Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done

Posted 31 Oct 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, USA / Germany, 2009

Directed by Werner Herzog

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, as the title suggests, is an extremely odd film. Completing a triptych of unconventional horror films by directors not known for making this type of film, I have decided to make Werner Herzog’s My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done the subject of my final entry in my self-imposed Halloween Movie Month experiment. It’s an odd choice on which to go out, but that is fitting, as My Son is an extremely odd film, even for Herzog. To be honest, it’s kind of surprising that it’s taken me this long to see and write about the film, since it is the result of a dream collaboration between to of the weirdest filmmakers alive: co-writer/director Herzog and producer David Lynch. It is definitely not a horror movie in any traditional sense, though Herzog describes it on his official website as “a horror film without the blood, chainsaws and gore, but with a strange, anonymous fear creeping up in you.” Personally, I didn’t find it particularly frightening at all, but it is a rather fascinating portrait of increasing madness centered around a typically intense performance by the wild-eyed and always captivating Michael Shannon. Read More

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)

Posted 02 Aug 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

The Human Centipede (First Sequence), Netherlands, 2009  The Human Centipede tells the story of a German doctor who kidnaps three tourists and joins them surgically, mouth to anus, forming a "human centipede".

Directed by Tom Six

You know that series of movies that Lionsgate puts out, the “8 Films to Die For,” or its off-shoot “After Dark Films” series? This midnight movie wannabe sits comfortably in that zone of quality, and having seen a large handful of those films, I genuinely enjoyed two. I wish I had genuinely enjoyed this, but the lack of joy (even for his own craft) that director Tom Six (apparently that’s his actual name) injects into this experiment makes it absolutely unwatchable. I’ve no qualms with the darker side of independent horror; in fact, I consider it some of the best cinema around. It’s the creation of neo-grindhouse art that I so greatly appreciate, but at least that has some joy in it. It isn’t made solely to piss on its audience, nor is it made to make a point. Six, who seems to be channeling pre-Rampage Uwe Boll, takes what could have been a modern grindhouse masterpiece and turns it into a shock-theater piece of the worst kind: banal.

Six has stated that he loves making movies that push boundaries and that pay no mind to political correctness, so, disregarding the film’s World War II allegory, we’ll take him at his word. Here, he has crafted a film so vile, and yet so uninteresting, that he seems to not only be disregarding political correctness, but also his own mission statement to push boundaries and do something original that hasn’t been done before. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) can be down to this: two teens get tortured by a crazy man. Even more boiled down, it’s Saw (2004), but with a pinch of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie (1984, with a remake on the horizon in 2012). Read More

Postal – An Acquired Taste (Or Lack Thereof)

Posted 28 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Postal is an unexpectedly brilliant film. Postal, USA / Canada / Germany, 2007

Directed by Uwe Boll

If you’ve never heard of German director Uwe Boll, that most likely means you’ve just avoided some really bad movies. The only other one of his films I’ve seen so far was 2005’s Alone in the Dark, a truly terrible film at least as bad as any I’ve previously deemed the worst of the decade, but by all accounts I’ve heard, his other previous films – including House of the Dead (2003), Bloodrayne (2005) and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007) – are also among the worst ever made. He is famous for his execrable video game adaptations (see all of the above) and for financing them through a loophole in German tax law that rewards filmmakers; the law has since been changed, presumably to make it more difficult for Boll to make movies. So it was with the gleeful fascination of a movie so bad it’s funny (i.e. Troll 2 or The Room) that I approached his post-911 comedy Postal. Three days and four viewings of the film later, my mind was blown.

This movie is brilliant! Read More

The White Ribbon – Chaos In The Order

Posted 06 Dec 2010 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill

The White Ribbon, Germany / Austria / France / Italy, 2009

Written and Directed by Michael Haneke

The White Ribbon movie poster movies i didnt getOften in film, story becomes the magical thread that keeps us involved; story usually consists of questions and answers that create conflict. In Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, the questions we receive indeed create conflict, but the film also puts into view how far we will go to find the answers. Many have tagged this film as being a glimpse into the ideological beginnings of German fascism, or Nazism. I would agree with that notion, but what makes the film so interesting and gives it its true power is its transcendence across national, cultural, and even temporal divisions to examine that all-too-human need to understand its own basic horrors and needs for safety.

The film is set in rural Germany just before World War I. The story takes place in a village where life is as simple and common as an early 20th century village gets. The Baron (Ulrich Tukur) owns the land and provides employment for over half the people living in the area. The town is small enough that there is a single Pastor (Burghart Klaussner), Doctor (Rainer Bock), and School Teacher (Christian Friedel) to accommodate everyone. Everyone plays their assigned roles in clockwork-like rhythm and the slightest variance echoes like a bomb. From here it wasn’t clear to me if the patriarchal nature of this village was a detail of this time and place or if the authoritarian setting was acutely unique to this village, but this is just another layer in the film’s rich mise-en-scene.  Read More

Metropolis – Still Compelling After Nearly A Century

Posted 31 Oct 2010 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill

Metropolis, Germany, 1927

Directed by Fritz Lang

metropolis 1927 movie poster movies i didnt getMany attended the much anticipated premiere of Metropolis in Berlin on January 10, 1927, including many high-ranking officials in the German government, such as former Reichsprasident Paul Von Hindenburg. The film was the most expensive ever made in Europe at the time, and much was expected from it. It was carrying the financial burden for not only The Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA), the largest film production company in Germany, but also the German film industry itself. After all, UFA owed the majority of the film’s cost, a sum of over four million dollars, to two American film companies: Famous Players and Metro-Goldwyn. A few years later, it so impressed Adolf Hitler that he requested its director, Fritz Lang, to become his principal filmmaker for the German film industry. Lang fled Germany soon after the offer was made.

Like all great epic films, just as much creativity went into the making of the film as the story itself. Lang used state of the art special effects to create integrated animated images with the actors. Much of these scenes were achieved by a technique called the “Schufftan Method,” a photography technique that combines mirror shots and model shots to create a composite image. It was invented by cinematographer Eugen Schufftan and was first used on a large scale in Metropolis. Many of the other sets were built at real-to-life scale, not sparing much else to sacrifice detail. Lighting was used extensively throughout the film and accounted for a quarter of the film’s budget. Filmmakers in the early 1900s were able to move lights around and further away from objects while maintaining beam concentration, which enabled Lang to create surreal, hard light with long, sharp shadows. The scenes of the roberter (robots) are stunning, and the concepts and design of the roberter are mimicked in many other sci-fi films that came later, such as George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977), especially in the character of C3PO.

Spoiler AlertMetropolis tells the story of a city in the future and the people who build and inhabit it. The inhabitants are divided into two classes: the industrialists and city dwellers, who plan, design and occupy the uppers levels of the city, and the workers who build and maintain the city’s functions and live below the machine level. The standards of living between the two classes are distinct and unjust. Life among the “top dwellers” is shown to be gay and carefree. They participate in games and sports, attend the theater and frolic in parks, while life among the “workers” is barely livable, as they drudge from one day to the next performing physically taxing tasks and duties in order to maintain the city’s power and resources. Towers ascend to dizzying heights. Cars and public transport travel between mammoth structures on trams and byways that connect the buildings in a labyrinth of man-made objects. The city represents the ultimate in man’s achievement, but in it we see the price of building and sustaining such an accomplishment. Read More