Germany

fo silence

Two men sit in a darkened living room watching an 8mm home movie play on a screen before them. It shows a young girl, terrified and sitting on a bed, while a man in a mask sits beside her and begins to unbutton his shirt. The two men head out into the sunshine of the day, driving aimlessly, until they see a young girl on a bike turn down an off-road path into the woods. They follow. It’s July 8th, 1986, and eleven year old Pia is raped and murdered by Peer (Ulrich Thomsen) while the second man, Timo (Wotan Wilke Möhring), watches with equal parts disgust and arousal. The two dispose of the body and return home, but before Peer’s car has been washed of any evidence Timo has packed and boarded a bus out of town. 23 years later, to the very day, another young girl goes missing with only her bike and bag left behind at the very spot where Pia was abducted so many years ago. Writer/director Baran bo Odar‘s film, The Silence, follows the families, the police and the two men behind the original unsolved case in a story that pairs grief and guilt, obsession and duty. A suspenseful journey through other people’s pain, the film nevertheless finds beauty too through its cinematography, score and performances.

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What a Man

When you think about the best romantic comedies and their countries of origin there a few clear names at the top of the list. Hollywood, of course, has seen its fair share of gems (including High Fidelity and When Harry Met Sally) even if their level of quality has been replaced in the last decade by a morass of Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson-led stinkers. The UK has several great ones but earns a spot based on the near perfection of Love Actually alone. Similarly, France would make the list based solely on Amelie although they too have many more fantastic examples as well. Even South Korea, traditionally viewed as home only to movies about revenge, has produced more than a few solid entries in the genre including Finding Mr. Destiny, Spellbound and My Sassy Girl. But what about Germany? It’s okay if you laughed at the absurdity… I did too, but then I watched Matthias Schweighöfer‘s What a Man and discovered that not even the German language could detract from a smart, funny, sweet and well-acted romantic comedy.

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Echoing throughout the concrete of the subway between Stadtmitte and Potsdamer Platz is a young man slamming out a guitar chord like it owes him money and singing out “I want to see the movies of my dreams.” His droning twang sounds more like it was unearthed from the soil of North Carolina, but the Euro coins in his case and the writing on the wall prove he’s in Berlin. His sentiment is a powerful and timely one as the red signs everywhere shout out the presence of the Berlin International Film Festival. Just a dozen feet above that young man’s head is the shuffle of mud-covered feet swishing through snow as more of it falls on the ground. An ice cream parlor is inexplicably still open and doing good business nearby. It’s 21 degrees outside, but it feels like 8, and that creates a kind of energy. People are moving quickly to both to keep up with the lazy first day rush and to keep their bits from freezing off. Maybe that will make getting into a darkened (and heated) theater all the sweeter. At least that’s the hope on the largely movie-less, paper work-heavy start to the Berlinale.

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Germany! The home of beer and brats! The stomping grounds of Beethoven and Bach! The only economically viable country in the Eurozone! As some of you may know, our beloved Managing Editor Cole Abaius (me) will be moving there over the next two months, which means that we’ll be opening up the European Bureau Office of our Eastern Hemisphere Headquarters in 2012. It will, hopefully, have its own built-in sauna. But won’t this move be debilitating for movie coverage focused on the American film scene? Just the opposite!

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Is there anyplace more romantic than Berlin in the Fall? Probably. But that doesn’t mean love can’t blossom in Germany’s capital city amidst friends and strangers alike. It’s just unfortunate the lovebirds decided to celebrate by sneaking into the subterranean depths beneath Berlin on a guided tour of the tunnels and rooms left over from World War II. Unfortunate for them, but pretty convenient for the madman lurking down below. Denis (Nick Eversman) and Lucia (Nathalie Kelley) are a young couple who decide to tack a spelunking adventure on their date, and they’re joined by two strangers, Marie (Catherine de Léan) and Juna (Brenda Koo), who soon discover a flirtation of their own. The quartet is led underground by their local guide, Kris (Max Riemelt), who has discovered a lucrative little business with these excursions. They head out and down, and after being impressed early on by the immense scope and dark history of the tunnel system decide to push their luck by exploring just a little bit further…

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He achieved critical acclaim by shooting in England for Match Point. He won people’s hearts by shooting in Spain for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. And he achieved his greatest financial success ever by filming in France for Midnight in Paris. For a filmmaker who people have often said has his best days behind him, Woody Allen has been doing pretty well for himself by taking his, some would say uniquely New York, perspective overseas. Not one to mess up a bad thing, Allen is currently shooting another ensemble comedy, this time in Italy, which will be called The Bop Decameron. And before he’s even finished with that project, there are reports that he’s already negotiating where to take his film crew next. According to THR, Allen is currently in negotiations with Bavaria Studios in Munich, Germany to set his next project in their city. Initially I would have thought that filming a movie in Munich was just a ploy for Allen to get paid to hang out during Oktoberfest, but apparently he is looking to start filming on this new film next summer rather than next fall. There is not yet any word on a title or plot summary, but at this early stage those sorts of things might not even exist. With the speed that Allen bangs these things out, it could be that the only thing he knows he wants to do next is go to Germany, story to follow. Whatever his recent process has been, I hope he […]

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There are few genre character-types as tired and overdone as the vampire. They’re rarely scary, usually uninteresting, and often terribly predictable. They’ve become so mundane and commonplace that any attempt to shake up the norm automatically raises a film’s value and may help offset other issues. 30 Days Of Night for example trades the sexy, vampiric allure for some truly effective and horrific monsters. Daybreakers adds a unique, sci-fi twist that made vamps the normal citizens and humans the ones hiding in the dark. Let the Right One In is a coming of age tale that happens to feature a vampire. We Are the Night isn’t quite up to the standards of that Swedish chiller, but it’s definitely as good or better than the other two. The film opens on a passenger jet high in the night sky as the camera tracks from the blood-soaked cockpit back through an equally messy passenger cabin before coming to rest on three well-dressed, smiling women. Engorged on their energy drink of choice they knock out the fuselage door and leap from the plane… They cross paths with a street thief named Lena (Karoline Herfurth) and take her under their wing when the trio’s de facto leader, Louise (Nina Hoss), falls for her hard and bites her even harder. Lena’s indoctrination into the family brings her on a wild ride through a world of wealthy excess, emotional conflict, and the thirst for human blood, but with Berlin’s finest hot on their trail can these […]

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They say love is the international language, but while that’s a romantic notion there’s one thing that seems far more universal in its appeal and effect regardless of language or culture. One thing that guarantees a similar reaction and response, that curdles the blood regardless of nationality, that instills fear alongside a fight or flight mentality no matter where you live… and that’s mutterfuckin’ zombies. Michael comes to Berlin ostensibly to return some keys to the woman he loves, but he’s actually hoping to win her back. His estranged girlfriend, Gabi, left him after seven years to move to the big city, and their relationship went with her. Unfortunately, as with most things in Michael’s life apparently, his timing leaves a lot to be desired. He arrives in Berlin on the same day a zombie outbreak starts to spread throughout the city. And Gabi is nowhere to be found.

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I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced so many things I like brought together into a singular picture where the final result wasn’t quite as incredible as I would’ve initially thought. Not that the picture isn’t good, just not quite as good as the fantasy amalgamation. Shoot for the moon, though.

Rammbock is a sixty-minute long German survival picture combining tiny elements of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window with the enraged viral outbreak victims with an appetite for human flesh (I needed a long, intelligent way to say zombies) of films like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and adding in its own unique contribution to the rules of the zombie universe. Essentially, the infected person’s regression into a mindless, ravenous existence is accelerated by an increase in adrenaline. So, if you’ve been bitten and still retain all of your limbs and consciousness then your transformation can be significantly slowed if you maintain a calm emotional state.

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Still sweating from a back and forth bout with Amelie that saw no fewer than 6 lead changes (and ended with a score of 53-47), the once heralded favorite Dark Knight comes into the next round gasping for air and holding on to its life. But it’s here. Barely. It now faces the German representative The Lives of Others which fended off A Serbian Film with ease. Two fantastic films. Only one will make it to the Championship Round. You decide.

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Some are surprised that the Serbian representative has made it this far in the competition. Some of that is the luck of the draw, and some of that is a testament to the strength of just how strange and impacting the film can be. A Serbian Film faces the surprise winner The Lives of Others who fans have proven to be still in love with after all these years. These films have almost nothing in common – which should lead to a great (and possibly confusing) fight. It’s porn stars versus spies in this battle, and the winner will make it to the Final Four.

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The second match of Round Two finds a Korean favorite up against a German award winner. The Good The Bad The Weird earned its spot with its sweeping beauty and strange cast of characters, as well as the defeat of Brides in Round One. Meanwhile, The Lives of Others got here by delivering politics and strong characters, and by eking out a victory against the favored The Proposition It’s a pairing that even the experts are having trouble predicting, so it’s really anybody’s ball game. Who will make it to Round Three?

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The sixth match up of Round One finds an Oscar-winner and a celebrated Western from down under. It proves to be a tough pairing, and it’s almost impossible to predict whether the critically-acclaimed Lives of Others will pull out a win against the popularly-loved Proposition.

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fo-baader

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to look for films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to… Germany!

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ff-krabat

Magic, ravens, forbidden love, an evil flour mill, and a retarded Baldwin brother! (There aren’t actually any Baldwins in this film).

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Antichrist Film Set to shoot in Germany

I realize that most of you that read this site will assume that a film titled Antichrist is a Dane Cook biopic, but thankfully, it’s not.

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