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Previewing The 2009 German Film Festival

 

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekend. It was a wet one here in Brisbane and I’m guessing that cinema ticket sales would have been up as a result.

For those who didn’t get a chance to catch my special ABC radio show last Thursday, you can download it by clicking here. It wasn’t a bad offering this year… with the exception of Dragonball Evolution.

 

Facebook & Twitter

 

Thanks to everyone who signed up to my Facebook and Twitter sites. I’ve got over 100 members combined to date. Remember to spread the word amongst your friends. Within Facebook, there’s an option which allows you to recommend the site to friends. Thanks again!

 

German Film Festival

 

The 2009 German Film Festival kicks off next Wednesday (Apr 22) with a screening of The Baader Meinhof Complex. I haven’t had a chance to see this film yet but it’s had great reviews… including an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film.

 

The Festival runs for a week (Apr 22 to Apr 28) and more than 20 German films will be screened. It all takes place at the Palace Centro Cinemas at New Farm.

 

Tickets for most films are $15 per person (or $13.50 for Palace Movie Club members). The opening night screening is the main exception - $35 per person and this includes an after party. If you’re really keen, you can pick up a 5 film pass for $67.50.

 

You can find out more by visiting the special website at http://www.goethe.de/Ins/au/lp/prj/ff08/enindex.htm.

 

To help wet your appetite, here’s some info a few of the films that have tweaked my interest. I’ve included an extract of the plot overview as per the Festival website.

 

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (Wed, Apr 22 at 7pm)

This sweeping drama chronicles the fear and terror campaign waged by extreme leftist group the Baader Meinhof Gang (a.k.a. Red Army Faction) in West Germany in the ‘70s. Meticulously researched and powerfully directed, this real-life thriller is a compelling history lesson built around chilling portraits of Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) and Baader’s hardline girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek). Reportedly the most expensive German film ever made, it’s a not-to-be-missed festival highlight.

 

Palermo Shooting (Thu, Apr 23 at 8:45pm)

Director Wim Wenders spins a psychological thriller around Finn (Campino), a successful fashion photographer whose globe-trotting life suddenly spins out of control. Haunted by nightmares involving his dead mother and a mysterious cloaked figure (Dennis Hopper), Finn leaves Düsseldorf for Palermo, where he undertakes a redemptive photo shoot with real-life actress Milla Jovovich. Set to a soundtrack by regular Wenders collaborators including Nick Cave and Lou Reed, “Palermo Shooting” is an intriguing puzzle-box about life, death and the captured image.

 

Happy New Year (Fri, Apr 24 at 9:00pm)

In Christoph Schaub’s panoramic drama we meet a large cross-section of Zurich inhabitants on New Year’s Eve. Our tour guide is Kaspar (Nils Althaus) a taxi driver with a chequered romantic past whose passenger, Gloria (Denise Virieux), has been abandoned by her husband. As Kaspar’s cab passes through the chilly night, Schaub’s camera detours into the lives of police officers working the late shift, a retired couple, a babysitter problem and a lost dog searching for its owners. As the strands are drawn together, an illuminating picture emerges of that one night in the year where the urge to celebrate is locked in battle with the need to reflect and re-evaluate.

 

Trade (Sun, Apr 26 at 3:15pm)

Trade is a road thriller set in the sordid world of sex-trafficking. In Mexico, 17-year-old Jorge (Cesar Ramos) witnesses his 13-year-old sister Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) being kidnapped by a highly-organized criminal gang. Pursuing her captors into the US, Jorge forms an uneasy alliance with Ray Sheridan (Kevin Kline), a Texas Ranger attempting to find his missing daughter. With Adriana about to be auctioned on an Internet site, Jorge and Ray face a desperate race against the clock to save her.

 

Summer Storm (Sun, Apr 26 at 9:00pm)

Summer Storm charts an eventful summer in the lives of teenage best friends Tobi (starring Festivalguest Robert Stadlober) and Achim (Kostja Ullmann). As cox and oarsman, they have helped their rowing team win several cups and are now looking forward to a big regatta in the countryside. But this trip is different. Achim has become close to Sandra (Miriam Morgenstern), forcing Tobi to realize that his feelings for Achim run deeper than he’s willing to admit to himself. Poignant and gently humorous, Summer Storm captures the confusion and courage of a young man on the cusp of adulthood.

 

I’ll hopefully see you there.

 

Cannes Film Festival

 

The Cannes Film Festival, regarded as the most prestigious film festival going around, kicks off on May 13. For those that don’t know, Cannes is a coastal city in southern France. Every year, it plays host to this festival and with it comes a wave of celebrities and media attention.

 

The new Disney Pixar film, Up, will open the Festival and become the first animated film to do so. The full program will be released next week but rumoured to be making their premiere include films from Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar, Steven Soderbergh, Lars Von Trier, Ang Lee, Michael Moore, Michael Haneke, Jane Campion, Todd Solondz, Neil Jordan, Jim Jarmusch and Woody Allen. I’m sure some of these are just “rumours” but even if only half of these flicks are ready, it should be a cracker of a festival.

 

See you next week.

The Film Pie Is Now On Facebook & Twitter

 

Ok, the exciting news this week is that The Film Pie has now entered the realms of Facebook and Twitter. If you subscribe on either site, you’ll instantly see my mini-reviews for films as I see them. I have to admit it’s a lot easier writing 2 sentences on a film rather than 7 paragraphs. That said, it’s not always easy cramming everything into such a short space. Some films, such as the really good and the really bad, deserve a lot more commentary.

 

If you’re on Facebook, you can find me by searching for “The Film Pie” and you can add yourself as a fan from there. To tempt you, I’ve uploaded a few photos from the Fast & The Furious premiere at Movie World on Sunday night. It was a fun night and my full review will follow next week.

 

For those who prefer to Twitter, you can find me by searching for “icestorm77” and then choose to follow me from there. My reviews on Twitter are a little shorter as they have to be 140 characters or less!

 

The advantage of having these sites is that can also give you a chance to respond directly to what I have to say. I don’t have a forum on my current website (due to laziness and a lack of technical skills) but this medium allows me to receive both positive… and negative feedback.

 

Don’t forget to tell all your cinema loving friends. The more the merrier.

 

I can’t finish up this week without commenting on the sensational box-office debut in the United States over the weekend of Fast & Furious. It took in a stunning $71m at the box-office in 3 days. If you want to put that into perspective, the previous biggest opening in April was for the god awful Anger Management which made $42m in its opening weekend back in 2003.

 

There are 8 new films in release over the Easter long weekend and I’ve been able to catch 5 of them so far. My gradings are above and my pick of the bunch, Elegy, is my full length review for the week. I hope everyone enjoys the time off work and finds a few spare hours to spend their stimulus money at the cinemas. Just think – you might finally be able to afford the Birch, Carroll & Coyle popcorn prices.

 

That’ll do from me. See you in a week… or maybe even sooner.

Can Someone Think Of An Original Title For A Sequel, Please?

 

Easter Rush Almost Here

 

The tidal wave of films that comes with Easter is almost upon us. On April 9, we’ll see 9 new films being released across Brisbane. I’m currently trying to get a head start with some preview screenings so as to give me something to review next week. The Boat That Rocked appears to be getting the most buzz and a few critics I’ve spoken to gave it a resounding thumbs up.

 

I’ll have more in next week’s Film Pie… including a review, hopefully, of The Boat That Rocked.

 

Getting Lazy With Sequels?

 

One thing that has struck me as strange of late is some of the “sequels” being released. Instead of calling the film a sequel, we’re reverting back to original titles. We’ve got Friday The 13th, Star Trek and Fast & Furious (well, very close to the original title – The Fast & The Furious). It irks me because if this trend were to continue, it would make it harder to distinguish the new film from the old one. You’d have to specify the year in which it was made. At least with the Batman franchise, they were creative enough to call the new film Batman Begins, so as not to create confusion. That’s my tirade for the week.

 

Out Of Touch

 

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a strongly positive review to the new Clive Owen / Julia Roberts movie, Duplicity. I had a chance to see it for a second time over the weekend and I enjoyed it just as much. I had a chance to appreciate the little things like the sets, the music, the facial expressions, the witty dialogue. I’m telling you now – this is a great film.

Unfortunately, that isn’t translating at the box office. Duplicity has made just $25.6m in the United States over its first two weeks. That’s well behind the god awful Knowing (which has $46.2m in its first 2 weeks) and I Love You, Man (which has $37.0m from the same period). It’s reality, I know, but it’s still tough to stomach. People would rather go see some Church Of Scientology inspired apocalyptic movie with terrible acting, than a smartly written thriller / drama / comedy / romance with two great actors. How can this be? Am I out of touch? Have I lost my sensibility?

 

Bring On The Germans!

 

The French Film Festival wrapped up last weekend and next on the menu is the German Film Festival. It kicks off on April 22 at the Palace cinemas and hopefully, as mentioned in my Film Pie last week, they’ll be showing some non World War II movies. I do enjoy my German cinema. I’ve had one of their films in my top 10 list for 3 of the past 4 years. The Lives Of Others was my favourite film of 2007. I’ll provide more details on the Festival in the coming weeks.

 

See you next week.

Do We Have A Fetish For World War II Movies?

 

Natasha Richardson

 

You would have all heard the news by now but I was very saddened to learn of the death of Natasha Richardson last week. She was a classy actress who always spoke beautifully with her English accent. I remember her clearly in roles such as Evening (2007), The White Countess (2005) and The Parent Trap (1998). Other roles of note included Wild Child (2008), Maid In Manhattan (2002), Nell (1994), The Comfort Of Strangers (1990), Patty Hearst (1988) and Gothic (1986).

 

She didn’t appear in a lot of movies but Richardson made her mark on stage. In 1998, she won a Tony Award for best lead actress in a musical for her role as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. She also appeared in The Seagull, Anna Christie and Closer.

 

She will be well and truly missed.

 

Do We Have A Fetish For World War II Movies?

 

This is a question I’ve been asking myself over the past few days. There have been so many interesting periods of history and yet we make so many movies which focus on World War II? Why is this? Is it because the people making the movies and telling the stories knew people directly linked to the time? Is it easier to make a World War II flick than say, one set in the 18th Century?

 

Already this year, we’ve seen Valkyrie (the awful Tom Cruise movie) and The Reader. Now I know The Reader was directly about the holocaust but there was a connection.

Here’s a look at some of the films being released in April…

 

Good (out Apr 9) - A movie exploring the life of a normal German citizen (Viggo Mortensen) who is embroiled in the Nazi scheme without really understanding the consequences

 

The Boy In Striped Pyjamas (out Apr 23) - Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences

 

Defiance (out Apr 30) - Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavour to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.

 

Now that’s 5 World War II movies being released in the first 4 months of 2009.

 

I’m not complaining because these movies are bad but just that I’d like to see something a little different. We’ll see what the rest of 2009 has to offer…

 

See you next week.