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The Lost Brother (2015 TV Movie)
6/10
Definitely not a lost cause, but also not a mesmerizing watch
21 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Der verlorene Bruder" or "The Lost Brother" is a German television film from 2015, so over five years old now, and a triple-digit amount of votes here on imdb for a small screen release from my country is nothing that should be taken for granted, so this film is far from forgotten. I caught it not too long ago as it aired on German television once more. The subject is history (to some extent) and I will get to that later. Let's focus first on all the basic aspects here. TThe running time of 1.5 hours or minimally under is really completely common for German television films and this one here is no exception either. The director is Matti Geschonneck and he is almost 70 now and has directed over 50 projects over the course of his long career. And received a great deal of awards recognition too and seems as if retirement is not even close to his agenda these days. His film here was written by Ruth Toma, a very prolific screenplay writer and the original novel comes from Hans-Ulrich Treichel and this is (according to imdb) the only work from him that got turned into a movie. As for the cast, we have a handful familiar faces here. The biggest may be Charly Hübner and he is always a welcome inclusion for me, also this time with a movie role that offered zero in terms of comedic approach, especially his very serious character that kinda reflected the times back then too. But Lorenz, Matschke and Gastdorf are also successful and prolific actors. I personally even appreciate the fact that Flora Thiemann and Anne Brendler were a part of this, even if the latter really did not have any screen time at all.

As for the story, I already stated that the historic component is among the most crucial aspects this time. The film is set approximately 15 years after the end of World War II and Germany is divided of course. So you could say that it is a mix of GDR and Nazi Germany, even if neither component feels 100% crucial this time. It's more of a family drama, but the people at the center of this movie and their past with the lost child takes us even further back into history than the days where it is set, which is also over 60 years back in the past from the now. But while there are serious aspects about a lost child as the title implies, there are also slightly lighter moments like the protagonist's unrequited(?) romantic interest in a girl his age. And at the same time, the boy's mother also has a suitor and it is not really safe to say if her husband's death is a good or bad twist from this perspective. I mean there was no real violence or anything grave in their marriage, but it really felt as if it was just thier missing child which was the key link that kept the marriage together and the new suitor expressed actual romantic interest in the woman. Of we go back to the boy and his crush, I am a bit undecided if I liked this inclusion and how much I liked it. The attention to detail could have been better like the girl cheering for him to distract him (was that really what was on her mind?) was a bit exaggerated and felt rather unrealistic, also how the protagonist perceived it, but I guess this also could have been in the novel like this, so I would not blame the film entirely here. Their latter meeting was solid though, the way they were going for a walk there and also what they were talking felt realistic from my perspective and especially children dialogue is something that many (German) films really fail hard with, so props to the filmmaker and Treichel here for delivering authentic content.

It is certainly not the most uplifting film, but there it also felt authentic. I am mostly talking about the moment Hübner's character dies. It did not feel like pseudo drama from any perspective and this is one of the key reasons why this film deserves three stars out of five. There were still weaknesses here and there like for example the plot inclusion with the other boy at the barber shop felt fairly random and they could have made a lot more with that and their little plan, but eventually nothing really stays in the mind other than their little talk about how they think about their parents acting towards them and what it would be like with another child in the family. And the resilient barber there was slightly memorable too. The actor sure made the most of his little screen time there with his face expression only. The ending also hit the right notes. Yes, I mean it was maybe slightly too much pathos how he is 100% sure the young man would be his brother, but I liked the inclusion nonetheless. It was slightly happy, but not exaggerated and also offered an open ending component and I usually like that in films. As long as it feels realistic, I do not need closure 100%. Again props to the author of the original work because this is probably the way his book ended and I am sure there is not really the need for a sequel in terms of either book or film. It is fine the way it is. The film surely and the book I have not read, so I cannot say it with certainty, but I think it's fine to leave things the way they are in this case. One scene that stayed in the mind for me was also when we saw them in the process of delivering their footprints and also all the elaboration that followed a little later. But there, they once again did not hit the right mark 100% with the main character's doubt f these two, both of them, are really his biological parents. So there is always a bit of a "but" to this movie you could say, also in its best moments.

Overall, they went by the books here in the truest sense of the word and the outcome is accordingly. Nothing too daring or out of the ordinary, but a solid addition to the uncountable amount of movie out there from my country that deal with historic context. It's not really a historic movie, but it still feels like one with the background where it is set and inclusions like the one with how the protagonist is never fully on photos you will find in many movies. They actually felt not as smart or memorable as they were intended honestly, at least the way they were depicted here. So i think this surely could have been a better film too. Nonetheless, on other occasions, some of the stuff worked better. I personally of course preferred most of the stuff when Hübner was a part of the action. Then again, I guess that almost everybody has a different perception. Some people may like Gastdorf's character, other may find her pointless. I thought she was realistic as she was unlikable, but then again we should keep in mind that her life was packed with two World Wars, also a bit of a tragic character. This is far from a light movie. Take a look at the not very specific inclusions about what the ASoviets did to the central character's mother a few years ago. We basically find out about it the way the child does. It's not an obscene or graphic movie in terms of tragedy, but the terrible things these people had to endure in terms of both personal and global tragedy are not too be denied. And the movie got that through. Another reason why overall this one here gets a thumbs-up and positive recommendation from me. With all the stuff out there in terms of historical films from Germany, it may be really difficult to make great films nowadays, films that offer something truly new, but good films are still being released on a regular basis. This is one of them. Go watch unless you are totally opposed to the genre. The acting is also good all along. Same is true for sets, costumes and pretty much all other production values.
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2020 CMT Music Awards (2020 TV Special)
2/10
Same problems as usual unfortunately
18 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
These are the "2020 CMT Music Awards" and you can see that they were held in October 2020, which means this was during the corona pandemic and you can also see from the fact that the 2021 CMT Music Awards already took place that this 2020 ceremony probably got postponed as well. Anyway, this is of course all about country music. Well, at least in theory. I will get to that later. For now, it can be said that this show ran for pretty much exactly 1.5 hours, but this does not include commercials yet, so probably around two hours in full for those who watched it live. Then again, the commercials were probably not worse than the show itself. Not a fan as you can see from my rating. Let's stay with the basics for now: If you take a look at the directors, then you could surely be more hopeful for a good show, especially with how much Joe DeMaio has worked on in the past, but also with the awards recognition for co-director Ryan Polito. Several Emmy nominations. But it seems like it's all about quantity instead of quality there because the outcome here was just another messed-up awards show. The key issue is present here as well once again: It did not feel like an awards show. There were simply too many music performances there and the awards felt secondary. If at all. Rather tertiary. It took between eight and nine minutes for the first awards to be presented I think, actually that's even less than with other music awards shows, but still approximately 10% of the show was over when the first award was presented and it kept going like this. There were massively long interruptions of music performers for the rest of the evening. Luckily, the music was not entirely bad at times. The way I've seen it at other shows and this includes the 2021 CMT Music Awards edition as well.

There are three hosts here and the one male host was Kane Brown, who also had his birthday that day. He returned for 2021 not too long ago. The other ones were established singer Ashley McBryde and Modern family actress Sarah Hyland. Can't help it, but I kinda like her and here I felt for the first time that she really looked her age approximately, but I mean it in an entirely positive way with how she always seemed younger than she really was, not only on her trademark show. Kinda fitting here maybe because country fans are usually 30+ as well. Still I wonder why she was chosen here because I have no clue about a potential country or music background when it comes to her. But at least in terms of country, this also applied to many people who were part of the show. Diplo? Katy Perry? Okay, at least she tried to be funny with the Lionel Richie reference. Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey may have similar (first) names, but their performance also had zero connection with country. Then again, I have no clue anyway what Ballerini is doing at these shows in general. She was also a pretty bad host for the 2021 edition. It was not just the performances, but also the nominations. Best exaple would be Justin Bieber getting in. I think there were quite a few popular music artists that collaborated with country musicians and from what I saw the result rarely looked like anything remotely close to country. Take Gwen Stefani or Nelly for that too. Okay him I like, so can#t be too harsh here.

The maybe most disrespectful and weakest moment of the show was when they had Caylee Hammack on stage. I know I said too much music performances, but could there be anything worse really than what they did with her. Show a brief 30-second or so extract from her performance and say you can watch the rest online. She was a nominee that night and they clearly showed us this way how much they cared about her with other nominees being allowed to perform entire songs on stage. If i was her and if she is ever invited again, I would reject the offer to come again. I actually almost only hope because of that that she makes it kinda big in the coming years. Oh well, even if she does, then she will probably come again. Oh and I learned from Blake Shelton that these awards are fan-voted? I guess the Bieber fans really did not care then. Or they have also grown too old now finally. But it was kinda awkward what he had to say about fan-voted events. I mean he clearly tried to express how much it means to him to be liked by the masses, but it felt more like bashing traditional awards shows and I am pretty sure that next time he received a Grammy (if he does), he will respond completely different there.

Okay, what else can I say here? I think it's pretty much almost all out there now. I actually thought about giving this another two stars, but it was moments like the one with Hammack, the exaggerated amount of stage performances (show could have been easily kept at 75 minutes) and a few other aspects that made me really dislike it. Also how they had to get in sponsors during the show (I think we had tic tac?) when awards were name after them. And it was pretty close to the American elections as we saw on one occasion when they encouraged people to vote early. With the (Republican) country background no surprise that they did not publicly support Biden the way other awards shows did, especially BET Awards etc. However, this is still the liberal entertainment industry, so opinions were certainly divided. Or maybe they were also not brave enough to clearly go pro-Trump with the backlash they would receive for that. On a really small side note, I thought it was kinda funny how the second performer (around the six-minute mark) looked so much like Drake. Maybe a country Drake. Okay that's it. Even if I keep going for another four paragraphs, I will have no clue why some people were a part of this show. Idina Menzel? Demi Lovator?? Jessica Chastain??? For the masses I guess those people. I do not mean Rob Thomas with that obviously. He was nice as always. The rest of the show wasn't. Big thumbs-down. Highly not recommended. Not as unwatchable overall as the 2021 version, but still pretty bad. I'm baffled they really managed a step down in quality even in 2021. Stay far away from both broadcasts. At least the location was right (Nashville,, Tennessee).
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iHeartRadio Music Awards 2021 (2021 TV Special)
2/10
Is radio dead? I'd rather say pop music is the problem and music awards shows are the even bigger problem nowadays.
17 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Here we got the "iHeartRadio Music Awards 2021" that aired in late May, so still a relatively recent event I'd say overall. As you can see from m yrating, I did not like the watch here at all. Is there anything positive to say? Maybe that they only run for 85 minutes, but sadly this does not include commercials yet and there sure were a lot, so the original broadcast was probably also close to two hours. The director here was Joe DeMaio and he is really experienced when it comes to being in charge of the work behind the camera, also for (music) awards shows. This by far was not the very first of his efforts, so it seems to be a relatively safe statement to say that he is all about quantity and zero about quality. This is ot even his most recent (relatively) big awards show anymore now in the middle of June. The host we have here is Usher. Well, on a positive note I would say that he is more talented than pretty much everybody else who was part of this show. On a negative note, you could say that it is pretty self-explanatory that the song he performed near the end is really the opposite of recent and shows us he has not really had much success for a long time. Maybe not a bad thing looking at everybody who did have success. And he is still a bit of a household name. Same applies to Nelly, who was not a vital part of the show, but still seemed loved by everybody although his successes also happened a long time ago. Back to Usher, I did not like the fur he wore (that even rhymes) at the very start (was it real?) and also not the stuff at the very end when he was throwing around all this money. The epitome of decadence and money over creativity in the current music industry. Also cringeworthy to see those in the front row kinda willing to catch some money, but their status forbid it sort of. The ones further back did not have these problem.

So with Usher's worst moments, you could say that the show began and ended on a really low note. This is also true if we take The Weeknd into account, one of the big winners that night. His music does absolutely nothing for me and really telling that he is one of the defining artists right now apparently. At least in terms of awards recognition. What is just as bad is seeing all these people praise him. But I did like the fact that he actually forgot his award on stage because this shows how much he and everybody else really care about these awards. And not just this one here. Namely not at all. It's all about the money instead, but they keep up the facade that radio, their fans, MTV etc. Mean something to them. Pathetic really. With The Weeknd, I guess his ethnicity and girly voice help him a lot because both fits in really well with the current political mainstream. But he was not the only terrible winner that night. Another prime example of what's wrong with popular music nowaday would be Megan Thee Stallion. Same applies to Dua Lipa. Roddy Ricch I cannot say anything about at all, not familiar. I still think it's sad what Beyoncé has turned into after how creative she was with Destiny's Child. That was real emancipation. What she has been doing for years now, probably over a decade is just soulless mainstream. She has the talent. To a lesser extent you can say the same about Taylor Swift probably. She also received an award here and responded with a brief video message. Apart from that, this awards show had the same problem like many other music awards shows and that is a key issue really. There were so many performances that it did not feel like an awards show anymore. And at the same time, they did not include so, so many awards. Or rushed them in briefly before or after a commercial break by just mentioning the winner. Equally disrespectful to both winners and nominees there. An absolute no-go.

Tough to say what the worst part of the show was. I guess when the biggest award of the night is presented by Machine Gun Kelly, that is fairly self-explanatory as well. Or maybe the worst part was the entire Elton John segment. Not just how he is of course also Lady Gaga's mentor. Kinda sad to see him agree to be a part of this mess and really be so at the very center of it all even. His popularity has clearly risen and some of his songs have also become more famous since his biopic not too long ago. I don't think, however, that he handles his new popularity the way he should. I mean this show here was a travesty. No offense to Lil Nas X, I actually like his famous song with Miley's dad, but I have no clue what he was doing there at all and then they treated him as some kind of soon-to-be icon as well. He has barely had a career. Of course, this praise may also have to do more with his ethnicity and the fact that he came out of the closet a while ago, which may be even tougher for a Black man in his community. That I would agree with. Or probably also not too difficult for a really famous Black man, but rather for one in the ghetto. I'd like to see that. But people are only talking about homosexuals in rural areas and their obstacles. Oh well, back to the show now: Demi Lovato being a key figure in an Elton John career tribute? Yeah right, no words for that really. I mean she tried her best, but in the end she was not better (maybe even worse) than H. E. R. These two were literally impersonating him. It was embarrassing, just like E. J. liking what he saw. Or pretending he liked it. However, if we give Oscars to stuff like that, then we should not be surprised about these people really defining the music industry for years. When they talked about The Weeknd's potential longevity, it really sounded more like a threat to me to be honest.

What is the key then? The key would be to stop watching these shows as long as they feature these highly limited mainstream artists. That is of course not too easy because a vital part of these shows is basically said artists constantly praising each other to a vomit-inducing level really and they seem to use the strategy that you simply say it often enough how amazing and talented everybody there is (of course, they are all each other's best friends as well) until the simple-minded have no other choice than believe it. And sadly there's many of them. You could almost call it exposure to sonic waves and these sonic waves are statement delivering the desired message. I applaud everybody who does not fall for this, who sees quality when it is there and is able to ignore the lack of quality that was so present during this entire show (the lack I mean). There are many genuinely talented artists out there, but these are not the ones defining the charts right now. Not the ones who sell millions of records on a regular basis. That's why everybody should also question what records or digital downloads they are buying. Unfortunately there, the art of make-believe I was just talking about early on in this paragraph has delivered the expected results. The desired results. As for this show, maybe you can also say that it was not really a political event this time, but why would it be. The American election is long over and there are no upcoming Senate elections either. But of course in a more subtle manner subjects like sexual orientation and race issues were also a factor here. Oh yes, I was kinda wrong. There was a huge political issue here, namely the pandemic. We had audiences, but they all wore masks and the artists (or "artists") talked a lot about the pandemic as well from several perspectives. And the way it impacted them. Final words: I kinda thought Chris Martin was more classy as well. That's it now. Huge thumbs-down for this show and I highly recommend to skip it. I hope that they skip the 2022 editions if it turns out as bad as the one in 2021. And previous years. Not that there is any chance for that to happen. They will surely keep going going with the art of make-believe here.
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2021 CMT Music Awards (2021 TV Special)
2/10
Still no return to class
17 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
As the title gives away, here we have the "2021 CMT Music Awards", an awards ceremony that aired just little over a week ago and this is/was one of the defining country music (awards) events. I don't think I have to elaborate here as much in-depth as I have with other awards shows, but you can see from my rating that I was not a fan at all of the outcome here. Reasons follow later on. First of all, let's look at the basics: This one ran for 105 minutes without commercial breaks, so comfortably over two hours with advertizing. Corona numbers may be lower now, at least here, but distancing and masks still make it really obvious what was going on. I must say I was not a fan at all of the hosting. I'd take Underwood and Paisley any time over these two. Especially Kelsea Ballerini was unwatchable at times and Kane Brown was just mostly boring. The directors DeMaio and Quinn, well you would think that they could deliver better with their experience (especially DeMaio), but no they did not. Then again, I am not sure if these two were also writers. Those are probably more to blame. What I am sure about, however, is that the intention to please the general mainstream (media) here was basically the creative death of this event with the 2021 editions. We get the most uninspired song about ladies at the very start of the show. It was by Lady Antebellum or Lady A (whatever...) and it's kinda telling that it is not a positive thing at all if this is the quality we get these days froom one of the defining country music bands. They fit in all the political aspects very early on already as what followed next was a proper elaboration on Black people in country music or rap music. Imagine such an inclusion when it comes to White people in RnB. The media reaction would be massive and the producers would have to retire for reasons of (alleged) racism. Double standards galore. At least this was almost it for the show. I mean it's just a fact that country music is to rap music what the NHL is to the NBA pretty much. There may be exceptions, but they have to be good enough and should not only be part of this show for reasons of diversity. Then again, the White acts were noot exactly a revelation either.

Two other slightly cringeworthy inclusions happened a little later when we have more praise for women. The way it was presented was surely cringeworthy. One person talked about the immense depth of female country artists' lyrics when said lyrics really couldn't be any more shallow. The other would be open men bashing in terms of how they keep cheating on their female partners. This was only slightly forgivable because it came from the stunning Ashley Shahahmadi, maybe the most beautiful contributor that night. I have no clue why she was there. Is she a social media icon? A journalist at best? I don't really see much of a connection to the music industry, let alone country music industry. But some of the people chosen to present awards here really did not fit in anyway. There were athletes and for some reason there was also Anthony Mackie, who seems to (try to) be a part of every American awards show now to promote himself and his new show. Cringeworthy stuff. How low he got after great stuff like The Hurt Locker. But yeah, kinda telling when he rambles on about how he is the one in charge of saving the planet or something like that. Speaking of crucial subjects, the most pseudo important moment of the night goes also to host Ballerini (it was her no?) with the duet on the subject of a partner being the reason why you stop being an alcoholic. I mean it is an important issue and subject, but the way it was presented here in the most uncreative manner one could imagine was really a slap in the face of everybody who is these days still struggling with alcoholism or struggled at some point in the past.

Then there are the usual issues. Again, it did not really feel like an awards show because there was one music performance after the next. On a positive note, you can say that it was not the case that many categories were simply left out because there just weren't many categories. But all these easily could have fit into 80 minutes max and it still would have been more than enough music. That way, we also could have done without Restless Road who I initially mistook for the Jonas Brothers. Here and there, we also got some shameless advertizing as part of the show, not just during the commercial breaks. So yeah, what else is there to say really? Ah yes, when there were finally awards being handed out, the winners were waiting behind the stage, so the surprise delight element was also not a part of this show, which made it even more boring to watch. I think the entire show and project was dommed for failure and it turned out a major disappointment. I like country music here and there and this event really needs a back-to-the roots approach for future editions that it can at least be somewhat watchable again. The 2021 edition was constantly somewhere between utter cringe and highly uninspired. It feels almost impossible to fit in something truly positive in here. Not even Carrie Underwood with her performance could save the entire thing one bit and she is an artist I like at least on some occasions. Here she was just as weak as the rest. Which says nothing positive at all about American country music these days, especially because it is each and every single time with this event the same in terms of who is performing. Always the same people. There are some new and young faces here and there, but either they are not good or they are gone quickly as well. I am not sure if there's acts that are more talented and just have to stay out of shows like this.. Then it would be even worse. Or... I don't know. Maaybe if they don't exist would still be worse. Instead, they get in slightly strange combos. I mean Underworth/Legend was still okay, even if the play on words was surely cringeworthy later on, but no excuse for stuff like Urban and Pink being nominated. Alright, that is really it now. The lowest rating for the outcome here and I'd definitely prefer this show not bing held over it being held the way it was now very recently in 2021. Maybe it's indeed time for a break and I mean a break of more then 52 weeks. Absolutely not recommended.
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4/10
Feels like quantity over quality unfortunately
9 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Monster Pets: A Hotel Transylvania" is an American animated short film from this year (2021) and actually this was released back in April, so approximately two months ago now. The title here gives you also the title this short is connected with obviously, and the words on the left side of the : are the title of this one we got here. It runs for five minutes and if you add the closing credits, it is closer to six minutes, therefore the running time stated here on imdb. If we keep looking at the basics, you will find the name Jennifer Kluska here as writer and co-director. She has mostly worked on DC Super Hero Girls in the past and it's films like this where people get the chance to prove that they are ready for a prestigious full feature project. Or to show that they are not (yet) ready as I would say is the case here. The co-director is Derek Drymon btw. Drymon usually worked on screenplays more often than direction, so his inclusion here surprises me a bit. He has scored several Emmy nominations already and is mostly known for SpongeBob Squarepants. Both Kluska and Drymon also appears as voice actors in here. And they are indeed in charge of directing the next Hotel Transylvania full feature film and I genuinely hope that one turns out better than this short here.

It's not a failure or anything, but overall I was not impressed. The joke with the big red ball gets old quickly, even if the inclusion at the very end for some closure was among the better moments again. Then there is the idea of the protagonist looking for another dog to play with and it almost feels like some casting. The first one who is so tiny and scared was still funny, also thanks to the camera angles there depicting the differences in size, but eventually this crucial (you can call it that as this is what is directed attention to in the title) part of the movie feels rushed and uninspired sadly and a key reason why I give the outcome here a thumbs-down. By the way, the cat who turns out to be the winner in the end reminded me a bit of the one from Sailor Moon. Just me though. I wonder how and if this telekinetic kitten will be included in the upcoming full feature film. Maybe it will be included, but not have a lot of screen time because they cannot take for granted that most people have seen this short. They probably haven't. Okay, this is it then. I know I repeat myself, but I hope the level of the upcoming full feature film will not be the same as this short film because I enjoyed the previous 90-minute (or so) movies. I have a feeling it could though and the franchise has finally jumped the shark. "Monster Pets" gets a negative recommendation from me. Skip.
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2021 Billboard Music Awards (2021 TV Special)
2/10
Once more uninspired and unwatchable for the most part
4 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Here we have the "2021 Billboard Music Awards" and the title this time is pretty self-explanatory. This awards ceremony here is closely linked to the charts and commercial success. Actually, at the very end of this show, you can also see the detailed description of what exactly played a role here in determining the winners (and nominees). They still kept it vague enough, so you cannot simply do the maths yourself in advance and find out who would end up triumphant. But let's look at the very basics first: This aired in the second half of May, so it is not even a month old, actually approximately half a month. And the focus is on music and sadly, this awards show is just as bad, if not worse, as all other recent music awards shows. The key problem (one of many) is that these shows are always lost in stage performances really. And the award element becomes forgettable. So kinda fitting here too that this show started with a music performance and ended with one. I wish they would instead actually be what the title suggests. We have two writers and two directors here. One of the directors has won a few Emmys in the past and one of the writers has many nominations. The other two are not complete rookies, but nowhere near as successful. I cannot really say "famous" because the fellas here are not too known. The running time of the show stated here on imdb is no less than three hours. The show itself, the one I watched without commercials, is slightly over two hours long, which means that almost one third are commercials here. Really rough and there is no excuse for that, especially because during the broadcast you also see brands here and there. Shame on you, NBC!

The host you can see on the poster here on imdb and it is one of the Jonas Brothers. Well, he did not have that much screen time to be honest. Which was probably a good thing because he did nothing for me. But I guess this hosting job was one reason why Priyanka Chopra (the wife) was also part of this show on one very brief occasion. And why the Jonas Brothers played the final song of the night. Nothing to be proud of. It was the opposite of a highlight really. I always read that the are super successful to this day and still even taken seriously now as grown-up singers, but I completely don't see why. Nothing special about them at all. But the show had major issues early on already. DJ Khaled I find so unlikable and he was the opening act plus a few others. His music does nothing for me either. But wait and see, things to get worse. I honestly could not look at the screen anymore when Michelle Obama gave everybody a little video message (of course the crowd loved it) and told us about the amazing talent and depth that is Alicia Keys. Sigh. The only thing I can agree with here is that she was not as terrible in the very early stages of her career as she is now. But I still find her incredibly overrated. Then again, the Obamas were always all about make-believe, so fitting inclusion. Things don't get any better soon. Pink (or P!nk as the cringeworthy spelling) received a big award too and was introduced by Jon Bon Jovi. Their anecdote about how he got married and it broke her heart was so disgustingly gooey and again very cringeworthy. You may think it's my favorite word, but there is no better way to describe it. Admittedly, Pink's stage performance with her child later on was pretty spectacular from the acrobatic perspective. But that's it. What is this? Cirque de Soleil? There was also almost no singing as they were busy with their poses I guess, but then again the song was trash anyway.

But people seemed to really enjoying bringing (their) kids to the stage because Drake also did not show up alone. His win was maybe among the more acceptable of the night, but I just cannot take Bad Bunny seriously. Or when Machine Gun Kelly takes hom awards in categories in which AC/DC is also nominated, then there is nothing to add. Or there even was a category in which the BTS boys from Korea won, again nominated against AC/DC. I am not even much of a fan of the latter, but these winners show you all that is wrong with modern American music. There is quality there wihout a doubt, but you won't find it on the winners' lists of these events here. Speaking of BTS, it was said that they already won one award the fifth year in a row or something. Or won it the first time five years ago. I am not sure, but I'm kinda glad I don't remember. They are so irrelevant. All the songs sound the same and let's not even talk about the way they look into camera one by one here. I mean Backstreet Boys etc. Were also not exactly legendary musicians, but compared to BTS they were five leages above them. Their songs also all sound the same. I was so embarrassed listening to Butter on one occasion. I guess their fans now will one day truly be embarrassed about supporting the most generic and artificial band out there.

Oh yeah, this was held during the corona pandemic still, but it showed that the numbers are going down. There were crowds, no distancing between the fans, but they had to wear masks. The quantity was also really high, so I kinda doubt they tested all of them in advance or something. Maybe one good thing, but you must still wonder why people would go see this event. Another crucial key problem with music awards shows is that the presentation is really disrespectful for the most part because many winners (and nominees) are not even part of the show because many categories are omitted. You can check out wikipedia for the entire list of winners. The good news is that without omitting these the show would have ran for considerably longer and nobody would want that. But if they instead replaced the music performances with these categories and announcements and keep it at 2/3 hours like that, I may have even given a higher rating. This is not reality though and probably never will be. In other words, this abomination of an awards ceremony will most likely barely change in the coming decade and sadly remain was unwatchable as it was with the 2021 editions. Lowest possible rating for me here. I think it deserves all the hate and criticism out there. Another negative highlight was when one murdered musician received an award and his mother and brother entered the stage paying tribute to him this way, but they were in such a positive and delighted spirit that it felt all kinds of wrong honestly, as if there was no grief whatsoever. But it kinds fits this cold and artificial music industry in which everybody is best friends with everybody (obviously), but truly artistic achievements are the last thing you will find here. That's why you get acts like The Weeknd taking home all these trophies. It's all about the money. Nothing else. Stay far, far away and don't support any of this! Especially not the ways in which they covered heady fully for some of the dancers and less important musicians to avoid face masks and make sure they are not taking away any of the attention from the stars. Err.. I prefer to call them celebrities I think. Bye now.
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2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards (2021 TV Special)
2/10
I thought it was plain horrible
4 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Here we have the "2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards" and the title is pretty self-explanatory. This took place in the middle of May. I remember they gave this show a new title not too long ago, but the editions since then have been massive failures and nothing has changed with the 2021 ceremony. There were audiences allowed already (even if they had to be tested) with the virus a bit less frequent and widespread these days. But let's take a look at the basics: The director is Emmy nominee Ryan Polito, but the ones more to blame here are probably the four writers. Great example of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Some of them are more experienced, have even worked on the Oscars, others only on the BET Awards and one has very little experience. But I am not sure who is to blame the most there. Not important either. For each of the quartet, this is a definite contender for weakest career effort. The entire show ran for minimally under 1.5 hours, but this excludes commercials. Otherwise, it would be two hours probably. The expected runtime pretty much and I am not glad it went longer. For all I care, the shorter the better here.

MTV really ought to be ashamed to be behind this event. This especially applies to the host. Leslie Jones was extremely bad and unfortunately she also had a great deal of screen time. I am already talking about her totally unfunny introduction. Take the moment when she ends up in the wrong neighborhood making fun of White people scared in mistly Black neighborhoods. Very subtle. Well Leslie, let's compare crime rates in these two different neighborhoods shall we? Her Steve Urkle parody was also an abomination and I am saying this as somebody who quite liked Family Matters. Could not have been worse. Things stay just as bad when in her opening monologue she talks about the size of male genitalia. I wonder how that would have been appreciated the other way round. With a White man talking about the size of female genitalia while mobving his body in a way that implies intercourse. Oh well. More cringe with Jones. I actually forgot why she was famous, but then luckily she told us in the most arrogant manner that it was thanks to Ghostbusters. Oh yes, that film was weak. Now I remember and she was probably the worst about it. Later on, she had more terrible moments, like when we see she is so strong and amazing that she can easily take care of King Kong and Godzilla at the same time. Sure thing. Her expected win was another really low moment from the ceremony. The only one maybe on par with Jones, not in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality (or lack thereof) might be Kathryn Hahn. If this "actress" wins a Best Villain trophy, then enough is said about the quality of the show. What was at least as bad as her win was her basically deep into her 40s showing up in terms of clothing and makeup like an 18-year-old. Unwatchable stuff. Also she might even have forgotten about her age for a second when she talked about this show being her childhood. Oh well, I am pretty sure that this show did not exist 40 years ago.

On the male side (yes genders exist, sorry not sorry), the worst from the bunch was probably Seth Rogen with his hate speech against conservatives and defamation when it comes to Rudy Giuliani. And also how the fella he made the announcement speech for was as always a great friend or something. Of course, these shows have to get through the liberal Hollywood message as well. No surprise here. Sacha Baron Cohen winning I can deal with (that mosque moment in the presentation made me curious about this show, even if that disgusting "moment that breaks the internet" announcement was so gross and full of itself as if this show delivered anything at all), but the acceptance speech where he got in all his famous characters basically was also not even close to being as funny as I wanted it to be. Pity. Enough negativity for now and I may return to that later on. I can really only think of two fine inclusions here: The first would be Scarlett Johansson. Debatable if you should give her a career achievement award at her age, but I like her, so can accept it. Nice to see that she left politics out of it and the Nickelodeon slime reference was actually fairly hilarious. Also the way how she acted outrage was awesome. The second one I liked would be the winner from the category that was about acting scared. Don't remember her name, but she mentioned it explicitly at the end of her acceotance speech, so it's fine I guess if I omit it here. Her speech had class and she seemed like a humble girl. I liked that a lot.

What else? Oh yes, the way the winners got their awards lacked quality altogether. The surprise element was completely gone. I mean I see the point in accepting the awards at home and not there with everybody because of the pandemic, but it's still embarrassing if people at the end of their speech announce a trailer or scenes from their newest movie. All so planned and absolutely not how it should be. If the winners who actually were on locations stand behind a huge door to accept the award, we also know exactly that they knew what was about to happen. Not how it should be either. So many things to improve for future editions here. I am afraid it will probably take another decade until this will be a somewhat watchable show. Really weak and this was one of the very worst awards shows from 2020/2021 so far and could be a definite contender for worst awards show from 2021 come end of the year. So basically I agree wiith the pretty short review from the other reviewer. It was cheap propaganda at times and when it was not, then it was not inspired or entertaining either. It was basically just an easy way to get in promo for your newest project. Look at Loki and Vera Farmiga. And Scarlett sadly too. Allso kinda sad to see Snoop Dogg as the DJ here. Losing a bit respect for him if he is part of stuff like that. The music was just as weak, even if it was only a side factor here. DJ Khaled I have no respect for at all and there was this one song playing near the end when somebody accepted the award, really successful one from a female singer, that is basically in a nutshell all that is wrong with popular music these days. Was it Cardi B? I am not really sure. But doesn't matter anyway, the decsription fits her too and I am kinda glad that I forgot the name already. Wish I could forget the tune.

Okay, that is basically it then. A lot more failure I could mention here really, but it was juts a cringeworthy show from beginning to end. Also when they acted significant all of a sudden when giving an award to Chadwick Boseman. The movie winner I cannot really say too much about. It's the only one from the nominees I haven't heard the title, so I guess this had a big fan base, but it was the third film already from the series and that is not a surprise then. Oh yeah, more embarrassment includes the Best Kiss scene. In general, I also felt that they included many, many Black Americans here again too to avoid criticisms that the show may not be diverse enough. Pity Asians and Hispanics and other were really not represented here. Or underrepresented. Maybe because they do not complain otherwise. Eric Andre I also remembered funnier somehow, not just on 2 Broke Girls. Now he's just loud. Another criticism that applies here is also that they left out many categories and did not include them in the broadcast, which is pretty disrespectful always. But in this case, it may be good for the artists because they did not have to be a part of this mess one way or the other. You can check out the full list of winners on wikipedia or something. One name that you will also find there, actually more than once, is Anthony Mackie. Cannot really say anything positive about him. Back when he was in stuff like The Hurt Locker, he was okay, but he was never a particularly versatile actor or something. His little call for a fun beef here was as embarrassing as it gets too. There are also really many Black American actors these days with considerably more talent than him in my opinion. But with all that in mind, it is not a bad thing for him and you can praise his agents etc. That they got him into the world's biggest superhero franchise, even if his character (or him playing this character) at the center of the action is only enough for the small screen now. Probably a good thing. I have a hard time picturing him as Captain America here. Yes, Chris Evans was this good. But also no huge surprise that they are milking this cash cow that Avengers is/was a little longer now, also on television. And I mean Loki is also television, let alone the many other (super)hero shows airing these days.

I think I elaborated enough now though on this awards show we have here. There isn't much more to say and if there is, then it would also be also almost exclusively negative I'm sure. This is why I give the outcome here the (for me) lowest rating possible. Highly not recommended and even personal preference (like Kat dennings or Mandy Moore, even if I do not like her as much anymore as I once did) cannot change that for the better unfortunately. Same applies to the good nominations. For example Taylor-Joy, Corrin, Sacha Baron (never know if this is a second first name or first family name) Cohen, Sudeikis, Mulligan and many others received great awards recognition elsewhere. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, that chess sequence with out amazing host here was also a huge mess. And what was up with all these faces on the screen? Were they just viewers? So bizarre. That is really it now. Stay far, far away from this one. Have we learnt anything here? Maybe that even with more serious characters, Owen Wilson always delivers tongue-in-cheek.
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Dying Is Easy (2021)
6/10
Pretty decent watch overall if you like Batman
1 June 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Dying Is Easy" is an American English-language live action short film from 2021, so really fresh and new still and in the couple months since its release this has scored millions of views on Youtube to show you how successful it turned out to be. One reason may be the title that is catchy and easy to remember, but the key reason is probably that this is linked to Batman as you can see from the poster here. The director and writer is Aaron Schoenke and these 26 minutes here are by far not his only trip to Gotham City. He has worked on several Batman films in the past and the experience certainly works in his favor. He is also an actor and plays the Joker in here during the film's perhaps most memorable scene. I am oof course talking about the one between Batman and Joker. If you think this ended with Joaquin Phoenix's Oscar-winning, Joker-defining portrayal, you are wrong. Schoenke by the way has also worked on all kinds of other stuff in the past, for example given his voice to Spider-Man in a famous video game. But let's stay with this one here for now. I should say Aaron Schoenke because the co-director here is Sean Schoenke. Not sure, but my guess is he is Aaron's brother and they have collaborated many times as well. Sean Schoenke stems from the music department usually, but has worked in all kinds of production areas over the years and also played minor characters in front of the camera. In general, you can say that most people you see in this movie have worked with the Schoenkes before. And the cast is not shabby either. There is a reason why not only Doug Jones (would have been nice to see more from him) is on board here, but even Tarantino regular Michael Madsen is a part of this film and not just in one very brief scene.

Looking at the story, Batman fans get their fair share as well. We see most of the famous antagonists, but you cannot fit stories for all of those into under half an hour. Some nice banter between Harley Quinn and Pison Ivy though. So the focus is on the Joker once again. We are told that he is about to die and he thinks so himself, but then we find out it was all just a trick by Batman to get a certain confession out of his most famous antagonist. The quote about how all these other antagonists have something to live for (and to die for), but the Joker does not is also one to remember. The final words of this movie were also on the more memorable side in terms of how Batman is also depicted as a monster here. This can also be seen through how he deals with these chains in what could be mistaken for him trying to kill the Joker. This is of course exactly what the latter wants. In general, the style here is very dark, reminds one a lot of Christopher Nolan's take on the franchise and the really deep voice by Batman here is ansother parallel. Overall, I think this was quite impressive for a fan film. If I had to rate it as a fan film, I may have added another two stars. But rating it as a film in general, it's still 3 out of 5 and a positive recommendation for me here for sure. I personally felt that the only time when I did not enjoy it was basically the epilogue with Catwoman coming into play. That did feel a bit generic, almost cringeworthy, with the meow there. But other than that, it is certainly worth watching. Also really on a strong technical and visual level. Go for it!
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22 vs. Earth (2021)
4/10
Struggling a bit with this one
30 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"22 vs. Earth" is an animated short film from April 2021, so really not old at all, exactly a month in fact. I think the running time of nine minutes here is not correct as five or six seems more accurate and I think I had the full version indeed. Of course, the fact that this has been seen by so many already these last weeks has absolutely to do with it being a Pixar production that is closely linked to the Oscar-winning full feature film soul. Actually, it takes place before that movie and is also set on a different planet. I have not seen Soul, but I'm pretty sure I would not have liked this short more if I had seen it already. At least, this one here does not get me any more curious to give it a go. I do agree with the other reviewer that it does get a little bit better towards the end here, but I don't wanna be as harsh this time. It's not a failure, but also not particularly inspired. The only somewhat good moments are when these creatures say that they like 22 when they are not supposed to say so. Very early on, there is this moment when the kids are just joking a bit around and it's neither really funny nor cute. The title character's unsuccessful attempts to make Earth seem as unappealing as it gets were also not a revelation to watch overall.

I honestly thought this would be better. Pixar short films directly linked to Pixar full feature films never really have a shot at Oscar glory anyway, but even if this one here did not have such a connection, it would not be triumphant I'm positive. Also these supervision creatures did almost nothing for me and honestly for a Pixar film I was a bit surprised how low the visual quality felt here and there. Unusual. This also applies to these creatures I just mentioned. As for the voice acting, it's all about Tina Fey from 30 Rock and she is of course also key in Soul. Ayoade deserves a mention too I guess. The writer here is Josh Cooley, an Oscar winner for Toy Story 4 and with the direction they took a usual route and Kevin Nolting was in charge here, previously a prolific editior, but they give them often chances to direct short films the way it happened here. Sadly, the outcome is not on the level where I would be happy to see him direct a full feature film for Pixar soon. It's a thumbs-down for me. Did not win me over in terms of visuals, story or emotion. Go watch something else instead. Even if you watched and liked Soul, this is not ecen close to being a must-see.
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6/10
An okay watch for the most part, but never on a level where it is the last film you want to witness
28 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Der letzte Zeuge" is a German theatrical release from 1960, so this one is over 60 years old now. The literal translation would be "The Last Witness" and this is also the international title for this film. Given its age, nobody should be surprise that it is a black-and-white movie. Color was a rarity at that point in Germany, especially when it came to serious films. The end of World War II was just 15 years away, so this tells you how ols it really is. And the Berlin Wall was build one year later. It's of course a West German movie. The director was Wolfgang Staudte and he was one of Germany's most impactful filmmakers from that era, even if not too many remember the name nowadays in contrast to those Germany filmmaker who had big successes in the 1970s for example. This may also have to do to some extent with Herzog, Wenders and Schlöndorff still being alive and Fassbinder is the only one from the bunch who is not. But we are drifting too far away now. Back to this one here: It was on national television today, but this does not happen too often anymore and also online it is not particularly easy to find this movie I think. But it deserves to be seen by more than the 175 who rated it here on imdb. There are three writers credited here and the most known from the trio is Robert A. Stemmle for sure. You will find titles you have at least heard the name before if you are not completely new to German cinema. This applies to some extent also to the cast. The most known name as of today is probably Harald Juhnke, who was of course still pretty young when this was made and he only plays a supporting character. But there are people in here who are considered among the defining actors in terms of German cinema when it comes to their generation. One example would be Martin Held here and this is not the only occasion he worked with Staudte. One of the trademark movies for both was "Rosen für den Staatsanwalt" from only a year earlier.

This film here had also decent success in terms of awards. It was in contention in Cannes, nothing to be taken for granted for a German movie still relatively briefly after World War II. It did not get selected to represent West Germany at the Oscars, but it scored two wins and another two nominations at the German Film Awards back then. All four of those were for the acting and I agree with that. The film may not have been great story-wise, but the performances were always high standard pretty much. The wins are in the supporting categories. Hanns Lothar plays a good guy lawyer here whose resilience helps in uncovering the truth. I agree that he played his part well. There is still some tragedy to him. His life was cut way too short and same applies to the lives of his two children. One of those would be Susanne Lothar, an actress that is also still pretty known here in Germany. She was born pretty much when this film was made. The supporting actress win went to Blandine Ebinger and for her the opposite is true. She led such a long life. Unfortunately, I cannot agree with her win here. Seems more like a career trophy. She only had two scenes and the one when she is asked about the belt early on was pretty weak and also not well-acted from her at all in my opinion, but also poorly written. The second scene is about the belt again, when Lothar's character uncovers that she could very well be wrong and does not not in a derogatory way, but basically wins her over. The entire belt story did very little for me I must admit. I don't even think that Ebinger gives the best supporting performance in here, a really unjustified win. Adelheid Seeck for example who was also nominated did better with her material. The fourt nomination and the only one in the lead categories is Ellen Schwiers. She did fine overall I'd say and the nomination is okay. Overall, it's really an ensemble performance here.

In terms of the plot, it was really nothing special. The ending was even so abrupt after under 100 minutes that I was not sure anymore I could give this a positive recommendation. The father is the actual killer and he is arrested on the spot. The way they sold us this idea as the ultimate truth now is something I am pretty criticial about. I think that, even if the man says he also loved the child's mother, this film could have needed more and better shades in terms of good and evil for sure. The way the mother was depicted as innocent against all odds from the start was a bit cringeworthy and also how the likable lawyer (Lothar, who does not enter the picture before the 30-minute mark) is on her side was not helping either, especially his initial struggles and worries if he should accept the case. How he and his helper (she would have deserved Ebinger's nomination maybe) uncover piece by piece that their client is innocent was too much here and there as well. The idea with the hotel and the list and how names are treated there in terms of when they want to be woken up by the staff was not bad by any means, but I kept wondering really if these deep investigations there felt realistic. I agree though that it should have been something the police should have done. The idea of the child's father being abroad during the proceedings I liked though. Stay as far away from the action as possible I guess. He is also the title character as we find out then basically. He is not just the last witness, but also the culprit apparently.

I also struggled a bit with this being called a courtroom drama because the vast majority of this film is not set in a courtroom. Towards the end, it becomes more of course and the quantity increases, but even there we have scenes in-between where the action moves out of the courtroom again. Of course, the ending with the arrest then right at the courtroom could make pople think it clarifies as such, but I am struggling a bit with that. You could also use many other factors and inclusions then to call this film a xyz drama I suppose. But it's not too important anyway, no need to categorize everything. Overall, I'd say it was the acting that made this worth watching, but I alsok think in terms of depth and suspense the film has not aged that well and there are large segments where the movie did very little for me. As I said earlier, it was a close call here between calling this an okay movie and calling it a forgettable movie. I think it is both to some extent in the end, but I will be generous here and still give out a positive recommendation. If you like old (German) films with crime plots and especially focus on all that happens after the crime, then this is a good watch. The poster I am also struggling a bit with honestly. It feels melodramatic and the extensive use of color there is also a bist misleading. One of the film's best scenes early on was maybe the call from the mother, maybe also Schwiers' best moment and knowing now who she called, there is a special take to it if you watch the film again. Also how they depicted the tragedy there through a toy was kinda interesting. One thing/person I have not mentioned yet was the doctor, the other man the mother had a romantic relationship with. His inclusion and also the actor and performance I liked. It added a new component to the movie and was a bit of a pity the character became basically irrelevant the longer the film went. That's all. I say go watch this one. Just don't expect too much though.
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8/10
Really enjoyed this one
27 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Au Revoir, Chris Hemsworth" is a little short film, actually music video you could say, that runs for minimally under three minutes and is, as the title already suggests, in the French language. But there are English subtitles. Kinda surprised this was only seen by 250k people by now and it's been online for over half a year already. Perhaps Chris Hemsworth actually showing up here would have turned it into 2.5 million. We'll never know. But I pick Tom cruise over him any time and you can see Cruise on the poster here, which is definitely a bit of a spoiler, even if the man's inclusion is as short as it gets. I still prefer Chris over Liam and the other brother where I don't remember the name. Was it Luke? Anyway, there are a few personal reasons here for me I guess why I quite enjoyed this one. First would be that I really adore the French language and it is in French from beginning to end and the singer's voice fits nicely too. It's not a challenging number or performance, but it has the tongue-in-cheek element going for it. Also it helps in my very case that this is in black-and-white as I generally tend to enjoy b&w movies. I will also elaborate a bit on the basics. Somehow I must say I mistook Chris Hemsworth for Chris Evans when listening to this one, but now I got it. The director here is Simon Pegg and he is also one of the two writers. Is there anything I really have to say about him? I don't think so.

The second writer is Pom Klementieff of course. I still think Pom is an amazing name. You will probably know her from playing Mantis in several movies of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers franchise. Klementieff is a Canadian and native French speaker I think looking at where she was born, so good choice here. Definitely makes it work. The original song is from the 1960s, so easily over 50 years ago/old already. The singer back then was France Gall, maybe not known to too many anymore, especially outside France, but the composer back then was Serge Gainsbourg. Now he is still remembered by many. I wonder what he would think about this new version. I think it's pretty stylish. Somehow this is also linked to a fantasy football game online and basically trash talk from beginning to end, which makes it fairly funny. I probably would have understood this better if I had any clue about the sport. Even if I heard the name Aaron Rodgers before. There are many other kinda funny mentions. Tom Holland and Ryan Reynolds getting their fair share as well. One bird character is even eaten. Okay, that was a bit starnge, but still kinda entertaining also with the bloopers at the very end. Now I wrote a lot about this one, but the one thing more important than anything I have to say here is that you should check this one out. It's also really easy to find.

Especially Avengers fand and GotG (not Game of thrones) fans will have a fun time here I am sure. But also if you have no clue who these people are (cannot forgive you with Cruise though, there are other big names too at the end, check out the cast list if you care), this is a pretty decent watch. Even better and easier to enjoy if you speak (or at least understand) French fluently. Alright, this is basically it then. Now I am somehow in the mood to watch a(n old) French black-and-white movie. Mission accomplished I suppose. On my MP3 player this goes. No hesitation for me here in giving this one a really high rating, the obscenity makes sense too from a comedic perspective, verbally and graphically (sexual reference, swearing and middle fingers), and that is indeed quite a creative achievement. It's titles like this one here I suppose that make it easier for me to understand why music videos are a part of imdb and there are so, so many music video titles now. This one here you really do not wanna miss out on. Big thumbs-up and this is also incredibly catchy. I must even say I like it more than the original and it is also certainly a success that I enjoyed this one here so much that I immediately afterwards checked out the old song by Gall.
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6/10
Lacks a bit in terms of depth, but still an okay watch
24 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Astérix et le coup du menhir" or "Asterix and the Big Fight" or "Asterix - Operation Hinkelstein" is a co-production between West Germany and France and as a consequence this film is once more (mostly) in the French language. This was released back in 1989, so it is over 30 years now and it is one of the older, but not oldest Asterix movies. Definitely also among the ones who have not seen by too many, but I shall get to that a little later. Maybe this also has to do with the fact that the director is Philippe Grimond here and, while he has been fairly active in other departments, this one here is his only career effort as the man in charge behind the camera. There also seems to be little information about where he is now, if he is still alive etc. Same applies to writers Voight and Kabatek with the key difference that these two have never worked on another film project at all, which is surely on the surprising side because writing a screenplay for an Asterix movie was kinda big back then too. I guess it is fitting that those writers who will always be remembered for these works are of course Goscinny and Uderzo with the former being dead for a long time now sadly and Uderzo left us not that long ago. This film runs for approximately 80 minutes, but the version I saw earlier today was even shorter I believe. Also they showed all these animated Asterix films not too long ago here, I think it was for Easter, and this one they did not show and wait until Whitsun now and this really makes it obvious that it is not one of the best, not one of the funniest and also not one of the most inspired films from the series.

A key difference here is for example that Asterix, Obelix and the rest stay at home and to not explore a new country or even continent. So this takes away some jokes already on the level of how much the Brits love their tea for example. The culture clash element is completely gone. Instead, it is more a clash if reason vs. Insanity. One example would be how the druid really loses it here because of an unlucky collision, but another example is also how the people from the village fall for a scam artist in a wold costume. I clearly remembered this guy from back then when I read the comic book(s) and saw the film on an earlier occasions, but I am still not sure if he is interesting enough to be basically included here as some kind of main antagonist from beginning to end. Oh well. It could also be called "mentir" instead of "menhir" you could say at the very end of the title. People that speak French will understand what I mean. So yeah, Asterix is getting away for me with the idea of the magic potion, with the idea of these few people being able to stand up to the Roman empire, but these scenes of the druid's insanity were really a bit exaggerated this time I must say. Too much and too over the top. Same applies for me to the transformations of one Roman soldier in the second half of the film when he becomes really big, then really small and goes through all kinds of other shapes before basically being turned into a balloon.

This Roman soldier nonetheless gave us one of the funnier moments, namely when we have Obelix grab him by his leg and pull him to become basically a lab rat and see if the druid manages to come up with the magic potion despite his insanity. That entire scene was just too much, but the brief process of pulling was fun. It was rather the small moments where the film delivered this time in terms of comedy. Obelix was severely undeused this time though. The character is so much funnier than he is allowed to put on display here. Another solid moment was when the Roman leader (not Caesar, he is not in the picture in person this time) is taking a bath and his genital gets exposed briefly for one of his guards to see (not for us to see of course) and he makes sure the guard does not react in an inappropriate manner. Maybe there really wasn't that much to see. And finally, involving sid Roman leader again, there is this moment of confrontation by Caesar's delegate which was decent too how he really loses it, even if the Gauls' laughing that followed immediately afterwards was slightly too much already. But it still can be said that the Romans never really got closer to defeating the villagers than they did this time. Oh and I must mention the scene of course when the Roman leader gives this famous quote about the entirety of Gaul being conquered and he says "Yes, all of Gaul" when being asked if he really means "all of Gaul". That was kinda memorable, almost in an epic way, not really in a funny way. But of course, he is proven wrong and in the end there is happiness all along once more. Not really for the singer though up there on the tree as usual. Sorry for not using the international names. I never remember them, except the two protagonists of course who have the same name almost everywhere I think. I watched the German dub once again, so also cannot comment on Carel, Tornade and the others. I'm sure they did a solid job though and still nice to see some alive. Chazel would be one example.

Okay, that is pretty much it. There are similarities again here and there with some of the other films. I mentioned some of those already. It's also nothing new that this minor Roman leader dreams of making it big here and getting hiw own Cleopatra. We have seen that on other occasions as well. The idea of Obelix's dog being considered a meal though is something new. That fraudulent seer surely must have been hungry. But I stand with my initial perception. He's not a character I find truly memorable or worth mentioning when speaking about the best there is from the Asterix books and films unfortunately. His (forced) back-and-forth from admitting he is a scam artist and pretending not to be one to please the Roman leader also did not work out in a comedic was as much as I hoped it would Same applies to some of the other jokes. I already said that Obelix's material here also was not exactly a revelation and this includes his take on curing the druid by doing the exact same thing again that caused this misery. I mean the idea was mildly funny, but also very absurd and Obelix trying to reap the honors afterwards was also not super funny. Not among the weakest of the film either admittedly. Overall, the outcome here, which is despite the short running time not even among the shortest Asterix films, is a fairly close call for me in terms of deciding if I should give out a positive or negative recommendation. I guess I will be generous this time though and say that it is worth seeing, but really you should see (almost) all other Asterix films before this one here. Maybe also read the book first and then decide if you want to watch the movie version as well. Depending on how much you like the story. These films are almost always pretty close to the books in terms of contents, so the issues are already a bit in the book(s) this time and you cannot be too harsh with the filmmakers. They tried their best. It's barely enough.
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Ace High (1968)
4/10
Not even close to bullseye
23 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"I quattro dell'Ave Maria" or " Four Gunmen of Ave Maria" is an Italian (mostly) Italian-language movie from 1968, so this means that the outcome we have here is already comfortably over half a century old, but sadly also means at the very same time that most of the people working on this one are long gone now, but at least they left us their craft. With this film here and also some others. The original version is over 130 minutes long even, but the most common ones shown nowadays on television or even at some retro theater are minimally under two hours long and this includes the one I watched today. This film is actually the middle part of a trilogy and I watched the third (and final) film a while ago too and like that one more than this one here I must say. The first one I will find a way to catch at some point as well. Director and writer of all three films was Giuseppe Colizzi and it's these films really that he is most known for nowadays still. Admittedly, he really was not a prolific filmmaker from any perspective. And the real reason why this film is not forgotten is the cast of course, not the filmmaker behind it. Spencer and Hill will probably still be known (at least here in Germany) 500 or even 100 years from now and Eli Wallach has such amazing recognition value and of course people immediately think of his Clint Eastwood film (with Clint as an actor) when hearing his name. I like all three of them, probably love Spencer even, so it made me a bit sad that the story here did not do justice to the cast. This also includes Brock Peters that most people will know maybe from "To Kill a Mockingbird", but it is a bit of a joke that he is one of the four here because his screen time is so limited and he is barely in this movie at all. Strangely enough, it's Spencer though who did not receive one of the first four credits. That one went to Kevin McCarthy who plays the main antagonist here, but sadly his character is also not memorable at all and the final scene does not make up for that.

As for Spencer, it may be because he was far from the star he become in the 1970s and 1980s then. With him you can certainly say that his western years were the more (if not most) forgettable years from his career. He is really more of a ruthless brute for the most part and clearlly plays second fiddle to Hill, in it for some decent fight moment here and there and some comic relief, but not much else. The best example is the scene when he thinks he hallucinates because of his drink, but it's really Wallach's character there. And the latter also tricks him with his gun of course. And Hill's character has the advantage anyway in terms of how he is smart. Sadly, the good moments for Spencer are a rarity here. One really brief, but really funny inclusion, was when he called a family of people with red hair (i.e. Gingers) fire alarms. I liked it because of how politically incorrect it was too. I guess they could get in trouble in 2021 if they include this in a new movie. Kinda shameful. But yeah, in the first half Spencer still has an okay brawl scene when he stands up for a guy whose bird got shot, but in the second half, where this film gets worse, he is as forgettable as everything else. Even there the moment when he keeps slapping a prisoner was so weak compared to the energy he usually brings to scenes like this one.

As for Hill, I cannot say much more about him either. He is maybe even more forgettable really. What could be added is that they may be thugs, but they never hurt decent people as you can see from the fact how they defend women and Blacks as well. By the way, some of the characters (also the Black fella) return for the third film too. As for Wallach's character, he is also not an evil man or so. You can see that from the way he is introduced already. He is freed by these two men who kill the guard in cold blood and he kills them immediately afterwards, so he is also certainly a bit of a tough guy. We find that out again when he manages to trick Spencer's and Hills's characters and steals their horses. This scene was still okay, also how Spencer keeps saying he should shoot him or his revenge will be a bloodbath. However, this inclusion was also one of the most negative aspects because with all the anger Spencer's character was carrying around (directed at Wallach's character), it is so difficult to believe that they work together quickly afterwards, even if it's not a deep friendship or something. And a little later, Hill's character even joins them and maybe in the final shot when they are riding off, they really have become friends. With the earlier animosities, it just did not feel too credible to me at all. But what can you say?..Had the quality stayed the same as it was in the first half, i would certainly have liked this film more and perhaps even given it another two stars, which would have resulted in a positive recommendation.

The casino/roulette idea in the second half, well, it was not among the worst inclusions, but thinking about how much I like casino scenes in Bond films for example (that franchise had also started at that point), this one here was underwhelming with the fateful number 13 and how the corrupt casino owner/gangster gets his fair share in the end from those who lost money to him. I must say this film did drag a lot at times and the sometimes fine sceneries, sets and cinematography cannot make up for that on their own. I am glad I did not have to watch another 15 minutes here. Kinda sad that they could not turn the quality cast into a quality movie this time. I really, really wanted this to be better, but my finall verdict here would be a thumbs-down. Admittedly, from a subjective perspective it also felt a bit strange here and there to see Spencer's character being dominated (at least for a moment) in fight sequences, like against the big Black guy when they fight for this sum of money. Anyway, kinda funny how amounts of money that are really peanuts nowadays meant so much to people back then. Okay, this is all now, actually maybe this is even a better watch if you don't know too much about Spencer and Hill and their legacy of comedy films, so you go see this one with a more open mind. It's very different compared to those, not only because of the characters, but also because this does get more violent at times and is not just about funny punching. People die in here. Then again, it is a western, so it's gotta be this way I suppose. Not even close to the best western movies from the 1960s, probably not even to the better ones. Morricone is also missing here and it shows a bit. Watch something else instead.
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4/10
Unfortunately never really got me engaged
18 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Hälfte des Lebens", which means literally translated "Half of one's life", is an East German movie from 1985, so this one had its 35th anniversary last year and this also means that it was released when I was not even one year old. Of course, this should not be mistaken for the much more recent films "Mein halbes Leben" and "Ein halbes Leben" that sound pretty similar, but could not be any more different in terms of the story and characters. And cast and crew of course too. The reason that this film is not entirely forgotten and still here and there on national television (as it was last night) is later German actor Ulrich Mühe that most people (including myself) obviously know from his role as the main character in the Oscar-winning "Das Leben der Anderen". In this film here that runs for slightly over 90 minutes, you can see what he did 20 years earlier when there were actually still two German countries. It is also interesting that the female protagonist is played by Jenny Gröllmann as Gröllman and Mühe were spouses in real life at some point and maybe this is the film that started it. However, it must be said that this is one of Gröllmann's most known films and one of Mühe's least seen, which is pretty telling for sure. The director is Hermann Zschoche (really tough to prounounce) and he was certainly among the more successful East German filmmakers back in the day and also he kept working after 1990, which is something really not too many did. The fact that he is retired now has mostly to do with his age as the 90 is moving closer. But unlike the two key actors, who died way too early, he is still with us. Same applies to writer Christa Kozik, who is also still with us. Things do not llook equally good with the cast. Michael Gwisdek, a key supporting player, died not too long ago, but at least reached a relatively old age and Rolf Hoppe reached a really old age too and he was basically the epitome of a GDR actor. Unreal how many films he has been a part of.

Now, the title does not really imply that, but this film is about the maybe most crucial time in poet Johann Friedrich Hölderlin's life. Major focus there is on his romance with the ill-fated Susette Gontard, even more ill-fated than Gröllmann, the actress who portrays here. So longing, love and jealousy are key subjects here. There are also references about the political climate back then, but this is just a minor plot and basically tells us a bit about the background. The focus is clearly all the time on the love that could not be between the two main characters. I mean there is nothing really wrong with this film, but for me personally it was always on a level where I did not feel as if I was curious what could happen next. Mühe (and Gwisdek to a smaller extent) sometimes reminded me indeed a bit of Brühl (the ü is another coincidence) and Diehl and other wild young German. The scene with Brühl that stayed mostly in the mind was the fencing perhaps when he shows the little boy what he is cpaable of. The first signs of affection between the two lovebirds are also memorable. I am talking about the kiss. The film does not end with Susette's death, but goes on a little bit and actually there are massive jumps in time even as Mühe's character looks much older all of a sudden. He struggles a lot, also with the law and even has to endure torture. He also faces severe hallucinations which are of course closely linked to his desire and his loss.

The film's best aspects are probably the visual production values. The (aging) makeup I just mentioned already, but also in terms of sets, art direction and costumes, maybe even cinematography, this was not a disappointing watch by any means. But it can also not make up for the story that did drag a bit here and there and I think the film could (or even should have stayed under the 1.5-hour mark. There was not that much happening, which is not necessarily a negative criticism, but it also needed better character development then to make up for this lack of action. And it did not have such. On the contrary, it felt more shallow than I liked on several occasions. The title also really only makes sense in terms of what we see before the closing credits. There we find out that the film ends when the first half of Hölderlin's life is over. I mean that is okay, but it sound wy smarter than it really is and eventually a bit on the pretentious side, especially because the title is also incorrect from the perspective that it does not start with Hölderlin's birth or childhood. It starts when he is already a grown men, albeit a young one. Mühe is easy to identify, but with Gwisdek I was not entirely sure at first before I saw his name in the cast. Kinda funny his son Robert is also an established and successful actor now and he was basically a toddler back then. Okay, one year older than myself.

You could see kids in this film on many occasions, but none of them really have great impact on the story and plot. They are basically just there to emphasize the adult protagonists and their actions you could say. One example would be the wild fencing moment in which Mühe's character really lets loose. I guess it is fairly safe to say that from what you saw here you would never think Mühe could be Hauptmann Wiesler 20 years later, maybe also because Mühe looks much younger here than he was, especially int he early stages of the movie, but this also obviously does not mean that Mühe was one of the weaker, let alone worst, aspects from this film. On the contrary, he tried his best, but I'm pretty sure almost nobody really could have turned this screenplay into an exciting watch. The film once again like so many GDR movies, even if the German Reunification was only half a decade away, struggled with its bleakness and it all feels so void of emotions at times, which is pretty absurd because there is a great deal of emotions included here. I give the outcome a thumbs-down. Even if you like Mühe as much as I do and with him being visible here from beginning to end without any greater interruptions, this is never a rewarding watch. Skip.
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2/10
Groundmock Day
17 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Two Distant Strangers" is an American live action short film from 2020, so still relatively recent and this one took home the Oscar not too long ago. But let's stay with the basics first: The director and co-writer here was. Travon Free, kinda fitting name, also without the y. It runs for minimally over 30 minutes and the pposter here on imdb already makes it fairly obvious what to expect here: a film on race. Not a bad thing by any means, but the execution here left me kinda shocked with how much this film was trying to deliver in terms of current political correctness. On the other hand, now having seen this, I cannot say I am surprised that liberal Hollywood honored this one. One could probably write 10k words about all that is wrong with the outcome here, but I will try to stay more focused and just elaborate on the most obvious flaws. First of all, it is of course true that this was not the most groundbreaking idea and premise. Then again, with the quantity of (short) films out there, you cannot really blame them for that. A little more uniqueness would have been nice though. The real issue, however, is basically where this film elaborates on racism. You even see the name George Floyd written on the screen on one occasion. I mean I am by no definition approving what happened to him and I wish he was alive because he did not deserve what was coming his way. However, it's pretty absurd to treat him as a saint. He was the exact opposite of the educated, tolerant man we see here, the one who compliments women, opens the door for others and is successful with his creative profession. Please. Things got especially awkward when we have the "I can't breathe" moment basically reenacted as the first way our "hero" loses his life.

Things keep going on in the same direction. It is always the evil White police officer who kills the innocent Black man. Kinda telling us that is something that happens constantly. I also have a feeling that the protagonist here is not a drug addict and that he would not exactly threaten a mother to kill her unborn baby. Just a thought though. The protagonist's statement on how the only ones happy to see police officers are Whte people and other police officers is also as racist as it gets. Besides, it totally ignores the fact that there are many Black men in the police and also the percentage of crimes commited by Whites (I may capitalize that?) does not equal the percentage of Whites in the American population. This is something the film tried to make us forget by elaborating on how they are born into different economic backgrounds. Okay, this is not incorrect I give them that. There are many other moments when it's unwatchable. Of course, the situation in the real world right now is shocking enough for them to not give us a happy ending. When we think he finally did it, then he is simply murdered in cold blood. Yeah right. And the loop continues. Oh my. Of course, the girl also believes him immediately with this absurd story. I mean he has his evidence. But still. And pretty arrogant to say he is smarter after how he just got played so hard seconds earlier.

In addition, you should not mistake elements like the broken vase (or what it was) or the wrong number 6/9 at the door for decent attention to detail. I thought this was a truly uninspired movie overall. Without the blatant political messages in here, I maybe could have given it two more stars, but it's just not possible. Also kinda sad they use this pretty good Tupac (may he rest in peace) song for the closing credits. Also, it has never been solved 100%, but look at all the suspects' ethnicities when it comes to the murder of Tupac Shakur. This is where the real problem is. My message to everybody who reads this and watches the movie too is that you should not let emotions cloud your judgments. Stick to facts and figures and you will find the real truth. The one missing entirely from this movie. Highly not recommended. Don't be tricked by characters telling you they fall in love too quickly. Or by the writers here basically telling us White police officers are worse than dogs. I have no words for the outcome here. Let alone for the awards attention it received. Utterly shameful. I'm also sure you could add a lot more to those people whose names we see before the closing credits and the situations in which they were killed. I guess they did include these and not the ones killed by other Black people because they did not want to make a full feature film. That's it now.
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Shawn Mendes: Wonder (2020 Video)
2/10
Zero from an artistic perspective
17 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
What we have here is the music video for the song "Wonder" by Canadian recording artist Shawn Mendes. It's honestly titles like these that make me question the fact that music videos have become a thing here on imdb, but I guess that they are motion as well by definition. Then again, it is also true for many "real" movies to lack creativity, vision and quality altogether, so nothing out of the ordinary for this one we got here. At least it is really short at over three minutes, but still under 200 seconds. No big names in the cast here as it is all about Mendes from beginning to end really. The female fans especially will appreciate seeing lots of naked skin from the man, his tattoos and also a see-through shrt on one occasion. If there is any reason to watch this one, then it is definitely not the utterly generic song with totally forgettable lyrics you hear in the process, even if you could think so as Mendes tries his very best to make it seem special. All make-believe though. His voice is nothing great by any means.

What makes it worth seeing a bit are the nature recordings, the water fountain etc. Some solid stuff there visually, but nothing you won't see in most mediocre wildlife documentaries either. It's just that it is not as terrible as everything else about this one here. So yeah, what can I say. I am honestly glad it was this short and difficult to believe that this is probably gonna have over 100 million views on Youtube when it's there for a year. Basically, the outcome here is in a nutshell what is wrong with pop(ular) music these days. Luckily, it was not a huge commercial success in terms of record sales. Director and co-writer Matty Peacock has worked with the likes of Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez and Carly Rae Jepsen in the past, so this tells you as well what to expect here. Mendes himself is also credited as a writer. Well, guess what's worse than not writing your own songs? Writing empty pretentious nonsense like this one here. Highly not recommended.
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2/10
Nothing to see here
16 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"The Pretty Reckless: Going to Hell" is the title of these under 4.5 minutes and this is of course a music video. The woman you see on the photo here is Taylor Momsen as she is the lead singer from the band The Pretty Reckless. Well, what he have here did not impress me one bit unfortunately. Soulless rock music of the most forgettable kind and style over substance from beginning to end. The intent was clearl to polarize here, maybe to shock at the same time, but also keep it kids-friendly because teenagers were really the ones supporting Momsen the most back then. Her career has gone to hell you could say looking at the stuff she has(n't) done lately. She was around the age of 20 when she made this one here and now she is close to 30. Her career definitely could have turned out better, but maybe the talent isn't there. I wish I could say she is a more talented musician than actress, but what I saw here tells me that she is just as forgettable in the singing department. No artistic value I saw in here. Pity.

As for the acting side, her biggest achievement may still be that she taught us that both males and females can be called Taylor. She is rather the equivalent to Taylor Lautner there than to Taylor Sheridan in terms of talent. Or absence there. So yeah, skip this one, creepy contact lenses and a lot of black are pretty much all that stays a bit in the mind from this song here. It's the rock music equivalent to utterly generic pop music and the music video is also pretty much a failure unfortunately. Certainly telling that director Tim Mattias has never worked on a project before or after this. Probably not our loss. Oh and if you thought Matt Damon was a part of this, I have to dispapoint you too. It's Mark Damon, one of the band members I assume. Lowest rating possible from me here. Highly not recommended.
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Secret in the Mountain (2019 TV Movie)
4/10
Only truly manages to deliver towards the end
14 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Ein Dorf wehrt sich: Das Geheimnis von Altaussee" or just "Ein Dorf wehrt sich" is a co-production between Austria and Germany that premiered back in 2019 at several film festivals and this means it is not an old film by any means at this point, thus no surprise it was on television once more tonight. It is of course in the German language or maybe I should say in the Austrian language. Austrian German because the focus in terms all kinds of aspects here is definitely on Austria, not on Germany. It is set in Austria, the majority of the cast (including the key players) is Austrian and Gabriele Zerhau is Austrian as well. She had a break of almost five years in which she did not work on new films before she released this one. Or maybe she worked on this one for such a long time. Looking at most of the stuff Zerhau, who is in her mid60s now, made before during her really long career, I must say though I am not super surprised that this one turned out underwhelming eventually. But we will get to that later. Looking at the cast, German film buffs will recognize quite a few faces: Fritz Karl, Brigitte Hobmeier, Johannes Silberschneider and Oliver Masucci are just three of those with the latter playing a minor character for once. Another one would be Francis Fulton-Smith and it is still nice to see him once again go for slightly more daring projects here instead of doing these romantic dramas by ARD Degeto which he has been a part of many times too in the past. Sadly, he is really underused here, but I like him, so paid attention to him. Same applies to Masucci for me. Solid actor with great recognition value and he also would have deserved more screen time. He was one of the bad guys here and FFS played one of the good guys this time. By the way, speaking about the basics too, this film did not ran for under 90 minutes like most other German(-language) releases these days (and for decades almost), but ran for over 105 minutes, so not a short watch at all.

The story is briefly summarized in the title already. This is about an Austrian village that to some extent stood up against the Nazis in the final days/weeks/months of World War II. At least when it ended in Europe. The last word in the title is the name of said village. And the way they stood up here was linked to priceless paintings mostly. The German word would be "Raubkunst" and it means basically Nazi-looted art. Stuff that was stolen back then and here it is deposited inseide a mine and the Nazis want to blow it all up through a massive explosion, but the villagers do their best to make sure the art is safe. It's a long and heavy road with many challenges and people are killed in the process of trying to save these exhibits. Unfortunately, I must say that I felt that overall story here was a bit too thin for this running time. The consequence was that the dilm did drag quite a bit here and there and the smaller story lines were just not as convincing and sometimes they even felt like utterly pointless filler material even. With this I am for example making a reference to the love story between two younger characters that is mostly depicted in the earlier stages of the film. I mean it added nothing. The film did get better in the second half. It never feels as deep or memorable as I would have liked it to be, especially because I really like films set around that time, but there were still some decent moments like one of the good guys being killed in cold blood around the middle of the movie and his friends and family pay tribute to him in a slightly touching fashion. Near the end, the last 25 minutes maybe, it does get way better and it is pretty exciting and tense, admittedly alos because so much happens there. Be it our heroes being confronted by the armed Nazis on an open road where you could worry about all of them being killed or be it the partisans showing up to help them and basically save their lives. Also in this scene the young woman was interesting and how the Nazi officer recognized her again and he mistook her for a loyal German woman briefly before that. His face expression there was fairly hilarious. The actor reminded me a bit of Thomas Thieme.

Anyway, I see this film really scored a huge amount of awards recognition which does not surprise me too much because the subject is still one that awards bodies really like and here it is even more relevant because those people were somehow heroes and it is based on real events. Unfortunately, I do not believe the quality was really good enough to justify all this attention at the Romy Gala. Then again, it says stuff like "Favorite Actor" and not "Best Actor", so at least this is more accurate. Nonetheless, Karl never should have won this trophy. He did not stand out or anything. He wasn't bad either, but this is fully an ensemble performance. At least, Karl is not that bad in movie compared to his significant other who in my opinion cannot act at all, but he also has been in several really bad films. This one here is not bad, but on the weak side too and many seem to forhget about that given the improved final sequences. For me personally, the weak is way more frequent than the good here, so I give the overall outcome a thumbs-down. The Altausee people from back then certainly would have deserved a more dignified tribute I'd say, even if it's of course always difficult to come up with stuff like that after such a long time, 75 years here almost as the film is set in 1945. But yeah, obviously they have to fictionalize a lot here too, but I think this could have been done better and maybe this was where it become quite obvious that Zerhau is not the greatest writer. On a more positive note, to sum it all up, I agree with the other reviewer that the visual side was strong here, probably the best thing about the movie and this refers to cinematography, costumes and make-up as well. Everything basically. But this also means that the film is a bit on the style-over-substance side. I say that you should watch something else instead.
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6/10
Decent execution of the famous story once again
12 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"The Three Wise Men" is an American animated short film from 2020, actually made for the holiday season in 2020, so this one is not even a year old. No surprise given the occasion either that this is of course about the Three Kings. But let's focus on the basics first. Writers and directors are spouses are Carrie and Yarrow Cheney, most likely not related to Dick, and these two have been in the industry for a long time and also started working together a long time ago as they were study buddies initially apparently. Carrie has not been super prolific, but Yarrow has worked on some really successful high-profile Hollywood animated films in the past, sometimes as the one in charge behind the camera. Or one of the men in charge. This includes The Grinch and The Secret Life of Pets, but also, when not in charge, Despicable Me 2 for example. His biggest success as well as his wife's happened over 20 years ago already when they won a Primetime Emmy for Dilbert, a show that not too many remember today I guess. Their work here also has connections to the past because this is basically the exact same movie they released back in 2006 as "The Very First Noel". The only change is that apparently a new song was added for the closing credits and the performer there is Jonas Myrin. Doesn't make an impact at all for me to be honest. Sounded like utterly generic pop music and I definitely prefer the music from the Brothers Cazimero early on. All their songs basically, but most of all "Angels we have heard on high". Their voices work very well with the overall tone of this little film.

It runs for under 27 minutes by the way and that already includes over 10% closing credits. So, to be honest, you could go for the version from almost 15 years earlier without that forgettable song in the end. As for the animation, some of it I like, other stuff not so much. Taking into account that this is not from 2020 in terms of looks, it's alright. To be honest, I would have liked the key character here, one of the Three Kings, look a little better. The "non-royal" characters also did not do too much for me in terms of what they looked like. But I did like the King who had this yellow dress. Not just his looks, but also his behavior, like when he thinks something alonge the lines of "what a sissy" when the third King tells someting about a pretty town. That was funny for sure. Story-wise, it was decent too. The Caesar inclusion seemed a bit random and also the king (not one of the three) who was the closest to an antagonist here could have been used better. But after being told by the narrator that he is evil, that is all we get basically and he does not do anything in the end which you could think he would with how he is presented to us on the conniving side. But the story is the story I guess.

Finally, I must certainly also mention the narrator here. That would be Andy Griffith, known to most from the successful series Matlock. He is doing a fine job and he was sadly also not alive anymore last year, which further adds to this not being a 2020 film in fact. I still cannot be as enthusiastic as the other reviewer here who made it sound as if this is the best film ever made. Come on. Probably a slightly better watch in December than in May, but I ennjoyed it nonetheless today. Those parts when they were walking through all these different geological landscapes was kinda memorable too. I give the outcome here without much hesitation a thumbs-up, even if I think there was no necessaity to really "remake" this with this weak song in the end, but if it helps in getting people to watch it, people who would not have watched otherwise, then I'm perfectly fine. Could have needed more animals though as a whole. But yeah, I also think it's good that this is a religious story that in no way feels as if it pushes an agenda onto viewers. Maybe the best thing about it all to show us that neither Bible nor Church are evil at its most essential. Thanks to the Cheneys for making this. Go see it!
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Rammstein: Keine Lust (2005 Video)
6/10
Is it art? I say yes.
12 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Rammstein: Keine Lust" is the title of these six minutes we have here and this includes the name of the band as well as the title of the song. It was released back in 2005, so it is over 15 years old now. Let's stay with the basics for now: The director is the really experienced Joern Heitmann, who has worked with so many German acts: The BossHoss, Sarah Connor, Die Toten Hosen, Tokio Hotel, Guano Apes, Andreas Bourani and many others. Also with A-ha in terms of international acts. And so many times with Rammstein the way he did here. They are still probably the most famous German act/band in America these days. I don't think they ever had huge success with single releases or something, but their albums made it to number one so many times. Not sure about the United States, but here in Germany definitely. This time, Till Lindemann and his folks show us how what they look like in fat suits. Not a pretty sight, but obviously it was never meant to be. And they tell us what they are in the mood for and not in the mood for most of all because this is what thhe title means. They meet down there in some kind of warehouse or something and are given their instruments by a group of luscious young girls. I wonder if Rammstein could get away with that during the days of #me too now in the 2010s and 2020s. I hope so. But yeah, later on, it gets a little more explicit when Lindemann and three girls sit in a car. Two of them make out and the third seems to be willing to inspire Lindemann to get into sexual intercourse with her. But he really has "keine Lust".

Then there is also a younger nerdy fella who looks outside a car early on, but seems rather disgusted by what he sees there, the fat guys and the music. However, he changes his mind, comes out in his wheelchair and grooves along pretty qucikly and pretty radically in fact. He can even walk at some point. Well, in the broadest sense. Not sure if this was meant in a way that Rammstein's music can cause miracles to happen. I would not go this far to be honest, but I have nothing against them either. And their music sure kicks ass. No denying there. Actually, this may very well be one of my favorite songs they have. It is catchy, the music video is fine and well the lyrics.. let's just mention some of the stuff they are saying. Like there is talk about masturbation and it sounds as if it's "ornanieren" and not "onanieren" from the way Lindemann says the word. Germans will understand what I mean. May I even say that? I guess so, if they say it in the video. And that is by far not the most repulsive stuff in here (actually it's not repulsive at all), but there's also an implied mention of intercourse with larger animals, but yeah, nothing graphic and just words. The protagonist here may be more into those than the women you see in this video. Talking about lying in the fat is still among the most harmless components this one has to offer. Fat shaming? The Rammstein approach to Die Ärzte's Elke? Perhaps. Man, this would be so destroyed by the liberal mainstream media today. But luckily, these folks are not the ones Rammstein want to be heard by. At minimally under six minutes, this is not among the longest or shortest they have done. All in all, it's a thumbs-up for me as you may have guessed from the title of my review already. I like Rammstein. They're really doing their thing and they are super successful with it. Props to them!
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2/10
Almost impossible to appreciate from a film perspective
12 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Miu Miu: Icons" is the title of this "movie" we have here, but it is more of a really short music video, actually it is a brief commercial for fashion enterprise Miu Miu as you can also see from the title. It runs for under a minute and the director is Marcus Piggott who has worked with the likes of Nicki Minaj and Madonna on their music videos in the past. Cannot say the same about writer Katie Eleanor. The stars are of course the ones you see in front of the camera. Some big names here: oscar winner Kim Basinger, Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny and also Emma Corrin whose recent Lady Di portrayal won her many, many awards. Add to that a few people that are not super famous, at least I am not familiar with the names. Of course, an Asian component must also be included with this being for Miu Miu. Oh and you only get to see women. Not surprised. Maybe more surprised that they did not go for a female director. The song is okay I guess, the visual side does nothing for me at all. The editing is wild and they tried to fit in all they could into these fifty seconds. The result is still that you will not even appreciate what you see here if you really like one of the people in front of the camera. Blink and they're gone. Besides, from an entirely subjective perspective, I struggle really hard to see Sevigny as a mode. Looks-wise I mean. That's just me though. Overall, a really low rating from me here. The best part of this is by far the music. But that alone cannot turn it into a good watch. Not even a mediocre watch. And no, not a weak watch either. It stays highly unfulfilling and not inspired at all. Glad it was this short and I am also struggling a lot here with seeing icons in these people. This "film" surely did not tell me why I would do so.
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Sassy Justice (2020 Video)
4/10
A bit sad to see them go down this road
7 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Sassy Justice" is a live action comedy short film from late October 2020, so this is a bit over a year old now and this was released about a week before the most recent American election. Definitely not a coincidence with all the Donald Trump references and inclusions in here. But what needs to be said first is that this was directed by Trey Parker and written by him as well together with Matt Stone and I hope you know that this is the duo mostly known for the really long-running animated television show South Park. I am a big fan of this. By their release here sadly not so much. They added prolific and successful actor Peter Serafinowicz here to add further prestige and he was maybe still one of the better parts. I mean you can watch this in a quarter of an hour if you care, but I don't think you really should. Maybe it was a disadvantage in my case that I like Tom Cruise, but actually with his parts I was still alright because they were not really disrespectful. But no matter what Trump may have done in terms of disabled, it is not a justification to depict him having a stroke on live television. It also does not feel as playful the way it does when stuff like that is on South Park. Which it has been and which I did not find that offensive, but with real actors it's something different. You have the right to disagree of course. Besides, it's not cool to see Stone and parker now basically join in with the mainstream approach to news and comedy coverage. I know they are better and more objective than that. They have proved it many times on South Park.

On a more positive note, I must say that I thought it was not bad at all how they actually made people look like other people here and there. Not talking about the Trump impersonation there, but rather Sassy's face when interviewing people. Like the funniest moment was perhaps when, right after this clip with Tom Cruise, they stare in disbelief and the interviewer actually thinks it was Tom Cruise. Unfortunately these moments weren't too often enough. Otherwise, I might have given a positive recommendation here. And Mark Zuckerberg in a turkey suit, well you can do it, but it really only works for a few seconds indeed. This is where Parker and Stone came into play. The other as Al Gore, but these segments were much shorter and much more harmless than those involving Trump. Even if I did not like the outcome here, I still think it's nice to see these two still be so close to each other professionally after more than 25 years now. This was seen by several millions on Youtube by the way, but still it cannot really be considered a success. I guess with the gigantic amount of money they put in, making 2500 bucks or a little more is not considered a success. I am sure they expected at least 20 millions to watch this. Not gonna get there. Yeah, overall it's a thumbs-down from me here too and I would not be too sad at all if there will be no sequel. The ending is a joke anyway and this, also with the running time, does not look like something to be turned into a regular television or streaming show at some point. I hope that, when the day comes on which South Park is over, Stone and Parker find a new interesting project, but this one here is definitely not it. Maybe better focus on animation again, even if I have to give them props for actually making me think Michael Caine was a part of this.
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2/10
I would never give this a pass
4 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Porn Punk Poetry" that runs for over 40 minutes with credits is a German-language live action short film from 2014, so not too old, but also not too new. Director Hübner, who has made several other short films before that, is having a solid career right now and for writer Laudascher things are looking better again too. I wonder why though given the quality of this one here. Or absence thereof. For me, it was really the epitome of what an LBGT film should not be like. It relies fully on being categorized as such and sadly this is enough to attract a more than a few to watch this. Quality and creativity are entirely absent. The most ridiculous thing is really too how this film dares to call itself poetry. Punk it really isn't either. Porn to some extent, some uninspired shallow sex scenes we get here indeed. Coincidence is also a real issue here. Like when we have one character meet another randomly at a bar. Or when the male and female protagonist meet for the first time and they have a great deep connection immediately. Felt so pseudo important.

This fully applies to lead actor David Schütter too. He is all style and zero substance. This refers to his platinum blonde wild hair mostly, his muscles, but it's nothing in terms of range and versatility. Kinda embarrassing his meltdown near the end which was supposed to show us how multi-layered this struggling characrer really was, but it all went wrong for sure. Of course, in the end it is all harmonically fixed out of nowhere with the two lovebirds being together this very moment. This was a project by Hübner for a film academy I believe and he was still a student at that point and well what can I say? I would not have given him a pass for sure. But there's more stupid really because it's ridiculous to see that this film even received some awards recognition. Speechless. The music sucks too by the way and is nothing like punk from a positive perspective. Again, it's all make-believe, also in terms of the characters with foreign backgrounds. Maybe that explains why this film was shown on arte at some point. Massive thumbs-down from me. Highly not recommended.
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Oscars 2018: The Nominations (2018 TV Special)
4/10
The opposite of a high-quality appetizer
2 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
The title "Oscars 2018: The Nominations" is fairly telling here honestly in terms of what you get. Unfortunately, I as a big oscars fan did not have a fun time at all. Haddish and Serkis presented this one in under half an hour and this already includes a lengthy break right in the middle. No clue why these two. Serkis may be themost known visual effects actor these days with Gollum and Planet of the Apes, but in terms of range, there's nothing that stands out. Haddish came off as really cringeworthy with her forced comedy and so did Serkis laughing at her stuff. What also sucked was that they displayed the fifth nominee every single time before being announced. The very random comments from Twitter users at the bottom made it an even worse watch. Don't get it why even the biggest Oscar fans would say this is better than the actual show. Or why somebody would post they have waited all year long for this announcement. I mean it's for good reason I guess that this usually takes place at like five o'clock in the morning because honestly almost nobody cares about these and with the quality of the 2018 edition here, we can easily see why this is the case.

The idea with the category reenactments in the first half was nice, but the actresses they chose were a bit cringeworthy with their desperation to be close to the Oscars, even if it's just by being part of small snippets in the nominations announcement. Sigh. Was there a single nominee involved? I don't think so. And why did they only pick women? Kinda sexist and don't tell me #metoo, which was really all over the place back then I think, justifies such a decision. Don't wanna talk too much about the actual nominations, but this was the year when The Shape of Water triumphed big at the Oscars. Well, not as big as other Best Picture winners. The parallel to 2021 is interesting though in terms of McDormand dominating the season back then. Kaluuya and Oldman had a good year too. And I am not sure what is more surprising, Bryant on his path to winning an Oscar or being dead in 2021. And finally, Hopkins is the oldest Oscar winner now and back then Plummer was and he got nominated once more. May Kobe and Chris rest in peace. You can watch this on the official Oscars Youtube channel, but why would you? It's pretty weak. Not recommended.
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The 93rd Oscars (2021 TV Special)
8/10
Surprisingly high-quality watch
1 May 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, here we have the Oscars 2021 version, of course hugely impacted by the virus still, but not that much because in contrast to other awards shows, this was not that much of a virtual event and they basically did not allow people to accept their awards via video, except those outside America. I thought it was a good solution. It's really not impossible or irrational to travel to the location for the biggest awards show of the year. As you can see from my rating, I quite enjoyed the outcome here. I was honestly surprised how much I did because almost all other 2021 awards show were pretty much unwatchable. The music ones have sucked for years admittedly, but the film shows have been better in other years, but this year they were also lost in pretty much praising the pandemic, making political statements (which I always hate) and the winners were also pretty bad many times. It was tolerable here. We heard on one occasion (I think it was Tyler Perry) something not too pleasant and guess what it's exactly those who keep sexism, ageism and racism alive that constantly talk about it. And if you want it to be normal that females are nominated as directors, if you want it to be something ordinary, then stop talking about it. We're totally on the right track, if we're not there already yet. Speaking of female directors, Regina King did not get in and some have an irrational hate for that decision. I don't. There was no host for this awards show (which was okay, even if Gervais hosting would have been better), but King was one of those presenters with more screen time and her talking about her Black son it was I think very early on meh.. Her words on Fennell linked to being a promising young woman were also on the cringeworthy.

I'll just do some brainstorming mostly for the entire review, so forgive if it is not too nicely structured. One thing I pretty much liked was the location. The presenters were struggling a bit here and there, especially when you could see that they take themselves way too seriously all the time. Angela Bassett was the best example. Another "great" example would be Viola Davis, she is almost always unbearable and her opening with a certain quote was especially embarrassingt his time again. Then again, of they give somebody like Tyler Perry a honorary award, at least they made a good choice with whom to pick for the introduction. Unreal stuff there. As for Davis, I am glad she did not win Best Actress. Honestly, it could have happened with her recent SAG win and also with people liking her film enough to give it two Oscars earlier, but Best Actress was so wide open with probably four people an option for the win. I think I would have preferred Carey Mulligan taking it, but McDormand was okay too. Hollywood seems to like her a lot. The BAFTA win brought her back in the right place, but it surely was a surprise, especially with how the show was going. Nomadland would win Best Picture, which was almost safe, but losses in editing where it was 50-50 probably and especially in cinematography, where the film was a massive frontrunner, made me think that McDormand would probably not win the category. The BAFTAS proved crucial indeed this time as Anthony Hopkins managed the upset over the late Chadwick Boseman (and posted a cute and classy little video the following day) and Hopkins also won the BAFTA a little earlier. I think it reminded me a bit of Cotillard's Oscar win whose BAFTA win also propelled her a bit over Julie Christie back then or, much more recently, Hopkins' movie daughter from The Father, Olivia Colman, and her Oscar triumph over Glenn Close surely had a resemblance too. But these were of course on the woman's side.

These two lead acting categories strangely enough took place after the Best Picture announcement. Did not expect that and even thought they messed something up again, but no it was probably because Best Picture seemed very decided and Best Actress was not decided at all and Best Actor they planned to close the show with the ultimate honor to Boseman and his widow on stage I guess. Was not meant to be. It's okay. I would have been fine with Boseman winning too. Like him way more than Davis and he has given some pretty good performances in his life that got ignored mostly. The one thing I am still not too happy about is that he was the one whose photo we saw last during the in memoriam segment. Certainly the politically correct decision there, but there is no denying that there were probably at least ten (maybe twenty people) featured in there whose careers have been much more significant than Boseman's. One would be Connery and I would have liked him last, but even I cannot deny that he was by far not the biggest achiever from the bunch of recently fallen. May they all rest in piece. By the way, Stevie Wonder's As was a song as good as (no pun intended) it gets for the occasion. Also really like the cover by George Michael & Mary J. Blige.

Okay, what else can I say here? Brilliant night for France obviously. Not just with the writer from The Father, but also documentary short and the sound category winners from "Sound of Metal". Speaking of this movie, the one who won for Best Editing is from Denmark and this country also had a great night this way with Vinterberg's triumph. I'm happy for him, even if I did not get too emotional as I would have liked to be when he talked about his tragic loss. But I will always be happy when something associated with Mads Mikkelsen wins big and even better to hear this special applause just for him. By the way, Hopkins is now the oldest acting winner I think, but if you think that is old, take a look at the Best Costume winner and her experience. This was probably a close category too, but this time the girl from "The Queen's Gambit" did not succeed with her project. She'll be fine nonetheless with all the honors she received.

Tenet winning Visual Effects well, I saw the film (one of not too many I saw) and it was kinda meh, but yeah the effects were good. I hope Nolan finally returns to class at some point. The Nine Inch Nails guys also succeeded as expected and impressively they were nominated twice and the big win came (as expected) for Soul. Not exactly the kind of movie you would expect rock musicians to be a part of. Will be interesting to see if they keep working with Fincher. David Fincher, that is. Maybe we can also mention his dad now with the really out-of-the-ordinary screenplay nomination. Supporting actress went to the Asian lady and I am fine with that. Looking forward to Minari for sure. And she was a lot of fun during her speech, maybe the most from the entire night. Also nice to see Brad Pitt again. Bakalova could have scored an underdog win, but it wasn't meant to be really, so no upset there. I am still curious about the new Borat movie. Best documentary feature I am also curious about this octopus movie, but there are other decent nominated ones. The winner for Best Animated Short I actually saw and well, it was the expected winner. I don't think it's bad, but it is also way more about the political (anti-gun) message than about truly mesmerizing animation and that I cannot really support as a reason for giving this one the win. Story-wise or animation-wise, it is not inspired to the level where it would have deserved this crucial win.

Chloé Zhao seems pretty likable and I am glad she took home the win here, already liked her previous work that I saw. McDormand I already mentioned and who would have guessed five years ago that by now she would have as many Oscars as Meryl Streep. Actually more if we count the producing win. This is something that deserves to be mentioned too because unlike with directing, we don't see it too often that actresses produce their own movies. Well done! Her howling moment well it was a bit awkward during the show, but reading the motivation behind it, I don't think it was this bad and I'm okay with her doing it. Okay, that is pretty much it. I think you should definitely watch this show and there is not a lot I would criticize. Maybe it would have been nice to see all the nominated songs performed there. They can do that in 2022 again. This category was also among the biggest upsets of the night. H. E. R. Was a huge underdog there. Once more Diane Warren goes home empty-handed, but maybe her Golden Globe is a little bit of solace. Overall, probably the best awards show of 2021, even if the Cranston segment was a bit weird. Definitely at this point. Highly recommended.
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