23 April 2007

Movie Ratings

I am starting my own movie rating system for all the movies that appear in my blog. Please note that this rating system is completely subjective and reflects only my own personal opinion. Generally, almost all the films I comment on are relatively good, but sometimes there are very good and very bad surprises. Note also that some movies will not be rated.

I also invite you to post your own comments. I am interested in knowing if you also saw the movies and if you liked them or not. So, here it is:

☆ = don't even bother
☆☆ = just o.k.
☆☆☆ = good
☆☆☆☆ = very good
☆☆☆☆☆ = excellent, not to be missed

17 April 2007

The Free Will (der Freie Wille, Germany, 2006) ☆☆☆

The most controversial movie in the last Berlinale (2006), the Free Will tales the story of a serial raper, Theo. After having raped three women, he is sent to prison for 9 years. Doctors say he is "cured" and is then released. Theo is willing to start his life again; he finds himself a job in a printshop and even starts a romantic relationship. But unfortunately for him, his urge for violence cannot seem to stop. Although he consciously tries to, Theo is more and more attracted to the act of raping. He falls again, committing a horrendous crime, and to stop his suffering and those of others, is willing to even commit suicide.

The rape and violence scenes are some of the most realistically disturbing I have ever seen. The message in the movie is quite clear: a serial raper cannot be cured with psychological treatment. Is this always the case? I guess no one know for sure, but the disturbing images will make you reflect upon the subject for a long time after finishing this almost 3 hour-long story.

10 April 2007

They (Ils, France, 2006) ☆☆☆☆☆

It is nice to watch a horror movie that has a conventional plot but a very original twist to it. These movies are rare nowadays. A French language teacher and her boyfriend are living in Bucharest. They live in the suburbs surrounded by nothing but forest. One night, their sleep is interrupted by strange voices coming from the outside. Soon they will be stalked by a group of persons with flashlights. There are not monsters or gory scenes, but the way each scene is constructed is scary enough that you will find it impossible to stay alone in your house. Director David Moreau did an incredible job building a scary atmosphere and the Roumanian settings make the whole movie all the more mysterious and eerie.

Who are "they" exactly? And why do they want to kill this couple? You will discover this when watching the movie. Do not even try to guess; you will be surprised. By the way, this is based on a true story, which makes it even more unsettling.
Requiem (Deutschland, 2006)

Regisseur Hans-Christian Schmidt hat mit Requiem einen sehr starken und eindrucksvollen Film gemacht. Es geht um Michaela Klingler, die mit ihre Eltern in Süddeutschland wohnt. Sie leidet ständig unter epileptischen Anfälle. Dieser Tatsache ungeachtet geht sie an die Universität. Michaela gewinnt die Überzeugung, sie sei vom Teufel besessen. Ihre Eltern, die stern religiöse sind, fragen der Pfarrer des Dorfes nach Hilfe. Er beginnt ein Exorzismus, der sich später als lebensgefährlich erweist. Die Szenen, in denen sie die Anfälle hat, sind stark und realistisch, und die Eltern helfen überhaupt nicht, das Mädchen vom religiosen Fanatismus zu retten.

05 April 2007

The Host (Gwoemul, South Korea, 2006)

Director Bong Joon-Ho's second feature film is a new look at the monster movie plot. Fortunately, this one is really good. The monster appears in the first 15 minutes of the movie, and from that point on, the action scenes are almost non-stop. It all begins when a forensic doctor throws formaldehyde into the sewer. This toxic substances ends up in the Han River intoxicating a living creature (we never know what) and making it grow into a huge Godzilla-like monster, but ten times more terrifying if you ask me. The story then continues with our main characters, a small family (a little girl, her dad and grandpa) who runs a candy shop in the shore of the Han River park. As you can imagine, the monster comes out of the river, kills several innocent people and takes the little girl as hostage. Is she dead or can someone still rescue her? You'll have to watch the movie, but I am guessing you already know. Joon-Ho's effective blend of comedy and horror is what makes this movie really unique. The computer special effects are impressive as well. And it surely beats the hell out of the US version of Godzilla.

02 April 2007

Running with Scissors (USA, 2006)

This is a semi-autobiographical film about author Augusten Burroughs. Augusten's mother (played by Annette Benning) is a little crazy. She believes that one day she will become a great star. And she leads her life by this premise up to ridiculous extremes. On the other side, Augusten's alcoholic father does not help much keeping the family together. So his mother decides to consult Dr. Finch, a supposedly famous psychiatrist. Things actually get worse because Finch's family consists of excentric characters to say the least. In Dr. Finch's Victorian-style house, Valium is consumed almost like candy, so everyone is in his or her own world all the time. Mrs. Finch watches TV while eating dog food while her daughter plays doctor with his friends, only she uses electroshock therapy! Annette Benning plays her role extraordinarily. All characters are played with such intensity that you actually believe this happened, and it did, although it is hard to believe for some. This is a highly entertaining and original adaptation of an original novel.