Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Werk Ohne Autor – ***

Posted: November 19, 2019 in 2018, Drama, Germany, Romance, War, XXX

European critics didn’t like it. The artist whose life it’s based on didn’t like it either. But lots of moviegoers did and somehow the members of the Academy as well, because this German biopic was one of last year’s nominees for best foreign language film.

It’s a great movie though. Just assume it’s fiction and forget about the artist’s complaints. And expect a simple, superficial overview of what Germany has gone through the past couple of decades. Nazism, communism, capitalism… it’s all briefly mentioned, which bothers a lot of critics, but is well done for an audience who may not be too familiar with the details of Germany’s history.

It does rise some questions about art & artists and governments & ideologies who have their own interpretation of art. It’s very topical right now in a region like Flanders, where subsidies for art projects will  be lowered by 60%. A politician claimed that modern art has lost its beauty and the new artists are too focused on individual expressions, a statement which caused even more controversy than the financial cut.

The movie starts with a young kid visiting an exhibition of entartete Kunst. It’s quite ironic to think that the Nazis showed degenerate art to the masses to mock and condemn it. It must have been a great exhibition to visit if you were interested in different art. Later in the movie the kid has become an adult and paints socialist realism in the DDR under the rule of communists who hate the egocentric aspect of Western art as well. A few years later the artist arrives in Dusseldorf having fled across the border and is confronted with modern expressions of art, which ignore the craft of painting and focus on installations and performances.

It’s an easy movie to love (and for critics to hate). It’s filmed in a very conventional way, but there’s nothing wrong with old-fashioned drama. Art doesn’t always have to shock. It can also be just beautiful. And this movie is. The love story is refreshingly simple. The only obstacle in the young couple’s romance is the father of the girl, a conservative opportunist and vile doctor with a dark past.

Watch it.

Unless you don’t like mainstream movies appealing to the masses aged 9 to 99.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5311542

A guided tour of the Leopoldmuseum in Vienna by an art historian who raved about Egon Schiele. That’s all it takes to start watching the biopic that was made of the famous Austrian painter a few years ago.

It’s an interesting movie. It’s well acted, somehow historically correct and it shows the complexity of the artist without really judging him. That said, it’s also quite superficial. And romantic. Egon Schiele was not a handsome guy, yet he’s interpreted by Noah Saavedra – who apart from being an actor also works as a model. This feels wrong. Like having Brad Pitt or so play Van Gogh. However, the guy does an excellent job by keeping you intrigued for the entire length of the movie. Same for Valerie Pachner, who plays his muse and (eternal) lover Wally.

It’s a love story really, but a good one. Without a happy end of course. They all die. And that’s not a spoiler. The title is referring to one of his most famous paintings. A painting which is quite disturbing, something this movie (unfortunately) never does. So Egon Schiele himself would probably not like it at all. But oh well, he died 100 years ago…

www.imdb.com/title/tt4558396

Sarajevo – **

Posted: July 28, 2019 in 2014, Austria, biopic, Germany, Terrorist, War, WW1, XX

This whodunnit … or rather who-ordered-it-to-have-it-done starts off really well. It focuses on one of the most important historical moments in recent history: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

The protagonist is Leo Pfeffer, the magistrate in charge of the investigation. The case is quite simple really. Gavrilo Princip shot him after an earlier attempt to kill the archduke by other Serbian terrorists failed. They even arrested the murderer and he confessed. So what’s there to investigate?

Well, according to this movie a lot. Like, who ordered this murder? In history class we learn that a group of Serbian anarchists did it. But did they get the order from the Serbian government? Or … did they get the order from German (business) leaders who just wanted to start a war ?

The movie is good. Well acted. Well directed. Well told. BUT it’s focussing too much on the latter assumption. It’s an interesting thought and it’s true that Europe was eager to go to war (at least the German leaders), but we get the point after a while. There’s also a love story, which most likely is pure fictional and was just added for the drama. It’s well thought of, but it does bother the storytelling a bit. The conversations between the characters also feel like these characters know what the future will look like. Which they didn’t.

Still. Worth the watch. And it’s on youtube

www.imdb.com/title/tt3691446

 

Weird.

A director from the French-speaking part of Belgium made a movie about the life of Jewish businessmen in Germany, just after the end of the second world war.

The international title is Bye Bye Germany, which isn’t really a good translation of the original title. It should have been Once Upon A Time In Germany. The English title however explains a bit more about what the movie is all about though.

After having been rescued from the camps, the remaining Jews in Germany wanted to leave to the USA or (then) Palestine as soon as possible. Some of them decided to stay in Germany and do a little business to make money before emigrating. One of them was David Bermann, who – together with a group of aspiring emigrants – starts selling linen to the Germans. Any trick in the book was worth the try and they did succeed in making good money fast.

However, the memories of the atrocities of the war are still very fresh and not everyone can put the past behind them as easy as some others. Bermann himself on the other hand seems to only look at the future. Until an American investigator invites him to explain why his name is in a lot of Nazi documents. Was Bermann a traitor? Was he a collaborator? Or is he just a con, lying and cheating in order to survive?

The premise sounds intriguing, but the movie is a bit of a bore. There’s not a good balance between the storyline of the Jewish people trying to survive after the war and the storyline of the investigation. It starts of great though, with a lot of details on how these Jewish door-to-door salesmen managed to sell their goods. But then the focus shifts to the interrogation. The director decided to let Bermann explain what happened to him, accompanied with flashback scenes. Probably because he wants the audience to also doubt if the stories are true or not. But somehow that doesn’t really work that well.

Interesting, but not memorable. It wasn’t a success in Germany. Neither will it be in the rest of the world. It does look good though.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5609734/

Disappointing.

In November 2008, Mumbai experienced a series of terrorist attacks, amongst which one at the famous Taj hotel. This Australian production tells that story.

Somehow it just doesn’t work. If this were fictitious it would be a lousy action thriller. But it’s based on true events, so it’s even worse. It’s really bizarre, because it feels like an action thriller. The kind with Sylvester Stallone or JC Van Damme. Not the kind with Bruce Willis.

There’s a lot of shooting and – spoiler alert – almost everyone dies. So, knowing this, it’s kind of sad to realize that you don’t have time to care about any of these victims. Either the victims are nameless extras. Or they are stereotypical characters like the nasty Russian or the ignorant American. The director decided to create more empathy for the terrorists than for the people stuck in the hotel! How bizarre is that? There’s this one scene where one of the terrorists calls home, hurt because he is shot in the leg and crying. He asks his dad if the leaders of his organization have already donated the money. So, wait a minute, you want us, audience, to feel like money was the reason for the kid to do these horrific killings and we should feel his regret and doubt because he is crying? Ehm. No.

This movie didn’t do well at the box office and wasn’t released in India (yet). Let’s keep it that way.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5461944

An improvement to Season 6, but still too much talking. Blablabla. The story stopped making sense a long time ago. It never did really. But now it’s just the details in the story that don’t make sense at all. For six seasons long, the territory behind the wall seems very far away, yet in this season a raven can get a message across the continent in no time and the response to is delivered even faster! Really?

There are fewer main characters killed this season. There aren’t that many left, to be fair. But still…. However, finally, the one that should have been killed in season 1 already, gets his throat sliced. Hooray!

It’s an okay season. It only has seven episodes. The battle scenes are awesome. Lord of the Rings awesome. There’s some sexiness. Some humor. Some excitement. Even some scary moments. It’s just okay though. One more season and then we’re done with it.

The Foreigner – (*)

Posted: April 20, 2018 in 1/2, 2017, Action, Revenge, Terrorist

This is a mess. A real mess.

The title is deceiving. This isn’t about a ‘foreigner’, it’s about a series of attacks by a new radical IRA.

Jackie Chan, who plays an Asian restaurant owner who loses his daughter in one of the attacks, is out for revenge. He’s a well-trained soldier and determined to find and eliminate the bombers on his own.

Ok. Good premise.

But then somehow, Jackie Chan disappears in the story and Pierce Brosnan’s character becomes a central figure. He plays a politician, with links to the old IRA and is now not only dealing with a mad ‘Chinaman’ who’s haunting him, but also with his political friends, who are betraying him and with the British PM, who’s accusing him of the attacks.

Then Pierce Brosnan disappears from the screen and they focus on the bombers and their next attacks and the British who try to stop them. Oh and on a hitman who Brosnan’s character hires to kill Jackie’s character.

It’s a mess. A real mess.

And the IRA, really? Why make a movie about fictitious IRA terrorists? We finally kind of forgot they (still) exist. No need to bring paranoia back.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615160