Archive for the ‘2015 Berlinale’ Category

victoria-2015-Sebastian-Schipper-06Once upon a time there was a German film called Run, Lola, Run that become something of a global sensation for its frenetic pace, its inventive storytelling, and its sheer novelty. Seventeen years later, we have another German film, Victoria, that also deals with a ne’er-do-well in a difficult situation who looks to a woman as the solution to his troubles. What’s more, Victoria boasts its own cinematic gimmicks, as the movie was purportedly filmed in one take and meant to play out in real time. And the writer and director of Victoria, Sebastian Schipper, even appeared in the cast of Run, Lola, Run. (more…)

Mr. HolmesA case could be made for Sherlock Homes as the first modern superhero. It would be as reasonable an explanation as any for the enduring nature of this character. His deductive reasoning is routinely presented as otherworldly. He is generally represented as wearing a costume with his deerstalker hat and Inverness cape. He is as ascetic as Superman and as brooding as Batman. His moral flaws rival those of Iron Man. He has an archenemy in Moriarty and a sense of immortality in that his death could never be confirmed. (more…)

love-mercy01Much has been made of the connection between the sense of smell and memory, but the movie Love & Mercy reminds us of how evocative certain sounds can be. The beautifully remastered soundtrack from this film coming through a Dolby Atmos system in a darkened cinema brings forth a flood of memories: summer heat, sprinklers sending arcs of cool water over the lawn, coconut-scented suntan lotion, riding in your buddy’s car with the windows down, slow dancing on Friday nights in junior high. The Beach Boys provided the soundtrack for Americana for the last 50 years, and it is their music which is this new film’s ace in the hole. (more…)

LifeLife offers a respite from the ongoing debate over whether critics and moviegoers unfairly savage films based on true stories by rigorously fact checking them and then offering up discrepancies between the celluloid world and the historical record. The inclination for a full forensic examination of movies like The Imitation Game, Selma, and American Sniper will more likely intensify than abate. The noxious rejoinder that “it’s only a movie” never satisfied and, in the foreseeable future, will certainly not even given pause to those who return from the multiplex and proceed directly to Google. (more…)

knightofcupsKnight of Cups is a puzzling, not unwatchable, but deeply unsatisfying film. Ultimately, the movie is worth neither the time nor the attention demanded by its 118-minute runtime and its vague narrative structure. Director Terrence Malick’s previous work, The Tree of Life, divided audiences and critics. Viewers of Knight of Cups will likely have an easier time reaching a consensus that this, the seventh feature film from Malick, is a failure. There will be some voices of dissent who continue to claim that the reclusive filmmaker is a unique visionary who uses a distinctive cinematographic approach and fluid, repetitive, dreamlike imagery to weave a tale from memories of the collective subconscious. A few may even believe that, while others will simply be driven by the fear of “not getting it,” much like those who pretend to have read a certain book when the conversation at a cocktail party turns in that direction. (more…)

Panahi TaxiThe inevitable question that arose immediately after the announcement of Jafar Panahi’s film Taxi as the winner of the Golden Bear for Best Picture at the 65th Berlinale was whether the movie deserved the honor or was the prize intended as a message of support from the international community for the persecuted Iranian director.

The answer was yes.

Taxi was at the top of a weak field in this year’s Competition program. On paper, the entries in the premium category looked formidable with heavyweight directors like Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog, and Peter Greenaway (more…)

eisenstein-in-guanajuatoGuessing the award winners of the annual Berlinale Film Festival is a prognosticator’s dream – but not because the selections are obvious or easy. No, quite the opposite. The announcements that come at a grand ceremony on the penultimate evening of the event can be so random that no one – critic or casual observer – can be faulted for failing to see it coming. “Example?” you might ask, channeling your inner Samuel L. Jackson. Well, just like John Travolta replied, in Europe, it’s the little differences. Last year, the International Jury could have chosen between two eventual Academy Award nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood for the Golden Bear for Best Film. Instead, the nod went to a rather average Hitchcock wannabe film noir from China, Bai Ri Yan Huo (Black Coal, Thin Ice). (more…)