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

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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...*

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 
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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.