Montag, 20. Februar 2012


Recalling in many ways Almodóvar and his visceral style of filmmaking, Portugese director Miguel Gomes' "Tabu", a tale of forbidden love buried deep in the crocodile swamps of Africa, is structurally dazzling, narratively rich (if a little too densely written) and aesthetically bold. Black-and-white throughout and silent in places, this movie deftly plays with the audience's senses as it revives wild emotions and circumstances of its characters. Although some overall fine-tuning might be needed, it is unquestionably the most stylish, passionate, hypnotic movie I saw at this year's Berlinale.

Samstag, 18. Februar 2012

Berlinale: Gnade (Mercy) / Was bleibt (Home for the Weekend)

Two German competition titles, "Gnade (Mercy)" & "Was bleibt (Home for the Weekend)", both tried to say too much and ended up telling too little. The former packed guilt, angst and all kinds of moral hocus-pocus into a feeble storyline which crumbles under the weight of the (not too subtle) allegories. It's to the director and the technical department's credit that through terse pacing and lensing of the beautiful polar icescape audience interest could be sustained throughout. The latter, about a family in crisis, was elevated from conventional melodramas mainly by its outstanding cast, which exudes all the compatibility and potential for damage between family members. The final act in the woods, with its dreamlike quality and room for interpretation, is a nice touch.

Freitag, 17. Februar 2012

Berlinale: 白鹿原 (White Deer Plain) / Love

Historical, political context not readily accessible to the general public and a curiously thin plot with no driving theme dragged down the epic 3-hour+ family saga "白鹿原 (White Deer Plain)", set in rural China after the end of its imperial era. But the exquisite art direction and the gorgeously lit, framed, color-saturated images are pure marvels to behold; the script for the Taiwanese ensemble romantic comedy "Love" can't scratch beneath the surface of urban relationships with their modern complexities, but when the surface is decked out with such dreamy sets and extremely pretty people falling in and out of love with one another while cracking jokes, fun is to be had.

Mittwoch, 15. Februar 2012

Berlinale: Captive / Keyhole

Brillante Mendoza's "Captive" chronicles the travails of an international group of hostages in the Filipino jungles over the course of one year. Its true-to-life, semi-documentary-style depiction made the eventful story somewhat tedious, but both Mendoza's uncompromising approach and lead actress Isabelle Huppert's volcanic performance are forces to be reckoned with; Canadian director Guy Maddin's "Keyhole" is 90 torturous minutes of feverish black-and-white pictures, jarring music and an utterly logic-free storyline featuring a bike-pedaled electric chair, a naked old man chained to a bed and Isabella Rossellini. Even for an insane mind, this is some twisted, tripped-up dream.

Samstag, 11. Februar 2012

Berlinale: Iron Sky

Just got back from the world premiere of Finnish director Timo Vuorensola's "Iron Sky", a sci-fi comedy about Nazis hiding on the dark side of the moon waging an interplanetary war on Earth. There are a lot of deceptively simple yet brilliant ideas in the script, not all of which could be effectively executed due to the apparent budget constraints, but the numerous LOL moments still got the crowd go wild. The director shows good command of rhythm and builds despite the rough editing a clear structure for this madhouse of a story. Quite a fun and worthy ride.

Freitag, 10. Februar 2012

Berlinale: Electrick Children

Just caught the world premiere of "Electrick Children", a movie about a Mormon girl in search of the mysterious voice on a tape that (she believes) got her pregnant. Often funny, at times suspenseful, always heartfelt and emotionally engaging, it observes the clash of two worlds through the eyes of a 15-year-old who's just been forced to ask questions and doubt everything she's ever known. The script is insightful and highly original, the young cast superb, all in all this marks a splendid debut from writer/director Rebecca Thomas.

Donnerstag, 9. Februar 2012


Steve McQueen's "Shame" is a gritty, provocative drama about sex addiction and the havoc it wreaks. While boasting savage but finely tuned performances from Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan and featuring some powerfully realized scenes (the lively and brilliantly revealing dinner date, the panicky ménage à trois), the script ultimately didn't manage to dig past anger, frustration and desperation to find something even darker and more consuming, namely, shame.