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Das Experiment * Oliver Hirschbiegel * 2001

In a time that the “Big Brother” hype was at its highest and in England there was a similar experiment with prisoners and guards, the director of the German tv-crime-series “Kommissar Rex” and “Tatort” made this film with exactly the same idea as the Brittisch scientists. 20 Volunteers participate in a psychological experiment. At random 12 men are appointed prisoner, 8 as guards. The men are told to take their roles seriously. The prisoners are really prisoners and the guards have a job which allows them to go home at night. All the people will get paid afterwards, which for most is the reason to participate. Of course the experiment runs seriously out of hand.

The good part about this film is that I really got into it. It is filmed the way it would be in reality. In the beginning the prisoners make fun, the guards have to get into their roles and the two groups have to try out what they can, can’t, must or must not do. As in the real British experiment the guards’ power rises to their heads and the atmosphere gets pretty grim. For both parties the reactions are understandable, but Hirschbiegel looked up the extremes a bit TOO much. All in all a satisfactory film though.

Event Horizon * Paul W.S. Anderson * 1997

How many times a friend of mine told me to watch this film with me replying “well, it is scifi, and I don’t like that”, so after asking if I have seen it a few dozens of times, he put a tape in my hands… Ah well then.
So, “Event Horizon” proved to be everything I feared: a Holywood scifi. Based on a thin story about worm-holes (as if creating these will be experimental in 2045, they have been working out theories about that for years) and the things that the spaceship picked up from ‘another place’ (“fear” of course), the people of the “Event Horizon” didn’t live to tell about their experiences and when the maker and a few other go visit the ship after it returned our very universe, things turn a bit in the way of a horror which is not too well done (very cheap computer animations), credible or enjoyable.
Better filmtips in this section for sure!

Europa * Lars von Trier * 1991

Maybe not the best Von Trier film, but still this is the better kind of film. “Europa” tells the story of the American Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) who goes to the post-WWII Germany to be conductor in a sleeptrain. Germany is in ruins, a terrorist organisation practically rules the country and everybody tries to make life as livable as possible. The film is almost entirely in black and white with here and there some colour to bring things under attention. Further you don’t get to see the light of day, which makes the film extra grim and depressive. Also it is very slow and not much happens. Actually it is mostly an atmosphere-picture.

If you like the more independent/alternative kinds of films, this is one that you should see some time. <3>

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind * Michel Gondry * 2004

How the hell did I manage to miss this film? Is it because Jim Carrey is in it or because I don’t know the director or was it just hardly announced in the Netherlands? In any case, the title comes from the poem Eloise To Abelard by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) (How happy is the blameless Vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot; Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d. (excerpt)). This is indeed a very typical way of giving the story of the film. A company appropriately named “Lacuna” found a way to erase those memories that their clients choose. The impulsive Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) decides to erase the memories of her unlikely relation with Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) when the relation becomes boring. Joel on his part decides to do the same, since Clementine doesn’t remember him anymore anyway and he is caught by the pangs of love. The larger part of the film plays in the memories of Joel which are being erased by the operators of Lacuna. The ‘memorized’ Joel finds out what is happening and tries to prevent is. He runs from one memory to the other, even to his suppressed memories. Meanwhile he hears the persons who are doing the operations on his physical body talking, flashback rush through, but everytime things vanish as another memory is erased. This is done very nicely and confusingly and it may remind you a bit of the film “Being John Malkovich”. This is not an accident, since the story is again by Charlie Kaufman. It is safe to say that “Eternal Sunshine” is as good (or as bad if you don’t like this kind of films) as that film; surprising, well-invented, a nice atmosphere and very good acting (I could even stand Carrey).

Equilibrium * Kurt Wimmer * 2002

“Forget ‘The Matrix’! This movie will blow you away!” Quite a tagline, especially when you don’t live up to it. “Equilibrium” has only a few things incommon with “The Matrix”, but its level of quality is at best half that of the sublime “The Matrix”. The idea of “Equilibrium” is nice. In a future world, emotions are rooted out, because they are the source of war and other problems. This idea immediately raises a few problems, that are by far not solved in the film. Why a leader make his people enthousiastic about his ideas when they are not allowed to be happy or glad? How can the leader and inventor of such a system get angry and hold a grudge? Drugs are prescribed and “sense-offenders” (what a horrible term!) are hunted down by a special police force. It is the “cleric” John Preston (Christian Bale) that we follow in this film. Of course he becomes opposital to the system and tries to destroy it. So where is “The Matrix”? Maybe in the few way too fancy fighting scenes and the camera work? Oh well, “Equilibrium” is a scifi action film like you can see many these days, a weak Matrix spinnoff.

Epidemic * Lars von Trier * 1988

I had seen this film before, but this was probably before I started this filmsection. I didn’t realise that it is as old as it is. “Epidemic” is a film in which filmwriters have five days to write a new script. They decide to write something about the plague. You see them writing the script, doing research, etc. The film is alright, but the end is terrible. 28/2/04

Ed Gein * Chuck Parello * 2000

“The true story of Ed Gein” as told in all it’s gruesome details resulting in a disturbing horror film. NOT!

This film is actually called “In The Light Of The Moon” and of course tells the story of one of the many American serial killers. Ed Gein (Steve Railsback) lived with his brother, mother and authoritive father on a farm somewhere in a small, remote village. Somewhere along the line the father died and Ed was happy about it. Shortly after that Ed accidentally kills his brother and makes it look like an accident, he was already quite aged by that time. Then for quite a while Ed lived alone with his extremely religious/Christian mother who gives him most of his ideas. When his mother dies and Ed lives totally alone on the big farm he is a bit of an outcast in the village where he lives. Not seeming too intelligent, Ed does read a lot about headhunters, grave robbers and similar subjects which in combination with his extremely ‘fundamentalistic’ Christianity results in a twisted logic. Obviously confusing fantasy and reality Ed starts to dig up corpses from the local graveyard and decorates his house with heads, faces, lamps made from spines, skulls and similar objects. After a while Ed starts to make corpses himself, again under influence of his mother who he has visions off. After killing two local women and feeding one to a befriended family, Gein is caught and taken to jail.

“Ed Gein” is nowhere more gruesome than any other film and only on a few places there is ‘something to be seen’. Neither is this a horror film (fortunately!) in my opinion, because it is not made to make you jump out of your chair with fright. Actually this is a drama also showing the human side of a serial killer, mostly just being a man having lost it. Also I find the film rather chastened, since only in one short scene you can see Gein dressed up as a woman in the skins of his victims. Gein was even more disturbed than this film dared to show!
A pretty boring movie.

Donnie Darko * Richard Kelly * 2001

How often have I been how great this film is and how stupid of me that I haven’t seen it. By different people even. A couple of days ago I saw it in the videostore and (unlike me) decided to give it a go.
Well, where and why is this film good? It is a boring teenager horror/thriller. Donnie Darko gets a visitor from the future and changes present time. Nothing scary, nowhere surprising, nothing special.

Dolls * Takeshi Kitano * 2002

Not the kind of Japanese film like I have seen recently. No creepy horror-thriller, but a heavy drama. Strange that everything is in Japanese (credits, anouncements, etc.) but the title. Anyway, “Dolls” shows a couple of tragic lovestories. Overall “Dolls” is a strange film with pretty original stories. A red line is two young people who walk through Japan tied to eachother with a red rope. There are extraordinary beautiful shots of the Japanese nature. The film is very minimal, no sound when no sound is needed and the same goes for conversations. I am also heavily under the impression that there is a lot of underlying symbolism that I don’t understand. Wanderers have certain coloured clothing, the trees have very bright colours in different parts of the film, Japanese puppet-playing comes back at times apparently to clear some things out, but not to me. A Japanese film for a Japanese audience that understands such things?
In the end I can say that this is definately no feel-good movie, but a nice one if you want to see some other kind of film/drama sometimes.

Dogville * Lars von Trier * 2003

Von Trier did it again. After no artificial light and no self-built stages he came up with something else: no stages at all! He worked it out brilliantly. The village of the title is a small village with 15 inhabitents. You can see the setting is a studio, the streets are named, houses are stripes on the ground with the name of the residents written in it and the bench says “old lady’s bench”. Here and there there is a part of stage, like a bed, a couch or the tip of a tower flying in the air. With this setting Von Trier manages to surprise you for about 60 or 90 minutes. The actors open fictional doors, knock in the air, etc. The funny thing is: you get used to it. The greates thing is that it makes things very literally transparrent. With one shot you can see the whole village and exactly what everyone is doing, but of course people can’t look inside eachothers houses, so this openness is only for the viewer. Light, dark, day, night, snow and fire and made with the least material possible, but are effective enough. Very well done!

BUT, the story is stretched out over three hours. It is told in a funny way though. A voiceover telling a story in nine chapters and a prolog, with a very nice sence of humour (British I would say). It was totally unnessary to use three long hours to make the film though. The story is about the simple village Dogville which lays in the Rocky Mountains in the middle of nowwhere. There is only one road to the village which even ends there. Nicole Kidman ends up in the village when fleeing from a group of criminals. The village hides Grace (Kidman), but as time goes, demands more and more in return. Overall “Dogville” is a charge against the market economy. The price of Grace gets higher with the danger the village is in. This eventually leads to inhumane behaviour and ends in an eruption of violence.
I like the idea behind the film, I love the way Von Trier worked it out. Totally unique with stage-playing more than film-acting, but I sure hope that there will be a shorter version of it some time. -3/9/03-