Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Film #2: What to do in case of fire (15)

Released: 2001 
Directed by: Gregor Schnitzler
Original title: Was tun, wenn’s brennt? (literal translation: What to do when it’s burning?)

During the 80s, six anarchist friends wreak havoc in Berlin, and the opening credits show them planting a bomb that never went off. Fast forward a few years, and said explosive is inadvertently set off by an estate agent hoping to sell the now derelict building. With the police vowing to catch the culprits, the friends – whose lives have taken varying turns – are forced to come together to try and cover their tracks. While a couple of them (including Til Schweiger, now a regular Hollywood face in films such as Inglourious Basterds and This Means War) have stayed true to their roots, others have settled down or “sold out”, but initial conflicts soon give way to the old feeling of solidarity. 

Even though I speak German, the subtitles were definitely helpful because at times the actors spoke too quickly or quietly for me. However, there were a couple of moments when non-German speakers could have had problems because the subtitles appeared before the actor spoke, and there was one two-minute stretch with no subtitles at all. 

Films that try to lend comedy to violence can tread a very thin line – they’re planting a bomb, after all – but the audience is obviously supposed to root for the protagonists and laugh at the police. Unsurprisingly, events are given a typical cinema shine, and most of the actors are far more aesthetically pleasing than their real-life counterparts would have been. The reviews on the IMDb website offer interesting perspectives from viewers who actually lived in Berlin during the 1980s. As long as you’re not looking for an accurate historical depiction of the time and the place, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

A quick hello

No film review this week, but I just wanted to share some interesting film-related things that I've been watching and reading this week.

First up, there's Mark Kermode's interview with Stephen Spielberg from 2006 for BBC's The Culture Show.

Thanks to the good people on Twitter, I also came across the following articles:

- The art of the film subtitler at The Globe and Mail

- The Making of Hollywood Languages at ucsdguardian.org

Hope you find them as interesting as I did ...

Friday, 19 April 2013

Film #1: The Silence (15)

Released: 2010
Directed by: Baran bo Odar
Original title: Das Letzte Schweigen (The Last Silence) 

I decided to start with something I watched recently, although I should perhaps have started with a more uplifting film (this does tackle a pretty unpleasant topic). 23 years ago, a young girl named Pia was brutally assaulted and murdered. In the present day, another crime is committed that seems to mimic the case down to the very last detail. Along with the detectives investigating the disappearance of young Sinikka, the film focuses on those involved in the original case and a man named Timo, who is desperately trying to forget an event from his past.

This is a character study, not a procedural thriller, although The Silence does contain some familiar tropes: the mother who keeps her house as a shrine to her deceased daughter, the retired policeman who lost his marriage to the case and has still not forgiven himself for failing to catch the killer, and the damaged detective who has recently returned to the force with a questionable mental state. However, the calibre of the actors and a slow-moving, almost dreamlike feel stops the film from descending into cliché. 

Some of the actors in this film – such as Katrin Sass, Burghart Klaussner and Sebastian Blomberg – are veterans of the German film industry and will pop up fairly regularly on this blog. Personally, I think a special mention needs to go to Wotan Wilke Möhring as Timo. As yet I have only seen Möhring in one other German film, a romantic comedy called Männerherzen (lit.: Men’s Hearts) with which I was less than impressed. Here, he is simply fantastic.

The film was recently shown on BBC Four and is available from at least some online rental outlets. Let me know what you think! 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Let's get started ...

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Sarah and I am – and always have been – a huge film fan. From watching cartoons as a child, I soon developed a love for James Bond (although it would be a few more years before I understood the innuendo), Indiana Jones and everything else the world of movies had to offer – although I have to admit that I’m not too keen on Westerns and I am slightly squeamish, so that rules out most of the horror genre.

Nowadays, I work with languages as a translator and proofreader from German to English, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoy world cinema. But the one thing that sometimes frustrates me is the huge difference in the number of foreign-language films that are subtitled and released in UK cinemas. Compared with films in French and Spanish – and even Japanese and Korean, thanks to the surge in popularity of Asian horror movies – German-speaking countries are pretty poorly served.

And so my blog was born. Every week or fortnight, I will write about the best German films available with English subtitles, and maybe even highlight films that aren’t (but should be) available to English-speaking audiences. I’d love to hear your recommendations!