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Gran Torino

“I’m no hero. I was just trying to get that babbling gook off my lawn!”

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below I’ve written, that 2008 lacks that (at least) one big movie. Well just in time, only few days before years ending David Fincher, the director of movies like Fight Club, the Game, BenjaminSe7en or Zodiac shows up and presents us his most new demonstration of his mastership in moviecraft.

Ladies and Gents, the winner is: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Yes I take bets. This one will win the trophy as Best Movie 2008 at the 81st Academy Awards. Who’s in?

“Life isn’t measured in minutes, but in moments.”

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2008 wasn’t a big movie year in my honest opinion. But then maybe there weren’t any since 1994. Still, every year there are those few gems, movie buffs like me are strongly looking Why so serious?for. This year was rather poor in this spirit.

Let’s start with the most hyped, biggest event this year: Heath Ledger, the Dark Knight. Needless to say this film was great. Ledger’s acting was outstanding. And yes, this was the best Batman movie ever. But from pure IMDB Rating-Hype-Buzz point of view: was the Dark Knight as memorable as the Shawshank Redemption, the Godfather, Pulp Fiction, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Fight Club, Taxi Driver, Memento, some random Hitchcock movie (e.g. North by Northwest, my favorite), or even the godlike It’s a Wonderful Life? In my honest opinion: no. Don’t get me wrong, it was an entertaining movie, with great plot twists and even a message. But still, in 10 years it will be perished in the shadow of grand movies like Apocalypse Now.

So were where those big movies this year? I really don’t know. (edit: With the release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Wrestler and Gran Torino this line is obsolete now. [January 2009].) However I can tell you about some good movies. Let’s start with my three absolute Boy Afavorites. The first is the rather unknown Felon with Stephen Dorff in leading role and Val Kilmer as supporting actor. A rather simple and realistic movie, staged in a prison. I won’t give away too much, but Dorff and Kilmer show some of the finest acting this year. The other one is the just recently released Seven Pounds. Overall a very deep and touching movie starring Will Smith. The only thing keeping this from my Top 10 is the fact, that the pace is getting a bit to slow in the second half of the movie. The third already opened 2007 in the UK: Boy A. It’s the story of a young boy Jack, trying to live that second chance live is granting him.
So if you are only going to watch three movies this year: it’s those three. All three are about injustice, guilt, second chances and redemption. Still all three are totally different.

But those weren’t the only watchable movies 2008. I also really enjoyed Ghost Town, a movie where Bertram Pincus can see dead people, M. Night Shyamalan’s from critics ripped appart The Happening, and the most new De Niro, Pacino Duet Righteous Kill. Feel-Good-wise I enjoyed WALL-E, and Nim’s Island, where Nim lives on an Island, who would have guessed. Hellboy II: The Golden Army maybe was the funniest movie of the year, closely followed by A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures which was also kind of sad. But that’s how life is, isn’t it aye? Traitor was that one intelligent movie about terrorism. Congratulations. Meanwhile in Street Kings Keanu Reeves had another chance to prove that he can’t act, but I still liked the movie a lot. And yes, Keanu, I still like you, even if you are an miserable actor. Don’t cry now, please?! In Be Kind Rewind Jack Black showed (Alas, again!) that success and money don’t spoil everyone per se. After Nacho Libre another crazy role most A-stars just wouldn’t sign a contract for. Action-wise Stallone’s new Rambo was the only pure action movie that made me cry – ever.

Well! Those were my highlights. Not much, uhm. After that there is this big, big box of so-so average movies. I will only name a few. If you really have the time on your hand to watch those, be my guest. Tropic Thunder was supposed to be a A-Actors-filled funny movie and sometimes it really was. But many times, it wasn’t. Besides some more or less good jokes the movie couldn’t deliver moreHellboy II and left you scratching your head. Maybe you missed it, but there was this new X-Files movie. And that’s all to say about it at this point. Transsiberian in many ways was a good and interesting movie, Woody Harrelson in fact shined in it. Still after watching the movie it just didn’t feel right. I don’t know why. But definitely some of the better ones. Kitamura’s The Midnight Meat Train was his USA debut. There was blood, gore, violence, yep everything you’d expect from a Kitamura flick. Still the quality of Versus is out of reach and we are all waiting for Versus 2 – since eight years. The narration of Vantage Point was clever but still this thriller was nothing more then average. Bank Job was Statham’s most entertaining film this year, compared to his abysmal Transporter 3 this was… well good. 21 a movie about playing cards and Vegas started promising, but just couldn’t fulfill the expectations. Cloverfield was great. I loved the visuals and the feeling of the HD-POV Camera. But besides that Cloverfield is a movie I won’t watch a second time. Because it’s pointless. If you have seen this movie, you will agree.

That’s it kids. Stay tuned for part II: The bad and the abysmal. There were a lot of pain-bad movies in 2008. Exactly like the 100 years before. I will tell you a bit about them. But not much. My brain forbid me to watch too many of those braincellkillers this year.

Oh look Mary, it is the train!

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If you asked yourself for only a second, “Uwe Boll, wait, who is this guy?”, you must have been living on mars for the last 5 years. Yes, he is that guy, doing all those game to movie remakes. Infamous filmmaker of titles such as BloodRayne, House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Dungeon Siege and just recently Far Cry, Tunnel Rats and Postal, Boll is the man featuring already six movies in the alltime bottom 100 movies at IMDB.com.

The Legend.Ed Wood
Recently he has gained somewhat of a cult status, with critics calling him the Ed Wood of the 21st century. Critics and haters started petitions on the holy internet, trying to convince Boll to just give up. In fairness I have to point out, that his very bad reputation has led to some loss of objectivity, concerning honest ratings of his movies. In my eyes some of his movies are by far not as bad as they are rated on IMDB. Uwe is making no fricking art here, but who is these days?

No matter how you think about his movies – rumours are that there are even a handful of loyal fans somewhere – the website avant*garde features a 50 minutes interview with Boll. Use your chance to meet Boll, already a legend while still alive (which is remarkable, if you think about all those death threats he gets every day).

Arthouse, Popculture and Mutiny on the Bounty
The interview features topics like Uwe Bolls idols, for instance he is talking about Orson Welles, Tarantino or Scorsese. He is a big fan of Scorsese’s early movies, like Taxi Driver, missing the drive of those films in Scorsese’s latest works. He is talking about the topic of arthouse movie making, especially concerning european filmmakers. Boll points out that all those more or less famous arthouse directors like Godard made one or two great movies, the rest being boring crap that really nobody wants to see (popculture vs highculture), even if those movies may be interesting from an artsy point of view. As a positive example for an interesting great arthouse filmmaker he mentions Buñuel – whom I personally love too. He Dungeon Siege.concludes that arthouse filmmaking is just to expensive, considering the fact that only very few persons enjoy those often hard to understand and challenging to watch kind of movies.

Only few movies today tend to produce interest for Boll. He loved the original part of Matrix for instance but hates all that big blockbuster stuff like Batman etc. His favourite film is Apocalypse Now, that shows the pure absurdity of war like no other movie. According to Boll he tried to achieve something similar (!= the same) with his new film Tunnel Rats whichsoever he claims to be anticommercial, portraying war as something containing absolutely no hope.

Boll started dreaming about movie making when he was only 9 or 10 years old, after watching Mutiny on the Bounty. What drove him at this point was his illusion that for making Bounty, the filmmakers really sailed on a ship as real pirates.

Boll versus Bay
The interview also sheds some light about Boll versus Michael Bay. Boll explained why he openly criticised Michael Bay, even leading to threats for legal action from Bay. Boll feels frustrated about the fact that he has to raise all the money for his movies by himself. After the film is in the can he feels like it is just too hard getting big distribution for his independent flicks, not to speak from nearly nonexisting promotional work from the distributors. Meanwhile Bay makes movies for 100-200 mio.$ even getting another 100 mio. $ for advertisement. In Bolls eyes Bay makes horrible sucky movies for that kind of money. Hence Boll lacks the understanding why Bay is still getting big money from studios after so many crappy movies like Pearl Harbour for instance. In Bolls opinion Bay fulfills the typical hollywood cliché as a choleric director, who thinks only in greatest terms of himself, meanwhile not even being able to speak with others persons while looking them into the eyes.

Boll also hates the fact that the european and american audience seems dumber and more undemanding than 20 years ago, only caring about those big and heavy advertised Friends.blockbuster films, “falling” for the tricks of the movie industry. Interesting enough, because Boll seems to target exactly the same moviegoers with most of his flicks. Money > all. Alas!

Actors and Stoic
He also talks about working with actors like Michael Madsen or Ray Liotta. He characterizes them as great actors, at the same time very difficult persons to work with. Personal, psychological problems of named actors according to Boll always brought tension to the set while actors like Udo Kier were always good for some jokes and a joy to work with.

Boll also presents a teaser for his most recent work Stoic, inspired by real events in the prison in Siegburg. The movie seems to be really hard and heavy, most lines of the movies were improvised by the actors which according to Boll even slept in the prison cell set. Besides all that Boll shows the viewer around his house and garden, presenting some old filmmaking gems from his own filmography stored in his cellar.

Boll Bashers
Finally he talks about all those critics and haters. From the beginning Boll saw filmmaking as a fight for him, nobody wanted him to make movies in germany. I can only second that, the industry in germany is somewhere between an exclusive club of boring pseudo-arthouse idiots and nonexistent. On his way to Hollywood he had to overcome many obstacles. Raising his own money making those movies was never a walk in the park for Boll. He came a long way, he takes the many bad reviews and haters only as another one of those obstacles.

Conclusion
It is good to see that Boll never lost his humour along that way. As controversial as his films may be, it is interesting to see who this guy Uwe Boll really is. It’s great to see that Uwe in Postal.he gives the viewer none of the typical Tinseltown PR chitchat. He talks out of the box and funny thing is: he seems like a straightforward and nice guy. I am not a great fan of his movies at this point, even if i watched alot of them but I am starting to become a fan of this person. What most critics seem to forget: he did this all by himself. His career never went the easy short way but he had to work hard to become what he is today: a filmmaker in hollywood. So no matter what people say: keep up that work Uwe, just do what you have to do.

Overall very interesting. Highly Recommendable. Watch this!

http://www.ws-avantgarde.de/visitinguwe/
(HD and SD)

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Brooks was here

The most ingenious, sad, tragic, best moment ever burnt on film. Period.

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