Cédric Klapisch – L’Auberge espagnole AKA The Spanish Apartment (2002)

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A new housemate, Isabel, a lesbian, teaches Xavier about the moves and touches that most appeal to women and he tries them out on Anne-Sophie, the neurologist’s wife who eagerly submits to his advances. The film, however, has a larger theme: learning to discover our true self, not the one parents or teachers expect us to be. The experience allows Xavier to get in touch with his own creative energies and reminds him of his childhood longing to become a writer. While L’Auberge Espanole never explores any character in much depth and the camera tricks can become tiresome, it has intelligence, fun, and exuberance and, with Barcelona scintillating in the background, rekindles the time when life was an adventure of discovery. Continue reading

Cristian Nemescu – Poveste la scara ‘C’ aka C Block Story (2003)

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Another romanian short student film on 35mm. Won several international prizes.

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A lovely piece of film-making from Romania!, 18 March 2004
Author: michaelwalters56 from New York, U.S.A.

I saw this film at the NYU International Film Festival in New York and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! The story focuses on the lack of communication between a working-class family that live on C block and combines gritty drama with terrific unclichéd comedy. The story is so clever and entertaining and by the end it resolves itself with such charm. It is full of subtle messages about life, family, communication and relationships. Great acting from the three main actors and a wonderful sense of pacing from the director. This really is a lovely piece of film-making from Romania and well deserving of it’s award at the festival. Continue reading

Veit Helmer – Absurdistan (2008)

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“No water, no sex.” Whereas the women in Aristophanes’ classic Greek comedy Lysistrata withheld sex from their men to end a war, the women in the village of Absurdistan concoct a similar plan out of necessity in order to get their community’s water pipe fixed. However, unlike the women of Lysistrata, the results of their decision don’t end a war but rather begin one of epic proportions between the sexes complete with the usual devices of espionage, sabotage and tested loyalties. Continue reading

Doris Dörrie – Kirschblüten – Hanami aka Cherry Blossoms (2008)

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A beautiful tissue-paper piece of art that falls to shreds should you so much as blow upon it, Dorris Dörrie’s Cherry Blossoms is the kind of film that dares you to laugh at it. There are heartfelt declarations of love and elaborate avant-garde dance routines, not to mention a major plot point about a mountain appearing from behind a veil of mist. Cynics: Don’t venture within one hundred meters. Romantics: Run, don’t walk, to the theater. Everybody else: Approach with caution.

Cherry Blossoms is a sentimental work about Rudi, a stick-in-the-mud German civil servant whose life is upended upon the sudden death of his wife, Trudi, whom he realizes too late he never quite knew. Yes, tears will be shed. But since this is a German film, much of which is set in Japan, the crying will be rather circumspect, and horribly embarrassed. Continue reading

Dennis Gansel – Die Welle aka The Wave (2008) (HD)

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When Rainer Wegner, a popular high school teacher, finds himself relegated to
teaching autocracy as part of the schools project week, hes less than enthusiastic. So are his students, who greet the prospect of studying fascism yet again with apathetic grumbling: The Nazis sucked. We get it. Struck by the teenagers complacency and unwitting arrogance, Rainer devises an unorthodox experiment. But his hastily conceived lesson in social orders and the power of unity soon grows a life of its own. Continue reading

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – Das Leben der Anderen AKA The Lives of Others (2006)

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“I’m your audience,” Ulrich Mühe confesses to an actress in a bar somewhere in the middle of The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), and he means it in two ways: one, he has seen her perform on the stage but two, he is a member of the Stasi, the secret police arm of the East German government whose stated goal is “to know everything”, and he has been keeping her and her playwright boyfriend under surveillance for some time. The Lives of Others is concerned with three things: ostensibly and obviously it tackles the effects of government oppression, specifically on the lives of artists, but on a subtler level it also addresses the transformative power of art and how our ordinary lives can be interpreted as narrative. Continue reading