UNDINE (2020)

Written & Directed By: Christian Petzold
Cinematography: Hans Fromm 
Editor: Bettina Bohler

Cast: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz, Anne Ratte-Polle, Gloria Andres De Oliveira 

Undine works as a historian lecturing on Berlin’s urban development. But when the man she loves leaves her, the ancient myth catches up with her. Undine has to kill the man who betrays her and return to the water.


Writer/Director Christian Pertzold, Always seems to bring nostalgia and powerful epic love stories into the modern age. 

The film feels like a short story compared to his other films that felt like full novels even if the same length. This just doesn’t feel as strong or as Rich. Making it feel somewhat lightweight, not as daring or demanding. Which can be forgiven. As not every movie needs to be a fraught tragedy. 

As this like most of his films is expressive, vivid, and powerful. Usually unforgettable with a romance that you might aspire to have and dream of despite their tragedy. To love is to gamble and lose big at times. Even when getting what you want it hurts to a certain degree and you lose or have to sacrifice a bit to be affected in the end.

Amazed by what you went through and proud of it. As an expression of passion in all ways. Your own epic story that is universal. Only you can truly understand. As you have your own point of view and are telling this particular tale as a memoir. That is what went through my brain while watching this film.

This film feels like a more modern fairy tale, but the emotions are deep. As it is detailed and textured as one without the lore though. The tragedy is that the tale feels like it ends too soon. Never knowing what you have until over and the characters obsessing over it. Raising it to a level of legend.

Think about how you feel when you break up with someone and feel you will never get over them. Then you meet someone new and realize how bad the other relationship really was. As you never reached the same happiness or highs as is the new one

This film Feels too short. Yet it doesn’t disappoint as it has the same strength and emotions affecting two lives immeasurably but seems to have the substance of a shorter story. That here gets by more on emotions. A brief romance that packs a full love story rather than one that takes place over a longer time period. 

That has an intensity where you wonder if given more time together. Would it have flamed out? Had more stories to tell that reinforced and made this love story as rich as Uncle Scrooge’s vault from DUCKTALES or with time made to realize it was a footnote and more a blueprint for future relationships to revolve around and know what you want and how you want to feel.

It Seems after romantic epics such as PHOENIX and COLD WAR. That Writer-Director Christian Petzold has set his sights on a smaller story that while not having as much of an expanse. its depths are just as strong

Grade: B

NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN (2013)

Written & Directed By: Katrin Gebbe
Cinematography: Moritz Schultbieb
Editor: Heike Gnida 

Cast: Julius Feldmeier, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Annika Kuhl, Gro Swantje Kohljof, Daniel Michael

The young Tore seeks in Hamburg a new life among the religious group called The Jesus Freaks. When he by accident meets a family and helps them to repair their car, he believes that a heavenly wonder has helped him. He starts a friendship with the father of the family, Benno. Soon he moves in with them at their garden plot, not knowing what cruelty is there to come. True to his religious belief he stays with them although the increasing violence by Benno is torturing him. Tore is fighting the torment with his own weapons. So a dangerous struggle between libidinous actions and altruism begins. Inspired by true events.


This is a film that took me by surprise. I only heard about it recently.

This is a horror tale that sneaks up on you in the worst way, in plain sight. As it seems like a drama at first. As it isn’t a horror film Filled with slashers or any supernatural evil.

It all boils down to being a movie about faith about a character who has an unwavering faith and no matter how bad things get beloved he is being tested for a higher purpose. He encounters a man who is a sociopath and just so filled with hate and evil that he makes it his mission to try and get him to stop believing and take out His anger on him whenever frustrated.

Even if he hadn’t encountered this teenager the sociopath would bring those around him down and finding these victims might have saved others from his terror.

The Second half of this movie is brutal and upsetting. So that once the film is over you feel dirty or somehow stained from the experience.

The teenage character believes he has to accept these punishments. To save others. So they are safe but by witnessing it hopefully, they will finally be brave and strong enough to run away. As the family seems to stay with him out of survivor’s syndrome. Some prove to be just as evil as accomplices who just need a bit of a push or to be led into that behavior. The teen sees the main character as a challenge eventually instead of being afraid and realizing how disturbed this guy is.

It also doesn’t help that the sociopath is obviously jealous of the teen in a few ways. Especially when it comes to his teenage daughter. 

He sells to prove him wrong. As the teen stays true to his faith and religious convictions that ultimately he seems he can never defeat. Even as he seems hell-bent on trying to punish him for his beliefs. Truly showing strength of conviction. Leading the movie to some dark and disturbing places.

What is upsetting about this film is that it is supposedly based on a true story and also it’s a. Martyr tale that is upsetting as there is no comeuppance. So no sense of justice and no emotional or tension release. 

What is scary is the terror through the movie is so matter of fact. That sets the tone. As there is nothing necessarily heightened. It is all in plain sight. Little by little, we can tell something isn’t right. It stays believable

The wife tries to say that nothing has been right since the teen got there. Though things seemed already a bit off. The addition of him only adds an adversary for him to lord over and make a slave maybe just for his faith or showing him up in a brief random meeting in the begging getting his car to work. 

Though at times the cruelty comes out of nowhere like selling him off, if only for extra income. It infuriates the audience when he has a chance to escape but see’s all of this as his mission. 

It’s filmed more like a docudrama, though it can feel like torture porn. To get there seems to be a point to it all. 

The acting is spot on and believable. No performance rings false. 

There is some hope at the end but only born out of tragedy. As all around are made into an accessory. Very disturbing. This plays like a Michael Haneke Film that tries to mix with a Lars von Trier movie, but those films can come off as natural. This seems cruel to be cruel. Sadistic and just when you think there will be somebody to save him or some hope. It shows how cruel that world and environment are.

Grade: B

BLOOD RED SKY (2021)

Directed By: Peter Thorwarth  Written By: Peter Thorwarth & Stefan Holtz  Cinematography: Yoshi Heimrath  Editor: Knut Hake 

Cast: Peri Baumeister, Dominic Purcell, Carl Koch, Alexander Scheer, Kai Ivo Baulitz, Kai Setti, Roland Moller, Gordon Brown 

A woman with a mysterious illness is forced into action when a group of terrorists attempts to hijack a transatlantic overnight flight.


This film becomes entertaining throughout because it starts with what could have been a ridiculous yet simple plot of a vampire versus terrorists and keeps twisting the tale so that there are new challenges to keep you interested. Luckily the film Stays pretty dark and not cookie-cutter or some kind of superhero flick.

If anything it refreshingly uses vampire lore and manages to give us something unexpected with it.

The film is filled with action and horror. While it feels a bit long. You are never quite bored of anything. It shocks with taking out a character you expected to last longer and be the biggest foe. Instead the true villain is the live wire of the terrorists. He kind of displays his worst behavior early on before being neutered a bit but then coming back strong.

This story could have easily been a supernatural DIE HARD and instead actually comes through with an identity of its own. Though with just as much action and complications. Though this film is definitely more gory with less humor along the way. 

Smart in a Way as the film uses perceived prejudice to its advantage in certain situations and though the terrorists are bad one character proves to be the evilest as he is the catalyst later for all the horribleness that happens to the passengers. 

The film does offer a heroic character in a Muslim Passenger who always at least tries to do the right and most moral thing.

While at times it feels ridiculous the film does manage to keep you invested. 

In The end it does emphasize a mother’s love for her child. While not making the vampire immortal or barely have any weaknesses. 

GRADE: C+

SYSTEM CRASHER (2019)

Written & Directed By: Nora Fingscheidt
Cinematography: Yunus Roy Imer
Editor: Stephan Bechinger & Julia Kovalenko

Cast: Helena Zengel, Albrecht Schuch, Gabriela Maria Schmeide, Lisa Hagmeister, Melanie Straub, Maryam Zaree 

She is small but dangerous. Wherever Benni ends up, she is immediately expelled. The wild 9-year-old girl has already become what child protection services call a “system crasher”. And she is certainly not looking to change her ways. Because Benni has one single goal: to be back at home with her mommy. But Bianca is scared of her own daughter. Mrs. Bafané from child protection services is trying her best to find a permanent placement for Benni. She hires the anger management trainer Micha as Benni’s school escort and suddenly there is a seed of hope. Will Micha be able to succeed where all others despaired?


At first, wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. Seems basic at first watching a girl go through the Foster care system, but she is particularly violent and disruptive.

The film soon starts to show its hand with a character new to the case and situation. Who is tough yet caring but like the main character can’t seem to save her from herself. Even as he continuously tries and makes progress. 

When it comes to this film what is so heartbreaking is that every time it looks like the young female main character will be saved. Circumstances end up making the situation worse. 

Where it happens so many times it could almost be a running joke. Though each time it is presented it seems to be at a different level of desperation and rising emotional unraveling.

She is the major problem most times in all of these situations, but she is just a child, but more than A handful and violent who can’t seemingly calm down or manage her emotions. She is more a product of her environment and where she has been pushed by the adults in her life. 

We see what maybe inspires her. In her mother’s overwhelming false promises and keeps on taking in the obviously wrong men. Who seems more important to her than her kids.

This movie takes you on a journey with her, an emotionally raw one by the end you feel worn out and exhausted.

The only Person she bonds with is her Walker who had an anger problem himself and after some success, she eventually becomes too much for him a grown man. Though we learn more about her through their time together. He is constantly trying to protect her though he isn’t that conventional himself 

Throughout the film, it is a wild ride. As always there seems to be hope and some peace. Through a parent or savior, something goes wrong, usually through the behavior of the child. That she ends up living up to the title of the movie as her file. Where despite the many phases and programs for different types of children meant to save her. She fails through them all and is too young for others even the rock bottom last resort she seems too strong for.

Even though she can be innocent and charming. Like with her school walker’s wife. Soon enough she presents her scary angry side. This ends up leading to one of the more nail-biting scenes of the soon 

The film presents an ending that is ambiguous but seems like she will never stop or learn her lesson. As what starts out as a tantrum shows she kind of takes joy in causing trouble.

Grade: A-

IN JULY (2000)

Written & Directed By: Faith Akin 
Cinematography By: Pierre Aim 
Editor: Andrew Bird 

Cast: Mortiz Bleibtreu, Christiane Paul, Branka Katic, Idil Uner, Mehmet Kurtulus, Jochen Nickel, Briol Unel, Sandra Borgmann

Daniel is a young teacher, who in contrast to everyone else plans to stay in Hamburg for the summer. Juli, a girl at the flea-market, wants to get known to Daniel and manages to sell him a Mayan ring with a sun on it, foretelling him that he will meet a girl with a sun. One day later Daniel is already on his way across Europe. It seems the prophecy came true somehow.


A romantic fantasy that is whimsical and much lighter then the directors later films.

It begins with a bit of misdirection as a framing device.

Director Faith akin has kept his heart with characters like these throughout his films. Hopeless romantics to a degree and the hardships of reality they must face. He has developed more of a style since this film to really explain and develop his ideas. His next two films after this one HEAD-ON (one of my favorite films of all time) and EDGE OF HEAVEN are more dark and dramatic before returning to his kind of lightweight film with SOUL KITCHEN

This film runs on the premise of many screwball romantic comedies with a mix of spiritualism, fortune and fate. Only here not played for laughs as much. It stays fun while being a bit dramatic and serious but keeps ant darkness to itself and stays in the shadows. The film stays in it’s perimeters. Where it and we know where it’s going, but with wonder how it will get there. Only knowing it will be colorful and different. As obstacles and other amounts are thrown in the way it seems like fare and the sense of free will, will prevail. The film stars Mortiz Bleibtreu who seems to be a regular when it comes to German cinema happily the films he tends to be in that I see are good and noteworthy (RUN LOLA RUN, DAS EXPERIMENT) he returns to faith akin in the film SOUL KITCHEN.

A film that is as light and free spirited as it’s female characters. In fact the film uses a similar photo montage from run Lola run. The film feels in spirit more like the female lead to cover exposition

At first the film seems to be a set up of miscommunication and lost chances then it seems like a modern foreign Preston Sturges film without the brilliant dialogue by making it seem like good and bad in the world and characters around them are willing to help shape their future and throw obstacles at them to guarantee the romance springing the characters. Mostly him into action as she plays more the grinning car who watches as she has feelings for him, but has pointed him far from the target. Watching how far he is willing to go for love and her at certain points. While he begins realizing slowly his own deeper feelings for her. Which he into thinks is camaraderie and friendship.

At least not all the characters they cross are good hearted by somehow always mean well. The film feels at times like it wants to be part of magical realism.

Think is this as a more fun and responsible THE SURE THING.

When Daniel and Juli are traveling through Romania, only photos are shown instead of real film footage. The reason for that is the Romanian government didn’t give permission to film in their country, so they had to take photos instead.

It’s like the universe is forcing him into a romance for his own good. He is the only person who doesn’t realize it as he chases his ideal his perfect is by his side and has been throughout this journey. constantly blind to the obvious around him.

A little rough around the edges but you can tell he is coming into his own. Nice to see such a film that is a bit different in Presentation. Yet traditional in it’s heart. That leaves you warm and charmed.

In fact love and it’s boundaries has usually been at the heart of his work. It is rare that he ventures into romance fully and lightly. This is the latest of his films that I have seen even though it is his first one. I can say not as an insult mind you. It is one of his lesser films so far, but still good and a great experience.

Though each film plays more or less magical and spiritual. This film seems more to be under the influence of it’s time. Though worldly seems more of a product of 90’s cinema. As it came at the end of that era and at the beginning of a new generation of era in cinema.

Originally, Daniel and Juli were supposed to sing The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love”, but the rights were too expensive. When the music supervisor was able to secure the rights for “Blue Moon” instead, the script was changed at the last minute to include a conversation on oldies.

All the female characters are gorgeous. So that you can see when his character is so distracted and conflicted. While each woman he meets takes him in a new and different journey as they all have their charms and strengths yet reasons why they are not meant for one another. But yet when their time together ends it leaves him With little direction once away from them. Also it shows his feelings are not about looks alone as all of the females are good looking so there is a deeper connection with his intended.

The moment when Daniel sees Melek for the first time, the walking scene is shot reverse for Melek and played backwards to make a more charming introduction.

SPOILER

Though towards the end it is confusing that once he meets the object of his affection. They seem happy and she seems romantic towards him. Yet disappeared to find out he is in love and then as things become full circle seems more of a convenience for a happy ending then natural

SPOILER END

A frolicking adventure and fun ride. Definitely a crowd pleaser. It’s so lighthearted it’s hard to find something to dislike or completely hate

Though this feels like it loses more meaning at heart and more to say then SOUL KITCHEN which seems more fascinated with the directors interest and fascinations as well as distracted with the soundtrack. More fun than challenging or passionate.

Grade: B+

WETLANDS(2014)

wetlands

Directed By: David Wnendt
Written By: Claus Faulkenberg & David Wnendt, Sabine Pochhammer
Based on the Book By: Charlotte Roche
Cinematography By: Jakub Bejnarowicz
Editor: Andreas Wodraschke 


Cast: Carla Juni, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse, Meret Becker, Axel Milberg, Peri Baumeister

The eccentric 18 year-old Helen narrates the story of her life, including stories about her preferred sexual practices that involve vegetables, her attitude towards hygiene, drugs, her best friend Corinna and her challenging childhood. The frame story takes place in a hospital where she is treated because of an anal fissure. During her stay she plans to reunite her divorced parents and falls in love with the male nurse Robin.

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