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++ “Salamander” by Ward Hulselmans - Belgium 2013 - 12 x 45 min. - arte
In a clever coup, robbers from the Brussels private bank Jonkhere steal highly sensitive private documents from 66 safe deposit boxes. The owners are among the most influential representatives of politics, business and justice in Belgium. Their blackmail leads to resignations and suicides in a row. Bank director Raymond Jonkhere is doing everything possible to cover up the robbery so that the information does not leak to the public. When Chief Inspector Paul Gerardi learns of the case from an informant, he begins to investigate on his own. His persistence pays off - risking his life, he discovers a complex conspiracy behind which the elitist organization “Salamander” is. For decades she has steered the fate of the country and keeps secrets that go back to the Second World War and a resistance group against the Germans.
The convincingly constructed and excitingly staged political thriller leads into the feudal back room of an arrogant political and economic caste that manipulates and controls the whole country. Flashbacks to the 1940s explain the context of today. Research is not welcome and is covered up or
suppressed by legal and illegal means. The protagonist is the lone fighter Gerardi, embodied by the Belgian-Flemish actor Filip Peeters, who is doing a veritable tour des force with his highly concentrated performance.
+ “Baghdad after the storm” by Alice Troughton - GB 2019 - 6 x 50 min. - arte
An oppressive and emotionally impressive series about lost cultures, destroyed cities and broken people. Baghdad 2003: The US invasion and the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein determine life in Iraq. The single parent ex-police officer Muhsin al-Khafaji begins to work as an investigator for the British and US Americans in the blocked city center, as he is promised the necessary medical care for his kidney-ill daughter Mrouj. At the same time, he is looking for clues to his missing daughter Sawsan. But the risk is great: Muhsin, formerly
an inspector with the Iraqi secret police, is on the trail of a conspiracy in which one of his daughters is also involved. In his search for her, he gets caught up in a web of resistance, political intrigues and criminal machinations. He gets into risky conflict situations several times and has to deal not only with his own people and collaborators, but also with war criminals and unscrupulous employees of the military police and their mercenaries.
The events are conveyed from the Iraqi point of view - with a lot of sympathy and self-irony. The central figure of the inspector moves between the arrogance of the Americans, the feeling of superiority of the British, the criminal jihadists and the idealism of his daughters, who promised themselves freedom and democracy from the Americans. In everyday reality, however, there is chaos and arbitrariness.
+ “Night in Paradise” by Park Hoon-jung - South Korea 2020 - 130 min. - netflix
Tae-gu is a killer who works for Mr. Yang's gang. When he wanted to take care of his sick sister and her little daughter, he ended his previous life. But the past catches up with him, as his two protégés fall victim to an attack that was actually aimed at him. Tae-gu starts a relentless campaign of revenge against the rival gang and then flees to the volcanic island of Jeju. From there it should go to Vladivostok. But the island offers anything but a contemplative existence. He meets the young, terminally ill Jae-Yeon. She is the niece of an unscrupulous arms dealer with whom Tae-gu sought refuge and protection. Both then end up in the continuation of the fight between the gangs.
A Kugelhagen ballad as you know it from comparable South Korean films. It is amazing how often the hero or heroine can hold his own against a number of overpowering opponents, alone and in an initially hopeless position. Seemingly invulnerable, they pocket everything. This is also the case here in a perfectly styled and choreographed, melancholic neo-noir thriller with the predictable ending. However, it is worth mentioning the extraordinary profile of the characters as well as the impressive visual contrast between the hectic, inhospitable city and the charming, tranquil holiday island.
+ “Die Schlange” by Tom Shankland - GB 2021 - 8 x 55 min. - netflix
The series is based on real events and is about the French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, known as the snake, who committed numerous murders in Southeast Asia in the 1970s. The victims were mainly western tourists who were on the so-called hippie trail. With the help of his partner, the French-Canadian Marie-Andrée Leclerc, and the Indian Ajay, he targeted backpackers, drugged them, robbed them and killed them. He stole their passports and assumed their identity, disguised as a gem dealer or drug dealer, to indulge in his intoxication with power.
At the same time, the series describes the efforts of the Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg, who is accredited in Bangkok, and his wife Angela to find out about the criminal. Hindered by the local bureaucracy and his own superiors, however, Knippenberg's research can ultimately help ensure that Sobhraj is caught in the end.
In addition to the dazzling, ice-cold and unscrupulous Sobhraj with his extravagant lifestyle, the young dutiful attaché Knippenberg is the actual protagonist of the series: an honest embassy secretary who persistently and unwaveringly, despite various difficulties and setbacks, does not allow himself to be dissuaded from tracking down the narcissistic psychopath. His changing identities and frequent crossing of the national borders between Thailand, Pakistan, India and Nepal make the hunt for him difficult. With the help of Interpol, the pair of criminals can be found in 1976. But that doesn't close the files to this day.
The individual episodes of the series do not show a chronological sequence of events, but are put together like pieces of the mosaic of a laborious, tough investigation or excavation. Despite the sometimes cumbersome time leaps, the concentrated viewer is offered an exciting journey to colorful, exotic cities and landscapes of a lost hippie and dropout culture. In times of pandemics, the intoxicating, stylish look offers a fascinating, visually varied and adventurous world of relaxation and adventure.
o "The gang from Baker Street" by Tom Bidwell et al. - GB 2021 - 8 x 60 min. - netflix
Or: “Once upon a time there were five friends”. The British television series is a coming-of-age drama as a children's gang film for adults. The gang includes the London street kids Bea, their younger sister Jessie and their two friends Spike and Billy. The teenagers know each other from the orphanage and live in an inhospitable vaulted cellar under a pub in a problem district. From the outside, the posh Leopold comes in. He is a prince and the queen's youngest son. He is locked in the palace because of his hemophilia and takes a chance to find himself undetected among Sherlock's young helpers. However, it is not easy to integrate.
In the literary cosmos of the overall “Sherlock” work, the “dirty little villains” appeared every now and then as investigative and vicarious agents. But here they are directly present and have to do with real and supernatural opponents. A rift in the world threatens to engulf all being. Dark forces dominate people and their surroundings more and more. The violence is spreading in the streets. Only the concentrated action of Sherlock, the cool and fearless, can prevent this.
The result is a psycho-horror-crime-mystery-zombie-gothic-horror-general offer. The ingredients could come from Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie; Alfred Hitchcock, George A. Romero and M. Nigth Shyamalan were involved in the arrangement. A rapid and enlightening ride through styles and epochs of film history, so to speak
The music adapted to the present day is irritating for a film set in Victorian London. But aptly in atmosphere and equipment. Stylish and dense like “Peaky Blinders”. The event is staged in an exciting, funny and cunning way. Hard cuts accelerate the action, but only offer an uninspired juxtaposition of nobility and poverty.
There is a lot of talk about Holmes. He's a broken heroin junkie with an uncomfortable demeanor; a fictional character that can be shaped and deformed in any way. In episode five he appears in person for the first time with a flashback to an old case. After that, he becomes more and more present and dominant. Doctor Watson is a dandy, elegant and black. Only at the end do you find out why he has behaved in such a puzzling and contradicting manner so far.
The exuberant visual images remain in the memory for a long time, but not the individual characters. The overall impression of the series is ambivalent.
o “Who murdered Sara?” by David Ruiz - Mexico 2021 - 10 x approx. 40 minutes - netflix
The wrongly convicted Alex is released from prison after 18 years. He is said to have murdered his sister Sara. Once again he gets caught up in the machinations of the influential and wealthy Lazcano family. Not only does he want to uncover her dirty secrets, but he also wants to expose the murderer of his sister Sara. Alex starts a violent campaign of revenge to destroy the guilty party.
From one episode to the next, the group of suspects expands up to a multi-layered family drama. The series proves to be a low-voltage crime thriller at a medium level with few surprises and despite a number of beautiful picture book scenes.
With the illustrious ensemble of clichéd suspects, in the end it doesn't matter who murdered Sara. Maybe it was the gardener who might appear in season two.
+ “Life is like a piece of paper” by Can Ulkay - Turkey 2021 - 96 min. - netflix
Mehmet comes out of the gutter and, as an adult, takes care of the homeless children who live and grow up there. The scene of the event is the Istanbul district of Tarlabasi, a shabby, ailing district with people of different origins. What they have in common is their inhospitable reality, which includes not only poverty but also the drug scene. Some of them live on the garbage from the better neighborhoods. They move through the streets of Cihangir with handcarts and collect everything that can be reused: paper, cardboard, bottles, old clothes and leftover food.
Mehmet organizes the transport and recycling of the waste. He is seriously ill and is saving his share for an operation; a dream that will probably not come true. When he finds six-year-old Ali in a large garbage bag, he takes care of him. The boy has fled home, his stepfather beats him up and his mother tries to save him. Ali's fate reminds Mehmet of his own childhood. Despite all the problems associated with turning to Ali, Mehmet does not allow himself to be stopped from enabling him to live safely. The body, weakened by the constant consumption of drugs, increasingly mixes reality and dream world with Mehmet, which leads to a tragic outcome of the friendship between Mehmet and Ali.
The melodramatic film plot is congenially accompanied by up-close, stylish images and emotionally harmonious music. A tough, high-contrast study of the environment with touching, fairytale moments. And actually also a film for the big screen.
+ "Beforeigners - Murderous Times" by Jens Lien - N 2019 - 6 x 45 min. - ARD
The series title is a hybrid of “before” and “foreigners”, aptly translated by ARD as “time migrants”. In the current discussions about migrants, integration,
and cultural identity, the prejudice against foreign cultures often plays a decisive role. But what is it like when the migrants are part of their own culture and history? Based on this premise, the series unfolds its own exciting charm. In addition to the emotional storyline, it has a cognitive experience quality that distinguishes it from other crime series with a science fiction character or mystery thrillers.
Parallel worlds exist in Norway. Thousands of people from the Stone Age and the Viking Age as well as commoners from the 19th century put the tolerance of society to the test as immigrants. They come out of the sea under dramatic circumstances, are pulled out of the water by helping hands and put in reception camps. The Norwegian welfare state takes care of them and works on their integration. But many of them bring their special stories and habits with them that they don't want to shed.
When the body of a woman with Stone Age-like tattoos is found in the port of Oslo, it initially appears as a targeted attack on the time migrants. The headstrong, introverted Commissioner Lars Haaland is entrusted with the case. Alfhildr Enginnsdottir, who has just finished police school, is assigned to him as his assistant. She is one of the newcomers, was actually born in the 11th century and lived there as a shieldmaiden. Now is the first female police officer with a “multitemporal background”. And in her first case she is confronted with her own past, which forces her to use unconventional, not generally understandable methods of investigation. Unresolved conflicts from history and the desire for revenge complicate the routine of police work as well as everyday problems with cyber attacks and criminal drone use. The starting point is the "Battle of Stikklestad" (1030), which today is considered a milestone in the introduction of Christianity.
A second season is in preparation and we can look forward to another weird “Culture Clash” with the unfamiliar cop duo Lars and Alfhildr.
o "Red Dot" by Alain Darborg - Sweden 2020 - 86 min. - netflix
A young couple, David and Nadja, are alone on their way through the snow and ice to the northern lights. The “red dot”, the red dot that appears on the tent wall at night, comes from a laser sight and heralds danger. The romantic part of the short vacation is over. Now it's all about survival. The resolution disappointed, as there was no convincing evidence for the viewer. The survival thriller makes use of all the clichés of the genre and is therefore only moderately entertaining. Those who like the landscape will be compensated by the impressive pictures of the charms of the north.
+ "The English Game" by Julian Fellowes - GB 2020 - 6 x 50 min - netflix
The 1880s in England. Football is still a rudimentary sport on bumpy turf, is used for leisure activities for college boys and is an occasion for social get-togethers. Men among themselves. At the same time, the new sport is developing into a combat-oriented game by factory workers, for whom it is a compensation for the inhumane conditions of work in the cotton industry. The focus of the event, which is based on authentic templates, is the Scottish player Fergus Sutter as the captain of his workers' club Darwen FC, who is moving to Blackburn FC because football-loving factory owners and club owners pay him for it. In the still pure amateur business, this is considered a betrayal of the rules and self-image. His opponent Arthur Kinnaird is the captain of the Old Etonians, the "First Lord of Football". He is the son of a successful businessman and moves in the circles of higher society. Arthur is a fair sportsman and advocates a set of rules for the game of football that is growing in popularity across the UK. Football is for everyone.
Football is changing from a sport for the upper class to a game for the masses and at the same time it is also the venue for the class struggle. From today's perspective, at the beginning of the development of modern football, the discussions and arguments about paying players are particularly interesting and informative.
"The English Game" is a very, very English series; created by Julian Fellowes (including "Gosford Park" and "Downton Abbey"). The drawing of the milieu and the characters is therefore coherent and extremely entertaining. In the staged scenes on the square - as in comparable films - there is still room for improvement. But that's not the point here either.
o "Wonder Woman 1984" by Patty Jenkins - USA 2020 - 152 min. - Sky Cinema
Precise prior knowledge of the superhero Wonder Woman, the Amazon Princess Diana Prince, is a prerequisite for entering the DC Extended Universe. This time she initially saves individuals from dangerous situations and finally the whole world from the conspiracy of the wicked. The stringing together of various action scenes, the exuberant special effects and the confusing changing identities of the protagonists make it difficult to concentrate on the core and background of the action. The only ray of hope - in the truest sense of the word - is the candy-colored reconstruction of the world of the 1980s. Only the cinema can do that!
++ "News from the world" by Paul Greengrass - USA 2020 - 119 min. - netflix
150 years ago, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Confederate veteran, trundled through Texas as a "news man" with a horse, cart and a pack of the latest newspapers. The civil war ended five years ago, but it is far from over in the minds of men. Accordingly, the comments and reactions to the newspaper show with the news from near and far. Prejudice and racism set the tone; "Texas first:"
Kidd's path crosses with that of a ten-year-old girl, a flax-blonde girl in squaw clothes. The orphan belongs to a settler family of German descent, but was kidnapped by the Kiowa Indian tribe several years ago, is called Cicadia and only speaks their language. Her Indian foster family was killed by whites and now she is completely on her own. Kidd wants to bring the traumatized child back to her family. What follows is a breathtaking road movie over 400 miles through a dangerous area with all the ingredients of the Western genre including campfire romance, chases, robberies and shootings in the middle of a grandiose filmed landscape. Kidd and Zikade need each other and something like a melodramatic love story with a happy ending develops.
The emotionally charged, intense interplay between the two protagonists Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel alone makes this film a special kind of experience. This becomes particularly clear in the sequence in which they give each other language lessons. The Berliner was widely praised by the critics and also received awards. In the German media, she is already being jazzed up as an upcoming Hollywood star. But this is probably not doing her a favor.
+ "Capitani" by Thierry Faber - Luxembourg 2019 -12 x 30 min. - netflix
In the (fictional) town of Manscheid, the body of 15-year-old Jenny Engel is found in the forest. As a result, Inspector Luc Capitani is dispatched to the region to investigate the mysterious murder case. He is supported in his investigations by the young local police officer Elsa Ley. The gruff, energetic Capitani has difficulty dealing with her and the mentality of the villagers. During the investigation, the two penetrate further and further into a complicated web of intrigues, in which nothing is as it seems. And very quickly the picture emerges that the villagers know more than they admit. This also applies to Jenny's twin sister and other family members. Capitani not only has to solve the murder case, he also has to understand the mindset of each individual resident beforehand and break a system in which many people are manipulated for the common good. The list of suspicious people ranges from the mayor to the village idiot. And then it turns out that Capitani did not end up in Manscheid by accident. The hotel manager is an acquaintance from earlier times and both are involved in an unsolved crime.
A convincingly constructed story with always new surprises, the resolution of which unfortunately disappoints. Instead, an ensemble of idiosyncratic characters and a strangely oppressive atmosphere. The first season was so successful that not only the Luxembourgers wanted a sequel. The best conditions are there, as the potential of the staff has not yet been exhausted.
o "Invisible City" by Carlos Salhanha - Brazil 2020 - 7 x 40 min. - netflix
The focus of the plot is the policeman and environmentalist Eric. His wife Gabriela is an anthropologist and works to ensure that the forest around the village of Toré becomes a reserve. But soil speculators want to prevent this by all means and drive the villagers away. At one of their celebrations a huge fire suddenly breaks out. Gabriela is killed while trying to save her daughter Luna from the flames, the girl remains unharmed. Eric wants to find out more about her death, but is prevented from doing so by his boss. He researches the background on his own and comes across mythical beings who can move back and forth between existence as a human being and as an animal. Eric has to face the challenges and gets into life-threatening situations. He realizes that his daughter Luna plays an essential role in this.
The mystery series with top-class show values tells two superimposed events, whereby basically nothing is explained, but only asserted. The ensemble of figures connected with nature and the ambience of earth and water, fire and air are visually attractive. Here not only as a visually stunning backdrop, but as idiosyncratic action elements.
+ "Bajocero" by Lluis Quilez - Spain 2020 - 106 min. - netflix
A transport of prisoners in winter at night and in fog in a lonely landscape. Very different characters on board; starting with ordinary and serious criminals and ending with corrupt politicians. A highly explosive mixture of violent men. The smallest spark can cause a catastrophe at any time. The van is robbed because one of the inmates is about to be freed. But not to save him, but to kill him as an act of revenge.
Some want out and others want in; both ways are blocked. Between all fronts there is the driver who is completely on his own and keeps a clear head in crucial situations. This creates an atmospheric tension that is comparable to “Wages of Fear” and “Con Air” and offers surprising variations in resolution. The action does not follow the laws of logic, but those of the genre. Despite all the criticism it is a thriller to wake up to.
o "50 qm" by Selcuk Aydemir and Burak Aksak - Turkey 2021 - 8 x 50 min. - netflix
Gölge is a contract killer of the almighty Servet Nadir. When the two of them broke up, he took refuge in a 50 square meter tailor shop in the Güzelce district of Istanbul. He does not remember his origins and childhood; only Servet knows the secret. In Güzelce, his new neighbors suspect that he is Adem, the son of the recently deceased tailor Adil. Gölge decides to assume the identity of Adem and to integrate. He wants to start a new life. But he cannot escape the shadow of his past. When speculators want to demolish the houses in the district, it is Adem who wants to prevent this and takes on them in the process. They do not shy away from criminal machinations and employ contract killers to achieve their goal. Adem, still searching for his true identity, has to prove himself on several fronts. On the one hand, it is the men who want to kill him; on the other hand, it is the suspicious neighbors who fail to see through his intentions. In the first episodes of the series, the residents of the district and their realities of life are clearly presented. These include original and bizarre types but also tragic existences. The plot doesn't follow any particular genre scheme. A good dose of black humor is added to the classic thriller elements. The characteristics of the hero Adem are too perfect to be believable. The last episode ends with a cliffhanger, but the supply of interest in further events has been used up.
++ "The White Tiger" by Ramin Bahrani - India / USA 2021 - 125 min. - netflix
The film tells of the rapid rise of the Indian village boy Balram Halwai, who sarcastically comments on his “path out of darkness into light” from the off. He comes from the town of Bihar in the hinterland of India and grows up in poor conditions. His family is one of the lowest castes. When he found out about the “white tiger” at school, which only exists once in every generation, he decided to break out of the “chicken cage of poverty” of his class and work his way up: either as a politician or a criminal. With skill he lets himself be hired as a driver by a nouveau riche tycoon family and quickly learns the way to the world of the rich and beautiful. Loyalty and obedience are no longer required, but lies, deceit, corruption and unscrupulousness. In the truest sense of the word, "it also goes over corpses". Empathy is weakness. At the end of the secret success story, he is a snobbish owner of a flourishing taxi company in Bangalore. When the Chinese prime minister arrives on a state visit in his city, he throws himself at him. Business contacts with China are the next goal.
The film is an adaptation of the picaresque novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, which was awarded the British Brooker Prize in 2008. The structures and mechanisms of the traditional Indian class society based on oppression are gleefully celebrated and dissected in the book and film with bitter irony and a dash of cynicism. In addition to the thousands of castes, there is also the predatory capitalism of a two-class society of masters and servants, the rich and the poor.
+ "The Excavation" by Simon Stone - GB 2021 - 112 min. - netflix
In 1939, the amateur archaeologist and astronomer Basil John Wait Brown (1888-1977) found an Anglo-Saxon ship grave from the 7th century on the estate of the wealthy widow Edith Pretty in the county of Suffolk on the English east coast. An entire ship buried as a ruler's burial chamber with armor and jewelry. The excavation is now considered to be one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of all time. At that time - in the middle of the outbreak of war between the British and the Germans - several state institutions raised the claim to the precious grave goods. The British weather, which is typical for the island, made the work more difficult, as did the gloomy shadows of the aerial warfare, which created an atmosphere of general uncertainty and endangered the excavations.
Digging in the earth can be exciting - like here in the bittersweet British melodrama with an outstanding Ralph Finnes, who embodies a gentleman with demeanor and appearance who is primarily committed to his work and overcomes all adversities. He acts in a past-conscious and future-oriented manner. The unique Carey Mulligan plays the fragile but self-confident Lady Pretty with fascinating elegance and charm. A large part of the aesthetic enjoyment of the film are the majestic landscapes of the camera by Mike Eley (including "Jane Eyre"). There are stills to kneel down and frame.
o "Lupine" by Louis Leterrier - F 2020 - 5 x 50 min. - netflix
Omar Sy, one of “pretty good friends”, plays Assane Diop, who wants to avenge his father under the name “Lupine”. Twenty-five years earlier, he had been charged with a crime that his son believed he had not committed. He was suspected of stealing Queen Marie-Antoinette's necklace from his employer, Pellegrini. Shortly after his arrest, he dies in prison. When the jewelry reappears years later and is about to be auctioned in the Louvre, Diop slips into the role of the master thief, steals the valuable necklace and starts his campaign of revenge against the Pellegrini family, who play a leading role in French society. At the same time, a police officer, who knows Maurice Leblanc's books, tracks him down, but his colleagues do not believe his lupine theories.
What begins as an intelligent, visually impressive French crime thriller in the best tradition, leads from episode 2 onwards in an inimitable “a man sees red” scheme. It's a shame, because casting the role of the gentleman thief Arsène Lupine with Omar Sy could have enriched the legendary figure with new and extraordinary facets. After all, the series offers a short break in Paris, which is an enrichment in the Corona times: e.g. an extensive stay in the Louvre and a bike chase in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Thanks.
"Mystery Road. Disappeared in the Outback "by Rachel Perkins and others - Australia 2018/2020 - Seasons 1 and 2 each with six episodes of 50 minutes each
There are series that are inconceivable without their location and the associated ambience. "NYPD" for example. You immediately think of the streets of Manhattan, the laws of the multicultural city and the clashes of cops and criminals, of racial hatred and gang fights. Or “Murder in Midsummer”, the plot of which would be inconceivable without the special features of the ferry connections from Sandhamn, the outer archipelago island of Sandön east of Stockholm.
In this series, the vastness of the country, the endlessly long ways through inhospitable landscapes, the scattered, sparsely populated housing estates, the isolation of the people, their lack of words and their distrust of strangers play an important role.
The protagonist of the series is the indigenous detective Jay Swan. Coming from the big city, he and the white police chief Emma James in Patterson, a remote small town in northwest Australia, are supposed to investigate the disappearance of two workers at a cattle breeding station. What at first looks like a routine case turns out to be an impenetrable web of family quarrels, drug dealing and pedophilia. And all of this against the background of white-collar crime about water shortages. The constant clashes with the representatives of the Aboriginal community represent additional conflicts. Despite various tensions, Swan and James manage to solve the case; with an unexpected resolution.
Also exciting is the relationship between the uncomfortable, taciturn Jay Swan and the idiosyncratic, sarcastic Emma James, whose brittle character becomes more and more the focus of the plot and the real star of an emotionally captivating miniseries with grandiose actors in a breathtaking setting .
Two secondary characters are also worth mentioning: Mary Swan, the divorced woman, and Crystal Swan, their growing daughter. The structure between the three gives the elliptically constructed arc of tension an idiosyncratic charm, because Jay is a gruff lonesome detective, a hero like from a spaghetti western, for whom the job was always more important than his role as husband and father.
The second season again takes Swan to a remote small town; this time to Gideon, a small town in the far northwest of Australia, where a headless corpse was found. Swan suspects the murder was caused by the drug cartels he is investigating. There is a mood of crisis in the place. The Swedish archaeologist Sandra Elmquist is carrying out excavations there, against which the Aborigines have set up a protest camp. Fran Davis, the local policewoman, is supposed to help Jay with his research. When the archaeologist discovers a bag with human bones, she puts it down in front of a church, as the find could mean the end of her work. Fran suspects that the dead woman could be her friend Zoe, who has been missing for years.
Meanwhile, Swan takes action against the local transport company and its operator. Under the cover of the local police chief, the drug mafia has set up a headquarters there. One of those involved has a relationship with Swan's divorced wife Mary, who lives there and wants to start a new life.
Everything has to do with everything. It is not easy for Swan as he is harassed and hindered on all sides. Fran Davis proves to be a reliable partner, even if she initially had her problems with the uncomfortable, taciturn Swan. His dual identity as a police officer and Aborigine repeatedly leads to tensions between the locals and the outside farmers.
Australian actor Aaron Pedersen is the ideal cast of the protagonist of the Mystery Road series. He had previously embodied this character in the film of the same name in 2013. In Part 1, an equal partner / opponent has Judy Davis, one of the most versatile actresses in the country. It has received several national and international prizes and awards.
In Part 2 there is a surprising reunion with the Swede Sofia Helin, who plays the main role of a detective with autistic features in the TV crime series “Die Brücke - Transit in den Tod”. A role that will be remembered for a long time. Here she plays the archaeologist who has to successfully assert herself against much resistance. In one sequence you can even see them laughing carefree.
++ "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" by George C. Wolfe - USA 2020 - 93 min. - netflix
The Afro-American musician Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (1886 - 1939) celebrated her great success as the “Queen of the Blues” in the late 1920s. The film is based on August Wilson's 1982 play of the same name.
The scene of the event is a Paramount Records record studio on the South Side in Chicago in 1927. Some of the most famous songs by Ma with her Georgia Band are to be recorded here. These include members Cutler, Toledo, Slow Drag, and Levee. Ma is at the height of her success; it leaves the white producers and their black band waiting. While waiting for their arrival, they tell stories, joke, philosophize and argue. In particular, there is tension between the young, hot-headed and ambitious trumpeter Levee, who dreams of having his own band, and the veteran Cutler and Toledo. When Ma arrives at the studio, the schedule is significantly exceeded, which infuriates the greedy producers. While the band waits for various technical problems to be resolved and for the idiosyncratic Ma to cause further chaos, Levee and Cutler break into a fierce fight.
The playwright August Wilson is one of the most important Afro-American authors. A central concern of his was to address the injustice towards black people, but not to let them persist in their victim role. His play, which is concentrated on a single day, and the film deal with the question of race, in particular with the exploitation of black artists by white producers. His plot, which is focused on exemplary characters, can be seen as a condensate of what went on in the blues and jazz scene of the 1920s.
Viola Davis plays the role of the legendary blues diva; critics celebrate her as her most fascinating and inspired transformation of her career. Her performance has been recognized with several prizes and awards; as well as the "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman. His "Levee" was the last film role for him. He died at the age of 43 of a long-secretly fought cancer and became an icon of black culture.
+ "Your last hour" by Carlos Montero - Spain 2020 - 8 x 40-50 min. - netflix
The young teacher Raquel moves with her husband German to a small Galician town, her husband's hometown. She is supposed to teach literature at the local high school. She gets into an inscrutable situation because some students are making life difficult for her. Your predecessor, Viruca, committed suicide a few weeks ago. But her husband Mauro, also a teacher, has doubts about this version.
Raquel receives a note with a mysterious death threat. This arouses in her the suspicion that the bullying of students may have been involved and that she is now the victim of a perfidious plan. From then on, the dead Viruca determined the life of Raquel. She researches the background and takes on students, teachers and even with German. The small town has more secrets than expected.
The multi-layered mystery thriller draws its tension from the cleverly assembled parallel plot. The first weeks after Raquel's arrival are confronted with the last few weeks before the death of her predecessor. And gradually the dark sides of the tranquil provincial town become clear.
+ "Mank" by David Fincher - USA 2020 - 130 min. - netflix
Biography of the Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz ("Mank") and his arguments with director Orson Welles about the screenplay for "Citizen Kane" (1941). A year earlier, Mank had retired to a remote ranch. He was commissioned by the "boy wonder" Orson Welles to write the script for the film "Citizen Kane". The character of the title hero is based on the publisher and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, whom Mank had met ten years earlier and with whom he was friends until a major crash. Working on the manuscript turns out to be extremely difficult, as the alcoholic and gambling addict, suffering from the consequences of an accident, feels pressured by the director's regular visits. There are always disputes, but the author succeeds in drafting a script that became his very personal reckoning with Hearst and an anti-liberal Hollywood.
The starting point of the film plot is 1940 and the work on the film material. The previous ten years are described on a second time level. This explains the background of experience of the brilliant, but also contentious author, who was one of the most prominent and successful personalities in the film industry. The film about him was shot in black and white and with the cinematic stylistic devices of classic Hollywood films; a homage to cinema and its visionaries par excellence. The reception assumes film history knowledge of the studio system and the well-known names of the tycoons of the 1940s. The complex conflict between Mank and Welles, whose name is also mentioned as a co-author in the opening credits of “the greatest film of all time”, is particularly revealing. Both won an Oscar in 1941 for the script. An Oscar-worthy achievement is the congenial embodiment of the contradicting, cynical and non-conformist author by the versatile Gary Oldman.
o “We can't do otherwise” by Detlev Buck - D 2020 - 102 min. - netflix
First the blooming landscapes die, then the villages and in the end the people. Buck made a western that takes place in the Wild East. From the charm and wit of the
There is nothing left in the film “We can do it differently”. The rough, inhospitable everyday reality leaves no scope for this. A couple of guys have set up shop in a run-down LPG site. A self-proclaimed gang boss leads a group of failed existences who have nothing to extinguish as a volunteer fire brigade. Edda, who is returning to the ailing nest for a family celebration. She is accompanied by her chance friend Samuel, who as a linguist cannot find the right answers to violent actions.
Instead of leaving, Buck shows a breakdown here. A muddled gangster comedy in which Peter Kurth alone in a bathrobe and with a Kalashnikov sets the lasting accents. The rest is arbitrary. The continuation of the early film with the meanwhile aged protagonists Król and Krausse would have made more sense and would have been more productive from my point of view.
More salary instead of violence.
++ “The New Gospel” by Milo Rau - D / CH 2020 -107 min. - Steaming
An encyclopedia of Bible films would probably be the size of a Bible. Pier Paolo Pasolini's masterpiece “The First Gospel - Matthew” (Italy 1964) and Mel Gibson's idiosyncratic, controversial passion show “The Passion of Christ” (USA 2004) are particularly long-lasting memories.
Milo Raus breaks the genre-conforming feature film dramaturgy with sequences of a hybrid semi-documentation including making-of scenes and thus delivers an extraordinary artistic-political experiment. In his experimental set-up, the question of how Jesus would position himself in relation to the refugee policy of Europe and especially Italy in the present day. What would he preach in the 21st century? Who would be his disciples? Who are the displaced and outcast in today's world order? And how would today's representatives of worldly and spiritual power react to him?
The film and theater maker Milo Rau staged his Passion Play in Matera, southern Italy, the place where Pasolini also shot his film. The focus of the action are the refugees from Africa, who are exploited as harvest workers in Italy. Rau confronts scenes from their everyday reality with re-enacted chapters from the Bible.
Rau's leading actor is political, charismatic activist Yvan Sagnet; a ringleader and strike caller against the mini wages for working in the desolate tomato fields. He organized a "revolt of dignity" with the refugees and gathered supporters around him like Jesus did his disciples.
The other protagonists of the film include the citizens of Matera as well as some actors who have already appeared in the films of Pasolini and GIbson. The committed, complex and innovative film ends with current pictures of new and clean accommodation and workshops in a well-networked cooperative that is reaching new sales markets.
+ "La Mante" by Alexandre Laurent - F 2017 - 6 x 52 min. - netflix
La Mante (French for: the praying mantis) is the nickname of Jeanne Deber. The imprisoned serial killer killed eight men in a very brutal way in Paris 25 years ago. And now begins a new series of murders, the crimes of which are obviously inspired by her. From her solitary confinement, she offers the police to help them find the copycat offender. Her condition: her estranged son Damien Carrot, who works for the police as an undercover agent, should be the only one she talks to. Damien takes over the leadership of a special unit and is confronted with the past. The situation is extremely risky because Damien's friends and acquaintances see his mother as a victim of a plane crash. Damien's wife Lucie has no idea either. When he began to behave strangely towards her and was haunted by nightmares, she began researching on her own and found herself in a threatening situation.
Jeanne Deber carried out vigilante justice at the time. She wanted to protect people from evil; their victims were violent criminals, rapists and fraudsters. The new series of murders is staged in a cool way and, with dramatically tapering and multi-layered levels of action, achieves the tension required for a psychological thriller. Everything is correct: plot, characters, locations and atmosphere. Only the resolution is disappointing. It is neither original nor convincing.
o "Mosul" by Matthew Michael Carnohan - USA 2019 -102 min, - netflix
Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, was occupied by the Islamic State between 2014 and 2019. They declared the city the capital and established a bloody regime of terror. The focus of the plot is the Iraqi Nineveh Swat team with the task of penetrating to the headquarters of the IS militia. The urban warfare in the destroyed one is relentless and ruthless. Again and again fighters are killed by snipers. Prisoners are not taken. The protagonist is an Iraqi policeman who wants to do his job between government troops and rebels. It was only very late that he found out that the campaign was the leader's personal campaign of revenge.
Brutal war events tough and in a confined space. The camera sticks close to the fighters. Individual characters are not given the opportunity to distinguish themselves. Motives are not questioned much. Pure action. The film, based on authentic originals, was cast exclusively with Iraqis and Kurds, which distinguishes it from other Hollywood war films and their narrative patterns. However, no insightful facets are added to the war film genre.
+ “The Minions of Midas” by Mateo Gill - Spain 2020 - 6 x 50 min. - netflix
Victor is at the head of a successful media group. His company also owns an influential newspaper in which investigative journalist Monica published a sensational article about the financing of Syrian arms by Spanish banks. The result is various distortions between political and economic interests. At the same time, Victor is blackmailed by an anonymous group called the Midas Minions. Only by paying an amount of 50 million euros can he prevent a person from being murdered at random at regular intervals. This takes place against the background of violent demonstrations on the streets of Madrid, in which the police are ruthless against the protesters. When a love relationship develops between Victor, who lives separately from his family, and the single Monica, both get caught in a vortex of unforeseen and bloody events, which even the experienced inspector Luis and his enthusiastic crew are not up to.
The series about human abysses, power and morals is an adaptation of the short story of the same name by Jack London published in 1901. A genre-typical, excitingly staged blackmail scenario develops here into an illuminating portrait of a society divided between rich and poor.
+ “You have life in front of you” by Edoardo Ponti - Italy 2020 - 94 min. - netflix
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Romain Gary, published in 1975 under his pseudonym Emile Ajar. In 1977 the film adaptation "Madame Rosa" with Simone Signoret in the title role was made, which received several prizes and awards. A theater production followed, which was adapted as a television film in 2010.
In the current film version, Sophia Loren plays "Madame Rosa". The location of the action has been relocated from the Belleville district in Paris to the Italian port city of Bari. The Holocaust survivor and former prostitute Madame Rosa lives there in modest circumstances. She looks after the children of other prostitutes for money so that they are not placed in public institutions. And so she also takes on 12-year-old Momo from Senegal, even though he tried to steal from her. The Muslim orphan boy gets by as best he can. Madame Rosa withdraws more and more often into a basement filled with junk and suffers from her traumatic past. As her physical health continues to deteriorate and her moments of lucidity are increasingly interrupted by a mental absence, Momo promises not to put her in a sick skin, which is fraught with great fears for Rosa based on her experiences with doctors in the past.
Edoardo Ponti, the son of Sophia Loren, was the director, and she still shows an impressively excellent acting performance even in old age. The downside is the soulful film music and the colorful, beautiful ambience of the area. The shabby Belleville and the dreary everyday reality with all its multicultural problems are the more appropriate, authentic setting. Ponti, who is also involved in the script, relies on the emotionally moving, balanced game of two extraordinary characters instead of the sharp contrast between different biographies and lifeworlds.
o “The Liberator” by Grzegorz Jonkaijtys - USA / Poland 2020 - 4 x 50 min. - netflix
Based on authentic events, the story of the American soldier Felix L. Sparks is told here. He and his infantry unit are in the focus of one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II; from Italy via France and Aschaffenburg to Dachau. Thanks to bravery, manliness, honor and a sense of duty, Sparks returns as a hero. Most of his men tragically came to life in the process.
What sets this film apart from others of its genre is the origins of its unit, which is largely composed of cowboys, Native Americans, and Mexican immigrants. Under normal circumstances, they would be the target of discrimination. Together they fought their way across Europe and ended up being in action for over 500 days. Her last operation is her participation in the liberation of the concentration camp in Dachau.
It is the first series to be produced with Trioscope technology, in which a new animation technology combines real filming and computer animation. It takes getting used to at first, but it cannot lend the effect of the film any new quality.
+ "The Pleasure Principle" by Darius Jablonski - PL / CZ / UA 2019 - 10 x 50 min. - arte
Policemen from Odessa and Prague, together with a colleague from Warsaw, hunt a serial killer who distributes the body parts of killed women like pieces of a puzzle over these cities. The characters in this exciting series are as stark and different as the reality of life in these countries. In order to find the solution, it must be determined across international borders, because the network of mafiosi, arms dealers and dodgy porn producers extends over several countries including Germany. The challenge for the police and, above all, for the audience is to work their way through a thicket of multiple murders and widely ramified entanglements. And these extend into the highest spheres of power in politics and business. The only complicating factor is the large number of first and last names of the various protagonists from Odessa, Warsaw and Prague. That requires full concentration.
+ "Shadows of the Murderers - Shadowplay" by Mans Marlind - D / Canada - 8 x 55 min. - ZDF
The Brooklyn policeman Max McLaughin took on the task of helping to set up a police unit in 1946 in the destroyed post-war Berlin. At the same time he is looking for his brother Moritz, who is supposed to be there. Together with the German policewoman Elsie, he hunts an unscrupulous criminal who is called "angel maker" and who uses the turmoil in the sector city for his crimes.Max meets Moritz - whose late mother was a German - and learns that he, as one of the liberators of Dachau, is on a personal campaign of revenge and is liquidating former Nazis who have gone into hiding undercover. Wilhelm Busch's picture book serves as a template for his “rascal pranks”.
The political situation is also fragile and sometimes inscrutable. For example, the American Vice Consul has Nazi criminals illegally flown out of the city and is bribed with looted art for this.
First and foremost, this series impresses with the virtual reconstruction of the location and the ensemble made up of international actors. The plot itself suffers from the unconvincing construction of the script, which does not logically link the various strands. Tension takes precedence over credibility; a loveless synchronization of different languages and cultures is more than annoying.
+ “Gangs of Marseille” by Olivier Marchal - F 2020 - 116 min. - netflix
The only difference between the criminals in Marseille is that some wear a police badge and others don't. This is also the case in this film, which is in the tradition of the French crime thriller, in which the boundaries between corrupt police officers and politicians and rival gangs are fluid. This has proven itself in black and white and also exists in color. In addition, there is a sufficiently proven location with its picturesque alleys and the atmospheric harbor as well as a crew of selected, genre-experienced characters.
Here is the policeman Vronsi, whose controversial unit is supposed to clear up a bloody massacre, in the center of the action. He is not only dealing with unscrupulous clans, but also with competitive battles within the police and the seedy new boss Leonetti; every man for himself. Loyalty, honor and law are flexible terms. The director and screenwriter Olivier Marchal used all his experience as an actor to prepare and stage a not exactly original plot in an exciting way with numerous twists and turns.
++ "And tomorrow the whole world" by Julia von Heinz - D 2020 - 110 min.
The opening film of this year's Venice Film Festival. A current and explosive film about the German present. From the partisan point of view of a filmmaker who authentically from her own experience allows an almost documentary insight into the inner workings of two clashing forces. In her youth she herself was with the Antifa for ten years. The focus of her film is Luisa, a law student from a noble milieu. Alarmed by the shift to the right in the country and the increasing popularity of populist parties, she and her friends join forces to take a clear stand against the fascists and to help refugees. She quickly made friends with the charismatic Alfa and his best friend Lenor. For the two of them, the use of force is also a legitimate means of resisting. Events soon precipitate and Luisa learns what consequences this has for her and her friends. The film succeeds in visualizing the inner conflicts as well as the violent state on our streets up close. State power is not at its best here. The contradiction between what you learn at the university to interpret our basic rights and real life is carried over to the audience in an oppressive and convincing way. A film at the right time!
++ "Borat connection movie" by Jason Wolinger - USA 2020 - 96 min - Amazon Prime
Since he brought shame on his country with his film from 2016, Borat has to toil in a quarry as punishment. At that time he was sent abroad as a fictional reporter on behalf of the leader of Kazakhstan to study and document the customs and habits there. The results of his journey are legendary; hardly a topic was left out: racism and sexism, anti-Semitism and bigotry.
In order to improve relations between Kazakhstan and the USA, he is supposed to travel to the states again. This time with a gift from Mike Pence. Ultimately, it is his 15-year-old daughter Tutar, about whom he knew nothing. In order to remain undetected, Borat appears in different disguises. On his tour he meets people who openly express their opinions and views. Tutar needs to be styled. The path leads to a make-up bar and a high society debutante ball. There they shock those present with a provocative traditional fertility dance on the occasion of Tutar's moon bleeding. They run into pence at a Republican rally. But Borat disguised as Trump is exposed. At a Republican Women's Club meeting, Tutar teaches the ladies in attendance a lesson in masturbation.
The journey through everyday madness comes to mind for a moment when you visit the synagogue. Disguised as a caricature of a Jew, he meets the Holocaust survivor Judith Dim Evans (1932-2020). She does not respond to his provocations, but responds to him with charm and warmth. It's one of the weapons you can use to defeat Borat. This film sequence has now caused a sensation and has a life of its own in the media.
Highlights of Borat and Tutar's appearances include a visit to a Republican election rally, where he appears as a right-wing country singer, and Tutar's TV journalist meeting Rudy Giuliani in a Manhattan hotel suite. In front of the camera she succeeds in luring the colorful Trump lawyer and advisor into a compromising, delicate situation. Borat interrupts in time. He and Tuta are very happy about the successful coup and dance wildly on the streets of NY. This sequence has also become independent and caused a sensation in the current election campaign.
Fast cuts, lively music and ironic-sarcastic voice-overs determine the rhythm of the film, which with its cheeky, frivolous and sarcastic scenes and tasteless sequences leads to the limits of what is reasonable.
In addition to the main actor and protagonist of the film Sacha Baron Cohen, the Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova (24) has the outstanding part of the film. Her change from the scruffy, cheeky and dirty brat to the attractive, seductive young reporter is quite simply masterful and the discovery of the year.
+ "Rebecca" by Ben Wheatley - GB 2020 - 122 min. - netflix
In addition to the Oscar-winning film adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock (1940), another adaptation of the classic novel by Daphne du Maurier. After a romance in Monte Carlo with the widower Maxim de Winter, an English aristocrat, and a quick wedding, the newly wed young Lily James arrives at the country estate on the windswept English coast in Manderley, Cornwall. This is where the imposing family estate is located, a magnificent Gothic building by her husband. Naive and inexperienced, she begins to get used to her new life, but is always overshadowed by Maxim's first wife, the elegant Rebecca. Their haunting legacy is kept alive by the strict housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. The overpowering shadow of the deceased destroys the life of the newlywed couple.
The remake follows the Hitchcock model in terms of sequence and dramaturgy, with Monte Carlos glamor being far more productive for the color camera. But black and white captivates in the ambience and atmosphere of the Manderley property. Hitchcock could shoot in a studio according to his own ideas; at Wheatley, Hatfield House in Hertfordshire served as an impressive filming location. The portrayal of Mrs. De Winter is equally convincing and excellent for the two actresses Joan Fontaine and Lily James, while the pale Armie Hammer cannot match the skills of the acting giant Laurence Olivier. The central character of the film, Mrs. Danvers, is one-dimensionally threatening and mysterious with Hitchcock, while the very present Kristin Scott Thomas succeeds in bringing other surprising facets of her character into play with her own depth of field. Her desire for the beauty and style of Rebecca is more clearly worked out than in the first adaptation; the queer subtext is pleasing and is already hinted at in the novel. Your final end this time is not death in the flames of the burning castle, but a fall from the cliff. Reasonable. (16.10.2020)
++ "The Trial of the Chicago 7" by Aaron Sorkin - USA 2020 -129 min. - netflix
An ambitious, gripping court thriller based on an authentic template. It's about the Chicago Seven, who were brought up for conspiracy and incitement in 1969. Without knowing each other and with very different motives, but with a common goal, the political activists went to Chicago in 1968 to take part in large-scale demonstrations against the Vietnam War on the occasion of the Democratic Party conference. The demonstrations, which were influenced by the hippie culture, were supposed to be peaceful, but due to the failure of the police, the event escalated and a curfew was imposed. There were riots for five days and nights in which hundreds of people, some demonstrators, but also journalists who wanted to report on the incidents, were injured by tear gas and the batons used by the police. Months later, the seven men meet again in court; Nixon and his law-and-order faction won the election and the judiciary was re-elected. Five of them were sentenced to harsh sentences in order to deter the youth, but these were overturned in 1972.
The excellently staged and top-class film by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin (script and director) is a long overdue look back at a process that attracted a great deal of media attention at the time and represents a dramatic chapter in American history. In short flashbacks with authentic and fictional material, the camera leaves the oppressive atmosphere of the courtroom to the visually stunning street battles between the police and the demonstrators. And that is exactly what defines the quality of the film, which shows a deeply divided America and is gaining relevance at the time of its release.
+ “Somebody has to die” by Manolo Caro - Spain / Mexico 2020 - 3 x 50 min. - netflix
Mid-1950s in Spain. The wealthy, conservative Falcon family has established itself in a middle-class milieu. She lives in line with the line and is career-oriented. She brings her son Gabino back from Mexico, where he spent ten years as a young man. And now he is supposed to marry Cayetana, chosen by his father Gregorio, in order to expand the power of the family. Gabino is accompanied by the ballet dancer Lazaro. A homosexual relationship is suspected, which is socially frowned upon and punishable by law. Gabino's mother Mina is Mexican. She wants to stand by her son, but cannot help him. She lives in a chilled marriage with Gregoro and is oppressed by his mother Amparo. Because she is the actual head of the family and has all the strings in hand and does not miss an opportunity to mock her daughter-in-law and her grandson. Gregorio has his son sent to an internment camp for gay men, if he is humiliated and implicated, and Lazaro starts an affair with his mother Mina.
In this atmosphere of fear and violence, Gabino, who refuses to bow to the tyranny of the family, cannot assert himself. An inglorious past that has been concealed from everyone is present and leads to upheavals and acts of violence. The family's passion for hunting and the natural use of firearms, with which problems can be solved, play a central role. In the end, it is not “someone” that has to die, but several people.
The family and social drama, the tension of which increases with episode and episode, is a carefully arranged and stylishly furnished portrait of a homophobic Spain dominated by Franco's strict, dictatorial course.
+ “La Revolution” by Aurélien Molas and Francois Lardenois. - F 2020 - 6 x 50 min. - netflix
It is the time before the revolution; France in 1787. The ambitious country doctor Joseph Guillotin (!) Investigates a mysterious series of murders. A virus called Blue Blood tricks aristocratic members into killing people. So far they had to provide for the prosperity and nutrition of this class. When they refused, the nobles turned into vampires and zombies and fed on the infected bodies. The big feast took place in inns befitting their status. Guillotin is desperate for an antidote. The people rebel against oppression and social injustices. It does not take long before the exhausted class of peasants and bourgeoisie muster the strength for revolution. The device for mechanical decapitation developed by the physician, freemason and politician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin is used from 1792
A visually intoxicating historical spectacle with sufficient punching and stabbing, with fantasy and horror elements. Only in the imagination will the dead not die. And this explains the genre mix of this series. Over-borrowing furnishings in historical castles and monasteries ensure impressive transitions of the contrasts between shine and misery, light and dark. Only the music too often leaves the contemporary historical framework and makes use of the sound of today's common patterns.
++ "A Young Doctor’s Notebook" by Axel Hardcastle - GB 2012 - 8 x 25 min. - arte
First season: Moscow 1934. The doctor Vladimir Bomgard looks back on 1917 and on his first professional experience. After studying medicine, he was sent to a small village to run the local hospital. He acquired his knowledge from books; in the harsh, bleeding reality he is overwhelmed and often has to improvise. Vladimir is afraid of his patients and he shuns responsibility whenever possible. His addiction to morphine creates additional problems for him. And all of this in the turmoil shortly before the Russian revolution.
The starting point of the plot is a cross-examination of Bolshevik soldiers. Old Vladimir beams himself to the side of his younger self by means of his diary; he comments sarcastically on his behavior and intervenes where appropriate.
Season Two: 1918, Vladimir and his illustrious hospital staff must treat injured soldiers from both parties in the Russian Civil War, trying to do justice to both sides. His older self was released from the rehab clinic in 1935 and traveled back to the place where he had previously worked.
The special attraction of the series lies in the unconventional pas de deux of the two protagonists Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm. They merge into one person who effortlessly overcomes the biographical and historical break in the levels of action.
This is great fun not only with the accurate punch lines, but also in individual absurd sequences; for example, they share a bed and bathtub. Dialogues like Loriot's. English humor meets Russian satire The film contrasts the dreary existence of the overwhelmed country doctor with splatter, slapstick and black humor.
The series is based on the novel by the Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov. After completing his medical studies, he worked as a volunteer for the Red Cross in various front-line hospitals. In 1916 he was appointed as a reserve officer in the Russian Army as a country doctor in Smolensk. In 1918 he opened his own practice as a venereologist in Kiev. In his autobiographical “doctor stories” (1926/27) he tells of the successes, disappointments, dangers and fears of a country doctor, of his struggle against his own inexperience and the prejudices of the population. The individual stories describe various episodes that are ideal for a satire series. The bloody sequences of improvised amputations, for example, are prepared in the pictures according to the genre; in the text they are less shocking. Here a commentary narrator hits the right key; there is no interaction between the young and the old self. That is the peculiarity of the British adaptation.
+ "Enola Holmes" by Harry Bradbeer - USA 2020 - 123 min. - netflix
Enola (= Alone) is the younger sister of the famous brothers Sherlock and Mycroft Homes. On her 16th birthday, her feminist mother (apparently) disappears without a trace. The conservative Mycroft becomes her guardian and wants to put her in a strict boarding school for girls. Sherlock is too busy with himself and can't help her. Confident, cheeky Enola escapes this fate by disguising herself as a boy and looking for her mother. On the way, she comes across another runaway who thwarted her plans. It is the young Lord Viscount who is to take his place in the House of Lords in London. Once in London, Enola changes her identity and appearance several times in order to avoid all pursuits and has to master dangerous situations in order to achieve her goal.She is present in all scenes of the film and as the protagonist she turns to the audience every now and then and comments on the fast-paced and turbulent events with wit and irony. The atmosphere of the Victorian era provides a visually intoxicating backdrop to the cleverly constructed detective story. A stroke of luck is the casting of this role with the outstanding Millie Bobby Brown, who, as a smart and adored teenager, has already achieved worldwide stardom. She is also the co-producer of the film. We can look forward to her further career steps.
++ "Ratched" by Ryan Murphy and others - USA 2020 - 8 x 45-60 min. - Netflix
It's about the character of Mildred Ratched from Ken Kesey's “EIner Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest”, which was embodied in the award-winning Forman film by the grandiose Louise Fletcher. This time Sarah Paulson plays the main and title role.
In 1947, she found accommodation in California under a false identity as a nurse in a leading mental institution. The clinic director Dr. Hanover performs novel and risky therapies on the patient. Mildret is open to his experiments and as the series progresses she becomes a cold and tyrannical woman whose aura and true intentions gradually become clear. Her brother is in the clinic, who is about to be executed as a serial killer. The power-hungry governor of the state wants the execution to secure his re-election. And Mildred wants to prevent this with cynical and manipulative means and with the use of force at all costs.
The drama-thriller series was filmed in the high-gloss style of the Hollywood era as film noir in technicolor. An overwhelming COLOR film - a firework of colors - the selection of which from pink to bright green influences the plot and atmosphere. There are also motifs from the film music by Hitchcock composer Bernard Herrmann. The look and equipment of the series are deliberately kept aseptic in order to maintain the contrast between the morbid story and the comic-style scenes. The candy-colored series is close to the limit of what is reasonable and cliché, but it is extremely entertaining and refreshes one's own knowledge of film history. The finale suggests a continuation and one can look forward to seeing the extremely exaggerated and freaky characters again.
+ “The Devil All the Time” by António Campos - USA 2020 - 138 min. - Netflix
The Russels' family tragedy, which spanned decades, begins with the return of the young US marine Willard from a mission on a Pacific island. There he experienced violence and atrocities that have accompanied him throughout his life. He has lost his faith and is looking for new hope and orientation. And now, in a hamlet in the Midwest that is shaped by evangelical fundamentalism and barbarism, he ends up in inhospitable conditions. There is a sheriff who takes the law into his own hands and a thoroughly depraved preacher who interprets religion according to his own way and leads a shady way of life. And there is also a bigoted serial killer couple in the area. It doesn't take long before Willard takes his own life out of the wretched hopelessness. His son Arvin - the real protagonist of the film - is challenged to fight the evil forces that threaten him and his family.
The film about the abysses of a completely godforsaken faith is based on the novel The Craft of the Devil by the American writer Donald Ray Pollock. The nested plot level of the family history, including all the dark strokes of fate, contrasts the visualization with the beauty and tranquility of peaceful country life. You can't really imagine such a pronounced pool of sin there. The visually and linguistically powerful film adaptation of the novel is also a large theatrical cinema and has an excellent cast of actors who convincingly master the human abysses of the characters and cast a spell over the audience.
+ “The young Wallander” - by Ben Harris - Sweden 2020 - 6 x 50 min. - netflix
Mankell's Wallander novels from the 1990s are crime fiction classics; Kurt Wallander is a main character who has been filmed several times. It was shaped by Rolf Lassgard. According to the author himself, the top-class actor has enriched the character of the protagonist with facets that even he was not yet familiar with. This achievement was not achieved in the subsequent films by either the veteran Kenneth Branagh or Krister Henriksson.
And now the attempt to earn money again with the name “Wallander”. The idea of a “young Wallander” probably came from Mankell. But he would certainly not have carried over his biographical series into the current present.
In any case, Kurt is now a very young and committed police officer who lives single in a dreary, socially disadvantaged high-rise district near Malmö. You don't know your job there. When a hate crime occurs in his environment and he is an eyewitness, his superiors involve him as an investigator in the search for the unknown perpetrator. He gets caught between the fronts of rival street gangs, the public prosecutor's office, politics and the police. A life-threatening situation for him. The development and clarification of the case takes a critical, realistic look at social problems such as right-wing radicalism and xenophobia.
The solitary, not yet fully developed protagonist of this visually and dramaturgically convincing series has substance for a sequel despite some discrepancies - but as an independent character. There is only a short sequence reminiscent of “Wallander”, in which he talks about his father's later famous “capercaillie” pictures.
+ "Mignonnes" by Maimouna Doucouré - F 2019 - 95 min. - Netflix
The filmmaker, who was born in Paris and lives there, had an international success five years ago with her short film "Mother (s)". With the autobiographically inspired film (“Mignonnes” / “Die Süßen”), eleven-year-old Amy, who comes from Senegal, joins a group of hypersexualized girls and prepares with them for a dance competition. She is looking for her physical and cultural identity. The opposites that she perceives in her environment are expressed in her insecurities and conflicts. Here the conservative, polygamous, Senegalese extended family who just moved to Paris, as the classmates who train for the dance competition to assert themselves against the older girls. They imitate movements from music videos and stage themselves in stereotypical poses, the effect of which they are hardly aware of. Amy's attempt to survive in both worlds leads to tension and disappointment, forcing her to constant transformation.
“Mignonnes” / “Cuties” won a prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Maimouna Doucouré's feature film debut is a multifaceted coming-of-age film about the self-image of young girls in our society. It offers a revealing insight into the reality of life of ethnically diverse young people. The resulting contradictions from the cinematic representation of the hypersexualization of young girls and the simultaneous distance to it are convincingly resolved by the book and direction, even if the start with the streaming service Netflix irritated with misleading photos and posters. That has been corrected in the meantime.
++ "The Hater" by Jan Komasa - Poland 2020 - 135 min. - netflix
Tomek, a law student at Warsaw University, is expelled from law school because he was exposed as a plagiarist. He decides to hide this fact from the world. Also towards the Krasucki family, who support him financially and whose daughter Gabi Tomek is in love. He gets a job at a dodgy PR agency that discredits celebrities and politicians for a fee or, if requested, stirs up distrust of left-wing liberal refugee workers on social media. This gives him access to the latest technologies and is well informed about the secrets of the capital's elite. When the unsuspecting mayoral candidate Pawel accepts him into his campaign team, the unscrupulous Tomek gets into an explosive situation with his double game, which escalates dramatically. Tomek manipulates a hateful killer into an assassination attempt on Pawel, which leads to a bloody finale.
The Polish cyber thriller about paid hatred on the Internet would not stand a chance in our cinemas. It is all the more meritorious that Netflix ensures the recognition and dissemination it deserves. The film about the origin and effect of fake news is very topical, makes the comparison between the real and digital world clearly visible and shows the consequences of manipulation and surveillance via social networks.
+ "Characters" by Marcin Ziebinski and Jakub Miszcak - Poland 2018 - 8 x 45 min - netflix
As well as Doly is a small town in the Lower Silesian Owl Mountains. Here in 1943 the National Socialists were working on the construction of a gigantic tunnel system, at the center of which was to be a Führer headquarters. At the end of the war, the concentration camp prisoners who had to do forced labor were murdered in the caves.
Numerous myths have developed around this place, which form the background of a crime series. The focus is on Commissioner Michal Trela, who was transferred there with his growing daughter. He is supposed to solve the murder of a young woman who has similarities to a decades-old, unsolved murder case. During his investigation, Trela comes across diverging political and economic interests. On the one hand, the dreary, run-down place is to be developed for tourism on a large scale, on the other hand, if the tunnels are blown up, the National Socialist past will come through. That hinders the planning more than considerably. Solving the murder cases turns out to be extremely complicated. The ensemble of idiosyncratic, dodgy people reminiscent of “Twin Peaks”, most of whom also have a portion of criminal energy, makes the series an exciting and insightful encounter with a Polish everyday reality that is unknown in this country. In each episode, topics from the past and present are broached and skilfully linked. A sustained arc of suspense is ensured.
++ “Stateless“ by Emma Freeman and Jocelyn Moorhouse - Australia 2019 - 6 x 50 min. - Netflix
A mini-series co-produced by Cate Blanchett. The scene of the event is a closely guarded detention center in the glowing steppe of Australia. The protagonists are an Afghan refugee who has been betrayed by smugglers and his daughter in search of asylum, a young father who is one of the security guards and doubts his job, and an ambitious employee of the ministry who, against internal resistance, takes responsibility for the camp and its own Inmate carries. The focus is on an egocentric Australian stewardess from a middle-class milieu, who escapes the machinations of a self-discovery sect, ends up in the camp under a false identity and hopes traumatized to leave the country. Her psychologically poignant fate, as well as that of the others, is based on true events.
The individual, exciting episodes overlap and paint a realistic picture of irresponsible conditions in an ambience that is more like a prison than an immigration camp. The camp is full of people who were separated from their families while fleeing and whose further fate is unclear. The grievances in dealing with asylum seekers are the result of an arbitrary, inhumane machinery from politics, justice and administration. Cate Blanchett's concern was to raise public awareness of the politics of compassion and isolation. She plays the smug, unassailable wife of the demonic life coach guru embodied by Dominic West.
++ "Homemade" by Pablo Larrain and others Chile / Italy 2020 - 17 x 4-7 min. - netflix
The Chilean director Pablo Larrain had the idea of using the forced break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for a "corona diary" and invited well-known colleagues from all over the world to do so. 18 short films were made. Most of them are told calmly and explore the loneliness experiences in a situation in which time stands still and the outside world is limited to a few contacts. The protagonists are the filmmakers and their families, with the participation of children leaving the strongest impressions. The quarantine situation inspires her to write imaginatively improvised stories.
Most of the articles in this short anthology focus on current personal everyday reality. An example of this is the French Ladj Ly, who uses a drone to research his surroundings in the Parisian banlieues. An exception to these similarities is offered by the Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, who stages an absurd romantic encounter between the Pope and Queen Elizabeth with decorative waving figures in miniature backdrops. A funny parody of fake news in which “The Big Lebowski” also appears in a supporting role. Sebastian Schipper is the only German to be there. Out of isolation, he multiplies himself several times because he is bored, longs for company and several people belong to the card game. All in all, “Homemade” is an atmospheric contemporary document of collective experiences in a unique, global, exceptional situation.
+ "Wasp Network" by Olivier Assayas - S / B / S 2019 - 123 min. - network
The film is reminiscent of an almost forgotten event from the 1990s. It is about the Miami Five, five Cubans who were trained by the country's secret service and who, as agents, formed the "Wasps" network. The focus is on the pilot René Gonzáles, who leaves his wife and daughter and fled from Havana to Miami. There he joins a group of Cubans in exile and opponents of Castro who operate from Florida and use military operations against the Cuban regime. Since the collapse of the USSR, Cuba has relied on tourism as a source of income. The aim of the group is to disintegrate the Cuban tourism industry. René and his companions should forward these plans to Havana in good time to prevent the actions. After their exposure by the FBI, they were arrested and served severe sentences in the United States.
In the novel “The Last Soldiers of the Cold War”, the Brazilian Fernando Morais told the story of the Miami Five, which is the model for the film by Olivier Assayas, who directed and also wrote the screenplay. The roles filled with international stars are closely based on the authentic people. The film avoids clichés and partiality. Rather, it is a puzzle from different perspectives. An exciting, often surprising political and espionage thriller that takes the time to adequately present people and historical backgrounds. The sun-drenched locations offer the ideal conditions for breathtaking cinema pictures, the dynamics of which can still be guessed at from a netflix broadcast.
+ “Verirrte Kugel” by Guillaume Pierret - F 2020 - 93 min. - netflix
Almost a French crime thriller in the best tradition. The only disadvantage is that this is an action thriller and the angular protagonists have been replaced by souped-up cars. It's about the petty criminal mechanic Lino, who specializes in converting cars into weapons and is supposed to help the cops fight the better-equipped drug dealers. As usual in this genre, the lines between right and wrong are blurred. Who's buddy, who's a traitor? Lino stands between the lines and has to fight for his life. Corpses pave his way and an unmanageable number of cars crash into and against each other. A consistent, straightforward dramaturgy creates the atmospheric environment for the taciturn, violent leading actor. It is the French stuntman Alban Lenoir who has what it takes to become a serial hero.
++ "Da 5 Bloods" by Spike Lee. USA 2020 - 155 min. - netflix
Four aged African American and war veterans Paul, Melvin, Otis and Eddie meet again in Ho Chi Minh City. They have returned to Vietnam to search for the remains of their then-fallen charismatic leader Norman and bring them back to the United States. Triggered by a mudslide, the traces of the temporary grave have become visible through satellite photos. There is also a box with gold bars buried there. The CIA wanted to buy information about the Viet Cong from its allies. The Bloods now want to secure the gold and give it to the population. They are accompanied by Paul's ambitious son David.
The protagonists of the film form a micrograph of American contemporary and social history. The life paths of the traumatized veterans have been extremely different.Their way over the Mekong and the travel fields into the jungle exemplifies the similarities and the divisions, which lead to upheavals and disputes. This also affects the Vietnamese Vinh Tran, whom they have hired as their guide, as well as a handful of people who work for an organization to remove landmines and work with a seedy French businessman. They all have their own interests.
As always, Spike Lee uses the set pieces of popular show and entertainment mechanisms for his socially critical analysis. The fictional plot begins with documentary images from the context of the murder of Martin Luther King - such as Muhammad Ali's declaration of conscientious objection - and currently ends with reports on the Black Lives Matter protests. The retro Vietnam war film draws its tension from the unconventional dramaturgy of a combination of dealing with racism in the USA and the genre-typical treasure hunt in classic adventure films. In addition to the spectacular montage of different color and image formats in terms of film aesthetics, as well as breathtaking tracking shots, the main elements are also the film music, which references earlier Vietnam War films and refers to “Apocalypse Now” and comparable blockbusters. The war adventure thriller drama "Da 5 Bloods" offers powerful and rousing mainstream cinema, which Corona was unfortunately denied the big stage in Cannes.
++ "Curon" by Fabio Mollo and Lyda Patitucci - Italy 2020 - 7 x 40 min. Netflix
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