World War Z (Max Brooks)

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is a novel by Max Brooks.

World War Z operates on the premise that 10 years after the decade-long Zombie World War, an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission publishes a book with interviews he did with various key-figures in said war from around the world. This interviews do not make for one continuous narrative but paints a picture of the war through many little international mosaic pieces.

I didn’t think I would like World War Z as much as I did. Yes, I heard many good things about it, but I’m usually not really the person for political or military fiction, and this is both. But I’m glad to say that I fretted for nothing, because I really loved World War Z.

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The Grey (2011)

The Grey
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer: Joe Carnahan, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
Based on: Ian Mackenzie Jeffers’ short story “Ghost Walker”
Cast: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale

Ottway (Liam Neeson) works for an oil company as a huntsman – protecting the workers in Alaska from various natural threats like wolves. Unfortunately, one night the company plane crashes and Ottway finds himself stranded with a few other workers in the freezing middle of nothing. As they make their way south, it’s not only the cold and lacking provision that is a problem, though. They are being followed by an especially vicious pack of wolves that picks them off one by one.

I expected this movie to be awesome: I expected Liam Neeson to punch wolves and be a hard-ass and generally, I just wanted a mindless action flick. Unfortunately what I got instead was a meditation on how a man is supposed to die and it was so. incredibly. boring.

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Et si on vivait tous ensemble? [And If We All Lived Together?] (2011)

Et si on vivait tous ensemble?
Director: Stéphane Robelin
Writer: Stéphane Robelin
Cast: Guy Bedos, Daniel Brühl, Geraldine Chaplin, Jane Fonda, Claude Rich, Pierre Richard
Part of: Festival du film francophone

Jean (Guy Bedos) and Annie (Geraldine Chaplin), Jeanne (Jane Fonda) and Albert (Pierre Richard), and Claude (Claude Rich): the five of them have been friends for ages. Then Claude has a heart attack, Albert’s starting dementia is becoming more and more apparent and Jeanne gets a rather devastating diagnosis, and they decide that it would be perfect if they all lived together. Joining them is the young anthropologist Dirk (Daniel Brühl) who wants to write his doctor thesis about their project. But living together doesn’t only have advantages and things do get a little tricky.

Et si on vivait tous ensemble? is a funny, sweet and touching movie about getting old that brings a fresh aspect to a topic that is rarely mentioned. I loved it.

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George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011)

George Harrison: Living in the Material World
Director: Martin Scorsese
“Cast”: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Jane Birkin, Tom Petty, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector, Ravi Shankar, Pattie Boyd, Dhani Harrison, Olivia Harrison, George Martin, Jackie Stewart, Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann

George Harrison: Living in the Material World is a documentary about the Beatle George Harrison. Through interviews with his friends, family and colleagues, it looks at his role in the group itself, but also his life after the Beatles, his search for meditation and inner truth, his career as a solo-artist and his family life until his death in 2001.

They showed the two parts of this documentary at once – altogether 208 minutes – and admittedly that got a little long. But it’s a fascinating piece of film with interesting perspectives.

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My Week with Marilyn (2011)

My Week with Marilyn
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Adrian Hodges
Based on: Colin Clark‘s autobiography The Prince, The Showgirl and Me
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, Judi DenchZoë Wanamaker, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Emma Watson, Derek Jacobi

Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) dreams of working in the film industry. Since his parents are well connected and know Vivian Leigh (Julia Ormond), and because he’s rather talented, he gets the chance to work with Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) on his newest film, The Prince and the Showgirl. The star of the film is Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Things don’t go too well with her in the film, but Marilyn takes a shine to Colin.

My Week with Marilyn has great, great potential. Unfortunately, it’s also stuck with the most pointless main character. Still, you kind of appreciate the film for what it could have been.

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Tsigoineruwaizen [Zigeunerweisen] (1980)

Director: Seijun Suzuki
Writer: Yôzô Tanaka
Based on: Hyakken Uchida‘s novel Sarasāte no ban
Cast: Yoshio Harada, Naoko Ôtani, Toshiya Fujita, Michiyo Ohkusu, Kisako Makishi

Aochi (Toshiya Fujita) goes on vacation where he meets his old colleague Nakasago (Yoshio Harada). They decide to party together and meet the young geisha Koine (Naoko Ôtani) who recently lost her brother. 6 months later, Nakasago gets married to Sono, a woman who looks just like Koine. But Nakasago is not the guy to stay at home. Soon the two men find themselves intrigued by their respective wives.

Tsigoineruwaizen is so not my kind of movie. It’s like a David Lynch film, only without anything that draws you in and keeps you interested. I probably would have walked out of the cinema after an hour or so, if I hadn’t been sitting in the middle of the row. Instead I just slept.

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Spanien [Spain] (2012)

Director: Anja Salomonowitz
Writer: Anja Salomonowitz, Dimitré Dinev
Cast: Tatjana Alexander, Cornelius Obonya, Grégoire Colin, Lukas Miko, Wolfgang Bachofner

Sava (Grégoire Colin) wants to get to Spain but unfortunately his smuggler gets into a car accident and Sava is stranded in the middle of fuck-all, Lower Austria. In the meantime an officer of the immigration police, Albert, (Cornelius Obonya) has completely lost his shit after he and his wife Magdalena (Tatjana Alexander) separated – and he’s still stalking her, while Magdalena fights for her freedom. And then there’s Gabriel (Lukas Miho) who slowly loses his entire family’s funds to his gambling addiction. But how do all of their stories come together?

Spanien is not completely bad, but it is an entirely uneven endeavor. Interestingly enough, it is so in all areas – from set design to acting to writing.

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Une vie meilleure [A Better Life] (2011)

Une vie meilleure
Director: Cédric Kahn
Writer: Catherine Paillé, Cédric Kahn
Cast: Guillaume Canet, Leïla Bekhti, Slimane Khettabi
Part of: Festival du film francophone

Yann (Guillaume Canet) is a young cook searching for his career break when he meets the waitress Nadia (Leïla Bekhti). They like each other and soon the two of them and Nadia’s son Slimane (Slimane Khettabi) are growing into a family. By chance, they stumble on an abandoned building that would be perfect for a restaurant. They decide to buy it, even though they don’t really have any money. The debts keep amassing and Yann and Nadia get in deeper and deeper.

The film is intriguing, but completely depressing and the ending feels like one huge cop-out. But the worst thing of all: probably for the first time in his life, Guillaume Canet wasn’t sexy.

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Iron Sky (2012)

Iron Sky
Director: Timo Vuorensola
Writer: Michael Kalesniko
Based on: Johanna Sinisalo‘s story
Cast: Julia Dietze, Götz Otto, Christopher Kirby, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul, Udo Kier

In 2018, the President of the United States (Stephanie Paul) sends two men to the moon – a PR measure that’s supposed to ensure her re-election. But upon arrival, the two discover that there are Nazis on the dark side of the moon who have been hiding there since the end of World War 2. James Washington (Christopher Kirby) gets captured, experimented on and finally, Klaus (Götz Otto) the aspiring Führer and Renate (Julia Dietze), scientist and his fiancée return to earth with James to finally retake their home planet.

If you’re not excited by the words “nazis on the moon”, then you probably won’t enjoy this film. But if you, as I did, think that this is THE MOST AWESOME THING, then you’ll love it.

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Burgtheater [Burg Theater] (1936)

Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Werner Krauss, Hans Moser, Hortense Raky, Olga Tschechowa, Karl Günther, Willy Eichberger (aka Carl Esmond)

Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss) is the star of the Viennese Burg Theater. The eccentric and basically socio-phobic star. He has the prompter Sedlmayer (Hans Moser) take care of most of his social interactions. Even when he meets the young Leni (Hortense Raky) who finds really charming, he relies on Sedlmayer to establish contact. With these social skills, it’s no wonder that he doesn’t notice that Leni is head over heels for the aspiring actor Josef (Willy Eichberger). When Leni finds an invitation for the Baroness Seebach’s (Olga Tschechowa) weekly party for the rich and famous at Mitterer’s place, she steals it without thinking and gives it to Josef, setting quite a few things in motion.

I really enjoyed Burgtheater. It’s funny, charming and entertaining. And the cast is absolutely excellent .

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