Dienstag, 2. August 2011

A month of movies: July.

It's been one of those months where if it wasn't for that one movie, I could lose faith in one of my favourite pastimes. We have major disappointments (especially everyone's darling "Four Lions" and Xavier Dolan's second feature "Les Amour Imaginaires", in which he convincingly defends himself from any allegations of being brilliant that might have come up after his excellent debut "J'ai Tué Ma Mère") and movies we didn't expect much from and which delivered just that ("Das Blaue Vom Himmel" being an excellent example). And then there's "Was Du Nicht Siehst", initially raising fears that we might have to endure yet another German social drama but quickly coming around and enchanting with great visuals and a haunting mood alike. If you have a chance to see it at a local cinema (people in Germany) or maybe during a festival (in other countries), give it a go.

The short -
Go and see: /
Well worth watching: Was Du Nicht Siehst (What You Don't See).
Also deserving a chance: Stalags, Micmacs À Tire-Larigot (Micmacs) (DVD) & Io Sono L'Amore (I Am Love) (DVD).
Average: Life In A Day, I Love You Phillip Morris (DVD), Four Lions & Das Blaue Vom Himmel.
Not Yet Over Hollywood?: Ocean's Thirteen (DVD), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (DVD).
Not Yet Over Yugoslavia?: Žena Sa Slomljenim Nosem (The Woman With A Broken Nose).
Forget about: Les Amour Imaginaires (Heartbeats).

The long -
The rules: Only movies seen at cinemas during the month referred to in the post title and recent DVD releases (which will be noted as such) are eligible. This excludes films seen on 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?

Das Blaue Vom Himmel. Most noticeable here is the overacting by pretty much everyone involved in the project, most of all Hannelore Elsner. Besides that, we have on our hands an overall good story developed at a reasonably slow pace and well-bracketed by historic events - without confusing the viewer with too many cuts between the two time planes. 6/10

Four Lions. Fails to live up to the hype. Everyone is stupid here, and when that is the case, comic relief ceases to exist. Humour doesn't come in the way of characters or dialogue, but cheap laughs, only occasionally managing to get in a provoking stab at violent Islamists or the London Police. 6/10

I Love You Phillip Morris (DVD release). Funny, especially considering some of the con-man exploits depicted actually happened, but that's one part of it only. In its other half, the movie doesn't work as a drama at all, as the level of abstraction, coming in form of real-life caricature, is too high to make one care about the characters. Adding to that is Jim Carrey's acting, which once again relies too much on drawing exaggerated faces. 6/10

Io Sono L'Amore (I Am Love) (DVD release). The orgasmic food scene is rather funny than anything else, and it's not the only one that can be said about. But then, on the other hand, we witness moments like the one where the cook undresses the lady - which is unbelievably sensual and intense. The movie plays out as an epic family drama, going the direction Visconti took, but set against a modern background and, while following his footsteps, neither walking new ground nor reaching his brilliance. 7/10

Les Amour Imaginaires (Heartbeats). Tumbler: The Movie. Self-indulgent to the point of being annoying. I might as well have visited Tumbler while drinking a red wine and listening to string music. When I was at the cinema, I experienced the added bonus of having hipsters attend the screening and laugh every other moment to let me and everyone else know which were the ironic bits. 4/10

Life In A Day. Largely unimportant. Perhaps for a project like this the filmmakers should have left their classic Hollywood craft behind and not have thought of the material in terms of dramatic arcs. This way, it doesn't impress as much as similar-themed films such as "Home" or "Baraka". 6/10

Micmacs À Tire-Larigot (Micmacs) (DVD release). Incredibly dark in humour and visually stunning, "MicMacs" is another gem in Jeunet's already impressive portfolio. Unfortunately, at times the pace is too fast for a story so intricately told and it becomes increasingly hard to follow all details, causing the film to lose some coherence. 7/10

Ocean's Thirteen (DVD release). More of the same and although there are less of the glaring plot holes of the second, this isn't all that cool anymore. With a bit of luck (and George Clooney is giving us hope), we won't be seeing more of this self-serving star vehicle. 5/10

Stalags. A well-crafted documentary about the Nazi-exploitation genre of pornography, its roots and their lasting impact on Israeli society. It was interesting to learn that in some aspects, the Shoah has been and is as much of a taboo in Israel as in Germany. 7/10

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (DVD release). A very strong cinematography where the aisles of the NYSE mirror the streets of New York both in look and feel. This is where the excellent stops. The soundtrack is great, if somewhat unsuited. This is where the good stops. In acting, plot and plausibility, the movie falls far short. It's been quite a while since Oliver Stone has made a good movie, and if he continues on the path of continuously preaching his political agenda, we're likely to not see one again. 5/10

Was Du Nicht Siehst (What You Don't See). Great cinematography (by Martin Gschlacht, who's becoming quite a name - he also worked on the excellent "Women Without Men" and "Revanche") for the brilliant scenery of the Bretagne. And the rest of the movie isn't taking a backseat to that, at times feeling quite Lynch-ean in mood and style. Perhaps only the ending should have been more subtle, more ambiguous as I felt it closed the movie off a little too nicely - taking away some of the uncertainty and doubt that was seeping through every moment before. 8/10

Žena Sa Slomljenim Nosem (The Woman With A Broken Nose). Four people from Belgrade are somewhere on the road - or to stay within the imagery of the movie, the bridge - between the past and a possible future. What their past consists of, we learn in the film's run, what their future could look like, we have an idea of toward its end. All this could theoretically turn out to be a pretty solid the-road-and-the-city-movie, but fails to captivate for the longest time. It's got a lot of the elements (oddity, melancholy, slapstick, music) that made other Yugoslavian movies so enjoyable, but in here, they simply don't add up. 5/10

Previous months of movies: January, February, March, April, May, June.

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