Laurence Anyways

211TRN8-0US release date: June 28

After a cool MTV-ish opening the movie jumps 10 years back to 1989 to meet the protagonists: Laurence Emmanuel James Alia, a firecracker literature teacher who spouts almost nonstop cultural bullshit, mostly in two-way monologues with his commercial ad director–partially neon red dyed haired and equally loudmouthed–girlfriend, Frederique Belair, between cocktails and french-kisses.
The movie is a gorgeous-looking 80’s music video styled 2 hours 45 minute long over-dramatic love story with brilliant soundtracks, but Laurence and the Madonna/Cyndi Lauper-esque Fred themselves are never really that interesting as the main subjects; even after Laurence confines that he no longer wanted to be a man, then decides to wear skirts, be a Boy George-like tranny, and put on some makeup.

My Rating: 5/10

GERMAN CINEMA 2013: Halt Auf Freier Strecke

stopped2012 German Film Awards – Winners, Best Direction, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Outstanding Feature Film.
2012 Bavarian Film Awards – Winners, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Production.
2012 German Film Critics Association Awards – Winners, Best Actor, Best Film.
2012 Las Palmas Film Festival – Winner Best Actor.
2011 Cannes Film Festival – Winner Un Certain Regard Award.

Herr Frank Lange has an inoperable brain tumor. He knew now that he doesn’t have much time left to live. Months, maybe. Even after radiotherapy and chemotherapy. How would his wife Simone reacts? How should they tell the children? How would they react? How would his parents react? How would his friends, not that he has many, react?
And most importantly, how would he himself react? What would he do next? What should he do? He starts a spontaneous video diary on his iPhone. Goes to some psychotherapy. Composing a song on guitar. Having a not so fun family vacation (Could anybody ever manage to have some real fun while they’re dying?). Listening to some hypnotherapy audio CD. Doing some frustrating home improvement works. Watching some TV, even when it becomes disorienting after a while. Buying casket and surveying funeral services. Then, what else? What else should he do? What else could he do?
But the movie doesn’t cajole us to pity Frank, or his family. It invites us to see the situation as it is, even maybe loathe Frank a bit when he becomes very cranky and too demanding.

My Rating: 7/10

GERMAN CINEMA 2013: Der Ganz Grosse Traum

der-ganz2011 New Faces Awards – Winner Best New Actor.

Konrad Koch was a German, but he was also an Oxford-educated brand new English teacher in an ultra strict Imperial boys’ school in Braunschweig. And guess what he brought back into the sterile 19th century Deutschland society?
The importance of ‘th’ sound pronunciation, camaraderie, disobedience, and yes, football. That’s right, German never knew soccer before his not-so-warm homecoming. And among all of his bratty snobbish pupils, guess who was turned out to be the best at football? Yes of course, the bullied, tiny, skinny, “proletarian” kid, son of a poor factory worker (pretty) widow. Soon he began to teach the boys more–much more–fussball than English–to the outrage of his fellow school faculty and the wrath of his pupil’s flabbergasted parents.
So if you can stand the cheesy dramas, constant socio-ideological preaching, bilingual ‘Auld Lang Syne’, two versions of ‘God Save the Queen’, all the story clichés and sugar-coated über manschaft camaraderie, you will find a quite entertaining movie.

My Rating: 5/10

GERMAN CINEMA 2013: Barbara

barbara2012 Berlin International Film Festival – Winner Silver Berlin Bear Best Director, Reader Jury of the “Berliner Morgenpost”.
2012 Capri, Hollywood – Winner Capri European Actress Award.
2012 German Film Awards – Winner Outstanding Feature Film.
2012 New Faces Awards, Germany – Winner New Actress.
2012 Nuremberg Film Festival – Winner Best Film.

What exactly is freedom?
A loner, chainsmoker, female physician from Berlin, an instant small sensation in the small countyside Eastern Germany town hospital. What is she hiding behind that cold facade? A smittened male doctor tries to tear her wall down; and boy, he even analyze Rembrandt painting for that. What exactly will he discover? What will we discover?

My Rating: 8/10

Maniac

ManiacUS release date: June 21

At the very least, this movie needs better cinematographic direction.
The soundtrack blares 80’s-style à la Winding Refn’s Drive synth music score every time the killer prowls the streets of L.A. on his minivan or his taxicab (yes, sometimes he’s driving a taxi, without any explanations). Then the camera assumes the maniac’s P.O.V. when he stalk his victims but later shifts arbitrarily to third person P.O.V. to show his face whenever the filmmakers feel like it, while on other instances they can show it just as effectively on mirror reflections. The camera, still on the killer’s perspective, also jumps around from and to improbable spaces, in impossible timings, in implausible proximity to the lady victims, so stealthy without being noticed, as if he doesn’t even make any breathing or footsteps sound. It dampens the sense of realism, and also mutes the sense of terror because we always know exactly where this unrealistic killer is.
The wacko doesn’t even wear any gloves, so it’s puzzling enough that the police are unable to nab him much earlier. But remaking a 32-year old slasher movie also has another downside on the story logic: none of the victims are even attempting to use their cellphones to dial 911 while being chased on some amazingly vacant public places.

My Rating: 4/10

‘Man of Steel’: A Transform(eriz)ed Son of Krypton

man of steelGeneral Zod is a pure bred warrior and self-proclaimed war machine, yet he is rather easily beaten, first by a middle-aged scientist, and much later by a farm boy who was never raised a fist to a person before in his whole life.
The Smallville flashbacks are golden. If only the story could stay there a while, giving us enough time to immerse in young Clark’s troubles and probably shed a tear or two together with him. The filmmakers want to humanize Kal-El, right? So that’s their perfect chance, the reboot’s real heart and soul. Batman Begins dedicated almost an entire film to achieve this. But Man of Steel always have to hurriedly jump right back to its present day dreary mindless destructions, back to predictable action sequences that have no real thrill value.
In Sucker Punch, with all those bland videogame-ish actions, we still didn’t have a solid clue of what will become of Babydoll. Sure we knew she’ll eventually win, but we didn’t know how, and then we were never really sure that she would even survive the movie. But in a Superman story we already know 100% sure that every time Martha Kent and Lois Lane in danger, the Man in Blue will certainly be there, just in the nick of time, to save them (Nevermind those thousands of poor innocent Smallville’s and Metropolis’ nameless citizens. They all can die quite horribly just like that, anytime, anywhere, buried beneath the rubbles of collapsing buildings, another collapsing buildings, and yet another collapsing buildings. May their celluloid souls rest in peace).
Zack, don’t you realize that Goyer dan Nolan have given you a second-hand recycled Transformers 3 plot? Sentinel Prime wants to resurrect ‘Cybertron’, Zod wants to resurrect ‘Krypton’, ring a bell? A sequel is already on the way? So get yourself a better screenplay, or some better writers. Superman is a 75 freaking years old franchise, it should be quite easy to pick up good story–Superman story–ideas. Sometimes, most of the times, less is more. A big action movie doesn’t always have to include massive maximum mayhem to be great. And one more thing: please do hire a proper fight choreographer. Characters like Zod must always have superior fighting skills. And it will be better to have one well-scripted normal-speed fight scene than having a few jumbled high-speed brawls.

My Rating: 6/10

Call Me Kuchu

call me2013 Cinema for Peace Awards – Winner International Human Rights Award.
2012 Berlin International Film Festival – Winners, Cinema Fairbindet Prize, Best Documentary Film.
2012 Hamptons International Film Festival – Winner Victor Rabinowitz and Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice.
2012 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival – Winner Best International Documentary.
2012 Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival – Winner Best Documentary.
2012 San Francisco Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival – Winner Audience Award Best Documentary.
2012 Torino Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival – Winner Audience Award Best Documentary.

US release date: June 14

An honest documentary about LGBT community in Uganda, where homosexuality, like almost everywhere in the world, is perceived as a pestilence. 95% of the population are allegedly against them, politicians and religious establishments are hating them, the press are there to expose their identities.
Some of them are fighting back. Stand for their literally non-existent rights. But is it really worth the fuss? Wouldn’t it be much safer and easier to just go back to square one, being ‘closeted gays’?

My Rating: 8/10