Donnerstag, 29. Dezember 2011

A month of movies: December.

People will hate me for this comparison No one reads this anyway, but if you enjoyed "(500) Days Of Summer", treat yourself to this year's perky rom-com "Submarine" (trailer). If you didn't, you should still give the film a chance, especially considering this month's alternatives: Lars von Trier continuing to lose his touch with "Melancholia" (trailer) and Andreas Dresen delivering the well-meant and well-done "Halt Auf Freier Strecke" (German trailer), but with Dresen, "well" is less than it could have been.

The short -
Go and see: /
Well worth watching: Submarine.
Also deserving a chance: Halt Auf Freier Strecke (Stopped On Track).
Average: Melancholia.
If you're into Germans, or alcoholism, or German alcoholics: Portraits Deutscher Alkoholiker.
Forget about: Hanna (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?

Halt Auf Freier Strecke (Stopped On Track). Dresen's latest drama about a family man diagnosed with terminal brain cancer oscillates between excellence and falling just short of good. Most of the fault found lies with some of the acting - and interestingly, not with that of the amateurs that fill the movie around the core group of professionals with realism (especially the home doctor is a great addition), which has always been the director's strength. More problematic are the performances of some members of the family, particularly the two kids. Nevertheless, what we see is touching exactly because it is so believable: The family and the involved relationships are a kind of normal rarely seen on the big screen. 7/10

Hanna (DVD release). German hitmen wear tracksuits. With the one-sided and stereotypical characters, this feels like a comic book-adaption, which it isn't. It's not entirely clear what it is, or tries to be though, because for some reason the writer forgot to include a plot that makes any kind of sense. Or scenes that do, for that matter. On the positive side, the acting is more than solid (when everyone keeps saying that Saoirse Ronan is going places, everyone is right) and the wonder the long-sheltered girl experiences with every step into the real work is well-translated into what we see. 4/10

Melancholia. So-so. Is Lars von Trier testing us, or why does he so heavily rely on actors that so obviously cannot do what they're supposed to? Throughout the movie I expected Kiefer Sutherland, shouting "Unbelievable!", to draw his gun and evacuate everyone from the estate while a split-screen would pop up to show that Udo Kier has just turned into a vampire. Let's not talk about Kirsten Dunst, who for some reason everyone considers a great actor for this movie. I do not. On the other hand, we have the imagery: The "planet" (this isn't one, but astronomical details should be no matter for von Trier) drawing ever closer, the sisters, as the celestial bodies, circling around one another and the grand mansion, in which the people lose each other and finally themselves. With better actors and improvements in dialogue, and with a different angle (and I mean this as literally as the movie handles the majority of its symbols: a different camera angle) on the ending scene, this could have been so much more. 6/10

Portraits Deutscher Alkoholiker. A documentary in which alcoholics from the middle of society tell the story of their addiction and how they see it. For most of them, it's nothing short of a constant effort to delude others and sometimes themselves. The film handles the issue of anonymity by separating audio from video, and instead of the people themselves showing images of what I take to be their everyday surroundings, or representations of them. This works fine at first, but further on feels increasingly redundant - the confessions might have transported better in a different medium, like an audio book. 5/10

Submarine. Another perky picture, and, not surprisingly, another one I liked. It is very aware that it's trying to be clever and on occasion makes fun of the fact. The film also pays homage to the Nouvelle Vague, features characters acting awkward and a lot of wit. If you didn't already know, that's three additional kinds of win in the eyes of yours truly. 8/10

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

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