Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Film #4: The Edukators (15)

Released: 2004
Directed by: Hans Weingartner
Original title: Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (literal translation: The fat years are gone)

Jan (Daniel Brühl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) express their anti-capitalist sentiments in a rather unique way. They break into the homes of the rich, but don’t steal anything. Instead, they rearrange the furniture and leave behind one of two messages ­– “You have too much money” or "Your days of plenty are numbered” – hoping to spook them into reflecting on their lives. But when Jan lets his feelings for Peter’s girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) get the better of him, things soon spiral out of control.

Struggling with her finances following a car accident, Jule convinces Jan to help her break into the house of Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner), the millionaire who could afford to wipe out her debts completely if he stopped for a moment to think about the 'little people’. The smallest mistake brings together two worlds whose philosophies could not be more different.

This is quite a ‘talky’ film with plenty of political debate, as young, poor idealists confront the older, successful businessman who might have been just like them once upon a time. While this may be a bit of a cliché, I think it’s done well here. And as the characters' likeability fluctuates, the outcome may not necessarily be obvious. All four of the main actors bring a really natural feel to their roles, and the handheld shots are used sparingly.

At the moment, I’d say that this is one of my favourite German films. What do you think?

Friday, 10 May 2013

Film #3: Lore (15)

Released: 2012
Directed by: Cate Shortland

This week I’ll be reviewing a more recent film that will be available to rent in the UK from 13th May 2013. Lore is a loss-of-innocence tale set against the backdrop of Germany’s defeat by the Allies. Left alone with her four younger siblings following the imprisonment of their Nazi parents, Lore must negotiate a war-torn Germany to reach their grandmother in the north. After being helped by a mysterious stranger, Lore is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe.

If you like films with plenty of action, you might find yourself fidgeting in your seat. This is a beautifully shot, thoughtful piece that captures the personal and general devastation wreaked by the Second World War. Shots of the countryside are interspersed with brief, shocking images, and the director seems particularly drawn to long shots of moving legs and feet, the main character’s journey being both geographical and philosophical.

Saskia Rosendahl does a great job in the title role. Lore is completely unprepared for a world in which people are now ready to do whatever it takes to survive, and at the same time has to reconcile her previous world view with her new experiences and her burgeoning sexuality. All of this lends the proceedings a sense of unease, as no character can ever truly be trusted, and the film ends on a note that makes it very clear that things will never be the same again.