Recent Movies 
Tuesday, 21 .March, 2006, 10:33 - English Entries, Movies

A good woman was shown on one of the airplanes I recently sat in. It is unfortunately not in cinemas again, that is truly regrettable.

Helen Hunt and Scarlett Johansson in a film that is based on a play by Oscar Wilde. This is entertainment of a style that is hardly seen nowadays - intelligent, truly funny and all put into beautiful pictures. This movie was convincing even on a small airplane screen. A master piece that was not recognized enough when it came out. (10/10)

Finish TV showed A time to kill again. I watched it because of Kevin Spacey and Donald Sutherland and in the end got disappointed. The two actors are of course great, but Sandra Bullock hops too often through the picture, being dressed temptingly, being smart and being everything else she needs to pretend to be. I dont talk about Matthew McConaughey, he is as slimy as always and they unfortunately gave him the main role in this movie. Ok, I could not avoid talking about him.

It is ok to construct a tight story, but Grisham goes to far here. He needs to transport just another moral lecture and spoils it all. So there is this black guy who murdered the rapers of his daughter and he finally gets free because everybody feels pity for him and (that's Grishams stupid trick) the only other alternative would be the death penalty.

Should we let all murders of criminals roam free? What signal is that? At what point can somebody be set free and which deed is cruel enough to justify a private murder? Ah, nonsense. And then Matthew in the end in front of the jury, all in tears about the pathetic story he thought up last night. Spacey is the only one who makes an impression on this movie - so please watch American Beauty or The Usual Suspects again and see him in a good movie. (4/10)

Finally I saw Capote two days ago in cinema. I was sceptical about this movie - there was too much fuss made about it during the last weeks. And again I was wrong. Seymour Hoffmans acting is perfect, not one movement that would indicating that he is not a total eccentric gay. The pictures taken in Kansas need the whole screen and sink deep into ones perception - especially the view of the house in which the murder took place is a story on its own.

But the most intriguing thing about the movie is how the story is told. In the beginning it is all laughing and fun. Then something starts to develop, but nothing is said directly. Scene after scene leads further into doubt and every now and then the thought "he cannot be that much a bastard" flickers up. Capote, who seems not to have a doubt with what he is doing, is shown as a person that still can be understood - in a way. The movie is not a lecture about right and wrong. It is easy to criticize Capote, but it is much more interesting to admit, that his actions can be understood to a certain extend. It's an inconsistent feeling that one is left with after the movie and that is most valuable.

Nevertheless the writing at the end of the movie could have been skipped. It is the only thing that hints towards punishment and I doubt that things are that clear and easy to explain. But maybe that was needed to satisfy a certain audience. (9/10)


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In Anticipation for the V for Vendetta Movie 
Sunday, 19 .March, 2006, 14:17 - English Entries, Literature, Movies, Comics

One of the few movie highlights of last year was "Sin City", which was based on Frank Millers graphic novel of the same title. It was an extraordinary visual act and director Robert Rodriguez kept the film strictly to the story of the comic books. Calling Sin City an intellectual outburst would be a little bit far fetched, but it is a much more complex and inspiring story that other comic adaptions, such as Spider Man or The Fantastic Four.

Now the Wachowski brothers and James McTeigue, the makers of the Matrix trilogy, take the next step in advertising non-mainstream comics in theater. Their movie "V for Vendetta" is based on the comic book written by Alan Moore and drawn by David Lloyd in the late 1980s.

The background, to which the story is set, is the United Kingdom which is ruled by a fascist regime, that controls everything and everybody. The only person going against the oppressors is a masked vigilante who calles himself simply "V".

It sounds like just another superhero and of course V is not a normal person, but he is neither Clark Kent nor Peter Parker. V is an intellectual anarchist, one who cites More and Crowley before destroying goverment buildings, one who has a long conversation with justice before blowing up her statue, one who knows mercy and can kill at the same time.

Lloyds drawings give insight into a hopeless and suppressed society, in which the only light seems to be the white, grinning mask of V, whose depcition goes beyond that of a hero. He becomes a mystical figure or even more: a concept – that of individual freedom and anarchy –, that took on flesh and blood (or paper and ink) to break the chains in which it was layed. V is a gathering of citations that went into action and even if you do not have the key to all his quotes, his intentions are shining bright from his smile.

In V, pain is not something that is shown in pictures of blood and dead bodys, it pours out of every page, showing the deep misery the people are in and is finally not abandoned but turned around. It becomes the memory and foundation of a new society, that has to find its way into the future on its own.

Moore took Guy Fawkes as a role model for V. Fawkes was one of the catholics who got convicted and killed on the 5th of November 1606 for his participation in the so-called gun powder plot, an attempt to assasinate the English king, who was not willing to give equal rights to catholics. Moore seemingly got inspired by Fawkes, as he was willing to take extreme measures to get his individual right and he reminds of him by making V's first major attack against the goverment to the 5th of November.

It was in the 1980s, when people like Miller and Moore steered the comic book business into direction of a darker and complex realm. Millers stories are driven by action and effects, that transport a feeling of desperation and the knowledge that the world is a cruel place and it will never change, but it is worth to go against it. What's for Miller the fist of Marv (in "Sin City") or the lance of King Leonidas (in "300") is in Moores universe a citation or a gesture, a joke, that turns into the explosion of the parliament building. His action is founded in a system of thought that does not hesitate to commit a crime, without taking itself too seriously. Moore and V are smiling inside all the misery and tragedy.

The trailers of the V movie look promising, it seems that the makers stayed true to the story and pictures of the comic book. It is over 12 years ago that I read the German version of Moores graphic novel and since then it stayed the best comic book I ever read. I am impatient to see this movie. I hope the movie shows what Moore did to comics and that we all will enjoy it.

Whilst writing this, I found a some material on V and Moore on the web that is worth looking at:


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Walk the Line - the Movie about Johnny Cash  
Monday, 06 .February, 2006, 22:08 - English Entries, Music, Movies
Johnny Cash at Folsom PrisonLots of things have already been written about this movie. After I saw it yesterday I have read now a lot of statements and critics about it, many of them glorifying, some of them merciless and harsh.

I do not know Johnny Cash too well, but what I know of him I really like and some of his songs I love. Those are simple and straight songs, getting a lot of their magic from his voice. I could write a lot about Johnny Cash and his music. But this entry should be about a movie.

A film cannot be as detailed a biography as a book can be, it has to cut away parts of reality to give those things more space, that should be transported to the audience. This is where director James Mangold had to take some decisions and at least for me he took them well. The movie concentrates on the early years of Cash, it has two major themes in it: the love between J.C. and June Carter (also J.C.) and Johnnys problems that start in early childhood and partly cause his drug addiction. Don't expect more from this.

And don't say "this does not show the whole Johnny Cash" - of course it does not. There are some hundred songs missing, most of his live is not told (the movie ends with the concert at Folsom Prison in the late 60s) and we nearly do not see any scene in which the singer Cash gets glorified into a supernatural being. Yes, there are some scenes like that, especially when he first time sings in the record studio, well - some episodes like that must have happend in his life. In general we are not witnessing the rising of a legend.

The drug addiction is maybe given too much room and has a sort of pathetic taste to it - although I did not think so when watching the movie, I only came across this thought when reading some critics. Nevertheless the addiction was part of Cashs life and it was one that influenced him most likely until his late days. So it is - looking at the person we are talking about here - fair to give this subject room.

What makes this movie more than just the story of a drug addicted hillbilly in love? For a hollywood production there is a strong sense of reality in it, that mostly is transported by the women in the story. Johnnys wife, who blames him and suffers and June Carter, who never even takes a toe away from the ground and gives the great singer a hard but healing time.

Amreican Recordings I was most impressed by the singing performances of the two main actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. Letting them sing the original songs and not dubbing that with Cashs and Carters voices was daring, but it works perfectly and makes the whole story more vivid. Both actors do a great job. I always imagined Cash as a man of at least 40, 50 years, never younger. After this movie, my view on him has changed.

It is a good movie, that shows a part of the life and works of Johnny Cash. It does not pretend to tell you the whole story, it does not mystify too obviously, but it entertains you and seems mostly to stick to the truth.

8 out of 10 - close to 9.

-- Picutres in this entry are from http://www.wikipedia.org
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January 2006 
Monday, 30 .January, 2006, 21:29 - English Entries, Literature, Music, Movies

A short look back on the first month of 2006. Good music, good movies, good books - lots of travelling and visiting family and friends. The mole (birthmark) over my right eyebrow was removed, I sprained my ankle badly (thank you Andi for bringing me home) and now I am happy to be back in Helsinki for the next two weeks.

Forgive me, that I mostly list the good things below - there is just not time enough time, to review the not-so-good artworks.


Read:
  • Michel Houellebecq - Die Möglichkeit einer Insel / The Possiblility of an Island
    Misanthropic, sad and haunted by sex - that's Michels style in Die Ausweitung der Kampfzone / Whatever and Elementarteilchen / The Elementary Particles. In this new book his view on mankind has become a bit more negative and he really makes the reader blieve that everything that happens between North- and South-Pole is disgusting and the only advantage is anyhow that it makes no sense. At the very end he seems to leave a little light of hope burning. Weather it's a hope that you like, you'll have to find out on your own. A good book, but Elementarteilichen / The Elementary Particles was better. (7/10)

  • Juli Zeh - Spieltrieb
    On over 560 pages Juli Zeh ist not capable of writing a single wrong sentence. Every word, every metaphor fits - and many of them hurt. Her talent in using the German language is for sure unique. Already Adler und Engel / Eagles and Angels was a crime and a love story. In Spieltrieb she changes the scenario from drug addicted grown ups to a German grammar school. We meet Ada, a fourteen year old girl, whose mind is one of a fully grown-up and disillusioned person. We meet Smutek, her teacher who tries to find happyness, or at least hope, together with his wife. And we meet Alev, one of Adas classmates - a player of games. And as all games between people, also this becomes serious and ends in something that might look like a catastrophe at first glance. (8/10)


Saw:
  • Match Point
    Woody Allen leaves the comedy (not for the first time) and New York (must have been for the first time), goes to London and directs a love-crime-tragedy that sucks you in, shakes your emotions and leaves you waiting for more. But the end is as cruel as justice is. One might not like the moral implications this movie transports, but it is a perfectly constructed, directed and acted story, that will not let you think of anything else until it is finished. (9/10)

  • Southpark - Bigger, Longer and Uncut
    I said it already - it is great! (9/10)

  • Bob Dylan - No Direction Home
    Martin Scorsese makes a movie about the early Bob Dylan and the man himself talks about himself and it is all wonderful. This documentary made me listen to Dylans song in a different way - with much more background knowledge. I even took out the one and only Woody Guthrie record I have and listend to it. Don't watch this if you do not like Dylan. (9/10)

  • Ronin
    I saw this in 98 when it was released and now again on TV, but I did not like it too much. It is a good thriller, but the streets of Nice and Paris are too empty and just waiting for the cars that chase each other through them. (5/10)


Listend to:
  • Mary Broadcast Band
    Now, after coming back home again, I am able to listen to their first album, which is unfortunately not available in stores. The three songs on their web page are good, but the album is just perfect. I saw them live, but I do not know them personally, so don't think I would make advertisement for friends here. They simply play the blues and Marys voice has a power rarely heared these days. Be there at their next concert, get a CD. (10/10)

  • Juliette and the Licks - You're Speaking my Lanuage
    This is the little Juliette Lewis, who played in Natural Born Killers. Somebody must have told her to make music and this somebody should get a special bonus. This is very well made Rock'n'Roll - loud, aggressive, sometimes sad and always good. (8/10)

  • Carla Bruni - Quelqu'un M'a Dit
    Yes yes yes, I like to listen to female voices. I know that. And Mrs. Bruni is not only good to listen too - we also know that. But still her songs are so easy and so much Cote d'Azur, that even a 42 square meter room in Helsinki in Winter becomes a cozy place for forgetting everything that is anyhow not worth the trouble. (9/10)

  • CocoRosie - Noah's Ark
    I heared them on Zündfunk on German Radio Bayern 2 and their sound and song was so different, that I had to hear more of them. Their music is organic and does not go into cateogries of loud or soft, happy or sad. Sigur Ros is maybe in a way similar, but then again - only hardly similar. Don't listen to this as background music - it gives you a severe headache. (7/10)


Played:
  • Tarock
    A big "Thank You" to Alice, Christian and Johannes, who not only took time with me in Vienna, but also taught me this great game. I got addicted to it and play it on the my computer all the time.


Travelled:
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What would Brian Boitano do? 
Saturday, 07 .January, 2006, 16:29 - English Entries, Movies
Mmm-kay, due to my total lack of motivation to follow any TV series that forces me to sit in front of the screen at a certain time every week, I missed most of South Park. I think I never saw a complete episode.

Looks like Finland but is a quiet mountain town in the USA
(Picture linked from Wikipedia)


On Thursday night, Finish MTV3 showed South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and as I was at home anyhow, I decided to watch it. Even more, I found out about the recording capability of the TV-software that runs on my computer, so I even recorded it. That was very wise.

I don't want to go into details about the movie - it was not made for being described, you really have to see it. But be prepared for the biggest collection of dirty language and the worst exploitation of prejudices, religious convictions and bigotry that ever was assembled. Also put some hankerchiefs next to you - at least I could not avoid the tears.

You will find out a lot of new things during this film, for example that there are grizzly bears (and also fair maidens) in the Alpes and who is "the biggest bitch of all" (this religous truth is known by a French kid, so one has to believe it). If you need more information on what's wrong with these German people, then you will find the shocking trutz here and finally you will learn how to find the clitoris, which is exceptionally useful in certain situations.

The movie is a musical and there are some very good songs in it. My absolute favourite is "What would Brian Boitano do", the sound is just great and I want to hear it again and again. But of course also "Uncle Fucker", "Blame Canada" and "Kyle's Mom a Bitch" are unforgettable jewels.

This movie has nothing in common with intelligence insulting comedies like "Meet the Fockers" or "Along came Polly", it is really rude and bad. And, as a bonus, it spoils your language. You have to fucking see it.
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