Donnerstag, 31. März 2011

A month of movies: March.

It's only March and I already have two standout and favourite movies from this year: "Black Swan" and this month's "Pina". I spot a pattern there, and am off to rewatch "Dirty Dancing", "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" and "Footloose". In all seriousness, go out and watch Wim Wender's latest, preferably in 3D. It's magical and will leave you speech- and possibly breathless, nevermind whether you liked dancing before or not.

The short -
Go and see: Pina & Wer Wenn Nicht Wir (If Not Us, Who?).
Well worth watching: 127 Hours & Russland - Im Reich der Tiger, Bären und Vulkane.
Also deserving a chance: Biutiful & Stadt, Land, Fluss (Harvest).
Average: Potiche.
If you really are into comedy: Diverso Da Chi? (Different From Whom?).
Forget about: Unter Dir Die Stadt (The City Below).
Why would they do that to us?: Lucky Bastard.

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?

127 Hours. A MTV movie for the MTV generation. Sporting a distinct visual and editing style that's reminiscent of music videos, Danny Boyle's latest scores high in intensity. The impressions left by the unsettling scenes of Aron Ralston's self-amputation of an arm are aided by the masterful use of sound and music, especially during the final minutes. What I found problematic though, is the overuse of flashbacks and acted-out thoughts (or hallucinations), often taking away from the dramatic experience. 8/10

Biutiful. The most depressing movie released in a while. Throughout, things always get worse, no matter how bad they already have been before. There is no hope, no redeeming moment, only pure negativity thrown at the viewer. When Uxbal - brilliantly played by Javier Bardem - attempts to help his fellow people, he fails, and takes them, himself and his family one step closer to destruction. When he goes on trying, everyone slips even further. This theme is repeated throughout the movie. It very well may be a realistic account of immigrant and poor life in Spain, and it is suitably dramatic, but it isn't enjoyable in a traditional sense. 7/10

Diverso Da Chi? (Different From Whom?). Funny when ridiculing the politics of politics, but in the end just another comedy that draws its jokes from stereotypes - without seriously playing with them. Instead, we see another simple pseudo-reversal that only manages to reiterate the characters and roles ascribed to gays, women, Italians, politicians - pick your favourite stereotype and laugh at it. 5/10

Lucky Bastard. The first movie I ever actually walked out from. For thirty minutes I was hoping this would be a parody of bad soft porn movies, but alas, it seemed as if the people involved meant everything they put on film. 1/10

Pina. After seeing this beautifully shot hommage to a great of performance, I finally understand what Pina Bausch meant when she said that dancing is a language. In every scene there's so much to decipher and translate from the moves, and a most beautiful rhythm to follow. Wim Wenders was right to choose 3D technology for this project: instead of drawing all attention to itself, it works to enhance the visual experience, especially in those shots on location in the town of Wuppertal, where Bausch founded her dancing theater group. 10/10

Potiche. Seen within a month from another, this needs to stand up to a comparison with the similarly-themed "Made In Dagenham". What's similar is that both are feminist in a very blunt way, ignoring subtleties and uncertainties and broadly aiming at grand generalizations. What's different is that the comedy in here is always exaggerated to the point of being a caricature - but that is also the movie's biggest quality. Unfortunately, and that is what in the end makes this the slightly weaker film, this also has a detrimental effect to the acting, with most of the performers seeming to have too much fun appearing over-the-top. 6/10

Russland - Im Reich der Tiger, Bären und Vulkane. An excellent documentary of the beautiful and diverse nature to be found in the biggest country on Earth. The images seen in it are simply stunning. I wasn't as fond of the narrator though, and the choice of music particularly in the beginning and ending sequences seemed a little too obvious. 8/10

Stadt, Land, Fluss (Harvest). An unexcited coming of age and coming out story, taking the time it needs with the images and characters. Remarkable are especially the long drawn out shots where literally nothing happens, without them being particularly arty either - still, they're far from boring and evoke a certain sense of location and way of being that is central to this film. 7/10

Unter Dir Die Stadt (The City Below). German langeweile. Cold, apathetic characters inhabit the cold, sterile world of the financial markets and banks. Their emotions are subdued to the point that the relationship between the two protagonists does not make much sense. And as uninteresting as the idea of seeing scheming bankers once again. Perhaps the aspect of a woman taking the route of slow self-destruction to escape is interesting, but her having gotten there in the first place seems implausible. 4/10

Wer Wenn Nicht Wir (If Not Us, Who?). This is the better "Baader Meinhof Komplex". Instead of stringing action scenes together, here we see an excellent approximation of the psychology behind the Red Army Faction (the filmmaker's background in documentaries clearly visible), finally raising the right questions about the why and how such bright young minds found terrorism to be the only answer to their society's shortcomings. The only aspect that in my opinion still lacked explanation was the final, seemingly sudden metamorphosis of Gudrun Ensslin. 9/10

Previous months of movies: January, February.

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