Monday, 25 January 2010

Deutsche Filme, Teil 1

To say that I am bad at speaking German is an understatement. It's frustrating how much German I can understand, but how I can say so little in comparison. Since I discovered my love of Spanish cinema (well, mainly Pedro Almodovar) despite not knowing a word of Spanish, I decided that it was time to watch a German film.

I saw Let The Right One In, a Swedish horror film, in June, and instantly realised that it was one of my top films of 2008/2009. It was absolutely amazing, and just took the horror/vampire genre to a whole new level. So I was hoping that German films would offer the same originality and flair, and be able to go where Hollywood has long since stopped venturing. By this, I mean originality.

Anyway. The film I watched was called Lola Rennt and released in 1998. Every exam paper, text book and teaching resource seems to talk about Lola Rennt, in the way that all the French resources talk about Amélie (brilliant film by the way, I gave it at least 90/100).

When I started watching Lola Rennt (The English title is: Run Lola Run) I had no idea what to expect. At first it seemed like an average action film with not much of a story/meaning to anything. But then Lola was shot. I thought it was the end of the film, then realised that it had only been on for twenty minutes. Then the second perspective of the story started, and I realised what was going on.

As the film continued, I thought the story developed really well and managed to give all the characters a proper personality. It was mainly because of this that the film was engaging the whole way through. The story was very clever, although I had to concentrate hard to follow what was going on at some points. There was also a very good use of cartoons to represent certain things, similar to in Berlin, Berlin, a German TV series that I've watched a couple of episodes of.

For a film that came out in 1998, the special effects were quite good, especially because I'm assuming that it was made on a relatively low budget. From what I could deduce from the subtitles (English subtitling is so much slower for German films than French or Spanish because the sentences are longer), the script was good, and I thought the director handled the story very well, though the camera angles were not the best. The film is set in East Germany, so it was interesting to see the effects of the Berlin Wall even after it had been destroyed.

I really liked Franka Potente's portrayal of Lola. She managed to be sexy in a subtle way, not so it hindered her acting, very much in the way of Angelina Jolie. I thought it was a performance with depth and many layers to it. Manni, her boyfriend, was played by Moritz Bleibtreu. Annoyingly, I don't have any other examples to compare their work to, but his performance was a bit boring right up until the last scene. Then it was awesome.

Although the film was ignored by the Oscars, I think that it definitely deserved some recognition, in the same way that Let The Right One In did.

I've just finished watching Love Actually (or Tasachlich....Liebe) in German. I'd seen it three times before in English, which is unusual for me because I never usually like romantic comedies enough to endure them, I mean watch them, for a second time. However, in the way I like Bridget Jones, I am actually rather fond of Love Actually. As a maker of romantic comedies, Richard Curtis is far superior to his peers, and never fails to deliver a clever script, great cast and a concept that is as original as it can be.

I've never watched a film with dubbing before. I elected to set the language to German and to refrain from using the English subtitles to see how I would cope with no English whatsoever. I don't really want to admit this, but after only watching it three times previously I found that I know pretty much all of the script, so could decipher most of the lines fairly quickly and accurately. Watching a film with dubbing is not an experience I want to repeat, I'd rather have subtitles, because the voices didn't really match the emotions or the accents of the characters, hindering the portrayals a bit.

So....Love, Actually. I really like Hugh Grant as an actor. He may not be the best actor in the world, but he is always witty and charming, sort of an acquired taste. Everytime I see Liam Neeson I am reminded that I need to watch Schindler's List - his performance in Love Actually is great, so in the male equivalent of Sophie's Choice he must be as good as Meryl. If not better.

I also love Emma Thompson, and find her performance to be the truest of the all in this film. Generally, the rest of the ensemble cast are all good, although I do find Bill Nighy's outfits a tad offputting to say the least.

Sometimes you just need a little bit of feelgood. Not very often, though. I still prefer independent, arthouse films and biopics above all. I really want to find some more great German films now. I'm really looking forward to seeing Die Weisse Band (The White Ribbon).


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