kind of sexual impact to Neubauer movies. The good news is we do not have five younger men being interested in her romantically this time as it happened before in other films, but completely without that component they could not get through it seems as we see during the scene when her and her husband get physical for the first time after his return. Also I am not surprised at all what they included in the script here for her husband's libido. This is exactly what I expected from a Neubauer movie. The men are not man enough for her. As for the overall quality, I already made my point. Neubauer is not good, but also not as horrible as I am used to perceive her, but it was mostly the actors that she shared the screen with that made this film watchable at times. You heard the names. One thing I definitely could have done without here were those skull findings. That was definitely too much. Of course, our incomparable heroine uses these to (try to) expose the Nazi crimes from the mayor or the town, who treated her unfairly anyway, so he must be rotten. Of course he is. Let's not think small, let's make him a cold-blooded killer. This got really pathetic though when they randomly throw in a killing by Selge's character, which was self-defence though. Of course it was when Hanna says so. And as her husband would not manage to survive a lengthy criminal prosecution and trial, she has to accept a compromise when dealing with the bad guy. So she still protects her man despite what he did to her. But then again, he is also just a victim of what he went through while being a prisoner of war. Somehow I expected a story here where Neubauer's character would get together with a new man, but then the previous man shows up. I mean, after all this is Degeto AND Regina Ziegler, so the two worst companies from the German televison landscape combined, but luckily the writer picked a more realistic route here and also in a typical Degeto movie, Schmölzer's character would have been arrested in the end or forced to flee whatever, but the actual outcome witout 100% justice felt much more authentic here. This is also a key reason why I give two stars out of five and not two stars out of ten. The script is really alright at times and makes it easy to not pay too much attention to the weaker moments like the fire in the end that feels for the sake of it or how Hanna reacts to her husband's decision that she must never return and also must sacrifice her son and also that her daughter must not return to see her father. Although we do not know if this decision is final. But Selge's character seemed very determine to pull through with it all. So yeah, I think this could have been a way worse film with Selge's character for example accepting his wife's talent and the two working together as equals. I actually like it that the film did not focus too much on the concept of emancipation here. It succeeds from other perspectives. Not enough for a postive recommendation though, even if the exact ending and last shot were alright too. I think that maybe with a more talented lead actress I could have given a thumbs-up here even. But I have no words for the awards recognition for Neubauer here at all, especially from Asian bodies. What were they thinking honestly? Finally, sets and costumes are not bad, bust also nnot really great. I think they could have done better in that department given the background. Alright, that's it. Watch something else instead I say.
DieHard is Back (2020)
Above-average length commercial linked to one of the biggest film franchises ever
The title "DieHard is Back" already gives away what franchise I am talking about, although I am a bit confused that it says "DieHard" and not "Die Hard". In any case, there is still a lot for me to watch from this franchise and I hope they will maybe get it to theaters at some point again in the retro movie theaters. But now a few words on this one here: It runs for exactly two minutes and you can watch it on Youtube on a channel called "DieHard". The action is there, the humor as well, even if neither did very much for me, which may also explain my relative low rating. But even if I was more generous here, the above 7/10 right now is definitely way too high. The only reason this kinda works is basically the fact that Bruce Willis is in here and McClane is perhaps still his career-defining role after all these years. And he also played a vital character on "Pulp Fiction" for example, so the man surely has an impressive body of work and it means something that most people with him still think about the Die Hard movies. Or maybe some about Armageddon as well. Not too sure what he has been doing in very recent years. I only remember a year with David Morse, but that is also a bit older now already. Okay, now really back to this one here. Action has never been my genre really, so this did not do too much for me, but this also hasto do with bias of course. You basically get here what you could expect. Some fighting, lots of cool talk and some known characters. I guess the Black fella McClane sits in the car with at the end also belongs to the franchise, so it is a bit of a nice reunion. I personally wonder if Willis will do another Die Hard film anytime soon. Or do one at all. He is not a spring chicken anymore either, even if he seems in good shape as we see here because this little film is as of now not even three months old. Okay, that is pretty much all I have to say about this one. No need to exaggerate. If you like McClane and/or the franchise, go watch it. Otherwise skip because it won't turn you into a fan from any perspective and honestly you will also not be missing much really. It's a thumbs-down for me. Not a total failure, bit also nowhere near the territory where I would consider giving out a positive recommendation. Not cool enough for that overall although you can clearly see they want it to be. Glad it was this short, maybe an experienced director is not enough with the writers being not really experienced here, at least not when it comes to creating scripts. Skip.
Die Habenichtse (2016)
Not a lot beyond the wrapping
"Die Habenichtse" is a German/English theatrical movie from 2016, so this one will have its fifth anniversary later this year. It is based on a novel by Katharina Hacker and according to imdb this is her only work that got turned into a movie. I have not read said book that is the basis for this film, so I cannot really make any comparisons here, if the book is better or the movie, but I am pretty positive the book is at least not worse because this film really hasn't been a revelation I must say. Mona Kino adapted the book into the screenplay here and she is one with a somewhat different body of work. She only wrote one other screenplay before this film here and that was over a decade earlier, also no screenplays since 2016 as of now. Instead, she worked in all kinds of other production areas in the 90s and early 2000s, also for the pretty famous German film "Soloalbum" of course. I have a feeling she is more known in other fields than film, but I could be wrong and honestly I don't care too much, so I am not gonna look it up. Let me say though that her name also sounds interesting. Kinda curious if it's real or an alias. The director is Florian Hoffmeister and he had his 50th birthday last year. He is also fairly interesting and, just like with his writer, directing is not his main profession. Actually he has won an Emmy for his work as a cinematographer and also been nominated for another. You can definitely say that he managed a pretty big breakthrough in America with his cinematographies, so it feels understandable that this is the area that he seems to focus on now. This is where the money's at. However, with the outcome here, I also cannot really say I am disappointed that it's probably gonna be at least a few more years until he directs another film where he is the man in charge. Makes sense if you get hired as a cinematographer for films that star Johnny Depp for example. Maybe an Oscar nomination is possible at some point. We'll see. Back to this one here: The cast includes a handful familiar names and faces. I personally know the women in here more than the men. Take Julia Jentsch who you see on the photo here on imdb and she is the biggest lead in this film, even if probably not the only one. A bit strange that she is only credited in the fifth spot here on imdb and some people are above her that really do not have a lot of screen time. This list needs better order. Anyway, Jentsch is of course still known for her portrayal of the title character in the Oscar-nominated Sophie Scholl movie. That one is from 2005, so over fifteen years old now and more than ten years before this film here, but it is probably the film people will still remember Jentsch for, even when she is 60. Let's just hope she will be in better films then than Lena Stolze is now. Another actress in here that is always easy to recognize is Bibiana Beglau. Must say I am not a fan and she did not do anything in here for me to change this perception in this film we have here. Always found her pretty overrated and did not see much talent or versatility in her to be honest, even if I cannot deny that she has recognition values, but that does not change my thoughts that she has a tendency to always play the same character(s). As for the guys, Stadelmann sounds somewhat familiar, but that's it. Even Sebastian Zimmler, the male lead, is one I did not know at all and I probably also won't remember him once I watch another movie with him. He did nothing that stood out. By the way, here on imdb, it says that this film is both in black-and-white and in color and that is not true. It is only in black-and-white. Also, I mentioned very early on that this is a British co-production we have here. The reason is that a lot of the movie is set in London. And there are many English characters in here played by British actors and they did not go for the path where they would have dubbed the dialogues, but instead had the German protagonist(s) speak English with those, so way more than a few sentences in English in here, especially in the second half when Jentsch's character has a (for the film) crucial relationship with an English guy. This means that, if you are not fluent in either German or English, you should get a good set of subtitles because it is not just two or three sentences that can be ignored. German is still the language in here that is spoken most frequently. All the English kinda fits though because this film feels fairly pretentious at times and this just adds to it even further, even if it is not French.
Okay, now a few words on the story and some specific plot inclusions. I must say that the longer the movie went, the less I enjoyed it. It was still tolerable early on, but eventually it very much felt style over substance. Disappointing. There are probably a hundred examples here where they were going for deep and meaningful symbolisms, metaphors and parallels, but those that I spotted at least felt really for the sake of it and not like authentic inclusions. And as this film still feels as if they were really trying to take the route where not too much happens, but it's all about realism, the death through this world-famous terrorist attack already could have been enough that he is inside the building that very day. Anyway, I shall just mention some stuff that made little of an impact for me. Take the scene(s) with the cat and young girl and how those two even end up on the apartment wall of Jentsch's character. Come on. Or the song that played at the very end. Or the black-and-white component. I mean I usually like black-and-white choices for artistic reasons, for example I think Haneke's "Das weiße Band" is a truly extraordinary movie that deserves to be seen many times, but here it added nothing except futher pretense. This was such a stylized film from beginning to end that it wasn't funny anymore. Probably a good thing that Hoffmeister sticks with cinematography now. What else stayed in the mind. Oh yes, the scene with the broken glass and the sherds on the floor, perhaps bleeding feet as a consequence. Or when the guy ran outside and tried to chase down another fella. But it was not just the small moments here that did almost nothing for me, it was also the key plot. The idea of guilt getting in the way of these protagonists and their blossoming relationship because of what happened to the other man early on, the one who suggested that Zimmler's character should try his luck with Jentsch's character, also was not portrayed in a way with which they really won me over. The opposite was the case really. I felt that it needed much better elaboration on why they (especially the man) felt said guilt because from a neutral viewer's perspective here there is nothing that remotely justifies this background being a vital part of the film. Now I really wonder if the book and the original writer handled this crucial inclusion just as poorly. I kinda doubt it, but who knows. I could certainly go on and talk about a dozen other scenes that felt only for the sake of it and did not deliver half the artistic touch they (the people behind it) wanted them to deliver, but you get the message anyway I would say. So whet else could I add here? The title is pretty difficult to translate honestly. It's a word (in the singular form) that is not really used in the German language (anymore). I am not even entirely sure of its meaning, but literally translated it means "those who have nothing", although in a more colloquial sense you can also say "almost nothing". It's not meant to be understood verbally. Only that they are definitely not rich. But this idea of nihilism here is that allso fits the approach the filmmakers took here. They wanted to evoke great emotions by being not obvious at all. I don't think it worked out at all. On the contrary, this film dragged a lot here and there and I must say I did not care one bit what would happen to the characters. I mean I don#t have to identify with them, but I was really indifferent. There were moments where I even considered giving this a lower rating. I certainly hoped this could be better because I like Jentsch some I think and I also don't need big name actors if the quality is convincing and there are many films where I like the very essential approach. This is not one of them. And also when they went for the opposite, like the guy hitting on the protagonist at the bar or also the massive fight at the very end, I was not glad that finally some movement came in, but it felt equally uninspired. By the way, when the woman makes the phone call after this fight I just mentioned, there is also a parallel between her and the little girl with the cat if you look exactly at what she says to the operator. So, as I stated earlier, this is really a movie where you can write ten pages of interpretation with all the stylistic devices used in here, but those do not make it a better movie at all because at its core it feels really empty. I wonder what the writer thinks about the outcome here. That's it overall. Moments of failure are rare. Moments of true quality are almost nonexistent. This movie gets a thumbs-down from me. Watch something else instead.
Community Table Read (2020)
Episode reading for the fans
What we have here is exactly what the title says, namely a "Community Table Read". The picked one specific episode, not sure why exactly this one, and read the script to the audiences. Episodes usually run slightly over 20 minutes for this show and this entire thing here ran for 34 minutes because there was some introduction, some talking and laughing in-between etc. Alright. This is from may 2020 and they are reunited with webcams here of course because of the pandemic that was already a big thing back then. Until now, so in over half a year, almost four million people watched this on Youtube. I am not sure if this number includes those that watched the livestream that very day, but I think not, so it could be over five million in total even, especially if we also include all other platforms where this is/was maybe available. The director here is Jim Rash, an Oscar-winning writer, and the writers credited here have a pretty nice history with the Emmys too. Of course, those are the ones also linked with the show back when it aired. Which was years ago. Honestly, I am a bit surprised they came up with this little thingey here such a long time after the show ended, but it may have to do with Community rising again in popularity because it got picked up on Netflix not too long ago. I personally am not too familiar with the show, but this piece here also did not really get me motivated to watch anytime soon. There are some familiar names and faces here though. Donald Glover had huge success recently with Atlanta. Alison Brie is always easy on the eye, especially when she is laiyng there like at the end of the broadcast, and Ken Jeong is kinda turning into most famous Asian on the planet with all he has been a part of. Pedro Pascal from the successful Mandalorian series is not really linked to the show, but he filled in for Walton Goggins, which is for me personally a pity because apparently the episode they picked was the only one that included Goggins? And I really love him on Justified. Maybe I would have watched Community already if he had been part of every single episode or at least the majority. So yeah, I already wrote that I did not find it this funny. I am talking for example about the joke that Glover had no time or also apparently how they dealth with the passing of a character here comedy-wise, although I am obviously not sure how crucial said character was. Pascal constantly bursting into laughter when reading a specific part felt also a bit more annoying than entertaining, even if everybody was having a fun time. Or at least they pretended. But I think he was acting there and I did not like it. The music could have been better too. The African American lady that was a part of this thing had a pretty cute dog next to her, which was nice. That's pretty much all I have to say here. I still hope that they made some decent money with it because this was a charity event and people were asked (especially at the end) to donate. Overall, I give this one a thumbs-down and I think the only ones who should watch are those that a) love the show, even after all these years and b) also enjoyed this specific episode because, as I stated earlier, I don't think this little event here will make you curious about Community, let alone turn you into a fan already. Still I know there are still many fans out there or even many new fans thanks to Netflix and good for them that something like this gets made. For me not so much, even if I still wonder if they end up making this movie that has been in talks for a while. We'll see. Back to this one here, also from a general perspective I don't find the idea too interesting because you have seen the contents here, so it basically just a remake. The more interesting parts are the spontaneous interactions in-between I would say. And those were also not good enough all in all, which is the reason behind my relatively low rating. I am still baffled by the perfect ratings from pretty much everybody else here because honestly, even if you love the show and this thing here, nobody can say it's perfection. I mean come on, they did not even get Goggins. That's really all now. watch something else instead.
Picknick im Schnee (1999)
I love snow, but this film I could not really warm up to
"Picknick im Schnee", which means "Picnic in the snow", is a German television film from 1999. I don't know if what I just stated is also the international title because imdb does not list one. Or only the Hungarian title. However, I am pretty surre that this movie here was not exactly shown really many times in English-speaking countries. Here in Germany, however, it is still one more than 20 years after its original release, which is quite some time. Not sure why though because it is not particularly good, even if it is still better than most of the other stuff shown on national television nowadays, especially by ARD and its smaller stations. Maybe another reason is that the cast we have here also includes some familiar faces. Matthias habich turned 81 two days ago and he is still acting in 2021. Same applies to Michael Kind, even if he is much younger and not as famous as Habich. But nonetheless a really prolific actor, even if his role in this film here is very small. As for the females, not too much to say about Barbara Auer. Of course, many people still know her and recpgnize her name immediately. Chiara Schoras probably still has more screen time here than Auer and she was pretty young still when this film got made and I kinda like her, although I won't even try to deny that it may have to do more with her looks than range. This is also confirmed by the fact that she did not manage a great and really successful career (on the big screen for example too) in the last two decades. Still makes me a bit sad because she was alright here. I even kinda accepted that stupid make-up she wears in her very first scene because it was her. But I will get to the specific contents later on. Let's just stay with the key elements from the production here. The director is Tomy Wigand, who is almost 70 now, and after seeing this film here still pretty early in his career and also some of the stuff he did later on, I don't see much talent. I guess he never really managed to get beyond the "Verbotene Liebe" level with which he started his career. For some of his works, he just had a lot of money at his disposal it seems and maybe that is why they did not turn out really weak like some of the others. But actually creative achievements I do not see in his body of work. The writer is Martin Rauhaus, a bit younger than his director, but also acttive since the early 1990s already apparently. Really active in fact. Very prolific filmmaker in the last 30 years, but also there many really weak projects in his filmography to be honest and to me it seems that the best he has come up with is still only mediocre compared to actually solid screenplays from other filmmaker. This man is the epitome of quantity over quality. But he made a living out of that it seems, so good for him. Not good for the audiences though.
Now a few words on this film here in particular: We have the story of a man who has to take huge blows professionally and also about his private life. A bit of a big coincidence that this takes place at the exact same time, but oh well. The next coincidence was really too much though. The moment he rents a hotel room to jump out of the window and commit suicide, a young woman has the exact same plan in the room nearby. And as if that was not ridiculous enough already and also that of course both survive, they are also accidentally about to fall out of the window, but manage to get in again. It seems their dedication to let go and simply fall was really gone that moment already. Fairly quickly. Honestly, this background reminded me a bit of a more recent Josef Hader film. That one is better. You may want to watch that one instead of this one here, although I suppose you have seen this one here already if you came here and have also read until this point. I can only say that I do not agree one bit with the other reviewer who gave this a perfect rating. Come on! Anyway, as for Auer's character, the cheating wife, she searches for her husband for pretty much the entire movie as she is worried something bad could happen to him. Which is kinda true in fact given the premise. I think Auer was too popular and famous back then to not appear again after the cheating inclusions early on, so she kinda gets into an argument with the younger man she has been with and searches for her "true love". Also explains why she is still included on the poster here on imdb. Very purple poster with a reference to how this film is set on New Year's Eve. The good thing is that tehy did not turn the relationship between the two lost protagonist into a romance thingey, but Schoras' character there had her own unhappy romantic background anyway. No need to fall for a 60-year-old, even if he saved her life. By the way, even if I love snow as I stated in the title of my review, I do not really like the movie title here too much. The snow inclusions were way too scarce to name it like that and let's not even talk about the picnic mention. An entirely different title would have been a better choice. They always could have taken something like "Johannes and Frankie" or so, even if it's not really inspired either. But at least, it is accurate. Still interesting to see that back then, at the end of the old millennium, snow in Berlin before the new year was still a thing. Not happening these days anymore really and don't even get me started on snow for Christmas. A bit sad. Okay sorry, I am drifting away now, so back to the movie. Not too much to say anyway. I don't think it is a really bad film or anything, but still too weak for a positive recommendation, especially because here they were really going for real emotion repeatedly and you could see that they were takin this film seriously as a character study. Zero comedy to tne entire thing. Maybe the weakest or most bizarre scene was this club visit from the two. I mean it was strange enough already that they even go there at their most depressed states (as were were supposed to believe), but the camera work there on the DJ, on the characters, was just totally bizarre. Everything done oh so right in Collateral from five years later was done wrong here. Pretty clumsy to be honest. Also, why is Schoras not on the poster? Just a random thought crossing my mind right now, sorry. Because I constantly see it here while writing. So yeah, all in all the okay scenes here (like the one with the two cops, okay that was mildly funny) are simply not frequent enough, not even for a relatively short duration of under 1.5 hours. Maybe if you really love Habich, who is the undisputed key character here and not one of the two females, then you can give it a go, but even he has probably many other films in his body of work you want to check out. Then again, it's probably difficult anyway to get a hand on this movie so many years later. I was pretty surprised it was on national television today again and probably next time will take many months, if not years, for another occasion to see it. Still, you're not missing much luckily. Thumbs down.
Fanny und die geheimen Väter (2016)
Not a secret that this film really sucks
"Fanny und die geheimen Väter", which means "Fanny and the secret fathers", is a German television movie from 2016, so this one will have its fifth anniversary a few months from now. The movie runs for 1.5 hours, minimally under, and the director was Mark Monheim. This was only his second full feature movie release and as I liked his first, I wondered how he could continue and if he could keep the level. Obviously he could not. And it is not only this movie that is an issue, but basically almost everything he has worked on after his rookie project. Really weak body of work by now. Same applies to writer Thomas Oliver Walendy with the crucial difference that he launched his career considerably earlier, namel in the old millennium already. Then again, Monheim did too, even if it was just a short film, so you can say that both were in the industry for slightly under or over 20 years when they worked on this film we got here. And this is maybe the most embarrassing thing how, after such a pretty long time, they have not managed to reach a level that is beyond nonsense like this film here. It may sound harsh, but it is true. They are basically taking the easy and highly uninspired route by working on ARD Degeto films that offer no creativity whatsoever which was clear since the very start, but that have a lot of money behind them, money that comes from the GEZ and that almost every German is forced to pay or they will have to go to jail. I call it blackmail. Especially as said money is not used for really neutral news coverage the way they say, but for highly biased coverage and, just as bad, for hundreds, if not thousands, of trashy movies like this one here. You can literally see lead actress Jutta Speidel's delight that she can be a part of this when looking at the poster here on imdb. Highly despicable. So yes, what is there to day about her. She is like an older Neubauer, Thomalla, Ferres, Furzwängler etc. Absolutely no acting talent, no range, no versatility, but gets constantly cast for lead characters because many are obviously simple enough to think she is able to deliver strong female character performances. The opposite is the case and I applaud every woman especially that is able to see through this charade. Speidel is unwatchable. Always has been, always will be. One can only hope that now that she is closer to 70 than to 60, she will eventually retire at some point in the near future. With this film we have here, however, she once lets her complete lack of talent all out again. As for the supporting cast, Jennifer Ulrich is one that maybe young audiences will recognize. I see nothing in her either, so kinda fitting she is in this movie. At least, she is more attractive than usual here, but this is probably also only because of the tons of make-up they used on her this time. Admittedly, her material is also as poor as it gets and I am sure they did this because they did not want anybody to steal Speidel's spotlight. Lena Stolze, however, it makes me a bit sad to see her in films like this. I think she is really better than that, especially if you take a look at the stuff she did in the 80s until her Oscar-nominated movie in 1990 even. Then again, nobody forced her to appear in this film here. Probably a monetary decision too and kinda funny how they, on the one hand acted as if the main character here was really smart and on the other hand she did not know this relatively simple word. And finally Murali Perumal is in here too. Must say I am not really familiar with him, but it surprises me a bit to see he played in some pretty big international movies lately. Back to this one here though: This is basically the first of two films that were released almost at the same time. Another Fanny/Speidel movie aired exactly a week later and I watched that one already months ago and let me say that both are really horrible. Couldn't say which one is worse. Kinda fitting thought that not only Speidel and some other cast members returned, but that Monheim and Valendy were also back. And hey, they could not end with this one here because out kind-hearted Fanny still has to take care of the disabled young man and cannot simply say she won't because she is not a saint.
A few references about this film we got here. Take Speidel again. I must say I think that everybody should act and dress the way they want, but still to me looking at the clothes she wears in her films, not just this one here, always gives off a vibe that she is kinda desperate to make a youthful impression. The colors. The cuts. Everything. Also really fitting how we are supposed to respect her for not adhering to clothes regulations in her profession. Really nice because she agreed on those when she signed the contract. But let's forget that in the face of her evil (former) boss saying that her clothes kinda justified that man grabbing her ass. So yes, there is always a sexual component to Speidel's characters. One thing we always have is guys being romantically or sexually interested in her like the one I just mentioned in the train. Or the guy who threatens her near the end that he will sue her and a few nice words and eye contact from her and he is all happy again and likes her. Man up and don't let her get away with stuff like that. The most ridiculous thing, however, is that we are supposed to like the character. I mean isn't she charmingly clumsy that they tow away her car in the very first scene (happened to all of us right?) or maybe the worst moment for me was when she gets this job near the end (of course she does!) and first thing she does is act really cocky towards the other applicants that are all not even half her age, but of course they pick our beloved Fanny for the job. No words really. Also how dare they use an old Cat Stevens song in this movie. Is there no copyright attached to that. Can some lawyer maybe sue the makers of this film here and the consequence is that this film must not be shown again? Oh well, they would show it anyway without the song then I am sure. Bad news is that as this is still relatively recent, it will be on national television for at least another decade. This is where your GEZ money goes, folks. What else can I say here? I have not even mentioned the key plot about the protagonist finding out that the man she thought to be her father actually wasn't and the real father just died. We see the corpse in the coffin on one occasion. He looks old, but taking into account that Speidel was over 60 already when she made this film, the man must have been (almost) 90 and this old he certainly was not. But hey, maybe they want us to think Speidel is 45 in this film. Sigh. At the same time, we have out kind Fanny agree that a young woman can live with her because this woman also has father issues (at the same time, very realistic) and she confronts her real dad and the man says that it was a ONS and he wants no contact and not be remembered of this affair every day. So as always, the males are despicable here. Either they are disabled or they are weak (the young lawyer) or they are heartless (the boss and the father I just mentioned) or they are dead or they randomly grab female strangers' butt cheeks. How could I forget about him haha. Of course, said woman was also immediately sexually harrassed by a guy she wanted to stay with when she did not know where to sleep, but luckily Fanny is there to comfort her. And of course, she cannot stay for one night only, but almost moves in there it seems. I already mentioned the fairly younng lawyer, the one who constantly acts like a fool and if he has no clue next to the super confident Fanny, but hey at least he knows the meaning of the word monetary. The actor there is pretty much my age, minimally younger, and boy was he bad. Just take the scene when he reads the "I am your father" letter. But Speidel is right up (no, down) there with him and her over-the-top reaction is just as cringeworthy. Ham and over the top are the perfect words to describe Speidel. The biggest challenge acting-wise for her in this film was maybe the moment in which he bursts into tears outside when she is near that car. A prime example of how this actress could not convincingly portray a semi-challenging scene if her life depended on it. But hey, at least she was together with this much younger Italian coffee dude for a long time and this apparently is enough already to get in a position where you can trick (or at least try to) people into thinking you have charisma, talent and class. None of it is the case. Not for this movie either. It was an absolutely horrible watch and, as I stated earlier, if it wasn't bad enough already that this film exists, they even made another one afterwards just as poor. Highly not recommended. Skip at any cost. Oh and I almost forget, don't even get me started on the idea that her father (apparently not the biological dad) keeps showing up here as a spirit only to her. This was supposed to be a mix of comedy, drama, emotion etc. but the talent simply isn't there. But hey, simply stating that the man died on the day of the Moon landing back then, is creative enough, isn't it. I don't what else to say. This movie is a shame, most of all because they were actually serious with it all and pretended that this was some kind of insightful character study. I kid you not. Boo!
Piedone a Hong Kong (1975)
Only watch it if you love Bud
"Piedone a Hong Kong" or "Flatfoot Goes East" or "Buddy in Hongkong" or "Plattfuß räumt auf" or "Flatfoot in Hong Kong" etc. is a co-production between Italy and Hong Kong from 1975, so this film had its 45th anniversary last year and Spencer is still famous enough here in Germany for me to mention two German titles here. Probably more famous than everywhere else and this could also include Italy where he is from. This is of course a movie without his longtime partner Terence Hill. The fact that Hong Kong is a country of production is of course directly linked to where this movie is set and also where it was filmed. It says here on imdb that there are two versions, the uncut version at 115 minutes and the cut version at 108 minutes and I think I watched the latter tonight here on national television. At least it did not come close to two hours, so it must have been this one if there are really only these two versions in existence. The director is Steno and he is also one of the writers. No surprise here because Steno has far more writing credits than directing credits, even if the latter is also a pretty high amount. It is only a surprise from the perspective that Steno only directed the first Piedone movie and was not one of the writers there. But here he is. So yes, there are several Piedone movie. This is the second from four films if I am not mistaken. The following two, which I will also review soon, are set in Africa. It is a bit unusual for lead actor Bud Spencer to play the same character in so many films. I mean it is not unusual that he returned for a sequel, but four films is an exception. Of course, the character he plays is police inspector Rizzo and you can see in one scene that he is not just a simple police officer, namely during the one in which he orders the cops to let go off the woman they were about to arrest and bring back to her hospital. But I will talk a bit about the contents later. I can already say now that after having seen this film and the first, I am not too happy about the outcome quality-wise. If I wasn't a big Bud Spencer film, then I'd probably hand out a negative recommendation here and take away another two stars. But I just love the man, so I am a bit generous. I just hope that the quality gets better in the coming movies. I can see why this one here did not win Spencer another Golden Screen apparently. The poster I am also not too big of I must admit. It summarizes the film pretty nicely though from a negative perspective. Spencer in the center is nice, but maybe other than him, there is just too much going on and it should have been a more essential film with better focus. Sadly, it is not, even if it is also never really bad or anything. Just a bit all over the place at times and as a consequence I even did not like the fighting scenes here too much and those I almost always like in Spencer's other films.
First of all, there are many parallels here if we compare this movie to the very first film that was a bit of an introduction to the series although I am not sure if they knew back then already that three more would follow. Probably not. Honestly, this film with the entire idea of catching a police officer that works with the drug dealers felt so similar to the first that I really would have wanted some more creative writing. No major differences at all. Except that the film is set on another continent and that is it then. Sorry, but this is absolutely not good enough. As I said, I truly hope the other ones add something new story-wise and I will find out next week. But now back to this one here. It was nice to see Spencer/Pedersoli in the water here fighting the bad guys, something rather unusual for him, especially if you know about his background as an Olympic swimmer. Otherwise, you will find the typical Spencer stuff here when he beats up the bad guys. Only that they are Asians this time on many occasions. Some of them wear pompous traditional costumes even. Sumo is also included here and this scene almost felt like taken from a James Bond movie in terms of the contents (also with the FBI guy in the end as some parallel to Leiter) with how the big guy (obviously not Spencer's character) is killed by an assassin. Kinda fitting because Bond was of course really big in the 1970s. At that point, Moore had taken over from Connery already. Anyway, back to this one here: This aforementioned scene also showed something not too typical for Spencer and his films, namely that he is not always really superior physically compared to the people he is up against. The sumo wrestler has a bit of an advantage early on. It does not last for long, but still. And in the first film, Buddy's Rizzo struggled a bit against the guy on the roof early on and also against a big bald brute later on. Oh, I must also mention the kid from this film here. Not an alien this time, but a local. That little Asian boy was really cute. Also in the last shot when he finds his own way to eat those spaghetti. Perfect combination of Italy and Asia if you ask me. This kid is credited here as Daygolo and a bit sad to see he has never been in another film before or especially after this one. Also a bit strange there is only one name to him. His smile was really infectious though. Somehow I thought that at the end we could find out that he actually understood everything Rizzo said, but they did not take this route and it was probably a good decision. Why would he speak Italian all of a sudden. Or German in the version I watched. I still think Bud Spencer films are among the very best dubbing I have come across in my cinematic life. Gotta love Wolfgang Hess' work and I hope he rests in peace. Just like Spencer himself. A bit telling that there were exactly two months between the dates of death from those two, even if Pedersoli/Spencer was considerably older. One thing I liked here as well was the music. really catchy tune at times. So it may not have sounded like this early on, but this film definitely has its pros. The cast is alright too. Actually, we have some actors here who showed up in some really big movies like The Godfather or 12 Angry Men. And then there are those that appear on many Bud Spencer films like Enzo Cannavale who is a regular in these Flatfoot movies, but even he was part of a classic movie (about movies). The one I always have to mention though is Riccardo Pizzuti. Glad to see he is still alive now and I hope he stays it for a while if he wants to. He is always so easy to identify and great fun, even if his role in here is pretty small, especially compared to other films. His scene when he crashes through that door with his head is among the funniest from the entire movie. Also Rizzo's comment about knocking before entering was another highlight. I guess this is pretty much it then. Overall, these minor positive aspects have a pretty hard time though in my opinion to make up for the fairly uninspired plot and this is never a film to be taken seriously and the problem is that it feels as if this film wants to be taken seriously in contrast to many other Spencer movies. So if you have seen nothing from the man, then this one here is not the greatest choice to start with. Go for one of his more famous works. This one here is a film you want to check out once you have seen a lot from him and he has a place in your heart. You can also watch it then before the first Piedone film as I think it is not necessary to stick with the chronological order here really. Even if it probably the better choice. I am talking only about the first two films of course. Cannot (yet) elaborate on the other two. I think for this one here the comedy also could have been a bit better. I mean no offense, but the old woman beating up some of the bad guys was never really funny and this final brawl sequence was really as much over the place as the film itself for the most part. It was also fairly difficult to see who is who. It felt as if everybody was basically fighting everybody and yes, this takes out the fun. I mean in other Spencer films, there is still some kind of order in the chaos. Here not so much. So I give the outcome here only a very cautious positive recommendation. Also could have been at least ten minutes shorter. And come on, did they really not understand immediately that the little boy was pretending to be sumo wrestler? Please. That felt like the most illogical part of it all to me. Okay I'm done now. You get the message. Here's hoping the Africa movies are better.
Unser Traum von Kanada (2016)
This is really more of a nightmare quality-wise
"Unser Traum von Kanada" is a German television miniseries that consists of two parts, so the entire thing runs for pretty much exactly three hours, minimally under. You can easily watch this in one sitting, but you shouldn't as you can see from the title of my review. Later on, I will elaborate why. Now let's stick the basics. This premiered back in 2016, actually also in January, so it already had its fifth anniversary and maybe this was the reason, the occasion, why they showed both episodes now once more. Director ad writer are the two Michaels. Michael Wenning, the director, was 50 back then and his body of work is pretty considerable, but if you take a closer look, you will see that it is really all about the quantity there and not one bit about the quality and this is definitely not only because of the SOKO inclusions. Many projects there that really do not include a great deal of quality and that is really the nicest way to put it. The writer is Michael Hantenberg, five years older than his director, so he turns 60 this year. His filmography is slightly better I'd say, not much though and honestly the bar is not exactly set very high. Not much else to say about those two. Even major German film buffs will probably not remember their names, but then again, they have mostly worked on series and not movies. What we have here can probably be called a movie, even if it consists of two episodes, but yeah judging from the quality we got here, it is probably safe to say that it is a good thing that the two Christians did not work on many other films. As for the cast, there are some familiar faces. Michael Gwisdek can be mentioned and he is only in the first episode because his character dies at the end of this first episode. A bit bittersweet you can say because the actor himself died after a short illness not too long ago and this is exactly what his character here is struggling with as well. But i do not (yet) want to get into the story in detail now. Sonja Gerhardt is probably the most known female actor in this movie. I personally think she is pretty overrated (just like Gwisdek, who played the same character in every movie), so I don't think it is a good thing if she gets cast for a key character. Katja Weitzenböck may also be familiar to some. She has been in many films really, frequently playing central characters, but I see nothing in her. This also applies to this project we have here. She is just there, but no range or versatility in here. The good thing you can say is that at least she just doesn't go full ham. Her performance feels really lackluster as if she wasn't even trying. The only interesting thing to her is that she was born in Japan. I have seen her in quite a few films and she is never good. Back to the males, Sönke Möhring (Wotan Wilke's brother) takes over from Gwisdek in the second 1.5 hours. I generally do not dislike him. I mean he has been in some really good films, even if his roles were minor, but here he also did not do a lot for me I must admit. That's pretty much it about the cast. Four familiar German actors and the rest I do not know. Many of them are actually English native-speakers as you can see from the sound of the names on the cast list here on imdb. You could also see it during the film. My oh my, been a while since I saw such terrible dubbing honestly. Cringeworthy stuff. As for the title, it means "Our Dream of Canada", but as you can see from the title of my review, this felt much more like a nightmare watch. In the next paragraph, I shall tell you why.
It already starts with Gwisdek in the first movie. I will admit that I kinda like his son, but the old man had such little range honestly that it is embarrassing. He always is a bit gruff, Berliner Schnauze as we say, and here we see him take it like a man when he finds out and we find out that he has terminal cancer. So what does he do? make sure everything is in order as much as he can. This involves telling Gerhardt's character about her real father and that he is still alive and who he is. First of all, the young woman is heartbroken when she finds out about the cancer, then she is mad at grandpa because he did not tell her earlier about the father, but in the end they bond again of course. There is this scene with them sitting at the campfire and Gwisdek's character is telling anecdotes and Gerhardt's was laughing at them. So typical Gwisdek and I don't mean that in a good way at all. He was so overhyped. He is also no lead actor material. But the first half also had major flaws in terms of realism. Like we have the young woman I was just talking about being mad ad her dad and speaking as if she never wants to see him again because he did not show up earlier to see her, but of course in the end they still sit together there and talk and bond. Even with a sequel looking, there must be a happy end for those who never watch the second part. Bavaria Fiction as bad as always. The part with the band also felt fairly uninspired. Same applies to the scenes with Gerhardt's character and her boyfriend and their plans and also eventually the death of Gwisdek's character on the boat which was supposed to be an emotional highlight (in terms of sadness), but it felt as bland and uninspired as everything else. Also not too realistic. Overall, you could say that, also with the exaggerated soundtrack trying to deliver emotions where the actors and script couldn't, this definitely had a touch of Rosamunde Pilcher to it. or Katie Fforde. Or Inga Lindström. There really are enough, even if officially it is not linked to any of those, but certainly nothing to be proud of at all. The first half gets the lowest rating possible from me, namely 1 out of 5, and so does the second half, although it sucks for different reasons. First of all, it hardly felt as if it belonged to the first film. Sure, some characters returned, but they so randomly included many new characters that I sometimes had the impression I was watching something entirely different and not a sequel or a second half. You could say that this could be considered a good thing looking at how poor the first half was, but actually it wasn't. It just sucked for different reasons. And the parts they actually continued were those that were already super boring in the first half like the relationship between Gerhardt's character and her partner that I mentioned earlier already. But for example the long sequence with Möhring's character and the boy was so bland and uninteresting. And this was supposed to be seen as a touching story where father and son get close(r). I don't even. The pseudo drama was also cringeworthy. While Gwisdek's character's demise in the first film was really more than enough, they included smaller tragedy more frequently here. Take the overdose for one character. Take another character hurting his leg really badly. Take the bear attack. Take the last-minute helicopter rescue. It was just ridiculously fake and staged everything. The epitome of drama for the sake of it. So unwatchable. Oh and in this half, Weitzenböck also has her embarrassing moments finally, like when she flirts with another character, especially when on one occasion she says something like it's not her business. Cringe is real. And Gerhardt's character in the end ditches the guy because she is such an independent young woman who can get along on her own and doesn't need a man to make her dreams happen. Oh and one really safe indicator about how good these films are (or how bad) is usually the way the kids dialogues feel like and as we have many scenes here with a child and a grown-up in the wilderness, this is especially vital here. You are probably not too surprised when I tell you they also really messed up there. I mean this was the biggest challenge and they failed on the easy challenges, so very much expected. But the worst of it all was really how this entire thing dared to take itself so seriously from beginning to end as if it was really a defining character study. I mean Canada is great and they even managed to make the nature scenes look poor in here. Takes a special lack of talent for that, doesn't it. As for the taking seriously part, just take one of the last lines from the film about happiness. I cringed, not gonna lie. Of course, in the end, the two lovebirds are united. Sure thing that the young woman's father is about to start something with the grandfather's close friend. Romance has to happen here. But what really surprised me was in the very end the other woman showing up with her words that she is pregnant. Not enough pseudo drama yet huh? That was so random. I mean the actress was terrible all along with her jealousy (and I am not saying this in a way where I'd say the filmmakers succeeded in their utterly shallow attempts to depict her as unlikable as possible), but the dubbing with her was especially bad. There they clearly did not care one bit about synchrony. Or is synchronicity the word? Anyway, you know what I mean. Her inclusion in earlier scenes was already terrible to watch, but the cliffhanger ending was really another negative height they reached. What was this supposed to tell us? That they planned another 1.5 hours to follow up that luckily never happened? That the man now cares for the new child he has over the one he is about to father. I don't know. I don't even really wanna think about it now. It was just messed up. Everything about these under three hours felt that way. I hope I can forget about it as soon as possible. Highly not recommended.
Rather disappointed here
"Anche gli angeli mangiano fagioli" or "Auch die Engel essen Bohnen" or "Der Dicke in Amerika" or "Even Angels Eat Beans" is a co-production between Italy, France and Spain from 1973, so this movie is also getting closer to its 50th anniversary now. I listed many titles because they were kinda interesting. This film won Spencer another Golden Screen here in Germany, so no surprise there are several German titles even. One of them is the same like the Italian and English title, but the other focuses on Spencer in particular who is of course the main attraction here. It is one of the man's longer versions as the original film runs for almost two hours and the Blu-ray version even crosses the 120-minute mark. The director is Enzo Barboni, who has worked with Bud Spencer on many occasions as the man in charge behind the camera. Often Terence Hill was also part of these projects, but not this time here. They got somebody else for that part. I will get to him soon. As for Barboni, he was credited as a cinematographer many more times than as a director, but because of Buddy's presence the films he directed will probably be remembered for much longer. I hope so at least. It would be nice if coming generations could also see the fun in these films, so they don't fall into oblivion. This one here is unfortunately not the best example I must say. I struggled with it quite a bit and it may in fact be the weakest from many Spencer films I have seen recently. He is not too blame though. He is alright most of the time. One thing that surprises me a bit here is that this film is set in America, but the USA are not one of the production countries. And I cannot really see any French and Spanish influences here. But I guess it is telling enough and really makes clear that Spencer was a way bigger star in Europe than in America where he was basically unknown. But this is not from his later projects, so maybe the fact that this is set in America shows us that they were still trying to turn him into a star in America as well. the attempt did not turn out successful, but it's alright. Their loss. I will always love Buddy (Pedersoli) and I am grateful for all the films he left us. Means something I am doing a rewview marathon on him right now and I have really seen many of his films during the last weeks and months even. And more will come for the rest of January at least. But back to this one here now: There is even a sequel by the way, which got made one year later, but this one did not feature Spencer. Gemma returned though and the picked another European actor with a similar physical shape like Spencer to play the man's part. Does not really make Gemma more likable for me. If he could be more unlikable even. Not sure. I really found him annoying and he is maybe the biggest reason why I give this film only 2 out of 5. Man I could not stant watching him and the longer the film went, the more he was basically in every single scene next to Spencer. So yeah, I wish this would simply have been with Spencer as the only lead or maybe Hill, but certainly not with Gemma. I know he is pretty famous in Italy, even today, but this does not change a thing for me and from what I have seen here, I have zero interest to see more films with him anytime soon. I cannot say a lot more about the cast honestly, simply because I don't know the actors, even if many of them were pretty prolific. One I definitely want to mention though is Riccardo Pizzuti. He is still alive today and getting closer to 90 and it would be amazing if he ready my words here because I have only praise for him. He is always easy to identify and I am always glad to see him as he has been in many other Spencer movies. Definitely a very welcome addition, also with all the different clothes he wears in these films. Hope he lives for a few more years. Thanks Riccardo. Of course, I thank Spencer too, but with him I do it always and Pizzuti also deserves the mention and I wish he could have played Gemma's character here maybe, although I know he is always one of the bad guys and also always gets beaten up by Buddy.
Okay, now a few words on the specific story and characters here. First of all, let me say that I found it interesting that Buddy played a wrestler this time, so basically a guy who is a bit of a professional fighter because honestly with all the men he has beaten up in all these movies, this profession is really the perfect fit for his character. However, he quickly ends up in another profession and this is just his background as we find out at the start and also at the end we see how he wants to return to this profession. Makes total sense. The other guy in here is an ice cream vendor, but he is not really interested in returning to that profession. I am of course talking about Gemma's character here. Pretty ridiculous he even got first crediit here on imdb, but then again Hill also always does and this may at least partially explain it. But even better and more humble by Bud if he does not care about being first. Which he totally should be. He should be first I mean, not that he should care. One other fun scene here that comes to my mind is really the one when we see the two protagonists during this concert, mostly because they (almost) end up fighting because Spencer's character is annoyed by the noise, but when Gemma's character kicks him between the legs and Spencer does not react one but, it is pretty funny because also Gemma's character clearly hurt his leg or goot there. Spencer's character is really a man of steel. Forget Superman. Still, it feels a bit weird to see him dressed the way we see him on the film's poster here on imdb. It also does not really feel representative of him in the movie. Keep an eye out. He is a fighter, not a nobleman. But the above is also pretty much the only kinda positive thing (or things) I can say about this film here. I thought that not only Gemma's character was really obnoxious because he did not have 1% of Hill's charm, but also the movie had way too many characters and it just got too much. I mean you don't have to fill two hours by all means. Just keep it 15-20 minutes shorter and turn it into a more essential watch. That would have been my suggestion because the way it turned out became really forgettable at times. And all over the place. Also sometimes iit barely felt like a Spencer film anymore. Just take the big scene for Gemma towards the end when he keeps firing at all these Mafia fellas or whatever they were. Honestly, by the, I had already stopped caring. But this scene was so not Spencer. Kinda fitting that he reacted the way he reacted. It almost felt to me as if he was baffled what scenes like this are doing in one of his films. Did not belong there with all the shooting and it does not really matter if it was real bullets or blanks. As for the story, it also could not win me over. All the Mafia references felt half-baked and the idea of the two working for the bad guys initially before no longer wanting to do evil deeds did not keep me interested. I still was a bit surprised about the derogatory manner in which they are talking to the ones they are supposed to harass. The way they acted there, it did not really feel as if they had doubts about their job. So yeah, I don't think there is really a lot more I have to say about this film. Seeing Spencer with his mask in the ring sure felt unusual. Maybe I am also a bit biased with Gemma because physically he reminded me of two fairly untalented German actors. I hope he is better in other films. That is really it now. One of my least favorite Spencer films, maybe even my number one on the bottom scale, and I have almost no interested to watch this film anytime soon again. Maybe never even. The bank robbery scene, the lineup scene, the casino scene - it all felt so mediocre and uninspired. Pity. Not even Spencer my hero could save this movie. Watch something else instead. Maybe a Scorsese film if you are in the mood for a better Mafia movie about organized crime.
Piedone lo sbirro (1973)
Okay overall, but not as much fun as other Spencer films
"Piedone lo sbirro" or "The Knock Out Cop" or "Sie nannten ihn Plattfuß" is a co-production between Italy and France that resulted in this movie from 1973. It is getting closer to its 50th anniversary and maybe it happened already depending on when you read this review of mine. Right now, we are still more than 2.5 years away. I am certainly a bit surprised to see this is a French co-production because the French element I am missing completely here. This is also not where the film is set. Anyway, it's not too important. What matters more is that this movie is almost exclusively in the Italian language with really rare inclusions of English. This should also surprise nobody because Spencer is of course Italian and almost all the films he is remembered for today are in Italian. And sometimes they include English because they are set in the United States. The director is Steno, a really, really prolific filmmaker from Italy and the name Steno is known to every Bud Spencer fan I believe. He may not have done really acclaimed stuff like Fellini or Pasolini, but his collaborations with Spencer (Pedersoli) will always help him that he will not be forgotten. This is not one of his final works by any means, but closer to the end than to the beginning of his career, even if he kept making movies for a long time afterwards. Also Steno wrote more than 100 screenplay during his career, so it surprises me a bit that here he is credited as the director, but not as the writer. There are three other writers though and this is certainly enough, also without Steno. An interesting trio. One of them is still alive now at almost 100. The second was an Oscar nominee three years before this film was released. The third is credited with the western classic "Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo". Really interesting team we have here. This movie here exists in three different versions at least and you can see the different running times here on the imdb page. Not a massive difference though. The shortest runs is under 100 minutes and the longest is under 105 minutes. Maybe you wondered why I listed the German title above, but Spencer has been such a huge star here in Germany for decades and people still remember him fondly years after his death. I hope the new generation also watches some of his movie, so that he will not be forgotten. I cannot deny that I like the man a lot as well. This one here is of course one of his works without Terence Hill. It also did not get a Golden Screen here in Germany, i.e. the award for films that are really seen by many, many viewers in the theater. Still, it is pretty popular nonetheless and frequently shown on television even almost half a century after its original release. So maybe the more accurate approach would be to wonder why I listed the American title here because Spencer was never huge in American, more of an unknown really. As for the rest of the cast, I cannot say a lot really. Enzo Cannavale deserves a mention. He played in other Spencer films and also in the classic Cinema Paradiso. But that is pretty much it. I am sure that Italian audiences can say more about the supporting cast here. Most of them were pretty prolific anyway.
As for the story and fun component, I think it was tolerable. Some fine moments, but I still must say that there were also lengthy sequences where the entertainment factor could have been higher. One thing that feels a bit unusual here is that Spencer's character is not as physically superior as he is in other films. Maybe they wanted to keep it slightly more realistic. Like you could actually feel that they were going for tension and drama with the opening sequence up there on the building. Spencer's character there is even physically superior initially when fighting this Black fella up there who apparently lost his marbles. But no surprise, the Black guy is not a villain here. Especially in those films where Hill is part of the cast too, they always go easy on Black people, so no surprise he almost turns into a friend eventually. He realizes that Rizzo (Spencer) saved his life here. In general, Rizzo is pretty much a saint you could almost say. Look at all the people he helps in here. The guy he tells to turn himself in because he will get a less severe punishment this way. The really small dude who is his friend and who he even apologizes to. The woman who gets injured by the villains. The drugged boy. He is on good terms with kids too. So you can basically say that Rizzo here is a character who supports weaker people with his fistpower. I know this fits Spencer's characters' in almost every movie he is in, but here it is a bit more than usual. By the way, even without the Golden Screen, this film here was beloved enough to be turned into a bit of a series as Spencer reprises his role as Rizzo in several other movies in the following years. I wish this one here could have been as much fun as the poster suggests, which is honestly maybe the most hilarious poster I have seen from any Spencer movie, but it is not on some occasions. Nowhere near my favorite Spencer films. There are good moments though, for example when he punches some really big bald guy who belongs to the villain. The first punch at least. The second punch is not this one-sided and again we have a situation in which Spencer's character is not really as strong and invincible as he is in other films. Sometimes he is even on the floor here like at the very end. When he goes and beats up the bad guy for what he did to the woman, it is also a fun moment really. But there is, in addition to the usual fighting scenes, also a great deal of story in here, more than in most other Spencer films in terms of twists. Look at the corrupt cop near the end. Look at Rizzo talking to the Mafia folks with whom he is not on entirely bad terms, even if he is from the opposing side of the law (well, then not anymore however if we are really strict). Or look at the guy who got a bullet to his forehead and who we see there lying with the wound. I am not sure if all this is such a good idea. I mean for me to really appreciate it, I would have needed a better plot to be honest. I have seen that too from other Spencer films (at least one), but here it is never really appealing or interesting. I guess than I prefer the simple pointless movies starring Spencer than a shot at more that turns out unsuccessfully. Maybe fewer characters could also have been a better idea. Had this film not been with my beloved Bud, I could very well have taken away two stars here and this turned it into a negative recommendation all in all. But as it is with him, I still stay cautiously optimistic. So this film seemed a lot more serious than I expected overall. But not all of these more serious scenes were on the forgettable side. For example when they get into this drug lab, it was fun. First the silent way and then how Spencer verbally and physically gets in the way of the bad guys there. That was alright. And all the fight sequences were fun anyway. And one thing I really liekd was the final scene here with everybody eating spaghetti together. That was nice and actually even got me in the mood for spaghetti as well. Haha. Okay, I think that is enough now. I give this film a positive recommendation, but a bit more on the cautious side. I think this is a good watch, but I think that you should probably watch other Spencer films first. The serious focus on drugs and crime is too much sometimes for the film's own good. Thumbs-up nonetheless. Spencer's voice is also a delight as always and with that I am referring to the German dub of course, which honestly may be even better than his real voice. Not only are the translations so nice in terms of style, verbally I mean, but Wolfgang Hess is always so much fun too. May he and Bud rest in peace.
Schwester Agnes (1975)
Very bleak, a lot happens, but it does not feel like it
"Schwester Agnes" is an East German television film from 1975, so this one had its 45th anniversary last year and maybe, depending on when you read this review, the 50th anniversary is already very close too or happened already even. There is no English title here listed for this film, which is probably not a surprise given the movie's original, but I guess that it would be "Nurse Agnes". "Schwester" is not meant in the sense of sister here, but in the sense of "Krankenschwester". Let's talk a bit more about the basics The film runs for 1.5 hours, minimally over probably with a really long title sequence, and the director is Otto Holub. He is also one of no less than four writers, pretty big amount for a film that is not super long. One person from the quartet is even a female, but why not. The GDR had a tendency to appreciate women working and after all the lead actress here is exactly that as well: an actress. As for Holub, this was one of his later career efforts. He was born in Czechoslovakia and already started directing in the 1950s, but was never really prolific and, according to imdb, two years after this one, his career was over, which was of course due to his untimely death at the age of not even 50. By the way, he never worked on Czech movies, only on German-language projects apparently. Lead actress is Agnes Kraus here. She was already comfortably into her 60s here, so it surprised me a bit honestly to see that her character was several years younger because she looked her age I would say. Maybe it was a bit of a personal film to her because the character had the same name or maybe it was just coincidence. It's not important anyway. I wish I could say more about her, but I am really not familiar with this performer at all. I see that she lives for another 20 years afterwards and it is tough to say if she was just retired when the Berlin Wall fell or if she could not find anymore jobs in reunited Germany. Then again, as I stated, she only lived for another five years, so she was really old at that point already, so maybe she just wanted to enjoy retirement and relax. Tough to blame her for that after such a long career to be fair. But people said that this film here is a bit on the progressive side, so she was not one who was really too sad about the end of the GDR I assume. However, witnessing such groundbreaking political changes at such an age probably still does something with you, either in a positive or negative way. Not sure which of the two applies to Krause. As for the rest of the cast, I can only repeat mayself by saying that I am not too familiar with most East German actors. The only one I can say something about here is Fred Delmare, fittingly also the only one with a profile picture. Not even the lead actress got one. The reason may be that Delmare managed a successful transition when the GDR vanished and still kept acting for years to come. "In aller Freundschaft" is no quality stuff obviously, but better than nothing maybe and it pays the bills with all the GEz money attached to it. Kinda funny that this is where he went from appearing in Schneewittchen in the early 1960s. His role here is also bigger than you would think looking at the fact that there are more than ten people credited higher than Delmare.
As for the movie itself, I already stated that it felt incredibly bleak. The lead performance surely didn't help either. I mean you can say it was the actress' approach or mentality here, but it did nothing for me for the most part and I sadly cannot call it quietly convincing. But it's obviously not just her. The majority of supporting players here certainly also did not leave a remotely lasting impression on me and I guess this applies to most other viewers too. The rating for this film, even if not too high, is probably slightly too high here nonetheless. I am sure with the next old GDR film I will give a watch I will not recognize the same actors once again, if they are in it. Pity. Maybe my loss, but I kinda doubt it. The writing is not any better really. So many writers for something this unimpressive is surely a disappointment. It's not even that nothing happens here. I think there is a pregnant character and most of all there is this little boy who has a deadly accident when he falls of a cliff. Of course, we don#t see that tragic event happening, but when the nurse arrives and realizes the kid is dead, it is a bit on the touching side, but they could have done so, so much more with that for sure. Like you'd expect the people living in this place to be sad for days, weeks, months really, but they move on so quickly that it feels as if such a crucial event is barely a part of the story. Honestly, blink and you might even miss it because the references to said tragedy are this scarce. There are other key plots, like the beloved elderly nurse taking care of a young woman, actually a really attractive one and this means something coming from me as I am never really into blondes that much. Then there are the professional struggles of the old woman. I actually should not call her old because of how "young" her character here is. And retirement is never an option for her. Just moving elsewhere is the plan at some point. Will she? Will she not? Keep watching if you care. I kinda didn't, maybe because the townsfolk never really caught my attention, so I thought that maybe I like the new fellas better, even if it was nice here and there that they really seemed to like the title character, especially when she got sick. Not really being sick, but pretending is also part of the film here. I already mentioned earlier that this was not the most GDR-friendly movie you could say from a political perspective, but it was also not so bad that it got censored or even banned. by today's standards, it is really harmless of course. And also I did not see too many inclusions where I felt that this was really critical about the powerful and those in charge. It just seemed to be a bit on the progressive side when on one occasion we see topless young women. Honestly, this is comedy-linked, but the comedy here also did not really make an impact and it was rare enough and it is these devastating parts of the dead young boy for example that make me say that it is more of a character study, mostly a drama and not a comedy. This was the time I think when there was stuff like Schulmädchen-Report being released in West Germany and the nudity you get to see here is probably the utmost you can expect from the socialist GDR. Overall, it is not a terribly bad film and I even think that you can discover new things and aspects on rewatch here, but the entire thing felt so slow and uninteresting to me that I have zero motivation to give it a rewatch anytime soon. Probably never. That's why I give it a thumbs-down and negative recommendation and it wasn't even a close call. Watch something else instead.
A really poor movie and what do they do? Turn it into a series.
"Ein Fall von Liebe - Annas Baby" is a German television movie from 2014, so this one is already easily over five years old and this is the third from a trilogy. They had some massive gaps in there because the second film is from no less than three years earlier. The words on the left of side the hyphen are the title of the series, although actually back then it wasn't a series yet, but apparently these films were really successful and they turned it into an actual series immediately afterwards and produces new episodes much more frequently. I would say quantity over quality, but this could imply that these almost 1.5 hours we have here had some quality and this is absolutely not the case. On the contrary. I watched the second film a few days ago adnd that one was as horrible as this third film here. I am sure that once I watch the first film, I will be convinced that one film is one too many. By the way, Sandra Borgmann did not return for this film here as you could have guessed from the end of the second film, but I will get to the cast a little later. The director is Jorgo Papavassiliou and the writer is Ulrich del Mestre and they worked on several "Ein Fall von Liebe" movies. This means "A case of love" by the way and is a little play on words because the protagonist here is a lawyer. The specific title of this movie is "Anna's baby", just like in German pretty much. So yeah, those two people who were really in key positions for this film and others may have exotic names, but no talent comes with them. You will find Traumschiff, Bergdoktor, Soko, Ein Sommer... etc. in their bodies of work and everybody who knows a little bit about German television and films know also that these projects are as low as it gets quality-wise. So best is definitely to keep your expectations really low for this one and even if you do, most likely they will be disappointed nonetheless. As for the cast, I think it is still sad to see Francis Fulton-Smith attached to so many movies like this because here and there he has really shown us that he does have some range, but I guess these pay better than the more challenging ones and he takes the easy way for the money. Can you blame him? Not sure, but it's despicable that hundreds of films like this one here have been paid with GEZ money that the German people is literally forced to pay or else, in the worst case scenario, they have to go to jail until they pay. The good news is that the quantity of Degeto films like this one here seems to decrease a little bit now. I think back in 2014 when this was made, but also 2010 etc., Degeto released considerably more movies. I already talked a bit about the cast. I shall continue. The female lead is Mariella Ahrens here and I think she is really among the very worst German has to offer in terms of television actresses that regularly play(ed) lead characters. She has np range, no versatility at all. She may look slightly attractive for her age and that is all she has to offer. Sadly, this is enough apparently. I am a bit surprised she is credited only in position six here on imdb. She should be in the second spot, but obviously not in terms of quality, just in terms of screen time.
What can I say about the action here? About the plot? Well, it all feels cringeworthy and unrealistic. In the other film from this trilogy that I watched the courtroom action was already a big joke and here it is just as bad. What do we have? A key witness that all of a sudden tells everybody that she had sex with the accused in his truck. Charming. Of course, the accused's (or defendant's, can never remember the difference, shame on me) extremely pregnant partner sits in the courtroom too and is really humiliated. This is again where they component comes into play that ARD Degeto always add (more than) an ounce of mmisandry to their scripts, which feels even more shocking if the story got penned by males and not females as it is the case here. The actress who palyed the young pregnant woman was kinda cute though, but this does not say anything about her talent I guess. She did what she could with the script, but she had nothing really to work with either. So I think this story about the pregnancy and the cheating was still slightly better than the romantic banter between the two key characters. Oh, of course Ahrens plays such an amazing journalist that she also gets a promotion in an early scene. How everybody stands up and applauds was also really cringeworthy, just like her joking around with her boss later on. But back to the aforementioned banter: There were many moments that were tough to stomach. I will just mention too that were linked to the subject of relationships togetherness. One would be when Ahrens' character made a special meal and they talk about the significance of the name and how it is linked to their relationship. But the worst was probably a phone conversation when one character asks the other if he (or was it she? no I think Ahrens' character asked the question) finishes and there was a little misunderstanding about what was meant. Job or their relationship. Unreal stuff really. I cringed so hard there and it is pathetic with what they were going here from the comedic perspective. I do feel really bad for people who thought this was funny. Or that there was any depth or significance or realism to this movie. They were just going all in with the showy moments. Just take the scenes in which Ahrens' character talks to the bad guy and also the violent confrontation when FFS's character shows up right on time and shows us he is the stronger guy. Or the receipt part where she comes comes back to get it right after they talked about it. man it was all so poor. Ahrens is such a bad actress and we are supposed to see her as some touch undercover invesitigator here. I can only shake my head at that. I said earlier that the relationship between those two about to become parents was among the better aspects from this film and it may be true, but don't mistake this as good either. It was also really messed up. I already mentioned the revelation in the courtroom. Next issue would be the older lady that the young pregnant woman runs into. A touch of Moretz/Huppert there, even if Moretz's character was not pregnant in "Greta" and Huppert's was considerably older, but still. I mean it would have been okay here if it was really all just in the pregnant woman's mind and that the older woman was simply nice and not a weirdo, but when in the end the older woman actually drives off with the baby, it was another degree of terrible here. By the way, there was a scene in which Ahrens' character talked to FFS's about the baby and this was also again to show us how indifferent men must be. Please see through this, female audience members! Oh yes, we see the baby here too. A crucial moment in everybody's life, but it is rushed in for happy ending purpose. Or happiness purposes just because the ending was not near unfortunately at that point. Honestly, I was surprised that the crazy woman's man was so reasonable. For once a really likable male, how unusual. Nonetheless, his woman's craziness was also linked to sadness. They cannot put full blame on a female character in a Degeto movie. No matter how horrible her act. I shall end this review now with the ending of this movie and what do we have here? The two young people marry and our two protagonists are also in the room of course. Yes, they marry. Who cares if he just cheated on her. Who cares if they were basically split and that she said she does not want to see him, ever talk to him again. I mean it is okay she forgave him and also that he is maybe faithful now, but why go and get married immediately afterwards? Like why? It makes no sense. Oh wait, of course it does. Just offer more unrealistic happiness to everybody in the audience. This film is a tragedy. That's how bad it is. Kristin Suckow's and Fabienne Haller's looks cannot make up for the mess this film is from every other perspective. Highly not recommended. And, as I said earlier, the worst about this entire thing is really that it was backed up with a series. Shame on the people who made this decision and also on those who kept going, no matter if cast and crew. Absolutely skip!
Judith Kemp (2004)
A tragedy for those involved, but sadly also quality-wise
Here we have a movie called "Judith Kemp" and this one is from 2004, so already over 15 years old. Of course, this has nothing to do with former basketball superstar Shawn Kemp, but this somehow came to my mind because the name Kemp is not particularly common here in Germany at all. Never heard of somebody with that name from my country here. So this film is of course in the German language and it runs, like most small screen releases, for 1.5 hours almost, especially for most small screen releases that involved ARD Degeto and Regina Ziegler. These two are really as low as it gets in terms of German television movies and they have made hundreds of films really and the gigantic majority of these turned out really weak. This one here is definitely not an exception. But let's be honest here: This project was doomed from the start. Take a look at the man who wrote the screenplay here. This would be Uwe Wilhelm. Despite being active for almost 25 years here, this man has literally no quality in his body of work and his career-defining scripts came from "Marienhof" and "Hinter Gittern - Der Frauenknast". Self-explanatory really. Good thing is that according to imdb he has released nothing new in over five years, so he may very well be retired. And if you think he is bad already, then take a look at Helmut Metzger's filmography. He was the director here. Let's just see what he did in the new millennium. Over 20 episodes of cheese Katie Fforde adaptations. Over 30 episodes of "Um Himmels Willen". Ad to that some Rosamunde Pilcher and Traumschiff. Don't think I really have to say anything about the quality of these projects and this one we got here is exactly on the same level, which means really, really low. Deep down there with the worst German television has to offer. An absolute atrocity that this and all the other Degeto movies are paid for by money that the German people are forced to pay. Unreal stuff really. But now, let's focus on this one here. The title is certainly a bit unusual. From all these Degeto films, it is not too often the case that they include name in the title and on those rare occasions where they did, it was just the first name, usually of a female characcter. here we get the full name: Judith Kemp. I have seen many and I don't remember this being the case elsewhere. I also read that they had plans to turn this film into a series and perhaps it would have happened if it hadn't been for lead actress Jennifer Nitsch dying months before this film had its premiere. So if there is one positive thing to her death, then that no series got made. Also not with another actress. Other than that, it was a tragedy of course. The circumstances were also pretty bizarre. I don't want to go into detail about how she died in detail, but until today it is not 100% safe if it was a suicide or an accident, even if most people think she took her own life on purpose. This is what I am referring to with the title of my review. But her death was not the only one. The actor who played her boss in here, with his memorable beard, was Gunter Berger, another really prolific performer and he lived for a decade after this movie, but is also no longer with us anymore. He was in his early 70s at that point, so not extremely untimely. And finally, Sven Pippig, the guy who plays the fairly incompetent, but not totally unlikable, chubby lawyer also died a long time before he should have. So a bit depressing this film from the perspective of what happened to several cast members here, most of all the lead actress. For her it was her final movie. Just one television aired even later for the first time. I know you should not speak badly about the dead, but Nitsch was definitely not a good actress and you could see it here. I mean Gesine Cukrowski is also not good, but she is still better and more memorable than Nitsch, even if the latter is much more at the center of the story. So much for the basics.
Now, let me elaborate on the story and why I felt this was pretty poor overall. And that is still a gentle way to put it. I mean it is the usual you see from Degeto all the time and also from Regina Ziegler's production company. The female protagonist is literally a saint, really smart, really kind, really hard-working etc. Literally flawless. I already had enough when I saw the jogging scene at the very start of the film and how she talks to the guy there. We get it. She is better than him. Not just fitter. And he admires her. Keep in mind, he barely saw her behind him. He did not know for how long she has been running. But yeah, she easily runs away seconds later. Or the scene when she sees that injured boy there with all his wounds and how she cannot take her eyes off him, even when another character demands her attention. It's tough to watch. And not because of the injuries. Then there is this scene with the guys knocking on the door and how she puts them in their places, especially the bigger one who did the talking. Not sure what I can say there. Cringe galore as well, even bigger probably at the beginning of this scene when she just responds with yes or no for three or four questions. By the way, of course the protagonist's considerably older boss is also all over her and crushing on her. For that, he also ignores the guideline in his company that there shall be no affairs between employees. And what happens when she rejects him? Like when she takes away her hand? He is about to fire her. Charming. So, just like (almost) all the other Degeto and Ziegler films, this one here is also extremely anti-male. So many examples. Most of them are also linked to sex or genitals. Just take the comment early on that she whispers into the guy's ear what she will do if he does not let go of her. His kids shouldn't hear though. Oh yes of course, I didn't say already that she is also a mother with two beautiful kids that are doing really fine. Unreal. Okay, I was talking about the anti-male moments. A lot more. Take Cukrowski's comments about faking something. Or another occasion where one character jokes about cutting off a male genital. You can see from all these inclusions that these films are almost always directed at women. So I applaud every woman who sees through all this nonsense. By the way, this was far from everything we got here in terms of misandry. Just look at the characters in general. The boss wants to have sex with the female protagonist. The dude at the door who chokes the protagonist is really violent and dangerous and the other lawyer (Pippig) is as incompetent as it gets. Unbelievable actually that this film was made by two men in key positions, the ones I mentioned earlier. And right when you thought that things could not get any worse, we are getting this little staged situation at the very end in which the bad guy is tricked and exposed you can say, so Cukrowski's character with the help of wonder lawyer finally gets that she deserves from a financial perspective. Oh my. Let's not even talk about this final "highlight" of the film with Berger's character, Nitsch's character and her wig etc. Oh yes, a really safe indicator of how good (or bad in fact) these films are is what the kids do. Not necessarily if the kids give good performances, but really what they are saying and how authentic it feels. This is the case here as well. Whenever Nitsch's character is talking to her children, we see that there is no talent from the screen writer. Absolutely no surprise though, for he messed up in key areas really, so how could anyone think that he mastered the maybe most difficult challenge linked to this film. Nothing positive I can say here at all, except that judging from the quality here, it is an absolutely good thing there were no sequels or even a series, no matter if it had been with Nitsch or another actress. May the fallen rest in peace. Them not being with us anymore does not make this a better film though. It's absolutely horrible from beginning to end. But yeah, Julia Richter is fairly stunning and I have had a soft spot for Cukrowski too at times, but not in this film here I must say. That's all. Absolutely skip.
Die Aufnahmeprüfung (2012)
Not funny, not touching, not authentic
"Die Aufnahmeprüfung" is a German television film from 2012, so this one will soon have its tenth anniversary and perhaps it happened already depending on when you read this review of mine. Like most other (ARD) television films from Germany, this one here runs for minimally under 1.5 hours and it is a Degeto production, which also means you should indeed expect the worst because ARD degeto have come up with hundreds, if not thousands, of horrible films over the years. The good news is that right now the number seems to decrease, but back in the early 2010s there was really a gigantic amount. That's whyt they used your GEZ money for folks. Let's not go any further into detail about that though and instead focus on this movie here. The director is Austrian filmmaker Peter Gersina and he launched his career when the new millennium began and this means that by 2012 he was already pretty experienced and prolific. I think there are some pretty amazing Austrian films, also small screen releases, from recent years and filmmakers too, but Gersina is definitely not one of them if you take a look at his body of work. Many really bad projects included there and the best ones are also only mediocre by general standards. The Sams film perhaps, but this also has to do more with the subject than with Gersina's efforts. It probably also would have been better without him. The good news is that Gersina not too often writes screenplays for the film he directs and for this one here this is also the case, so they hired Jens Urban. Bad news is that he is not any better either. But these days he is writing stories for "In aller Freundschaft", which is pretty self-explanatory, so what would you expect. This project here was really doomed from the start. Before I talk about individual scenes that were really poor and what I disliked the most about this film, a few words on the cast: Birge Schade was maybe still the best cast member, but not even she could make this mess work. There are more familiar faces in here. Jan-Gregor Kremp may be an actor that is easy to recognize, but you never really remember the name. Things look different with Herbert Knaup. At least for me, maybe because I like him. But this made it even worse for me that he accepted to appear in this mess of a movie, but also that he really was not good at all. Honestly, he was pretty poor and gimmicky with his character and the fact that the character was also written poorly really made things even worse. About the child actors I really cannot say too much this time. Not familiar with any of those three (or four) and I still wonder if we still see them in films 20 years from now. That's it for the people I guess.
Now about the action: Honestly, the very first scene in the elevator was one where I already knew this film would suck a lot. And it became true. I mean look at how she humiliates Knaup's character there. Charming. In front of everybody. If a man did the same, it would be sexist and derogatory. If a woman does that, it is strong-willed and emancipated no? Ridiculous. If Knaup's character is not her boss, then he should talk to her boss and make sure he gives her a little talk about how to behave. Not only to your superiors, but also to your colleagues. The action moves away quickly from the hospital. We find out the relationship between Knaup's and Schade's characters and the scene in which the former injures himself and cannot go on the trip is so cringeworthy too watch. Also Knaup's acting there. Absolutely unauthentic. 100% for the sake of it that we have Schade's character go with the kids and also for Kremp's character to join them. How was she allowed this quickly off work though? Anyway, things get worse when the trip takes place. Look at all the stuff that happens there. The scene with the girl cramping in the water and Kramp's character's wrongful idea that the boy is to blame. Pseudo drama of the worst kind. Or how the boy throws the girl's phone into the water. Or how Kremp's character has a little accident during climbing. Or how he has another accident on his bike etc. There is much more. This is really so clearly written and a trip would never take place in a similar manner in real life. Of course, not much later the ex-husband (Knaup) shows up and makes things even more complicated. Not only because he is in general not too happy with the new man in his ex-wife's life, but mostly because during one scene he tries to kiss her and wants her back apparently. But she rejects him. Because she is a tough independent woman in love with somebody else. Let's just ignore what happened during New Year's Eve. Lies, cheating etc. Charming how it's always the female characters who get away with stuff like that and when Kremp's character here is about to start something with somebody else potentially, he is also considered heartless, especially compared to Schade's character crying in the light of her potentially broken relationship. The funny thing is the other woman is so much more attractive, but the idea that it is never really about looks is of course also not a rarity in these films because they also have to please the above-average attractive housewife that watches films like this. These Degeto movies are almost always directed at female audiences. Which is why I applaud every single female who sees through these charade and realizes how horrible most of these films are. More examples from this one here. When the girl starts singing the Lena song, I cringed too. Maybe they can still slightly get away with that, but where is Lena's record company to sue the filmmakers here for copyright reasons and keep this film from ever being shown again. Not gonna happen obviously. No surprise either because Lena is talent-wise approximately on the same level as this movie. The rating of exactly 6.0 (before my rating) is way too high here. The ending is also weak, most of all with Knaup's character who did not know what was going on and is pushed outside, but also in terms of how the son all of a sudden changed his mind. I mean it kinda makes sense because he heard his mother suffering, but still. For me it did not feel realistic with everything that happened before. The core idea of the mother starting something with her son's maths teacher is pathetic enough already. And even if we accept this as fact (and I really hesitate to), then it is maybe even more ridiculous and as insensitive as it gets to not tell the son, but offer this twist to him as a surprise. So no matter where you look here, be it acting, story, attention to detail etc. this movie is a major disappointment. This also becomes clear with the very end when we find out why this film is called the way it is. The English term would be "qualifying examination" or "entrance examination" and the female protagonist tells the (not so) new man in her life that he passed the exam. Yeah right, this poor guy. The only one who should pass any exam in here is this rotten family and honestly Kremp got it all right the moment he decided to leave them behind and run away. But with that ridiculously forced happily ever after ending (the way you get them so often in Degeto films), all is good again and the easily entertained are satisfied once more. So yeah, one quick note to Ilse Neubauer. I think it is kinda sad that the director at 50 would have to make films like this one here, but Neubauer was 70 back then and is still acting today at almost 80 and her being in films like this at such an age is maybe even more miserable. I mean what does she do here. Sit around and appear as deep and know-it-all in a likable way. Sigh. I don't even. Especially when she told Knaup's character that the other two grown-ups can now really get along well with some time for themselves. Okay, that's it. There is no need to read between the lines here. I think this is a pretty terrible movie from every perspective and I give it a massive thumbs-down. Highly not recommended.
Very bleak subject and the execution here is not really helping either
"Das Luther-Tribunal. Zehn Tage im April" is a German television movie from 2017, so this is moving closer to its fifth anniversary now and maybe it happened already depending on when you read this review of mine. This was on television today, but it probably isn't too often really, so chances are high that some time has passed since my review here. I called this a "movie" and I am not sure if this is really the appropriate term to go for this time. But it's not really a reenactment either because there is clearly a great deal of fictionalization here. Just take the two at the very end and where they are when they talk about Luther's future for example. Surely they kep the key historic events accurate, but that is really it. Cannot blame them though. I mean it iis not as if we havd cameras back then when this film took place that show us what things were really like. So you can call it a movie I suppose. This refers to "motion pictures" anyway and this always fits and it does not matter one bit what the contents are like. So I am more hesitant to call it a documentary with all the acting going on in here. Yes, there are interviews in-between, but these are clearly the minority in terms of screen time, but also in terms of how memorable they are (i.e. not a lot) compared to the live action scenes. This is also one reason why I did not rate this too highly honestly. I mean it is relatively recent and if we are honest, then there is nothing in here during these almost 1.5 hours we have not seen on other projects from the informative perspective, the perspective of historic knowledge. Instead, they tried their best to make it interesting for general audiences of all ages, but there they also succeeded only partially at best. The title here means "The Luther tribunal: Ten days in April", so you see this is set during a very specific and not too long period of time. By the way, this was on Phoenix today and to be honest, this is a television station where I expect way better because they also belong to those stations that force people to pay GEZ and what I got back here with this film, documentary... (call it whatever you like) is absolutely not on a level that justifies these gigantic amounts of money they are making (billions, in fact) and if you don't pay, then you are taken to court. It's basically a service forced upon the German people. But enough of that now. For the basics still it must be noted that the director is Christian Twente (not Enschede) and he has been making films, almost always documentaries (most of them with a historic background and also about Germany) for over 20 years now, almost 20 years when this one got made. So he is certainly experienced enough. And again, I would have expected a better outcome. But maybe he just doesn't have it and everything else is as weak as what he did here. If you have such a level after almost two decades in the industry (and he has been pretty prolific too, not just a new project every three years), then maybe there is little hope. The writer is Friedrich Klütsch. Not too much to say about him. He has also mostly worked on documentaries and there is a surprisingly big gap in his body of work time-wise. He started a long time ago, even way earlier than the director, but he has not been prolific at all. The outcome here does not get me curious about other works that he has been a part of.
As for the cast, the main character is played by Roman Knizka. I am talking of course about Luther. There are other familiar names in here. Stegemann would be one (not just because of who his wife was) and another is Alexander Beyer and that is far from everybody. Some smaller roles were played by actors with a non-German background as you can see from their names. It's alright. The acting is never an issue in here really. The writing is. These more memorable scenes are not frequent enough at all here for a positive recommendation. The most memorable scene is maybe the shot in slow motion in the snow outside when he is on his own. It looked nice honestly, but as they were using it more frequently then they should have, it also feels a bit pretentious to be honest. The reason may be that there is no further significance to it contents-wise. I love snow, but it just makes no impact other than looking fine, like a beautiful wrapping with nothing inside. I could elaborate on all kinds of scenes here, but I really don't to. So I will keep it short. Just take a look at the one when the antagonist comes to the group and they make clear how much they respect Luther and are maybe even ready to give their lives for his views. Or the one that follows immediately afterwards, the one I mentioned already with these two influential men there taking a bath and how they talk about making Luther disappear. All we get before that also feels fairly generic, like the scenes in which Luther's supporters are treated in a really harmful way. Also physically. Still, even with how underwhelming and maybe even uninspired these sequences felt, I still think they were better than all the interview parts. I did not like those at all. They did not really deliver any kind of informative quality, but you could feel that this is exactly what they were going for. But it just did not work out. Maybe the writing was too weak, maybe they just interviewed the wrong people, especially the one woman. But it's not a success. On the contrary, it feels rather try-hard. I guess this is it then. Maybe I am a bit biased here because this film is about a time in history that I have never had great interest in, but I must also say that this one here did not sparkle my interest at all, which could have been the consequence of a fulfilling (and fulfilled) documentary. And for those with more interest in here, it could feel even more forgettable because they know a lot more about the Luther years than myself and it will teach them absolutely nothing. So no matter which corner you are, the consequence may be the same, namely that you will wish you could unsee it. Okay, it is not that horrible, not a failure or anything, but also quite a bit away from the level they would have needed for me to hand out a positive documentary. The only somewhat good thing I see here is that they did not include some romance story or anything for the sake of it. That was alright. In that case, I maybe would have taken away another two stars. But it's still a thumbs-down. I would say that perhaps it is best if the filmmakers here return to full-on documentaries, but I am not sure about such a suggestion at all because the documentary parts (i.e. the interviews) here were indeed the film's weakest spot. Watch something else instead.
Alles Chefsache! (2013)
I thought the outcome was majorly disappointing
"Alles Chefsache!" is a German television film from 2013, so this one is also getting closer to its tenth anniversary and, who knows, maybe it happened already deppending on when you read this review of mine. I shall start with the basics for this one: It runs for 1.5 hours, minimally under, just like the vast majority of German small screen releases. The director is Edzard Onneken, who has been working for over 30 years now in the industry as a filmmaker, back then easily over 20 years, so certainly very much on the experienced side. He was born in Pakistan, but has never really worked on anything else than German-language projects. However, the fact that he launches his career with GZSZ and that his most known project is maybe "Türkisch für Anfänger" is pretty telling in terms of what you can expect here quality-wise. He was only around the age of 25 or even younger when he started back then and now he is between 50 and 60. He has never been a director really who wrote his own screenplays, so it shall not come as a surprise to anybody that he was not in charge of the writing here either. Instead, they got two people for that: Hause is definitely the more experienced from the duo, the one with a much bigger body of work, even if apparently Gebhart started earlier, even back in the old millennium. Well, what can you say about their bodies of work? They could be worse for sure I would say, but also they are not horribly bad, so I guess the outcome here is a definite contender for career-worse for both of them. However, as for Hause, films like "Erdbeereis mit Liebe" ("Strawberry ice cream with love") and "Griechische Küsse" ("Greek kisses") are definite contenders as well as you can already guess from the titles. I think this one here is a really bad film, but I probably would have hated it even more with somebody else like Halmer in the lead. Honestly, he has been in so any abysmal ARD Degeto productions that I should really despise him by now and also he has not acted very well in most of those, but somehow I have a soft spot for him. I still find it sad that, at the age of 70, he had to appear in films like this one here because he is a man who has played in two Oscar-winning films, even if that was a long time ago, but still. One of them was even one of the biggest winners in Oscar history. And he did not play characters that were on the screen for five seconds or so, but considerably longer. Oh well, after all he made the choices to star in films like this one here himself, so I should not go too easy on him either I suppose. Still a bit strange to see him with ginger hair in here, but I guess he had to look a little younger, so his romance story would not feel too absurd because the female actress was a lot younger. Still is. The most known cast members here are definitely the males. We have Helmut Zierl, who plays the main villain, which the trained eye recognizes immediately from the poor writing, and the guy you see on the photo here on imdb next to Halmer is David Rott, an actor that most German film buffs have come across too I guess. Don't wanna say too much about the females here, simply because I don't know the actresses, but one that deserves a mention is Angela Roy. Not for positive reasons though. She played an Italian in here and I have no idea what they were thinking, but what she displayed there, was definitely not an Italian accent. Like not even close. Ridiculous and this says everything about the production values and absence of talent here. But what would you expect from somebody whose career-defining works include Inga Lindström movies, Rosamunde Pilcher adaptations and "Rote Rosen". Can only shake my head at somebody like this playing a key character in a movie that is not just on national television, but an ARD production. Your GEZ money at work, folks.
Okay, now I shall elaborate on a few scenes and inclusions from this film to make myself clear why I thought this was a terrible watch altogether. It is once more the usual issues with ARD Degeto. The biggest is probably that way too much happens here from beginning to end. Let's recollect: We have a man being forced to go into retirement. We have his son take over the company. We have another company ready to buy said company. We have a last-minute switch that saves the company. We have a female character finding out she is pregnant. We have said character collapse out of nowhere. We have the older male protagonist throw up from food. This is probably not even everything. It's just ridiculous. These films always have more action than most people see in five or ten years of time. Oh and let's not forget about the suicide attempt early on. Honestly, this was depicted and included in such a cringeworthy manner that I felt they were literally making fun of people that are actually suicidal. It may sound harsh, but subjects like these need to be touched with a great deal of sensitivity and the talent and right approach for something like this is entirely absent here. Can only shake my head at that. And let's not even get started on the absurd rescue mission from the female protagonist there with her bike and how her face expression in the end shows us she knew exactly what was going on here. But it's no surprise. The females in these movies are always the smart ones because these films are mostly for female audiences. Often, they are anti-male as well. I guess you could say that here too from several perspectives, for example how the "Italian" pushes around Halmer's character constantly and yet the latter is the bad guy with how he acts in that restaurant. Oh yes, as for the restaurant (or café), the guy sitting there and sharing his wisdom with Halmer's character is one who turns out to be a bank manager and boom in the end, they simply employ him. Another mesmerizing coincidence. Also that he agrees. Ridiculous again. What else can I say? A yes, the anti-male component. Take a look at how the Italian woman, a complete stranger in fact, finds out first about the pregnancy. It is not her man that she tells how it should be. It is also not Halmer's character who takes her to the hospital after she collapses. No. It is the woman that she becomes best friends with within seconds after her tear-filled collapse and meltdown. No words for that again. Literally, no matter what perspective you are taking here, this film is such a failure from pretty much every perspective honestly. Oh and by the way, this is about soup, not necessarily noodle soup, but soup in general. Just saying because you could have forgotten already by the end because this is where they reintroduce this aspect again after leaving it out for pretty much the entire film before that except the very start. But it could have been really about every other item too in terms of the family business. The father-son reunion at the end when he says something caring to his son also feels really forced. Another issue with these films is that they indeed always have the utmost happy ending. I don't even want to mention everything now that goes right here after it all seemed to have gone wrong 20 minutes earlier, maybe 15 only, but trust me there is a lot and it makes absolutely no sense from a perspective of authenticity. No other option for me here than giving this movie a thumbs-down. A massive one indeed. Just take a look at how she initially did not even know she was pregnant, but then has massive symptoms immediately afterwards when she is eating with her man. Yep, the man who dares to accept the phone while at a beauty spa or something with his significant other. Boo! I hope you get the irony. The only real boo goes out to people who were part of the making of this movie. And to those who actually saw the slightest bit of quality in here. Everybody else who saw through this charade I am glad to know they do, especially the females. I applaud them. Go watch something else instead.
Pretty interesting for the most part, only weaknesses are in the middle
"Justiz" is a co-production between Germany and Switzerland from 1993, so this film has its 30th anniversary soon. Maybe it happened already depending on when you read this review of mine. The film runs for 105 minutes, so it is as close to the 1.5-hour mark as it is to the 2-hour mark or even closer to the 1.5-hour mark if we look really closely. But it's not too important. This is neither a really long nor really short movie. This was Germany's submission to the Oscars from its respective year, but it did not score the nomination. The Golden Globe nod, were it lost to an Asian movie, makes up for it though. And I am not sure I would have nominated the film myself. Need to see some of the other/actual nominees first I guess. It is an okay movie, but not great I would say. The language here is German of course and if you have seen some Swiss films, then you know how difficult it can be at times to understand Swiss German, but here it's really not an issue at all. Very easy to understand in terms of the language. The director and also writer is Hans W. Geissendörfer and this Bavarian filmmaker will have his 80th birthday later this year. Very strange body of work. He has some fairly known films, but it seems his heart was always closest to working for "Lindenstraße" a really long-running German television series that ended in 2020 in fact, but from what I have seen never really managed to be better than soap opera level. Luckily, this movie here is better than that. But Geissendörfer also has more experienced and simply more talented cast members at his disposal here. Maybe the one main reason for me to watch this was the inclusion of Oscar winner Maximilian Schell. Like him a lot and I think he always has great screen presence. Maybe I should say "had", but his movies live on. Definitely need to see more from him, so today was a good start for sure. Unfortunately, he was not featured as heavily in this film as you could guess from the poster here on imdb where he is all over it in terms of both photo and name too. There were long phases in this movie during which he was not a part of at all. You could say that with his lengthy absence in the middle part, where his character is in jail, he may even give a supporting performance only, even if he returns in the end with a bang and also early on he is featured a lot as well. So his character is definitely crucial for the story and everything and it would not work without him at all. It is just that he does not have too much screen time. The biggest lead in here is of course the young Thomas Heinze. I have seen recent stuff from him too, so I was a bit surprised that he is in this movie. Well, cannot be too generous here. Gently-speaking, he did not blow me away and I am not sure if he is good enough to be a lead actor in a film like this. Luckily, he did not share the screen too many times with Schell, otherwise the difference in talent would have become even more obvious. The biggest female character in here is played by Anna Thalbach and in terms of style and tone, this reminded me a bit of her mother's Oscar-winning movie, even if the subject was entirely different. Still unreal how much she resembles her mother, now even more than in the early 90s. But man she was beautiful. Real stunner and I would have been perfectly fine with being the male protagonist in the pool table scene. There are other really familiar faces in here: von Borsody (more explicit than I expected), Bohm (a renowned filmmaker himself, reminded me a bit of Lee Strasberg in the second Godfather film), Semmelrogge (the father, not his untalented son) and Wiesnekker, even if his role is minimal. By the way, this film was on tonight on the occasions of Dürrenmatt's 100th anniversary. This Swiss writer, which may explain the Swiss background of this movie at least a bit because I cannot really find other connections, of course came up with the original that Geissendörfer turned into a movie here when he adapted the book into the screenplay. The title is also a bit complicated: "Justiz" does not really mean "Justice" in the sense of "Gerechtigkeit", at least the way we use it here in Germany, but it is a term for the entire judiciary branch you could say. If I am not mistaken.
Now, allow me to say a few words on the film itself in terms of the action and individual scenes. The first words from another character already make sure which connection we are heading here. He talks to Schell's character after a game of pool and says that he is unbeatable basically, which is a bit of foreshadowing towards the end. Not much later, the film's defining event takes place. We see a man enter a restaurant and out of nowhere kill another man with a whot to the forehead. There is a double-digit amount of witnesses in the room, so the protagonist is quickly arrested, ends up in front of a court and has to go to jail. However, even if everybody saw it, there are aspects that make it more complicated. No weapon is found. The accused does not confess and also there seems to be no motive whatsoever. At least to the general public. And honestly, if we hadn't been in the room with everybody, but were somebody on the outside, then maybe we also would have doubts. The consequence is that eventually there is a retrial and he is acquitted. And when finally, another potential suspect commits suicide, the case is over and he is a free man. But of course he did it. There is no doubt to the viewer here. We also find out about the motivation in a personal letter. A most understandable motivation if you can call it that with what was done to his daughter. This letter is again a bit of foreshadowing because from the moment you find out about the lines, you literally wait for another crime to happen. And it does, namely to von Borsody's character. And again, it is utterly bloody and gruesome what we witness there. They were not hiding anything, that much is safe, also very early on with the key murder. The only thing I wonder is how the little woman survived, the person of short stature if we are politically correct. But maybe I also did not pay ennough attention. This is really the kind of movie where you always have to be 100% focused really or you might miss crucial parts of the story. The best example is the really brief mention of the motive in the letter. Blink (or listen elsewhere for a second) and you miss that vital ingredient. Overall, it was a good film. In the middle part I thought it was weak at times, but at the very beginning, it felt very good at times, so I am going with the one in-between, i.e. 3 stars out of 5. By the way, Schell reminded me a bit of Pacino physically here. Probably just me. But also pay attention to how Schell's character is really always in control and always really calm in contrast to everybody else. The best example is the man who spots him during the concert early on. Really a thankful role for Schell, one that maybe did not require a great deal of talent, but instead Schell mostly delivered with his aura, also during the very final scene and words he says after what was basically a reenactment of the tragedy early on. However, as you can also see from the really low amount of ratings here on imdb (150 right now), this is a film that is extremely difficult to find. So I am even more glad I got the chance to get a hand on it on this anniversary of Dürrenmatt's birth. It is certainly a film that is underseen in my opinion. So if you are just as lucky to be in the position to watch it, then go for it. There are no major flaws here and it is 104 minutes worth spending. I give it a thumbs-up. Positively recommended.
Meine Mutter, meine Männer (2014)
Very weak movie, almost unwatchable at times
"Meine Mutter, meine Männer" is a German television film that premiered back in 2014, so these 1.5 hours are already over five years old. The director is Karola Hattop. She is over 70 now and apparently retired, has only worked on two television episode apparently since 2014, so it's safe to say so. And as this one here is from 2014, this is also one of her final career efforts. If you take a look at everything else she did, including Lily Schönauer adaptations, Inga Lindström adaptations and stuff like "Die Stein" und "Die Kommisarin, it becomes clear very quickly that you cannot expect quality from projects for which she is credited as director. I mean the fairytale movies were kinda alright, but that is it. Also you can see from her body of work that she is a filmmaker that rarely writes own screenplays. I don't mind it. I don't think a director is per definition better if they do the writing themselves. Anna Morgenrot took care of that here. As nice as the name may sound, there is no quality to her body of work either. Very small body of work. This is just one of two films she is credited with according to imdb. And other than that, SOKO and Lilly Schönauer define her career. By the way, the adaptation she wrote for the latter was also a collaboration with Hattop. And that one would be from 2013, so yeah Morgenrot's body of work is fairly self-explanatory too in a negative sense. As for the cast, we got no big names this time really, but some familiar names and faces. Marie Zielcke most German film buffs have probably come across already. Roman Knizka I have seen on other projects too. Marlene Morreis i am not entirely sure about, but Jürgen Heinrich is one that is always easy to identify, especially for somebody like me who enjoyed Wolffs Revier back in the day. He has had such a long career and I am always kinda glad I see him in something. Unless he is completely wasted like it is the case here. But then again, nobody forced him to play the role in this film. So he deserves some blame too. The photo here on imdb is one from the very end of the movie by the way and you see basically each and every single major caast member in here. The leads as well as the supporting players. The only two leads are probably Zielcke and Stieblich and I felt that the longer the film went, the more Stieblich moved into the lead and it could very well be that she has more screen time eventually than Zielcke, although the latter is the one whose character really connects everybody in this film. As for Stieblich, I cannot say too much about her body of work, but I see that she played a relevant character in the terrible overrated "Türkisch für Anfänger". Fits right in with the impression I got from her in this film and I will in the second paragraph where I focus on the film itself and the characters. Just one example now already: Of course she is so hip that she is smoking pot and also offers it to her daughter. Honestly, the daughter should have thrown her out on so many occasions. This is just one of them.
Stieblich was absolutely unwatchable. Completely ham. Completely over the top and her character was the definition of cringeworthy, not just in terms of the full story, but also during these smaller moments. Just take the beginning when she takes the train, but has no ticket. Or later on when she bullies the man who is about to become a dad and he just wants to watch football in peace. Or another small moment, namely when she wakes up outside in the nature and tries to kiss Heinrich's character with the weirdest noise. By the way, no you don't get shot in America if you don't have a train ticket. Man she was so unwatchable. I mean the character was already written in a pretty poor manner, but I think the biggest responsibility lies with the actress in terms of how cringeworthy Jutta became. One poorly-written moment would be of course when she randomly runs into her daughter in a big city because she loses her scarf or something and the daughter picks it up and sees "oh, it's you mom". I don't even. Ths scene by the way followed right after a job interview the elderly woman had. How did she get it? She called there and said that she will just come by and they can still decline her application if they want to. Yeah, that''s how it works. It would have been amazing if they simply had not let her into the building, but the most pathetic thing about that character is really that we are supposed to see her as likable and self-confident and caring. The opposite felt true to me. I mean I myself do not have the most amazing relationship with my mother, but I'd pick her about the woman in this movie anytime. Felt fairly sorry for Zielcke's character here honestly looking at her mother's constant shenanigans. On one occasion the daughter said something like the mother was never really there when she needed her, but now she is there when she does not need her. Okay, really likable mother indeed. But probably it is just words anyway because at some point the daughter starts to cry and mother is there to catch her and lift her up. The bad guys in this film are as usual the men. I mean this is Bavaria Fiction and ARD Degeto, so what did you expect? The title already gives away perfectly the quality you can expect here. Just take Jürgen Heinrich's character. he has literally no purpose in this film that to express romantic interest in the beloved female character I just talked about for quite a bit. Shameful stuff really. Many cringeworthy moments there too, like then the woman tells him about the pregnancy of his son and she did not know that he did not know about it yet. Of course, pretty fitting also that she starts something with the father of her daughter's man. Yes, it can be that easy. At least in ARD movies. Finally, Stieblich showed us all also in that parachute scene what an amazingly desirable woman she is and how men really have to go all in for her attention if they want to be with a goddess like that. Let me move on to the core plot, i.e. the pregnancy idea. Zielcke is really attractive, no denying, but this does not solve her story either. Like how she ends up briefly with a friend's baby (that friend was maybe the only character here written even more poorly than Heinrich, like nothing to work with, absoutely nothing), In general, I thought it was a good and kinda courageous idea that they took the route that the father-to-be is not yet ready for such a role and eventually this is why they broke up because she wanted to have the baby. However, all that they turned this into makes one think that the premise was alright, but the execution was an utter travesty, not only because of the father-to-be's father ending up with her mother, but mostly really because the female protagonist despite being oh so heartbroken was instantly ready to date another guy, an old love she randomly runs into through her work. Of course, another great coincidence there. Let's also ignore for a second that our likable protagonist (Zielcke's character) at that point when she was still together wth the father of her unborn child she cheated on him ruthlessly with the other guy. But hey, it is true love there, true romance, so it is alright. It is only despicable if a man does it in such a movie. Man, these Degeto films are so anti-male it isn't even funny anymore. Speaking of "funny", this is a comedy apparently, but the only reason to laugh here is really laughing at how bad it all is. Like also the scene when we see how differently the two men react at small children, so we understand who is the right one for her. I mean what can you say. One guy is a pretty much an ungrateful pig because he does not want to be a full-time dad (how grateful he can be, the pregnant woman is so tolerant to even allow him to stay in her life) and the other man can play a full-time dad now for a baby that isn't his and he has to if he wants to be with Zielcke's character who is also very desirable, even if probably not as desirable as her mother. By the way, the entire opera plot or so, the department where the younger female main character was working, was also a complete joke. I mean we see scenes from that and we are supposed that this is something that thousands of people want to see? Something that people who worked at the Scala in Italy want to be a part of? I don't know what to say here. The art of make-believe and the sad thing is that people are actually falling for it. Is there anything positive to say about this movie? Oh yes, the ending. All happy, all solved of course in a scenario that would offer a gigantic deal of drama and conflicts. And why is it positive? Because a lot hints at a sequel, but it has not happened in over six years and probably never will. Great news. This one film is one too many already without a doubt. Highly not recommended, even if the song "From the Heart" near the end is alright, but that was just a choice anyway, nothing creative from the cast or filmmakers here either.
Sportabzeichen für Anfänger (2021)
2021 starts on a very low note in terms of German television movies
"Sportabzeichen für Anfänger", which means roughly translated "Sports badge for beginners", is a German television film from 2021 and this one actually had its premiere today on national television. I think it's been available through the official online download by ARD for a few more days though. Anyway, it runs for 1.5 hours or minimally under just like these films always do. The director is Thomas Roth, an Austrian filmmaker in his 50s, who has been active in the industry since the early 90s, so for quite a while already. Definitely an experienced director. However, his body of work seems quantity over quality for me. I cannot say too much about his really early work, but most of the stuff he has worked on in the new millennium is really not quality. So keep your expectations low for this film here fur sure. And even if you do, you will maybe be disappointed. The writer does not look any better really. Actually, even worse. Nina Bohlmann has not been active for as long as Roth, but what she has come up with in the last almost two decades was really disappointing. Also a great deal of quantity and even less quality than with Roth. I am only talking about her efforts as a writer here though. The stuff she produced is more interesting, most of all the inclusion of the Oscar-winning "Die Fälscher". Very interesting that this is part of her work. Maybe she was not the producer who contributed the most, but still if they handed out Oscars in this category to the producers, she could actually be an Academy Award winner now. Extremely bizarre thought looking at everything else she has done so far. Maybe she should really stick to producing and not to writing. This film here is another great example of that. The plot is just so poor and the attention to detail is minimal as well. This also has to do with the cast. The two leads are Andrea Sawatzki and Christian Berkel. I read they are also a couple in real life and this is why it felt even more disappointing because the chemistry was almost not existent in here. I must admit that I am not a huge fan of either (maybe I slightly prefer Berkel), but that I also do not hate them the way I really dislike other prolific German actors that are featured frequently on the small screen. You can say that the photo here is pretty telling in terms of the comedic direction this film is taking. Or trying to take because honestly the comedy approach here is so shoddy and uninspired that I think I did not laugh once during the entire movie. I mean I did not expect a masterpiece, but I at least hoped it could be mediocre or weak, but the truth is it is plain bland and bad. Although you can see they were trying really hard to be funny, but the talent is simply not there. Not really with the actors (Berkel should play evil villains anyway and not something like he does here), but most of all not withthe script. There are other familiar faces: Weisz (not Rachel, but an Austrian actress, guess the nationality fits in nicely with the director's origin), Schramm, Heinze, to mention only a few. Schramm is really stunning and so is the young Maja Meinhardt.
Now a few words on the plot and story. It really starts all in a way here where you know that this will be a terrible watch from beginning to end. The revolving door scene at the very beginning is one where you can basically already switch off your television. So cringeworthy honestly. There are two or three other occasions during which the two protagonists kept bumping into each other unexpectedly and in the end it was just too many and felt unrealistic. Very unrealistic. One of these occasions is of course the scene in the evening with the teacher and all the other parents and this is where the idea is created that they enter this competiton described in the film's title. I was honestly shocked how poor this scene was written because it was actually essential in terms of the story. This is what almost all that follows is about. But the idea and the plan they come up with there when talking about how children have to deal with mockery feels so far-fetched that it is impossible to take anything seriously. Anything related to this movie. I wish I could at least say that everything else, especially the comedy, is on a better level here, but as you could find out from previous statements of mine the opposite is true. Luckily, this early revolving door scene and the scene in which they come up with the plan are already when the film hits rock bottom, but this does not mean the movie does not stay forgettable until the very end. This is exactly what it does. Another lowlight was probably the pseudo conflict that is always included near the end of these films and here it was that they started dating and made a plan to stop with the sport and competition for a while and she finds out he is still doing his boxing exercises. With a professional coach even. Massive betrayal there and as a consequence we are supposed to think he is a liar and cannot be trusted (these films are always anti-male) and the two will not get together in the end. Which is nonsense of course. They obviously do, even if we see nothing explicit, but also as always with these films, at the very end we have a happy ending. Before that, there is a lot of messy writing too though. Just take the references about the deceased partner from the male protagonist. A sob story of the worst and most uninspired kind, especially with how Berkel's character son seems to be emphasizing it constantly and suffering. It almost felt offensive to everybody who really lost a loved one. That's how poor it was. no excuse there. And let's also not talk at all about the ways in which Heinze's character, the ex-husband and father of her daughter, reenters the life of the female protagonist. Just as a friend though. Well, he wants more, but of course we need to be convinced that Sawatzki's character is still very desirable. Berkel's is also a few years younger than he is in real life. Okay. I don't really know what else to say here. Not sure if Degeto was involved with this one, but it would fit because they almost always release and distribute very low-quality movies for the small screen here in my country. This perfectly fits the description and I am sure will be seeing this on ARD and its smaller stations for at least the next 15 years. The good news is these terrible films seem to become less and for example back in 2010 there were many more each year. But on the other hand, this film proves that they are still being made and it's gonna stay like that for a while. Your GEZ money being burnt, ladies and gentlemen. Stand up! What we have here is a film that from no neutral perspective can be called inspired, creative or worth watching. I mean they act as if it is something new and informative that men must achieve better results in sports than women to pass certain tests. Enough said. The entire thing is a massive failure and my very first worst movie of 2021. I guess it's gonna sit comfortably in this spot for a while. Highly not recommended.
Exactly the kind of movie Fulton-Smith should not be making
"Ein Fall von Liebe - Saubermänner" is a German television film from 2011, so this one has its tenth anniversary later this year. It runs for 1.5 hours, minimally under, as the usually do and let me start with the basics here. As you can see from the title already, this is not a standalone movie. There was one before that and one that followed afterwards dealing with the same characters and background of a law firm. And as if this was not enough already, this even got turned into a series afterwards. Trilogues on ARD etc. are not a total rarity, but really making a regular series out of these movies kinda is. And judging from the quality here, it is not a good thing at all. Good news is the last episode is from five years ago or so, so one can only hope this will not be continued. But now, let's focus on this film we got here: First of all, I shall try to explain the title a bit. What you see left of the hyphen is a little play on words linked to the law and the profession of lawyers. Nothing too creative, just like the film itself. "A case of Love" you could say. Sounds very cringeworthy alright. On the right side of the hyphen, you have the word "Saubermänner". This is impossible to translate pretty much. But it means something like people with apparently a clean sheet that are still involved in shady actions and may not have the greatest and most honorable approach to moral. Another play on words that is of course linked to the women in here that are illegally employed as cleaning woman. But of course, the men employing them (or the man) is referenced here in the title. No surprise either After all, this is an ARD Degeto movie and these are not only almost always really bad, but also really anti-male most of the time. I will elaborate a bit on that later. As for the two people that were most involved with the making here, i.e. the writer and director, the only interesting thing about them may be their exotic names. But don't be fooled, they have worked on German-language projects for a long time. Jorgo Papavassiliou did so since the beginning of his career early on in the 2000s and del Mestre also since the beginning of his career in 1980 already. That's been a while for sure. The latter's early career efforts were still kinda decent at times, bit looking at recent years, it's an embarrassment with films like this, Traumschiff, Bülowbogen and all kinds of other terrible (quality-wise) projects for the small screen here in my country. Kinda shocking to see people who have been in the industry for so long and who are still (or again) on such a low level when it comes to inspired productions. As for the case, the man you see on the right on the imdb photo here is Francis Fulton-Smith. I have come across him on several projects recently, some okay, some not so much. This is certainly one of the latter and that is still a gentle way to put it. As you can see from the title of my review, I am not happy at all with him being part of films like this. I liked him for example in a film where he played some loser character fairly recently and that character then turns into a winner while having to deal with his new love's annoying son. But he has also been in so many horrible movies. Disappointing. I would not call it a wasted career, but he has much more talent than he shows us most of the time because of the career choices he made. Or maybe good for him that he went for money instead of inspiration because with all the GEZ money behind it, these Degeto movies sure pay well. The quality never reaches the production though, let alone the viewers. Only simple people can like stuff like that. And FFS should know himself, he is better than this, for example also through the accolades he received for playing Franz Josef Strauß a while ago. As for the supporting cast, it is a double-edged sword. Mariella Ahrens is simply a terrible actress with no talent and almost on the same level like Neubauer and Thomalla. I wish she would not have been in this film. The main antagonist is played by Michael Kind. Well, he was in "Der Untergang" and is not a bad actor, but what can you do with characters written like that. Same applies to Susanne Bormann, only with a different Oscar-nominated movie and Bernhard Bettermann was also in stuff I liked. So the cast is really not bad. They could have done something with these people (except Ahrens), but the reality is that not even the most talented cast (and we sure don't have that here) could have turned this abysmal script into something worth watching.
Bormann is surprisingly first credit here. She is not the lead obviously. I thought that maybe they are going with an alphabetical order, but then Ahrens would have been before her. No clue. I guess the lack of attention to detail is not only part of the movie, but also part of the film's imdb page because the folks with the task of creating this page messed up once again. By the way, the film is set in Leipzig, but I feel that even for people from this big city it is not a rewarding watch because locations and places never played a role here. Anyway, back to Bormann: Her character was maybe the worst of them all. Associated with the bad guys early on, she manages to sneak her way into the law firm of the good guys and in the end, somehow she changes sides. Yeah, sure. And FFS's character sees right through it, huh? I did not believe it one but. But the worst moment was probably the seduction scene in the hotel. Sad to see Bormann stopp this low and accept characters like that. unreal stuff. During that scene, of course Ahrens' character enters the room out of nowhere. I don't even. What was she doing there? Being kinda undercover to expose a man who illegally employs people. Complete nonsense. Just like the moment early on when it becomes clear that the two lovers (played by Ahrens and FFS) are working on a case that kinda causes conflict between them. What a coincidence! Oh and another horrible moment we got here is when Ahrens' character gets her big self-confident winning moment near the end when she is still in that cleaning lady's outfit and all her "colleagues" all of a sudden stand up against the evil boss. What did the boss do? He threatened the child of an employee if that employee tells the police what he did. Careful, severe crime there. This is a messive joke anyway. Just take the initial courtroom scene. What happens there? So much. So many revelations. The old woman has demential The alcohol test was not valid and the key witness changes her statement to take away guilt from the accused. Ridiculous stuff in the most negative sense possible. Probably in the last 30 years, there has not been a single similar example of courtroom action. This was already the moment when I knew this film would suck from beginning to end. Just take the scenes with the talk about Bormann's character being attractive. Unwatchable. Or Ahrens' statements about FFS's character possibly being unfaithful. This is where the anti-male component comes into play. He is a guy, so he employs the hot young woman of course. This needed to be done because this film is almost exclusively for female audiences. By the way, FFS reminded me a bit of Jason Bateman here physically. The only one with a really clean sheet is Ahrens' character. That is also why she gets away with saying she wants her man to see she suffers when he tells her he loves her. Really nice. Ditch the b***h. But of course not, he has to fight for her attention for the rest of the movie and in the end he tells her he wants to move in with her and she agrees and is happy. By the way, Ahrens somehow reminds me of Natalia Wörner (also approximately same age), another terrible German actress with an Eastern European background I think and I have zero doubts Ahrens would have hooked up with our glorious Heiko Maas as well, the man who loses his region comfortable to Peter Altmaier of all people, and, as a reward, gets chosen to be the next foreign minister, although they know very well people don't want him one bit, but minister duties are not chosen by the people and the fact that they know is obvious through the fact that Maas was never considered to run for chancellor next year. Okay, sorry for drifting away, but this needed to be said and those people who watch and like this film (although I am sure they will never show up here and read my review) are the ones who must understand finally. Kinda fitting too that several characters have the last name Wörner in this film. Back to the movie, earlier I said that during a speficic moment, I knew exactly it would suck until the end, but truth is I knew way earlier, namely when our caring protagonist is asked by the sleazy bad guys if he wants to work with them very early on, but he declines the offer and leaves and two steps further gives money to a homeless fella. Sigh. The epitome of pretentious. They are shoving it all in and clearly have not heard about the fact that sometimes less is more. Well, "they" is Ulrich del Mestre in this scenario. He is the one fully to blame and shameful that he returned for the third film that I will probably review tomorrow and also for the following series. No need to think about it. I'm sure it all sucks, not just this one here. Occasionally, we also have a bit of overacting in here, especially from the women. Ahrens, Bormann and Reimann (yes, even her with the little she had to work with, especially during the scene when Bormann's character asks if she can take a look at something) are pretty messy in here, most of all Ahrens. The film started really low quality-wise and stays this way until the end with this unwatchable stolen bike scene. And how they tried to build up Bormann as a potential recurring antagonist character in future films. Seems they knew already this movie was not the end of it all. It should have been though. Or even better, never should have been made. Terrible film. Fat thumbs-down.
Il corsaro nero (1971)
Finding their path
"Il corsaro nero" or "Blackie the Pirate" is a co-production between Italy and Spain from 1971, so this film has its 50th anniversary now in 2021. High time to watch it, isn't it? Well, it was on tonight, probably not linked to this anniversary, but I still decided to give it a go because I kike some of the actors. It runs for over 1.5 hours, but stays under the 100-minute mark (according to imdb), and the director and writer here is Lorenzo Gicca Palli. He was not unprolific really, so it surprises me a bit to see that no date of death or date of birth is stated here on imdb. You could say that this is time-wise from the mdidle of his career. He did not have the longes career, but during these approximately 20 years, he was highly prolific. Not only because of this man's origin, this is also a much more Italian than Spanish film. The language is also Italian, but if you see Terence Hill and Bud Spencer being a part of this, nobody should be surprised. This legendary duo brought us so much joy during their long careers. May Spencer rest in peace and hopefully Hill, also in his 80s now, can still live on for a few years. I think he still is not retired, so it may be a good sign that his health is at a decent level. If you do the maths, this also means that he was arpound the age of 30 here when this got made, minimally older when it got released. Hill plays the title character here and this is pretty fitting. He has most of the screen time and most of the story. I sometimed wondered in later films why he got first credit and not Spencer, but here it is no contest. Spencer is further behind in terms of screen time. Not even second credit. He is still one of the bigger supporting players, but the poster is still misleading. It looks as if they are oon equal terms and this is so not the case. I guess the poster must have been created later on when they know how beloved this duo was already and also how big of an icon Spencer turned into. Or was about to turn into. Their glorious collaborations are from the 70s and first half of the 80s you can say. So they were definitely trying new things with this movie we have here, but it was not a huge success yet. The fact that this was on television today makes it obvious that it is not forgotten or a failure, but yeah in terms of fun, it is nowhere near other movies. Earlier they focused on western films and there the approach was similar. Hill was at the center of the story and Spencer played a bit of a character where you could never be too sure if he was good or bad in contrast to the protagonist. But the western genre was losing appreciation much earlier than 50 years ago already, so they were trying to come up with new trails. Pirate movies were an interesting idea and who knows, maybe had this been made six or seven years later, it could have turned out better with Spencer being more at the center of it all. I mean the two we have here play characters stranded on an island in another fun film for example. But enough about them now. Let's have a look at the rest of the cast. I cannot say too much about them though. Silvia Monti looked pretty stunning in here and also telling that she played a vital character with an amount of story and screen time that women simply did not get during later Spencer/Hill films. George Martin is still alive in 2021 and he also used an American-sounding alias here just like the two superstars. His career, however, ended less than five years after this film. Maybe it was not the range he lacked, but the recognition value. Sal Borgese has been in other Spencer/Hill movies later on, always a welcome addition.
Alright, so I must say the story never had me even close to the edge of my seat here. This was a pity. There were some familiar elements like brawls, but even those were not that funny and the slightly more dramatic plot twists they were going for did not feel like they had a lot of impact unfortunately. Like for example, very early on, actually it was the first shot I think, we see corpses hanging and they were executed. This is never a 100% dramatic or dangerous movie and that is a good thing. On several occasions, you could see that it did not take itself particularly seriously and this was always when it got a little better, but also not too close to a level where I would have given an additional two stars and this a positive recommendation. The sets and costumes are alright in my opinion. Could have been a lot worse and the sea is always nice to watch honestly. I will not deny that this film here and there felt a bit like a really early version of a "Pirates of the Caribbean" film as those movies, as you all know I'm sure, also do not take themselves too seriously at times, especially with Jack Sparrow's shenanigans. But back to this one here: The music is alright too. There is not one production area that truly stands out, but most of them are at least tolerable I would say. Another parallel from Hill's perspective is that he also had a romance story going on here and he frequently does in those later Spencer/Hill movies. But this is at the same time a difference too because in those future films said romance was always kept really basic, while here it is definitely a key aspect of the story. Maybe even the center of the entire film. Other than that, it is about the usual you see in these films linked to pirates: danger, betrayal and gold of course. Some other subjects too. The fact that this is a Spanish co-production probably has mostly to do with the fact of the Spanish people and colony in this film. I must say though that the title with the mention of this legendary protagonist sounds much more interesting than he turned out to be in this movie. I would not blame Hill for that though. He is a decent actor, even if this may not be his greatest perfomance either. The script is the much bigger issue for sure. And I know that the reference of the color black here is mostly for the clothes the character is wearing, but maybe a guy who is really the epitome of a light-haired and blue-eyed Italian was not the very greatest choice. No surprise though with these blue eyes, the girls were constantly falling for him. At least in the movies. In real life, Hill/Girotti has been with only one woman almost and that is really sweet. When this film was made, they were already married for a few years and they still are today and it's been over half a century now that they are together. Pretty sweet. Would be beautiful if they make it to 60. Okay, I am really drifting away now, but I guess some little snippets of background information are not gonna hurt anybody, especially if we have some harmony as a contrast to this short-lived world of pirates here, even if not as many people die in this film as one would imagine. Maybe they really wanted to keep it mostly family-friendly. Oh, I mentioned the corpses early on already and this reminds me now of another parallel to Pirates of the Caribbean where one movie starts with a spectacular hanging scene too and if that one is family-friendly, then this one here is definitely as well. We do not see them being killed, we just see their bodies hanging. Alright, overall an easy decision for me here. This film is not a failure, but also not as good as it needed to be for a positive recommendation. Probably closer to the latter though, so if you are a Hill/Spencer completionist, you can check it out, but otherwise, there are at least a dozen, probably two dozens, of movies starring this legendary duo that you should see before this one here. The low amount of votes is telling enough and also that this is of course not yet a film that won the German Screen like many other Bud Spencer films afterwards. My suggestion is to skip "Il corsaro nero". Thumbs-down. It's still good this film got made because it was perhaps vital on the path to leading Spencer and Hill to those films and projects where they really fully delivered and made me and millions of others laugh so hard. From this perspective alone it is good this got made. Trial and error you know.