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Tonari no Totoro/My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Tonari no Totoro/My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Tomboy (2011)

Laure is a tomboy, as she and her family move to a new place, she meets Lisa, who thinks Laure is actually a boy. Laure doesn’t mind that and introduces himself as Michael. As Michael she starts to play football with the other neighborhood kids and they even go swimming together. Laure’s little sister finds out about his secrete, but helps him to maintain his lies, she actually likes to have big brother Michael…but for how long can Laure lie to her friends?

A French movie about being different, about isolation, guilt, loneliness, friendship, family and growing up. It can be so difficult finding out, who you really are, especially when you’re 10 and would rather be a boy than a girl. The actress Zoé Héran did a great job portraying Laure/Michael, and the director/writer Céline Sciamma created an interesting story not just telling us with words what’s going on but with beautiful landscapes, sometimes in warm and sometimes cold colors. There aren’t many films about this subject so if you’re interested in it, I’d suggest to watch this.

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvfdCI4MArQ

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American Hustle (2013)

Don’t you just love it when a movie has an incredible story, that can make you laugh from the bottom of your heart, accompanied with a nice 1970’s soundtrack and original characters. You do? Then “American Hustle” is a must watch. To make a long story short, two scammer, who are also lovers, get caught by the FBI and then make a deal with them to sell out other criminals, so they can get immunity for their own felonies. But of course, nothing goes the way it’s supposed to go. Great film, with a great cast, written and directing by David O. Russell

Con man Irving Rosenfeld, played by Christian Bale (gained 40 pounds for this role), who along with his partner Sydney Prosser, played by Amy Adams (shows a lot of sideboob) is forced to work for a young ‘hungry’ FBI agent Richie DiMaso, played by Bradley Cooper (who should win a prize for his hair) after getting caught for their frauds. DiMaso’s goal is, to catch some tax evaders, thieves and corrupt politicians. But as he gets closer to that goal, he suddenly wants more and tries to pull off the impossible. His boss, played by funny Louis C.K., can see that his overzealous college is getting out of control and tries to stop him, but he fails because his attention seeking boss, played by Alessandro Nivola who, like DiMaso, is blinded by the chance to make a name for himself and become famous for busting the mafia and exposing a ton of politicians for dealing with them, is approving of DiMaso’s plan. For Irving it’s getting dangerous - now he’s seriously in trouble for deceiving not only his new best friend the New Jersey mayor Carmine Polito (what a tragic character), played by Jeremy Renner, but also a frightening mafia boss. On the brick of insanity, he’s under pressure playing dirty mind games, lying to dangerous mobsters, while having a crazy marriage, getting pushed into a mess further and further by the FBI - how much hustle can he take? Irving suddenly has an idea, how to get out of it all - thanks to his unpredictable and somewhat stupid wife Rosalyn, played by Jennifer Lawrence (this woman is great in everything). Twists and turns everywhere, this movie gets under your skin, especially the love story between Irving and Sydney, and the weird friendship between Irving and the mayor. I enjoyed this movie a lot, although it was over way to quick. And - this is based on the true scandalous story, of Mel Weinberg and the Washington bribery scandal of the late ’70s/early ’80s (the disco-era) the names of the real people/places, were changed, which is a little confusing. 

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST7a1aK_lG0

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On the set of “Schindler’s List” (1993)

Jagten/The Hunt (2012)

'The Hunt' is a film from Denmark directed and written by Thomas Vinterberg. Starring well known Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who plays kindergartner Lucas, whose life is getting our of control after he is wrongly accused of child molestation. The child that accuses him, is the little daughter of his best friend.

I always imagined how it would feel like to be accused of something like that, what impact it would have on you and your surroundings. This movie showed me that brilliantly. Mikkelson is portraying the ‘victim’ Lucas flawlessly and you feel his helplessness so much it hurts. He’s divorced and has a son, teenager Marcus, who loves and supports him through thick and thin. His hobby is hunting, along with his middle aged buddy’s, who know each other since they’re kids, and you get the feeling Lucas is respected and well-liked. He used to be a teacher, after the school got closed he started working in a kindergarden. There is Klara, daughter of his best friend Theo, who has a crush on him. But of course Lucas ‘turns her down’, that makes Klara angry at him. So she tells another kindergartner (who knows that Klara lies sometimes), he was mean to her and implied he showed her his penis, with that Klara single-handedly destroys a man’s life. You (the audience) know he didn’t do anything, but what if a child tells you it was molested, you would believe the child right? A parent can’t imagine their kids would lie about something so awful. So Klara’s parents and the other parents are outraged, even after Lucas says, he didn’t do it. Lucas gets fired and then all of a sudden more and more children accuse him of molesting them - although the police later figures out that the kids were lying. The people in his town are excluding him, they are vicious. Lucas can’t take it anymore and confronts his best friend Theo and tells him in front of all the others: “Look me in the eyes. What do you see? Do you see anything? Nothing. There’s nothing.”, a powerful scene on Christmas at the church. His friend saw it in his eyes - he’s innocent. His girl admits that she lied, and the police clears him of the charges. Time passes by but still, nothing is like it used to be. The last scene is when Lucas goes hunting again, somebody tries to shoot him instead of a deer. A metaphor for him becoming the hunted rather than the hunter - So what does it feel like to be hunted?

Amazing movie with perfect cinematography, great performances by the actors and so telling about our society. I felt my heart beating heavy constantly, definitely a must watch.

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieLIOBkMgAQ

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RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

La vie d’Adèle/Blue is the warmest color (2013)

A French film by Abdellatif Kechiche with a story based on a (unbelievably good) comic book “Le Bleu est une couleur chaude” by Julie Maroh, staring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. I’m sure film fans have at least heard of this one already. I’m doing the review a little late (busy life) but after I saw that ‘BITWC’ didn’t get a nomination at the Oscars, I was upset enough to write one. Here we go.

First of all let me say, right now this movie is only available with English subtitles (no dub), that said, I’m never bothered by subtitles, because I like to hear the original voices of the actors, plus French sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? The story is about Adele, who is unsure about her sexuality. Although she’s young and pretty and her boyfriend likes her, she feels lonely and knows something is missing in her life. She’s very intelligent and into literature, but at the same time not as open as she’d like to be, like most teenagers she’s still confused about many things. After accidentally meeting Emma, pretty girl with the blue hair, on the streets, while she was hugging another girl tightly, she fell in love with her/with what she saw, at first sight. Of course in the beginning she’s in denial, but her inner self and her curiosity make her go looking for that mysterious girl, and after she does find her in a gay bar, the two of them become closer and closer. Through the creative and sorta tomboy Emma, young Adele is able to grow and discover different sides about herself, in return Emma, an art student, also is able to experience love like she never did before. They go to demonstrations together, talk about life, art…Adele finally feels at the right place, she apparently found what she was always looking for. Until years later of being in a save and conformable relationship, mistakes are made, feelings get hurt and something beautiful comes to a bitter end.

'Blue is the warmest color' is a 3h long movie about LOVE, about PUBERTY - the raw desires of youth, about HUMAN NEED, with intense sex scenes (a bit too intense for my taste). It really is an interesting look at the life of two people, who are different on many levels but connect with each other so naturally. There are no cliches, no stereotypical characters, and don’t expect something shallow either, the 3 hours are filled with brilliant dialog’s and great great acting! This is definitely one of my favorite movies of 2013 and it left quite an impression on me. Maybe Hollywood wasn’t ready for something as bold as ‘La vie d’Adèle’, but at least Europe was and besides winning in Cannes, it got a lot of positive attention.

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKmWi_T3QWEimage

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Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki/ Wolf Children 2012

The bond between mother and child is incredibly strong, especially when circumstances force the family closer together like this one did. What I liked the most about this fantasy film - how real it felt! It truly touches your heart (made me even cry at some point) watching the children grow up and change, or how much the mother struggles but never stops loving her kids, it’s just a sweet story with melancholic moments.

Plot: Hana is a young student and falls in love with a man who turns out to be half wolf. They get two children, a wild girl and a quiet/shy boy, shortly after Hana gives birth to their son the Wolf Man dies. She decides to move to a rural town to continue raising her kids Yuki and Ame, so nobody would find out about them being half human and half wolfs. (BTW Yuki means snow and Ame means rain, they were named like that because they were born on snowy and rainy days :) 

Although I liked the character design (same guy who worked on Neon Genesis Evangelion), the animation doesn’t stand out, the background designs looked beautiful, animes often have pristine landscapes, and in Wolf Children they even used real motives like the University, which is based on Hitotsubashi-University. I liked the Japanese voice actors, who kept their voices down to fit the movies atmosphere. The soundtrack also fit perfectly in the mood of the characters. Plus for Manga fans, they produced one around the time the film was released.

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiLhEb6IG1k

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Behind the scenes of “The Walking Dead”

Behind the scenes of “The Walking Dead”

Tim Curry and Richard O’Brien behind the scenes of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)

Tim Curry and Richard O’Brien behind the scenes of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)

Aaron Paul on the set of “Breaking Bad”

Aaron Paul on the set of “Breaking Bad”

"Because there is nothing worse in life than being ordinary."
-Mena Suvari as Angela Hayes in “American Beauty (1999)

"Because there is nothing worse in life than being ordinary."

-Mena Suvari as Angela Hayes in “American Beauty (1999)

Curfew (2012)

"Curfew", what a great short film. Directed and written by Shawn Christensen, starring Shawn Christensen himself, Fatima Ptacek and Kim Allen. I liked it so much, that I wish it was a normal length film, beautiful, sad and at times funny story. Great directing/writing/acting by Shawn, I loved the atmosphere and the scenery, everything worked!

At the lowest point of his life, Richie gets a call from his estranged sister, asking him to look after his nine-year old niece, Sophia, for a few hours. Sophia wasn’t allowed to see her uncle Richie, because he was a drug addict. Richie desperately wants to bond with her, and also with his sister. You can feel his pain, how hard the battle with addiction must have been, his loneliness over the years with no contact to his family…but then at the end, who knows what one day can change…

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Rebelle/War Witch (2012)

"Rebelle" also known as "War Witch" took my breath away. The incredibly intense and realistic story about child soldiers in Africa. Kids who get abducted from home, are forced to kill their parents, and then fight against the government soldiers. This particular story is about Komona a 14-year-old girl, who tells her unborn child growing inside her the story of her life since she has been at war. Everything starts when she gets abducted by the rebel army at the age of 12. 

Written and directed by Kim Nguyen, who keeps the camera always close on whats going on, sometimes so close you can’t take it. The film is in French, and plays somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. “War Witch” impressed me, it brings attention to the problems of child soldiers, and there aren’t that many movies about them, so I absolutely recommend this to everyone who’s interested in that subject. The actress who plays Komona, Rachel Mwanza, also did a great job and completely convinced me. Nominated for an Oscar “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year”, I hope it wins, it’s definitely one of my favorites.

Trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKXEh_kfPCY

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La grande illusion/The great Illusion (1937)

La grande illusion/The great Illusion (1937)