Posts tagged “German Film

Four Minutes / Unqualified Parents


Four Minutes  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Following on from the success of The Lives of Others and The Counterfeiters, the award winning “Four Minutes” sees wrongfully imprisoned piano prodigy Jenny, a Molotov cocktail of suppressed emotions and uncontrollable rage, locked in a constant battle with those around her.  Together with Traude, a professional musician who wants to expose Jenny’s talents at a national competition, the pair develop a volatile teacher-pupil relationship.  As the duo plan their intent to make it to the finals, it soon becomes apparent that, once there, Jenny will have only four minutes to prove herself, and no guarantee of freedom afterwards.  Starring multiple award winner Hannah Herzsprung (“The Reader”, “The Baader-Meinhof Complex”), “Four Minutes” is a cinema tour de force that combines music, gritty prison drama and powerful performances to winning effect.

2006  –  Certificate: 15  –  German Film  –  Rating Details: Strong violence and very strong language.  10 out of 10.

To do most things that people consider important in life, you have to study and then possibly pass some sort of test, exam or interview.  In other cases you need to read the instructions or practice, but in the end you’re required to be able to demonstrate a degree of competency before you’re trusted by anyone to do it ‘for real’.  Yet for some reason, with one of the most important and challenging things, we expect everyone to just get on with it without demonstrating the slightest level of ability.  That’s so stupid.  Where’s the logic in that?  It’s enough to make Mr. Spock freak out.  I’ve mentioned it before, but my journey to work involves walking almost past an infant school, at least close enough for me to run into lots of parents taking their kids there.  I don’t expect young kids to ever do anything remotely sensible; in fact it’s in their job description.  They live in a world that isn’t quite in phase with grow-ups. However, if fate has put you in change of a young person, you really ought to be trained how to do this important job, as most people clearly don’t have a clue.  In fact those that do know are generally too old to have any, which in my opinion is a really bad design error.  I’m generally a very tolerant person; yes, really.  But one thing that’s been testing me to my limits recently is the almost total inability of parents to wait at traffic lights and not block the entire pavement with hyperactive kids, bags, pushchairs, dogs and other non-essential stuff.  Hell, it’s only a short walk to the local school, not a manned mission to Mars.  Somehow, they think having control of a young person entitles them to inconvenience the rest of the universe, as if this is some sort of reward for proving their immense virility or fertility.  Seriously dudes, we’ve managed to reproduce adequately enough to keep ourselves going since life first evolved on Earth; it’s really not that difficult and it doesn’t reflect on anyone’s worth.  What does take skill and deserves admiration is dealing with the consequences, which many clearly fail at on an epic scale. I’m a Pavement Warrior and denying me my right of access is a direct challenge to my entire belief structure.  I’m not keen on making kids orphans, but sometimes, someone needs to make a stand.  Just today I narrowly avoided a serious incident on an especially narrow bit of pavement, when two young boys came flying out of a terrace house; the sort that has a front garden about 1m deep.  A guy coming down ‘The Mountain’ (as I call this particularly steep section of my route to work) had to take evasive action to avoid running into them and nearly swerved into me as a result.  Seriously, I was lucky to get out of that in one piece.  Then again, what do I know?  It was only very recently that I found out that you can’t just take the batteries out of them at night when you go to bed.  And now something a whole lot better…

This is a totally awesome movie.  One of the best 50 films ever made.  It’s German, so unsurprisingly it’s not a comedy.  (I guess saying that makes me a racist, unlike Nigel Farage because he’s got a German wife.)  However, it is a kick-ass drama and totally absorbing.  Slow, dark and smouldering, it just blew me away.  I have a soft spot for movies about mavericks, rebels and people who don’t play the game properly.  In particular the ones that do it for no other reason than to piss the world off and who’re willing to take themselves down along with everyone else rather than change.  (I like to think that I’m a bit like that, except in reality I’m probably the world’s biggest ‘yes man’ and enjoy nothing better than asking “how high?” when someone tells me to jump.)  Cutting off your whole head to spite your face.  Our hero Jenny isn’t quite as nihilistic as that, but she comes close.  The Four Minutes of the title refers to a scene near the end of the movie.  One of the best bits of cinema ever; you could never play it loud enough.  It’s not a perfect film for a range of minor but noticeable reasons, but I’m willing to overlook it small faults and consider the bigger picture.  An essential watch.

This is a movie about someone who plays the piano and as such without a suitable soundtrack to support the story, it would fail miserably.  Fortunately it’s a great mixture of original and (mainly) classical, (mainly) German composed music.  There’s an interesting article on the official website about how hard it was to find a composer for the original music used.

I think this trailer lightens the mood of the film slightly and misrepresents the relationship between the two main characters, so it’s a bit disappointing.  It really doesn’t portray the power or mood of the film well.

Movie Weather Forecast.  Cloudy and cool.  Stay indoors is my advice.

Recommended for pianists, lesbians, nurses, prison wardens, Nazis, abusive parents and rebels.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  The four minutes that give this film its title are as badass as it comes.  The closest you can get to sticking two fingers up to the world without saying a word; a great bit of punk and not a guitar in sight.

I wrote about this film here in 2010.  This is what I had to say then.

Four Minutes at IMDB (7.6 / 10)
Four Minutes at Wikipedia
Official Website
Four Minutes Trailer at YouTube

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Alone in the Dark / Working for Fighter Command


Alone in the Dark  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US ReleaseEdward Carnby (Christian Slater) is a private investigator specializing in unexplainable supernatural phenomena.  His cases delve into the dark corners of the world, searching for truth in the occult remnants of ancient civilizations.  Now, the greatest mystery of his past is about to become the most dangerous case he has ever faced.  With the help of his ex-girlfriend, archaeologist Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid), and his bitter rival, government agent Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff), Edward is about to learn that just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it cannot kill you!

2005  –  Certificate Not Rated  –  German/Canadian Film
4.0 out of 10

I hate this time of year.  It’s not just the fact that all the good bits of the winter are over and it’s still months until the summer; or the fact that I’ve got no money as I squandered it over the Christmas period; or even that there’s hardly ever any decent gigs to go to.  No, it’s also the time of year when everyone I care for dies and my relationships always end.  On top of all this, it’s when we write our Financial Plan at work too.  The latter is less a mathematical exercise and more a futile attempt to predict the future; (and the scale of my successes in the National Lottery over the past 20 years nicely demonstrates how well my precognitive abilities have been developed).  The process bares all the hallmarks of Fighter Command at the height of the Battle of Britain, wondering where the next plane or pilot is going to come from, as its fully committed assets are quickly depleted.  The consequences of all this is that it generally feels like we’re looking into a dark, bottomless abyss, as the world as we know it ends.  (Although on the up side, we are still here after nearly 55 years).  More to the point, I have to spend this afternoon and evening working, because I’ve been told to move loads of numbers about in mine; I’m not sure why, they won’t get any bigger however many times I move them.  This film is also about the end of the world as we know it.

Other than all the things and people I hate, despise or loathe, I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going, laid-back, tolerant guy.  But even I have my limits and this film has just reached one.  What makes things worse is that it could have been really good.  The story’s fine (it’s based on a computer game), the effects are decent enough (the gun-shot one borders on impressive) and even I’ve heard of its three, principal actors.  Christian Slater was the Communications Officer on the Excelsior for goodness sake; it’s not the most challenging bridge job around that’s true, but it was on Captain Sulu’s ship so that must count for something.  And Tara Reid, the Choir Chick from “American Pie”, gets given some glasses to wear, so she can look intelligent and thus play the part of an archaeologist.  The chase scene, (once we’ve got over the longest “Star Wars” like preamble in cinematic history), is actually pretty good too.  Unfortunately, the characters are so poorly written that the Oxford English Dictionary is considering using them as part of its official definition of one-dimensional.  The Alpha Male rivalry between Richard Burke and Edward Carnby is a key plot element.  (Edward used to work with Richard, so consequently they scowl at one another a lot.)  It’s probably fair to say they don’t get on, aren’t each others’ friends on Facebook and don’t send one another Christmas cards, not even e-cards.  Then, in the middle of a big battle Edward shoots a ‘bad guy’ who’s coming up behind Richard.  The latter gives Edward a brief nod of gratitude.   This incident is never acknowledged or further developed, but from then on they’re instantly the best of buddies.  Is that what it takes to remove years of personal animosity?  Maybe I’ve entirely missed some sort of gay subplot, which would explain a great many things, as well as why Edward and Aline are ex-lovers. The whole film is littered with a garbage script and stereotypical characters that act in nonsensical ways.  I especially enjoyed the Abkani (they’re the bad guys) charging towards some soldiers and then basically stopping a few metres in front of them to growl and throw their limbs around a lot, thus allowing the latter to blast away at them for ages and ages; not that the sight of thousands of rounds of ammunition fired at point blank range not seeming to have much of an effect, puts them off trying.  When I see a movie like this I want to really believe the world is about to end, not keep glancing at the clock to see how long I’ve been watching it for.  So basically it’s great, except for the characters and everything they say or do…

It has a Scandinavian, heavy metal soundtrack.  Nightwish aside, this tells you a lot.  Listen up.  Heavy metal (and all its sub-genera) should never be used for any film with a budget of over $500,000, ever.  It’s just not right.

The trailer’s like the rest of the movie; it seems to promise lots but contains nothing.

Recommended for archaeologists, private investigators, ‘Government agents’ and anyone who wears glasses to look intelligent.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  At one point Steven Dorff throws a bit of a wobbly.  He picks up a few bits of paper (probably the script), scans them briefly and then pushes over a table and screams out, “My guys are dying out there for nothing; for fucking nothing!”  Seeing an actor demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence by empathising with the audience whilst also staying in character, just has to be badass.

Alone in the Dark at IMDB (2.3 / 10)
Alone in the Dark at Wikipedia
Alone in the Dark at YouTube

No trailer I’m afraid, thanks to YouTube blocking the video.  Liongate clearly doesn’t want anyone to find out about this film!


The Silence / Learning the Guitar


The Silence  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseOn a hot summer day, a bicycle is found in a wheat field, and, nearby, the body of a young girl.  The killer is never found. 23 years later.  Same date.  Same place.  Another bicycle.  Another girl.  This time round, an ageing detective convinced that history is repeating itself, comes out of retirement determined to track down the perpetrator with the help of his young colleague.  Spanning a week in the investigation, both of them will begin a journey that will see intact worlds shatter apart.  A striking debut, The Silence is based on an award-winning novel and follows European crime thrillers such as “The Killing” and “Wallander” as it delves into the psyche of detectives and criminals to deliver a chilling story of murder and betrayal.

2010  –  Certificate 15  –  German Film
Strong language and sexual violence
8.5 out of 10

I’ve got sore fingers.  Fed up with my existing career options, I’ve decided to take advantage of the Christmas week and learn how to play the guitar.  Once I’ve done this I’ll become a rock star.  I’ve got plenty of social grievances and failed love affairs to write about, so it ought to be pretty easy to do once I’ve managed to learn a chord.  Posters of me in seductive, semi-naked poses will soon be starring down from the walls of countless, teenage girls’ bedrooms up and down the country.  Justin Bieber will just have to piss off down the dole office where he belongs.   My guitar is a rather nice, left-handed Westbury Standard, a model that was made for a few years around 1980 and bought for me by one of those aforementioned failed lover affairs.  Despite my cack-handed abuse of it, it rarely goes out of tune and I’ve yet to break a string, even though my playing has all the subtlety of Freddy Kruger in a maternity ward.  But how hard can it be?  Look at all the stupid people who seem to have managed.  Sadly, I apparently have hands like a horse’s hooves when it comes to playing.  Why does it need so many strings and why are they so close together?  Stupid design.  I thought it would only take a few hours, but apparently it takes longer than that….  I’m not a happy bunny.

This is a film with no happy characters in it; at all.  No one comes out of it well.  Everyone ends up more fucked up than they were to start with.  No, it’s not a documentary about real life, but a German movie about two paedophiles and the police investigation to apprehend them.  I’m personally not a big fan of crime films.  All that Sherlock Homes, Poirot, Scooby Doo stuff, where at the end everyone’s in a room and all the details get blurted out.  Yawn…  Fortunately this is a lot better.  What actually makes it so good is the way it gets inside everyone’s head and exposes all the guilt within; the police, the victims’ families, the perpetrators, the perpetrators’ families.  It’s a real lose-lose story.  I found it hard at times not to feel sorry for everyone, even the ‘baddies’ in their own, screwed up way.  I was also struck by just how scruffy, undisciplined and a bit mad all the German police seemed to be.  At times the feel of the film reminded me of the French horror “7 Days”, although that’s even darker.  Overall this is very close to being a genuinely great film.  Only it’s slightly frustrating habit of introducing ideas that it then doesn’t really do anything with, let’s it down.

The music used in this film is fine and works well.

Considering this is a trailer with no words it actually not bad.  I’m not sure it tells a great deal about the film’s plot, although it does a decent job of getting the atmosphere across.

Recommended for the police, caretakers and architects.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Everyone is so miserable and wracked with guilt that it’s difficult to find anything worthy of being considered badass.  I guess the weather was nice most of the time; lovely warm, sunny days.  Summer is badass.  Winter is just crap; short days, cold, damp and wet.  Yuk.

The Silence at IMDB (6.8 / 10)
The Silence at Wikipedia
The Silence at Roger Ebert (3.5  / 5)
The Silence at YouTube


Penetration Angst: 3.5 Stars


Penetration Angst  -  Front DVD CoverYesterday I drove for two and a half hours, then spent three hours teaching three people how to drive a minibus, then spent another two and a half hours sitting in a minibus watching them drive it, then drove for another two and a half hours home.  Yesterday the world seemed to be full of idiots driving cars, and I’m not referring to the learners who I was with either.  At one point on the way home I was driving along a bit of dual carriageway and slowly catching a yellow car up.  I don’t generally drive that fast, rarely more than 60 m.p.h., as I want to give myself the illusion that somehow I’m doing my bit to save the planet whilst simultaneously driving nearly 1,000 miles a month.  Anyway, I pulled out to overtake the yellow car.  As I passed it and looked in my mirror to see if I could go back into the inside lane, I noticed it had speeded up.  I ended up doing over 80 with this fucking asshole still playing stupid buggers next to me.  After having had to put up with so many other cretins on the roads yesterday, something snapped inside.  I jerked the steering wheel to the left and hit the yellow car, forcing it off the road and down an embankment into a field, where I think it hit a tree or something and burst into flames.  I’m not sure what happened to the driver and I don’t care as long as it hurt; I didn’t bother to stop and check what had happened to him.  What a selfish bastard he was too, as I’ve now I’ve got a dent in my car to explain away and get fixed. It’s a jungle out there on the roads.  (Just like Dennis Weaver in Steven Spielberg’s classic “Dual”, I never really got a good look at my protagonist.)  Well, okay that only happened in my mind, but the intent (if not the guts) was there.  In fact what did happen is that I gave up trying to overtake the yellow car and humiliatingly went back to 60 m.p.h. behind it.  However, as cars, driving and men are inextricably linked to the latter’s sexual prowess and I failed to overtake the yellow car, I think I’m probably impotent now.  He, on the other hand, is probably making his first porn movie even as I type this.  Great!  In a similar way, this film is about a young woman with intimacy issues.

2003  –  Certificate: 18  –  United Kingdom

I think the makers of this film started off wanting to make a serious torture porn movie but then got fed up with the idea and decided a comedy slasher/thriller would be a much better idea.  Otherwise why suddenly introduce a bizarre sub-plot involving Siamese twins and then another one about a bank robbing stripper? It’s original, I’ll give it that.  It suffers from some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, yet at other times it’s really okay.  Fiona Horsey (the lead character) is a bit of a babe; (am I still allowed to say stuff like that)?  All the men in the film are portrayed as perverts, deviants, weirdos, rapists, sociopaths and murderers; the woman don’t do a lot better either, but the guys really do get a bit of a hammering.  Ultimately it’s an entertaining movie, simply because it’s so ridiculous.  I did feel a bit sorry for Helen, no one is that unlucky with men.  Most of it was filmed on the Isle of Wight too.

Recommended for someone; not sure who, but someone.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, plenty of men do, em, ‘disappear’ inside Helen, totally.

Top badass moment?  In a film filled with characters that are simultaneously both pathetic and horrible, there’s not a terribly large choice.  So I guess it has to be Helen, for simply putting up with so much shit.  They say dealing with it well makes you a stronger person.

Penetration Angst at IMDB (3.9/10)