Sonntag, 1. Mai 2011

A month of movies: April.

Leipzig is showing a critical lack of movies presented in original language. Why anyone would, why I used to settle for dubbed films is beyond at me this point. It's painful to watch and listen to, prone to awkward translation errors and removes a sizable part from acting performances. I'm not sure why so few movie theaters in Leipzig show original language films, as they're usually just as popular especially at small locations, and I'd imagine there being a big enough foreign crowd as well in this town. Here's what remains:

The short -
Go and see: /
Well worth watching: Winter's Bone & Francesco und der Papst.
Also deserving a chance: Womb & White Box.
For fans of Asian cinema only: Hanyo (The Housemaid).

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?

Francesco und der Papst. A dedicated documentary about Pope Benedict XVI and a young boy singing in the choir at the Sixtine Chapel. Both are shown in an increasingly private way, even though at least the footage of the Pope is of official nature. Although they only share a few seconds of screen time, the film manages to convey some similarities between these very different persons - namely, how tied up in their duties they both are. Worth seeing. 8/10

Hanyo (The Housemaid). A dramatic critique of the class-based society in Korea with limited appeal. It reiterates existing stereotypes to a large degree and only one character, showing a second and more interesting side, manages to stand out. It ends in a grotesque, which is either very refreshing and, unlike the rest of the movie, entirely unexpected, or weird and not fitting. The film left me wanting, perhaps wanting more, but "more" as in rather having a look at the original from 1960. 5/10

White Box. Investigating the effects of the seemingly kafka-esque idea of locking rooms of flats to their inhabitants in order not to exceed their living space quota allocated by social services, the documentary crew soon gets an insight into what the people from the town of Löbau really suffer from: unemployment, poverty, not feeling at home even after years (or in some case, decades) of living there. However, it also shows how the people not only make do and keep busy, but are actively involved in building and organizing a series of communities. A documentary that's particularly interesting in content, suffering only from an at times annoying voice-over and very basic technical realization. 7/10

Winter's Bone. This movie is similar to 2008's "Frozen River" insofar as it tells the story of Americans struggling at the lowest end of the scale of social hierarchy in a dark and hostile environment. What's different and in my opinion even better is the steady and immediate feeling of threat that pervades every scene involving the main character's (played by a promising Jennifer Lawrence) attempts to find a resolution to her situation - which, much to the dismay of a group of lawless backwoods mobsters that run the area, requires breaking into the secret of her father's disappearance. 8/10

Womb. Disconcerting and uncomfortable in more than one aspect, we have on our hands an interesting low-key science-fiction film that plays in a future so close that it feels as if it could happen tomorrow. A star of this film is the beautiful landscape setting that works particularly well as a contrast to the science-fiction theme and surprises with originality. However, the film does have a few problems. Most notably, at times, in scenes where the actors get unreasonably loud, the solemn and quiet atmosphere is broken up and only rebuilds in the subsequent minutes. 7/10

Previous months of movies: January, February, March.

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