Francisco Manoel da Silva or simply Cobra Verde (Klaus Kinski) is a famous bandit, who is mistakenly hired by a rich sugar plantation owner, Don Octávio Coutinho (José Lewgoy). After Cobra gets all three of Coutinho’s daughters pregnant, the Don decides that it’s time to get rid of the horny bastard. Since Cobra is considered a very dangerous man, he can’t simply kill him. Instead he decides to send him to Africa to pick up some slaves, which is basically a suicide mission. Of course Cobra is crazy enough to accept. Continue reading
A great week for movies as far as I’m concerned. The Ninth Annual IMDb Horror-Board October Challenge started, while at the same time there was the 9th Zürich Film Festival, where I got to see two really good films. I also got to re-watch two of my very favorite horror films and write a couple of reviews. It was a busy week for film I must say, but I am happy I get to share it with my readers. I want to thank everyone for their great support and for reading my super-lenghty articles and leaving nice comments!
Shoah (1985) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.8) – Documentary, History, Criterion (France)
Shoah is an incredibly heartbreaking documentary. It is not only an important historical document, but a massive cinematic achievement. I can’t even begin to describe the horrors that went on in the nazi concentration camps during World War II. There are moments that will make you angry, moments that will make you cry, moments that will just completely make you unable to physically move. It’s just a staggering piece. I did however have some issues with the interviewer, I don’t know if it is his “French mentality” and mannerism or if he’s just annoying to me, but somehow I didn’t always like his approach and style. Aside from that the film is perfect, although way to heavy (emotionally) to re-watch and it is also over 9 hours long (it took me three weeks to get through it). I am happy that Criterion picked this one up. I hope people never forget these horrible things that happened. Watching this documentary gives you some great insight into the human mind and history. If you are able to put everything into perspective and not become a misanthrope I applaud you. It is however definitely disheartening and beyond sad. I can’t even bring myself to joke about nazis and that stuff after watching this film, it has just become a dead serious issue for me. I wish they showed this in schools!
Gravity (2013) – 7 (IMDb 7.9) – Sci-Fi, Drama (USA)
Blind Beast (1969) – 9 (IMDb 7.1) – Horror, Drama (Japan)
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.4) – Horror (Germany)
After becoming a huge Werner Herzog fanatic recently, I was ashamed to find out that I hadn’t seen one of his most famous works. Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht is basically Herzog’s retelling of the story of Dracula. Of course he does so in a way that is typically his and can’t be emulated by anyone else. Klaus Kinski plays the prince of darkness. Both he and Swiss actor Bruno Ganz are amazing in this film which feels more like a Werner Herzog film than a vampire film. From the music to the cinematography all of the Meister’s trademarks are present and shine through to make this a compelling watch of something you’re most likely already familiar with. I also loved Roland Topor as Renfield, who is just another example of Herzog’s love for cuckoo for cocoa puffs characters. Some of the sets felt a little bit off for my taste (maybe too small), but as I understand it he was going for a German expressionist tone and feel so I still appreciate it on that level. Isabelle Adjani is my last complaint, as she didn’t always seem very convincing in the role of Lucy. Overall a great tribute to the 1922 version (Herzog is a self-proclaimed F.W. Murnau fan) that manages to do its own thing and thus is rightfully considered one of the great horror films.
Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) – 8.5 (IMDb 6.9) – Comedy, Drama (Germany)
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) – 7.5 (IMDb 7) – Romance, Drama, Horror (USA)
As you can see there is a new tag called must watch. I don’t want to be telling you what to watch. That’s like the most annoying thing ever. Instead I’ll use this label to single out films that are so important it goes beyond simple entertainment and art, but addresses also social and political issues that make it an essential viewing for every human being that wants to grow and “know more”. Shoah fits that category perfectly, because you just can’t (or shouldn’t) ignore it. It’s like with your vegetables: If you want to be a healthy just eat them, no questions asked.
Beau Pere (1981) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.1) – Drama, Romance (France)
I was looking for films similar to Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962), one of my all time favorite films, and I bumped into Bertrand Blier’s Beau Pere (literally: Stepfather). I must say that I was rather impressed with this film, even if it is basically just a French, color version of Nabokov’s Lolita. I loved the actors, Patrick Dewaere and Ariel Besse, and their “chemistry” and I loved the fact that in this film it’s the girl that initiates the “relationship”. This may all sound wrong, but for a film dealing with what could essentially be labeled as “pedophila” it is very tastefully executed, while still managing to be erotic. I don’t know how they pulled it off. The film’s attitude is what I appreciated most, because it’s different from most French films and even films dealing with “taboo” subject matter. The filmmaker clearly loves the characters and doesn’t judge them. It’s just an all-round great film I’m sure I’ll re-visit at some point.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976) – 8 (IMDb 6.8) – Drama, Biography (Italy) written & directed by Federico Fellini
Burden of Dreams (1982) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.8) – Documentary (USA)
Burden of Dreams is the “making-of” documentary of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo. The film shows all the hardships and difficulties that went into the production and making of Herzog’s crazy epic about a man trying to move a ship over the Peruvian Andes. It’s a great story about a massive achievement in filmmaking and it certainly makes you appreciate the film a whole lot more. Herzog is interviewed and other crew members as well, there are some great, fascinating stories and the film is never boring. Unfortunately unlike the newer Werner Herzog documentaries this one is narrated by a robotic sounding woman, instead of the filmmakers warm German voice. It seems like a weird choice, but as Herzog explained himself during a master class I attended “It took me a while to find my own voice”. He said this in relation to his documentaries, but I think we can all agree that now that he has found it they are more spectacular than ever. Burden of Dreams is still a great film and is especially recommended to Herzog fans, filmmakers and true cinephiles.
These were the best films I watched last week, Fellini’s Casanova being my favorite, but the other two getting both extremely close. What good movies did you guys watch last week?
Last week I was a little bit under the weather. Unlike most people I watch less movies when I’m not feeling so well. I also started watching Shoah, the nine-hour documentary on the holocaust, that’s why I’ll only discuss four movies this week.
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – 7.5 (IMDb 8.7) – Adventure, Western (Italy)
After catching up with Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, I wanted to watch ‘West’ and I noticed that I had already seen bits and pieces on TV. I really enjoyed this film, probably more than ‘America’, because it’s shorter and it has Claudia Cardinale, who is one of the most beautiful woman you’ll ever see on screen. The film is about a man who gets killed, but we don’t know why at first. Her wife, Claudia Cardinale’s character, was just returning home only to find everyone dead. She decides to return to New Orleans, but the local mobsters have some unfinished business. Also, there’s a wise-guy with an harmonica and some serious gunplay skills. Besides the eye candy, I loved Ennio Morricone’s score (once more) and the recreation of the old wild west. The actors do a fine job, but I wish the ending wasn’t so bittersweet for some reason, though I’m sure I would hate a “happy ending”.
L’Age D’Or (1930) – 6 (IMDb 7.5) – Comedy, Drama, Criterion (France)
When I watched Luis Buñuel’s L’age d’or my head was kind of exploding. Not because of the surreal imagery or the rats, but because I was medicated and down with the flu, so I don’t know if my judgment of this film is entirely fair. I liked it, but I felt that we’ve seen a lot better from this particular director especially further in his career. The film is a series of vignettes, following a bourgeois romance and exploring themes that Buñuel would return to in every picture ever since: Family, church and society. This film clearly influenced great directors such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Woody Allen and Lars von Trier and many more I’m sure. To me Salvador Dalí’s vaguely linked storytelling felt more absurdist than surreal, even in terms of humor. It’s not a bad film, I can certainly recognize it’s technical merits, but it’s not one of those I’ll feel like revisiting anytime soon.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Mein Liebster Feind – Klaus Kinski (1999) – 8 (IMDb 7.8) – Documentary (Germany)
Easily the best film I’ve seen all week. This is a documentary directed by Werner Herzog and starring the great german auteur as he discusses his professional and private relationship with Klaus Kinski. Herzog shot five feature films with Kinski and even lived with him before he was famous. In the film Herzog recounts his tumultuous love-hate-relationship with the actor that seemed to be a crazy egomaniac with some serious rage issues. In some scenes he just seemed possessed. I’m not exaggerating. Herzog also interviews a couple people that worked with Kinski, such as Claudia Cardinale who co-starred in Fitzcarraldo. To his leading ladies he seems to have been a real gentlemen, but to everyone else he was just impossible. He always needed to be the center of attention and as soon as he wasn’t he lost it. He certainly was a great actor, that’s why Herzog put up with all his shit, but sometimes they just wanted to kill him. Literally, or so they say.
This is the End (2013) – 5 (IMDb 7.4) – Comedy, Fantasy (USA)
This is the worst I’ve seen last week. The film about the apocalypse and how a bunch of actors would react to it. The interesting gimmick is that everyone plays a version of themselves, of course most of it is characters archetypes and has little to do with the actual persons or so I should hope. The film mostly plays on the persona of actors such as James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel Michael Cera and Emma Watson which are some of my favorite or likable current Hollywood actors. I loved watching them in the film, they were funny (especially Cera and Franco who’s just so damn likable), but the script was just to convoluted and sometimes overly cliché to be even appreciated on a so-bad-it’s-good level. It felt like Your Highness all over again. The “religious” or fantasy aspect was bad, even if to some degree it made me think, their idea of God is not something I’d agree with. Beyond that some jokes fall flat or are badly timed, the film’s pace is off multiple times and the CGI is some of the worst I’ve ever seen in a major studio release. All in all a forgettable film, with a few good and genuinely funny self-referential moments.
That was my week in movies. If you want to share what you watched last week feel free to do so. If you have seen the films I mentioned: What did you think of them? Would you agree or disagree with me? Either way: See you next week!
I watched three great films this week, makes me happy. I also re-watched a couple Spike Jonze shorts, which are available on YouTube. Their very short and incredibly quirky so they’re well worth your time. The main event for me this week in terms of movies was The Bling Ring. I waited for this film for more than a year. I wish Sofia would be more like Woody Allen. Anyways, going into the theater I was very excited, but at the same time worried that I would not enjoy it, but I totally did. It was great. The theater audience seem to “get” the movie. They all laughed at the jokes. I wasn’t distracted much by the people next to me (as it usually happens) and some people even stayed for the end credits, which resulted in me missing my train, but it was totally worth it!
If you haven’t seen Sofia Coppola‘s The Bling Ring yet: Make it happen, support good cinema! The film didn’t make a whole lot of cash, probably because it was marketed as something it wasn’t, or because of its cast of newcomers (who are all amazing!) or maybe because Sofia is not interested in making a film that is telling you exactly how to think and feel. Fact is this is my favorite film of 2013 so far, and it’s more than likely going to end up in my top five for the year (if not maintaining the top spot). I’d also like to single out Taissa Farmiga as my favorite supporting role in the film. She doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but she does the most of it, while also looking very sexy and alluring.
Fitzcarraldo (1982) – 8 (IMDb 8) – Adventure, Biography, Drama (Germany)
Certainly Werner Herzog’s biggest film in terms of budget. Fitzcarraldo is the film about a crazy entrepreneur trying to bring the opera (namely Caruso) to the Andes. In his nutty quest to make money and gain some sort of respectability from the Peruvian high society he decides to get into the rubber business. As it turns out to get to the land he bought will have to literally move his ship over the mountains. The film is just as incredible as its premise and fully delivers on every level. Klaus Kinski is great as the title character and so is Claudia Cardinale. There aren’t a lot of other faces that I recognize in terms of actors, but that’s never a problem, because all the talent in front of the screen is just as good and qualified as the people working behind the scenes. I’m not big on adventure films, but this one is fun, thoughtful and very engrossing. Good job Werner Herzog!
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
The Bling Ring (2013) – 8.5 (IMDb 6.4) – Crime, Drama, Comedy (USA)
Office Space (1999) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.8) – Comedy, Crime (USA)
Very funny film and incredibly quotable. There are so many great lines in this one. It kind of makes you wonder where Mike Judge’s career went. Office Space is about a guy that has officially had enough of his job and is not going to take a single minute more of the corporate oppression. He and his friends decide to “steal” money from his company. The film may take a while to “get started”, but once it does it is very entertaining and charming. I like how the sadness and uniformity of corporation is reflected in the costume design and the cinematography, through depressing tones and monochromatic brushes of brown and grey. The film is very funny, but never vulgar or silly. The characters are very relatable and human, never turning into caricatures, while still drawing from well-known archetypes. All in all a very enjoyable comedy.