The Wrestler / At the movies Jan 2009

Went to watch The Wrestler yesterday, Orange Wednesday and all that. It was going to be Slumdog Millionaire but it was too busy, and there was no way I was going to be able to take my McDonald’ses out of my jacket pockets and scoff them with so many people around.

The movie was engaging and different; it exceeded my expectations because I thought I knew the story and so it would drag on.

A brief synopsis of the plot:

The tale is set in Nazi Germany (as all good films with Oscar pretensions have to be). A much-decorated officer Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) in the Waffen-SS falls in love with Hanna Schmitz, a Dutch girl from a Jewish family (Kate Winslet), but he is sent by Wilhelm Keitel on an expedition to Bombay (Mumbai) in India to capture an elusive and endangered rare Mammoth Walrus nicknamed ‘The Wrestler’ (Mickey Rourke in an eye-watering performance. Literally.) Wandering through the slums of Bombay, Claus hears a fable from local quiz-show host Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor) and realises that the walrus is a very curious case indeed. It is aging backwards, and instead of getting older it is getting younger everyday. This of course is causing all sorts of problems in its relationship with its mate Daisy Fuller (Cate Blanchett as a very convincing female walrus).

Amongst the highlights of the film are the gory 3D effects when a defiant Tuvia (Daniel Craig) emerges from the East European forest hideout he shares with other Jewish war refugees and gets a pickaxe lobbed into his face.

Some or all of the above may be untrue.

Das Leben der Anderen

Or ‘The Lives of Others’

A German movie about living in East Germany before the Wall came down.

The Stasi is all-pervading, and people watch what they are saying. A writer and his actress girlfriend (“Künstler” or “artists”) are put under surveillance under the supervision of a Stasi officer, who while eavesdropping slowly gets involved and starts to question the system he serves.

The film twists and turns, especially toward the end, but rather than an outlandish plot it’s the depth of character portrayal that really grabs the viewer, with a brilliant mood setting for pre-1989 DDR. Much darker than another great recent German movie set in the same time and place, Goodbye Lenin.

Top notch film, captivating and essential viewing.

Cloverfield

Ok, saw the film, definitely not going to buy the t-shirt.

What is it with these fucking bi-pedal slavering mutant monsters attacking New York but not finishing it off?

The whole pic is about Godzilla(tm) giving birth to little Aliens(tm), shot from a Handycam(tm) by a person who has no reason to be at the scene, in fact has every reason not to be at the scene, and who, although fortuitously catching almost all the action on video also manages to give a running commentary of what is happening off-camera even as monstrous-jawed Godzillitas are running around on the ceilings and nibbling on his gonads.

I seriously didn’t buy in to that belief system, and a pathetic use of Deus ex-machina of a sort I thought.