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German Film (3)

BROWSE GERMAN FILMS: Contemporary German films 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 | New releases | East German films
German film classics & collections 1 - 2 | German directors &actors | Documentaries | German movie soundtracks

GERMAN FILM INDEX (alphabetical)
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(West) German Films Since 1970 on DVD and Video 3

The Experiment / Das Experiment

Drama, thriller (2001)
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel
REVIEW: Inspired by a famous 1971 psychological experiment, Oliver Hirschbiegel's German-language movie The Experiment finds a group of 20 volunteers randomly divided into 12 prisoners and eight guards and asked to play out their roles for a fortnight while scientists study their reactions. A conflict arises between undercover reporter Fahd (Moritz Bleibtreu), a con with a hidden agenda, and the apparently mild-mannered Berus (Justus von Dohnanyi), a guard with a megalomaniac streak. The film begins as a psychological drama as ordinary people settle into the game, with joking displays of resistance by the "prisoners" greeted with increasing brutality from the "guards," but detours into suspense and horror as Fahd, who needs the experiment to get out of hand in order to make his story more saleable, deliberately ratchets up the tension between the factions only to see the situation spiral nightmarishly out of control as various test subjects in both camps edge closer to snapping.
With a terrific display of ensemble acting and unforced use of the popular claustrophobic semi-documentary look, Hirschbiegel's movie takes its time to get underway, with apparently irrelevant cutaways to Fahd's outside girlfriend (Maren Eggert), but works up to a powerful second half that delivers a sustained symphony of psychological and physical anguish.
Review by Kim Newman
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Anatomy / Anatomie

Horror / Thriller (2000)
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Starring: Franka Potente, Benno Fürmann
REVIEW: The German thriller Anatomy is a Grand Guignol display of medical horror, dwelling on dissected flesh and body organs in jars. Paula (Franka Potente, the star of Run Lola Run) is a smart young medical student with a lot of family history: her grandfather is a celebrated surgeon and her father runs a low-income medical clinic. An award-winning essay gets her into a prestigious university, known for a strict but brilliant professor of anatomy. On the train to school, Paula saves the life of a punk rocker with a heart problem--only to find this same young man on her dissecting table a few weeks later in anatomy class. Her investigations into this coincidence lead her to discover an underground society of doctors who pursue medical research at all costs, and who sometimes give interesting medical specimens a little nudge on their way to death. Despite a clunky script, Anatomy has a slick look and some gruesome moments. Potente has an engaging presence and is surrounded by a good-looking young cast. This is pretty much a German version of movies like Final Destination, Urban Legend, and I Know What You Did Last Summer, and anyone who's a fan of those flicks will find much to enjoy here as well.
Review by Bret Fetzer
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In July / Im Juli

Romantic comedy (2000)
Director: Fatih Akin
Starring: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christiane Paul
REVIEW: A man who has never been lucky in love thinks his fortune may have changed, only to find his life becoming all the more complicated in this nomadic romantic comedy. Daniel (Moritz Blebitreu) is a shy schoolteacher who is often unsure around women, but when he meets Melek (Idil Under), a beautiful Turkish woman, he falls head over heels in love and agrees to meet up with her in Istanbul. However, while en route from Hamburg, Daniel spots Juli (Christiane Paul), a woman he knows, trying to hitch a ride. Daniel picks her up, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she's long carried a torch for him; when Juli discovers why Daniel is making a long trip through Central Europe, she figures this could be her last chance to win him over. Her attempts to win his affections lead to a number of arguments, reconciliations, unintended turns, and brushes with the wrong side of the law. Im Juli was written and directed by Fatih Akin, who previously won acclaim for the drama Kurz und Schmerzlos.
Review by Mark Deming
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Enlightenment Guaranteed / Erleuchtung garantiert

Dramatic comedy (2000)
Director: Doris Dörrie
Starring: Uwe Ochsenknecht, Gustav-Peter Wöhler
From the back cover: Uwe and Gustav are two middle-aged brothers whole lives are a mess: Uwe's wife just left him and Feng Shui consultant, Gustav, is feeling unfulfilled. This odd couple travel together to a monastery outside Tokyo. Enroute, their mid-life crisis turns into a midnight crisis when they get lost in Tokyo's neon jungle and can't find their way back to the hotel. It's down and out in Asia's brave new world. They survive by their wits and certianly never expect the Zen concept of "leaving everything behind" to be like this. The brothers' eventual arrival at the monastery is an immersion of a more subtle kind. The mundane and the sublime - where does the one stop and the other start: Still, the enigma of enlightenment keeps them going. Although it often seems just within their grasp, it continues to elude them. And yet, even they don't fully realize it, at the very core of their being, it's changing them....

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The Legend of Rita / Die Stille nach dem Schuß

Drama (2000)
Director: Volker Schlcndorff
Starring: Bibiana Beglau, Richard Kropf
From the back cover: West Germany; the early 1990s. A terrorist gang bursts into a bank. "Hi guys, we're the robbers," says Rita Vogt, "We're nationalizing the economy." As they flee, Rita stops to give money to a street-person. These are not your average bank robbers. After a series of complications, these anti-capitalist revolutionaries are forced to disband, but b decides to take refuge in East Germany under a false identity, and this former socialist activist begins to encounter some of the drab and discontented reality of a Communist state. Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) directs this striking political thriller set in the later years of the Cold War.

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The Farewell / Abschied: Brechts letzter Sommer
Drama (2000)
Director: Jan Schütte
Starring: Josef Bierbichler, Monika Bleibtreu
REVIEW: Superb acting is the primary reason to see The Farewell, an incisive portrait of playwright/poet Bertolt Brecht. As directed by Jan Schütte, this German domestic drama is not a dry, documentary-like profile but rather an elegy of Brecht spanning one single day, just three days before Brecht's death in the summer of 1956. The once-towering giant of German theater (played to perfection by Josef Bierbichler) is preparing to leave his lakeside cottage in the East German town of Bukow and return to Berlin for the new theater season, but a storm is brewing on the home front: Having maintained no fewer than three mistresses at any one time during his adult life, Brecht is now in the midst of dissent among his extended family of women including his wife, daughter, current and former mistresses, and a political reformer who shares his wife with Brecht in a personal arrangement that's starting to unravel at the seams. With German secret police poised to arrest two of Brecht's houseguests for high treason, the idyllic cottage becomes a setting for petty jealousies, violated trusts and the final remnants of hope and tenderness in the writer's circle of intimates. It's a sad but moving film of an artist in decline, not for all tastes but rewarding for anyone who's curious about the eccentric lives of artists and Brecht in particular.
Review by Jeff Shannon

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Run Lola Run / Lola rennt

Drama / Thriller (1998)
Director: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu
REVIEW: It's difficult to create a film that's fast paced, exciting, and aesthetically appealing without diluting its dialogue. Run Lola Run, directed and written by Tom Tykwer, is an enchanting balance of pace and narrative, creating a universal parable that leaps over cultural barriers. This is the story of young Lola (Franka Potente) and her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). In the space of 20 minutes, they must come up with 100,000 deutsche marks to pay back a seedy gangster, who will be less than forgiving when he finds out that Manni incompetently lost his cash to an opportunistic vagrant. Lola, confronted with one obstacle after another, rides an emotional roller coaster in her high-speed efforts to help the hapless Manni--attempting to extract the cash first from her double-dealing father (appropriately a bank manager), and then by any means necessary. From this point nothing goes right for either protagonist, but just when you think you've figured out the movie, the director introduces a series of brilliant existential twists that boggle the mind. Tykwer uses rapid camera movements and innovative pauses to explore the theme of cause and effect. Accompanied by a pulse-pounding soundtrack, we follow Lola through every turn and every heartbreak as she and Manni rush forward on a collision course with fate. There were a variety of original and intelligent films released in 1999, but perhaps none were as witty and clever as this little gem--one of the best foreign films of the year.
Review by Jeremy Storey
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GERMAN FILM INDEX (alphabetical)
<< BACK | BROWSE GERMAN FILMS (chronological): | NEXT>>

BROWSE GERMAN FILMS: Contemporary German films 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 | New releases | East German films
German film classics & collections 1 - 2 | German directors &actors | Documentaries | German movie soundtracks

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