Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Movie Review

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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Movie Review

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a 1974 German film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and starring Brigitte Mira and El Hedi ben Salem. It is one of the finest movies from German cinema.

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But when we’re together,

we must be nice to each other.

Otherwise, life’s not worth living

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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Movie Review

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Yes, this film is absolutely great and one of the best films I’ve seen recently. I adored it. The relationship that develops between an elderly German woman and a much younger Moroccan migrant is so incredibly moving to witness while also being surprisingly grounded in reality. The film’s subject matter of racism and xenophobia along with forbidden love makes it a timeless work which is going to be relevant as long as there is prejudice in this world.

It starts somewhat out of the blue, but I loved how they met and how the relationship established and grew was subtle and so well executed with only the marriage seeming somewhat abrupt and unrealistic. As I said, the film is realistic for showing us that love knows no boundaries but still portraying such a relationship as it would be in real life – very difficult and seemingly insurmountable as the two are much too different.

And certainly he starts cheating on her and surprisingly she accepts it as she’s well aware of her age. That conversation and that dance and the whole final scene is beyond beautiful to witness. I thought it was a perfect happy ending which still wasn’t as happy as to be unrealistic.

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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Movie Review

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The two are wonderful. He is very likable and she is one of the most wonderful and sympathetic female protagonists ever in a film. Yes, you just have to love Emmi Kurowski. And that stems for the most part from Brigitte Mira’s absolutely amazing performance. She carries the entire film on her shoulders and she delivered one of the best ever female performances in a film. El Hedi ben Salem is good, but much inferior in comparison to her.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a drama, but a beautiful romance above all with quite a lot of romantic scenes. Sometimes I wish the two were closer and the film was more sensual, but I guess the lack of that was to be expected given the age gap. As for its dramatic aspects such as the prejudice, I really liked it but with some reservations.

To me the film excelled at portraying how hateful and prejudiced people can be and how they are good to you only when they use you. The most intelligent part of this script is the portrayal of her neighbors as the most hateful. The film showcases how out of jealousy and unhappy life stems the biggest hatred of them all which is definitely true and well realized here. But the problem is that sometimes the film wanted too much to portray each and every man or woman in her surroundings reacting to her relationship and eventual marriage. That led to a couple of very forced scenes in terms of their execution.

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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul Movie Review

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The movie is so well directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and no matter how problematic he was in his personal life, he was a great director. He is such a great director that I know I want to check out some of his other films as well. I loved this film and it is one of Germany’s best movies ever.

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul features such a great direction from Fassbinder and such a fantastic performance from Brigitte Mira who here gave one of the finest female performances ever in a film and created one of the most wonderful protagonists in the process. The film is sweet and touching but also very realistic in its third act and it explores hatred and prejudice really well and is timeless in its subject matter. It is one of the best films from the seventies and one of the biggest classics to come from Germany.

My Rating – 4.5

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Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann is a 2016 German comedy drama film directed by Maren Ade and starring Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller. It is the year’s most acclaimed foreign film that is actually bad.

It follows the relationship between a father and his uptight daughter who is very successful and her work life prevents her from having any joy, but the father helps her loosen up through a series of practical jokes. Now this is the kind of film that is at its core good and its heart is in the right place, but the execution is absolutely horrible and is so awful that it made the entire movie almost unwatchable and hurt what could have been a good message film.

The characters are just so annoying. I get her and she is a memorable, realistic character, but they unfortunately added her affair in the mix which was totally out of character and that sex scene or masturbation scene to be exact is not only disgusting, but also pointless and just plain stupid. The father is so annoying, he frustrated me immensely and this is the kind of person that easily gets on my nerves and he did do just that very frequently. The acting is definitely good and the film is well made, but that is the only good thing I can say about it.

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Toni Erdmann Movie Review………………………………………………………..

Toni Erdmann starts off pretty fine and actually had the potential to be a great movie, but with every next sequence the movie became more ruined than it had been previously. Literally every next scene was even more ridiculous and over-the-top than the previous one. And that is the problem with these kinds of directors and filmmakers – they want to make a shocker that only offends people without actually being realistic and authentic. It was all done for basic shock value which just appalled me.

The humor here is absolutely horrible. Rarely have I seen humor that is worse than this one in an acclaimed movie. Again I of course despise needless nudity and sexual scenes, but here that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that those scenes were stupid and pointless in and of itself. So over-the-top. And totally unrealistic. In real life she would learn to loosen up and start partying or something. But here she decided to get naked in front of all of her friends and boss and colleagues. Needless to say, the film hasn’t heard of the word nuance whatsoever.

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Toni Erdmann Movie Review………………………………………………………..

The film admittedly would have been okay as a drama, but as a comedy it fails on every level as it isn’t funny and is more obnoxious than anything else. That entire party sequence was painful to watch and there were more than a couple of times where I wanted to leave the theatre because that is how uncomfortable and annoyed I felt. Not only that, but you have a typical problem in pretentiousness as the film somehow makes it seem that it is smart, but is actually pretty simplistic and never really clever. It is also way too long as this kind of story is more than enough suitable for a two-hour format, but adding another half hour to it made it prolonged. Such an annoying, frustrating German film that just might end up being the most overrated film of 2016.

Toni Erdmann is one of the most overrated films of the year and one of the worst. Its core is good and its heart is definitely in the right place, but it doesn’t matter because the execution is so horrible and actually couldn’t have been worse with many ridiculous scenes that were just there for shock value, an extremely annoying main character, absolutely stupid, painfully unfunny humor and the movie is so bad as filmmakers here seem to be clueless and fully unfamiliar with the word nuance as the film is totally over-the-top and unrealistic that it becomes a joke and a chore to sit through.

My Rating – 2

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The White Ribbon (2009)

The White Ribbon Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

The White Ribbon Movie Review

The White Ribbon is a 2009 German drama film directed by Michael Haneke. It is such a disappointing movie that let me down a lot.

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I gave God a chance to kill me.

He didn’t do it, so he’s pleased with me

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The White Ribbon Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Because I’ve had high expectations form it, I was immensely disappointed at finally seeing the actual movie as it is so incredibly boring. This is the movie that has a powerful story that is important and tragic and instead of utilizing it in the best way possible, it uses a weak approach and thus ruining it tragically.

I guess Michael Haneke is to blame here as he as the director needed to make this film more accessible to audiences. The glacial pacing here is so off-putting that it is even difficult to sit through its entirety. Couple that with its incredibly long running time and you’ve got one overlong, tedious experience.

The White Ribbon, as I said, has a heartbreaking and important plot and some plot points and dialogue scenes are very powerful here. I also liked the ending and I liked most of the film’s conversations. I just wish that the transitions were smoother and that the film was quicker in pacing and better directed.

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The White Ribbon Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

But it is well acted and is otherwise well made with a pretty good cinematography. I really liked its black and white imagery and I found both the scenery and the camera movements to be quite polished. The emotion is definitely there and the characters are very well developed, but the film is a perfect example of a movie that is too much like a book/reading experience. A film should be swifter in pacing and more simplistic in plot and characters, but here it has way too many characters in it thus reducing some of their impact and it is too long, too episodic in nature and too slow to be enjoyed more as an actual film. In the end, The White Ribbon is a solid film, but the one from which I expected much greater things.

The White Ribbon is a disappointing film. Its story is important and tragic, the characters are well developed, some scenes are heartbreaking and the movie is well shot, but it is so frustratingly directed by Michael Haneke featuring such off-putting glacial pacing that it ended up being an overlong, tedious experience.

My Rating – 3.5

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Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Metropolis Movie Review

Metropolis is a 1927 classic science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Brigitte Helm and Gustav Frohlich. It is one of the finest silent movies.

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The mediator between head and hands must be the heart

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

It is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and it follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. To me the storytelling is one of the strongest points of an all around excellent film. The plot is, needless to say, so influential and incredibly original, very impressive. But the film is so well crafted and executed, that story is thankfully utilized properly and its themes of clash between classes, artificial intelligence and the reliance on machines are all really well explored.

The characters are pretty good. Freder is a classic main character done mostly right, Maria is very likable and the robot is of course so memorable and iconic by now. Joh Fredersen is fantastic as Freder’s father and I found him to be the most moving and interesting person here. The mad scientist Rotwang is typical for this genre, but again highly memorable and the film is great for basically inventing all of these sci-fi archetypes in the first place, almost all of which staples today. Grot is funny and sympathetic, Josaphat of course is so tragic and you root for him and as for the Thin Man, he wasn’t particularly well utilized or present actually, but he was still memorable in his menacing appearance.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

The acting in Metropolis is very interesting. On the one hand, you’ve got some actors that are typically overacting, but on the other hand, you have Alfred Abel who is so natural and subtle in the role of Joh Fredersen that he alone contributed a lot to my sympathy for this particular character. Rudolf Klein-Rogge is very over-the-top in his role, but this is a mad scientist role which demands such an approach and that is why it isn’t annoying, but rather fitting. The same goes for Brigitte Helm who actually did a rather admirable job in the dual role of both Maria and the robot. She is the highlight in the latter role as her overly emphasized manners and menacing looks made the character unforgettable. The only weak link is definitely Gustav Frohlich who is so over-the-top in his acting that is was too much even for its time period and it is also not fitting for the role which should have been more subtle.

Metropolis is a visual feast. I will now touch upon some of the great technical aspects presented here and there are quite a lot. Actually, this movie is so groundbreaking in its style and effects that it might even be underrated in that respect. The effects are breathtaking. This is without a doubt the best looking silent film of all time. The highlights are of course the robot who looks so real and so revolutionary and the city. Those panorama sequences were to me the most astonishing scenes of the movie as rarely have I seen anything of that caliber. The various vehicles looked so futuristic and intriguing, the buildings are marvelous and the entire city with all of its machines is beautifully brought to life and it leads to such an unforgettable viewing experience.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Metropolis has to be the quintessential German expression picture as its cinematography is top-notch and its imagery is so atmospheric. The entire movie has that very great atmosphere, sometimes scientific, sometimes even creepy (the scene with Maria fleeing from Rotwang is just such a spectacular horror sequence perfectly executed and shot). But those striking looking buildings led to such an artistic feel to the film and I truly would call the movie art. The camera movements are exceptional as sometimes you get that great wide view at the city, but at other times you get effective close-ups and even some very intriguing first-person action shots.

So the writing is top-notch, the characterization is very good, the performances are memorable and the technical aspects are all gorgeous. Then why do I not give it a perfect rating even upon my second viewing? Well, the answer lies in the only flaw that Metropolis possesses, but it’s a very big flaw, and that is its third act. This film is one of the most entertaining films I have ever seen as the entire first half is riveting to behold. However, it could get a bit dull in its conclusion as the action is just overwhelming.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Metropolis is a blockbuster for better and for worse. You get the spectacle, you get the epic nature of it all and you get great entertainment. But you also get the bad side of the formula meaning the action. The entire third act lasts for about half an hour and it should have definitely been trimmed to around fifteen minutes. The flood is initially fascinating, but quickly becomes wearisome as it is so prolonged. Those chases lasted for too long and I know that people usually love the spectacle and action the most, but I’ve always liked that less in favor of the story. As for the romance, it isn’t as problematic as I thought of it at first, but it did feel a bit rushed and conventional nonetheless.

The pacing is, not counting the conclusion, excellent and the film is so involving to watch. It is easily the most entertaining silent film I’ve seen. But it isn’t the best silent film and its status is a bit overrated in that point. It is a great movie, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t a perfect movie and I can think of at least seven other silent films that are better than this one.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

But the film is mostly admirable and what Fritz Lang did here is beyond impressive. The score in the version I’ve seen was excellent and it fitted the action on screen beautifully, the intertitles are sometimes too rarely used, but are mostly well utilized and very artistic in style. The best scenes are the beginning with that very memorable garden, the very ending was sweet, the creation sequence is stunning and the horror chase scene is marvelous and so atmospheric. It is a glorious achievement and one of the best silent as well as science fiction as well as German films ever made.

Metropolis is a blockbuster for better and for worse meaning that it is grand and epic in scope and visually marvelous, but it has overwhelming action near the end and that is the only flaw the movie has. It is otherwise a spectacular achievement with groundbreaking special effects, some marvelous camera movements and great shots, gorgeous and highly imaginative and memorable imagery, very original and influential storyline, likable characters and mostly good performances. It is a quintessential German expressionist picture and one of the finest silent as well as science fiction films of all time.

My Rating – 4.5

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Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

Aguirre, the Wrath of God Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Aguirre, the Wrath of God Movie Review

Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a 1972 German epic film directed by Werner Herzog and starring Klaus Kinski. It is such an overrated, very disappointing movie.

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I am the wrath of God. Who else is with me?

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It is about the group of conquistadores in the Amazon jungle searching for the legendary city of El Dorado in 1560. The plot itself is fine and that ending is definitely powerful, but the problem here is that I really disliked the use of minimalist story and dialogue as it led to a much weaker film. It is just so slow, so dull that I was bored by it throughout the whole running time.

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Aguirre, the Wrath of God Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

The characters are also pretty forgettable. The only character that gets some development is Lope de Aguirre who is the main and most developed character here, but even he should have been much better realized. There is just never any emphasis on characters here which is so annoying.

The same goes for acting. Aguirre, the Wrath of God is hailed for Klaus Kinski’s performance and I just don’t get that as I found his performance to be very disappointing and nowhere as great as the critics are saying. The character needed a great performance and he just did not get one.

Another problem here is that I never bought this, I never bought the characters and its supposed realism as to me it evidently felt like a movie production. I respect the filmmakers immensely for filming on the real location, but that did not lead to a realistic feel to the movie as unfortunately it still felt fake to me as I saw that those people were actors. That took me out of the movie completely.

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Aguirre, the Wrath of God Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a technically great movie and its technical achievements are the standout aspects here. The imagery is superb and even more so because it is real and I loved that about it. The dialogue is pretty good, but unfortunately too sparse. The cinematography is great as is the directing and I liked its overall look and feel. It is awfully paced as it is dreadfully slow and it is authentic, but never using its premise and its visuals to tell a great story which is unfortunate. I got what Werner Herzog was going for here and that entire ending is truly a fantastic piece of filmmaking, such a great and memorable ending, but everything that came before it is too slow, too boring and too slight to be enjoyed more. It is a movie that thinks it is so smart when in reality it isn’t. Needless to say, it is one of the most overrated German films, a movie that disappointed me so much.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God looks great and it has a memorable ending, but everything else here is subpar with not that great acting, a dreadfully slow pace and too minimalist dialogue and story. I got its appeal, but to me its greatness never really came to fruition to me and it is such an overrated, immensely disappointing movie.

My Rating – 3

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The Last Laugh (1924)

The Last Laugh Movie Review

The Last Laugh Movie Review

The Last Laugh is a 1924 German drama film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Emil Jannings. The movie is critically acclaimed, but is to me quite disappointing.

It is about a doorman who gets demoted to washroom attendant and hides that from everyone until they find out and ridicule him. Now, the plot itself is good and of course important and emotional. But what is problematic here is the execution of said plot which is very weak. The film is awfully simplistic in that it consists of just that storyline and barely anything else in it. And just that plot wasn’t enough, even for its short running time of less than an hour and a half. What happened is that the movie is awfully prolonged (with the beginning in particular being so drawn out) that it becomes boring instead of engaging,

The main character is well realized and I liked him quite a bit. But Emil Jannings was to me not as great as everyone says he is. He has some great moments here and there, but he also overacted way too much in certain scenes and I was frustrated with that. He is solid, but far from great.

The directing from F. W. Murnau is naturally terrific and The Last Laugh compensates its plot shortcomings with such fantastic technical aspects to it. The film is beautiful to behold with the cinematography of course being the major standout. The film is so well shot with some excellent camera choices and some really inventive movements that it really does look amazing. There are some truly groundbreaking camera movements in here and the cinematography helps create the tension a lot.

The score is solid as is the tone, but the pacing is too slow and the film has such an abrupt, cop-out happy ending that is just stupid to witness. This is the kind of story that should have ended sadly, but they chose to abruptly end it on a positive note, thus ruining the end product. But it still is very emotional with some scenes being quite poignant and the film deals with an important subject matter for its time.

The choice of the lack of intertitles in The Last Laugh is done for better and for worse. On the one hand, it is professional and it makes you observe more the facial expressions and all the subtleties, but it is still problematic as there should have been some of it to improve the storyline and more importantly, to strengthen the character development. I get what the director was going for here and I can understand that, but I still think that the film would have benefited from some dialogue intertitles and not just a couple of letters etc.

As for its set design, it is great and the film is visually incredibly appealing as are all of the German classics from the 1920s. I respect this film, but I just wish that it was more impactful and better crafter storywise. Its technicalities are just awesome, but the characters and the story around it should have been much better and the film would have been great. But like this, it ended up being just solid and a major disappointment to me as I expected a lot more from it.

The Last Laugh is a disappointing movie. On the technical side, the film is gorgeous with just fantastic cinematography with some great camera movements and with a visually appealing look to it, but the film lacks in character work and plotwise with a very abrupt cop-out happy ending and I do think that the use of more intertitles would have strengthened both of those aspects. It is in the end a solid film, but far from what I expected from it.

My Rating – 3.5

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Run Lola Run (1998)

Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run Review

Run Lola Run is a 1998 German thriller film directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu. It is regarded as a modern classic of German cinema and it is a very good and authentic movie.

It follows a woman who needs to obtain 100,000 Deutsche Mark in twenty minutes in order to save her boyfriend’s life. That is a very basic and even too simplistic premise, but the cleverness of this movies lies in its approach and execution, not in the premise. It tells its story in real time and lasts for twenty minutes. However, that scenario is then repeated two more times, but with different outcomes. And that is such a unique and genius concept that is just phenomenally original and powerful to follow. You get that scenario repeated twice and thus it shows you how small details and little consequences can change someone’s life to a large degree and that is why I found the movie to be so smart and so riveting to watch. It is a perfect example of an original execution of a simple premise and it wonderfully revitalized the thriller genre.

The characters are good and even excellent for the genre, but still lacking. Both characters of Lola and Manni are very well realized and are so grounded and their relationship drives the movie. But even those two aren’t that well developed and the rest of the characters are not particularly well used. But I did like the approach of telling us the stories and lives of different characters she passes by on the street while running. It is achieved by a flash of photographs and that is such an authentic storytelling device and I wished that there was more of that in the end product.

Run Lola Run is phenomenally directed by Tom Tykwer and Mathilde Bonnefoy in particular did a stupendous job in the editing department as the movie is just perfectly edited with a fast pace that is thrilling rather than tiring and it is just always wonderfully energetic and riveting with very smooth transitions between the repeated scenarios. It also is really well shot with some excellent action sequences and the running of the main character never gets boring despite being repeated twice. The film is extremely smart and it is touching, but I wanted more emotional resonance as the script needed it. It has some memorable imagery, the dialogue is good. The characters do yell too much, but are still realistically depicted. And this is one of the most original and interesting films of the nineties without a doubt.

The only significant issue I’ve had with the film is definitely its score which is just so annoying. I get its appeal to some, but I strongly dislike violent music like that and although it does fit the genre and is intense, I wished for some more sophisticated and more pleasant intense music and that would have helped the movie a lot.

But the acting is simply fantastic. Moritz Bleibtreu did a really good job in his role, but it is Franka Potente who is absolutely phenomenal. She gave a wonderful performance in a difficult role and she stole every scene she was in and she executed both the action and the more emotional and dramatic sequences rather well. The whole movie is so professional, both in its storytelling department and visually, but especially in its directing, acting and editing. I just wanted more on the emotional and character side and I wanted better music. If it had that, it would have been a classic, but it just ended up being a really good movie with a lost potential for greatness.

Run Lola Run truly is an authentic movie. It has absolutely amazing storytelling which is so creative and unique, it wonderfully executes a simple premise with an original approach, but it is the best in its directing, acting and especially editing as it is so beautifully fast paced and just riveting and always fascinating to follow. It has its flaws mainly in its character development which should have been better, the emotional resonance which should have been bigger and the score which is annoying, but it is above all an authentic take on the thriller genre with a style to spare and it is one of the most unique movies of the nineties.

My Rating – 4

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      Interior & Exterior Stills from Run Lola Run

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