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April Films

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This month with: New York, I Love You, My neighbour Totoro, The Toxic Avenger, Night falls on Manahattan and Alice in Wonderland.

New York, I Love You

New York, I Love You [IMDB, Wikipedia, Official Site] is the New York remake of Paris, je t’aime, thus featuring a bunch of short films on love in New York. Those films were partially nice, partially unremarkable and had some ‘transitions’ between them blending the various stories over with recurring characters. I found that confusing as it meant I should have kept track of the various characters to make sense of everything.

In total I thought that Paris je t’aime was a bit nicer, with a bit more lightness and a sweeter city that doesn’t require two of the stories to feature smokers in front of restaurants. But, as it’s usually the end that sticks, I have to say that the very last episode about a pensioner couple going to Coney Island for their anniversary was very sweet.

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

となりのトトロ

arte are having a bunch of Hayao Miyazaki evenings this month, showing half a dozen of his films. となりのトトロ [a.k.a. My neighbour Totoro; IMDB, Wikipedia] was the first of them I saw and it was very sweet.

Two girls, Satsuki and Mei, just moved to the countryside to be closer to their mother who is in a nearby hospital. They start seeing creatures who remain invisible to others, among them Totoro, whom they encounter a number of times and who helps them plant some trees and visit their mother with his cool-psychedelic cat-bus.

I really liked the film’s ‘lightness’ and how it is both sweet (just look at Totoro!) and absurd without strictly heading for some hero / happy end direction as most films do. The film just drifts along with the girls and their discoveries in the countryside. Not questioning but enjoying and going along.

Totoro and the cat bus on a tree

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

The Toxic Avenger

The Toxic Avenger [IMDB] is a 1980s trash film, and a rather funny one at that. In an American village with a toxic waste dump, the unpopular ‘mop boy’ at the local gym falls into toxic waste after the gym-people – and people there seem to live in the gym played a prank on him. Because of that he mutates into an ugly superhero who starts saving crime victims all over town and gets together with a blind girl. Of course everything works out well, even though he can’t really control his aggression against the bad guys.

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

Night Falls on Manhattan

Sidney Lumet’s 1997 Night Falls on Manhattan [IMDB] is another quiet but dramatic film about the struggles and responsibilities that come with power – and people’s constant failure to live up to the standards that’d seem desirable.

In the story, drug investigators tracked down a big-time dealer and are aware that not many of their colleagues should be told about this because most of the police department is on the guy’s payroll. On their approach, one of them is shot dead and the other injured. The trial that follows is to be lead by a young lawyer who happens to be the son of the injured policeman. This will make his career and he eventually becomes the new district attorney. Yet, at the same time he experiences how troubled his business is as he soon realises that most people – including his own father – may be liars or at least withholding information as the corruption is widespread and ever

Thus he wins his case as well as a career, but is immediately aware of the fact that his job may have more to do with who owes what to whom than with what’s right. There goes the fresh naïveté.

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

Alice in Wonderland

Loving all of Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, I absolutely had to see the new Alice in Wonderland [IMDB, Wikipedia] film. It was sweet and a tad weird as Tim Burton’s films aim to be. But it was also a strange remix of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass along with plenty of new ideas. Not necessarily bad ideas but perhaps with too much mixing them up, thus destroying the clearer lines of the original stories.

The very end of the film was rather disappointing as well with everything being resolved and people doing happy dances just as they are wont to do in cheesy American family film crap. I found that disappointingly irony-free.

The film’s mix of real actors and animation was interesting in the way it made people half-way real and half-way animated. In many places I couldn’t really say which was which, meaning that they manage to blend the two approaches over better than they used to. In addition the film was shown in 3D – a gimmick on which I’ll comment later on.

The Red Queen resting her feet on a pig

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

May 1, 2010, 14:36

Tagged as 3D, alice in wonderland, fatih akin, films, johnny depp, michael herz, natalie portman, paris je t'aime, tim burton, toxic avenger, volcano.

Comments

Comment by Dave2: User icon

Miyazaki’s films are nothing short of magic. Much of the subtleties are lost on Western audiences, but the messages in his stories are universal. “Totoro” was the first Miyazaki film I saw, and remains my favorite… though I have never seen it on the big screen. I envy you for that!

May 1, 2010, 16:47

Comment by ssp: User icon

@Dave2:
No need for envy. arte is a TV Station.

May 1, 2010, 17:01

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