Moreau is by turns frumpy, impish, poetic and beatific in her portrayal of the innocent, doomed artist. The actress soaks in the beauty of Provost's mannered compositions, and her expressions of unmediated rapture at the sublime countryside around her infuses the film with the religious ecstasy of pure artistic creation. Séraphine advises a character in the film, "When I feel bad I go for a walk in the country and I touch the trees and I talk to the birds, the flowers, the insects... and I feel better." As Séraphine, Moreau makes a strong case for modern day pantheism as a cure for all our daily woes.
Continue reading: Séraphine Review
As writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has noted in several interviews publicizing The Lives of Others, most German films made since the reunification portray East Germany comically, even nostalgically. Exemplifying this trend is 2003's casually ironic Goodbye, Lenin, whose plot centers on a young man's attempt to keep the fall of the Berlin Wall a secret from his mother after she wakes from a lengthy coma. It's a sweet, quirky movie, and many of its pleasures are derived from the bizarreness of its premise -- that a sane and decent person might rue the demise of the G.D.R. However, in Germany today, the prevalence of this curious, backward-seeming attitude extends far beyond film. Germans even have a name for it. They call it ostalgie (ost is the German word for east). Hip Berliners throw G.D.R. parties where they smoke notoriously awful East German cigarettes and drink East German rotgut while singing along to socialist party songs. One reason for these complicated feelings has to do with the present existence of the "villains" of the former government. Military officers, government officials, and members of the Stasi, the East German secret police, are still alive today, living normal lives among the rest of the German population, and as the years pass it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the bitterness and scorn that these people once deserved.
Continue reading: The Lives Of Others Review
Costa-Gavras's flimsy script presents a pair of opposites who must try and bring news of the Holocaust to the Pope, in order that he may publicly denounce it and rally Catholics, in Germany and around the world, against Hitler. Ulrich Tukur plays Kurt Gerstein, an SS officer in charge of delousing troops and decontaminating water. When he is assigned a new duty of overseeing the use of Zyklon B gas in concentration camps, the deeply Christian Gerstein - who until then had hidden behind the belief that he was only serving his country - is horrified and desperately tries to find somebody to hear his story. German after German turns a deaf ear to him, until he finds Riccardo Fontana (Mathieu Kassovitz), an idealistic Jesuit working in the Vatican's Berlin office. Confronted with the reality of genocide, Fontana makes for the Vatican, where he hopes to use his father's connections to win an audience with Pope Pius XII (Marcel Iures).
Continue reading: Amen. Review
Relentlessly heavy-handed but quite compelling nonetheless, "Amen" is a loosely fact-based drama about a German SS officer's clandestine attempts to stem the Holocaust, and about the complaisance he encountered when trying to alert the world -- and more specifically the Vatican.
Adapted in part from the eyewitness accounts written by Nazi lieutenant and chemist Kurt Gerstein (played by Ulrich Tukur) while in a French prison after World War II, the film asks the question, What's a newly-advanced Nazi with a conscience to do when exposed to the horror of Jews being gassed by the thousands with chemicals he's been ordered to provide?
In "Amen," the answer is that he confides in a fictionalized, idealistic young priest (Mathieu Kassovitz) with direct connections to Pope Pius XII, so cowriter-director Costa-Gavras can get the pontiff on record saying nothing more than "My heart prays for the victims," while his cardinals deflect follow-up questions.
Continue reading: Amen. Review
Steven Soderbergh takes a crack at melding his commercial sensibilities with his esoteric soul in "Solaris," an abstract, ultrastylish, philosophical science fiction film designed to leave you mulling over its meaning for hours, if not days, afterwards.
Adapted by the director from a book by Stanislaw Lem, the film is also a remake of a meditative, three-hour long 1972 Russian film of the same name, in which scientists on a distant space station start going mad when their private mental obsessions are turned corporeal by the apparently sentient planet they're orbiting.
The new film is a much briefer 99 minutes and stars George Clooney as Chris Kelvin, a shrink recovering (poorly) from his wife's death, who is desperately summoned by an old friend to an outpost space lab where the crew has mysteriously cut off all contact with Earth.
Continue reading: Solaris Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.
As French na?ve painter Séraphine Louis, Yolande Moreau dominates Martin Provost's Séraphine like Séraphine's "secret...
In 1999, a well-regarded Catholic journalist published Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII,...
Relentlessly heavy-handed but quite compelling nonetheless, "Amen" is a loosely fact-based drama about a German...
Steven Soderbergh takes a crack at melding his commercial sensibilities with his esoteric soul in...