Robert Fischer – The Cinema and its Double – Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s ‘Despair’ Revisited (2011)

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This absolutely top-notch documentary by Robert Fischer is a fascinating look back at not just the film in question, but Fassbinder’s meteoric career which ended all too soon with his untimely death. Archival footage of Fassbinder is utilized (including several fascinating snippets culled from interviews he did at the disastrous Cannes premiere of Despair), as well as many others involved in the film and its release. Even if you’re not a particular fan of Despair, or even in fact of Fassbinder, this is stellar documentary filmmaking and is an intriguing look at one of the most enigmatic masters of the New German Cinema. Continue reading

Christian Petzold – Toter Mann AKA Something to Remind Me (2001)

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Middle-aged lawyer Thomas assists Leyla, an attractive blonde, when she drops her things at the pool. After their paths keep crossing, he picks up the courage to ask her out for a date. Somewhat to his surprise she agrees, but arrives late, just as the restaurant is closing. They go back to his apartment for an impromptu pizza and, after a few drinks, she falls asleep on the couch.

The next morning Thomas awakes to find Leyla and his laptop, which contains vital case files, missing…

An expertly constructed thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock and Chabrol, writer/director Christian Petzold’s Something To Remind Me keeps the viewer enthralled throughout. Continue reading

Werner Herzog & Dmitry Vasyukov – Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010)

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From directors Dmitry Vasyukov and Werner Herzog – and thanks to DVD distribution from Second Sight – comes 2010 feature documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga (2010), an affectionate look at the lives of those who live and work in the remote Siberian wilderness. Herzog has produced some extraordinary factual films over the past two decades, and whilst Happy People may not quite reach the same heights of awe-inspiring beauty of Encounters at the End of the World (2007), it certainly sits well within the unique director’s oeuvre. Continue reading

Edwin Zbonek – Der Henker von London AKA The Mad Executioners (1963)

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‘A band of hooded men have formed a court and they are exacting justice upon the criminals who have escaped the reach of the law. The sentence they exact is death by hanging. Using the hangman’s rope from the Scotland Yard Museum they leave their victims hanging from various locations with a file detailing the case against them pinned to the body. Scotland Yard is stumped and have assigned their best man to break the case. Meanwhile another fiend is on the loose, one who is neatly severing the heads of young women. The bodies are found the heads are not.’
– dbborroughs Continue reading

Julian Benedikt & Andreas Morell – Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz (1997)

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The artists list on this DVD reads like a Who’s Who of the best international jazz musicians of all times. It features Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins — musicians whose names have become synonymous with the great Jazz Age in the 1950s and 60s. With Carlos Santana, Cassandra Wilson and André Previn and jazz experts like Joachim Ernst Berendt and Bertrand Tavernier, the list of interviewees and artists on this DVD becomes encyclopaedic. But how many people have heard of Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff, to whom we owe the recorded memory of our Jazz legends? These two Jewish Germans emigrated from Nazi Germany to New York in 1939 and promoted Jazz Music, which at the time had received little serious attention from mainstream America. Without money or connections and speaking little English, the two men began to record practically unknown musicians, following their own taste and judgement, and thus establishing the legendary Blue Note label. Continue reading

Jules Herrmann – Liebmann (2016)

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The teacher Antek Liebmann moves to the French countryside to leave his former life in Germany behind. He soon gets a job and finds himself in a new relationship. But the strange energy of a near-by artists residency and an unexpected visitor from Germany make him realise he cannot escape his memories. He has to find his own way to confront the ghosts of his past. Continue reading

Achim Bornhak – Der Nachtmahr AKA The Nightmare (2015)

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After a night of partying in a mansion with a swimming pool, teenager Tina starts to experience weird things. She hallucinates a violent deja-vu, and hears discomforting sounds. At home she is haunted by a mysterious creature that only she can see. The film suggest several explanations for her visions. Is she overly tense? Psychotic? Drugged? Jealous? Her parents and friends seem to think she is going through a phase. Tina is convinced that the creature is for real, and she starts identifying with in a way that prompts her parents to take drastic measures on her behalf.

DER NACHTMAHR (“the nightmare”) is best characterized as an atmospheric thriller or indeed like a dream: at times feverishly slow, at other times restless and shifting. A vibrant electronica-soundtrack and superb acting from Carolyn Genzkow in the leading role makes it a captivating film experience. Continue reading