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The Robber-Movie Review 09/13/2015

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Austrian Film Awards, Based on true events, Bavarian Film Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Crime, German Film Critics Award, German language film, Movies, Suspense.
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The Robber (German/Austrian) 2010
Based on true events

Directed by Benjamin Heisenberg
Starring Andreas Lust and Franziska Weisz

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Director (Heisenberg); Best Actor (Lust); NOMINATED, Best Screenplay; Best Feature Film; and other wins and nominations, Austrian Film Awards.
WINNER, Best Direction-Young Film (Heisenberg), Bavarian Film Awards
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Heisenberg), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Gold Hugo-Best Feature; Best Feature (both Heisenberg), Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Lust), German Film Critics Association Awards

In Austria, Johann Kastenberger (Lust) serves time in prison for bank robbery, where he diligently pursues physical training. After he is released in 1984, he begins to win marathons but pursues a double life as a serial bank robber. Kastenberger doesn’t seem motivated by simple greed–but by a desire to win, perhaps?

The film is based on a real events in the life story of Kastenberger, who was finally stopped in the late 80s after eluding the police for several years. The film has very little dialogue, but plenty of action and chase scenes as it portrays the string of brazen robberies and incredibly successful getaways. It leaves much of the psychological interpretation behind events to the viewer.

97 min. Unrated.

For more info:
The Robber

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The Grand Budapest Hotel-DVD Review *** 12/15/2014

Posted by Films to consider in American, Berlin International Film Festival, Comedy, David di Donatello Awards, Golden Globes, Movies, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Suspense.
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The Grand Budapest Hotel (American) 2014 ***

Directed by Wes Anderson

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Mathieu Amalric, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum and several other big-name stars

Among other awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Director (Anderson); Best Motion Picture; Best Actor (Fiennes); Best Screenplay, Golden Globes
WINNER, Silver Berlin Bear-Grand Jury Prize (Anderson); NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Anderson), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Foreign Film (Anderson), David di Donatello Awards
WINNER, Best Screenplay, New York Film Critics Circle Awards

In a formerly majestic hotel in a mountainous area of Eastern Europe, Zero Moustafa (Revolori), now an old man, tells the fantastic story of how he rose from lobby boy to owner, with the help of his former boss Gustave H (Fiennes). What ensues is a zany and fast-moving tale that features an all-star cast in roles ranging from supporting to cameo.

Highly recommended if you like a quirky comedy. Wes Anderson also directed The Darjeeling Limited and the Royal Tannenbaums.

*** Highly recommended.
100 min. Rated R.

For more info:
The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Big Lebowski-DVD Review 04/20/2014

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, American, Berlin International Film Festival, Comedy, Dark Comedy, Empire Awards, European Film Awards, Joel Coen, Movies, Satellite Awards.
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The Big Lebowski (American) 1998

Written by Joel and Ethan Coen
Directed by Joel Coen
Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore

Among other awards and (mostly) nominations:
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Coen), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Film (Coen), Empire Awards, UK
Nominated, Screen International Award (Coen), European Film Awards
NOMINATED, Best Actor-Comedy or Musical (Bridges); Best Supporting Actor (Goodman); Best Supporting Actress (Moore), Satellite Awards

The Dude (Bridges) likes his lifestyle on the casual side. For him, smoking pot and bowling with his friends describes a typical good day. But it turns out his real name, Jeffrey Lebowski, is the same as that of a very rich and powerful guy. Because of a mixup the Dude gets involved in a kooky kidnapping scheme, when all he wants is his rug back. It really ties the room together.

If you haven’t seen this movie–or haven’t seen it for a while–it’s definitely worth a look. The dialogue, while replete with foul language, is non-stop funny.

119 min. Rated R (Language, drug, sexuality, and violence)

For more info:
The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector’s Edition)

A Somewhat Gentle Man-DVD Review 08/13/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Amanda Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Chlotrudis Awards, Dark Comedy, Hans Petter Moland, Movies, Norway, Norwegian language film, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.
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A Somewhat Gentle Man (Norwegian) 2010
En ganske snill mann

Directed by Hans Petter Moland
Starring Stellan Skarsgard, Bjorn Floberg, Gard Eidsvold, Jorunn Kjellsby, and Jannike Kruse

WINNER, Best Actor (Skarsgard); NOMINATED, Best Film; Best Editing; Best Supporting Actress (Kjellsby), Amanda Awards, Norway
WINNER, Reader Jury of the “Berliner Morgenpost” (Moland); NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Moland), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Skarsgard), Chlotrudis Awards
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Language Film, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards

A dark comedy from the north country, with a suitably quirky sense of humor and a very amusing cast of characters.

When Ulrik (Skarsgard) is released from prison after serving a 12 year sentence for murder, he tries to escape from the revenge plot put into action by his former associates.

103 min. Not rated. Suitable for adults and older teens.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: A Somewhat Gentle Man

The Messenger-DVD Review *** 06/17/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Academy Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Drama, Emotional Drama, Golden Globes, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, Oren Moverman, Samantha Morton, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards.
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The Messenger (American) 2009 ***

Directed by Oren Moverman
Written by Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
Starring Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster, and Samantha Morton

Among many awards and nominations:
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); Best Original Screenplay (Camon and Moverman), Academy Awards
WINNER, Peace Film Award (Moverman); Silver Berlin Bear-Best Screenplay (Camon and Moverman); Golden Berlin Bear (Moverman), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson), Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson), Golden Globes
NOMINATED, Breakthrough Award (Foster), Gotham Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); NOMINATED, Best First Feature; Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actress (Morton), Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (MORTON); 2nd PLACE-Best Supporting Actor (Harrelson); NOMINATED, Best Actor (Foster), San Diego Film Critics Society Awards

Returning from Iraq, injured and with three months of service left, Will Montgomery (Foster) gets assigned to Casualty Notification and is paired up with career officer Tony Stone (Harrelson), a recovering alcoholic. Their job is to inform the next of kin, in person and as soon as possible, when a loved one has been killed in the line of duty. The range of emotions they must deal with in the family members corresponds to the range of emotions they must face in themselves.

As noted above, Woody Harrelson received much-deserved acclaim for his role as the tough-minded captain trying to break in the new messenger. I also thought Ben Foster did an outstanding job as the younger, more vulnerable, and, in some respects, more mature Will Montgomery.

Highly recommended.

112 min. Rated R. Adult themes.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon The Messenger

The Ghost Writer-DVD Review 05/06/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Berlin International Film Festival, British, César Awards, European Film Awards, National Board of Review, Political Thriller, Suspense.
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The Ghost Writer (British/German/French) 2010

Adapted from the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, and Olivia Williams

Among many other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Silver Berlin Bear, Best Director (Polanski); NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Polanski), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Director (Polanski); Best Music; NOMINATED, Best Cinematography; Best Sound, César Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (McGregor); Best Composer (Alexandre Desplat); Best Director (Polanski); Best Film; Best Screenwriter (Polanski and Harris); NOMINATED, Audience Award-Best Film, European Film Awards
WINNER, NBR Award-Top Independent Films, National Board of Review, USA

When a ghost writer (McGregor) is hired to write the memoirs of Adam Lang (Brosnan), a former British Prime Minister, he discovers that the writer he is replacing died under mysterious circumstances. He becomes caught up in political intrigue and physical danger when the Prime Minister is accused of war crimes.

Although this movie is somewhat long (just over two hours), the suspense builds enough to keep interest going. The scenery, a desolate shoreline area, contributes to the spooky atmosphere as the ghost writer (who remains unnamed throughout) uncovers the mystery behind the unlikely political rise of Adam Lang.

Director Polanski, despite his ongoing troubles, does know how to show-and-tell a good story.

128 min. Rated PG-13.

Check it out on Netflix
or
Amazon: The Ghost Writer

Cherry Blossoms-DVD Review *** 03/09/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Bavarian Film Awards, Berlin International Film Festival, Butoh performance, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, German Film Awards, German Film Critics Award, German language film, Seattle International Film Festival, Valldolid International Film Festival.
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Cherry Blossoms (German) 2008 ***

Written and directed by Doris Dörrie
Starring Elmar Wepper, Hannelore Elsner, and Aya Irizuki

WINNER, Best Actor (Wepper); Best Production, Bavarian Film Awards
NOMINATED, Golden Berlin Bear (Dörrie), Berlin International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actor (Wepper), European Film Awards
WINNER, Film Award in Gold, Best Leading Actor (Wepper) and Best Costume Design; Film Award in Silver, Outstanding Feature Film; NOMINATED, Film Award in Gold, Best Direction (Dörrie); Best Supporting Actress (Elsner); Best Screenplay (Dörrie), German Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actor (Wepper), German Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Golden Space Needle Award-Best Film (Dörrie), Seattle International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Golden Spike (Dörrie), Valldolid International Film Festival

When a doctor tells Trudi (Elsner) that her husband Rudi (Wepper) doesn’t have much longer to live, she decides it would be best to keep the prognosis from him. Instead, she tries to get Rudi to visit his children, one of whom lives in Japan, a place she herself always longed to visit.

A story of love and grieving, beautifully photographed and beautifully acted. Especially entrancing are the sequences of Butoh, an avant garde performance form that began in Japan in the 1960s.

Highly recommended.

124 min. Not rated.

Here’s a short Butoh performance (not from the movie):

For more info about the film:
Cherry Blossoms

The Outskirts-DVD Review 11/04/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Berlin International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Dark Comedy, Dark Drama, FIPRESCI Award, Movies, Political Thriller, Pyotr Lutsik, Russian language film.
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The Outskirts (Russian) 1998
Okraina

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Don Quixote Award (Lutsik), Berlin International Film Festival
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize, (Lutsik), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Philip Morris Award (Lutsik), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
WINNER, Jury Prize (Lutsik), Sarajevo Film Festival

Directed by Pyotr Lutsik
Starring Yuri Dubrovin, Nikolay Olyalin, and Aleksei Pushkin

A group of neighbors leave a collective farm and trek across the countryside to find the person who sold much of the land to oil interests and bring him to their brand of “justice.”

A very dark comedy that’s also listed as a political thriller. In fact, the darkness of the DVD itself (as the liner mentions) is literal, and you will probably have to turn up the brightness of your television. The film is shot in black and white, adding to the drab and often depressing landscape and interiors.

I came across this DVD accidentally, and its deadpan humor might not appeal to everyone. There is likely humor that gets lost in the subtitles, and political references that would not be understood. The director received several prestigious honors. Worth a try if you like to see something a little different; it certainly wasn’t predictable!

95 min. Not rated. Not suitable for children.

For more info:
The Outskirts