Movies I've seen In 2007
- Nichts Als Gespenster (German)
The stories of five pairs of friends (or lovers or parents/children) show how hard it can be
to be with one another, no matter how easy it seems it should be. Life is a continuing process, and
success yesterday does not guarantee success today. A superb ensemble mixed of better-known and
lesser-known actors manages to pull off this book adaptation in a very engaging manner. It's
is not exactly a feel-good movie, but it's very good entertainment, and provides plenty of
stuff to talk about.
Another comic book adaptation, although comic isn't really the right word, since it has
connotations of humor, which is rare in this story. It's about an Iranian girl growing up
before, during and after the Islamic revolution, and the impact it has on her family and friends.
For some time she goes to live abroad, but eventually returns, before finally leaving for good.
The (mostly black-and-white) 2D-style of the graphics is very different from Pixar-style (or even
Disney-style) films, but it is faithful to the book, and appropriate for telling the story.
Subjects both trivial and deep are covered as they relate to growing up and finding one's place
in the world; the result is a highly viewable and entertaining film.
Well, Pixar did it again. It may say Disney all over the credits, but you know they couldn't
come up with this kind of stuff. I say this every time, but the computer graphics have taken
another step forward; the outdoor street scenes are simply amazing. The rats are lovable,
the story is cute if a bit too happy-endish, and the humans represent a good sample of humanity,
from nice to evil; particularly memorable is a food critic called "The Grim Eater". Oh, the story:
a can-do-nothing boy from nowhere takes over a gourmet restaurant as chef with the help of a rat
that tells him how to cook. Doesn't make sense? Never mind that - you'll love it.
Michael Moore's latest documentary focuses on the American health care system. A number of patients'
scare stories about dealing with HMOs are juxtaposed with visits to Canada, England, France and Cuba
to study their respective systems. Predictably, the USA comes off worst. Less polemical
and less political than Fahrenheit 9/11, it's more comparable to Supersize Me, while also
not missing a bit of fun every now and then.
- Ein fliehendes Pferd (German)
When I read this book some 20-odd years ago, my mother commented on it by saying that she didn't like
how negatively it portrayed things.
The film is a bit different, as it's comedic at times, but it also shows strange human faultlines exposed
in ways that sometimes make the viewer smile at its silliness, while at other times making him cringe
when long-repressed memories and feelings are touched. The story of two couples, one of which is all set
in routine, while the other is still young at heart, asks the perennial questions about how to live your life,
whether we can change ours, and if it's even worth changing. The answers, as always, remain elusive, but
the story points towards reasons to keep asking. Excellent performances by the actors.
Franka Potente stars in a slasher movie set in the London Underground, where she gets trapped
after missing the last train at night. The Creep gets everyone else, until she manages –quite
miraculously really– to kill him. Lots of darkness, and lots of surprises behind corners, keep the
suspense and the tempo high. Just 80 minutes long, there's still lots in it ... for those moments
few and far in between where one enjoys rivers of blood.
Casey, a suburbanite who has left his drug-dealing past behind, is visited by his former partner who
also brings a suitcase full of cocaine and two million dollars. Soon the ex-partner's friends and
enemies descend upon Casey's house to make his day a nightmare, and corpses start piling up. It's quite
entertaining to see how Casey gets out of it, without actually killing anyone himself.
- The Bourne Ultimatum
Third and final (?) part of the trilogy, in which Jason Bourne finally discovers how he became
a hitman for the CIA. The action sequences are faster, and more numerous, than in the previous parts,
and mostly shot with a hand camera, which makes the scenes seem even more fast-paced. In the end,
of course, all the bad guys are being held accountable, and the good guys and gals from the previous
installments turn out to be still the good guys. That's a bit too predictable. Everything but the
action gets short shrift (e.g., Julia Stiles barely says a word). Oh well, I guess that's to be expected.
- Mystery Train
A number of people spend a night at the same hotel in Memphis, listening to the same radio program,
and probably thinking about Elvis. In the morning, a shot is fired, and life goes on. I've been meaning
to see this Jim Jarmusch movie for a long time; now I'm not sure what to make of it. It assembles the
usual odd mix of actors (including Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer), but what is the common
strand of the episodes? Transforming events? Being on the go? Dealing with Elvis in your life? The train?
- The Simpsons Movie
Extrapolate from the usual 22 minutes of a regular Simpsons eisode to a full-length movie, and you can gauge
the chaos unleashed. In the end, the town of Springfield is quarantined and about to be demolished and all
townsfolk killed. The culprit -of course- is Homer J. Simpson. Somewhat surprisingly, the movie works well.
The jokes do not fall flat after 90 minutes, and the writers have given the plot and its turns ample
attention, with many ideas big and small along the way. After many years of waiting, faithful Simpsons
fans have got their movie, and can rejoice in that it turned out as well as they always knew it would.
- Die Hard 4.0
Bruce takes them on as hard as they come, and as many as there may be. What could follow messing around
with a whole city in part 3? Messing with a whole country, carried out by cracking just about any
computer network there is, and shutting down the utility, traffic and computer infrastructure. The action stunts are
further out than usual, leaving not much room for another sequel (think "how to take out a fighter jet
in bare hands combat"), but as entertaining as ever. Excellent summer movie.
- Clerks 2
The Quickstop grocery is burnt down! Dante is leaving New Jersey! Randal acknowledges
true friendship, if not true love! Silent Bob speaks, and offers solutions! OK, not all of these
are quite accurate, but big changes are happening (or at least planned), and it takes quite a bit
to stop them dead in their tracks, and turn them into something quite different. The movie starts
off where part 1 ends, even if everyone is 10 years older, yet has gotten nowhere. In the end,
it takes the beloved characters (plus the cute Rosario Dawson) into new, yet somehow familiar,
territory. Worthwhile seeing if you liked the first part, but not enough to stand on its own.
- Starbuck Holger Meins (German)
Holger Meins was a member of the Baader Meinhof Group, a group of German terrorists
in the Seventies. He died in jail during a hunger strike, awaiting the group's trial.
This documentary collects voices and opinions of friends and contemporaries of his,
and also approaches his paintings and films. A lasting impression is made by recollections
of his father, who told his son he'd support him 100% after his arrest. It's eerie to see
a society react so hysterically to the unrest prevalent in the younger generation, and to what
Heinrich Böll has called the war of 6 against 60 millions.
- Blue In The Face
Shot in a mere 6 days after Smoke was finished,
this movie is an expression of love for Brooklyn and smoking. Everyone's got an opinion, from Lou Reed
and Jim Jarmusch to random passers-by on the street. And in the midst of it is Harvey Keitel as Auggie Wren,
trying to make sense of it all. It's not a conventional movie, more a stream-of-consciousness thing,
with Madonna singing and dancing, and Mira Sorvino crying along the way. Somehow it all comes together.
- Shrek 3
Computer animations are becoming ever more amazing, and this film is a good example of that.
The plot isn't so memorable - Shrek is in line to inherit the throne, and tries hard to find
the one other heir to avoid becoming king. Of course there's an evil plot by fairy tale characters
who figure it's their turn to run the kingdom, but in the end ... well, it's a movie for kids,
so what can you expect? Rupert Everett craftily lends his voice to the chief villain, and Eddie
Murphy's character is as annoying as ever.
- Shoppen (German)
Eighteen men and women get to know each in 5 minute speed dating sessions. The movie shows how
and why they got there, what happens during the session, and what develops afterwards.
The characters are all unknown actors, and they represent the full range of behaviors that's
out there in the single scene, with everyone having their own peculiarities, and their own
strategy for going after love and companionship. It's at times sad, at times hilarious, and
overall great entertainment.
- Little Children
That life in the suburbs isn't as serene as one would think we've known since Desperate
Housewifes. Between unsteady ex-cops, indecent exposers and straying husbands and wives
there's a lot to keep you on your toes. This charming movie tells it all, showing how people
are trying to make sense of it all, and struggling to find meaning and dignity in it. A great
cast of very real characters helps, as does a story that takes them seriously.
- Mean Guns
How many dead men does it take for one woman and a girl to survive with a cool $10m?
About 50, give or take, plus a few women, would this movie have us believe. But it's set against
a soundtrack of Mambo and Ennio Morricones Once upon a time in the West, which makes it all
seem so ... light and entertaining ... and ... ridiculous.
- The Last King of Scotland
The regime of Ugandas Idi Amin, as seen through the eyes of his Scottish physician, who at first gets
caught up in the positive wave after Amin taking power, and then gets to witness the dark side of it.
Nothing particularly outstanding here - the usual revolutionary story followed by cleansing, mistrust,
paranoia and so forth. Forest Whitaker is a fine actor, but an Oscar for this role seems a stretch.
The most pointless movie I've seen in a long time. A band of 300 Spartan warriors battles Persian king
Xerces' massive army, and only through their sacrifice is Spartas leadership persuaded to raise a proper
army to go on and defeat him. Everything one would want in a movie is badly done or missing altogether:
acting, plot, production, shooting, suspense etc. As a comic book this might have worked, but not on film.
The moral is: Friends don't let friends watch 300.
- The Fan
Robert De Niro proves that he can play a maniac, but we already knew that. Apart from that
the film accomplishes little, the storyline being about a disappointed baseball fan who
starts to hound a homerun hitting star he previously admired. The plot is lacking,
the acting flat, and the end predictable. Proof positive that I made the right choice in
missing it when it the movie first came out; I shouldn't have changed my mind.
- Robert Altmans Last Picture Show
Garrison Keillor has been hosting A Prairie Home Companion for a long time,
and now he penned a movie based on it, which turned out to be Robert Altman's last film.
As befits an Altman movie, a high-caliber ensemble comes together for an evening
of homely entertainment, and has to face death and the axe-man, who wants to close their theater.
Even without ever having heard the radio show, this is superb entertainment with a great cast.
- Ice Age and Ice Age 2
A group of creatures join together first to escape the coming ice age (in part 1) and then
to escape the coming flood when it's over (in part 2). The animals range from the ferocious to the
obnoxious, and from the extinct to the common ones. Proof that animation doesn't have to be done by
Disney or Pixar, the movie is a bit predictable -probably due to its family-friendliness- and not
a must-see film. It's entertaining for what it is, though.
- The Negotiator
Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey battle it out as two police hostage negotiators pitted against
each other, but in reality, they're fighting against bad cops in their own department. Although the end
is mostly predictable, the pace is fast, the acting marginal, and the action suspenseful, so all things
considered, the movie hits its mark as a thriller. I wish that once and for all, filmmakers would
make up their mind whether the FBI is good or bad - I am, as ever, confused.
- Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot (German)
This independent film is set in deep rural Bavaria, and casts no known actors - normally not a recipe
for success, but this one is an exception, critically and commercially. A boy is haunted by his mothers
death during his birth, and tries to make up for it by getting his father another wife. He gets plenty
of encourgement and discouragement alike from everybody around - friends, family, village folks, and the
regulars in his fathers bar, but in the end overcomes the demons that beset him. A hilarious comedy
that dissects country life without denouncing it.
Bruce Willis does what he does best - handling simultaneous crises, jumping into action when
the going gets tough, and getting out all the good folks alive. This is a fast paced thriller
with a novel plot line and plenty of surprises. Fine acting gets short shrift, but hey, what do
you expect? It's excellent entertainment.
- Million Dollar Baby
Clint Eastwood plays a boxing gym owner who takes up training a woman who's at the
beginning, and gets her all the way to a championship fight. Rare for a Hollywood movie,
he loses his new-found daughter in the end without reconnecting with his own long lost one.
This is a story of strong willpower on her part, and reliving the dreams of days past for him,
but to the viewer it all remains disconnected and not really believable.
- The Score
A gripping thriller about the last heist (isn't it always ?) of an ageing master thief.
He's forced to work with a talented youngster, do it in his own city, and doesn't like
either fact, but can't back out as a favor to a friend. Robert de Niro is on top of things
as usual, and Edward Norton does a good job getting on his nerves. I always like seeing
Marlon Brando, who reminds me a bit of the Godfather, although he's much less with it here.