Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Screens at CIFF: 10/17 & 10/20 & 10/22 World premiere: 29 September, 2013, Hamburg Film Festival Winner of the Silver Hugo for Best Actress (Nadeshda Brennicke) The temptation to make all true-life stories about criminals valorised in the media the full-on Bonnie and Clyde treatment is as alive and well in Europe as in the […]

Every Sunday this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: the grueling Transformers: Dark of the Moon is not original in any meaningful way, and does not claim to […]

In retrospect, it was my great misfortune to finally catch up with Maren Ade’s Everyone Else in such immediate proximity to its thematic cousin Blue Valentine; not only because watching two pornographically detailed dramas about break-ups in two days puts you in a bit of an unsound place, mentally speaking, but more importantly, because the […]

By turns triumphant and obnoxiously opaque, My Joy is at once terribly difficult to come to grips with, and impossible to shake, and it’s both of these things for very much the same reason. There are two halves to the film, which is not the least of the reasons it’s so wholly inscrutable, and the […]

Whatever single adjective describes Short Sharp Shock, Head-On, and The Edge of Heaven, it is assuredly not “frothy” – and yet here we are, with director Fatih Akin making himself a breezy farce about restaurant management and the joy of food, Soul Kitchen, and it is simultaneously a great deal frothier than any of those […]

Categories: comedies, farce, german cinema

There are so many words you could use to describe the work of Michael Haneke: bold, provocative, cruel, cold, intellectual, confusing, cryptic, frustrating, alienating, disturbing, exhilarating. He’s a bit of a wild boy like that. There’s one word that not only would I never have used, I’d have denied the possibility I might ever feel […]

You don’t get to describe a film as a farcical socialist thriller very often, but then most films aren’t like Berlin – 1st of May, a sort of anthology film following three intertwined adventures in the city of Berlin. I say “sort of” an anthology, because unlike the traditional example of the form, this isn’t […]

The history of the animated feature film does not begin, as most people tend to think and the Disney corporation tries to imply, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Rather, it begins 20 years earlier, with Argentine filmmaker Quirino Cristiani’s satire El apóstol, a film lost after all known copies were destroyed […]

We’re accustomed to saying that a “contrived” story is necessarily unsatisfying, but Fatih Akin’s fascinating and brilliant The Edge of Heaven puts that notion to the test: the movie presents a tangled network connecting six people that could hardly be more contrived, and to add insult to injury, most of those contrivances don’t end up […]

It says something about the inestimable talents of German director F.W. Murnau that he directed not only the single most influential (and almost certainly the finest) horror movie of all time, 1922’s Nosferatu, but also a fable about the the simplicity of pastoral life, 1927’s Sunrise, which also just so happens to be one of […]

Saying, “time has been kind to X work of art,” is supremely lazy, in addition to trafficking in a cliché, but that doesn’t change the fact that time has been inordinately kind to Fritz Lang’s diptych from the late ’50s, a serial pair of epic adventures set in a mythical India titled The Tiger of […]

It doesn’t seem right that there should be “Werner Herzog’s first documentary.” His career ought to have sprung fully-formed. And yet here we are, with Werner Herzog’s first documentary, Land of Silence and Darkness. Or at least it’s his first feature-length documenatry, if we don’t count the sort of documantary-ish visual tone poem Fata Morgana. […]