Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Foreign Language Movies - German


I am a bit lacking in my German cinema, this week's category on Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks Meme. I really just haven't seen that many. To the point where the films listed below are pretty much the only German-made movies I've seen. There are a few more but these are the biggies.

For my picks this week, I went with three films that I've watched very recently. All three quite dynamic. All three beautifully made. All three true depictions of the talent to be found in Germany.


Here are my Thursday Movie Picks:

Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)


Maniacal.

Director Werner Herzog and his crazy actor frenemy Klaus Kinski team up again after the brilliant Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), among others, for another trip down a South American river. This time in Peru, where an Irish opera aficionado needs to get at some rubber in the jungle in order to finance his passion project. That shot above: NOT a special effect. Herzog literally had men dragging a full size steamer over a mountain. Enough said. 

Nowhere in Africa (Caroline Link, 2001)


Gorgeous.

A German Jewish man and his wife fleat the Nazis and their home to a farm in Kenya with a pre-teen daughter. The heart of the story is in the parallels between daughter's coming-of-age and her mother's various attempts to cope with her new life over the years. It's not perfect as a whole but it certainly has its moments, and it is one of the most beautifully shot movies I've ever seen.

The Lives of Others (Florian Hinckel von Donnersmarck, 2006)


Mesmerizing.

Early 1980s. East Berlin. A dedicated and well-respected Stasi interrogator and surveillance expert finds himself conflicted when given the task of spying on a famous playwright and his actress girlfriend. This is a masterpiece. One of the most satisfying experiences I've ever had. 

Honorable Mention

The Tin Drum (Volker Schlondörff, 1979)


Bizarre.

Based on the novel by Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass (which I HAD TO read for an upper division European Lit course in college), this Palm d'Or and Oscar winner tells the story of a boy named Oskar, his sordid family history, and his will to stay small forever as the Nazis rage through Eastern Europe. The movie doesn't work nearly as well as the book, but it gained some attention for being banned in several places in the U.S. and Canada due to its unapologetic adherence to the challenging sexual situations in its source material. 

12 comments:

  1. For me Lives of Other is my favourite German film. So moving. I picked it a few months ago so I decided against picking it again.

    I actually plan to watch Fitzcarraldo this weekend.

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    1. Yes! Everything I've seen from Herzog is great. Let me know what you think.

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  2. I also have Nowhere in Africa and The Lives of Others on my list. Those films are excellent. I haven't seen your first pick.

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    1. I would definitely recommend seeing both of the Herzog films I mentioned. His stuff is also really interesting to read about. His methods are unlike any other filmmaker.

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  3. I haven't seen any of these, I came close with The Tin Drum-I rented it and the disc was cracked and haven't had a chance to catch up with it again. Fitzcarraldo is one I've heard of and want to see. The Lives of Others looks like the title of the week, I'll have to check it out.

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    1. The Lives of Others is one of those universally loved movies. One that proves that American audiences can be totally taken with a foreign language film. Get on it! The Tin Drum is an odd piece of work. The novel is one of the toughest things I've ever dealt with. I recommend "trying" to read the novel first. Fitzcarraldo is just a crazy piece of cinema. Unreal!

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  4. Haven't seen any of these. I really want to see Nowhere in Africa after the 4 Ways a Best Picture roundtable discussion about it. Such an interesting story!

    I tried to read The Tin Drum once. Couldn't get even a third of the way through it.

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    1. It's not the best of the 4 Ways films, but it is astoundingly beautiful to look at. Definitely give it a shot.

      Yeah. As I said, I sort of had to read it. Probably the most challenging book I've ever read. Weird and dark as hell. Oddly funny as well.

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  5. Seems like we all picked TLoO this week. There's good reason for that. It's excellent. Meh on NiA. Need to see Fitzcarraldo. I've read a little about how that was filmed. Wow.

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    1. It's a great one, man. So great! I was lukewarm on NiA as well, but I have to recommend it if for the cinematography alone. Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, the Wrath of God are both musts from Herzog. So great!

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  6. I just saw The Tin Drum a few months ago...and bizarre is right. Like, I kind of loved it and yet...WTF! I now feel quite compelled to read the book.

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    1. It's a tough read, but we had some great discussions about it in the course I took. It really is some twisted, dark satire. And it's an interesting take on a region of Germany that had a different sort of experience with The War. I may read it again one day. I think the book wins here.

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