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Fass mich an (2003)
4/10
I'd say it is still art even if not a really high level
9 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Fass mich an" or "Touch Me" is a German Germann-language short film from 2003, so not that long anymore until it has its 20th anniversary. Perhaps it happened already depending on when you read this review. The director is Carsten Unger and he may be the biggest name attached to this project,, not really because of the film itself, but because of what he did afterwards. Some od the cast members are also not entirely forgotten, for example the lead actress has been really prolific over the years, but even I as a German film buff would not call them familiar faces whatsoever. At least I did not recognize any of them and I don't think it's my bad really. Now this is a really edgy film about a female nymphomaniac and the impact it has not only on her life, but also her partner's. This includes the car scene, the restaurant scene and finally also the bedroom scene. You cannot say that they are not memorable, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Still the film did not feel unrealistic, which is why I would not give it my lowest rating. The action were certainly a bit tough to get used to, but the talking was on a level that felt real, in terms of how a woman in her situation would actually talk. Even if it was very obscene and over the top. It still felt right somehow in that very situation. The only thing that made no sense to me at all is the final scene, namely when the man really has enough from doing what she wants in bed and then she goes away and a minute later, they simply go and in an even more brutal fashion and the man accepts it. Maybe this was supposed to show how he is the M in SM, how he is scared of losing her and thus accepts what is going on. Not sure which it is from both. One would be a situation that is good for their relationship, the other would be the exact opposite. By the way, there is obviously also a great deal of nudity in here. It gets more and more the longer the film goes, but that should really not surprise anybody given the subject. I can already imagine that some had enough and switched it off after the voice-over sequence at the very start and I would not really blame them. Not for tender souls this talk about violent handymen. That much is safe. All in all, I give the film a thumbs-down. Not good enough for a positive recommendation and the rating here on imdb for once seems fairly accurate I'd say.
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Ein Baby zum Verlieben (2004 TV Movie)
2/10
Bland and poorly executed
8 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Ein Baby zum Verlieben", which means "A baby to fall in love with", is a German television film from 2004, so this one had its 15th anniversary last year already, which means these 1.5 hours are absolutely not a new or fresh release. The director is Hartmut Griesmayr, who sounds Bavarian, but is in fact from Thuringia and speaking of Thuringia, to show you how old this film already is, it can be said that between when this was made and now in 2020 there is a bigger gap in time than between the Fall of the Berlin Wall and when this movie was made. Enough said. Now with Griesmayr, I find it fairly shocking (in the most negative way possible) how he has made films since the 1960s already, but back in 2004 and not too far away from retirement anymore, this is the level he has come to. Unreal stuff and I don't think I am exaggerating here was the other stuff from the final years of his career does not seem any better basically. The screenplay is by Monika Peetz, who is younger, was 40 when this came out, but also has not worked on new projects for five years now. It is probably a good thing for both the director and writer because gently-speaking, the level of quality here (or lack thereof) does not exactly make me curious about other stuff they have some up with. The two lead actors are not German in fact. Anica Dobra is Serbian (well Yugoslavian to be precise) and Bernhard Schir is Austrian. You can see them both on the photo here on imdb. Their presence does not make me more curious either I must say. Schir has been in several of these crappy German TV productions (actually another is shown tomorrow and I will probably check it out) and in this one here he is also not good at all, has two or three fairly bad moments, but admittedly he is nowhere near the failure level of Dobra this time. Her line delivery was as stale and wooden as it gets. What a major disappointment really. Then again, it was about as weak as I expected because I have seen her in other films and I was never one bit impressed. No idea how she managed to get cast for lead characters. I guess people with a soft spot for blondes could be attracted by her. That's all I can come up with really for an explanation. However, as bad as she may be, she is nowhere near the level of cluelessness as those who even nominate her for awards despite her complete absence of versatility and range. How could they? Anyway, frequently I state as an apology for the lead actors that the script is so bad that not even the best actors could have turned it into a quality piece. This is certainly also true here, but still these two (or 1.5 if we count Schir as a half) take it down to the next level on the failure scale. Or up. What I mean is that they turn it into an even bigger failure and it sures takes a special kind of absence of talent to do so.

The supporting cast also includes actors you may have come across if you are not a rookie when it comes to German movies. However, they are all not good either, be it Müller-Elmau as the other woman, be it Landuris as the best friend or be it Kroymann (I'll never understand what people see in her, she is so mediocre, frequently bad even) as the colleague with the special accent. Some of these also have scenes that stood out in a most negative fashion. The revelation about Landuris' character that he was also once dating the male protagonist's (initial) love interest. Kroymann's scene when she is sleeping while they are trying to steal the key or something. And really many scenes involving KME. Even as somebody who liked brunettes, I cannot find any justification for her character. The cringe is real, even if it does not always directly involves her. Just take the moment at the gym when he lifts the baby up and down while she actually exercises. Or the scene in which he talks with football language when the baby catches her attention. Or how he tries to be on good terms with Dobra's character, so he can have her baby to further impress KME's character. But of course Schir's and Dobra's characters end up together. As if these has even been any doubt whatsoever. There was not. Even when they got in her former love interest and when the woman of Schir's character's dreams (he surely idolized her) wants him all of a sudden. Who cares if the two protagonists did not like each other early on at all, especially how he did not like her with the messes she kept creating and he is her direct neighbor. By the way, police officers will probably also not be too happy to see how they are depicted here with this fairly srupid traffic refulation system the main protagonist comes up. All feels for the sake of it. Then again, it is another Degeto production, so best is if you expect nothing. No, actually best is if you move on without watching. If you keep your distance 100% from this film. Yes, it is this bad. As bad as the pretty cheesy title already suggests. And the photo as well. And don't even get me started on the dyslexia idea. TThis is really a slap into the face of all the people who really struggle with dyslexia. The way it was depicted here I mean. So much for making a pseudo important emotional impact, but just like everything else, it all goes wrong. This basically shows you that they had pretty great expectations and also ambitions for this movie, but the talent simply isn't there. Not in a single area of production. In its best moments, this film is merely bland, in its worse moments it is horribly cringeworthy. Like what was up with the ending? They are barely together and we find out that now they are going to marry. Talk about the epitome of highly unrealistic happy endings. An absolute insult to everybody in the audience with an IQ over 50. Highly not recommended.
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Eine Klasse für sich (2019 TV Movie)
2/10
The word "class" should not be associated with this film whatsoever
7 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Eine Klasse für sich" is a German television movie that premiered back in November 2019, so it is not even a year old now and still a relatively new film. It seems as if the days if German "Herzkino", i.e. stupid non-realistic romance dramas, seem to be over or almost over as these films were really made so many times back in the last 15-20 years. This is a good thing. But not really if the films that are taking over are stupid unfunny comedy movies with pseudo depth like this one here. First things first though: The director is Christine Hartmann and the script was written by Sebastian Orlac. Both are fairly experienced filmmakers with bodies of work that are not downright bad, but also not particularly good, probably somewhere between weak and mediocre. The outcome of these almost 1.5 hours here is probably among the very worst they have come up with so far. This has mostly to do with the script, but exclusively I'd say. I will mention a few examples and specific scenes and moments and inclusions during which this film was especially bad. The cast includes a handful names that are mildly famous I'd say. Lead actor Hans Löw's career has been on the rise for a while now and here I can see why. He clearly managed to elevate the material here and there, but sadly the material was so low that it does not mean he was great or anything. However, we should not take his decent effort for granted because Alwara Höfels, the one who is the closest to being a female co-lead, managed the exact opposite. She was really bad on several occasions and managed the almost impossible to make the script seem even worse. I knew subtlety has never been her strength, but I did not think she would be this bad. I think if I remember correctly I disliked her quite a bit a long time ago because I saw her give equally bad performances like this one here in other films, but then I saw some movies that included here in which she was kinda alright. Anyway, let's not drift too far away now. Here, she is really, really weak. Still she has probably the biggest name from the cast and maybe that is why they pikced her for the part or also because she appeared in "Fack ju Göhte", a film that was a huge hit and has some parallels to this one here about a group of oddballs sticking together and managing common goals. Finally, Johannas Gastdorf is maybe the third and final cast member that deserves a mention here, but her role is not too significant honestly.

Now as for the story: We have a successful teacher who is liked by the kids and colleagues, but it becomes known that his own school exam report is fake. Luckily, there are no consequences for him. He is not even fired, but just has to really succeed with his A-Levels within a year and then he gets his job back. A great deal of tolerance. If that is realistic, you must decide for yourself. I personally would say this is already enough lack of realism for the entire movie, but honestly this was just the beginning. Things get way worse when the group in which he has to repeat his A-Levels gets together and all that follows afterwards. Be it the bike clash/argument early on between the two main characters, be it Höfels' character guessing out of nowhere that he indeed created a fake report, be it how he meets this Turkish girl randomly at the store. Remember it is a big city! Be it how one member of the group is a former successful football player. Be it how Höfels' character's father is the one about to close the school. And that is really not even everything. It was way too much and literally so exaggerated in terms of lack of authenticity and realism that it felt like a true insult to the audiences. Of course, they also had to come up with the inevitable romance story between the two main characters, with lots of drama how Höfels' character all of a sudden does not want him anymore after their first night together. All pseudo and fake. And surely they would become a couple with how they were constantly arguing early on and did not seem to like each other at all, but yeah I guess the explanation applies here that they simply managed to upset each other immediately because they cared about each other's thoughts immediately. Sorry, I don't know why I am even trying to come up with an explanation here. It is so absurd. What else? Oh yes, the group of course in the perfect idea of a happy ending becomes closer and they constantly help each other out to make sure they succeed with their exams. And if they don't, it's not a tragedy either because they don't need their A-Levels to fulfill their dreams. Or at least their A-Levels are not 100% essential. Oh yeah, the scene with the vain guy at the café who gets rejected by Höfels' character or Höfels' character's dad and his young lover or the toilet lady who loses her home feel also really fake and staged. This film lack authenticity really from every perspective. I cannot come up with any positive aspect here. I thought early on that it would not be this bad, but it did turn out to be a mssive failure. The (unfunny) comedy and forced drama was entirely caused by really unrealistic turns of events. Ah yes, the struggles between father and son are also not anything of quality. The son also was portrayed by a really poor actor I must say. And of course, this story is also easily solved towards the end and everybody is happy. Everybody from the group is even cheering with the boy after he managed to pass his own A-Levels one year later. There was this moment of hesitation where he jokingly implied that he could have failed too, but this moment was also utter cringe before the revelation happened that made everybody happy. Well, all the characters at least and surely also many really simple audience members. So, let me end the review with a little hope here. I genuinely hope they will never make a sequel to this one.. IIt is still fresh enough that it could happen, but please, please don't! Big thumbs-up I have to give this film. Highly not recommended. Painfully bad movie. The best example of how they had no clue what they were doing is the random inclusion of a Pink Flloyd song because it includes the word "teacher". But it had nothing to do with this film whatsoever. The Bon Jovi number was a better choice. There! I finally found something positive. Took me long enough I guess. Keep your distance from this abomination of a film.
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For Sama (2019)
4/10
One very biased side of the medal
7 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"For Sama" is a co-production between Syria, the United States and the United Kingdom from 2019, so this is still a relatively new movie. The title being in English (even if it is just one word) show that they certainly had major international ambitions for this film and they surely were fulfilled. But I will get to that later. As the film is, in its entirety, set in Syria, it is still a movie that is almost exclusively in the Arabic language. It runs for slightly over 1.5 hours, but still under 100 minutes, and one director here is prolific political documentary filmmaker Edward Watts, while the other is Waad Al-Kateab, the woman at the center of this story, a self-proclaimed journalist, for whom it is still the first filmmaking effort. I'll be curious to see if more will follow, maybe films in which she is just an observer and not a core character. But we shall talk about these (if they happen) talk on a later occasion. This one here is basically a fairly personal message from a mother to her first-born daughter. Or at least this is the idea the film uses really in order to create a personal atmosphere, especially at the very beginning and very end. Still, I am indeed curious what the girl will maybe thing 20 years from now or after her mother's death one day when she watches this film we have here. I myself would say that the whole idea does not feel too authentic for me. It would have felt more personal and authentic if she had kept it in her family album to really show her daughter one day and nobody else. But okay, maybe that is just me. In general, I struggled from the subjective perspective with several aspects here. For example, I am not big at all on the many jumps in time here, back and forth, but especially back, and I definitely would have preferred the entire story being told chronologically. But okay, maybe others liked it more this way and that is absolutely fine. Probably my subjective take took away another one or two stars compared to a 100% neutral take on this movie. But then again, a 100% neutral take does not exist anyway. Another thing I personally did not find too appealing were the truly personal moments, such as how we really see the female protagonist from extremely close immediately after giving birth when she holds her baby girls close to her. I am not sure if this is something you really need the entire world to see.

Now, these were just some perception. One of two things that extremely bothered me was that this film felt extremely scripted many times. One example would be how they depicted the matter of life and death situation in the car(s) at the end and it really felt like some cheap drama. This was absolutely not necessary. The fact that another young woman (or teenager) died earlier in a similar scenario gave enough grit and significance to that scene involving the main characters. There are several other examples. Basically, every time when the film tries to be really emotionally significant, it struggles hard with realism and authenticity. Like when Waad gets that flower before she has to leave the place. Or when the mother of the dead boy arrives rigfht on time for the camera to catch her. I am not saying that she was not the real mother or anything, but it felt extremely convenient and there were many moments like this. Another would be the scene with the highly pregnant woman being severely injured and we see the doctors fighting for the life of the kid there with how they move it, massage it etc. I must say this was a really dramatic moment because they could not really stage this situation, but, if you get what I mean, they staged it as much as they could with the happy ending with us not knowing anything about the woman or her health except the very basic statement that she will life etc. But maybe the worst quote for me was when we hear one of the many voice-overs from the narrator/protagonist and I am specifically talking about the one here where she says that she wished that her daughter never would have been born. And wishes that she had never met her husband and stayed with her family instead. I mean she obviously does not mean it that way and it is just meant in a way where she wants to emphasize how she really worries about their safety and does not want to deal with this fear, but still I found it an incredibly insensitive thing to say. Is this really what you want your daughter to hear? In general, the statements about feelings towards her child and man weren't a revelation here. Another example would be how she only wants her kid and man to be healthy and live. This is from earlier on, the exact opposite this time, to emphasize how she loves them more than her own life. A bit exaggerated too. Oh well. Maybe I am just too much of a rationalist for that.

And finally, another aspect (the second I found highly disappointing) I would like to elaborate on is the political component. Definitely the key aspect for this film to score an Academy Award nomination last year and looking at how the film won the BAFTA for Best Documentary, the Oscar was probably also not out of reach. This component is what I am referring to with the title of my review. It is extremely one-sided. If you knew nothing about the entire Aleppo situation, you could really think that Russia is personified evil and Assad is personified Satan. Some might agree. I do not. But I do not want to write an essay in their defense now. Let me just say so much: Even if you are directly involved like the main character here, a journalist's task (and Waad says that is her profession) is always to stay neutral. One thing I found especially off was how early on they said that Muslims and Christians unite to fight Assad. I am pretty sure that Christians will not fight Assad. Or at least not to the same extent that Muslims will. And to an even bigger extent that radical Muslims are. It is very debetable if you could call Waad herself a rebel and resistance fighter, but if she is not, then at least she has connections to radical resistance fighters, direct or indirect. The people you see in this film are by no means harmless sheep that are savaged by the big extremely violent wolf. They know very well themselves how to wreak havoc. And the film is not distancing itself from those who do. It simply completely excludes them, which I found quite a pity because otherwise, if it had spoken out against those, this movie really could have made a brave political statement. However, it did not and this is why the film is at its core not really worth seeing for me. But yeah, like I said, I am not surprised at all that liberal America (or I should say liberal Hollwood and Britain) really dug this movie and spammed it with awards. Over a 100 nominations is truly massive and so is the fact that it won over 50% of these. I personally believe that it did not deserve any of these. The reasons I have stated above mostly. Then again, I will not give up on Waad (yet) and even if she and especially her husband (also with the bizarre marriage proposal story that felt pretty made up to me) did not seem too likable, she is still a relatively young filmmaker and maybe she can step things up in the future with new upcoming projects. She is also pretty stunning by the way no denying. And I am glad that finally she understood when she was pregnant the second time that this place where she lives is definitely not a good place to bring up another child. So yeah, thumbs-down from me for this movie. I suggest you watch something else instead. Or if you decide to watch it, at lest take a neutral stance. You can still appreciate the giraffe comment about Assad. That one was pretty hilarious and one of the rare occasions when this film did not feel staged. But these moments are absolutely not sufficient in terms of quantity, i.e. frequent enough. So go watch something else instead.
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Schöne Lügen (2003 TV Movie)
2/10
Absolutely revolting, the definition of an ugly movie
6 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Schöne Lügen", which means "Beautiful Lies", is a German television film from 2003, so this one is getting closer to its 20th anniversary and depending on when you read this review, maybe it happened already. This is another of uncountable Degeto productions, which is already enough information to know that this movie is most likely gonna suck a lot, but if you are still not convinced yet, then a look at the filmographies of director Hattor and writer Walter-Lingen should do the trick. Simply abysmal. One horrible television project follows/followed the next. Both are not really young anymore, especially Hattop, so the sooner they decide to retire and stop making movies, the better it is for everybody, especially audiences. This film here is definitely not an exception. It is complete garbage as well and I find it virtually impossible to find anything positive about the overall outcome. The lead actress here is Susanna Simon. I would not call her famous or anything, but people who frequently watch German television films may have come across her in other projects. So have I, but I must say that she almost always sucked and is the final nail in the coffin for this movie. Even really simple scenes that did not require any range felt fake because of her inclusion and hitting the wrong notes. This already starts through a simple conversation with a colleague at the very beginning of the movie. This scene by the way also includes the first mention of anti-male propaganda you find so many times in Degeto films, simply because they are made for female audiences mostly. Housewives etc. Anyway, back to the subject: Don't even get me started about Simon's acting in more serious, more challenging scenes. Unreal stuff. So so bad. Of course, the screenplay is not doing her any favors either with how the character is written, but then again nobody forced her to accept the role. As for the other cast members, some names are mildly famous. Or probably were mildly famous back then. Morgenroth's face seemed familiar, although the name really isn't. At least not to me and I am already a huge film buff when it comes to German stuff. However, Tietze, Hoger and von Weitershausen I have all heard the names of these at least, even if their popularity has been sinking for a long time as well. Don't think I have seen them in anything more recent. This is a pretty old film needs to be said for sure. Still, everybody from this trio plays characters that do not have a lot of screen time at all, but are all rather insignificant. Just like the entire movie.

Now, let me elaborate a bit on specific scenes that prove how this is such a horrible movie. The worst is probably that they meant it all seriously, that they thought they were really telling a deep character study about beauty, shallowness (is this the word?) and most of all a woman experiencing a great character transformation after a tragic accident. Said accident is already a truly bad joke. The way they depicted it in slow motion could not have been handled worse, especially the idea how the girl was in lethal danger. No matter how many times they repeat it, it doesn't make it true. What a joke. The worst that could have happened there is an injury equal to the one the woman experiences. The most embarrassing thing is probably that the doctor who treats the woman repeats the story too although he was not even near and it is all make-believe. For the protagonist as well as everybody in the audience. This was probably the worst about the first half, even if there are many other disappointing moments at all that just made no sense or felt really fake. Just take the injury of the man the protagonist meets when she is in that rehab clinic. Does that even exist? Or did they just come up with an entirely new diagnosis of a medical phenomenon that again has nothing to do with reality. In any case, even if it exists, the way how they explained it and elaborated on it would be the worst insult to people actually suffering from it. Just like the protagonist's medical condition is a slap in the face of everybody who really was in a fire accident and may struggle with scars. Not even the looks of the injury felt authentic, so every production area here struggled hard, even the make-up department. Honestly, they were so foolish and clumsy that I would not even be surprised if they accidentally put the scar on the wrong side of the face on one occasion. They probably didn't, but if they did, then I am 100% sure that either they would not have recognized or, had they recognized, they simply would not have changed it and hoped nobody realizes. That's how low the attention to detail is here. Anyway, a few more examples on how much the second half of this movie sucks. A brief sequence involving another fire effect was actually a nice idea, but how it brings back memories for her was handled again in a very cringeworthy manner and how she runs away. This was maybe also the weakest moment from the soundtrack composer(s). And as there were many (weak moments), this means quite something. Terrible score as well. The worst is yet to come though. I am talking about the affair or quick ONS with the guy she met at the clinic. How they argue, almost fight physically and then start kissing, making out and eventually have passionate sex. Honestly, I have rarely seen a romantic or sensual scene that felt so out of place, so stupid like that one. And I have seen lots. It was actually so bad that I had to start laughing hard that moment because of all the cringe. We should not forget that the main character is still a desirable woman of course. Not only does the new guy want her, but her husband wants her back too. With him, the anti-male propaganda continues. He has sex with his affair the night the terrible accident happens of course and he has beg for forgiveness after his affair becomes public, but in the end Degeto can't argue against marriage and the two are back together with both of them having changed. Talk about character developments (maybe even transformations) created by a writer who does not have a single talented bone in her body it seems. The outcome is accordingly. And right when you thought you finally made it through this mess and the closing credits are about to roll in, they made totally sure that the films inds on the loest note possible with the fakest happy ending imaginable as the main character screams out joyfully about how she wants a baby now with her husband. Good god! What an abomination this movie is. Not sure what is more shameful. That this was even made and released. Or that it is still shown on national television almost two decades later. That's what you pay ARD, ZDF etc. their money to. For crap like this being made. Congratulations! Stand up.
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Siberia (2020)
4/10
Lost in style
6 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Siberia" is a new 2020 movie and one of the first films shown here in my regular theaters after reopening after the COVID-19 pandemy. It runs for minimally over 90 minutes, so it is not a particularly long movie, but this should not really surprise anybody because the writer and director is American Abel Ferrara and he has made many films that are not too long. For this one here, he has collaborated again with Christ Zois, who helped Ferrara with the screenplay on many occasions. Bit despite Ferrara's origin, the United States are not one of the countries credited here in terms of the production. No less than four countries we have. Also from pretty different areas of the world if we look at Mexico. My country Germany is also one of them and this may at least partially explain why this film was shown at the Berlin Film Festival where it was also a nominee. Not a winner though and I can see why. I will get to that later. The lead actor here is Oscar nominee (will he ever win?) Willem Dafoe and he was basically also the only reason why I decided to check this film out at the cinema. Really like him a lot. Well, here he plays a man working at a pub far away from civilization because the pub is located in the area mentioned in the film's title. He likes his solitude, but still has customers here and there, just not too many and barely enough to keep him from going crazy. Or maybe he already did, who knows? It was really not clear in this movie. One thing I thought of though was that Dafoe starred in another film with focus on isolation not too long ago, the lighthouse movie next to Robert Pattinson and fittingly there was a trailer before this film here that showed us Pattinson briefly in Chris Nolan's new movie. But let's not drift too far away now. The lighthouse movie I just mentioned received a much better reception and will probably also be seen by many more people than this one here. But I am sure neither Ferrara nor Dafoe will be too mad about it. These two have worked together on many occasions already as I read and clearly they have become friends. Ferrara is even slightly older than dafor, who is not exactly a spring chicken anymore either. But it was his performance here that at least kept me slightly interested overall.

Like I said, this film felt very much style over substance. Early on, in the first half, we even have some kind of audio jump scare here and there, slightly video jump scare too occasionally, and luckily this was not thhe case in the second half anymore. There are many bizarre moments though that could have needed better elaboration, such as the scene with the fish at the very end. Or very early on, the scene with the guy who enters and is basically the protagonists doppelganger. The father-son theme wwas an interesting here, also how they included it with the shaving foam, but could have needed slightly better elaboration. Or the really pregnant woman who undresses inside the pub and then proceeds to have sex with the main character. Or the other unknown character who has some wisdom for Dafoe's character and immediately afterwards, the latter begins to sing and dance. Really catchy song by the way. I will catch up on that one and try to find it. Somehow it sounded familiar. So yeah, there are more bizarre moments and scenes like this, like for example the naked female freak show we get that felt like a nightmare. Dreams are certainly a very valid thing in this movie, although I am not sure they can explain anything that is going on here. Let alone everything. Another frequent inclusion here are female breasts really. Like naked female boobs. I guess this is why the film was shown this late. And again, it felt very much for the sake of it all, but not really making an impact whatsoever. Neither an artistic impact, nor an impact in terms of story telling. The weirdest moment was when at the end he has sex again, with an Asian I think and then she turns into a Black woman and then into the blonde he has been talking about before that. That dialogue was also a bit on the pretentious side and the actress there was really walking the fine line betwween nailing the part and overacting. She is also only included in this scene and not really known. just like almost everybody else except Dafoe. He is the one star here. The cast is also really diverse. Maybe, this explains the Mexico inclusion. Not sure. Most characters here speak Russian to Dafoe's character and he does not understand them. This, however, was intended like that and there are no subtitles for what they are saying. We are only supposed to understand the main character when he speaks English. And struggle together with him when it comes to understand everybody else. Then again, even if we had understood them, the story would not have been much clearer. I found it interesting that there was so much speaking in the form of a monologue and introduction voice-over from the central character right at the very start, but for the rest of the movie there was almost nothing. At least no long dialogues with the exception perhaps of the man who gets the "hero" to sing and dance, the one I mentioned earlier already. So yeah, I did not enjoy this film too much. Not enough for a positive recommendation. The beautiful snow landscapes were nice, but also could have been shown more often, but then again I feel it was much more about what was going on inside. Huskies rule though. So beautiful this special breed of dogs. It could be that this was the first collaboration between Ferrara and Dafoe (from five or six out there), but I must say the outcome here did not get me curious about the others, so I won't check them out any time soon. "Siberia" gets a thumbs-down from me. Not worth it, not even for my fellow Dafoe fans. Maybe only for hardcore Ferrara fans. He forgot thhe story and continuity here while coming up with one stylistic scene and shot after the next. Watch something else instead.
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6/10
Not really breathing a gigantic amount of new life into the franchise, but still an alright watch
5 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"The Living Daylights" is a British movie that includes so many languages that it is impossible for me to name them all, but the most common one here is English of course. This film was the 15th entry to the James Bond 007 franchise and there are some parallels to other films and some differences. The title is certainly a bit unusual. I watched the German dub, so I cannot really say when and if it was used in a quote, especially because the German title means something like "breath of death" and this was used relatively early on, but means something entirely different than the English title. With "unusual" I mean that they did not name the film after a key character (good or bad) the way it happened in the past, but there is not even any reference to killing, to spy matters etc. the way you could expect it for a 007 movie, for example "A View to a Kill", the previous one. "The Living Daylights" could also be the title of a random romance drama for example. But it is not. This is shown by the title song that has the same name and received positive acclaim just like the film itself. Norwegian pop band a-ha came up with this one and it is probably among their more, but not most, known songs. They have been in the industry for a long time. That much is safe when they already worked on a Bond song that is now almost 35 years old. Away from the music, the director is John Glen and the screenplay is by Maibaum and Wilson and all three of them have a long, long history with Bond movies. Two of them are even alive today and one of them, namely the director, is almost 90 already. His film here runs for 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is pretty long for a 007 movie, well I could say for an old 007 movie because the new Craig films are also really long, most of them. As for this 1987 film, it could have been kept a bit shorter here and there. It is alright overall, but it is not without scenes and moments when it drags a bit I suppose. One thing that definitely needs to be mentioned is that this was the first film starring Timothy Dalton. I like the actor and I somehow feel that if I was a (heterosexual) female, he would be the Bond for me to crush on the most. He was approximately 40 when he took over here and as Moore played the character until he was almost 60, there was the possibility for Dalton to make many more Bond films, especially as his second film came already two years later, so really quick. However, he kept it at two films and that was it before Brosnan filled in. As for Dalton, he was Welsh by the way, so no English Bond this time. This was not the first time I watched this movie we have here, maybe second or third and I still think I definitely agree the second Dalton Bond film, mostly because of Franz Sanchez (and Davi portraying him). The villain there is just infinitely better than the villain in this one here. That would be Jeroen Krabbé as we find out eventually. I would not even blame the actor too much, but rather the way the character was written. They could have done a lot more given Krabbés physicality here. Certainly a bit of a watsed opportunity and the result is one of my least favorite Bond antagonists unfortunately. One I found almost more interesting was henchman Necros. He had a really nice introduction when he poses as a food delivery man, but is something entirely different. And his way out up in the air with the shoelace scene was although not too shabby. For once, a key henchman did not survive the main antagonist. Necros was played by German actor Andreas Wisniewski by the way. Sadly, that one is almost never mentioned anymore these days, maybe also because he barely acted in German movies. Here and there, he was in an action-packed series to see, but he focused more on international films it seems, also played in "Die Hard" briefly after this movie. I found his character interesting though. Pity he did not get better elaboration in the middle part. The film was certainly long enough for him to do so.

As for the usual characters from Bond movies: Not too much to say about Moneypenny here, they cast a younger actress eventually, which made sense because the previous one simply would have been too old for Dalton. She was approximately Moore's age. But this Moneypenny was entirely forgettable, also had no material really to shine. One who really did shine this time was Llewelyn's Q. The ghetto blaster moment was a lot of fun and Dalton's face expression after this statement really hilarious. The sofa in whhich the other guy disappears was really cool too. They should use it as a bit of a hommage in a future Bond film. The basically one and only Bond girl here (if we forget the one at the very start that has Bond say he needs two hours and not one hour) is played by Maryam d'Abo. I know her relative Olivia pretty well from "Criminal Intent" and it is interesting how they look so similar really. As for Maryam, I thought the musician idea was nice, also how they carried that case around all the time, the assassin idea maybe not so much. I am generally not too much into blondes, so she did not do as much for me as she may have done for other viewers. But that is of course entirely subjective. Still, another Bond girl, maybe in the first half, would have been nice and d'Abo is nowhere near my favorites, maybe more on the opposite end of the scale although I am sure there's some I like less than her. But this is one area where they certainly could have improved. Leiter is also part of this movie, but his impact (or significance) is much bigger in the seccond Dalton film where what happens to him is crucial for 007's ruthless path of revenge. Maybe this is why I liked the second more. It's really bold and brutal. In this one we have here, Dalton still somewhat finds his role as Bond it seems. Here and there a lighter moment and funny sentence as you know it from Moore (and Connery), but that is not who he was eventually if we take a look at the sequel. Okay, what else to say about this one? A great deal of aviation for sure. As for locations, early on we are in Eastern Europe all the time, but everything afterwards is Afghanistan. A really exotic location for sure, especially taking into account that almost half the film took place in this country. While in prison there, Bond frees another guy, who tuns out a highly influential figure of the Mujahideen resistance movement (of course!). How did they even catch him with all the people protecting him? Anyway, let's not be too critical now. His group are not 100% Bond's friends (look at d'Abo's character's worrying on one occasion they could kill him when they forced them to separate), but again Bond finds an army to support him. Before he once again finds himself in the arms of an attractive female the moment the closing credits roll in and this time he is not disturbed by anybody. Another thing I want to say here is that I found it a bit unusual how really the Soviets indeed seemed like the main antagonists for a large part of the film, but you could see that Cold War was a huge issue back then, and this was unusual, even for a Bond movie. Frequently the main antagonist collaborated with the Russians, but eventually acted on his own and was just trying to play both sides to create the utmost destruction. Still, this is also how things turn out here at the end and Bond is of course not going up against the entire Soviet Union, but just against one villain and his aides in the end. This final fight sequence also brings back a character from earlier, another Russian indeed that shows us that the Soviet Union is not the enemy. Or at least not the biggest enemy. Earlier on, with how forces were trying to shoot Bond, you could have thought so. Okay, I shall leave it at that I suppose. It is an okay Bond film, but I till prefer the one that followed in 1989 and I think you should watch that one first, then decide if you wanna see this one here. Unless you really dig blonde Bond girls, then maybe take the 1987 film first. But you will certainly understand the 1989 film without having seen the 1987 movie. No chronological viewing required here and certainly not essential. Overall, I give this film a thumbs-up, even if especially all the Russian connections involving agents, double agents etc. felt a bit too much here and there. I feel they could have cut some of the week stuff and kept the film at 110-115 minutes. Despite that, it was still an alright start foor Dalton for sure and I find it a bit sad that he did not play in more than two films. Oh well, he did a lot afterwards with other projects at least. Go see this one here if you like him because he is really in it from beginning to end. But shame on them for not using the really cool main theme more frequently. The one I mentioned earlier by Norwegian pop band a-ha.
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Hausbau mit Hindernissen (2017 TV Movie)
2/10
The real obstacle is the film itself
5 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Hausbau mit Hindernissen", which roughly translated means "Obstacles when building a house", is a German television film from 2017, so not a really new movie anymore and also not an old one although the latter may be true in case you read my reviews many years from now on. The director is Till Franzen, who was already really experienced by then because he started shootings films in 1990, but had long gaps of inactivity on several occasions. Still, given the fact that he began with movies 30 years ago, he is still relatovely young today. However, the one who is really young here is writer Sarah Eßer. Back in 2017 she was in her mid-20s and now she is still not even 30 and if her body of work here on imdb is correct, then she wrote her first screenplay (or co-wrote) back in 2005 when she was 13 or 14? Surprising stuff. Also she was a child actress who appeared in front of the camera before the age of 10, but that career it seems is really not a priority now for her. Sadly, looking at this film here and also other stuff she did, I am not sure if she is that talented. I think looking at the cast here, there was definitely more possible quality-wise because we have several actors that you frequently also see on the big screen. Katharina Schüttler is an actress I always like, even if she has a bit of a tendency to play very similar characters in highly different movies. She gave maybe the best performance here. Her male counterpart Hans Löw is also always easy to identify, although I must say that I was a bit disappointed with him here. He had two or three weak moments and he was better in other projects I saw him. Then again, this may admittedly also have to do with how his character was written. Still, nobody forced him to accept the role. As for the kids, I cannot say too much. the girl was maybe better then the boy, so I am a bit surprised that she has never been in a film before or after this movie again while he is enjoying a prolific acting career still. The elderly characters are played by the very experienced Winkler and Franke. they are not bad, not particularly good either I'd say. Maybe Franke is better, but his character is also more realistic overall, so Winkled had the bigger challenge. Oh yeah, Olli Schulz is in this film too and I found him pretty unlikable. No surprise though as he is constantly hanging out with the little leech Böhmermann. That would be all for the cast.

As for the story, the title is at least pretty decent and summarizes the film nicely and I have seen way worse from German small screen releases that were entirely generic, especially when romance is involved. However, the two protagonists are already married right at the very start of the film and the challenge is for them to move to a bigger home with their kids. So they find out what it means to own a house and be confronted with all the challenges coming with it. The premise is alright. Sadly, the paths the film takes eventually are pretty weak overall and feel very fake and cringeworthy. The first example would be the grumpy old neighbor who has his own tragic story involving his son of course, but hey finding the family's boy skipping school makes him a kinder person again. And not only does he find out about this "crime", but also about the boy stealing something from another pupil/student, not sure which applies, it's pretty close age-wise. The basically exact same story involved the family's daughter as she manages to breathe new life into an elderly female neughbor who won't leave the house because she has to take care inside of her sick husband. That is what you think initially at least. Eventually, you find out the man is dead already, has been for a while and was hidden and buried. But not a crime or anything. This plot inclusion and twist are basically the main reason why I think this is a terrible movie, not just a weak one. So ridiculous and unrealistic, also that nobody notices that something was wrong when they picked him up. And how Schüttler's character was playing along eventually. Honestly, this could have been really funny if the two elderly neighbors indeed would have turned out as evil, but of course this never was in the books for this movie. Would have been way too daring anyway. This film plays it safe and lacks inspiration and wit altogether. Also the end, with all the misery going on minutes earlier, is entirely happy and Schüttler's characcter even verbally tells us that "they made it", so we really understand 100%. And of course, the two elderly characters kiss then. I mean who cares that a few days earlier they were still struck with grief for their son or even partner, but hey let's still give them a romance plot no matter how little sense it makes. It is really such a mess. Also the pseudo dramatic moments of the husband injuring himself, the wife getting a rushed-in potential alcoholism story, the man suffering a potential heart attack, the patient struggling because of Schüttler's character's negligence resulting in a life-or-death situation etc. felt all fake and for the sake of it. No surprise at all that they did not pull through with any of these. Nothing about this film feels real, especially not the character developments from the two old people. They just would have gone on with their irsolation and grumpiness in reality. Besides, if we look at the two central characters, the younger ones, it also must be said again that it is really embarrassing how women are always depicted as more likable in these films. With that I am mostly referring to how Löw's character acts towards the other old man and his goats. Speaking of goats, I love these animals, but not even their occasional inclusion made this movie work for me. What was up with this potentially dangerous situation when the goat approaches the boy, but is totally kind towards him. Sigh. So much pseudo drama and make-believe here it is really disgusting. This is a film that premiered at the best television slot overall back in 2017 and it is cringeworthy that this is the quality they are giving people for prime time. What is even more cringeworthy is that ARD literally forces people to pay fpr thos garbage and not just one or two bucks permonth, but a significant double-digit amount. Unacceptable. Completely unacceptable. Back to this film, close call between horrible and just weak for me, but overall (especially with the corpse situation) I must be going for the former. Fat thumbs-down. Highly not recommended.
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Black Orpheus (1959)
6/10
Exotic and interesting to watch for the most part
4 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Orfeu Negro" or "Black Orpheus", not "Orphan Black", is a co-production between Brazil, France and Italy from 1959, but the only language spoken here is Portuguese because the film is set entirely in Brazil. The mention of the color black in the title made me wonder at times because the title character is more black than most other Brazlians. In this movie and in general. However, I think it is just making clear that the original Orpheus as white. he was Greek, wasn't he. Anyway, not too important. So this 100-minute film here is based on an ancient mythological tale and there are parallels and differences in the execution and approach they gave it here. "They" is mostly director Marcel Camus, who is also one of the writers. He is the main reason why this film has France listed as one country of production. Camus was still relatively new to filmmaking when he worked on this movie over 60 years ago, but he had been through a lot nontheless, mostly because he was a German prisoner of war during the Nazi years and WWII. But we shall not get too much into detail about that. I just think it is an interesting snippet of information what he experienced before his long filmmaking career. He is jjoined here by another, much older French writer and the original play is by a Brazlian approximately Camus' age. You know where to find their names. As for Camus, this film stayed the biggest success of his career as the awards reception was massive. Not only did he win the Palme d'Or, but he also triumphed in the foreign language film category at the Golden Globes as well as the Academy Awards. The triumphant country for the letter was France, which is a bit ridiculous because this film is really as Brazilian as it gets, not only with the language, but also with the location where the film is set and the spirit. If you did not know about Camus, you would not even have guessed any French involvement, any non-Brazilian involvement in fact. Brazil never won the foreign language category at the Oscars so far, but this one here was probably the closest they ever came. And with this triumph the film also managed something that not even the far more known and far more recent "City of God" did not achieve despite several nominations and that would be winning a category.

Now, so much for the basics and now let us take a look at the film itself. I will spare you the names of most cast members except lead actor Breno Mello, who sadly died over a decade ago already and this film was his first movie role ever and not too many followed. This also applies partially to some of the other cast members. For example the actress who plays his love interest early in the movie has only played in one other movie. She is still alive today though. Mello's female co-lead was more prolific than him, but also not that much. Here I am talking of course about the really beautiful Marpessa Dawn, who also died way too early. But the actress who played Dawn's character's cousin is the exact opposite. She is still alive at almost 90 now and also she has had a really prolific career in Brazlian movies, which is even more impressive because there probably weren't that many coming out on a regular basis back then. As for Dawn, may she rest in peace and she was also a bit older than she seemed in this movie, for example several years older than Orfeu's initial love interest, which surely surprised me a bit. The actors were all fairly decent I'd say without anybody really standing out. With what happens towards the end, there is also a fairly clean cut in terms of genre. Early on, it seems rather light and almost a but like a romantic comedy, even if there are references to darkness like when Eurydice mentiones the man who keeps following her. Even this was treated lightly first of all when her cousin says something like he only wants to sleep with her, but Eurydice knows something is wrong and there is indeed danger. Still, the light moments prevailed, like for example how several women are jealous and not funny how Orfeo (is it Orfeo or Orfeu? anyway, you know what/who I mean) was constantly dating new chicks. His jobs as a train driver and singer were certainly no obstacle in meeting new women. This is also how he met Eurydice. Another really funny scene was early on with Orfeo and Mira still when this guy is poking fun at his name and says she must be Eurydice because of the reference and she does not understand it at all and thinks there is another lover called Eurydice and that eventually turns into reality. I am still not sure if Orfeo was playing along in that scene acting dumb (he must have known with his name right? and with how he talks to Eurydice later on) or really has no clue. And finally, the scene between Serafina and Chico was hilarious too when he asks for food and something to drink and how he is generally clumsy and she is in control of him, yet loves him. These two were hilarious together and brought some amazing comic relief on two or three occasions. I especially thought that Waldemar De Souza (Chico) seemed to have amazing comedic talent/timing and it is a bit sad that he barely acted in any other movie ever again. Oh well, he probably had a good life and career in antoher branch nonetheless. There is almost nothing known about him anymore.

Now finally, a few words on the mythical aspects. By the way, this is a color movie. Should be said too and not be taken for granted for the late 1950s. And that is a really good thing because the costumes were so spectacular at times here that I thought theyare the best thing about the film overall. Would have deserved an Oscar nomination too. In general, this is a pretty joyful movie with all the music and dancing that is going on. After all, it was carneval. Yet it is not a musical, even if I had to think inevitably of "West Side Story". There they also took a (not so old) tale and turned it into a modern take, there with more focus on race differences than here because the "Black" in the title is never really never a controversial issue. But both films have a lot of music and romance, even if this one here has no singing. Or almost no singing. And both end in tragedy. Enough spoilers now. Now really about the mythical aspects: I did not remember the original tale too closely although I think we had it in Latin translation at school. So I read about it. There are similarities and crucial differences. One thing that was handled apparently completely different is how Eurydice dies, namely here at the hands of her love and in the old story at the hands of an antagonist. Also in said story, she was already married to Orpheus apparently. Well, it is okay. They did not have to rush in a marriage ceremony here. Still I wish they could have come up with a better solution than the accidental electrocution. However, the way Death is depicted in this film is something I liked. I also think they did an alright job with the crucial "turning around" sequence and I did not find it as weird as maybe some others with how another (much older) woman is talking with Eurydice's voice. As for the very end and Orpheus' death, I am again not entirely on over. This could have been handled more convincingly too. Or maybe it's just me, I don't know. Apparently, awards bodies really celebrated it. To end my review on a positive note, I want to talk again about the parties and celebrations with all the special costumes. These were glorious. True cinemy joy and I am glad I got to watch this film on the big screen today and not just on a small television or laptoop screen. Really unusual that they showed this film again in one of my local theaters, but these are the advantages of living in a metropolis I suppose. If you get the chance to see this film on a big screen as well, I say totally go for it, especially if you have not seen it so far, just like I have not before today's screening. Anyway, there was one specific moment, nothing special even happened there, when I saw these celebrations and was really happy to be able to go to the movies again after these months of being closed because of Corona. This moment alone should motivate you to go more often to your local theater and especially watch this film at a theater if you get the chance to. There is little to no hesitation for me in giving "Orfeu Negro" a thumbs-up. It is a good success in combining an ancient tale with a (then) modern society. Go watch it, but don't expect statements on corruption or poverty etc. This has nothing to do with the subject. It is a tragic love story. Nonetheless I would say that the huge awards success is a bit exaggerated here. A mere Oscar nomination would also have been enough. Still watch it! It hasn't aged badly and, aside from the core story, smart little references and nice attention to detail like the name on the guitar, like Hermes, the mention of Babilonia and the rising sun at the very end make it worth spending 100 minutes on, also because, from my very personal standpoint, there were many more animals in here than I expected (dogs, chickens...).
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6/10
This film is somewhat forgotten too and I can see why
4 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Die vergessene Armee" or "The Forgotten Army" is a German documentary movie from 2017 and the most recent filmmaking credit for writer and director Signe Astrup. The name sounds Danish and I guess this is correct because you hear her occasionally during the film when she interviews some of the protagonist. Now I must say I am always a bit skeptical when filmmakers also fill the interviewer role in their movie because not everybody is Werner Herzog and can make it work really well, but with these slightly under 1.5 hours my criticism is justified. I did not think Astrup added too much here gently-speaking, so I was kinda glad she was not included that often. There is even one occasion when an interviewee is aksed something and she does not understand the response. The response may not have been child educational level, but it was simple enough for everybody with an interest in the subject to know what he means. So I am not sure if Astrup lacked that interest/knowledge or if the language barrier got in the way. In any case, she should have picked somebody else for the interviews or at least exclused her voice. So as a consequence I can only say that I am not too curious about other films she made in the past or will make in the future judging from her effort here. Also the camera work was extremely weak at times because it was moving in situations during which it totally shouldn't have, especially at the very beginning, but not just there. Overall, from the neutral technical perspective, if we leave the specific contents completely aside, this was not a good film and I can see why not really many watched it judging from the ratings here on imdb and that it is shown on national television before noon even.

Luckily, German history is something that has always caught my interest, so from a biased perspective things got a little better for me here. Not really in the first half. The interviewees there and the material as well were not as memorable as they could have been. Not bad either, but given the subject, there was not really much that you have not heard about or seen in other films and documentaries, so this was a bit disappointing because I felt that the people had more to deliver than they were given the chance to. The GDR is probably in second place for me after the years 1933-1945 when it comes to crucial eras in Germany history, so I could still draw somethhing from all that. Luckily, things got a little better int he second half with this interesting group of "soldiers" who participate in parades that are generally criticized by the public nowadays, even if they see themselves in a pretty positive way, appreciated even. The contrast with the papers there was maybe not too good. I mean it is alright Astrup wants to give us different perspectives, but I felt it was a little disrespectful towards these men. And it is arguable if the basic court coverage should be included. It also felt a bit like sensationalism to me and went too far away from the core story. The final meeting where the Internationale was sung though felt interesting. There was also that elderly lady with the cute loving husband and when she talked about the night when the Wall fell, it was really good and accurate. I am glad she was included because her statement there how she needed pills to sleep and next day her country was gone and it was a tragedy to her is really something where many people still see it exactly this way. Not positive as you could think. Even in my family. But I do not want to get much further into detail there. I believe this is a documentary this could have turned out a lot better than it actually did and it is a really close call between thumbs-up and thumbs-down for me, but the second half, especially the last 20 minutes saved it a bit, so I am going for a positive recommendation here, even if there are obvious flaws like also that the film did not even come close to delivering half the emotional impact it would have liked to deliver. And as for Astrup, please stay completely behind the camera next time, also audibly. Cautious thumbs-up for the overall project, but not really an outcome that will sparkle your interest if you haven't had it before already.
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2/10
1,5 stolen hours
3 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Fanny und die gestohlene Frau", which means "Fanny and the Stolen Woman" is a German television film from 2016, so slightly under five years old now and this one runs for almost 1.5 hours just like they usually do. Director Mark Monheim has been making films since the old millennium already, but is still fairly young taking this into account. He is also certainly not the most prolific filmmaker. But his body of work is tolerable, definitely better than the one of writer Thomas Oliver Walendy, especially if we focus on what the latter did in the 2010s. A history of garbage. This film fits the description as well. Apparently, this is one of two Fanny films starring Jutta Speidel that were released at the same time. I think this is the second from the bunch and I am pretty sure nonetheless that the first was already one too many. This one here definitely is and never should have been made. Let alone shown on national television at such a great slot as you can see on the poster here. I am talking about the original airing and not the time in the afternoon when the film is running now two or three times a year just like it did today. The person you see on the photo is reason enough too to be sure that it sucks. I am talking about the aforementioned Jutta Speidel. Yes, she is this horrible. I have seen several films with her and she is always bad. It is shocking how they cast her in the lead so many times because she has zero range and versatility and always plays the exact same character. Unbearable to watch. Even calling her an actress, is demeaning to every other actress on the planet. Well, except Simone Thomalla and Christine Neubauer perhaps. German film buffs will understand this reference. Now as for this film here, they definitely made sure to get Speidel in the tightest jeans out there that peaople are at least distracted from her somewhat decent body shape (for her age) and don't pay too much attention to the fact that she could not act a convincing scene if her life depended on it. The best example is really when she gives us her smug grin that shows us ho she is really full of herself. Or her character is. Tough to watch. But there are many other moments. One example would be the recurring scenes in which she is talking to the spirit of a deceased character that only she can see. Or the generally cringeworthy idea that she initially treates her disabled half-brother like crap and then, the longer the film goes, the more she cares for him because obviously, as always, we are supposed to see her as a likable character. Also, of course, there are several male characters after her, so we don't forget how attractive she looks (for her age). I mean this is really for everybody who does not know about her long-term relationship with that Italien coffee salesman. In real life.

The one scene where the film and Speidel really hit rock bottom was when Speidel and her potential love interest enter the stage and sing a song by Johnny Cash and June Carter. I dearly love these two. With all my heart. Especially Johnny. And the guy here was also tolerable I guess. Not good, but I could deal with it. However, Speidel's Carter impersonation made me almost physically sick. And we were supposed to see this duet as a moment of fun, a moment of intimacy, a moment of togetherness that was supposed to show us how the two characters really fit together. I felt no such thing. I just wanted it to be over. I mean I never switch off the television, but this scene alone would have deserved it. Enough on Speidel now, you get the message. By the way, the way how she was written was also really bad and sometimes even completely wrong. Not only was the scene when she gets all that money from the bank (and her delight) very cringeworthy, but also not accurate. You cannot withdraw thousands and thousands of bucks withhin hours here in Germany. Can't believe they did not know that and nobody recognized this factual error. There is a limit. And I know that despite not being a finance expert or anything. Anyway, instead a few words on the supporting cast now: Jennifer Ulrich's character is likable because she does not like Fanny. And she is pretty hot and I found Ulrich more attractive than I usually do (especially the earlier scenes outside the courtroom), but the performance is also nothing to be proud of. Ulrich simply is not a good actress either and it is visible here once more. Not as terrible as Speidel though. Lena Stolze I feel really sorry for that she has to appear in films like this one playing nothing characters nowadays apparently to make a living, especially if we take a look at how once she was a leading actress in Oscar-nominated movies. A bit of a female equivalent to Vogler on the male side. He is not in this movie though. Then again, nobody forces them to accept these roles, so my sympathy is maybe a bit exaggerated here. Still sucks. To end the review on a high note with maybe the only somewhat nice aspect about this movie, I want to say that I liked what Dennis Mojen made with his performance as a disabled man. In contrast to Speidel getting us one cringeworthy scene after the next, also how she bribes the policemen, he played his part well. Also nice comedic timing for example when he asks for some kind of food on his table that he despises eventually, but it has to be there because it always is. I even laughed a bit there. Still, the ending for his character is also a travesty as they felt the need to rush in some forced romance idea all of a sudden. The writing is really terrible here, especially in terms of character development, but also in terms of (who we are supposed to see as ) the main antagonist. This is another ARD Degeto film you want to skip 100%. Highly not recommended. Shame on ARD for forcing us to pay double-digit amounts of money every single month for low-quality trash like this to be made. And saying the sum (i.e. scam) still needs to increase. Boo! Also by the way, it feels as if they were not even trying with this film anymore. Not just because of how poor all the production values are (also the soundtrack), but what is up with the title? It sounds like a mystery movie about a missing character, but it is no such thing. The title makes no sense at all unless you use an interpretation as free as it gets in order to get any sense in it. I guess they just used it because of how mysterious it sounds? Also the photo here: As if Speidel's character is secretly sneaking into a house to find and free an abducted woman. No such thing in the movie though. It's all lies and make-believe. Stay far, far away.
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Lotti auf der Flucht (2003 TV Movie)
2/10
A movie to run away from
3 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Lotti auf der Flucht" is a German television film from 2003, so this one is getting closer to its 20th anniversary now and, who knows, maybe it happened already depending on when you read this review. It runs for 1.5 hours and the director is Peter Weissflog, probably not related to the famous East German athlete. Weissflog was already fairly experienced back then, but his body of work is nothing great, still frequently better than this movie we have here I am sure. The same surely cannot be said about writers Fischer and Hajos. Those two have worked together on many occasion in fact, apparently a regular duo, but if you take a look at everything they have done, you will find garbage like German daily soap opera "Marienhof" and their bodies of work (I could also say "body of work" because it feels almost identical with their collabs) is extremely disappointing. Plus, I also believe that a screen writer can do more harm to a movie than a director because story is key for me 95% of the time and the two female writers surely messed up here as well. Another bad addition to their bodies of work. The title sounds a bit like a sequel, as if we are already familiar with the Lotte character, but I don#t think there was another movie before this one with the same characters. That can surely be considered a good thing because this film here is already one too many. The cast is also fairly unspectacular. Some familiar faces for German film buffs like Weis and Brauer, who playes the former's love interest in this movie. Heidelinde Weis you also see on the left of the photo here on imdb. She has really been in many films in the past, for many decades in fact, but her name is not as big here in Germany as you could think it is, at least not compared to the likes of Glas, Elsner, maybe Speidel too. The one positive thing I need to say about Weis though is that early in her career, when she was considerably younger, she played in films that weren't total garbage. The same cannot be said about her co-lead here, Elisabeth Lanz. She was always bad. She started her career really low with garbage quality and she has not made a single step up since then. Embarrassing. Also the photo here is a bit cringeworthy I'd say because they are trying so hard to get German housewives to watch this film that it is not even funny anymore.

So yeah, I already said that the script is a mess. There are many examples for that. One prime example is really when Lotti (I expected a younger character with that name) arrives at the place where she suspects Brauer's character and first of all crashes into an ice cream salesman. Also not sure what this was supposed to tell us. That she was so dedicated and determined to find him that she simply tears down every obstacle on the way? Ridiculous really and not in a good way. Very unrealistic too and the film already (ab)used all its realism for the idea that Lotti sees Brauer's character on television and the boat is included too and still has her name. The title is also not a good choice at all. Lotti is not fleeing from anything. If anything, she is heading towards happiness. Fleeing from her old life then perhaps? Not really. We barely find out anything about her old life and there are also no implications that she hated it, even if they keep including how her time with Brauer's character decades ago was the best in her life, no matter how short it may have been. Another reason why the title is not accurate is really that the two older character's story is pretty much over way before the one-hour mark. They have found each other and are together now. Well, somewhat together. The focus switches much more to Brauer's younger helper and the aforementioned Lanz. Or her character. Oh my, was she bad here. Way worse than Weis for sure. There are so many cringeworthy moments involving her and she is probably the only one who manages to make her already really poorly-written character even worse with her complete absence of talent and versatility. Be it the lengthy scene when she plays drunk, the scene when she lies to her fiancé on the phone or the scene when she enters the room where is supposed to sleep and is disgusted by the room, not just the photo of a topless woman being pinned against the wall. Each and every scene, Lanz is a failure and now I know why she only plays in these garbage films. If the path chosen by her character eventually is seen as character development, then I have never ever seen such a bad form of character development in a movie. The lack of talent becomes painfully visible all along. I feel pretty sad for people who (think they) see talent and wit in this film. No matter which perspective you take, it is an utter failure. The oh so happy ending with the younger woman also realizing that she has to leave her man and start dating the gruff co-captain is so for the sake of it. And don't even get me started on the police arrest, the kidnapping idea, the auction at the very end etc. It is all truly horrible and I could give another dozen examples. However, I will not and instead I will try my best to forget this travesty as soon as possible. It is Rosamunde Pilcher / Inga Lindström level, not above that, which means complete trash. Good thing that this was really not seen by many. However, shameful they are still showing it more than 15 years after its initial release. Highly not recommended.
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Liebe nach Rezept (2007 TV Movie)
6/10
The strength here is the absurdity of it all
2 July 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Liebe nach Rezept" (or "Das verflixte 17. Jahr", both titles fairly weak and too general) is a German television film from 2007, so this one is already over a decade old, maybe even 15 years already depending on when you read this review, and it runs for 1.5 hours approximately like the vast majority of German small screen releases. The director is Jorgo Papavassiliou, who was born in Greece, but his career consists entirely of German films. The screenplay is by Rodica Döhnert. I would say that both of them have a body of work that does not include a great deal of quality, so it is surely justified to be skeptical about this film here, especially if we also see that this was produced by Degeto and their film usually suck. As for the two people in charge here, I guess the Greek's body of work is slightly worse than Döhnert's, but both are nothing to be proud of. And if you take the beginning of the film, there does not seem to be a lot of hope. The introduction is weak, the comedy approach is not convincing either. I am talking especially about the scene here at the church or so when the female protagonist says about her husband that she is not happy at all how he neglects her and also how she sometimes wishes him dead. That was really highly exaggerated and even if they are struggling with their relationship, these words are not appropriate. Or realistic. Especially because said character is one that should be seen as likable. And the comedy that follows immediately afterwards to take out come gravity out of these words, so we won't think that actually she may kill him, is just as bad. I mean the cross that falls down, which would only be a coincidence, but is supposed to imply that God heard these words and he did not approve. But luckily, things do get better the moment these magical herbs enter the picture. The result is that the female protagonist falls for the local fish vendor and not much later her husband falls for the fish vendor's wife. The scene when the female protagonist tells her daughter that she is 100% in love with the fish guy is hilarious. This is one example, one scene that applies to the headline of my review, namely that the comedy is so absurd because the film goes shamelessly over the top and does not take itself one bit seriously. Or when said female character stands at the door of the other couple and says she is ready to marry the man. Or when her husband stands at the doorstep with a big bouquet of roses and says the same basically. Or when he starts to repair something in the other woman's house. It is pretty funny and I won't deny it. I laughed quite a bit there.

This also has to do with the cast. I almost forgot how attractive Sonsee Neu is. Or at least was back then, but she also delivered nicely here in terms of her performance. She surely made it work. As for Wiesinger, I can partially say the same. He is alright, does not have the same material as his wife in this movie. Petra Kleinert I don't think is a good actress and she did not do too much for me here. Actually, her initial outrage about the whole situation and that she still goes on the date with Wiesinger's character then is the worst moment of writing from this movie perhaps. There aren't too many really poor moments. Another would be the bottle breaking perhaps. But back to Kleinert: Still she is not horrible or something. But performance-wise, maybe Ochsenknecht is the best about this film. Here, he clearly shows that he is so far more talented than his sons (who have no versatility at all honestly) and I have been skeptical about him in the past as well, but I think he did really great here to create an interesting character who is on the one hand loyal to his wife, but still attracted to Neu's character for sure. And he did so in an effortlessly chaming and comedic approach that impressed me quite a bit. However, even despite my perception there, it is pretty ridiculous he is the first one mentioned in the credits. His character is clearly not as much at the center of the film as Neu's, maybe Wiesinger's as well. But not just this lead quartet of four names you normally will not find in a small screen releases (at least not in this quantity) is doing a fine job here. The supporting players deliver as well. One example would be Golda Tencer and I wonder with her background, her body of work and where she is from, how she ended up appearing in this film as the herb lady. I also wondered how Steffi Kühnert plays such a nothing character, but I guess she was not as popular back then as she is today. If she still is. I am not sure. But she was a few years ago with "Halt auf freier Strecke" and "Das weiße Band" and "Die Frau, die sich traut". The only character/performance I did not like at all is the one played by Sybille J. Schedwill, basically the female protagonist's men-hating best friend. They always have to get in some anti-male stuff in these films I suppose and maybe you cannot even blame the actress. The character per se is despicable with how she wants the husband to bleed for what he did to her friend. Or didn't do. I mean he did not even cheat on her or anything. Luckily, even despite this character, the positive is more frequent. It was a fairly funny film at times and you can even call it a fantasy film from some perspective I suppose. Also as a Michael Bublé fan, I surely did not mind the soundtrack. And one final note about the film's final sequence: I think it was somewhat nice closure as a framework here when we hear the central couple's thoughts again, but this time there is harmony in contrast to when we hear their thoughts at the film's beginning. Just leave out the idea that the man is a sexaholic or something next time. This movie gets a thumbs-up. Really positive surprise. Go watch if you get the chance!
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Der See der Träume (2006 TV Movie)
2/10
The movie of nightmares
30 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Der See der Träume" is a German television movie from 2006, so this one is almost 15 years old now, maybe more than 15 already depending on when you read this review. The translation of the German title here is "Lake of Dreams", although this is not the offical English title I suppose with how titles in other languages also sounded completely different. But the German title already makes clear how much of a failure this entire project is. First of all, it sounds so cheesy and second of all, there is not really a lake playing any role in this movie, certainly not a dominant role and pretty much not a small role either. They just went for something that is easy to remember for audiences I suppose, but story reference is 0/100. Then again, these 90 minutes we have here are another Regina Ziegler film production and if you know a bit about German (small screen) films, then you know the gigantic amount of movies she worked on in the past (or her production company did) and how almost all of these films are really failure level. The writer and director this time was Wolf Gremm, who is today, if at all, remembered for his work on a Fassbinder movie, but in the 2000s he also worked on a handful of cheesy romance drama movies like this one here. I am pretty sure the others are just as bad, but I cannot be the judge of that now. This one here certainly is. There is so much emotion in the film and almost all of it feels fake. This mostly applies to Michael von Au's character about his deceased wife, about his struggles at work when a woman is first severely beaten up by her boyfriend, then killed by him later on and von Au's character has a great amount of regrets if he could have done something to keep it from happening and if so, then what he could have done. Away from that, he has that tear-filled meltdown when he meets the female protagonist for the first time. Or the first time again because they were high school sweethearts or something, but now they are 15-20 years older. And what happens immediately afterwards? Right, they end in bed. Right after the tears. Are you kidding me? Now that felt just bizarre and aren't we supposed to believe that the female protagonist still struggles with the situation with her husband, who apparently left her for a much younger woman. BBut hey no prob I guess if she is ready to have sex immediately afterwards with somebody else. Oh well, they are having such a deep connection. That explains it right? And justifies it. That sex scene was more graphic than I expected though for an afternoon movie here. I mean there are no boobs or anything visible, bit normally these films are as harmless as it gets.

The most known cast member is probably Charles Brauer, but he really does not have great screen time or material He plays the main character's father giving her solace at her childhood home. Said main character is played by Ursula Buschhorn by the way, a German actress who was in her mid-30s at that point. She is not good, that much is safe. But I still felt that von Au and and also Greiling, who plays her husband, were worse. Especially the latter was a truly negative surprise. His line delivery was so stale and weak that it felt very cringeworthy. Of course, the way how his character was written was not helping at all here. With that I mean how after he had this affair for a year, all of a sudden it is over and he realizes he does love his wife indeed and wants her back. How realistic. We should only see now that the woman is the one who has all the choices what and whom she wants. Admittedly, in that scene Buschhorn really was soo bad when we see her struggling with this new information. Her face expression. She was trying so hard, but could not make it work credibly. Later on, in the second half, Maria Burghardt shows up. She plays the female protagonist's daughter and I found it a bit cringeworthy how she acts as a friend and supporter to her mother against the unlikable father because of what he did. It is the same as almost always with Regina Ziegler and this kind of movies. Highly anti-male because the target audiences are women working at home to watch this in the afternoon, although I wonder ith how emancipation is much more a thing now than back in 2006, perhaps this idea is going to change one day. Or they just don't make these films anymore. or considerably fewer. Which is actually a great thing. Now, as for this one here: As if we did not have enough pseudo drama already, they took it to the next level of failure and made sure the main protagonistg is pregnant all of a sudden. Such a strong and confident woman, but hey birth control may not be her thing right? Oh my. Then of course we also get the guaranteed drama that the baby is not healthy after being born and we should be worried if it is going to live. And as the baby seems to have been fathered by the husband, there is also the option that she will get together ith him again and not the sensitive police officer, who by the way is also physically strong as we find out on one occasion. Right what women want no? A hunk who is fighting his demons. I applaud every woman who sees through this charade. Of course, at the very end all is good again. The baby (girl I think) is healthy and she is together with the cop and they are happy and her ex-husband is also coping well with the situation. So as fine as everything in this movie may be at the very end, as much of a mess is this film altogether. I expected something really weak and a complete absence of talent and they sure made it happen. Fat thumbs-up for this movie. Really keep your distance here. Highly not recommended.
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6/10
Lazenby one out of one
30 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" is a British, mostly English-language movie from 1969 and of course this is a Bond movie. The word "long" applies here for different reasons because the title is among the longest in the Bond universe and also it runs for over 2 hours and 20 minutes. The director is Peter R. Hunt, who previously worked as an editor on other Bond films, but here he got to be the man in charge and this was his first directorial effort ever. Two writers were in charge of the screenplay. For Simon raven, this is surely the most notable career effort and his only affiliation with a Bond movie. The head writer was Richard Maibaum for whom the exact opposite is true. He was already a really established writer back then, started his career before WWII even and worked on several other Bond films before and after this one. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" had its 50th anniversary last year, so it is nice to see some cast members still alive here. I will elaborate on some of these. For lead actor George Lazenby this is probably the career-defining effort as well and he scored a Golden Globe nomination in the newcomer category that does not exist anymore today. I personally also know about his long relationship with a former tennis player, but that is probably only because of how much I care about tennis. Others will only know him for Bond. I think he did a decent job overall, even if he is the one Bond that not too many people remember anymore today. Quantity is also a reason here because he only appeared in this one 007 movie before negotiations turned out unsuccessful and the producers did all in their power (especially their monetary power) to have Sean Connery return for his first of two comebacks. Of course, Connery's footsteps were already really difficult to fill for Lazenby, but Like I said: I think he wasn't bad at all. Actually, there is a really nice Connery reference at the very start, before the opening titles, when Lazenby says something like that the other fella would not have let the bad guy(s) get away. Hilarious stuff how they were breaking the fourth wall there. This moment could have made you think that Lazenby might give this role an approach as comedic as Moore did later on, but it is not true. Lazenby's character is not super serious, but also not particularly light. Let's go with the credit list here: The second cast member I want to mention is Diana Rigg. She is also still alive today just like Lazenby and most people who know the actress nowadays probably know her from "Game of Thrones", but they would never think of her turn here in this movie. Which is really a pity. She is so good. One of my favorite three Bond girls of all time. Also she is pretty emancipated. She can drive a car. She can fight the bad guys. And she can stand up for herself. Also when she talks to her father who is a really influential mobster. She disappeared a bit in the second half and I was slightly surprised how she was featured so dominantly very early on already. I guess they wanted to make clear that she is the one and only girl for Bond in this movie. And actually, there aren't too many others indeed, even if Bond is circled by Blofeld's young females in Switzerland, especially the one with the lipstick action. And Tracy's death at the very end is definitely so heartbreaking. One of the saddest moments in Bond history for me how he holds her and tells the officer that she is just getting a little rest, perhaps the saddest ending to a Bond movie. So Bond gets married, but he does not stay married for long sadly. His relationship with Tracy is also one that was referenced much later, like when we have Moore's 007 visit her grave in another movie. These two (Bond and Tracy) are really the key players in this film.

Of course, we also have a main antagonist and it is once more Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who goes by the hilariously French name of Bleuchamp occasionally here. He is played by Telly Savalas (Kojak) and Savalas is known to be an action guy, so it is no surprising that we see a slightly different Blofeld here. No white cats, but instead Savalas' take on the role has him ski down the hill, has him ride really fast in a bobsleigh. He is a man at the middle of stuff going on, not just one who coordinates the way other Blofelds have done it. But of course, it is not just down to the actor, but also all down to the writing. I think he was alright. The main henchwoman here is played by Ilse Steppat. Sadly she died immediately after shooting was finished at an age where she really should not have, so we will never know what could have been with her career. This film was her international breakthrough. I mean she is not as good as Lotte Lenya in her Bond movie, but still pretty good and she is also the one who fires the crucial shots at Tracy at the very end. It is not unusual that Bond goes up against the main hench(wo)man at the very end, but here it is different because Blofeld is still alive and actually with Steppat's character in this scene. So maybe it is really true that Lazenby's character lets the bad guys get away too often. You could say there is a frame with the funny quote early on, but the tragedy at the very end. Gabriele Ferzetti plays Tracy's dad and he seems to be a high-profile mobster, so Bond somewhat collaborates with bad guys here to defeat his main opposition, even near the end when they physically assist him there like some udnerground army. Also not really too usual. That the bad guys do I mean, not that they help him. He sometimes has a small army at his command that is not linked to MI6. They try to catch him early on, but how he deals with the Black guy is one of really not too many true physical fight sequencesin this film. Another new route they were heading. But what is even more unusual is how Lazenby's Bond almost never kills. Maybe this was intended to somewhat justify his loss of innocence (i.e. loss of Tracy) that would turn him into a killing machine in later movies. But then again, the Black guy did not belong to Blofeld which could explain it. But there is at least one of Blofeld's helpers who gets away alive too later on, not to mention Blofeld and Bunt themselves. Lois Maxwell plays Moneypenny and hey, she gets a kiss from Bond. On the lips this time even and he says something as if he might want to date her when he is back although it was probably just banter. He meets Tracy anyway then and the scene at the wedding with Moneypenny in tears and the hat is somewhat typical. You never know if she is really sad or if it is really all about somebody getting married as she says. I definitely prefer this traditional Moneypenny by Maxwell over the more confident Moneypenny in later movies.

One thing that is also slightly uncommon is the title: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" includes a direct reference to the Queen (or King), something you never find otherwise in Bond films. The title is mentioned several times when Bond meets Tracy's dad. For example, the latter says once that he woould not give out any information to Her Majesty's Secret Service if not absolutely necessary. And "absolutely necessary" means in this case that his daughter's husband works for the MI6. He is really trying to have Bond marry Tracy. Like it is all his plan because she needs a strong hand or something. Oh my, I honestly hope that they will never because of female emancipation etc. start censoring comments like this. Or scenes like the one when Bond even slaps Tracy to get some information out of her. She still falls for him pretty quickly. On a completely different note, this is also a rare Bond movie that has no famous Bond song. No Bond song at all you could almost say. The closest to it is probably Louis Armstrong's number you hear on one occasion in the movie. Also not common at all. You often hear a tune or a jingle, but actually really vocals are an exception the way it is here. So you see that this is a movie that is different for all kinds of reasons. One thing I did not like too much about it (and which may also explain my rating) is that I felt in the Swiss Alps it got too action heavy at times with chase sequences, explosions etc. They could have kept the film 15 minutes shorter I suppose, cut out some of the less meaningful stuff for sure. I also felt the entire villain idea with what the purpose of these girls was is a bit too absurd for my taste, but I did like that they included a really existing big body like the United Nations where Blofeld sends his threat to. It's still kinda ironic that Blofeld was in so many movies and yet he is probably not remembered by as many as Goldfinger. Props to Gert Fröbe for sure. Even Christoph Waltz apparently cannot change that. Okay, let's not get drifted away too far now. What I do want to say too is that the number of memorable henchmen here is far too low given the running time. I guess Bunt is alright, but she is not a fighter and as for the fighters, there are pretty much zero who make an impact. The Black dude early on does not really coount either because he does not belong to Team Blofeld. Who else is there? This could have made for a nice change instead of all the action. Also here we have a Bond movie that was not nominated for a single Oscar, perhaps because they were not too fond of Lazenby back then. At least not as fond of him as people are today. he is mostly getting fine reviews nowadays I believe. Okay, I think this is pretty much it. Nothing to say about Q really this time, he was mostly forgettable now, especially compared to Moneypenny who also had the application for leave moment further adding to her screen time in this movie. All in all, this is not one of my favorite Bond films, but also not one of my least favorites, even if I hoped the quality could have stayed as good as in the first third. Then, probably I would have given a higher rating. It drags a bit here and there in the second half before the epilogue.
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Die Rosenkrieger (2002 TV Movie)
2/10
A declaration of war to every audience member with an IQ over 80
29 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Die Rosenkrieger", which means "The Rose Warriors", is a German television film from 2002, so this one is already almost 20 years old now, maybe actually even over 20 depending on when you read this review. However, I am not sure if the title translation is really accurate here because "Rosenkrieg" is a very German word that refers to a former couple now fighting for something, for example divorce regulations and all their love is gone. So the title is probably justfied by the two main characters being divorce lawyers, but at the very same time it is not accurate because the two never were a couple themselves. Now with focus on the basics, it can be added that this film runs fro 1.5 hours like the vast majority of other German television releases and the film was made by two Ulrichs: director Ulrich Stark and writer Ulrich del Mestre, who is not just German despite his Spanish sounding name, but even from my city Berlin. The latter is already over 80 now, so was in his 60s back then already when he worked on this movie's screenplay. But despite the old age, he is not retired for very long. Director Stark is retired for much longer although he is slightly younger than his writer here. As for this duo, however, looking at all the other stuff they worked on ("Tatort", "Das Traumschiff", "Kreuzfahrt ins Glück", "Um Himmels Willen" etc.), it becomes very very clear that this film we have here was really doomed from the start. You should not expect talent here. You should not expect creativity here. You should absolutely not even expect a mediocre movie. This is miles away from that on the quality scale. It is also nowhere near being a weak film either. It is just plain horrible. This is allso confirmed by the fact that Jutta Speidel plays the central female charcater. She is always bad. In every film she is in. I will say a few more words about her later on. But it is an absolute mystery why she got cast for lead roles all the time. She has recognition value maybe. Maybe she even looks mildly attractive for her age, although there is a lot of make-believe to that too with her coffee-selling gigolo. She is younger than I thought. Here she was still in her 40s. Somehow I thought she would be older. But then again, age should not be a factor here at all and I agree with those who say it should be all about talent. Speidel is the epitome of the complete absence of talent. Luckily for her, they found an actress here who is just as bad, maybe even worse, to play Speidel's character's best friend. This would be Daniela Ziegler. I am not sure if she is related to Regina Ziegler the personification os crappy German television films, but the two would fit together very well because Daniela Ziegler could not act a subtly convincing scene if her life depended on it. Always over the top in her desperate attempts to play a self-confident female character. Her generalization about men when the struggling guy talks about his problems to her is as despicable as the comments she makes about a considerably younger lover and the size of his genital. Unreal stuff really. This film is incredibly anti-male too. Like they frequently are when it comes to German small screen releases. If they guys are lucky, they are just there to serve the females and be kind to them, so they are accepted as a romantic interest, but usually they are incredibly needy losers are despicable scum that are not deserving at all of the superbly interesting women in the movies.

This is true here as well. Shame though that Speidel does not have 1% of the class required to make this seem realistic. And does not have 0.01% of the talent to make it seem credible and trick us into believing she does. There was one minor moment here, just a really quick random inclusion and one scene that was probably supposed to show us how fit the character still is and how much of an interesting life she has, namely the scene when we see Speidel's character hit a strike at the local bowling alley. Her reaction to said strike was the single most embarrassing display of "likable arrogance / self-confidence" I have seen in a long time. And I have seen a lot. I literally had goosebumps because of how bad it is. The biggest question for this film is why oh why is it still shown after almost 20 years. This is what ARD etc. force you to pay a monthly double-digit fee for. This outdated garbage. Although, in fact, it was already dated back in 2002 because of how unrealistic, uncreative, unauthentic etc. it is. By the way, the male lead is Gunter Berger. May he rest in peace. At least, he was not as bad as Speidel here, but that is already nothing that requires too much talent. Julia Brendler is/was pretty stunning back then for sure and she has more screen time in the second half. Of course, when the entire lie about the parents becomes known to her, she is sad and mad, but still accepts Speidel's character as somebody to give her solace and still see her as a friend immediately because of what she did. And the whole idea about how he lied to her about the parents is something so absurd. Impossible. The first meeting because Speidel's and Brendler's character is also so bad, like when she says accidentally the wrong first name or how Brendler's character all out of nowhere elaborates in the car about what would be if he had no parents. Or no contact with his parents. Or if they were divorced etc. Really only for story purposes. For failure story purposes that is. Never would have happened like this in real life. And do they really want us to believe that the two main characters become a coupl in the end? With all they said abbout each other before that. About their physical appearance most of all. And as for Speidel's character, I guess they forgot to make her look simple the way she was described in terms of her clothes because it is Speidel. Let's just not care about the story. Oh yeah, the parking lot conversations were also utterly cringeworthy. Enough said, I guess. No matter where you look here, this film is a complete mess. Something positive? That they did not make a sequel. Oh yeah, Ziegler's character also gets a lover at the end, a new love interest, because all the female "likable" characters have to for reasons of unrealistic happy endings. To make the mostly female audiences happy. This is just such a horrible movie. I really hope people see through this and the already rather low rating here on imdb is still way too high. Protect yourself and keep your distance the two or three times it is still shown here every year. It's two or three times too many. This one never should have been made.
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2/10
In the shadows of movie abominations
29 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Im Schatten des Pferdemondes", which means "In the Shadow of the Horse Moon", is a German television film from 2010, so this one has its 10th anniversary. Not a date to be proud of though. The failures already begin with the title here. There is no references to this astronomic phenomenon in this movie, so it is all pretentious. Of course, there are many horses in here, but this does not explain the title either. And yep, this is indeed a German German-language film although it was made in Britain and also takes place there as you see for example through the pompous British names the characters have in here. Although you cannot really blame the filmmakers for this because they took the names probably directly from the book this is based on. According to imdb, these 1.5 hours are the only film adaptation of one of Evita Wolff's works and looking how bad they really were, that is definitely a good thing. I have not read it, but I am fairly certain that the base material is not much better than the movie, if at all. The director is Michael Steinke, who was in his mid-60s when he made this film and if you see that his most known works include Rosamunde Pilcher and Inga Lindström adaptations as well as "Das Traumschiff", then you know immediately what quality to expect here. Or what lack of quality. The writers are nothing better. Even two of them worked on the script. Gunter Friedrich had not worked on a script in over 20 years before that, but directed mostly. Felix Huby is a full-time writer, but if you see that his efforts include "Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten" and his colleague's include "Sturm der Liebe", then it is easy to understand that their lack of talent is as massive as the director's and this project was doomed from the beginning. Pseudo romance drama with zero authenticity or creativity to it with the only intention to make the viewers even more stupid, if that is even possible because if they decide to watch this film (and not for educational purposes like I did), then they really break every stupidity scale already. Luckily, the director and both writers were basically at the end of their long careers at that point and have not worked in film for a long time and probably never will again looking at their ages, even if they are apparently still alive. On the other hand, this makes it even more shocking to see how they are so experienced and yet this level we have here is what they were still stuck with.

The cast is not any better. The name Catherine Flemming is one that is easy to recognize. I have seen her in other stuff and normally her inclusion is almost a guarantee for a film to suck. This one here is definitely not an exception. Although it is absolutely not just her, but everybody else as well who is either pretty bad or held back by the abysmal script. Also don't be fooled by the inclusion of "Mad Men" actor Philippe Brenninkmeyer in the lead. He is not good either. You can only excuse so much by the script though because nobody forced the actor(s) to appear in this movie. Anyway, as for Brenninkmeyer, his character could hardly be more gimmicky. He knows so well about horses, they are treasures to him. He managed early on to get a horse into such strong shape to win races, which it never managed before. When he is not busy helping suffering horses, then he plays the piano or loves to go to the theater. The cringe. What a distinguished man! One thing they totally forgot here though is the questionable idea of horse racing as a whole in terms of animal abuse, doping etc. But of course, they wanted to keep the film simple here and not make a statement. The highly shallow result is in fact a film where only you can appreciate the beautiful horses at times, but the story and all human characters are utter nonsense. Actually, the horse stories are idiotic as well. The mare's illness has nothing to do with reality or biology and the two studs and their ego struggles and potential fatherhood ideas are just as bad. As for the humans again, Suzan Anbeh is of course pretty good-looking, or at least was back then, but her character is also a joke. The banter between her and the horse doctor early on is incredibly cringeworthy. Of course, out smart horse doctor knows immediately what is wrong with his body when she treats him. And of course, he leaves the hospital early because he has to save horses. And of course, depsite being much older and still injured, he is able to take on the young guy in a fight at the end. And although he fights him, he has all mercy and kindness for him when he basically acts as a mediator to save the man from prison which would 100% ruin his future. Ah so terrible everything really here. As for Anbeh's character, she also gets her rushed-in dramatic story line about a struggling family member. As for Flemming's character: The longer the film goes, the more she is reduced to begging for the man's attention, trying to get him drunk, flirting with him etc. But all he wants is the other doctor. By the way, Petra Kelling is in here as well, but she just plays a minor character. Another actress whose films suck most of the time. Finally, the movie of course ends with the big drama, the arson, the fire that of course everybody comes out of unharmed, also the animals and the bad guy is not stomped by the raging horse, but saved by our mesmerizing horse doctor. Sigh. I think I end now, you get the message. Everything here including the conflicts involving the old man (Flemming's character's father) is on the same garbage level like the aforementioned Pilcher and Lindström movies. Miles and miley away from a mediocre movie, actually miles and miles away from a weak movie as well because the only accurate description here is that this is truly a garbage film. Highly not recommended. Don't do this to yourself. It also feels much longer than it actually is because of how bad it is.
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Heimat zu verkaufen (2010 TV Movie)
2/10
Never manages to even reach mediocre quality
27 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Heimat zu verkaufen" is an Austrian/German co-production from 2010, so this film has its 10th anniversary this year. Nothing to be proud of though. The language is German, but the accents are Austrian from beginning to end here because of where the film is set, so to me it definitely felt more of an Austrian movie than a German film. The running time is 1.5 hours, slightly under, just like the vast majority of German television films. Or I should say German-language in this case. The director is Karl Kases, a pretty prolific filmmaker who is now almost 70 years old. However, the more interesting thing about his body of work is not what he did as a director, but what he did as a cinematographer. Surely there he was involved with some projects I did not see coming at all. And he started working a long time ago, so this one we have here is certainly among his more recent efforts. "Walker, Texas Ranger", "Lemon Popsicle", Falco documentaries. Enough said. You can check out the rest for yourself, but I can only say I would not have expected him to direct this movie here. The inclusion of writer Susanne Zanke is less surprising. Her body of work as slightly more normal, even if it must be said that she was a more prolific writer than director. But still wrote the story for a handful projects. She turns/turned 75 this year and has been retired for quite a while. This project here was one of her swan songs. Not a good way to bid farewell though. As for the cast, I cannot say too much about the actors. The only really familiar name is Richter-Röhl for me, but not because she is a good actress, but rather the exact opposite. The male central characters, not just the lead, but also the main antagonist have familiar faces, but I cannot come up with the names without looking at the cast list. They slightly managed to elevate the script I would say, but not to a particularly memorable level either. For that, the script is simply too bad. I won't deny that there was a moment here and there, especially early on, when I felt that maybe I could give 4 stars out of 10 and not just two, but every time I was close to thinking like that, the story quickly took a turn for the worse.

There are many examples for that. Some characters added absolutely nothing like the Aloisia character. How she saw that the male protagonist was interested in the business woman was pretty exaggerated and not in a good way, for example when she says that it's the first time that he goes to a special place with somebody he does not know that well. And what happens there is really what absolutely confirmed that this film is nothing but a failure. I am of course talking about the kiss. And bascially also about everything that happens afterwards between these two. The moments of denial when the audience was supposed to be worried they could not end up together etc. And then finally of course the really simple twist that she gives up her business life and starts living with the man up there in the mountains. By the way, also looking at how beautiful the location of this film is, the looks (cinematography etc.) were fairly disappointing. Not even that they managed to do convincingly and this really has nothing to do with the bad story, almost nothing with the production values in general. Oh well, this film is definitely not the brightest hour for everybody involved. In front of the camera, but also in terms of the crew working on this one. What else is there to say? Oh yes, the village where this takes place has the same name like the area where I grew up. Just a random snippet of information. I must say I like Austrian films. A lot of the time, they are far superior to German films, especially if we are talking comedy movies. But this one here is really the one movie that is the big exception. Maybe the exception that confirms the rule as we say here in Germany? It is this bad and basically the same incredibly low level like the many ARD Degeto films constantly shown in the afternoon in my country. Some of them are even older than this one here. But of course, this one here is also so bad that there is not the slightest justification for it to be still shown a decade after its original release. It was already shot back in 2008, so it is even older if we go by that. Like I said, not an anniversary to be proud of. The entire story about the man losing his home about which he has so many precious memories feels pretentious and all for the sake of it. Emotion never gets to the audience because the film is hitting all the wrong notes and lacks subtlety completely. The soundtrack is very much over the top and the characters feel highly gimmicky, especially in terms of how they wanted to manipulate the audience in how we should see them. The best example is when the bad guy says something to his assistant like she should sleep with the guy if it helps the business. Oh well, you see the level. The only despicable thing here is the lack of talent in the story. Really sad that the writer was already in his 60s when this was made, basically at the end of her career, and still she does not have any talent apparently. Or at least enough experience to make sure she does not come up with a story as low (and predictable) as this one here. Best is if you stay as far away as possible from this film. Highly not recommended. Oh and by the way, the title is also incorrect because it was exactly at the center of the movie that his home is NOT for sale. They just picked something that sounded easy to remember. Again, no creativity involved. Even there. That's all. A bad, bad movie.
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Kleine Schiffe (2013 TV Movie)
2/10
Little success
26 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Kleine Schiffe" is a German television film from 2013. This one runs for 1.5 hours and is the first and so far only adaptation of a book written by Silke Schütze. The director is really experienced filmmaker Matthias Steurer and the screenplay is by Volker Krappen, who is certainly less experienced than the director. However, both of them have their fair share of failures in their bodies of work, so with this one here you should definitely keep your expectations low. The lead actress is Katja Riemann and you see her on the poster here on imdb on the left side. You could think that her and Tezel are co-lead here, but it really isn't the case. Tezel is probably even less in the lead than Schechinger. It's all about Riemann at the film's core, which may be the reason why she accepted to star in here and it probably also has to do with this being the adaptation of a successfull book. I am not sure. But it does not matter anyway. The outcome is pretty weak from beginning to end and sometimes even bad. There are some moments and plot developments that feel very unrealistic. The best example is the scene when Riemann meets the young man again and she knew him from hen he was in her therapy group. I mean don't even get me started on how this was supposed to be fake or something, but yeah, they should have come up with something better. Then again, it probably happened like this in the book already, so the blame is at least partially on Schütze. I have not read her novel, so I cannot really compare book and movie here. But I must say that the film did not get me curious about the book at all. The most despicable aspect about this movie, however, is the depiction of Riemann's character's illness, namely that she is a huge neurotic. This becomes really obvious early on with the stove scene and also with what she does immediately after her husband tells her that he will leave her. That is perfectly alright and it shows how severe it is. But whhat happens next? Absolutely nothing. They entirely excluded this story and illness once the husband is (for a while) out of the picture. It's ridiculous. It did not serve the story anymore or could get in the way of how they really wanted audiences to see Riemann as a likable character, so it was entirely excluded as if she is completely cured all of a sudden. What a miracle! It makes absolutely no sense and I find it highly offensive to people really struggling the way Riemann's character "pseudo-struggles" in this film. And yet we are supposed to believe that it was severe and permanent enough for her man to leave her. The latter is played by Hans Werner Meyer and it is between him and Peter Franke, who plays the protagonist's father, for the most known male actor in here.

The one slightly shining light in this film was Aylin Tezel. I watched her two "Informantin" movies (perhaps her career-defining role so far) not too long ago and I was baffled by how bad they were and a lot of that was because of Tezel, but in this movie we have here she she did a fine job although her character was also poorly written on many occasions. This already starts with the premise that said character is much younger than Tezel and not even the best make-up (which we certainly do not have here) ca make Tezel look this young. It's impossible to believe. Then there is this scene with the cops at the door that felt really cringeworthy too and also how effortlessly Riemann's character simply agrees that they share her home now. Oh well. Finally, Tezel (in the desperate idea of a happy ending for every character) also gets her man or at least it is implied she does with somebody recognizing the identity of her tattoo character. Must be true love. Still, apart from (or despite of) all these failure scenes, Tezel does a decent job. I liked her and I do not oppose the idea of her getting an award for her portrayal. It shows that she is a true scene stealer here and it hirts the film that she has almost no screen time in the second half. The one other actor who got some awards recognition (even if only a nomination) is Christoph Schechinger and I cannot understand why at all. I thought he was really bad. Like nothing about this film really shines, but he stood out in the most negative way nonetheless. There are many scenes and examples for that. One I must think of immediately is the pool billiard scene with the other guy who makes a joke about the man's preference for older women. This pool reference later on by Riemann's character when she talks to her man again is also touch to stomach. The opposite of a smart reference linked to what happened earlier in the movie. And don't even get me started about Riemann's great shot the exact moment the other guy says something. Or about the lover's comment about the other guy still living at home. It was so messed-up. The ending also did almost nothing for me. The pseudo conflict about everything being somewhat lost with Meyer's character (now knowing it is his child) moving back in again was not executed well at all. How they split up again not much later when they realize it is not working is only slightly better. And of course, the happy ending with Riemann's and Schechinger's character being reunited was easy to predict an hour earlier, but hey who cares. Of course they are made for each other. Okay, I do not know what else to say about this film. I initially thought I could give four stars here because of my personal bias with Riemann (don't like her at all, don't think she has a lot of range and I do think she is very overrated, even if she is not as bad as Ferres or so), but taking all the weaknesses into account, also how the "likable characters" act towards Meyer's character, I just cannot give this film a free card saying it is only weak when really it is downright terrible. I was about to, but then I remembered the fame illness story I mentioned at the end of the first paragraph. That one is just too offensive. Or how it is far too much of a coincidence that her man leaves her exactly the same day that she finds out she is pregnant. Before telling him, that is. And why does he not even think later on that it could be his child. Or the hands holding scene. Ah there is just too much that did not work out and felt cringeworthy. So you should definitely very much skip the watch here. The title is not good either by the way. Nothing about this movie is, well except Tezel here and there. Highly not recommended.
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4/10
Slightly exaggerated GDR escape short film
26 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Crossing Fences" is, despite the title, a German German-language live action short film from 2017, so not too new, not too old. It is the most recent filmmaking effort by Annika Pampel, who is writer and director here. Her main profession is actress though, but this time you do not see her in front of the camera. Interestingly enough, she has worked mostly in American productions playing supporting characters. The same is true about lead actress Nina Rausch, probably even to a bigger extent. She has been in many famous American shows over the years. And she is a producer here too. The two women's back ground may explain why there is an English title and also why the cast is fairly international, most of all in terms of Philippe Brenninkmeyer. There was little ambition here when it came to the German market, even if it is a German production. The latter probably also has to do with the central characters' nationalities. They are East German and try to leave the country. This is set in the 1970s. Will they succeed? I must say I did not care as much as I hoped I would. And the captain who really helps the two a lot by pretending there is a technical issue with the audio transmission when there clearly is not and who helps them also when another officer is opposed was definitely a bit on the pretentious side and too much of a good human in this situation. But maybe that is just my taste. The exaggerated wedding proposal reference and potential pregnancy mention (or "pregnancy") did not help matters either. The soundtrack was over the top too here and there, especially at the end. Apparently, this film is based on actual characters and we get to read a lot about these at the very start and the end, probably too much given the running time, and then we find out the actual people's story was entirely different. Hm is there any sense then to using their names? I am not buying it. I was kinda glad that this film ran for 14 minutes only, slightly under even, and not for 17 as it says here on imdb. I don't know, maybe they released different versions for the different festivals where this was shown. Or it has to do with the closing credits. Overall, not a convincing watch for me and I cannot agree with the awards recognition and the high rating here on imdb. If you want to decide for yourself, the lead actress uploaded the film on vimeo. With subs for non-German audiences. Another example of how this is not as much of a German film as you could think it is. My suggestion, however, is to skip this one. Thumbs-down.
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Immer Wirbel um Marie (2008 TV Movie)
2/10
Sägebrecht if you have seen one film, you have seen them all
25 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Immer Wirbel um Marie" (working title: "Wer zuletzt lacht") is a German television film from 2008, so these 1.5 hours are already over a decade old. The director was Ariane Zeller, who is still occasionally shooting ne films nowadays, but if you take a look at her body of work, especially in the 00s, then you will see immediately that there is no great quality to her works. Actually, there is no quality at all. And if we combine her lack of talent with the two writers here, Hajos and Fischer and these two probably have even less talent with their "Marienhof" history, then it is no surprise at all that this film we have here became an uninspired mess. On the photo you see Marianne Sägebrecht and she certainly looks younger there than in her early 60s which she actually was when this film was made, probably severe image corrections in there and also in the film, she does not look this young, but, on the contrary, she has always been an actress who looked older than she actually was. Not sure if this is still the case now that she is 75, but it was back then in pretty much everything i saw her in. The age is the least of her problems though. Her one and only big problem is that she can really only play one single character and this is the character she played since her (international) breakthrough in the mid-80s. This is also what I am referring to in the title of my review. She usually play a chubby kind lady that is too good for the world and self-sacrificing to some extent, but does not get the love she gives from most of the characters. However, it is her universal goodness that eventually lets her win the hearts of those characters that are not 100% likable, even slightly on the despicable side. In this movie here, this mostly applies to Christoph M. Ohrt, another actor who has been in many trash movies, but somehow I still like him a bit. Probably thanks to his charisma. His range it is not I'd say. Nonetheless, even if his name maybe as known as Sägebrecht's here in Germany right now, this film is never about him. Always about Sägebrecht. His character is also written as poorly as everybody else. The first meeting between him and the female protagonist is already cringeworthy when we have Sägebrecht's character correct him about what a teddy bear has to look like. Her character works at a stuffed animal toy factory where everything is handmade still and the bears are not mass production, but there is of course a lot of heart in them and of course Marie makes all these kids happy with her craft. Like I said: The ultimate good.

There are more scenes that are cringeworthy, like how she is the one that initiates a birthday present for a colleague. She is the one that Ohrt's character's son opens up to and eventually wants to be with. She is the one that managed to integrate Eva Haßmann's character into the group. With all her heart! Haßmann is a terrible actress by the way. good that she has so little screen time here. There are many female actors in here, all the colleagues basically. tatjana Alexander is another one that is really easy to identify by everybody who has seen (and liked) "Stromberg". Yep, it's Berkel. Pretty sad that she has to appear in garbage films like this one here nowadays. Sarah Alles (interesting last name) could have given everything in this movie, but not even the most talented actress could have made her really poorly written character work. Marie Gruber is one that also some German film buffs will recognize, but not too much to say about her here. Also away from Sägebrecht's character when there is focus on others too, this movie is a mess. Just take the example how everybody in the factory hears the phone conversation in which Ohrt's character talks about his real motives or how he basically understands he was always in the wrong and supports Marie eventually. Or the entire music plot with the concert at the end that was so bad, but we are supposed it is charming because of the imperfections. Or the story about the newspaper guy. No matter where you look here, it is all a mess. A travesty. Actually, this film is a sequel and I watched the first film earlier this year and looking at my review from back then, that one was obviously already as bad as this one here. So two films got made when one was already one enough. Embarrassing. Then again, like I said: Sägebrecht plays the same character in every film, so you could also call the Marga Engel films from a few years earlier prequels to this one here. At least in practice. Not in theory, but hey 60% of the first name apply as well. Also there is a lot of misandry in here. No matter if we are talking about the needy guy who clearly has a bit of a romantic interest in Marie (really felt sorry for the actor there, but maybe I shouldn't because nobody forced him to accept the part), Ohrt's character (first a villain, then a string puppet) or the unseen actual villain who has evil plans for the teddy factory, it's not good to be a man in this movie. Just like it almost never is in these crappy ARD Degeto productions. And the women are of course angels like Marie or at least super creative (yep!) with their cool music number at the end. And of course when Marie is in danger of losing everything, the other women stand up for their likable queen. Sigh. I just can't. Shameful stuff that films like this are even made, but even more shameful that they are still shown so many years afterwards. This one gets a fat thumbs-down from me. It is an abomination and I am not exaggerating. It is indeed this bad. Highly not recommended. Only good thing here is that they did not make a third.
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Waltz King (1955)
4/10
You pretty much get what you came for
24 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Königswalzer" is a West German German-language movie from 1955, so this one will have its 65th anniversary in Osctober this year. This show you how old it is already. So no surprise that many people who have worked on this movie are long gone. However, there are a few that are still alive today and with that i mostly mean the female actors included here, which showws how young the really were back then. Many people do not even reach the age of 65 and they were actresses already 65 years ago and are still alive and kickin' (I hope) now in 2020. But first things first: This one runs for slightly over 1.5 hours and the director here is Soviet/Ukrainian Viktor Tourjansky, which is certainly a but of an unusual nationality to make a film in 1950s West Germany. FRG I mean with that, although this abbreviation is of course not half as known to people as GDR. Now let us not get too historic, especially as the film is also about an entirely different era, one from much further back in the past even. A total of five writers worked on this film, so a bit disappointing that they did not manage to come up with a more captivating script here, so you could say it is a minor example of too many cooks spoiling the broth, even if the movie is not a failure by any means. I still feel that the outcome is on a level where it feels really long for the contents. The same story could have been told in a more focused way in 45 minutes I suppose. But there is a female writer credite here in fact, so it is a bit of a progressive aspect for sure. Equality is always a good thing and back then, there really was a big discrepancy, especially compared to today's pseudo take on (i.e. scream for) emancipation in fields and professions where it has been long established. By the way, the writer I am talking about has a name that also could have been a character in this film. It sounds exquisite enough for the days of royal peakings.

The most known cast member is probably Marianne Koch and she has acted next to some really big stars in other movies during her career. Eastwood is one of them and he is about her age now, turned 90 not too long ago. It must be noted about her nonetheless that she has been retired for almost 50 years now too, so stopped acting at the age of 40 approximately if we ignore that one comeback as a narrator for a film from the mid-80s that almost nobody has seen. The only other name that rings familiar here is Hans Leibelt for me. Not sure if I am mixing something up though. One thing that is safe though is that there are many other Hans' and Harry's and male actors whose first name starts with a W in here. Oh I forgot about Sedlmayr. Of course, he was a really big name back then and later on also, even if he frequently only played pretty minor characters and this is also true about this movie here. Two other females in here are Linda Geiser and Sabine Hahn and these (plus Koch) would be the ones still alive today at fairly high, almost ancient, ages already. I especially liked Sabine Hahn. She had great youthful charm and even if she was not the female at the center of the story, but just the wild younger sister, I almost preferred her over Koch's character. Okay, you can cut the "almost" I'd say. She was pretty great. Me saying this is even more extraordinary because I usually prefer dark-haired chicks. Hahn had also perhaps the most memorable scene from the film, namely when she tries to kiss the male protagonist, but he refuses to lock lips. This scene turns into a scandal and the key conflict in the second half because it is getting in the way of the man getting married to the female protagonist. A big deal back then! But of course, the truth comes out and the marriage takes place eventually. So there was some massive drama attached to this (non-)kissing scene. It may feel slightly comedic today and it may be tough for somebody born in the last quarter (maybe even second half) of the 21st century to see the seriousness of this scene. So yeah, it may sound strange but this film has aged more in a comedy than it was back then in 1955. Or at least looking at how it probably was intended. It is not specified though here on imdb if this is a comedy or drama. However, it is a remake of another German film from 20 years earlier (the dark days!) that was, just like this one here, not really seen by too many. Well, I suppose it deserves more than 30 ratings. Nothing is really bad here, even if nothing is really too interesting. The performances feel a bit lukewarm, so what stands out the most is maybe the costumes (and sets). Alright job in these areas. The ending is okay, of course with the second wedding taking place the exact same time a bit over the top in an unrealistic way, but I cannot deny there is a certain charme to it nonetheless. The kind of charm that is totally missing from recent movies (mostly television ARD Degeto stuff) that also gives us unrealistically happy endings, but it feels all fake and forced. Here, it is not that bad luckily. Still I give this film a thumbs-down. I suggest that unless you really really dig stuff like Sissi (which by the way came out only two months after this film) you'd better skip the watch here. Not recommended. But still pay attention to how daddy is spanking the lying daughter. Now white knights in 2020 would be all up in arms about this in a new movie. Guess they will maybe also give is some intertitles eventually that this is not okay if they even dare to mutilate the classics like "Gone with the Wind". Or maybe not because this film here has not really seen by many. In any case, art does not require an explanation, especially not if it depicts things the way they were back then. Reality, that is.
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6/10
Connery's final turn is not among his finest, but still a success
23 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Never Say Never Again" is a co-production between the United Kingdom, the United States of America and also West Germany, which is pretty unusual for a Bond movie. Then again, there is a great deal of discussion if this can be considered a real Bond movie, still after all these years. The main reason for that is that the Broccoli family is not involved here. Actually, this is almost the only reason. There are more reasons to say it is a valid Bond film. The biggest is probably that Bond is not only part of this movie, but even played by a certain Sean Connery, who makes his second return to the role and I sam sure they got out the big bucks for this inclusion. The poster here on imdb says it all. The title is also clearly a reference to him appearing one final time as 007. And there is also here and there a minor reference about his comeback in the film itself, like when Q says something that he is glad Bond is back. So yes, Q is also in this film. So is M, so is Moneypenny. But of course, they are all played by other actors and not the usual from the traditional franchise. The one thing I had to think of repeatedly here is that those actors are much younger than their equivalents in the Broccoli franchise. Felix Leiter is in this film as well. And interestingly enough, he is played by a Black actor this time, just like he is a long time later with another actor playing Bond. This one here is from 1983, so it is getting closer to its 40th annbaiversary now. Connery was already in his early 50s at that point and you can see he is not a spring chicken anymore, even if I feel he also could have made it work in his 60s. This film is about five years older than Connery's Oscar-winning turn in "The Untouchables" and pay attention to how different he looks in both movies. What a difference his hair makes. Anyway, we shall speak about this one here now. There were many many writers working on the screenplay here. I shall spare you the names as you can check those out for yourself. I do want to mention Emmy-nominated director Irvin Kershner though. I think he did a fine job overall, many interesting shots and angles in here.

If you take a look at the cast, you will actually find some names that are even bigger than those you see on the official Bond movies. The best example is Klaus Maria Brandauer playing the main antagonist. It is not clear from the very beginning he is the villain because he does not have too much screen time early on and when we see him, he is more creepy in a pathetic way, like when he watches the girl at the gym, than really evil, even if his comment surely felt evil about what he is going to do with her if she leaves him. And of course she does eventually. It is not the first time that Bond manages to lure an attractive associate away from the main villain. This Bond girl is played by Kim Basinger, who was certainly not as big of a star back then as she was during her prime a couple years later, also with her Oscar win, but still far from unknown, even if I must say she is among the least memorable Bond girls for me if we are talking about those that get 007 in the end. However, the actress who really managed awards glory here was Barbara Carrera. She was nominated for a Golden Globe, but did not get in at the Oscars. Good choice probably. I mean she is good and shines especially in her final scene in which she is blown up by Bond and gets to show us her character's full insanity, but she really does not have the material to truly shine and justify such awards recognition. A surprising choice, even if without a doubt she is among the better, if not best, aspects this film has to offer. Another actor in here is Max von Sydow playing the legendary Blofeld. But while he is reference a couple times, his character's impact is minimal, which is a pity because von Sydow is an actor who really could have turned this film into something special if he had been the main villain. Not that Brandauer is bad or anything. On the contrary, I think he did a fine job overall. His little computer game with Bond was certainly among the better moments of this pretty long 135-minute movie. Also really unusual to have a video game (well 1980s video game) in a Bond movie. The traditional franchise did not do anything like that, but it worked, especially with the little addition how they have to suffer physically while playing. Another sequence I enjoyed a lot was the lengthy one starring the late Pat Roach from relatively early on. May he rest in peace. Same goes out to von Sydow, who dies relatively recently. I hope it will still be a long time until I say that about Connery. We will see. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that Roach's Lippe was definitely a scene stealer and one of the mostg memorable aspects of the film. Really physical stuff there between him and Connery.

Of course, with Connery there is also always some solid humor and a few jokes that were not entirely harmless, but a bit sexual like when he askks one character if she likes it harder. Funnily, Moore asked the exact same thing (or was it Brosnan) in another Moore. Anyway, there was obviously no interruption for the Moore movies because of this one here. I think there was even one of Moore's later efforts that came out almost the exact same time. Same year or so. Not entirely sure about that. Back to Connery, the funniest moment for me was probably another joke from him, namely when he has to deal with Carrera's narcissistic character right before her death and is told to agree that she was the greatest woman he ever had in bed. That was bizarre stuff and I liked Bond's funny comment there (also provocative) that went something like "well.. there was a little girl in" etc. Was it Chicago? I am not sure, but it does not matter, but Connery's line delivery was brilliant there and I always thought he has also decent comedic talent. Please let him make it to 90. He was still younger than Moore by the way at that point, so you see how he left the franchise twice at a fairly young age, even if 50s are not something usual for Bond. Oh well, Craig is also older now, isn't he? There is a similar love-hate relationship with him and 007 now as there was with Connery and Bond. As for the title, this is also the name of the Bond song just like so many other times. The singer is Lani Hall. probably not too many have heard of her, but she did a fine job I believe. She is also still alive today. One who is not is the legendary Michel Legrand, another really big name they hired for this daring project. The outcome is a film that from what I have read pleased critics more than regular viewers. But this is sometimes the case. Oh well, another thing I want to mention here is the truly unexpected inclusion of the young Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder, Mr. Bean). This was not the first time I watched this movie, but I did not remember him at all. He is a bit of a running gag here, also especially in the very last scene or when he keeps shouting Bond's name earlier. He was alright. Although probably back then almost nobody (maybe not even himself) would have expected what kind of a career he is going to have in the coming decades. Finally, I must still be a bit critical because I felt that the last third of the film was fairly bland and uninteresting. I believe they could have reached much better quality there given the characters and actors they had at their disposal. Not just the actual defusion, but also Bond dealing with the bad guy(s). And maybe he was a bit too heroic this time that it felt slightly unrealistic here and there. The underwater scenes were still nice. Interestingly enough, this film is a remake of "Thunderball" and the strange thing is that this already was a movie in which Connery starred, perhaps the one that received the least acclaim from his films, so I don't know, maybe they wanted to improve this time and show they are better than Broccoli. No clue. It's been a long time since I saw "Thunderball" and I don't remember much except the Tiger's chilling tune, but I would say the level is about the same quality-wise. Nothing great, but certainly worth watching. So I suppose you can go for this one, but you may want to check out Connery's classic turns as 007 before that, so basically every other film that has him play 007. Just watch chronologically and you are on the safe side I'd say. His swan song here gets a thumbs-up from me and I recommend checking it out.
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2/10
Misandry in the third degree
23 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Drei teuflisch starke Frauen - Eine für alle" is a German television movie from 2007, so this one is already way over a decade old. It runs for 1.5 hours and the director is Ariane Zeller while the screenplay is by Johannes Lackner. This is really the utmost travesty that a man wrote this story. Shameful stuff. Anyway, not too much to say about the two people I just mentioned. Both have fairly embarrassing bodies of work that include mostly films that are as much failure territory as this one we have here. The shocking thing may be that this one is still shown on national television so many years after its initial release, but what is equally shocking is that this is the middle film out of three starring the same trio of actresses. The first came out in 2005 and the second came out briefly after this one here. The slightly good news is that no fourth film was made. The trio of actresses are Kubitschek, Dohm and von Weitershausen, all three of them mildly popular here in Germany, but also all three of them not particularly talented. It is self-explanatory how long they have been a part of the German (television) film industry already before this film too and yet they still deliver the exact epitome of high quality. Then again, also back in the day, their films and performances really weren't revelations from an artistic standpoint. And that is still a pretty nice way to put it. Kubitschek is by far the oldest from the trio and she was deep into her 70s at that point already and will turn 90 next year. Maybe this is why she played the character who did not have much of a story surrounding her, but was mostly a quiet observer, who nonetheless knew exactly what was going on with the other two. This also means that she has less cringeworthy moments, but when she has them, they are as cringeworthy as it gets. Just take the scene with the gun. Or of course, take her big entrance (with the other two) at the press conference. Where is security when you need them. And why did nobody simply switch off the microphone. It was an embarrassing sight really how tehy walk in there like superheroes protecting her mother's recipe. So yes, the three were sisters. Of course, I don't know how much screen time Kubitschek had in the first film, maybe they used her a lot there, but I cannot imagine they brought her back in full force for the third film. She is just a bit of a matriarch pulling the strings in the background.

The other two got the full share though. And I must say that Gaby Dohm was the worst from everybody. Literally, she goes over the top in every single scene here, especially with her face expressions. It is impossible to take. How can an actress be so void of talent after such a long time. I mean she was also in her 60s here already. Shameful stuff. There are really too many moments to mention. Gile von Weitershausen is not a good actress either, but enxt to Dohm, she felt like Al Pacino honestly. The two had a lot of screen time together as they both have an interest in the same man. Of course a considerably younger guy, which shows how attractive and desirable the trio of female characters still is. Even if he has nothing positive on his mind. Ho GvW's character smiles when she sees how young (and handsome) he is is utterly cringeworthy. I mean who cares if she just had a truly heavy argument with her man that could result in her getting divorced. She was flirting already with other men. But hey, her character is likable nonetheless. The only non-likable characters here are the men. All of them basically. Which may also explain why there are constantly anti-male generalizations in here. Be it Vogler's character or Schir's character, audiences should see them as utter scum. This is also of course intended because this is a film mostly for female audiences, not only because of the many females in the lead, but also because most males are at work when this film is shown in the afternoon. So of course, the likable diabolic sisters triumph in the end and they give the company dude who tried to trick them a real beating. Like almost physically. Don't even get me started about how he knocks himself out. And GvW's character divorces her man. The latter is played by Rüdiger Vogler and that makes me a bit sad. Like I said, the three women have been in bad films throughout their long careers, but Vogler was Wenders' lead actor for a long time back in the day and now he has to appear in garbage like this movie, to have his complete gender discriminated against. Then again, I should not have mercy perhaps. Nobody forced him to appear in here. Or appear in a dozen other films that are just as bad and despicable. So yeah, these are all the cast members. Ralf Bauer is also still fairly famous, although not as much as 20 years ago, but he is only in one scene or so. I guess he played a bigger character in the first movie. There's no other explanation. Also there is a familiar face from "Stromberg" in here, one of my favorite shows, but obviously she cannot save this film either. Alright, I guess this is all. Normally I say it is not a problem if you have not seen the first film because you can still enjoy the second, but here it is really the other way around. No matter if you have seen the first or not, this one here will always be complete garbage, an abomination and a travesty that does not deserve to be called a film. Yes it is that bad. Shameful stuff and like I said also very manipulative in terms of gender discrimination. Only that it is not the kind that people complain about. Then again, almost nobody has seen this film anyway, which is a great thing. Still, apparently enough for another film being made, although the brief time between the releases of film 2 and film 3 makes me think that both films were greenlit at the same time and that they also shot one after the other. In any case, you want to skip the watch at any cost here. If I gave 1 out of 10, then here I definitely would.
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Tür an Tür (2013 TV Movie)
2/10
Crap to crap
22 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
"Tür an Tür" or "Door to Door" is a German television movie from 2013, so not a particularly new movie anymore, but also a couple years away from its 10th anniversary. Or maybe not anymore depending on when you read this review. One thing that will not change is that the director here is Austrian filmmaker Matthias Steurer. I would not say his body of work is good or even great, but he has some okay projects included there, projects that are far far superior to this one here quality-wise. With his origin, it is not the biggest surprise that the writer is Nina Bohlmann, who actually worked as a producer on the Oscar-winning Austrian movie "Die Fälscher". So I suppose she is a better producer than writer because this screenplay we have here indicates a complete absence of talent. This may sound a bit harsh, but it is true. Anyway, despite the strong Austrian impact from the filmmakers here, these slightly under 1.5 hours are a German production. Another ARD Degeto production in fact and maybe that tells you already that you have to expect the worst here and even if you do so, then probably it will be even worse than wwhat you expect. The cast makes it fairly obvious too. You see two women depicted on the photo here on imdb and they are the ones in the center of the story. I will start with the younger one as there is not too much to say about her. Tanja Wedhorn is fairly attractive for her age. She will turn 50 next year and here she is in her early 40s. It is pretty telling though if your most known career effort is "Bianca - Wege zum Glück" in which you play the title character. There is no range and versatility to her whatsoever. This shows a couple times as well during this movie we have here, like for example in her crying scene on one occasions. However, it must also be said that she is not as bad as her co-lead. She surely does not deliver subtlety the way you could have hoped she would, but she is by no means as shamefully over the top as Thekla Carola Wied.

Her performance is really as pretentious as her double first name. Then again, you cannot be surprised either with her because basically since the beginning of the new millennium she has appeared in many many low-quality films like this one here and basically her entire career now consists of those. Her absence of range and talent is especially shocking because she has been in the film indutsry for a long long time. And yet, she is this bad. Actually, "bad" is still too nice of a word to describe her. "Horrible" would be more accurate. There are many examples in this film during which she really succeeds in making the already pretty embarrassing screenplay seem downright horrible. Just one: The scene when she confronts the doctor, who is her young neighbor's partner. It is already nonsense that she so easily gets an appointment with him so quickly, but if we start about elaborating on realism here, then all is lost. Let's move on to the scene when she is actually there with him and indirectly speaks about his relationship whhile pretending it is all about her (non-existent) daughter and the story is just the same. What a coincidence! Also how the doctor justifies himself is extremely cringeworthy. He just should have said nothing. Or let the old lady ramble. It's truly cringeworthy. Also to make sure that we do not forget who is in charge and in control here, they also have Wied's character leave the room on her own the very moment she wants to. Another scene is related to the hacking. Apparently, one day of most basic computer lessons are enough for her to know how she can hack her neighbor's account. What??? What is going on. I mean they have done it many times that passwords do not seem safe enough and are ridiculously easy to guess in films, but this was really a travesty of the highest order. It still makes sense that the young character is very angry towards the end and it is the (usual) main conflict towards the end when we could (no, should) be worried that their friendship might be over, but it does not make it less of a joke. Another scene would be the one when we have Wied's character find out what is going on between her neighbor and the doctor and her face expression (à la "oh you poor girl, if you only knew") literally almost made me physically sick. It is embarrassing how the writer and Wied shove into our faces here how much the protagonist is a smart caring lady with as much life experience as it gets. 100% unreal. The cringe is real. There are many other very weak moments and scenes and inclusions, like the story with the other old man, but i will spare you these. I hope I can forget them as soon as possible. One more thing I do want too mention though, namely the weird IT technology that is used for comedic purposes here to make sure everything is alright with the old lady. And also the old man. The toilet was used as a bit of a running gag, but it was so not funny. And let's not even get started on the woman on the screen basically singing the old lady's name on one occasion in the second half of the movie. It was really impossible to take. There are many other highly cringeworthy movies that would have been the worst about the vast majority of other movies, but (like I said) here it is just one of many inclusions on a truly low level. This is a film you want to skip at any cost. It is truly an abomination and gets worse and worse the longer it goes. Fat thumbs-down. Oh yes, of course it is also again really anti-male, but that is also almost a given if we are talking about ARD Degeto films. At best, the characters are just clumsy and not showing their women how much they love and need them, at worst they are cold-blooded cheaters. So it is also a pretty manipulative movie and I applaud everybody who sees through all that the way I do and is not tricked by stupid inclusions like the younger woman's professional success (especially during the "negotiations" early on) because they want us to see her as talented and good enough on her own. You absolutely don't want your wives, children, parents etc. to see this mess if you really care for them, especially because it also takes itself so seriously with the pseudo important soundtrack or the pseudo emotional inclusion that Wied's character as in the exact same situation like her neighbor back in the day. It all feels fake. They want the utmost emotion from everybody in the audience, but they are not willing to include 1% of creativity to achieve their goal. Or they simply do not have any creativity. Shameful stuff in any case. However, not half as shameful as the fact that the German people have beenn forced for decades to pay a double-digit amount every single month to ARD etc. for garbage films like this one to be made. Lamb to the slaughter! To sum it all up, the title is just as pointless. Says nothing about the story and could have been used like that for every single movie in which the characters live next to each other really. There is not a single perspective (or production value) in here from which this film turned out convincingly. Highly not recommended.
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