Dienstag, 4. Oktober 2011

A month of movies: September.

Please remind me not to get excited about the cinema culture of a whole country because a single movie has made a deep and long-lasting impact. This month saw the fifth installment of the Argentinische Filmtage (Festival of Argentine Film) in Leipzig, and the three movies (as well as a block of short films not discussed here) that I got around to see left me largely unimpressed. It is well, especially considering this month's share of awful DVD viewings, that this was balanced by two remarkable productions: "Unter Schnee" (trailer) by Ulrike Ottinger and the Russian "Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom" (trailer). Both have seen (and should continue to see) some screenings at festivals around the globe.

The short -
Go and see: Unter Schnee (Under Snow).
Well worth watching: Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom (How I Ended This Summer) & Toy Story 3 (DVD).
Also deserving a chance: Gainsbourg (Vie Héroïque) (Gainsbourg) (DVD) & Kick-Ass (DVD).
Average: Revolución: El Cruce De Los Andes & Im Winter Ein Jahr (Aftermath) (DVD).
If you really care about Argentine cinema: Adopción (Adoption) & La Vieja De Atrás.
Forget about: Giulia Non Esce La Sera (Giulia Doesn't Date At Night), The Expendables (DVD) & Resident Evil: Afterlife (DVD).

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?

Adopción (Adoption). A make-believe documentary based on a true story, which probably is another way of saying that it includes re-enacted scenes (which I abhor in documentaries). This isn't doing the film its whole justice, but it's what stayed with me more than its (admittedly interesting) topics and its artistic choices (which you may argue for, but which left me largely cold). 5/10

Gainsbourg (Vie Héroïque) (Gainsbourg) (DVD release). Better than I anticipated (and not deserving the derision it got from some critics), but worse than it could have been. Of all the ideas that went into it to set it off against other musical bio-pics, I appreciated the depiction of the flamboyant 'La Gueule' alter ego the most. It is no surprise then, that the movie suffers a decline in its last third, becoming increasingly episodic, and when his second self takes a back seat to the character of Ellen Birkin (charmingly played by the died-too-young Lucy Gordon) and alcoholism (overdone by Eric Elmosnino, who otherwise does a good job). Watch out for the cameo by Claude Chabrol. 7/10

Giulia Non Esce La Sera (Giulia Doesn't Date At Night). Boring. 4/10

Im Winter Ein Jahr (Aftermath) (DVD release). This starts off well, mostly due to the strong opposition between the characters of Josef Bierbichler (as good as always) and Karoline Herfurth (initially for once playing a different type of person than she usually does). That is only slightly marred by the recurrence of the overused (in German cinema, anyway) element of the flashback. When memories are filtered through persons, like they are here, a re-imagination is not needed. Unfortunately, that is not the real problem of this film, which breaks apart due to unbelievable character development towards the middle - the female lead returning to her standard role, Bierbichler's character following en suite. 6/10

Kak Ya Provel Etim Letom (How I Ended This Summer). I'll admit I dig the aesthetics of snow and bare rock more than the average person, and let it influence my opinion of movies more than I probably should. This film, however, has a lot more than just that going for it: an intriguing study of two characters in an original setting, a fair amount of existentialism, radioactivity and radio activity. (Sorry for that one.) 8/10

Kick-Ass (DVD release). Entertaining, yes, but not nearly as much as everyone would like you to believe. This could have used more humour. In my opinion, it should have stayed as lighthearted as the beginning was during its entire run, because the increasingly dark tone that plays out later is nothing more than a recurrence to classic superhero movies - which we all need a break from. 7/10

La Vieja De Atrás. The story of a country boy not fitting into the city told again, in an angle slightly more boring than usual. The story of a woman alone in the impersonal city told again, in an angle slightly more boring than usual. Combined, this adds up to a movie a lot more boring than usual - with the odd moment of awkward fun thrown in. 5/10

Resident Evil: Afterlife (DVD release). In keeping in spirit of the movie, let me tell you in slow-motion: W-h-a-t-a-c-r-o-c-k-o-f-s-h-i-t. 2/10

Revolución: El Cruce De Los Andes. A movie so shockingly anachronistic that it goes all the way around to somehow work again. Honestly, a large part of it would have fit well in a 50's John Wayne piece, and perhaps it is only the cheek to present something that male again today that makes this tale of the historic crossing of the Andes during the Spanish American wars of independence worth seeing after all. 6/10

The Expendables (DVD release). Horrible. If it was trying to aim to re-enact those 70's and 80's blood, muscle and gore movies, it failed because other than the actors, everything about it was modern. If it was trying to parody them it failed because it's lacking any kind of self-irony. There really is no point to this movie, and no excuse for its existence. 3/10

Toy Story 3 (DVD release). A fine addition (that feels like a conclusion) to an excellent movie series. It is also a departure: it's more dramatic than its predecessors, and features less fun of the absurd variety (with the hilarious exception of a Buzz Lightyear in Spanish mode) that practically littered the first installment, but with Toy Story, a little different works as well as sticking to the same formula. 8/10

Unter Schnee (Under Snow). Quite the experience, this film had a tremendous calming effect on me (and almost everyone else at the theater). The intense sound (amplified, but never artificial) and the beautiful pictures combine into an almost eerie sensation of serenity. A movie that you have to let go for. 9/10

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

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