The Lives of Others

Culture Warrior

Twelve years ago, the western and the musical, two genres that were incredibly successful during Hollywood’s heyday, had been considered long dead with no hopes of a revival on the horizon. After all, why would either of these genres make a comeback? The western is a remnant of a sense of American cultural imperialism and pre-Howard Zinn history-writing long past, and the film musical requires such an astounding degree of suspension of disbelief that audiences who seek special effects that blur distinctions between the fabricated and the real simply aren’t willing to engage it. But lo and behold, on December 25th, 2012 (always a day for big movies), a western (Django Unchained) and a musical (Les Miserables) will be launched into wide release on the heels of outstanding buzz (sure, Tarantino’s film is a revisionist western, but since revisionist westerns have been around for nearly fifty years, let’s just refer to them as the current standard western, shall we?). It’s difficult to say how this particular revival of these Hollywood genres has taken place. Of course, the unexpected success of previous films of these genres that took a risk with audiences (3:10 to Yuma and True Grit, Moulin Rouge and Chicago) certainly helps create the terrain for more such films, but this doesn’t necessarily explain why updated versions of classical Hollywood genres come back into style. Arguably, there are a multitude of genres we could use today, but unfortunately have no contemporary examples of. For instance, the ’30s and ’40s-style […]

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Culture Warrior

There will inevitably be a movie about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden – this much is certain. Recent news has established that Kathryn Bigelow might be the first to try to put into play one of several projects related to last week’s assassination amongst several that are being shopped around. The reasoning is clear, as the material lends itself inherently to cinematic expression. The mission itself, in short, feels like a movie. Whether or not this movie (or movies) will have anything to say beyond what we already know and think and feel is unknown and, in Cole Abaius’s terms, it will be difficult for such projects to escape an inherent potential to come across as a shameless “cash-in.” My personal prediction is that the first movie that arises from bin Laden’s death will, at best, be an exciting procedural that visualizes an incident we are currently so invested in and preoccupied with. But I doubt that anything released so soon will remotely approach a full understanding of bin Laden’s death as catharsis for American citizens, as a harbinger for change in the West’s relationship to the Middle East and the Muslim world, as a precedent for the possible fall of al Qaeda, etc. In short, we won’t be able to express cinematically (or in any other medium, for that matter) what the death of bin Laden means until the benefits of time and hindsight actually provide that meaning. This is why I think any movies about Osama […]

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Culture Warrior

Today is the day of the midterm elections, a day which will mark the stark transition from functionaries on the center who can’t accomplish anything holding office to functionaries on the right who are too busy yelling in every direction to accomplish anything holding office. Under that grand political tradition whose unwavering slogan is “Losing = Tyranny,” much has been made from candidates on the far right (who will become mainstream right if elected or exponentially grating windbags if not) about staging an armed revolution if, y’know, that whole democracy thing doesn’t work out for them. Well, before the pasty and overweight turn off the Fox News echo chamber and actually embody the daunting degree at which human action can precede human thought by taking arms against an administration that has done nothing to challenge their 2nd Amendment rights, I’d like to use the history of cinema to illustrate what true revolt against actual political oppression looks like.

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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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Wow. What a ride. After a full week of heated competition, we’ve been deposited here at the threshold of Round Three. The teams that survive what promises to be a brutal round of competition will be the final four standing, and will be only one more victory away from standing strong in the Championship Round. Many great films have fallen, and what remains includes a meddling French girl, a haunted hero in a cape and cowl, a man who spies on others, an ex-porn star, a young girl working for a witch, a man who would be king, impoverished youths in Brazil, and a girl caught between the horrors of WWII Spain and a giant faun.

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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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This week, Landon uses a trip to the bar to watch the World Cup as a catalyst for discussing nationality (and a lack of it) in films throughout the last 60 years – culminating in a look of the broad, international flavor (and financing) of modern films.

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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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decade_foreignfilms

As part of our epic, two week long Decade in Review, master of the Foreign Objects Rob Hunter lays down his picks of the best foreign language films of the decade.

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Megan Fox in 20 Years

For some reason we’ve been following The Tourist a little too closely. I’m starting to think he suspects something.

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thetouristvondonnersmarck

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is Spyglass’s number one choice to direct Angelina Jolie kicking ass and taking candid pictures in front of famous landmarks in The Tourist.

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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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The Lives of Others

Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to highlight 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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Forget about all the blockbusters of summer, here are ten films that hit DVD shelves in 2007 that you should be discovering.

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