Posts Tagged “German”

NOSFERATU, EINE SYMPHONIE DES GRAUENS
1922

Cinequest 21 San Jose Film Festival
Germany
Silent — Wurlitzer Organ Accompaniment by Dennis James
Fantasy / Horror / Mystery / Romance
F. W. Murnau [Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans]

Film Number 103 Of All Time — They Shoot Pictures Don’t They Top 1000

OK, so it was made in 1922. It’s famous for being the first of the many vampire films. It’s campy and corny and silent. But was it fun to watch?

Absolutely. I was mostly worried about dozing off as it was my fourth film of the busy day. But seeing something that my great-grandparents might have seen, in a theater that my grandparents might have gone to as children, surrounded by a balcony full of fans ranging in age from about 8 to about 90, meant that it was an experience I’ll cherish forever.

Dennis James got sounds out of the mighty Wurlitzer that seemed to required five people to perform. He kept the pace and made us scared and happy and when a drummer appeared on screen, I’ll be damned if a snare drum didn’t sound from the right speaker in perfect syncopation. If you’ve never heard live accompaniment to a silent film before, get your ass out of your house and go to one. Even if you don’t like the film. It’ll be worth it.

The story was overacted and the special effects rudimentary, but again, it was filmed just after World War I, for god’s sake. Women and men alike seem to swoon, the bad guys are extra bad, the wacko mental patients extra mentally.

But I found it touched me–the darkness, the lust, the way the Count looked upon a drop of blood while licking his lips.

And my, oh my, to experience all of this in a double-decker full house like the California Theater. The title cards causing snickers and oohs and aahs. The “wow” factor of the Count levitating. The creepiness of a long boat ride. People were enthralled. I was one of them.

And I didn’t doze once.

8.1 IMDB

NOSFERATU

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1967

July 18, 2009
San Jose CA — California Theatre — 70MM
France / Italy
French / English / German
124 Minutes
Comedy
Jacques Tati
#87 They Shoot Pictures Don’t They Top 1000 Films Of All Time

“Solo Filmschool” movies are those on the big list of the 1000 best films of all time, which the crew over at TSPDT keeps track of and updates from time to time. The current version is from January 2010. My plan is to work my way down the list, watching all of them on DVD (if available), regardless of how slow-moving, or out of date they might appear at first. If a highly-regarded and serious film class is not available where you live, you could do a lot worse than using this list as a jumping off point.

I was lucky to catch this in 70MM at the beautiful California Theatre in downtown San Jose. It was my first exposure to Director Jacques Tati, who appeared in the film as “Monsieur Hulot”, but there isn’t really a main character. In fact, there is absolutely no discernible dialog in the whole film. It’s in French and German and English, but you can’t really pick up on what anyone’s saying. It is all background noise. Hulot stumbles from place to place, first to a huge bureaucratic building, then to a fancy dinner club, then to a guy’s apartment, but here’s the thing: we have no idea why he is wherever he is. There is also an American tourist who follows her tour group around from gray building to gray building, never seeing any of the sights that made Paris famous (except in creative window reflections.) The two of them will cross paths, but again, we don’t know why. They’ll end up at a department store, in a traffic circle, and in a splendid lengthy scene in a restaurant on its grand opening day.

The film was made in 1967 by its crazy director who took two years, mortgaged his financial future, and actually built a small city outside of Paris in which to film it. He also never, I mean not once, filmed anyone or anything in close-up. There are no shots, I don’t think, with one actor only. Shots are held for long periods of time and in the background and corners things are happening. There are also cardboard cutouts on buses and in building windows and in the far background whose purpose appears to be populating the frame. At other points, live actors will be frozen in the background and only “come to life” at certain points in the scene. Not sure what that choice was about.

But if ever a film was full of whimsy, and not manufactured whimsy, like CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY or THE TRUMAN SHOW (even if you like those movies.) How a story with mumbled far-off dialogue and no plot and no explanation for why people are doing what they’re doing can be so compelling and interesting is beyond me? The entire thing is funny, but there aren’t many laugh-out-loud moments.

I very much liked the experience.

7.9 IMDB

Playtime @ Amazon

PLAY TIME

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THE SWEET LIFE
1960

April 16, 2009
Netflix DVD
Italy / France
Italian / English / French / German
174 Minutes — April 19, 1961
Drama
Federico Fellini [8 1/2; Nights Of Cabiria]
Marcello Mastroianni; Anita Ekberg; Anouk Aimee; Yvonne Furneaux
#26 They Shoot Pictures Don’t They Top 1000 Films Of All Time

“Solo Filmschool” movies are those on the big list of the 1000 best films of all time, which the crew over at TSPDT keeps track of and updates from time to time. The version of the list I used is from January 2010. My plan is to work my way down the list, watching all of them on DVD (if available), regardless of how slow-moving, or out of date they might appear at first. If a highly-regarded and serious film class is not available where you live, you could do a lot worse than using this list as a jumping off point.

A journalist mixes in modern Roman high society and is alternately bewitched and sickened by what he sees.

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LA DOLCE VITA is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 69. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 LA DOLCE VITA Discussion
• Break
• 20:22 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 21:04 The Last Five®
• 1:01:48 Credits and Outtakes

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Oscar Nominations for Art Direction; Directing; Original Screenplay

*** Halliwells
*** Ebert
***^ Maltin
9.3 Metacritic
8.1 IMDB Number 243 All Time

La Dolce Vita @ Amazon

LA DOLCE VITA

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2008

March 8, 2009
Cinequest 19
Switzerland
German
92 Minutes
Comedy / Musical
Oliver Paulus

Strange mishmash of an alpine village and a Bollywood musical story. Somehow, it works. Lighter than the altitude, characters, all of whom are blonde, begin dancing in a supermarket while a noticeably brown Indian in town with a film crew, sings to the camera about love and food. Madcap, slapstick, romantic. The crowd couldn’t have laughed any louder. Everyone left smiling.

5.2 IMDB (94 Votes)

TANDOORI LOVE

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THE BEAUTIFUL BLUE DANUBE
2008

March 6, 2009
Cinequest 19
Serbia
Serbo-Croatian / English / German
107 Minutes
Drama / Musical
Darko Bajic

Notes:
Formula: Cabaret + Shortbus + Irreversible = BEAUTIFUL BLUE DANUBE. Started as a multi-language sex romp as a cruise ship departs carrying all members of the sexual spectrum who will learn something about themselves behind the doors of their staterooms. The staff offers food, beverages, and sexual favors for all paying guests. There is also a nightclub show where incredibly beautiful bodies perform in various states of undress. A widow is ready to awaken her long dormant sexuality, a husband branches out with his new male lover, a woman seduces, then tries to sign a young, hot author to a contract. The crew hustles for tips. The envelope-pushing is welcome, the freak flags are flying, the bodies writhe and can dance and everyone is happy, if a bit nervous. There is orgasm and flirting and drinking and a little blow. We are happy, we are gay (often literally)–and then there’s the story of Carl. An incredibly rich, pathetic, mopey guy who knows why he gets girls. He pays them. He checks in and the new girl is sent to him. He calls her a whore, he pretends to engage in conversation until he bluntly asks for oral sex. I’m still fine as a viewer. They have a struggle, trying to gain the upper hand in the dance of dominate sex. I’m still okay. They slap each other, she calls him names. They are play-acting and I’m okay. They wake up bruised from a night of semi-violent passion, I’m fine. But everything goes to hell when he chases her into the dining room where he rapes her in front of the rest of the passengers. For more than five minutes, screaming, tears, horrified guests–five minutes–and the lightness and playfulness vibe is shattered–and people walk out–angry at the film–and at the very end, a bit of a shared wink at the camera–which was most definitely not earned.

7.0 IMDB (57 Votes)

THE BEAUTIFUL BLUE DANUBE

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FINNISH TANGO
2008

March 1, 2009
Cinequest 19
Germany
German
90 Minutes
Comedy
Buket Alakus

Notes:
This film could never be made in the USA. Is it exploiting the disabled or empowering them? There’s a fine line. Downs Syndrome woman wants sex and offers to pay. A man with MS play-acts his own suicide. Our “hero” steals and ID from a guy at a bus stop with no arms. We know our guy will come to love this motley crew of special needs adults, but how long will it take and what about the cutie who runs the group home?

A young man, in love with his accordion, suffers the death of his band mate, becomes homeless, and has no job until a headhunter tells him that if he were somehow disabled he could get a job right away. He’ll need a disabled ID, which is why he steals one from the armless man at the bus stop.

Even though our protagonist is a total dick at the beginning (including saving his accordion from a car crash instead of a second buddy), we can’t help but feel like he’ll be redeemable by the end of the film.

6.4 IMDB (42 Votes)

FINNISH TANGO

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2008

July 8, 2008
HBO
USA / UK
English / French / German
99 Minutes
Documentary
Marina Zenovich

The Truth Couldn’t Fit In The Headlines

7.8 Metacritic
7.8 IMDB

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Written by Michael W. Cummins