Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

W.G. Sebald – Luftkrieg und Literatur (1)

sebald.jpg When the Apocalypse caused by Germany came back to engulf it in its fire and destruction, there must have been immeasurable suffering and trauma, yet, as Sebald points out, almost none of it made it into the story of life as set down by the writers. Sebalds exploration of the reasons for this omission, are both deeply touching for his compassion even with those who caused the very desasters that struck them, and illuminating for their original and provocative view on the narrative of Germany.

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Luchino Visconti – Il Gattopardo (4)

50-Gattopardo.jpg There might be a gripping historical tale in this movie, of the change Italy underwent when the univifcation movement succeeded, of the social turmoil, and of the mixed feelings of an educated upper class, about to lose it’s power and influence for a good cause, but I didn’t stick around to see whether there was. After the first forty minutes dragged on, with a nonexistent plot and a badly choreographed, endless public fighting scene, I stopped. Sorry, Visconti.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Zack Snyder – 300 (3)

poster1_full1.jpg Awesome graphic design, wonderful cinematic visuals, both of which are more to Miller’s credit, of course, than the filmmakers’. The story lacked subtlety or characterization, and the dialogue was horribly cliched in places, which may also be Miller’s fault – need to pick up the book to check. A sad waste of talent and material overall.

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Martin Campbell – Casino Royale (2)

bond.jpg For some bizarre reason that I find it hard to put my finger on, I still like Timothy Dalton’s Bond best. Maybe it was the discrepancy between his effeminate appearance and the supposed tough guy he portrayed. Craig certainly doesn’t have that asset, if an asset it is, but the realism the makers of this movie were striving for, is certainly rewarding. I’m not a fan of product placement, nor of movies that are longer than they should be, nor of the elaborate stunt sequence beginning, that felt like it was tailored for a computer game, but still watching this latest Bond was more fun than I recall the last few attempts to be. And I also liked the surrealist feel of going back to the roots, yet having the plot set in the present, with Dench as M.

Kafka Americana From Jonathan Lethem, who recently masterfully argued the fruitfulness of apropriating someone else’s intellectual property and turning it into something original of one’s own, and Carter Scholz, whom I hadn’t heard of before, comes this set of reinventions of Kafka’s themes with the frame of American culture. Witty, dark and unexpected, these stories toy with great ideas in a very delightful way. My favorite of the bunch is easily Lethem’s and Scholz’ collaboration on the story of how Kafka and Capra collaborated to make “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Great stuff.

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Federico Fellini – 8½ (1)

2679-fellini812-p.jpg Maybe it was because I had felt to be in a similar place to Mastroiani’s manic director recently, or maybe it’s just the fact that Fellini can make you feel things you didn’t realize you had in you, but in the final scene’s taking down of the main character’s overblown ego machine it felt like part of me was coming down with it, in oddly satisfying melancholy.

Friday, September 15th, 2006

James McTeigue – V for Vendetta (1)

v_for_vendetta_erased_info_2.jpg Finally, the non-sucking sequel to the Matrix. While V is still wordy and rich in pseudophilobabble, it is mostly stylish and ironic enough to get away with it. Weaving and Portman both are excellent, him being all the more impressive for doing it all from under a cheesy mask. A comic book version of political discourse still, at least this impromptu is enjoyable to watch and visually pleasing.

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Miroslav Sasek – München / Munich (2)

munich.jpg This book evokes memories of the seventies, when I was a little boy in school, and many textbooks had illustrations in a style similar to Sasek’s. These are lovely and slightly odd renderings of everyday life in Munich several decades ago, and the slight mismatch between the english and german versions of the text, and the terseness in general, only add to this piece of nostalgia. And I don’t even like Munich all that much.

passenger.jpg This movie exudes an almost physical sense of emptyness and ennui. Oddly, while not entirely successful, that is actually a good thing, as Nicholsons character has lost all interest and drifts along mindlessly, trying without success to find meaning in taking over other another person’s life. The opening sequence, unfolding in mysterious wordlessness in a gorgeous desert landscape, are particularly effective at recreating the existential despair of Nicholsons character in the viewer, but all of the movie actually does a terrific job. Which unfortunately is also something of a bad thing.

cowboys zombies.jpg I recently remembered that a Leningrad Cowboys album was lying abondoned in some basement in Germany, and was happy to find that the songs I remembered so fondly still sound great. I was even happier when I learned that the Cowboys had just released a new album, but subsequently disappointed to find it badly cliched and uninspired. Where the earlier stuff is tightroping the quirk above a sea of ethnic cliche, this collection is right down in the deepest, darkest abyss of hardrock hubris. Why, oh why?