Sonntag, 11. November 2012

A month of movies: October.

This is the month in which movies we expect much from, such as "Was Bleibt" (trailer) or "Gnade" (German trailer), disappoint, while others, we're talking "Parada" (trailer) and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" (DVD release) now, surprise in the opposite way. And then there's Moonrise Kingdom (trailer), which you need to see, preferably repeatedly. Also do not miss out on "Vaterlandsverräter" (German trailer), and perhaps "Periferic" (trailer), but do give "360" (trailer) a pass. And that is all.

The short -
Go and see: Moonrise Kingdom.
Well worth watching: Vaterlandsverräter.
Also deserving a chance: Parada (The Parade) & Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (DVD).
Average: Periferic (Outbound) & Was Bleibt (Home For The Weekend).
If you want to see Germans driving SUVs through Northern Norway: Gnade (Mercy).
If you prefer a romanticized India to the real one: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD).
If you prefer Transformers to Terminator I & II: Terminator Salvation (DVD).
Forget about: 360.

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?

360. A dire film, and we're talking the "it's kinda like 'Crash', only worse"-sort of dire. All of it appears as if director Fernando Meirelles deliberately wanted to make a movie that that mattered as little as scripted reality TV, which is a format that would have been sufficiently suited to a premise that remains a sketch: People around the world do things, sometimes badly, and sometimes they change how they do things and sometimes that nets them somewhat better results. Perhaps Meirelles just didn't give a shit. No care was spent on the characters, who are so flat that you wouldn't go out on a limb saying they fit very well to the script - which is nothing but bland, and - unusual for a movie like this - not even trying to be clever. While several times the director clearly wants to challenge our expectations, that's just what it is: an attempt easily called. Announcing it with big yellow letters and a computer-generated voice-over might have been a little less obvious. The fact that one of these scenes is without effort read as an apologetic "women make men take advantage of them" (to be true, I don't see how it could really be read any other way) doesn't exactly improve things. 4/10

Gnade (Mercy). Add another notch to the "dösig-doofe deutsche Dramen"-column. This one's claim to difference is it's setting - way up north in Norway's Hammerfest, promising beautiful scenery and dramatic lighting. And that's all there is, really, because the script disappoints by putting words in Birgit Minichmayr's and Jürgen Vogel's mouths that weren't really there. Especially the former's character undergoes a transformation that's hard to buy. Between the awful dialogues, there's a lot of driving around and a little sex and the expected amount of meaningful looks exchanged. Also and finally, why is it that child actors from Britain, the US, France and other countries manage at least and excel at best, when in German movies they keep failing to produce lines that are not horribly stilted? 5/10

Moonrise Kingdom. Our parents' parents were wrong and Wes Anderson knows it. (I don't like the reading of the movie as our parents being wrong as well, not necessarily because they aren't, but because if they are, where does it stop and where does it leave us?) 10/10

Parada (The Parade). The premise is quickly told: Belgrade's LGBT community realizes their plans to hold a pride parade in a largely homophobic environment are doomed if they can't provide for security, so the organizers enlist the help of a weary and prejudiced veteran of the Balkan wars. "Parada" doesn't play with stereotypes of gays, corrupt officials or nationalist hooligans but instead simply uses them, in a manner far removed from subtlety. What sounds like the recipe for yet another disastrous major Hollywood comedy turns out to work well when brewed in the Serbia of today, and spiced up with political in-jokes (that are genuinely funny) as well as serious commentary. At its heart lies an earnest message, which the movie is making no bones about, and here's hoping its resounding success in its home country means the persons concerned got it. 7/10

Periferic (Outbound). It's a classic set-up: A woman, presented the chance to escape from her prison (in this, literally), has to face her past and previous mistakes to succeed, while no one will give her a break. For a film that rides the Romanian New Wave, this seems uninnovative, and the story's commutability belies its setting. What puts it apart enough to still warrant a view - while not ever reaching the quality of "4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni Și 2 Zile" or "Poliţist, Adjectiv" - is how the director passes on obvious choices for atmosphere, such as depicting Bukarest in a bleak grey with constant rain. His city is painted in white and yellow and orange, under a beautiful summer sun, yet it's as desolate as ever. 6/10

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (DVD release). A furious start sets the pace for this new action movie set in a semi-steampunk Victorian London, an expectedly martial Germany and a fantastic, in the original sense of the word, version of Switzerland. The excellent art design deserves emphasis, as does the fact that slow-motion is (mostly) used wisely, if a little too much, to benefit the well-choreographed fights. This makes the film a surprisingly enjoyable one; however, bearing not much resemblance to Sherlock Holmes as we know him from literature. If you can get past that, and the sorry excuse of a plot, you get a stylish action movie that compares well to most of its contemporaries, as well as its predecessor. 7/10

Terminator Salvation (DVD release). The franchise takes another beating in its fourth big screen installment when the director - out of contempt or doubt in the material - veers it dangerously close into "Transformers" territory. It's exposition galore, and modular Terminators, and an awful amount of shades of brown. Avoid, if you're not obsessive compulsive about film series, like I am. 5/10

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (DVD release). What's the word for orientalism applied to India? If there is none, perhaps this movie's title will do, for it is a sickeningly sweet account of elderly British people recolonizing the subcontinent, but in a nice way. Then there's sentiment, smiles and bright colors, and - its only saving grace - quite a bit of wit. The playful banter between acting greats Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinsom or Bill Nighy (whose abilities aren't seriously tested by the script) makes up for a lot, but, on its own, not a good movie. 5/10

Vaterlandsverräter. A portrait of Paul Gratzik, a writer from the GDR who first worked as an "unofficial agent" for state security, denouncing colleagues and friends, then, breaking with the Stasi, becomes a surveillance target himself and unable to publish as before. This documentary shines on two accounts: One, the insight given into the methods of the Stasi by confronting victims with their files as well as an interview with Gratzik's former contact and case officer, whose political convictions have not changed in the past two decades; two, the nature of the writer, who now grumbles and mumbles his way through life, guarded but not unwilling to review his past mistakes. 8/10

Was Bleibt (Home For The Weekend). Hans-Christian Schmid is one of the better filmmakers from Germany, but neither "Storm", his first international production that recently attracted some attention across Europe, nor "Was Bleibt" manage to live up to the quality of his earlier works. For the latter, this is largely the script's fault. Instead of strictly focusing on his truly interesting lead character, a woman who spent decades "leading a life of quiet desperation" behind her husband and family (and giving all to keep it together), Schmid ambles through describing the problems of every family member, which in comparison are so small and uninteresting that they cannot, and should not, play more than a supporting role. The time spent on them leads to a lot of the dialogue, especially between the two brothers, turning out overly contrived. Eventually, when the woman literally disappears from the movie, we lose interest in everything but the immediate images of the search for her, which are beautifully shot. 6/10

Previous months of movies: January, February (no post), March, April, May, June (no post), July (no post), August, September.

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