The Infidel (2010)

The Infidel
Director: Josh Appignanesi
Writer: David Baddiel
Cast: Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Archie Panjabi, James Floyd, Yigal Naor, Amit Shah, Matt Lucas

Shortly after Mahmud’s (Omid Djalili) mother dies, he – a not particularly devout but believing muslim, well-integrated into the local muslim community – finds out that he was adopted. Not only that, Mahmud was born Jewish. That discovery throws him into a bit of an identity crisis, especially when the local rabbi (Matt Lucas) refuses that he can see his natural father before he has learned at least the basics of Judaism. So Mahmud swallows his antisemitic tendencies and enlists the help of cabby Lenny (Richard Schiff) to teach him. And as if that wasn’t enough, at the same time Mahmud’s son Rashid (Amit Shah) and the entire family have to appear particularly devout so that Rashid’s fiancée’s stepdad Arshad (Yigal Naor), an extremely conservative religious leader, gives his consent to their marriage.

I really enjoyed The Infidel. The film manages to treat religion respectfully but not be so awestruck that you can’t point out religious shortcomings – a rather difficult tightrope walk. But above all, it is funny, very well written and has an excellent cast.

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Puss in Boots (2011)

Puss in Boots
Director: Chris Miller
Writer:  Tom Wheeler, David H. Steinberg, Brian Lynch, Jon Zack
Based on: Charles Perrault‘s character and the Shrek movies to which it is a prequel
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Guillermo del Toro

Puss (Antonio Banderas) is a talented thief who has set his eyes on the magic beans, currently in the possession of the criminals Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). But when he tries to steal them, he crosses paths with the mysterious Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). Kitty is working with Puss’ former best friend Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) who is obsessed with the magic beans – and the goose that lays golden eggs to which the beans lead. And so the three of them throw their lots together to best Jack and Jill.

This movie could and should have been better than it actually was. It was not totally bad but it left me with a vague sense of unfulfilment.

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Alle sieben Wellen [All Seven Waves] (Daniel Glattauer)

Alle sieben Wellen is the sequel to Gut gegen Nordwind [which has been translated to Love Virtually] by Daniel Glattauer.

Plot (with spoilers for Gut gegen Nordwind):
Gut gegen Nordwind ends with Leo ending the online relationship with Emmi by basically fleeing the country to the USA, after Emmi’s husband finds out about them. Nevertheless Emmi can’t stop thinking about him and continues to send mails to his now defunct address. But one day instead of a mail delivery failure message, she gets a reply from Leo, who is back in the country. And despite Emmi’s husband and Leo’s new girlfriend, Emmi asks that they finally meet in person.

I have to admit that this book is more inhaled than actually read – it takes only a couple of hours to finish (and I’m not a particularly fast reader). Which is actually a good thing because I don’t think I would have liked it as much had it gone on much longer. But it’s short and nice and altogether fine.

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A Feast for Crows (George R. R. Martin)

A Feast for Crows is the fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. [Here my reviews of the other three books.]

A Feast for Crows continues the storylines of the characters who remain in the South of the Seven Kingdoms and in Dorne. While the number of Kings fighting over the Iron Throne is greatly decimated, the game of thrones is far from over.

Despite A Feast for Crows not having most of my favorite characters (Daenerys, Tyrion, Bran, Jon), I enjoyed it as much as I did the other books. Other characters just took over as favorites. And it was a surprisingly quick read for such a massive book.

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Leo Putin and the Wet Seduction

And so it continues. (Maybe it will become an annual thing, but I won’t promise anything.) And it’s this picture’s fault:

As usual: I’m not saying that anything of what I write below actually happened. Though Leonardo DiCaprio and Vladimir Putin are real persons, I don’t know squat about them or their personal life, but I’m reasonably sure that there is nothing to ‘ship there. This is a work of fiction with a dash of satire and should be seen that way.

Brace yourselves.

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New York … November (2010)

New York … November
Director: Gerhard Fillei, Joachim Krenn
Writer: Gerhard Fillei, Joachim Krenn
Cast: Matthew Mark Meyer, Claudia Vick, Sal Giorno

Bruce (Matthew Mark Meyer) tries to rob a bank, which ends disastrously. Shot, he makes his way to New York where he goes into hiding. But he receives the diary of a strange woman from his ex-girlfriend Maria (Jimena Hoyos). He doesn’t know how she found him or why she sent him the diary in the first place but he gets caught up completely in the woman’s description of an orchard in Colombia that seems strangely familiar.

New York … November is an Austrian movie project that took 12 years to finish. While I admire the tenacity I also kind of wished that they never had finished after all – since the movie is a pretentious, boring piece of film that makes you feel like you lost 12 years of your life just watching it.

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Bombay Beach (2011)

Bombay Beach
Director: Alma Har’el
Part of: This Human World

The movie is a documentary about Bombay Beach, one of the poorest communities in California. It follows Benny Parrish, a young boy who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, CeeJay Thompson, a high school student who hopes for a football scholarship and Red, a frail older man who lives off the cigarettes he sells. Mixed in between are dancing scenes set to the music of Beirut and Bob Dylan.

I went into the film fearing that it would be too exhaustingly artsy for me, that I would be annoyed by Beirut (who I like, but only in small doses and very selectively) and that I’d generally wouldn’t like it. But the concept of mixing documentary with dance intrigued me enough to give it a try anyway. And I’m very glad I did, it’s a beautiful film.

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Kari-gurashi no Arietti [Arrietty the Borrower] (2010)

Kari-gurashi no Arietti
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa
Based on: Mary Norton‘s novels
Cast: Mirai Shida, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Shinobu Ohtake, Keiko Takeshita

Arrietty (Mirai Shida) and her family are borrowers – little people living beneath an old house, living off the stuff they “borrow” from the humans. Their first rule is to stay hidden and not let people see them, since they’ve had very bad experiences with humans – they are also the last of the Borrowers. But when Shô (Ryûnosuke Kamiki), a recovering young boy, moves into the house, he sees Arrietty – and they become friends of a kind.

The movie was, unfortunately, way too long to be enjoyable. It had very sweet moments that I liked a lot, but it should have been a good half hour shorter. Despite it being a very pretty film, I just didn’t connect with it.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Director: Bill Condon
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg
Based on: Stephenie Meyer‘s book
Sequel to: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Anna Kendrick, (and for way too little time: Michael Sheen, Christopher Heyerdahl, Jamie Campbell Bower, Dakota Fanning)

Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are finally getting married and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) even stops sulking long enough to talk to Bella for five minutes, before Edward whisks her off to their own private honeymoon island. Within a few days, Bella realizes that she is pregnant. Since Edward is a vampire that should be impossible. And that’s only the beginning of the trouble.

Breaking Dawn was pretty much what you’d expect it would be – only that I undererstimated the amount of alcohol I would need to get through it and then we hit the birth and I wasn’t drunk yet and then we hit the imprinting and I had to beg aber_karramba for some of hers because I was all out. [See also.]
But apart from that, given the source material, the film wasn’t actually that bad.

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Carnage (2011)

Director: Roman Polanski
Writer: Yasmina Reza, Roman Polanski
Based on: Yasmina Reza‘s play
Cast: Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet

Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly) invited Nancy (Kate Winslet) and Alan (Christoph Waltz) to their apartment after their respective sons got into a fight with each other. While they discuss how to take it from there, the tensions keep on rising. So they soon forget what originally brought them together, and the four of them start to tear into each other.

I very much enjoyed Carnage. It’s bitter, but in a very funny way. It was excellently written and even better acted. I would love not to like Polanski’s movies (what with him raping a child and fleeing prosecution) but unfortunately, this film is pretty damn good.

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