• Nichts Als Gespenster
    • The stories of five pairs of friends (or lovers or parents/children) show how hard it can be to be with one another, no matter how easy it seems it should be. Life is a continuing process, and success yesterday does not guarantee success today. A superb ensemble mixed of better-known and lesser-known actors manages to pull off this book adaptation in a very engaging manner. It's is not exactly a feel-good movie, but it's very good entertainment, and provides plenty of stuff to talk about.

  • Persepolis
    • Another comic book adaptation, although comic isn't really the right word since it has connotations of humor, which is rare in this story. It's about an Iranian girl growing up before, during and after the Islamic revolution, and the impact it has on her family and friends. For some time she goes to live abroad, but eventually returns, before finally leaving for good. The (mostly black-and-white) 2D-style of the graphics is very different from Pixar-style (or even Disney-style) films, but it is faithful to the book, and appropriate for telling the story. Subjects both trivial and deep are covered as they relate to growing up and finding one's place in the world; the result is a highly watchable and entertaining film.

  • Ratatouille
    • Well, Pixar did it again. It may say Disney all over the credits, but you know they couldn't come up with this kind of stuff. I say this every time, but the computer graphics have taken another step forward; the outdoor street scenes are simply amazing. The rats are lovable, the story is cute if a bit too happy-endish, and the humans represent a good sample of humanity, from nice to evil; particularly memorable is a food critic called "The Grim Eater". Oh, the story: a can-do-nothing boy from nowhere takes over a gourmet restaurant as chef with the help of a rat that tells him how to cook. Doesn't make sense? Never mind that - you'll love it.

  • SiCKO
    • Michael Moore's latest documentary focuses on the American health care system. A number of patients' scare stories about dealing with HMOs are juxtaposed with visits to Canada, England, France and Cuba to study their respective systems. Predictably, the USA comes off worst. Less polemical and less political than Fahrenheit 9/11, it's more comparable to Supersize Me, while also not missing a bit of fun every now and then.

  • Ein fliehendes Pferd
    • When I read this book some 20-odd years ago, my mother commented on it by saying that she didn't like how negatively it portrayed things. The film is a bit different, as it's comedic at times, but it also shows strange human faultlines exposed in ways that sometimes make the viewer smile at its silliness, while at other times making him cringe when long-repressed memories and feelings are touched. The story of two couples, one of which is all set in routine, while the other is still young at heart, asks the perennial questions about how to live your life, whether we can change ours, and if it's even worth changing. The answers, as always, remain elusive, but the story points towards reasons to keep asking. Excellent performances by the actors.

  • Creep
    • Franka Potente stars in a slasher movie set in the London Underground, where she gets trapped after missing the last train at night. The Creep gets everyone else, until she manages –quite miraculously really– to kill him. Lots of darkness, and lots of surprises behind corners, keep the suspense and the tempo high. Just 80 minutes long, there's still lots in it ... for those moments few and far in between where one enjoys rivers of blood.

  • Thursday
    • Casey, a suburbanite who has left his drug-dealing past behind, is visited by his former partner who also brings a suitcase full of cocaine and two million dollars. Soon the ex-partner's friends and enemies descend upon Casey's house to make his day a nightmare, and corpses start piling up. It's quite entertaining to see how Casey gets out of it, without actually killing anyone himself.

  • The Bourne Ultimatum
    • Third and final (?) part of the trilogy, in which Jason Bourne finally discovers how he became a hitman for the CIA. The action sequences are faster, and more numerous, than in the previous parts, and mostly shot with a hand camera, which makes the scenes seem even more fast-paced. In the end, of course, all the bad guys are being held accountable, and the good guys and gals from the previous installments turn out to be still the good guys. That's a bit too predictable. Everything but the action gets short shrift (e.g., Julia Stiles barely says a word). Oh well, I guess that's to be expected.

  • Mystery Train
    • A number of people spend a night at the same hotel in Memphis, listening to the same radio program, and probably thinking about Elvis. In the morning, a shot is fired, and life goes on. I've been meaning to see this Jim Jarmusch movie for a long time; now I'm not sure what to make of it. It assembles the usual odd mix of actors (including Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Joe Strummer), but what is the common strand of the episodes? Transforming events? Being on the go? Dealing with Elvis in your life? The train?

  • The Simpsons Movie
    • Extrapolate from the usual 22 minutes of a regular Simpsons episode to a full-length movie, and you can gauge the chaos unleashed. In the end, the town of Springfield is quarantined and about to be demolished and all townsfolk killed. The culprit -of course- is Homer J. Simpson. Somewhat surprisingly, the movie works well. The jokes do not fall flat after 90 minutes, and the writers have given the plot and its turns ample attention, with many ideas big and small along the way. After many years of waiting, faithful Simpsons fans have got their movie, and can rejoice in that it turned out as well as they always knew it would.

  • Die Hard 4.0
    • Bruce takes them on as hard as they come, and as many as there may be. What could follow messing around with a whole city in part 3? Messing with a whole country, carried out by cracking just about any computer network there is, and shutting down the utility, traffic and computer infrastructure. The action stunts are further out than usual, leaving not much room for another sequel (think "how to take out a fighter jet in bare hands combat"), but as entertaining as ever. Excellent summer movie.

  • Clerks 2
    • The Quickstop grocery is burnt down! Dante is leaving New Jersey! Randal acknowledges true friendship, if not true love! Silent Bob speaks, and offers solutions! OK, not all of these are quite accurate, but big changes are happening (or at least planned), and it takes quite a bit to stop them dead in their tracks, and turn them into something quite different. The movie starts off where part 1 ends, even if everyone is 10 years older, yet has gotten nowhere. In the end, it takes the beloved characters (plus the cute Rosario Dawson) into new, yet somehow familiar, territory. Worthwhile seeing if you liked the first part, but not enough to stand on its own.

  • Starbuck Holger Meins
    • WikiPedia:Holger_Meins was a member of the Baader Meinhof Group, a group of German terrorists in the Seventies. He died in jail during a hunger strike, awaiting the group's trial. This documentary collects voices and opinions of friends and contemporaries of his, and also approaches his paintings and films. A lasting impression is made by recollections of his father, who told his son he'd support him 100% after his arrest. It's eerie to see a society react so hysterically to the unrest prevalent in the younger generation, and to what Heinrich Böll has called the war of 6 against 60 millions.

  • Blue In The Face
    • Shot in a mere 6 days after Smoke was finished, this movie is an expression of love for Brooklyn and smoking. Everyone's got an opinion, from Lou Reed and Jim Jarmusch to random passers-by on the street. And in the midst of it is Harvey Keitel as Auggie Wren, trying to make sense of it all. It's not a conventional movie, more a stream-of-consciousness thing, with Madonna singing and dancing, and Mira Sorvino crying along the way. Somehow it all comes together.

  • Shrek 3
    • Computer animations are becoming ever more amazing, and this film is a good example of that. The plot isn't so memorable - Shrek is in line to inherit the throne, and tries hard to find the one other heir to avoid becoming king. Of course there's an evil plot by fairy tale characters who figure it's their turn to run the kingdom, but in the end ... well, it's a movie for kids, so what can you expect? Rupert Everett craftily lends his voice to the chief villain, and Eddie Murphy's character is as annoying as ever.

  • Shoppen
    • Eighteen men and women get to know each in 5 minute speed dating sessions. The movie shows how and why they got there, what happens during the session, and what develops afterwards. The characters are all unknown actors, and they represent the full range of behaviors that's out there in the single scene, with everyone having their own peculiarities, and their own strategy for going after love and companionship. It's at times sad, at times hilarious, and overall great entertainment.

  • Little Children
    • That life in the suburbs isn't as serene as one would think we've known since Desperate Housewifes. Between unsteady ex-cops, indecent exposers and straying husbands and wives there's a lot to keep you on your toes. This charming movie tells it all, showing how people are trying to make sense of it all, and struggling to find meaning and dignity in it. A great cast of very real characters helps, as does a story that takes them seriously.

  • Mean Guns
    • How many dead men does it take for one woman and a girl to survive with a cool ~00m? About 50, give or take, plus a few women, would this movie have us believe. But it's set against a soundtrack of Mambo and Ennio Morricones Once upon a time in the West, which makes it all seem so ... light and entertaining ... and ... ridiculous.

  • The Last King of Scotland
    • The regime of Uganda's WikiPedia:Idi_Amin, as seen through the eyes of his Scottish physician, who at first gets caught up in the positive wave after Amin taking power, and then gets to witness the dark side of it. Nothing particularly outstanding here - the usual revolutionary story followed by cleansing, mistrust, paranoia and so forth. Forest Whitaker is a fine actor, but an Oscar for this role seems a stretch.

  • 300
    • The most pointless movie I've seen in a long time. A band of 300 Spartan warriors battles Persian king Xerces' massive army, and only through their sacrifice is Sparta's leadership persuaded to raise a proper army to go on and defeat him. Everything one would want in a movie is badly done or missing altogether: acting, plot, production, shooting, suspense etc. As a comic book this might have worked, but not on film. The moral is: Friends don't let friends watch 300.

  • The Fan
    • Robert De Niro proves that he can play a maniac, but we already knew that. Apart from that the film accomplishes little, the story line being about a disappointed baseball fan who starts to hound a home run hitting star he previously admired. The plot is lacking, the acting flat, and the end predictable. Proof positive that I made the right choice in missing it when it the movie first came out; I shouldn't have changed my mind.

  • Robert Altman's Last Picture Show
    • Garrison Keillor has been hosting A Prairie Home Companion for a long time, and now he penned a movie based on it, which turned out to be Robert Altman's last film. As befits an Altman movie, a high-caliber ensemble comes together for an evening of homely entertainment, and has to face death and the axe-man, who wants to close their theater. Even without ever having heard the radio show, this is superb entertainment with a great cast.

  • Ice Age and IDMB:tt0438097
    • A group of creatures join together first to escape the coming ice age (in part 1) and then to escape the coming flood when it's over (in part 2). The animals range from the ferocious to the obnoxious, and from the extinct to the common ones. Proof that animation doesn't have to be done by Disney or Pixar, the movie is a bit predictable -probably due to its family-friendliness- and not a must-see film. It's entertaining for what it is, though.

  • The Negotiator
    • Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey battle it out as two police hostage negotiators pitted against each other, but in reality, they're fighting against bad cops in their own department. Although the end is mostly predictable, the pace is fast, the acting marginal, and the action suspenseful, so all things considered, the movie hits its mark as a thriller. I wish that once and for all, filmmakers would make up their mind whether the FBI is good or bad - I am, as ever, confused.

  • Wer früher stirbt ist länger tot
    • This independent film is set in deep rural Bavaria, and casts no known actors - normally not a recipe for success, but this one is an exception, critically and commercially. A boy is haunted by his mothers death during his birth, and tries to make up for it by getting his father another wife. He gets plenty of encouragement and discouragement alike from everybody around - friends, family, village folks, and the regulars in his fathers bar, but in the end overcomes the demons that beset him. A hilarious comedy that dissects country life without denouncing it.

  • Hostage
    • Bruce Willis does what he does best - handling simultaneous crises, jumping into action when the going gets tough, and getting out all the good folks alive. This is a fast paced thriller with a novel plot line and plenty of surprises. Fine acting gets short shrift, but hey, what do you expect? It's excellent entertainment.

  • Million Dollar Baby
    • Clint Eastwood plays a boxing gym owner who takes up training a woman who's at the beginning, and gets her all the way to a championship fight. Rare for a Hollywood movie, he loses his new-found daughter in the end without reconnecting with his own long lost one. This is a story of strong willpower on her part, and reliving the dreams of days past for him, but to the viewer it all remains disconnected and not really believable.

  • The Score
    • A gripping thriller about the last heist (isn't it always?) of an ageing master thief. He's forced to work with a talented youngster, do it in his own city, and doesn't like either fact, but can't back out as a favor to a friend. Robert de Niro is on top of things as usual, and Edward Norton does a good job getting on his nerves. I always like seeing Marlon Brando, who reminds me a bit of the Godfather, although he's much less with it here.


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