When you think of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, its humor does not come necessarily to mind. German humor? An oxymoron. Now forward to the 21st Century and you will discover German movies that are funny to the locals and whose humor travels well across the Atlantic. The New Wave style A COFFEE IN BERLIN, formerly called OH BOY, is a wry picture, done in black-and-white with a terrific jazz score reminiscent of a Woody Allen production, its dry comedy absorbed easily by those Americans with enough brains to watch indies. In fact so unusual—yet eminently accessible—is A COFFEE IN BERLIN that in a ceremony in April 2013, despite competition from the one hundred million dollar, one hundred seventy-two minutes’ CLOUD ATLAS with all the name actors brought to the set by Tom Tykwer and Lana Wachowski, A COFFEE IN BERLIN took six top prizes including those for Best Film, Actor, Screenplay and Score.
Director Pawel Pawlikowski is known to cineastes largely for his passionate MY SUMMER OF LOVE, which charts a meeting between women with opposite predilections; one a tomboy looking for an alternative to the emptiness of life, the other cynical, spoiled and well educated. You can see that IDA is right up the director’s alley as now he posits two women as opposite as they can be; one a naive 18-year-old committed to taking vows in a convent, the other a hardened Communist member who, as a judge in the Poland of the 1960s sent people to their deaths. IDA has twists that are usually associated with the works of John Le Carre except that in this case the changes that occur to the title character pull her in opposite directions at the age of 18 when, for the first time in her life, she encounters emotions and epiphanies wholly unknown to a young, sheltered woman.
Gifts that keep on giving are ones that recipients can enjoy year round and will go back and visit long after the morning of wrapping paper destruction frenzy. DVDs, books and cds are cost effective gifts that your loved ones will cherish far longer than hats, scarves, socks and grandma’s secret brittle recipe.
A young, self-absorbed New York City rich kid attending private school witnesses a bus accident that she inadvertently caused to happen. Suffering from teenage grief and angst, she obsesses over what-ifs to the point that she drags everyone around her into Sturm und Drang Upper Westside sense of liberal entitlement crossed with Jewish guilt.
In an epic tale that fully deserves every one of its one hundred ninety-eight minutes, MARGARET, filmed in 2005, tells the story of an adolescent who is emotional to the point of neurosis, a neurosis that proceeds full flower when she observes the sudden, accidental death of a middle-aged woman. Performed heroically by Anna Paquin in her best role—one that finds her or her influence in just about every scene—MARGARET features writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s Shakespearean-like journey into a seminal event in the life of an impressionable seventeen-year-old.
One of the remarkable statements of a great film is its ability to have its title be intrinsic to its tale. In the case Bernard Bertolucci’s of THE CONFORMIST, which is told with anything but conformity, the film is seen as a dominant expression of the mechanics of fascism, a tale of self-imposed sexual persecution, and an exploration of social psychology, though for the majority of its audience it’s a glorious evocation of all that is cinema. Bernardo Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST is rightly referred to as “a real filmmaker’s film” by screenwriter and director Paul Schrader: “Bernardo wrote the bible, and we all just page through it.” A film told through music, direction, performance, set and costume design, and most of all, style.
What more appropriate movie can Catherine Zeta-Jones be featured in than a romantic comedy involving a newly divorced woman falling for a much younger man? THE REBOUND experiments with the all too common idea that two people coming together after a bad relationship can find something good within each other. Of course, this can only happen in Hollywood where both parties are equally jaded and disbelieving of any future romantic possibilities.
Whether or not you’re not quite the 40-something fashionista with a difficult pre-teen daughter trying to hold down her high status career like Sarah Jessica Parker, you’ll be able to relate to the underlining story behind I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT — get your life together. Beyond the cosmos and Manolo Blahnik shoes, we have to grow up one day or another and face the not-so-tiny army of mini-Martha Stuarts. Bake sale, anyone?
When the holidays come around each year everyone gets frantic looking for the right gift for that certain someone. With the economy in shambles, entertainment is one gift that keeps giving throughout the year. Consider a dvd that the recipient will enjoying watching multiple times alone or with families and friends.
Shopping is always stressful. Even though the advent of the Internet has theoretically reduced the need to battle it out at the mall, the age-old question of what to get someone has not changed. Here are some conventional and some offbeat gift ideas.