European Humor

They often have a pratical sense of humor in The Czech Republic. And they like soccer.

 GOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

GOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

Europe can be Strange

This is possibly the strangest ad I have ever seen. And it is everywhere. Not really sure who the target market is.

 It's not torn, that's how the graphic looks.

It's not torn, that's how the graphic looks.

Berlinale

A few weeks ago I visited Berlin for The Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). We saw 6 films in the day and a half we were there, and if the German transportation system had been up to snuff we would have seen more (that's a joke, but the theaters really were too far from one another).

Here is a rundown of the films and my thoughts. We got to everything except Upstream Color, which was out of tickets, and Some Like it Hot, which was in a theater 8 million miles away. The festival was also running a classic series, which when compared with the new movies being shown, provided good perspective on the nature of film across the last century.

The Croods

the-croods.jpg

Cookie cutter. But it's a good cookie cutter. It's fun, funny, and contains some of the most creative and breathtaking animation I have ever seen. It should, as Roger Deakins was the visual consultant. In terms of aesthetic, this film is a much more worthy realization of a Dr. Suess book than the official ones. Story wise it is a standard CG animation film, though slightly less annoying than most, and slightly more saccharine. I recommend it if you want to enjoy your time in the theater, and don't care if you come away with anything else. *Screenwriting exercise: As you watch, try and figure out who the protagonist is...*

the_look_of_love_poster.jpg

The Look of Love

Ambling British 'Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll' fall-from-grace character study. If you like those things, you will like this film.

 

Don Jon's Addition

joseph-gordon-levitt-don-jons-addiction.jpg

Joseph Gordon-Lovett's writing/directing debut actually impressed me. He made none of the usual mistakes of an actor in the director's chair, all of the performances were solid, even subtle in some cases. The script was well constructed and tackled subjects (porn, relationship expectations) that are usually avoided or marginalized by films. The moral message contained within is geniune, and I recommend this film to anyone interested in sex or a relationship.

Dial M for Murder

dial-m-for-murder-poster1.jpg

A classic Hitchcock, remastered and shown in 3D (don't worry, it was actually shot in 3D). This film demonstrates once again that Hitchcock will always be great, and 3D has always been a bad idea.

 

Hangmen Also Die

hangmen_also_die.jpg

WWII film from 1943. Turns out they always knew how to make bad films too. In any aspect of filmmaking and story telling you care to pick, this film is bad.

 
movie-casablanca-poster.jpg

Casablanca

This recently recovered sleeper from the 1940s turn out to be surprisingly good. The script is full of sharp dialogue and colorful characters for the cast of unknowns to run with, and the charming atmosphere is a hokey cross of noir and adventure films...Seriously, Casablanca is still one of the best films ever made, and almost certainly the best ending in any film. It was a great way to close the festival, and I can now say, the big screen makes it better. See it anywhere you have the chance.


Ice Skating in Prague

One of my new pastimes, shot from some interesting angles using the GoPro. I do believe it's simple things like this, not just extreme sports, that these little cameras offer a new perspective on.

Prague is big on ice skating it would seem. The guy running the rink was just a disgruntled New York cabbie who happened to be born in Prague. If he wasn't so unpleasant I might have asked him for one of those training bars they give the kids.

Good Food

Near my apartment I have found a really good restaurant, where all the waiters can speak English, but the patrons only seem to be speaking Czech. The prices, like everything here from street venders on up, are insanely low.

Incredible grilled chicken on pasta with great mushroom sauce. $8.

Bowl of Cafe-Angelique-quality garlic soup with egg and chunks  of cheese. $1.75

If you don't believe me, just divide by 20.

Little Differences

Little Cultural Differences.

The worker on the road construction sign wears a cap over here. It's the little differences that are interesting.

I think those might also be bell bottoms.

Setting Foot on the Eastern Block

Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment.
— Wikipedia

Today I finally began gently trodding my American made boots over what used to belong to the Soviet Union. The parts of Prague that NYU has taken us to have been limited to the colorful maze of 12th-19th century builds that comprise Old Town at the heart of Prague. Old Town is beautiful and inviting, but like Times Square, no longer entirely real. The organic urban evolution that created the winding pastel buildings has ironically given way to conscious grooming, and people are everywhere.

However, only a few blocks away from my apartment on the trendy Osadni street in District 7 the remnants of Communist-era constructs are slowly falling apart.

Part of the reason I am in Prague is that I have a long held fascination with the Eastern Block and what it left behind on the land it occupied. The hasty construction, poor planning, and lack of accountability conspired to first create many strange structures and places, and then more interestingly, leave them standing.