Montag, 31. Januar 2011

A month of movies: January.

One thing occurred to me the other day: If I'm already watching all these films, and if I'm already making notes about them - mostly for myself - I might as well post the mini-reviews here in a
vain effort to make anyone actually read this piece of accumulated drivel clogging up the Intertubes™
heroic effort to caution the world about bad movies and make the very same world aware about the good ones. Welcome to "A month in movies". *insert announcer's fanfare here, or somewhere else, or just leave it out, it's not if anybody was here to notice anyway*

The short -
Go and see: Black Swan, Another Year & Des Hommes Et Des Dieux.
Well worth watching: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Howl, 3, El Cuarto De Leo.
Average: Der Letzte Schöne Herbsttag, Satte Farben Vor Schwarz.
A matter of personal preferences: Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives).
If you really are into comedy: Tamara Drewe, L'Italien.
Forget about: Brothers.

The long -

The rules: Only movies seen at cinemas during the month referred to in the post title are eligible. This excludes films seen on DVD, video or television. Also excluded are movies from festivals, which may or may not get treated in separate posts. Premieres and previews, however, are fine. The reviews are listed in alphabetical order. Finally, ratings are given on IMDB's 1-10 scale. These rules, likely to be broken at the discretion of yours truly, solely exist because no rules are fun, and we cannot have that here, now can we?

3. The premise is discouraging as to what enjoyment is to be expected from this movie: in this modern age, three modern people fall in love in Berlin, and everything is okay. Unexpectedly, this works without being annoying - at least in that regard. What's too much though is the quirkiness. It sometimes feels as if a kid with ADHD directed it. There's always something happening, something moving, something being needlessly animated, or yet another mini-subplot that distracts you from the decent acting and amusing dialogues. 7/10

Another Year. This is a movie about the real life. Shown is a year, divided into four segments each correlating to a season, of an aging couple and their immediate family and friends. All of them have to deal with their lot in life, but only a few manage. This becomes clear when they come together to eat, drink (and there's a lot of drinking to be witnessed) and talk in each of these four chapters. At first only exchanging commonplaces, they soon share more than that, in looks, the unspoken and sometimes, when breaking down, also in confessions. It's tragic, but it's real, and features amazing acting. 9/10

Black Swan. "Intense" doesn't start to describe it. This tour de force will throw you into your cinema seat and leave you thoroughly upset and agitated. At the height of tension and trance, it ends and I'm still undecided whether that's brilliant, or whether Darren Aronofsky is simply downright evil. Natalie Portman is the sole star here, and her amazing performance will make up for the film's few shortcomings, such as the relative flatness of all support characters - there's their monomania and little else. But let me make my point: go see this. 10/10

Brothers. Sentimental drivel or patriotic propaganda piece? It is both, not leaving out any of the most obvious clichés, making the viewer wince with almost every new scene. It's a few years too late, even for the American market, and thus cannot be saved even by the excellent acting all around. 3/10

Der Letzte Schöne Herbsttag. What at first seemed like a collection of trivialities turned into an enjoyable story about how trivial things are what make a person in the first place. The mockumentary format fit, the actors might not go places but did their job, and there were enough laughs to make up for awkward moments in the script. It's okay to not make masterpieces! 6/10

Des Hommes Et Des Dieux. A movie rich in pictures and rich in scripture. Where it excels in is in the intimate performances by the actors that portray the monks, especially in that - perhaps a little too lyrical - last supper scene. It seems to offer an alternative view to the diminution and belittling of faith that has become so popular today, without being altogether uncritical or unambiguous. 9/10

El Cuarto De Leo. It's sweet and simple, which is not necessarily a bad thing. What I can't forgive are the the-state-of-things-montage and the uninteresting resolution of the two story arcs central to the movie. Giving the viewer exactly what he wants - and expects - is cheap. 7/10

Howl. I was very skeptical before seeing this. However, for the most part, the film version of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" worked - by not sticking to one form of expression but rather combining the reenactment of its famous first reading, a mock-interview of Ginsberg, a dramatized version of the obscenity trial and animated scenes inspired by the poem. These and parts of the interview are a little too hip for their own good, catering perhaps to the target audience, but all things considered, the film proves an interesting blend of genres. In a way, it's a hommage of one medium of art to another. 8/10

L'Italien. One sequence towards the ending adds much needed relevance to an otherwise largely superfluous comedy parading stereotypes. Its wit has clear-cut - and in my opinion, close-cut - boundaries and lacks bite. The characters do not surprise. This is feel-good without the good, unlike the recent "The Kids Are All Right". 5/10

Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives). "Barely a film", indeed. Shirin Ebadi's "Women Without Men" recently managed the jump from video art to film - "Uncle Boonmee", however, does not. Maybe it is as free from considerations of time as its eponymous main character, but I was not. Much rather, I was bored by scenes artificially prolonged into what seemed like eternity. The film has its merits in content, but the form simply was not for me. 4/10

Satte Farben Vor Schwarz. A couple growing old is faced with the prospect of death, and has to come to terms with it - as does the rest of the family. Low-key through and through, it lives mostly by its subject and ending. Unfortunately, the strong love between the two is shown so subtly, that at times it doesn't seem to be there. In fact, their life seems to revolve around this one thought only, nothing else, and one begins to wonder how they're not boring each other to death. 6/10

Tamara Drewe. Quite frankly, I'm getting bored with more of the same. The premise offers possibilities, and could have served for a truly morbid comedy. Instead, the viewer is presented yet another variation of how boy and girl get each other after a turn of mildly amusing events. The best thing about this movie are the two small-town teenagers, willing to do seemingly anything to force some excitement into their life. 5/10

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Behold, an original horror comedy! The originality doesn't lie in the premise - two hillbillies and a group of college kids taking a few days off in remote woods - but mostly in the fact that it doesn't actually contain any real horror, but an overabundance of abstruse misunderstandings. While there is plenty of blood and gore, Eli Craig in his debut doesn't consider that comical in itself, and instead supplies plenty of slapstick and makes fun of the whole genre. Good for him, and good for me. 8/10


  1. Du hast bloß noch nicht meinen schwarzen Schwan gesehen.