29 May 2006

Fratricide (Brudermord, Germany, 2005)

Ein eindringlicher und rauer Film über das immer aktuelle Thema der türkischen und kurdischen Einwanderer in Deutschland und die oftmals gewalttätig ausgetragenen Konflikte zwischen den beiden Gruppen. Zwei junge Kurden, Azad und Ibo, ringen um ihr Überleben angesichts der Gewalt, der Blutrache, des Exils und der Gleichgültigkeit, mit der sie konfrontiert sind.

"Boasting astonishing performances from a largely non-professional cast, Fratricide is an explosive tale of desperate conflict and bloody revenge, a savage, furious, and heartbreaking portrait of raw humanity struggling for safety, for dignity, for survival in the face of violence, exile and the brutal indifference of a society that wants no part of them." (www.german-films.de)

18 May 2006

Moloch (Russia/Germany, 2003)

Sokurov's version of Hitler is portrayed in Moloch, a film about the Führer and his and her closest friends. The film is quite slow, but the photography is excellent. The dialogue is a little poetic: I wonder if Hitler ever made such reflections, but in any case, we get a glimpse of what it was like living with him on an everyday basis. There are no war or violent scenes from the concentration camps. Although it is a Russian production, director Alexander Sokurov decided to shoot the film in German to keep the original atmosphere. I especially like the last dialogue, where Hitler says: "We have to find a way to control death", and Eva Braun replies: "What are you talking about? You cannot control death!" Maybe a this point she realizes how insane Hitler really was.

16 May 2006

Onibaba (Japan, 1964)

Director Kaneto Shindo is one of the most prolific film directors from Japan. His tenth film, Onibaba, tells the story of two women trying to survive in medieval rural Japan by killing lost warriors and stealing their belongings. When one soldier comes back, a triangle of love is formed. Then all of a sudden, a warrior shows up with a demon mask. One of the woman kills him and uses the mask to scare the other woman from going to visit the soldier at night. The movie is black & white, and the cinematography is excellent. For a movie from the sixties, it looks really new. The eerie music and atmosphere makes the film scary and worth watching. The story is apparently an adaptation of a Buddhist tale. Director Shindo made this film during the summer of 1964 in the middle of a swamp, in the middle of too many production difficulties (the hot humid weather, constant flooding, crabs, mosquitoes, etc.) This is one of the most interesting Japanese films I have seen.

12 May 2006

Mother and Son (Mat i sin, Russia 1997)

In this 73-minute film, director Alexander Sokurov portrays the life of dying mother and her son. They both live together in the countryside. There isn't much happening in the film, other than occasional walks in the forest. The landscape scenes are beautiful and the classical music used in some sequences combines perfectly with the overall atmosphere, which is quite sad, to say the least. Mother and son talk about life and death, about happiness and sadness and about the fear of dying. However, there is very little dialogue. For a feature length film with only two actors, this is good stuff.

10 May 2006

Mephisto (Hungary, 1981)

This Hungarian movie (spoken entirely in German!) was directed by Istvan Szabo. It won an Oscar award for best foreign film and it is actually pretty interesting. It is the story of Hendrik Hoefgen, a very famous theater actor during Nazi Germany. Mephisto is actually the name of the play that launched his career into stardom. As soon as the Nazi party starts ruling Germany, many actors flee the country because they are afraid their creativity might be censored. Hoefgen, on the other hand, decides to stay, and becomes more and more famous. He has the Nazi leaders on his side because they actually liked his plays. Unfortunately, he later realizes that even as the director of the National Theatre in Berlin, he has no power whatsoever and space for artistic creativity remains very limited.

08 May 2006

Russian Ark (Russia, 2002)

Alexander Sokurov is one of Russia's most important movie directors. He has made a couple of award-winning movies in the last decade. Perhaps Russian Ark is the most ambitious one. The story is about a French aristocrat who walks through the Hermitage Museum in St. Petesburg and encounters different chracters from the history of Russia. The movie was shot in one scene. In other words, the scene lasts 96 minutes, and there are no cuts in between. In order to do this, the movie was shot with the newest digital camera technology. It took the work of more than 800 extras placed in the different rooms of the museum. The last minutes of the film contain the famous ballroom dance, with hundreds of people dancing and a live orchestra playing, just like in the time of the czars. The costumes are incredibly detailed and the movie is an exhilarating non-stop ride into the history of Russia and its beloved Hermitage Museum.

04 May 2006

Re-Animator (USA, 1985)

Director Stuart Gordon directs this classical gore horror movie about a medicine student and his girlfriend, who start bringing people back from the dead using a special drug created by a newly arrived student. Chaos breaks loose the moment they all step into the morgue to try their drug on human beings. The effects are terrifying and the pace is excellent. This movie is based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, a classic American horror writer. This is bound to become a horror movie classic. The music, inspried by Hitchcock's Psycho, suits very well the overall atmosphere of the film. There is plenty of blood and guts all over the place, all in the spirit of those old gore movies from the late 70's and early 80's. This is a must-see for horror fans.

03 May 2006

Le Petit Soldat (France, 1963)

Jean-Luc Godard is one of the most famous French directors ever. In one of his first movies, Le Petit Soldat, we learn about a private detective working and living in Switzerland. During the Algerian war, where rebels fought for the independance of Algeria from France, detective Bruno Forestier is communicating secret information between terrorist groups in Geneva. He meets a Russian girl, Veronique Dreyer, whose accent sounds more French than anything. There are lots of fast shots, cars driving fast along the streets and highways of Switzerland and people running around chasing each other. There is a lot of voice off telling us what our main character, Bruno, thinks about every situation he is experiencing. A little too philosophical and reflective at times, the movie nonetheless keeps you interested until the end.

01 May 2006

The Church (Italy, 1988)

Director Dario Argento is very famous for his horror movies. His unique style shaped Italian horror cinema. In this movie, a group of archeologist work in the catacombs of an old church. Apparently, a group of devil worshippers were buried beneath this church before its construction, at the time of the Crusades. When one of the archeologists opens a door by mistake, all hells breaks loose, literally! He becomes infected with the "zombie" virus, or whatever you wish to call it, and he starts killing other people. A group of persons, including small children who were doing a tour of the church with their teacher, get trapped inside the holy recinct and one by one they start to die. I did not like the sect and devil worshipping scenes, it makes it look a little cheezy. Nevertheless, the story is coherent and the suspense does build up nicely up until the end.