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July Films

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This month with Code Rush, Free Rainer, Megacities, 16 Years of Alcohol, Breaking the Waves and Underground.

Code Rush

The 2000 film Code Rush about the demise / open-sourcing of Netscape was made available on the net recently. It follows a number of the people involved around and let’s us see how it’s all exciting for them to work all-nighters, remove bugs to before their open sourcing deadline and cheer at their bosses when needed. I didn’t think it was particularly informative or that it managed to shed additional light on what was going on. There’s nerdery and there’s money. Surprise, surprise.

Free Rainer

German film Free Rainer makes dreams come true. Media-person Rainer ends up in a bit of a crisis and decides to stop working his high-powered, overly well paid and coke driven ‘job’ of bringing stupidity to the people’s homes via the teletubes. Instead, he wants to create a better world where TV offers great shows worth watching. And, being part of the business, he knows that the way for achieving that is to manipulate the viewer statistics. After all, nobody in the media ‘industry’ gives a fuck about what they’re creating as long as the advertising people shove money up their butts for it. And the advertising people don’t care either as long as they have numbers telling them which shows ‘reach’ the biggest audience.

With that setup, he decides to invest his money in a bunch of technology and jobless people to capture the viewer statistics and manipulate them before sending them where they should go in the first place. After a few difficulties that works and viewer habits do surprisingly change, leading to a happy end full of intellectual Germans. As unreal as it is amusing but fun to watch.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

Megacities

Michael Glawogger’s Megacities documents the lives of poor people in Mumbai, Moscow, New York and Mexico City. They have boring jobs which ruin their health, they have few perspectives, they collect garbage, dance in strip clubs or pretend they’re hustlers. Yet they find a way to go on and on. It’s depressing because of the way their lives are. And it’s encouraging to see that they can cope. Like many of those modern Austrian documentaries, the film is impressive by just showing things without commenting in any way other than showing it.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

16 Years of Alcohol

In 16 Years of Alcohol which comes in the style of a British TV film we follow a guy named Frankie. As a kid he enjoys going with his dad to the pub. Eventually disillusioned from his dad, he ends up being a drinker and hanging out with his friends, enjoying to beat up people in the spirit of Clockwork Orange. Trying to leave either these friends or the alcohol for a girlfriend or a better life becomes a huge challenge for him.

Breaking the Waves

After many years of being a Lars von Trier fan, I finally managed to see Breaking the Waves which probably played a big role in making him famous. The film’s landscapes are rough and the people are tragic.

Far away at the British coast, close to the oil rigs, the community is not very enlightened but all the more christian and conservative. There, Bess, a good person, tries to abide by all the rules, be helpful and nice. She also falls in love with oil-platform worker Jan. The extent, or rather fanatism, of her love is hard to describe and it’s hard for her to even let him go back to work after their wedding. There, at work, he is eventually injured and becomes paralysed as a consequence. She starts blaming herself for that and things go downhill from there: prostitution, expulsion, inury. And as a viewer you’re sure to be close to Beth when all of it happens.

As usual, this von Trier film is very intense; it’s not easy to watch and with a duration of more than two-and-a-half hours it is quite long as well. Yet, the tragedy sucks you in. You don’t foresee what will happen but the agony and the hopelessness give you hints.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

Underground

Another very long (2 hours 50, and apparently there’s a director’s cut that lasts longer than six hours) and totally amazing film is Emir Kusturica’s Underground. The film starts in Belgrade in the second World War. It takes the history and runs with it, liberally mixing in drama and surreal elements around the crook Marko, his family and friends. A lot is happening in the film, and it’s hard to make sense of it. There’s war, with the Germans and the allies coming into the country, people try to defend themselves, make do, run their theatres. Some fall in love with the German officers, others wouldn’t ever consider doing that. There’s a brass band running around with Marko, creating the stage when he comes, there’s an underground bunker for living, creating weapons and giving birth. The Tito regime is coming. And the people in the bunker never learn that the World War ended, living down there making weapons for decades while documentaries about their lives are made and a new war starts in the country, creating another wave of death and leading to the statement that a war isn’t a proper war until brothers kill one another.

It seems impossible to sum up this film, from the facts and tragedy of history to the absurd elements there is a lot going on without the slightest break and with plenty of room for details that are lost on the uninitiated viewer like myself.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

August 9, 2009, 23:26

Tagged as 16 years of alcohol, breaking the waves, code rush, david, emir kusturica, free rainer, hans weingartner, lars von trier, megacities, michael glawogger, moritz bleibtreu, richard jobson, underground, winton.

Comments

Comment by Dave2: User icon

Ooh! Another Lars von Trier fan!

I watch his films specifically because I know I’m going to have an intense reaction to them. Sadly, we don’t get his latest work “Antichrist” until October. Definitely looking forward to that one!

August 10, 2009, 1:11

Comment by ssp: User icon

I think it’s another month until ‘Antichrist’ around here. The reviews I read were a bit mixed and hint that it may just be a bit too gross.

Did you see von Trier’s ‘Riget’ TV series? I thought that was quite excellent as well.

August 10, 2009, 1:35

Comment by Dave2: User icon

Yep. Well… kind of. They actually edited the whole thing into a 5-hour movie called “Kingdom” rather than release it as a mini series. Unfortunately, plans for releasing “Kingdom 2” here were scrapped when vonTrier had to abandon the grand finale in “Kingdom 3” because half the cast died while they were trying to get it filmed (or something like that).

What sucks, of course, is that Kingdom ended in a cliffhanger, and Kingdom 2 (as I understand it) ended in an even bigger cliffhanger. So with no Kingdom 3 on the horizon, we’re all kind of screwed.

Stephen King attempted some kind of remake called “Kingdom Hospital” here, but I never bothered watching it. Watered-down von Trier just can’t be a good thing!

August 11, 2009, 2:36

Comment by ssp: User icon

Didn’t know about the Kingdom film version (I was hooked by the series on telly in the 1990s). The idea seems odd to me. What did they do about the bits where von Trier comments each episode at the end? I can’t see that fitting into a 5h film too well.

I just had a look around and the series seems to be quite a mess as far as the number of different releases are concerned. According to the German amazon page for the DVD there seem to be quite a few differences in the scenes included in the various Danish or German versions. It seems like there’s a long movie version consisting of four parts of the first season, a five episode TV version and a 2 film-length episode TV version of it. The second season seems to consist of 6 episodes. To make things more funny, they seem to have lost the original Danish soundtrack for some scenes and had to use the German synchronisation instead. Messy.

August 11, 2009, 11:51

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