Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: German Language Films


It's Thursday, so it's another episode of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks!  This was a fun theme with week, especially since I'm all about foreign film.  I tried to go a different angle than the norm, especially considering the country in question, but I'll explain in a second.

Today's theme is:



German films are great, but unfortunately the bulk of German films that make it over to these shores or at least get the spotlight shown on them all have a very thick historical angle attached to them.  I can't tell you how many German language films I've seen that have something to do with The Holocaust.  It's just a given.  So, I decided that I wanted to find three films that are German made and yet don't feature that historical stain.  I also tried to feature three films that you may not of heard of.

The Experiment
Released back in 2001, this social commentary wrapped up in a warped 'experiment' tells the story of a journalist who goes undercover to document an experiment where men are either placed in a place of extreme power of extreme powerlessness and are forced to coexist with the strictest of environments.  What happens next is startling, to say the least.  The film was remade in 2010 with Adrian Brody and Forrest Whitaker, but no one saw that movie either.

Everyone Else
Relationships can be tough, especially new ones, and when you are just getting to know someone there are times when our own personal demons can start to ware at what we perceive to be right in front of us.  Maren Ade's brilliant look at the beginning and end of a relationship within such a tight time frame is so enriching and remarkably poignant.

When We Leave
There are certain films that illuminate us sheltered folk to the unfair and unjust treatment that humans, mostly women, suffer in other countries.  This is one of those films.  It highlights a young mother's struggle to separate from an abusive man only to have her family become consumed with their own honor instead of their daughter's well-being and happiness.  The climax is crushing, and Sibel Kekilli's performance is one for the ages.

31 comments:

  1. OK, now these are 3 films I haven't seen. I like that approach by going for something more obscure instead of the typical films of German cinema.

    BTW, did you see anything related to Cannes about Dolan? He looked good in that suit. I hope Guillermo gives him some good recommendations on what films starring Ingrid Bergman to see as Dolan revealed that he hadn't seen anything that she's in.

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    1. I didn't read that, but I hope Dolan gets on it since Bergman was a goddess and probably would have ROCKED a Dolan film!

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  2. Kudos on selecting rather unknown films, I went for one film I doubt anyone has seen

    Both The Experiment and When We leave sound like interesting but tough films. Good, unique choices

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    1. They are both very good. When We Leave made my stomach hurt in many scenes.

      I've been out of pocket on the beach since Thursday, so I'll be by to check out your selections soon!

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  3. You're so right about the German films that eventually make it to the U.S. I haven't seen these, but I threw what I could in my Netflix queue (The Experiment isn't there, wtf) I'd like to see Kekilli give a good performance because she was kind of awful on Game of Thrones. lol

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    1. I caught The Experiment on HBO or something like 6 years ago or something like that.

      Kikilli is INCREDIBLE in When We Leave...like...so, so good!

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  4. Unsurprisingly I haven’t seen any of these, my knowledge of German cinema is extremely small but The Experiment is the most intriguing of your three to me, though they all sound worthy.

    This was an easy list to pull together, as I said my viewing of German language films is very slim, and if I've seen more than six I can't remember them.

    Run Lola Run (1998)-Lola has 20 minutes to find and replace the money her boyfriend has lost, get it to him and stop him from committing a crime. Intense, propulsive action film with a fantastic performance by Franka Potente who could not be tougher.

    The Harmonists (1997)-From 1927 to 1934 the Comedian Harmonists were a wildly popular singing sextet who toured extensively throughout Germany. The film's focus is really the trajectory of their career but once the Nazi incursion gains momentum the group's Jewish members aren't allowed to perform in public any longer causing a crisis within the group.

    Taxi zum Klo (1980)-Frank, a closeted high school teacher compulsively cruises for sex in public bathrooms eventually meeting a man he enters into a relationship with, not that it stops his behavior in the slightest. While his lover wants a more permanent arrangement Frank can't stop his wandering ways. How long can it last and how long before his secret becomes known at work? A real snapshot of a bygone era, the hedonistic, freewheeling time just before AIDS firmly clamped the lid on this kind of unfettered behavior shown here, the sex is very explicit and real. Written and directed by the film's star Frank Ripploh this was a succès d'estime winning several critic and festival awards and becoming a cult success during its original release.

    Unfortunately I thought of Pandora’s Box too late. I usually think of silents as international films since the use of title cards, and the ability to replace them with any language needed, didn’t limit their audience but Pabst & Louise Brooks’ classic is German made.

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    1. I've only seen Run Lola Run of your three choices. I'm intrigued by both of the films you mentioned here, and I've always wanted to see Pandora's Box and just never got around to it.

      Soon!

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    2. My favorite of the three is The Harmonists, which of course will probably be the hardest to find! I expressly sought out Lola just for this when I realized I could only think of two films. Had always meant to watch it ever since seeing and enjoying Franka Potente in The Bourne Identity, a movie I really liked except for the ridiculous casting of Julia Stiles as a high level undercover agent in France!! What were actual appropriate choices for the role like Catherine Deneuve, Marie-France Pisier or even Charlotte Rampling busy? GRRR...that kind of stuff drives me crazy. Anyway I was glad I finally did catch up with it, the film was wonderfully sparse.

      I think you'll really like Pandora's Box, it's awash in German expressionism and having heard and read so much about Louise Brooks over the years but never seeing her on screen once I saw the film I understood what all the shouting was about. She's mesmerizing.

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    3. I'm so anxious to see that one!

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  5. I didn't even think of The Experiment! Good job.

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  6. I've not seen any of these, but I've heard great things about Everyone Else. Your write-up makes me very intrigued by When We Leave.

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    1. Everyone Else is one of my favorite films of the 2010's. Such a brilliant look at a blossoming (and possibly withering) relationship.

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  7. I have never seen any of these films and am glad you stayed away from the typical films since it seems the only ones to be released worldwide are the films dealing with the holocaust. I would choose Fritz Lang's Metropolis. A great German Expressionist film that speaks about the poor and the rich. There is so much imagery here that it is thrilling to watch. Forget the version released with a Rock soundtrack-it detracts from the beauty of the film. The next is "The Blue Angel" with Emil Jannings and Marlene Dietrich. It feels like a precursor to the film "Cabaret". It is set in a Cabaret with Dietrich as a horrible woman bringing on the downfall of a once well respected Professor. The last film is actually a TV movie, but I don't care. It's called "Dresden" which was made in 2006. It is a love story between a German nurse and a British pilot whom she is hiding. Dresden was considered the "Venice along the Elbe". Many refugees ended up there since it was a city famous for its beauty, art and architecture. Bomber Harris, a British ahole thought it would decrease the morale of the Germans to bomb the city to bits. No one knows to this day how many were killed there. I do believe over 100,000 died. I picked this film because my mom was on a school trip to this city when it was bombed and she survived.

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    1. I need to see all of these!!!!!

      I've heard of the first two, but Dresden sounds great too.

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  8. You got me stumped. Never heard of any of these. They all sound great, especially The Experiment. I'm real curious about that one.

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    1. The Experiment is exceptional, but it's my least favorite film of the three, to be honest. The other two are so intimate and so invested in actual character development (The Experiment is more about thematic development) that they hit me in a deeper place.

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  9. Oh I have The Experiment here, meant to watch it but never felt up to it. I hope to get around to it soon!

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  10. Hello Drew, I'm back!

    Hmmm, I haven't seen too many German films to name any favorite, but I definitely have several when it comes to French movies :P The Experiment sounds quite haunting.

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    1. French film is, without a doubt, my favorite 'genre' (since it certainly deserves its own category).

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  11. Great stuff man! I like Everyone Else, though I haven't seen the other two yet. I didn't get a chance to see them before I posted ballots for those years, but they're on my watchlist. :)

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    1. Once I see the film, I might put her in 2011 (US release date), but that would knock out Zoe Heran. :(

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    2. I love Heran, as you know, and love Tomboy SO MUCH, but Heran doesn't make my ballot and it's because of performances like Kikilli. She's my #3, sometimes my #2, for 2011.

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  12. Nice post, Andrew. You have such great ideas for movies to watch. I enjoy foreign films as well.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I love foreign cinema. Hope you get a chance to check out these films, if you haven't already.

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  13. I was just thinking when I was going to see The Experiment appear on someones list, especially with another movie about the Stanford prison experiments coming out soon...and here it is. Still haven't seen it; the Experiment made it to the front of my queue only to be pushed back because just not in the mood for something so depressing. Movies about social experiments are "in" this year; The one about the Milgram experiments should be coming out soon too.

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    1. I had no idea that there was another film coming out about these 'experiments'. That'll be interesting to see.

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