Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Review: Entertaining "TRIANGLE OF SADNESS" is Not as Clever or as Sharp As it Thinks It Is

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 of 2023 (No. 1910) by Leroy Douresseaux

Triangle of Sadness (2022)
Running time:  147 minutes (2 hour, 27 minutes)
MPA – R for language and some sexual content
PRODUCERS:  Philippe Bober and Erik Hemmendorff
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Fredrik Wenzel (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Mikel Cee Karlsson and Rubin Östlund
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Vicki Berlin, Dolly De Leon, Zlatko Buric, Sunnyi Melles, Iris Berben, Amanda Walker, Oliver Ford Davies, Ralph Schicha, Henrik Dorsin, Jean-Christophe Folly, Alicia Eriksson, and Woody Harrelson

Triangle of Sadness is a 2022 satirical film and black comedy from writer-director Ruben Östlund.  It is the Swedish Östlund's first English-language film, and it is an international co-production between four nations:  Sweden, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.  The film follows a celebrity couple, who are both fashion models, as they join a doomed luxury cruse for the super-rich.

Triangle of Sadness introduces Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean).  Yaya is a successful fashion model, and Carl is male model, who is not as successful as Yaya.  Yaya expects Carl to pay for their meals, although she makes more money than him, and her ambition is to be a trophy wife.  Yaya is an “influencer,” and she is in a relationship with Carl for the social media engagement it earns them.

Carl and Yaya are invited on a luxury cruise aboard a super-yacht in exchange for its social media promotion.  Among the wealthy guests are the Russian oligarch, Dimitry (Zlatko Buric), and his wife, Vera (Sunnyi Melles), and Jarmo (Henrik Dorsin), a lonely tech millionaire who flirts with Yaya.  Paula (Vicki Berlin), the tightly wound head of the ship's staff, demands that the staff obey the guests' every request, even the absurd ones.  The ship's Captain (Woody Harrelson) will not leave his room and seems to be drunk all the time.  The captain's neglect of his duties, Paula's insistence on placating the super-wealthy guests, and the guests crazy demands culminate in a single disastrous evening.

Eventually, a small group of the yacht's guests, including Carl and Yaya, find themselves on what seems to be a deserted island.  Now, the balance of power has shifted from the wealthy and powerful to a rather skillful cleaning woman, Abigail (Dolly De Leon).  Will the guests adjust to this new status, and how well will they adjust?

There are some fun, outrageous, and outrageously funny material, moments, and scenes in Triangle of Sadness.  The film critiques and mocks the obscenely wealthy, but I think that its strongest points are made when it takes swipes at how some people get rich and famous.  Some are wealthy because they sell things that are destructive to humanity (things used in war), and some are rich and famous … for being rich and famous.  Some people's wealth does not make their lives better, such as the lonely Jarmo.  Some, like the Russian, Dimitry, merely happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right stuff to sell.

For all his film's political commentary and moral lessons, writer-director Ruben Östlund seems to be a tad too mannered.  It's as if he doesn't know that while his film is edgy, he seems to be dulling the sharp edges that would really go after his social and political targets.  Is Östlund saying that the super-rich and famous are obscene and that they need to be brought down to the level of ordinary people in order to regain their humanity?  By the end of the film, it seems that way.

I would recommend Triangle of Sadness (which takes its title from a modeling term used in the film) to fans of foreign movies.  Most movie fans can get a similar message, more or less, from the classic Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd film, Trading Places (1983).  I like Triangle of Sadness because it is a genuinely good film, but it feels like Ruben Östlund left the hardness of its allegories and metaphors on the cutting room floor.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

2023 Academy Awards, USA:  3 nominations: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober), “Best Original Screenplay” (Ruben Östlund), and “Best Achievement in Directing” (Ruben Östlund)

2023 BAFTA Awards:  3 nominations: “Best Supporting Actress” (Dolly De Leon), “Best Casting” (Pauline Hansson), and “Best Screenplay-Original” (Ruben Östlund)

2023 Golden Globes, USA:  2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture” (Dolly De Leon) 

2022 Cannes Film Festival:  2 wins: “Palme d'Or” (Ruben Östlund) and “CST Artist-Technician Prize” (Andreas Franck, Bent Holm, Jacob Ilgner, and Jonas Rudels)

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Friday, March 11, 2022

Review: "RESIDENT EVIL: Welcome to Raccoon City" is Scary as Hell

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 13 of 2022 (No. 1825) by Leroy Douresseaux

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)
Running time:  107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence and gore, and language throughout
DIRECTOR:  Johannes Roberts
WRITER:  Johannes Roberts (based upon the video game, Resident Evil)
PRODUCERS:  Hartley Gorenstein, James Harris, and Robert Kulzer
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Maxime Alexandre
EDITOR:  Dev Singh
COMPOSER:  Mark Korven


Starring:  Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue, Neal McDonough, Marina Mazepa. Janet Porter, Holly De Barros, Chad Rook, Nathan Dales, Daxton Grey Gujral, and Lily Gail Reid

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a 2021 science fiction, action, and horror film from writer-director Johannes Roberts.  It is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil film franchise and a reboot of the franchise, which is based upon the Capcom survival horror video game series, Resident EvilWelcome to Raccoon City is set in 1998 and focuses on a small group of people trying to survive a zombie outbreak in a small town.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens sometime in the 1980s in the small town of Raccoon City.  The Raccoon City Orphanage is the current home of orphaned siblings, Claire Redfield (Lily Gail Reid), and her brother, Chris (Daxton Grey Gujral).  The children are subject to being experimented on by Dr. William Birkin (Neal McDonough), an employee of the Umbrella Corporation, the world's largest pharmaceutical company.  Eventually, Claire manages to run away.

On the rainy night of September 30, 1998, an adult Claire (Kaya Scodelario) returns to Raccoon City.  She hopes to convince her estranged brother, Chris (Robbie Amell), who is now an officer of the Raccoon City Police Department (RPD), that Umbrella is experimenting on the people of the city.  However, Chris is not happy to see his sister, nor does he believe what she tells him about Umbrella's activities.

In fact, Umbrella Corp. has pulled out of Raccoon City, turning it into a ghost town.  The only people still in town are a skeleton crew of the corporation's last employees and those who are too poor to leave.  Before Claire can convince anyone of anything, Raccoon City's remaining citizens start getting sick and eventually, they begin turning into hungry zombies.  Soon, Claire and Chris are each leading a small group of police officers on a quest to escape the city with neither knowing that they are rapidly running out of time.

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City was not a success at the box office, which is a shame.  As the first entry in a new series of films, it is superior to Resident Evil, the 2002 film that kicked off the franchise.  I will be honest.  The characters are shallow, but character development and motivation are not the most important things in Welcome to Raccoon City.  The scares are.

To that end, it is very successful.  Writer-director Johannes Roberts turns in a film that makes superb use of nighttime settings, shadows, darkness, and a rainy night.  With film editor, Dev Singh, Roberts strangles his audience with fearsome sequences of zombies and monsters jumping out of every darkness.  There is a scene in which Chris Redfield has to ward off zombies with very little light.  Every time, he fires his weapon, there is a flash that briefly illuminates an attacking zombie.  In fact, Welcome to Raccoon City's zombies may be twenty-first century's scariest.  I felt that with every bump and thump in the night my blood was freezing.

I hope that Johannes Roberts gets a shot at making a sequel to Welcome to Raccoon City.  Online and especially on social media, I have come across complaints about this film, but these complainers must be jaded.  In the blended genre of survival horror and zombie films, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is quite an achievement.

7 of 10

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The text is copyright © 2022 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint or syndication rights and fees.




Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nine Foreign Language Films Vie for 5 90th Academy Award Nominations


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 90th Academy Awards ®.  Ninety-two films had originally been considered in the category.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

Chile, “A Fantastic Woman,” Sebastián Lelio, director;

Germany, “In the Fade,” Fatih Akin, director;

Hungary, “On Body and Soul,” Ildikó Enyedi, director;

Israel, “Foxtrot,” Samuel Maoz, director;

Lebanon, “The Insult,” Ziad Doueiri, director;

Russia, “Loveless,” Andrey Zvyagintsev, director;

Senegal, “Félicité,” Alain Gomis, director;

South Africa, “The Wound,” John Trengove, director;

Sweden, “The Square,” Ruben Östlund, director.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2017 are determined in two phases.

The Phase I committee, consisting of Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 11, 2017.  The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

Academy members eligible to participate in the Nominations round of voting in New York, London, Los Angeles and, for the first time, the San Francisco Bay Area, will screen the nine shortlisted films in theaters over a three-day period from Friday, January 12, through Sunday, January 14, with three films screening each day.  Additionally, international members (who live outside of the U.K.) will be invited to opt-in to stream the nine shortlisted films on the Academy’s member site.  Members must see all nine films before casting their ballots.

Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards® will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018.

The 90th Oscars® will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.  The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

"The Salesman" Wins "Best Foreign Film" Oscar

Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine - Denmark

A Man Called Ove - Sweden

The Salesman - Iran - WINNER

Tanna - Australia

Toni Erdmann - Germany

Sunday, December 11, 2016

2016 European Film Award Winners Announced; A Real Complete Winners List

The European Film Awards recognize excellence in European cinematic achievements.  The awards are are presented annually since 1988 by the European Film Academy and are given in over ten categories, of which the most important is “European Film,” the best film of the year award.  The European Film Awards are restricted to European cinema and European producers, directors, and actors.

The 29th European Film Awards were announced on Saturday, December 10, 2016 in Wroclaw, Poland.  The EFA, in collaboration with the European Film Academy and EFA Productions, honored the greatest achievements in European cinema at the 2016 European Film Awards.

2016 / 29th European Film Awards winners:

“Toni Erdmann,” (Maren Ade, Germany, Austria)

Maren Ade, (“Toni Erdmann”)

Peter Simonischek, (“Erdmann”)

Sandra Hüller, (“Toni Erdmann”)

Maren Ade, (“Toni Erdmann”)

“Fire At Sea,” (Gianfranco Rosi, Italy, France)

“My Life as a Zucchini,” (Claude Barras, France, Switzerland)

“A Man Called Ove,” (Hannes Holm, Sweden, Norway)

“The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki,” (Juho Kuosmanen, Finland, Sweden, Germany)

“I, Daniel Blake” - Ken Loach

“9 Days – From My Window In Aleppo”

Leontine Petit

Radosław Ochnio; 11 Minutes

Barbara Kreuzer; Land Of Mine

Ilya Demutsky; The Student

Stefanie Bieker; Land Of Mine

Alice Normington; Suffragette

Anne Østerud & Janus Billeskov Jansen; The Commune

Camilla Hjelm Knudsen; Land Of Mine

Andrzej Wajda

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jean-Claude Carrière

Achievement in World Cinema Award: Pierce Brosnan

Young Audience Award: Émilie Deleuze - Miss Impossible


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Select Regal Theatres Screening Oscar Nominated Short Films

Watch the Oscar® Nominated Shorts at Regal

See the best of the best in Animated and Live Action

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Regal Entertainment Group, a leading motion picture exhibitor owning and operating the largest theatre circuit in the United States, today announces that ten of the best Live Action and Animated Shorts will be available at select Regal theatres. This year's most spectacular short films across Live Action and Animation will be available for a limited time to watch on the big screen February 19-21, 2016.

"Oscar® aficionados will want to buy their ticket to see the animated and live action shorts," said Mike Viane, Senior Vice President of Film at Regal Entertainment Group.  "These passion projects are not widely available, and Regal is offering a unique opportunity to watch these at the theatre the way the directors intended - on the big screen."

The Live Action Shorts include:

    --  Ave Maria (Palestine/France/Germany)
    --  Day One (USA)
    --  Everything Will Be Okay (Germany/Austria)
    --  Shok (Kosovo/United Kingdom)
    --  Stutterer (United Kingdom/Ireland)

The Animated Shorts include:

    --  Bear Story (Chile)
    --  Prologue (United Kingdom)
    --  Sanjay's Super Team (USA)
    --  We Can't Live Without Cosmos (Russia)
    --  World of Tomorrow (USA)

Tickets can be purchased at the box office or  For additional information and a list of participating theatres, please check

Regal fans are encouraged to like Regal Cinemas' Facebook page and download the Regal Movies app. The Regal app also gives patrons the ability to upload their Regal Crown Club card straight to their phone for easy access while on-the-go. Through the industry-leading Regal Crown Club, 13-million patrons each year accumulate credits at the box office and concession stand to earn rewards including free popcorn, soft drinks and movies. Free membership is available at the box office or online at

About Regal Entertainment Group:
Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) operates the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuit in the United States, consisting of 7,361 screens in 572 theatres in 42 states along with the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan as of December 31, 2015. The Company operates theatres in 46 of the top 50 U.S. designated market areas. We believe that the size, reach and quality of the Company's theatre circuit not only provide its patrons with a convenient and enjoyable movie-going experience, but is also an exceptional platform to realize economies of scale in theatre operations.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 San Diego Film Critics Society Award Nominations - Complete List

The members of the San Diego Film Critics Society write and/or broadcast for a San Diego County based outlet. The society’s mission statement is “to provide diverse critical opinion about movies, advance film education and awareness, and recognize excellence in cinema.”

2015 San Diego Film Critics Award nominations were announced December 11, 2015.

San Diego Film Critics Society Top Films of 2015 nominees:

Best Picture

Best Director
George Miller, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
John Crowley, BROOKLYN
Lenny Abrahamson, ROOM
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, THE REVENANT

Best Actor, Male
Leonardo DiCaprio, THE REVENANT
Bryan Cranston, TRUMBO
Jacob Tremblay, ROOM

Best Actor, Female
Saoirse Ronan, BROOKLYN
Brie Larson, ROOM
Charlotte Rampling, 45 YEARS
Charlize Theron, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Alicia Vikander, EX MACHINA

Best Supporting Actor, Male
Oscar Isaac, EX MACHINA
Paul Dano, LOVE & MERCY

Best Supporting Actor, Female
Alicia Vikander, THE DANISH GIRL
Jennifer Jason Leigh, THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Helen Mirren, TRUMBO

Best Original Screenplay
Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, MISTRESS AMERICA
Alex Garland, EX MACHINA
Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
Quentin Tarantino, THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, SPOTLIGHT

Best Adapted Screenplay
Nick Hornby, BROOKLYN
Emma Donoghue, ROOM
Charlie Kaufman, ANOMALISA
Donald Margulies, THE END OF THE TOUR
Drew Goddard, Andy Weir THE MARTIAN

Best Documentary

Best Animated Film

Best Foreign Language Film
PHOENIX (Germany)
TAXI (Iran)
WHITE GOD (Hungary)

Best Editing
Margaret Sixel, Jason Ballantine MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Joe Walker, SICARIO
Pietro Scalia, THE MARTIAN
Nathan Nugent, ROOM
Stephen Mirrione, THE REVENANT

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins, SICARIO
Yves Belanger, BROOKLYN
Dariuz Wolski, THE MARTIAN
Emmanuel Lubezki, THE REVENANT

Best Production Design
Colin Gibson, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Mark Digby, EX MACHINA
Francois Seguin, BROOKLYN
Adam Stockhausen, BRIDGE OF SPIES

Best Sound Design

Best Visual Effects

Best Use Of Music In A Film

Breakthrough Artist
Jacob Tremblay, ROOM
Emory Cohen, BROOKLYN
Sean S. Baker, TANGERINE

Best Ensemble


Monday, December 21, 2015

Down to 9 Films Competeing for "Foreign Language Film" Oscar at 88th Academy Awards


Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 88th Academy Awards®.  Eighty films had originally been considered in the category.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

     Belgium, "The Brand New Testament," Jaco Van Dormael, director;

     Colombia, "Embrace of the Serpent," Ciro Guerra, director;

     Denmark, "A War," Tobias Lindholm, director;

     Finland, "The Fencer," Klaus Härö, director;

     France, "Mustang," Deniz Gamze Ergüven, director;

     Germany, "Labyrinth of Lies," Giulio Ricciarelli, director;

     Hungary, "Son of Saul," László Nemes, director;

     Ireland, "Viva," Paddy Breathnach, director;

     Jordan, "Theeb," Naji Abu Nowar, director.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2015 are being determined in two phases.

The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 14.  The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the category’s five nominees by specially invited committees in New York, Los Angeles and London.  They will spend Friday, January 8, through Sunday, January 10, viewing 2016 three films each day and then casting their ballots.

The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Paolo Sorrentino's "Youth" Named "Best European Film of 2015"

The European Film Awards recognize excellence in European cinematic achievements.  The awards are are presented annually since 1988 by the European Film Academy and are given in over ten categories, of which the most important is “European Film,” the best film of the year award.  The European Film Awards are restricted to European cinema and European producers, directors, and actors.

The winners of the 28th European Film Awards were announced at a ceremony on Saturday, December 12, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

The 2015/28th European Film Awards winners:

Youth, dir: Paolo Sorrentino

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Michael Caine, Youth

Paolo Sorrentino, Youth

Marshland, dir: Alberto Rodríguez

A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence, dir: Roy Andersson

Amy, dir: Asif Kapadia

Mustang, dir: Deniz Gamze Erguven

Song Of The Sea, dir: Tomm Moore

Picnic, dir: Jure Pavlovic

Yorgos Lanthimos & Efthimis Filippou for The Lobster


Charlotte Rampling

Andrea Occhipinti

Vasco Pimentel & Miguel Martins for Arabian Nights – Vol I-III

Cat’s Eyes for The Duke Of Burgundy

Sarah Blenkinsop for The Lobster

Sylvie Olivé for The Brand New Testament

Jacek Drosio for Body

Martin Gschlacht for Goodnight Mommy

Christoph Waltz

Michael Caine


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

2015 Student Academy Award Winners Announced


All winning films now eligible for Oscars®

Los Angeles, CA — The Academy has voted fifteen students as winners of the 42nd Student Academy Awards competition. The Academy received a record number of entries this year — 1,686 films from 282 domestic and 93 international colleges and universities — which were voted upon by a record number of Academy members. Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 47 Oscar® nominations and have won or shared eight awards.  Previous winners include Pete Docter, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Trey Parker and Robert Zemeckis.

The winners are (listed alphabetically by film title):

“Chiaroscuro,” Daniel Drummond, Chapman University, California
“Zoe,” ChiHyun Lee, The School of Visual Arts, New York

“An Object at Rest,” Seth Boyden, California Institute of the Arts
“Soar,” Alyce Tzue, Academy of Art University, San Francisco
“Taking the Plunge,” Nicholas Manfredi and Elizabeth Ku-Herrero, The School of Visual Arts

“Boxeadora,” Meg Smaker, Stanford University
“I Married My Family’s Killer,” Emily Kassie, Brown University
“Looking at the Stars,” Alexandre Peralta, University of Southern California

“Day One,” Henry Hughes, American Film Institute, California
“Stealth,” Bennett Lasseter, American Film Institute
“This Way Up,” Jeremy Cloe, American Film Institute

Foreign Film
“Everything Will Be Okay…,” Patrick Vollrath, Filmakademie Wien, Austria
“Fidelity,” Ilker Catak, Hamburg Media School, Germany
“The Last Will,” Dustin Loose, Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Students will arrive in Los Angeles for a week of industry activities that will culminate in the awards ceremony on Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 7:30 p.m., at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.  The medal placements – gold, silver and bronze – in the five award categories will be announced at the ceremony.

First-time honors go to Chapman University in the Alternative category and Filmakademie Wien in the Foreign Film competition.  Academy members voted the winners from a field of 33 finalists, announced last month.

The 42nd Student Academy Awards ceremony on September 17, 2015 is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required.  Tickets may be obtained online at today.  Any remaining tickets will be made available at the door on the evening of the event.  The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

The Student Academy Awards were established in 1972 to provide a platform for emerging global talent by creating opportunities within the industry to showcase their work.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: "Pompeii" an Enjoyable Historical Spectacle

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 31 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Pompeii (2014)
Running time:  105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content
DIRECTOR:  Paul W.S. Anderson
WRITER:  Janet Scott Batchler and Lee Batchler, and Michael Robert Johnson
PRODUCERS:  Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Robert Kulzer, and Don Carmody
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Glen MacPherson (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Michele Conroy
COMPOSER:  Clinton Shorter


Starring:  Kit Harrington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kiefer Sutherland, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Joe Pingue, Currie Graham, Sasha Roiz, Dalmar Abuzeid, and Dylan Schombing

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania.  Pompeii and the surrounding area (including another town) were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Pompeii is a 2014 historical drama and disaster film from director Paul W.S. Anderson, perhaps best known for his work on the Resident Evil film franchise.  Theatrically released in 3D, this film is a German and Canadian co-production.

Pompeii is set during the last two or three days before Vesuvius destroys the city.  The film focuses on a slave-turned-gladiator who finds himself in Pompeii and fighting to protect a nobleman’s young daughter from a corrupt Roman Senator, while nearby, Mount Vesuvius rumbles ominously.

Pompeii opens in Brittania in 62 AD.  Roman soldiers brutally wipe out a tribe of Celtic horsemen, and a young Celtic boy named Milo (Dylan Schombing) watches as his parents are murdered.  By 79 AD, the boy is a grown man known as “The Celt” (Kit Harrington), who is a Roman slave and talented gladiator.

Milo is taken to Pompeii during the “Festival of the Vinalia” in order to entertain the crowds.  He has an encounter with Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of Pompeii's ruler, Marcus Severus (Jared Harris) and his wife, Aurelia (Carrie-Anne Moss).  Milo and the young woman are drawn to each other.  However, Milo must focus his attention on Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a champion gladiator who wants to use “the Celt” to gain his freedom.

Meanwhile, the arrival of Senator Quintas Attius Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland), a close ally of Roman emperor, Titus, changes everyone’s plans.  All that planning might be why Pompeii’s people and visitors are ignoring the noise and rumbles coming from Mount Vesuvius, which towers over the area.

In the history of films set in or during the Roman Empire, Pompeii won’t be memorable.  It’s no Gladiator (2000), nor is it even on the level of a recent favorite of mine, The Eagle (2011).  Pompeii is a sword and sandal film that mixes several genres, including action-adventure, romance, the disaster film, the swashbuckler, and the historical, among others.  Each of those genres offers something enjoyable to watch in Pompeii, but overall this film is not well acted, directed, or written.

It looked to me like some of the film’s actors were struggling not to laugh during scenes when they were supposed to convey anger or pain.  Kit Harrington as Milo the Celt is cute, but he is not much of an actor, at least here.  Emily Browning as Cassia is seemingly quite passionate about this film and gives it her best effort.  Why should you watch this movie?  I don't know.

I found myself enjoying Pompeii.  I have always liked Roman Empire movies, so obviously I was going to give this film a chance.  I am glad that I did, but I won’t lie and pretend that this is an especially good film.

5 of 10

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Oscar-Winning "Frozen" Team to Present at 2014 Student Academy Awards

Oscar® Nominee Demian Bichir, Adrian Grenier, Nate Parker And Oscar-Winning Filmmaking Team From “Frozen” To Present At 2014 Student Academy Awards®

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Actors Demian Bichir, Adrian Grenier and Nate Parker, along with the writing/directing/producing team of Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck and Peter Del Vecho, who earned Oscars® for “Frozen,” will present at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences41st Student Academy Awards on Saturday, June 7, at 6 p.m. at the DGA Theater in Hollywood.  The awards ceremony caps a week of industry activities for the 15 student filmmakers from the U.S. and abroad who were selected as winners this year.

Oscar-nominated for his work in the film “A Better Life,” Bichir currently stars in the critically acclaimed television series “The Bridge.” He recently finished shooting his writer-director debut film, “Refugio.”  His other feature credits include “Che,” “Savages” and “The Heat.”

Grenier recently wrapped production on the Warner Bros. feature film adaptation of the HBO series “Entourage.”  Other acting credits include “Cecil B. DeMented,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Goodbye World,” and “Sex, Death & Bowling," which is due out in 2015.  Founder of Reckless Productions, Grenier has also produced and directed such documentaries as “Shot in the Dark," “Teenage Paparazzo” and "How to Make Money Selling Drugs,” and is currently in production on the documentary “52,” which will chronicle the search for the loneliest whale in the world.

Parker was most recently seen in the thriller “Non-Stop” opposite Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore.  His other feature acting credits include “Red Tails” and “Arbitrage.”   His next film, “Blackbird,” is slated for released in November.

Lee, Buck and Del Vecho took home Oscars earlier this year for the Animated Feature Film winner “Frozen,” the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Along with becoming the first female feature director in the history of the Walt Disney Animation Studios, Lee also wrote the screenplay for “Frozen” and co-wrote the 2012 Oscar nominee “Wreck-It Ralph.”  Co-director Buck’s other animated feature credits include “Pocahontas” and “Tarzan,” and he received a 2007 Oscar nomination for “Surf’s Up.”  Del Vecho, who produced “Frozen,” also served as a producer on “Winnie the Pooh” and the Oscar-nominated “The Princess and the Frog.”

A complete list of this year’s Student Academy Award® winners can be found here.

Medal placements for each of the five award categories – Alternative, Animation, Documentary, Narrative and Foreign Film – will be announced at the June 7 ceremony.  Gold Medal award winners receive cash grants of $5,000, Silver Medal award winners receive $3,000 and Bronze Medal award winners receive $2,000.

The Academy established the Student Academy Awards in 1972 to support and encourage excellence in filmmaking at the collegiate level.  Past Student Academy Award winners have gone on to receive 46 Oscar nominations and have won or shared eight awards.  They include John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker and Spike Lee.

The 41st Student Academy Awards ceremony on June 7 is free and open to the public, but advance tickets are required.  Tickets may be obtained online at or by mail.  Any remaining tickets will be made available at the door on the evening of the event. The DGA Theater is located at 7920 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  For more information, call (310) 247-2677.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: "The Tin Drum" is a Masterpiece (Remembering Maurice Jarre)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 118 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Die Blechtrommel (1979)
The Tin Drum (1980) – U.S. release
Running time:  142 minutes (2 hours, 22 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Volker Schlöndorff
WRITERS:  Jean-Claude Carrière, Franz Seitz, and Volker Schlöndorff, with Günter Grass providing additional dialogue (based upon the novel by Günter Grass)
PRODUCER:  Franz Seitz
EDITOR:  Suzanne Baron
COMPOSER:  Maurice Jarre
Academy Award winner


Starring:  David Bennent, Mario Adorf, Angela Winkler, Katharina Thalbach, Daniel Olbrychski, Tina Engel, Berta Drews, Roland Teubner, Tadeusz Kunikowki, and Heinz Bennent

The subject of this movie review is The Tin Drum (original title: Die Blechtrommel), a 1979 West German drama and black comedy from director Volker Schlöndorff.  The film is an adaptation of the 1959 novel, The Tin Drum, written by author, Günter Grass, which is the first book in Grass’ Danzig Trilogy.  The Tin Drum the movie follows a most unusual boy who, on his third birthday, decides not to grow up.

The 1979 West German film Die Blechtrommel won the 1980 Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film.”  It is the story of Oskar Matzerath (David Bennent), a young boy in 1930’s Danzig, Germany who decides to stop growing at the age of three.  Oskar carries a small tin drum around his neck that he beats often, much to the chagrin of the adults, and Oskar has the unique physical gift of being able to scream at such a high pitch that he can break glass.

Although Oskar’s body stops growing, mentally and psychologically he keeps aging, and as he grows he witnesses the rise of Nazism and the beginning and the end of World War II.  With everything going on around him, however, Oskar’s world revolves around pleasing himself.  Despite Oskar’s self-centeredness, the film also examines the chaotic and tumultuous lives of the adults around him, especially his mother, Agnes (Angela Winkler), and his mothers two lovers, a German shopkeeper named Alfred (Mario Adorf) and Jan Bronski (Daniel Olbrychski), a handsome Polish man who works at a Polish post office in Danzig, either of whom could be Oskar’s biological father.

Many consider The Tin Drum to be one of the great films to come out of West Germany in the last quarter century.  The film, however, isn’t one of those beautiful and genteel foreign films or one of those French films shot to mimic the immediacy of realism.  The Tin Drum is an unflinching and dense psychological examination of people caught in complicated relationships who also have to navigate the narrow straights of their own interior lives.  It’s also a sweeping cinematic observation of Nazi Germany that unfurls its ideas simultaneously through symbolism and blunt literalism.  Like some glossy, Hollywood eye candy flick, The Tin Drum doesn’t allow the audience to look away; it’s like watching a miraculous apparition unfurl before one’s eyes or like watching a mesmerizing accident.

The focus of the story is, of course, Oskar, who is mostly not likeable.  In fact, there’s something menacing or even evil about him.  He seeks to shut himself off from the world or at least totally funnel existence through his wants, but what’s most fascinating is watching Oskar’s life grow (his personality doesn’t change) with the rise of Nazism.

This is powerful stuff, the kind of thing that stands out amidst all the pedestrian films.  The Tin Drum has had a somewhat controversial existence in the United States because there is both full and partial nudity of children, which some people saw as kiddie porn.  The film is not pornography or pornographic; this film is art.  The nudity and frank sex (including a sex scene between children) is actually handled quite carefully and with imagination by director Volker Schlöndorff, as he handles everything in his masterpiece.

9 of 10

Updated:  Saturday, March 29, 2014

1980 Academy Awards, USA:  1 win: “Best Foreign Language Film” (West Germany)

1979 Cannes Film Festival:  1 win: “Palme d’Or” (Volker Schlöndorff – tied with Apocalypse Now1979)

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: "Vampyr" is Imaginative and Striking

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 160 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Vampyr – Der Traum des Allan Grey (1932)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:  France/Germany; Language:  German
Running time:  72 minutes (1 hour, 12 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Carl Theodor Dreyer
WRITERS:  Christen Jul and Carl Theodor Dreyer
PRODUCERS:  Julian West and Carl Theodor Dreyer
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Rudolph Maté and Louis Née
EDITOR:  Paul Falkenberg
COMPOSER:  Wolfgang Zeller


Starring:  Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz, Jan Hieronimko, Henriette Gérard, Albert Bras, N. Babanini, and Jane Mora

The subject of this movie review is Vampyr or Vampyr – Der Traum des Allan Grey (Vampire: The Dream of Allan Grey), a 1932 French-German horror film from Danish director, Carl Theodor Dreyer.  The film is based on elements taken from the short story collection, In a Glass Darkly, by author J. Sheridan Le Fanu.  The film is noted for being financed by the star of the film, Nicolas de Gunzburg, who acted under the name, “Julian West.”  Vampyr follows a traveler, who is obsessed with the supernatural, as he visits a village that is under the curse of a vampire.

Allan Gray (Julian West), a holiday reveler, stops in the eerie European village of Courtempierre, where he takes a room at a small inn.  Later that night, an elderly gentleman awakens Allan when he enters Allan’s room and leaves a parcel.  He writes on the package, “To be opened in the event of my death.”  Gray later witnesses the man’s murder, so he opens the package and discovers several pages of writings on the “vampyr.”  Gray later learns that a strange supernatural killer is on the loose, and that the culprit may be someone highly respected in the village.

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr –Der Traum des Allan Grey (or simply, Vampyr) is still considered by some film aficionados to be one of the great cinematic horror movies.  The film’s one big flaw is that it was shot cheaply using an experimental sound process, so the quality of the soundtrack leaves so much to be desired.  Still, the dreamy-like photography combined with the surreal, illusory and trancelike imagery more than make up for sound deficiencies.

Vampyr contains some truly creepy and skin-crawling visuals, including an extended sequence in which the hero witnesses his body in a coffin being carried past the massive old village church and into the graveyard.  Julian West’s performance, which sees him spend much time either listless or in a somnambulant state, adds to this film’s otherworldly quality.  Vampyr is a must see for movie buffs who love horror flicks, especially vampire films.

7 of 10

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Updated: Friday, February 07, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Down to 9 Films for "Foreign Language Film" Oscar in 2014

9 Foreign Language Films Advance in Oscar® Race

BEVERLY HILLS, CA —Nine features will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 86th Academy Awards®. Seventy-six films had originally been considered in the category.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

Belgium, "The Broken Circle Breakdown," Felix van Groeningen, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, "An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker," Danis Tanovic, director;

Cambodia, "The Missing Picture," Rithy Panh, director;

Denmark, "The Hunt," Thomas Vinterberg, director;

Germany, "Two Lives," Georg Maas, director;

Hong Kong, "The Grandmaster," Wong Kar-wai, director;

Hungary, "The Notebook," Janos Szasz, director;

Italy, "The Great Beauty," Paolo Sorrentino, director;

Palestine, "Omar," Hany Abu-Assad, director.

End of List

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2013 are being determined in two phases.

The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based Academy members, screened the original submissions in the category between mid-October and December 16.  The group's top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the five nominees by specially invited committees in New York and Los Angeles.  They will spend Friday, January 10, through Sunday, January 12, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

The 86th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network.  The presentation, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"The Great Beauty" Tops 2013 European Film Awards

by Amos Semien

Director Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), an Italian and French co-production, was the big winner at the 26th European Film Awards.  The film won four awards, including best picture, director, and actor (for Toni Servillo).  This year’s Cannes winner, Blue is the Warmest Color, did not win any awards.  Although the European Film Awards are the European continent’s equivalent of the Academy Awards (Oscars), they have practically no bearing on the Oscar race.

26th European Film Awards (2013) – Complete list of winners:

European Film:

European Director:
Paolo Sorrentino for LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (The Great Beauty)

European Actress:

European Actor:
Toni Servillo in LA GRANDE BELLEZZA (The Great Beauty)

European Screenwriter:
François Ozon for DANS LA MAISON (In the House)

European Comedy:
Love Is All You Need, Susanne Bier, Denmark

European Discovery - Prix FIPRESCI:
Oh Boy!, Jan Ole Gerster, Germany

European Animated Feature Film:
The Congress, Ari Folman, Israel, Germany, Poland, Luxembourg, France and Belgium

European Documentary:
The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, Norway and UK

European Short Film:
Dood Van Een Schaduw (Death of a Shadow), Tom Van Avermaet, Belgium and France, 20'

Carlo di Palma European Cinematographer Award:
Asaf Sudry for Lemale et Ha'Halal (Fill The Void), Israel

European Editor:
Cristiano Travaglioli for La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), Italy and France

European Production Designer:
Sarah Greenwood for Anna Karenina, UK

European Composer:
Ennio Morricone for The Best Offer, Italy

European Costume Designer:
Paco Delgado for Blancanieves, Spain and France

European Sound Designer:
Matz Müller and Erik Mischijew for Paradies: Glaube (Paradise: Faith), Austria, Germany and France

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: "Nosferatu" is Straight Creepy (Remembering Max Schreck)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 91 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) – B&W – Silent
Running time: 88 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  F.W. Murnau
WRITER:  Henrik Galen
PRODUCERS:  Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Fritz Arno Wagner with Günther Krampf

HORROR with elements of fantasy

Starring:  Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wanganheim, Greta Schröder, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, John Gottowt, Gustav Botz, Max Nemetz, and Wolfgang Heinz

The subject of this movie review is Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, a 1922 German Expressionist horror film directed by F.W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck.  Best known simply as Nosferatu, the film is an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula, as the filmmakers were apparently unable to obtain film rights to the book.  We are lucky that Nosferatu even still exists, as a lawsuit by the heirs to Stoker’s estate resulted in a court order to destroy all copies of the film, although one print managed to survive.

In the film Nosferatu, a young real estate agent unknowingly brokers a deal with Count Orlock who is also the vampire, “Nosferatu,” who is now pursuing the young man’s wife.  Nosferatu is one of my favorite films, but I cannot remember what version of the film I saw some nine years ago that ended up being the subject of the original version of my review, which was written shortly after I saw the film.

At the behest of his demented boss, Knock (Alexander Granach), Hutter (Gustav von Wanganheim), a young real estate agent travels to Transylvania to finalize a purchase of property by a reclusive count.  When Hutter meets the count, Graf Orlock (Max Schreck), he discovers that Orlock is the vampire Nosferatu.  Soon, Orlock is speeding on a doomed ship towards Hutters’ hometown, where Orlock plans to dine of Hutter’s virginal fiancée, Ellen (Greta Schröder).

Nosferatu is the first vampire film, and screenwriter Henrik Galen freely adapted it (without permission) from Bram Stoker’s seminal vampire novel, Dracula.  The script has nice atmosphere, but is quite thin in the last act.  A silent film with only intermittent placards of written dialogue, Nosferatu has a dreamlike quality, and that isn’t just because of the lack of sound, except for orchestrated music (played in theatres by live orchestras back in the days before sound film recordings), but because of the way the director and photographers composed the film.

The cinematography of Günther Krampf and Fritz Arno Wagner is a continuous spool of war between light and shadow.  Shadowy textures flicker over the sparse and sumptuous decorations, sets, and costumes, all designed by Albin Grau.  Murnau presents Nosferatu as a faerie creature hopping, dancing, and racing across the landscape and through time like a thing not really there, a personification of death both ethereal and real.

I will lavish the most praise upon Max Schreck for his awesome performance as the title character.  His Nosferatu is a stiff, yet pliable thing, a relentless creature, nimble for all that he may seem rigid.  It’s is truly the personification of a corpse as a deadly walking thing.

9 of 10

Updated:  Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: "Resident Evil: Retribution" is OK


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada/Germany; Language: English
Running time: 96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – R for sequences of strong violence throughout
DIRECTOR: Paul W.S. Anderson
WRITER: Paul W.S. Anderson (based upon the videogame, Resident Evil)
PRODUCERS: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody, Samuel Hadida, and Robert Kulzer
EDITOR: Niven Howie
COMPOSER: tomandandy


Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Aryana Engineer, Bingbing Li, Johann Urb, Kevin Durand, Oded Fehr, Robin Kasyanov, Ofilio Portillo, Colin Salmon, Shawn Roberts and Boris Kodjoe

Resident Evil: Retribution is a 2012 science fiction-action film. It is the fifth installment in the film franchise based upon the Capcom survival horror video game series, Resident Evil. This film is a direct sequel to the fourth movie, Resident Evil: Afterlife.

After the events depicted in Afterlife, Alice (Milla Jovovich) finds herself in the clutches of the Umbrella Corporation and being interrogated by her former ally, Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). Alice isn’t sure what is real, as she starts encountering old allies like Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez).

Even more surprising, an enemy claims to be a friend and declares that he has already initiated a plan to free Alice from the clutches of Umbrella. Alice is trapped in Umbrella Prime, and a five-man strike team is coming to her rescue. More than just Alice’s life is at stake, however, as she becomes the guardian of a hearing-impaired little girl named Becky (Aryana Engineer). Now, Alice is determined that nothing stops her: not zombie hordes, Las Plagas zombies, monsters, or even lickers.

Over the years, I have read many movie reviews in which the writers described action movies, especially ones they didn’t like, as video game movies. Because it is based on a video game, Resident Evil: Retribution is a video game movie, but that’s not the only reason it is. With its fire-fights, hand-to-hand combat, car chases, shootouts, monsters, science fiction elements, and explosions, Resident Evil: Retribution is a video game doing a decent impersonation of an actual movie.

Retribution isn’t a bad movie, but the acting is poor. The script is confusing. The plot barely has a pulse. This movie is about something, but not much other than action scenes. So what is the plot? Alice has to escape? There is some human interest by throwing in a child that the female action hero must save, similar to the surrogate mother-daughter dynamic in James Cameron’s Aliens (1986).

Still, the action scenes are good, especially after the movie crawls out of the hole that is the first twenty minutes or so runtime. The special effects and fight choreography save a mediocre story. Visually, Resident Evil: Retribution is pretty, but it feels like an empty installment in what has been a good franchise.

5 of 10

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nine Movies Chase 5 Foreign Language Film Oscar Nominations

9 Foreign Language Films Vie for Oscar®

Beverly Hills, CA (January 18, 2012) – Nine films will advance to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category for the 84th Academy Awards®. Sixty-three films had originally qualified in the category.

The films, listed in alphabetical order by country, are:

Belgium, "Bullhead," Michael R. Roskam, director;
Canada, "Monsieur Lazhar," Philippe Falardeau, director;
Denmark, "Superclásico," Ole Christian Madsen, director;
Germany, "Pina," Wim Wenders, director;
Iran, "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi, director;
Israel, "Footnote," Joseph Cedar, director;
Morocco, "Omar Killed Me," Roschdy Zem, director;
Poland, "In Darkness," Agnieszka Holland, director;
Taiwan, "Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale," Wei Te-sheng, director.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2011 are again being determined in two phases.

The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based members, screened the 63 eligible films between mid-October and January 13. The group’s top six choices, augmented by three additional selections voted by the Academy’s Foreign Language Film Award Executive Committee, constitute the shortlist.

The shortlist will be winnowed down to the five nominees by specially invited committees in New York and Los Angeles. They will spend Friday, January 20, through Sunday, January 22, viewing three films each day and then casting their ballots.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar® presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"The Lives of Others" is the Best Film of 2006

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 123 (of 2007) by Leroy Douressaux

The Lives of Others (2006)
Das Leben der Andersen – original title
Running time: 137 minutes (2 hours, 17 minutes)
MPAA – R for some sexuality/nudity
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
PRODUCERS: Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann
EDITOR: Patricia Rommel
2007 Academy Award winner


Starring: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Thomas Thieme, Hans-uwe Bauer, Volkmar Kleinert, Ulrich Tukur, and Matthias Brenner

Das Leben der Andersen or The Lives of Others is a nuanced human drama that portrays life in the GDR – the German Democratic Republic – or as it was better known, East Germany, during the mid-1980’s. The film won the 2007 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year (as a representative of Germany), and this riveting indictment of life under state-sponsored altruism ultimately shows that humans have the ability to do the right thing even after doing the wrong thing so long.

The film opens five years before Glasnost and the ultimate fall of the Berlin Wall. East Germans live under the watchful eye of the Stasi, the state police (security). Two Stasi officers, Captain Gerd Weisler (Ulrich Mühe) and his superior and longtime friend, Lt. Col. Anton Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur) attend the premiere of the new stage play from the famous playwright, Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch). There, the two men meet the head of the Ministry for State Security, Minister Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme), who promptly informs Weisler and Grubitz that he does not trust Dreyman to be loyal to the SED – East Germany’s ruling Socialist Union Party – and suggests putting Dreyman under surveillance.

Eager to boost his own political career, Grubitz entrusts the surveillance to Weisler, who promises to personally oversee the operation. While Dreyman and his live-in girlfriend, actress Christa-Marie Sieland (Martina Gedeck), are away from their apartment, Weisler has the apartment systematically bugged. After a friend kills himself, Dreyman begins to secretly research and write about the GDR’s high suicide rates, which the government wishes to keep secret. This piques Weisler’s interest as something to watch. However, when he discovers the real reason for Hempf’s interest in Dreyman, Weisler becomes disillusioned with the Stasi’s goal to know everything about “the lives of others,” but what can one man do about it?

That this is Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s first feature-length film is difficult to believe. He makes it look easy to recreate a frightening time and place that rings with so much truth and authenticity. With such grace and subtlety, he indicts a system that uses the fear of imprisonment or death at every turn to keep the populace in line. Almost as bad as imprisonment is to have the government deny an individual the ability to practice his profession, as is tragically depicted in the matter of one of Georg Dreyman’s friends. The viewer can feel the soul-draining and spirit-killing oppression, or even worse, feel the desperation with which some are willing to sacrifice what little freedom and choice they have to serve the state. Donnersmarck rightly exposes how “for the good of state” and “for the security, safety, and well-being of everyone” not only robs the individual of his individuality, but also steals the right of all people of their right to freedom of expression. Ultimately, it leads to a spiritual death and perhaps, also a physical death.

The performances are great, in particularly Ulrich Mühe, whose Capt. Weisler is the center point of this narrative. Mühe skillfully sells Weisler’s jealous and blind zeal, and then takes us on Weisler’s journey of redemption in a manner that seems authentic. Martina Gedeck and Sebastian Koch as the high profile couple are fantastic in creating a full-fleshed out, three-dimensional and believable couple that loves and fights and then, makes up and expresses a deep love that goes beyond the physical into the spiritual.

For its triumphant portrayal of life and survival under monstrous oppression and state control, The Lives of Others is one of the five best films of 2007.

10 of 10

2007 Academy Awards: 1 win for “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year (Germany)

2007 Golden Globes: 1 nomination for “Best Foreign Language Film”