Christine Ruppert

Christine Ruppert

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Paradise: Love [Paradies: Liebe] Review


Excellent

The double-edged irony of the title is your first hint: this is a clever pitch-black satire that often feels like a cruel joke. It's the first in a trilogy by acclaimed Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl about the way we look for meaning in life (up next are Faith and Hope), and it's designed specifically to catch us off guard. The film also makes us squirm in our seats as it encourages us to laugh at all the wrong things while finding some haunting truths about human yearning.

It starts in Vienna, where 50-year-old Teresa (Tiesel) is struggling to cope with her lazy teen daughter Meli (Lenz). So she drops Meli off with her sister (Hofstatter) and takes a holiday at a Kenyan beach resort. Her intention is to escape from the pressures back home, but a fellow tourist (Maux) teaches her about the joys of local beach boys. With an image of true romance in her head, Teresa strikes up a friendship with the frisky young Gabriel (Mwarua). Their first sexual encounter doesn't go so well, but she's encouraged to try again with persistent nice-guy Munga (Kazungu). The question is whether real love is even possible with one of these young men. Or are they all just after her cash?

As with his previous dramas Dog Days and Import/Export, filmmaker Seidl uses carefully composed scenes that catch our eye with their striking imagery and unexpected honesty. The African coastline provides a gorgeous backdrop for characters who have such a strong visual contrast that we can't look away: chubby, pale middle-aged women and lean, muscled young black men. But it's not always apparent who's using whom here, and there are hints that both are looking for something elusive.

Continue reading: Paradise: Love [Paradies: Liebe] Review

The Last King Of Scotland Review


Excellent
It's very seductive when the popular and powerful want to welcome you into their inner circle, and none is more susceptible to the charms than the brash and reckless new doctor Nicholas Gerrigan.

Of course, it's an especially dangerous proposition when the king of the popular crowd happens to be Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, at the cusp of his meteoric rise to vicious despotism.

Continue reading: The Last King Of Scotland Review

The Last King Of Scotland Review


Excellent

It's very seductive when the popular and powerful want to welcome you into their inner circle, and none is more susceptible to the charms than the brash and reckless new doctor Nicholas Gerrigan.

Of course, it's an especially dangerous proposition when the king of the popular crowd happens to be Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, at the cusp of his meteoric rise to vicious despotism.

The Last King of Scotland is a biography told like a coming-of-age drama. Nicholas, played by James McAvoy - think of him as sort of a Ewan MacGregor Lite - is a brand-new doctor in 1971 Scotland who impulsively flees a stifling future and heads to Uganda, where he arrives just after a coup installed beloved soldier-of-the-people Idi Amin, played by Forest Whitaker, as president. Nicholas is meant to provide aid at a remote, overworked rural clinic, where he makes a bee line for the older -- and married -- Sarah (Gillian Anderson).

Continue reading: The Last King Of Scotland Review

Croupier Review


Very Good
Mike Hodges, best known for the lean and mean Get Carter (1971), returns to form with Croupier. This polished throwback to the wit and economy of British thrillers from the late '60s and early '70s certainly has style to spare, but like its smooth operator protagonist, it lacks a soul.

Down on his luck novelist Jack Manfred (Clive Owen, handsome and angular as a young Sean Connery) is forced to make ends meet by taking a job at a high stakes casino. He's a croupier, or dealer, operating with cold precision. He sizes up gamblers who line up as the roulette wheel to try their luck.

Continue reading: Croupier Review

Invincible (2001) Review


OK
Admittedly, Invincible is not one of Herzog's crowning achievements. It is not an epic testament to the limits of human (and occasionally, cinematic) experience, as his masterpieces tend to. That said, this might not be an appropriate introduction to the man behind such difficult (I guess that would be the word) achievements as Every Man for Himself and God Against All, Aguirre, the Wrath of God, and Fitzcarraldo. However, Invincible is Herzog's first film in 18 years to be released theatrically and his first return to the Nazi era in almost twice as many years -- since his debut with Signs of Life (1968). Which begs the question: has Herzog lost his edge?

Based on a true story, Invincible chronicles Zishe Breitbart's (Jouka Ahola) journey from a young, Jewish blacksmith of great strength to the renowned "strongest man in the world" in a Berlin nightclub just before the Nazis come to power. Zishe gets his start after he beats the strongman in the circus and an agent offers to find him work in Berlin as strongman. Initially resistant, Zishe ventures to Berlin on the belief that God has something in mind for him, leaving behind his family, including his favorite brother Benjamin (Jacob Wein), the most intelligent nine-year-old his East Poland town has ever seen. In Berlin, Zishe gets a position immediately in a nightclub run by a con man -- clairvoyant Erik Jan Hanussen (Tim Roth) -- playing the historic German hero Siegfried in the club's variety show. At first, Zishe is too overwhelmed and intimidated to see the what is happening to the Jews (then again, who wasn't?), but, after Zishe's mother and brother Benjamin come for a visit, Zishe reveals himself as a Polish Jew to a room full of Nazis and the precarious balance is tipped.

Continue reading: Invincible (2001) Review

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Christine Ruppert Movies

Paradise: Love [Paradies: Liebe] Movie Review

Paradise: Love [Paradies: Liebe] Movie Review

The double-edged irony of the title is your first hint: this is a clever pitch-black...

The Last King of Scotland Movie Review

The Last King of Scotland Movie Review

It's very seductive when the popular and powerful want to welcome you into their inner...

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The Last King of Scotland Movie Review

The Last King of Scotland Movie Review

It's very seductive when the popular and powerful want to welcome you into their inner...

Croupier Movie Review

Croupier Movie Review

Mike Hodges, best known for the lean and mean Get Carter (1971), returns to form...

Invincible (2001) Movie Review

Invincible (2001) Movie Review

Admittedly, Invincible is not one of Herzog's crowning achievements. It is not an epic testament...

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