Posts tagged “Piano

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


Gattaca / How a Washing Machine Can Start a Nuclear War


Gattaca  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  German ReleaseIn der nahen High-Tech-Zukunft entscheidet ein Gentest gleich nach der Geburt über das Schicksal der Kinder. Futuristische Biochemie macht es möglich, dass fast alle Eltern sportliche, hochintelligente Superbabies zur Welt bringen.  Vincent aber hat Pech gehabt.  Wegen seiner körperlichen Schwächen wird er nie zur Elite gehören.  Doch er träumt davon, als Gattaca-Pilot die Galaxis zu erforschen. Vincents Freund Jerome hat beste Gene, ein Unfall hat ihn allerdings an den Rollstuhl gefesselt.  Beide tauschen ihre Identität.  Ein äußerst riskanter Plan, denn die strengen Sicherheitskontrollen des perfekt organisierten Polizeistaates sind kaum zu umgehen. Bald hat Vincent die Geheimdienste auf den Fersen …  Ein spannender sci-fi thriller mit beängstigendem Zukunftsszenario.  Ethan Hawke (“Reality Bites”) und Uma Thurman (“Batman & Robin”, “Pulp Fiction”) in einem brandgefährlichen Spiel, das durchaus wahr werden könnte.  (It’s called German.  I’ve got a German copy of the film.)

1997  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
8.5 out of 10

My washing machine broke down on Christmas Eve.  Well more accurately, it still washes things but it won’t dry them.  Using my amazing engineering skills, I’ve worked out that it’s either a broken thermostat or something to do with the fan.  Unfortunately I can’t be sure, as my skills don’t extend to having the special sort of screwdriver that appears to be needed to open the case where the fan lives.  I think I can hear it spinning but I can’t see the end of the spindle turning, which is a bit confusing.  Few things piss me off more than technology breaking and companies producing things which require a special bit of information (that they make it very hard to find out), or a special tool to fix.  So as you might imagine, this little occurrence has made me incandescent with fury.  The fact it happened at the most inconvenient possible moment of the year has just made things worse.  Really, it’s just as well I’m not the one with ‘my finger on the button’.

In the near future, parents will be able to create a ‘designer baby’ for themselves.  These “Valids” will go on to get all the best jobs, whilst the rest of us do the crappy stuff.  I know this to be true, because even Ernest Borgnine could only get a job as an office cleaner in “Gattaca”, yet a few years ago he was one of the crew of “Airwolf”, the most advanced helicopter ever built.  (It had a good theme tune too.)  Our hero Vincent wants to go into space, but sadly he’s one of the “Invalids”, the rubbish people who got born the normal way.  So starts his quest to beat the system.  I’ve seen a lot of good films over the past month or so and this is yet another.  Within its ‘hard’ sci-fi setting and 1984 overtones, this is a thriller with a great “will he or won’t he make it” right up to the end.  With its murder-crime subplot and some entirely superfluous love interest provided by Uma Thurman, we get to watch Vincent and his mate collecting bottles of blood, hair and other bits of discarded body from the latter; (mainly skin and stuff, we’re not talking about anything too Frankenstein-like here).  It’s a while since I saw a film with so much urine in it too, although to be fair it’s generally all contained in bags or plastic beakers; they’re a bit obsessed with testing at Gattaca.  (It’s the name of the company that does the space launches.)  Things don’t quite go to plan, (even more so if you watch the deleted scenes), someone gets murdered, the police investigate.  It’s just the sort of shit you don’t want to have to put up with when you’re about to diddle your way onto the first manned flight to Titan.  The final scene is really quite powerful and it’s a “proper good film” as they might say up North.

With a great film should come great music and we’re not disappointed here.  A full orchestral score, it’s not used a lot, but when it is things get taken to an extra level.  As an interesting side point, there’s a scene where we see a 12 fingered pianist playing a bit of music that’s actually meant to be impossible for one person to play; (Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat Major, with some extra bits).  I find that strangely cool.

I’m not especially keen on this trailer.  It’s sort of okay, but it doesn’t really get across the feel of the film.

Recommended for astronauts, police detectives and the genetically pure.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the impossible to play piano performance.  As someone who can barely manage to play “English Country Garden” on the piano with two fingers, am I the only one who finds that whole idea strangely arousing?  Oh, right.  Okay then…  I think I’ve just discovered a new kind of porn.  (Well actually no, as Google gives nearly 52,000 results for “piano porn”.)  Now that really is very weird.

Gattaca at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Gattaca at Wikipedia
Gattaca At Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Gattaca at YouTube


My Father The Hero / Pepsi Max Is Bad


My Father The Hero  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (US Release)International superstar Gérard Depardieu plays André, a divorced father whose life is turned upside down when he takes his headstrong teenage daughter (Katherine Heigl) on a tropical island vacation. André’s troubles begin when his daughter, Niki – trying to impress the boy of her dreams – concocts an elaborate life story for herself, including the outrageous notion that André is really her boyfriend masquerading as her father. What follows is a comedy of errors and confusion that wreaks hilarious havoc on Niki’s budding romance and her father’s reputation. “My Father, The Hero” will take you on a charming, laugh-filled vacation you’ll never forget!

1994  –  Certificate PG
Rating Details: Language and elements of sensuality
6.0 out of 10

I’ve drunk three cans of Pepsi Max today.  Does that make me a bad person?  No one in this film is actually a bad person, but…

This movie was directed by the same guy who directed Friday the 13th Parts 2 & 3; but this is a horror of a different kind…  A remake of “Mon Pere Ce Heros” (which also starred Gérard Depardieu), “My Father The Hero” is a lightweight(ish) comedy that’s full of contradictions.  On the surface it all seems to make sense, but as soon as you think about anything (and I mean anything) you realise that it’s all a load of bollocks.  It’s like they wrote down a lot of funny scenes and then tried to linked them altogether with a plot.  No one acts in a rational way and the paedophilic(ish) central story just makes matters worse.  In fact it’s only saving grace is that it is quite funny at times and it looks nice; (well most of it was filmed in the Bahamas, so you’d have to work hard to make that look like crap).  I’m not entirely sure who the target demographic was for this movie.  I watched it on Blu-ray and the quality was surprisingly good.  However, the ‘extras’ consisted of nothing whatsoever; unless you think scene access is an extra.  Even finding a copy of the trailer proved exceedingly difficult; (so thanks to Retro Junk; a great site for people of a ‘certain’ age).  So to sum up, this film is a bit like the Sex Pistols, circa 1976; impossible to see, offering a weird sexuality and apparently appealing to no one.  According to IMDB, it’s grossed over $25M in the USA and over £2M in the UK.  Who are these people?

The music is a pretty foul mixture of synth pop and rubbish poppy calypso, plus pretty anonymous, although serviceable, incidental music.  A film set in the Caribbean and that’s the best they can do; shameful.  Prison sentences wouldn’t be out-of-order for those responsible.  I will add that Gérard Depardieu playing and singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” is one of the more ridiculous/funny/creepy parts of the film.

Recommended for God knows who.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Katherine Heigl’s ass in a white, thong swimsuit.  A 14-year-old playing a 14-year-old pretending to be 16; or something like that.  Doing this will enable you to better relate to the plot about a middle-aged guy pretending to go out with a child who’s actually his daughter.

My Father The Hero at IMDB (5.2 / 10)


White Noise: The Light: 4.0 Stars


White Noise: The Light  -  Front DVD CoverI’ve got nothing to write about today.  For two days I’ve done nothing, except work.  Then again, I have been pretty awesome there, even if I’m the only one that thinks so.  I’ve done tons of stuff and promoted 4-dimensional synergy across a diagonal slice of the organisational structure, effectively creating product evangelists who will live the values of the organisation on an agnostic platform, using the sort of blue sky granularity that will engender a paradigm thrust in the engagement pipeline.   After all, we wouldn’t want to wrong-side the demographic.  Scary stuff.   This movie is also scary.

2007  –  Certificate: 15  –  Canadian
Rating Details: Supernatural horror

This is a really creepy horror.  In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s the scariest film I’ve seen this year.  I can generally deal with murders, wars, zombies, rapes, freaks, destruction of the Earth and other day-to-day stuff like that.  But things that involve the dead poking their noses where they don’t belong (i.e. around the living) tend to weird me out a bit.  To be fair, I sort of lost track of the nuances of the plot at some point, but the whole ‘I can see when someone is going to die and do something to stop that happening’ vibe is kind of cool; the reluctant superhero sort of thing mixed up with a bit of ghostbusters.  It’s not a comedy though.  The main character (Abe) was a sympathetic enough guy for me to want him to get it all sorted out in the end.  The ‘piano crash’ scene is great too.

Recommended for people who enjoy soiling their underwear.

No cats, decapitations or chainsaws.

Top badass moment?  Abe’s doing the superhero thing and tying to save people from dying.  That has to be badass, especially if you’re not a ‘real’ superhero and it’s only been a few days since you tried to commit suicide following the violent death of your own family.  What a shame it all goes a bit pear-shaped.  All in all, not a great week by anyone’s standard.  Still, he got a kiss from his nurse, so it’s not all bad.

White Noise: The Light on IMDB (5.8/10)


Four Minutes


Watched Four Minutes on DVD last night.  This is a 2006 German film (so that means subtitles for the Euro illiterate like me) about a young woman who’s in prison and also a great pianist.  It’s the best film I’ve seen for months (and I watch a lot of films).  It looks good, it sounds great, the story mixes up a lot of different subjects that you don’t normally get together really well and it has two actresses in it playing the main characters that’re totally awesome.  It manages to include prisons, guns, punch-ups, decapitation, Nazis, lesbians, incest, pianos, really intense arguments and a psycho pianist!  And it’s nothing like how I’ve just made it sound.  It also has a great final scene (the four minutes of the title).  It’s not a comedy and it’s actually quite a slow and serious film most of the time.  You need to go and watch it.  It’s certainly a new entry into the Top 50 Films of All Time in Cactus World.  Penny hated it though, so not a great film to watch when you’ve got all the neighbourhood cats around.

Right now I’m listening to “Pathways” by the Frank and Walters.