Europa Europa (1990)

Europa Europa
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Writer: Agnieszka Holland
Based on: Solomon Perel‘s autobiography Ich war Hitlerjunge Salomon
Cast: Marco Hofschneider, André Wilms, Ashley Wanninger, Klaus Abramowsky, Delphine Forest, René Hofschneider, Julie Delpy, Hanns Zischler, Martin Maria Blau, Bernhard Howe, Klaus Kowatsch, Holger Kunkel, Halina Labonarska
Seen on: 19.8.2021

Content Note: holocaust, anti-semitism, fascism, sexualized violence

Plot:
Solomon (Marco Hofschneider), called Sally, lives with his Jewish family in Germany, but with the rise of the Nazis, the situation becomes ever more dangerous for them. After his sister is killed, the remaining family makes its way to Poland, hoping to be safe there. When the Nazis come to Poland, too, Sally becomes separated from the rest of his family. He first finds shelter in a Russian school, but after the Nazis catch up with him there, too, he doesn’t have many options left. When he finds himself face to face with German soldiers, he tells them that he is a “Volksdeutscher”, member of a German minortiy in Poland, and since his language skills prove him to be a valuable interpreter, he is taken in. But it’s not that easy to pretend that he isn’t Jewish.

Europa Europa gives us an important perspective on World War 2 – one on what it could mean to simply survive, and how hard even the “lucky” persecuted people had it. It’s a really memorable film with a memorable protagonist.

The film poster showing Solomon (Marco Hofschneider) leaning over Leni (Julie Delpy) to kiss her.
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Die Piefke-Saga (1990, 1993)

Die Piefke-Saga [Piefke is a derogatory term Austrians use for Germans]
Director: Wilfried Dotzel, Werner Masten (Part 4)
Writer: Felix Mitterer
Cast: Dietrich Mattausch, Brigitte Grothum, Ferdinand Dux, Sabine Cruso, Ralf Komorr, Kurt Weinzierl, Veronika Faber, Tobias Moretti, Josef Kuderna, Gregor Bloéb, Hans Richter, Brigitte Jaufenthaler, Doris Goldner, Barbara Weber, Ludwig Dornauer, Peter Kluibenschädel, Sascha Scholl
Seen on: 24.+26.2.2021

Content Note: racism, (critical treatment of) sexism

Plot:
The Sattmann family from Berlin – father Karl-Friedrich (Dietich Mattausch), mother Else (Brigitte Grothum), grandfather Heinrich (Ferdinand Dux) and the children Sabine (Sabine Cruse) and Gunnar (Ralf Komorr) – have been coming to Tyrol for their holidays for years, always staying in the same hotel run by Franz Wechselberger (Kurt Weinzierl), who also happens to be mayor, and his wife Christel (Veronika Faber). The Wechselbergers know that their village is dependent on the German tourists. But Franz’ brother Hans (Hans Richter) fears what the increasing tourism means for the nature in Tyrol. So he brings his journalist friend Holleschek (Sascha Scholl) to write an article about the German tourists which is less than flattering. The article comes out just as the Sattmanns arrive for their summer holidays – and they will not let that insult stand.

Die Piefke-Saga is a four part miniseries of quite some renoun in Austria. The first three parts were shot together, the fourth part was made three years later and is very different from the first three. But all of them are pretty enjoyable.

The series poster showing the six main characters in the drawing of a suitcase.
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Tremors (1990)

Tremors
Director: Ron Underwood
Writer: S.S. WilsonBrent Maddock
Cast: Kevin BaconFred WardFinn CarterMichael GrossReba McEntireRobert JayneCharlotte StewartTony GenaroAriana RichardsRichard MarcusVictor Wong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 1.10.2017
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Plot:
Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) do a little bit of everything around the small town of Perfection, Nevada, in the middle of the desert. They are ready for a change, but that change comes in a very different way from what they expect when they and the entire town come under attack from giant snakes that burrow underground. Suddenly the entire small population of Perfection has to fight for their survival.

I know that Tremors has gained quite a cult-following, but maybe it needs the nostalgia factor to really see why that’s the case. I saw it for the first time at the /slash and I thought it was nice, but I didn’t love it.

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Child’s Play 2 (1990)

Child’s Play 2
Director: John Lafia
Writer: Don Mancini
Sequel to: Child’s Play
Cast: Alex VincentJenny AgutterGerrit GrahamChristine EliseBrad Dourif, Grace ZabriskiePeter HaskellBeth GrantGreg Germann
Seen on: 9.9.2017
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Plot:
After what happened, Andy (Alex Vincent) is separated from his mother – who is put in psychiatric care – and now lives with a foster family mother Joanne (Jenny Agutter), father Phil (Gerrit Graham) and their teenage daughter Kyle (Christine Elise). Things should be settling down, but Chucky (Brad Dourif) doesn’t just give up, and after he finds himself reconstructed by the toy company, he’s dead-set on claiming Andy’s body for his own.

I didn’t love the first Child’s Play, but it worked. But Child’s Play 2 was a case of “less would have been more” and I thought it was a step down from the first one.

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Misery (1990)

Misery
Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: William Goldman
Based on: Stephen King‘s novel
Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall

Plot:
Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is a successful author. He became famous writing a series of novels about Misery, but he’s had enough of her. In his latest, soon to be published book, he killed her off and just finished his first none-Misery book, when he gets into a car crash. He is pulled out of the wreck by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), his self-professed number one fan. But it’s only when Annie discovers that Misery dies that the actual degree of Annie’s obsession becomes apparent.

It is obvious why Misery really put Kathy Bates on the acting map. She owned that film and stole every scene she was in. Altogether it’s a really strong film with a tense atmosphere that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

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Die Hard 2 (1990)

Die Hard 2
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Steven E. de Souza, Doug Richardson
Based on: Walter Wager‘s novel 58 Minutes
Sequel to: Die Hard
Cast: Bruce Willis, William Sadler, John Amos, Dennis Franz, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnsonWilliam Atherton, Robert Patrick, Franco Nero

Plot:
John McClane (Bruce Willis) travelled to DC with his kids to visit his in-laws for Christmas. His wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) is on the plane and on her way to join them, so John is waiting at the airport to pick her up. Also en route to the airport in DC is General Esperanza (Franco Nero), a drug lord being extradited to the US. As Holly’s plane is delayed, John stumbles upon a plan by Colonel Stuart (William Sadler) to free Esperanza and tries to stop them.

Die Hard 2 is not a bad sequel, but I didn’t think it was as good as the first one. And as the first one already left me pretty cold, this one didn’t do much for me either.

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Re-Watch: Total Recall (1990)

Total Recall
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writer: Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Gary Goldman, Jon Povill
Based on: Philip K. Dick’s short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, Marshall Bell

Plot:
Douglas Quail (Arnold Schwarzenegger) would be happily married to Lori (Sharon Stone), if it wasn’t for a recurring dream where he’s on Mars with a mysterious woman. He decides to confront this dream by going to Rekall Inc., a company that provides real-seeming memories of vacations in the most exotic places – like Mars. But the Rekall treatment triggers actual memories and suddenly Doug finds himself in the middle of the revolution on Mars as a spy.

I had completely forgotten how absolutely campy and gory this movie is. That completely makes up for the rather lackluster performances. It’s amazingly fun to watch. Plus, they actually improved the original story.

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Troll 2 (1990)

Troll 2
Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writer: Claudio Fragasso, Rossella Drudi
Cast: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Margo Prey, Connie Young, Robert Ormsby, Deborah Reed, Jason Wright, Darren Ewing, Jason Steadman, David McConnell
Part of: /slash Filmfestival Creature Christmas

Plot:
The Waits family go on holidays by switching houses with a family in the small town of Nilbog. But their son Joshua (Michael Stephenson) is anxious, especially since the ghost of his grandfather (Robert Ormsby) keeps warning him about goblins. So while the father (George Hardy) and mother (Margo Prey) try to get settled and the daughter Holly (Connie Young) is busy with her boyfriend problems, Joshua’s attempts to save the family from the goblins who want to turn them into plants to eat them all grow increasingly frantic. And rightly so.

Troll 2 is legend. Supposedly the worst film in the world, I really had very high expectations of its suckiness. Astonishingly, these expectations were more than surpassed. Every time I thought, “This movie can not get any worse/entertaining”, they somehow managed to up the game. This movie really is a piece of art. Deliciously bad art.

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It (Stephen King)

I’m a big Stephen King fan, and yet have never read his two main works (at least to me they seem to be his main works) – It and The Dark Tower series. Now, I finally reduced this list to The Dark Tower series and finished It.

I liked it, a lot. It’s definitely one of his stronger books. The story itself goes about in the usual Stephen King way, the book does not. I liked the structure of the novel, the way he switches between 1958 and 1985. And of course, his writing style, as usual, is very, very good.

But the biggest and strongest point from the book are his characters. I liked all of the Losers’ Club (L. asked me, which character I liked best. I told her “Ben”, which was immediately followed by an internal outcry of “What about Bev? Bill? Stan? Mike? Richie? Eddie?”).

Unfortunately, his characters were also one of the weakest points. I don’t know why he went with seven kids, because he really focuses and characterises only on 3, maybe 4 of them, leaving the others kind of empty, compared to the density of the others. If that makes any sense.

But what gets me every time I read a King novel, is how well he knows people. I mean, all of the characters are so real, so thoroughly thought through, so logical in their own ways. Even if they are more sketched than anything else.

I think that’s part of why his books are so scary: Because everything else is so real that you can see it, that you feel like you know it, the fantastic elements don’t seem to be so fantastic anymore.

After having read the book, I finally also watched the movie. I was unimpressed.

The special effects sucked, but okay, it’s almost twenty years old (holy shit, it’s already almost twenty years old). So I won’t hold it against them.

What really bothered me, was that they changed things from the book I didn’t think it was necessary to change (why is the cycle 30 years in the movie and about 27 years in the book? Was it really so hard to explain why Stan killed himself, so they had to explain it differently in the movie, making him kind of less Stan-like? etc). On the other hand, they left things from the book in the movie I didn’t think necessary (like the banana-heels episode. It never came up afterwards, in the movie).

What I did like was the way they tried to keep the time-jumping structure from the novel (even though they didn’t go through with it to the end). Although I do think that the way they connected the adults and children sometimes was a bit too much. I got that young Bill and old Bill where the same person (and I think that you’d get it as well if you hadn’t read the book), without them making the same overly theatrical gesture while the pictures blend into each other.

I loved Tim Curry, he was great. I was really surprised [in a good way] to see Seth Green and Jonathan Brandis, I didn’t know they were in there. [Okay, Jonathan Brandis is not really well known, but I had a major crush on him when I saw Neverending Story II. And I just looked his page up on the imdb, and he killed himself five years ago. That’s so horrible…]

Well, I guess I can sum it up with: The book is sooo much better: it’s extraordinary. The film is a run of the mill horror shocker with an eighties feel to it.