Lady in the Water (2006)

  lady_in_the_water  (spoilers ahead)

Lady in the Water is not a misunderstood movie. It bombed when it came out and Wikipedia says since then it has been more appreciated than critics did then, but seeing it for the first time now, it’s easy to see that it’s a big failure and the definitive tipping point for director M. Night Shyamalan. Sixth Sense was great, Unbreakable maybe even greater, Signs I still liked a lot (even if I was suddenly alone), The Village is not good but somewhat enjoyable, but Lady in the Water hit a new, very low level. It has its few moments, but overall it’s a complete mess. The opening is already confusing and goes on for too long, the movie then goes back and forth on the same ideas over and over again for what feels like forever only to end with one of the most absurd endings ever seen. The bad thing about the ending is that it is supposed to feel grand and spectacular, but you can only sit there and wonder if all of this really happened. The biggest reason for disbelief for the end is that the movie tries to be some kind of metaphor most of the time, but throws of all that out of the window for an effects-heavy fairytale ending that is just laughable.

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Fack ju Göhte (2013)

fack-ju-goehte(spoilers ahead)

Fack ju Göhte is the most successful film in Germany in 2013. Does that mean anything? Probably not, as success is rarely in conjunction with quality when it comes to movies (or anything). The movie is something like a school comedy, which might be a reason why it is so beloved by students since they enjoy laughing about school. But the plot is… you can’t even call it absurd because it so obviously is just an excuse for the movie to get a bank robber into a school posing as a teacher – that’s the “gimmick” of the movie and the plot behind it (that his bait money is buried under the school) is not believable for a second. Does the movie work? It’s difficult for me to say. My expectations were very low and the movie was better than I had thought. But it wasn’t great. It has its moments but the style of comedy, a sort of constant noisy, over-the-top, aggressive humor, is hard to bear at first, but you get used to it. The characters are mostly clichés, but they are allowed to have some depth at times and even some growth, more or less. Some of the humor works too. The movie strangely grows on you over time, if you don’t think about it too much. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it didn’t hurt to watch it.

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I Want to Hear What You’ve Got to Say

Every year every teacher and student dreads the last weeks before the holidays. Once the grades are made, all potential motivation vanishes and everyone just waits until it’s over. This is interesting because it shows the pretense we hold up that we learn important things in school. If they were so important, it wouldn’t matter if there are grades or not, but the last weeks always unmask how everything is governed by grades, thereby taking away any interest students could have in a subject. But that’s a different story.

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The Wicker Man (2006)

wicker_man_poster(spoilers ahead)

The Wicker Man is one of those notorious movies where it’s hard not to stumble upon YouTube clips before you’ve actually seen it. It stars Nicolas Cage and probably marks the movie that started his downward spiral during which he became known for making crappy movies and overacting wildly in them. The Wicker Man somehow qualifies for both as he acts sleepily for most of the movie before going completely over the top in the end. Is the movie crappy? That is so hard to say, at least for me. I know it is heralded as one of the most unintentionally funny movies ever and I can see that. There are definitely enough scenes that can make you laugh because they are so weird. But the director is Neil LaBute who is normally a very deliberate writer and director of thought-provoking movies that never make it easy for the viewer to make easy judgments. I have read his plays in school and really liked some of his movies (The Shape of Things, Nurse Betty). So what happened here? Cage said in interviews that they intended to make an absurd comedy but the movie does not make that clear enough. LaBute is also known for challenging gender roles and The Wicker Man is full of that. But what is the movie trying to say?

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Music Box: Morrissey’s “World Peace Is None of Your Business”

When I think of political music, I either think of the 60s and 70s, Gang of Four or hip-hop (at least some of it). I could think of Morrissey and the Smiths but it’s not the first thing on my mind, since Morrissey is more known for making political statements outside his music nowadays and Meat Is Murder and Margaret on the Guillotine are still in the minority compared to his other songs. So I was somewhat surprised to listen to his new album and realize, hey, for an old man he sure has some statements left to make. Maybe I’m just so surprised because his last albums didn’t feature many political songs in comparison. But here is his new album, after years of delay, and its title already makes some allusions that make you think: World Peace Is None of Your Business.

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Neighbors (2014)

neighbors (Bad) Neighbors is not a film that made me happy. It somehow tries to show what it means to grow up and have a family but it only occasionally dares to show any of its themes in a realistic way. It goes for over-the-top and silly instead, which is not surprising and not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a shame since there are some glimpses of a better, truer movie in here. Blink and you’ll miss them, but they’re there. Yes, you have less time as a parent and sometimes wish to do something you can’t do anymore, but if your deepest desires are having parties with people who are ten years younger than you and to get high, well… then maybe something hasn’t been working for you even before you had kids. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne do their job well enough, but most of the time you feel like watching some improv scenes that never end. It is funny at times but there is no real structure behind it, as they just seem to keep going. The plot is also annoying because there probably could have been a much better movie if it hadn’t been moving in the “Let’s see who’s meaner” direction so relentlessly. It’s such a lazy thing to show two sides battling each other for no real reason. I felt amusement and embarrassment simultaneously throughout the movie but the more time passes since I’ve seen it, the worse I feel about it.

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The Bourne Legacy (2012)

bourne_legacyThe Bourne Legacy is a very interesting sequel. I watched it in school with my 7th graders because one of them suggested it. Most of them hadn’t known the earlier movies and were very confused by the plot. I would argue that this comes from a rather intelligently written screenplay by director Tony Gilroy and his brother Dan Gilroy. I know the movie was rather panned by critics but I enjoyed it a lot. The plot is demanding, the acting is excellent because of its amazing cast (especially Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Dennis Boutsikaris) and the action is well-made and mostly has a story-telling purpose. There is a moment where Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) climbs up a house parkour-style and shoots someone, which is expressive physically (although there probably was some trickery involved) but is also filmed amazingly as the camera (by the great Robert Elswit) follows him from the outside of the house through the window to the inside in one amazing take. The action scenes in Bangkok are less convincing, though, and expect us to suspend a lot of disbelief.

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