Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category.

Peter K. Rosenthal Rules!

The funniest* online thing of the last 12 months has certainly been The Onion‘s Film Standard featuring Peter K. Rosenthal. Here are four brilliant movie reviews to get you started:

  1. The Onion Reviews ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’
  2. The Onion Reviews ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
  3. The Onion Reviews ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’
  4. The Onion Reviews ‘Gravity’

* Funny as in I fell from my chair due to laughter-induced stomach cramps.

I Like “Cloud Atlas” (the movie)

Last night I finally saw Cloud Atlas in the cinema. It was a marvelous journey through various stories and times. I think the film makers did an incredible job interweaving the plots and characters.

I loved the novel, so I was a bit skeptical about condensing it all into a single movie. Needless to say, it’s not a verbatim adaptation of the original text. On the contrary, Tykwer and the Wachowskis took audacious liberties, changed most of the endings and left out huge portions. And I’m perfectly happy with that, because they turned the stories into something slightly different, something that fits the big screen wonderfully. My eyes were glued to the screen throughout the movie. There were many innovative ideas that fit the format perfectly. I even enjoyed the way the music was handled, something I hadn’t expected.

Two thumbs up!

Movie Lines I Quote Way Too Often

  • Was macht er in Detroit? (Die Nackte Kanone 2 1/2)
  • Wie war das im Mittelteil? (Ein Fisch namens Wanda)
  • Ich kann nicht nach Alderaan; ich muss nach Hause. (Star Wars)
  • Negativ. Wir haben ein Reaktorleck. (Star Wars)
  • Keine Belohnung ist das hier wert. (Star Wars)
  • Whatever. (D.E.B.S.)
  • A good, solid 7.5. (Beautiful Girls)
  • Setz dich. Nimm dir einen Keks. Fühl dich wie zu Hause… (Das Leben des Brian)
  • Das nächste Mal schreibst du einen Aktenvermerk. (Jagd auf Roter Oktober)
  • Das ist nicht Snowflake! (Ace Ventura)
  • Hello, my life sucks. (She’s the Man)
  • Oh boy. (She’s the Man)
  • Man kann davon leben… (Crocodile Dundee)
  • Na dann ist ja gut. (Ronja Räubertochter)
  • Das ist mein Tanzbereich und das ist dein Tanzbereich. (Dirty Dancing)

Movies of Which I Know Pretty Much Every Single Line by Heart

  • Beautiful Girls
  • Clerks
  • D.E.B.S.
  • Happy Campers
  • Imagine Me & You
  • Josie and the Pussycats
  • Das Leben des Brian*
  • Die nackte Kanone*
  • Robin Hood – König der Diebe*
  • Ronja Räubertochter*
  • She’s the Man
  • Star Wars*

*at least the German audio track

PS: “Fit to Die (Part 1)” by Future Is Tomorrow is a rather good Power Metal album.

De-Babelized Movies

Yesterday, I watched The Longest Day. I was surprised to find the whole movie shot in the respective native languages. It added a lot to the authenticity and – given the serious topic of the film – didn’t diminish the experience of watching it at all. In Germany, foreign films are usually dubbed in German. The art of replacing the dialogue has declined enormously over the last three decades. Fortunately, DVDs usually feature the original audio track along with the German one. The only other international films I can think of that have not been somewhat de-babelized are Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, both excellent examples of superb film-making.

Today’s music review is about “Force of Gravity” by Sylvan, a German progressive rock band that delivers flawless music with a bit of sound track atmosphere in the more quiet parts. The album is pretty good and includes stand-out tracks like “Embedded”.


Die erste Staffel von ALF ist ab sofort in Deutschland auf DVD erhältlich. Es ist zwar zu erwarten, dass der Preis der Box mit der Zeit noch sinkt, aber ich konnte nicht warten. Tja, das Nichtwarten hat sich gelohnt! Schon in den ersten Minuten musste ich mit Freude (und leichten Bedenken) feststellen, wie weit die Fernsehserie mich und meinen Humor offensichtlich beeinflusst hat. Wenn ich mir vorstelle, dass für viele Kinder/Jugendliche heute Telenovelas und Superstarsuchsendungen das sind, was ALF seinerzeit für mich war, macht sich großes Bedauern breit.


Leverage is currently my favorite TV series. It’s not (yet) on TV in Germany, but thankfully I got the DVD set of the first season as a prize for my Song Fu contributions. I watched most of it throughout the past few nights. The show is great! It scores very high in terms of plot and cast. Most episodes could have easily been turned into whole movies. The lead characters are the perfect mix of individuals. Timothy Hutton rocks and I now have a soft spot for Parker. The relationships are subtle and the chemistry mainly woven into the fabric of the job at hand. I like to think that Leverage is about honor among thieves. My favorite episodes (so far) are The Mile High Job, The Homecoming Job and especially The Stork Job. And the two David Jobs make for a supsenseful finale. VOX has secured the broadcasting rights for Germany, so look out for it this Fall.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Some Things that Annoy Me in Most Movies

Too often the characters have way too much free time to devote to the plot. Don’t they have jobs? Dirty laundry, dirty dishes, tax reports, dentist appointments? When do they eat, shit, shave, shower? I’m not against condensing for the sake of the pace of the story. I just don’t like total absence of every-day realism. A movie that incorporates some of these things, like shopping, working, peeing, is Imagine Me & You, which – as you probably know – I adore (also for other reasons).

Most movies rely on some sort of antagonist: the evil genius, the pretty rival, the big bad corporations that are all about money and don’t care about the heart/town/puppies. Disguised antagonists include family, society, love, diseases, and nature. They’re driving the plot and pretty much essential to any movie. Improper development of the dark side drives me crazy; point in case: The Devil Wears Prada. Clear-cut antagonists can be helpful, fun, and good (the Darth Vader paradox). Yet easy moral judgment is often a matter of one-dimensional characters (Bill Pullman) or dubious morality. The latter comes into play when a big firm wants to exploit whatever the hero holds dear; yet the hero gives his money to banks that finance such firms; or he keeps eating the hamburger made of cattle that was fed with the soy that was grown cheaper on slash-and-burn rainforest soil than on his grandma’s farm he seeks to sustain. Again, I’m not against supervillains in movies (Lucy Diamond!) – I just wish there would be more stories like Lights, Camera, Amalee, which feature “real-life” antagonists. Gone Baby Gone is different example of subverting antagonist expectations, which leaves you agitated for quite a long time after the movie’s over. My Name is Earl deserves an Honorary mention, because (a) it’s main theme is making the world a better place (b) it was the initial inspiration for this post (before it turned into this verbouse rant).

Movies are way too pretty. Beautiful people don’t suffice to turn movies into good movies. Sure, I like to watch movies like Closer which are all about beautiful people’s problems. But I also love Clerks, because you get an immediate sense of reality. You can see the shop, you can hear the rustling of the movements and the street noise. That’s so much more convincing than the CGI cities and the ADR kissing noises in Attack of the Clones.

On Editing

There are way too many cuts in modern movies for my taste. On the other hand, the narrative of people in interviews and similar bonus material often found on DVDs would profit a lot from an omission of pauses and fill words. But let’s focus on the editing of actual movies. Things are completely out of control in action scenes, leaving me rather confused every time I watch modern blockbusters from the front row. Sadly, things don’t look much better in scenes with ordinary dialogue.

I never got the two-camera shot of dialogue. If the point of view of one of the actors is supposed to be underscored by the visual angle, then please note the word one. One person’s view, one angle. 1 + 1 = 2, I know. But by intercutting a dialogue with both perspectives, you actually lose half of the whole. You end up with 0.5 + 0.5. If both characters are important, go for a two-shot; leave it to the viewer to attend to one character at a time. In case you want it all, you need to double your efforts; Fingersmith and 11.14 are examples that come to my mind.

Jimmi Simpson rocks

Jimmi Simpson is my favourite actor. You may not have heard of him, but don’t let that fool you. He plays Scud in D.E.B.S., a movie you should all rent/buy, although many people will have difficulties connecting to it. But Jimmi rocks, no doubt about it. He’s the voice of reason, Cupid, the loyal friend, the God of bingo, the saviour of Australia, the winner of 50 bucks, the happy camper – all in one person (who isn’t even one of the lead characters).

He was in Loser, together with Thomas Sadoski and Zak Orth. All three of them went on to do great things afterwards. Orth did Wet Hot American Summer next (hilarious) and Thomas Sadoski recently starred in reasons to be pretty, where he delivered an amazing performance. Jimmi also turned to theatre, even dropping out of Live Free or Die Hard for this. I didn’t see him on stage and this entry is going nowhere and already too verbose.

I did see Jimmi in Girltrash. Once again, he delivered a spot on performance. He actually played the husband of Riki Lindhome‘s character in the series, closing the circle to the current Song Fu, in which Lindhome (as part of Garfunkel and Oates) competes as Master.