Ballon [Balloon] (2018)

Director: Michael Herbig
Writer: Kit Hopkins, Thilo Röscheisen, Michael Herbig
Cast: Friedrich Mücke, Karoline Schuch, David Kross, Alicia von Rittberg, Thomas Kretschmann, Jonas Holdenrieder, Tilman Döbler
Seen on: 6.10.2018

Peter (Friedrich Mücke) and Doris Strelzyk (Karoline Schuch) live in the GDR with their family, as do Günter (David Kross) and Petra Wenzel (Alicia von Rittberg). They would all like to leave the GDR, but exit is severely limited and they don’t have the right connections to get an exit visa. When they have the idea to fly across the border to West Germany in a home-made hot air balloon, they start the work. But their activities are noted by Seidel (Thomas Kretschmann) whose job it is to hunt down people who try to flee. And he is very good at it.

Ballon is an exciting, tense film that makes the repression in the GDR very tangible. I was surprised to get a film like this from Herbig who I only know as a comedy director – but it was in no way a bad surprise.

The film poster showing balloon silk burning.
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Boy7 (2015)

Director: Özgür Yildirim
Writer: Philip Delmaar, Marco van Geffen, Özgür Yildirim
Based on: Mirjam Mous’ novel which was also made into a Dutch film
Cast: David Kross, Emilia Schüle, Ben Münchow, Jens Harzer, Jörg Hartmann, Liv Lisa Fries
Seen on: 26.8.2015

Sam (David Kross) wakes up on subway tracks with no clue who he is or how he came to be there. He narrowly evades arrest, apparently he looks like a fugitive, and then tries to find out what happened to him. Following meager clues he finds Lara (Emilia Schüle) who also doesn’t remember who she is or who Sam is, and a diary that he seems to have written himself. A diary that tells him the story of an academy Kooperation X that deals with and educates gifted, but delinquent teenagers.

I pretty much stumbled on Boy7 by accident – I hadn’t even heard of the book before I saw a poster for the movie, nor did I know that there was also a Dutch film based on the same book that came out a couple of months earlier than this German version. But I thought it sounded right up my alley, so I gave it a try. And the film isn’t bad, even if it isn’t great or particularly innovative.

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Michael Kohlhaas (2013)

Michael Kohlhaas
Director: Arnaud des Pallières
Writer: Arnaud des Pallières, Christelle Berthevas
Based on: Heinrich von Kleist‘s novella
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Mélusine Mayance, Delphine Chuillot, David Kross, Bruno Ganz, Denis Lavant, Roxane Duran
Part of: Viennale

Michael Kohlhaas (Mads Mikkelsen) trades with horses. To reach the market he has to cross the lands of a young nobleman who doesn’t want to let him pass without a special document. Michael leaves him two horses as collateral and promises to return with it. But it turns out that there is no law that demands such a document and when Michael returns, it is to find his horses in a woeful state. He asks for justice in a legal manner, but all his requests are turned down and the repercussions are great. So he takes the law into his own hands.

Michael Kohlhaas is a slow film. Most of the time that makes it extremely atmospheric and gives the cast room to work, sometimes it means that it drags on a bit. But it is very worth watching.


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War Horse (2011)

War Horse
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis
Based on: Michael Morpurgo‘s novel
Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Kross, Niels Arestrup, Celine Buckens, Toby Kebbell, Eddie Marsan, Liam Cunningham

Albert (Jeremy Irvine) has fallen in love with his neighbor’s foal and is out of his mind with joy when his father (Peter Mullan) actually buys the by now grown horse. Unfortunately they can’t actually afford it. But Albert begs until his mother (Emily Watson) allows him to keep Joey and together they find a way. That is, until war breaks out and Joey is bought by Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) and shipped off to war. Will Joey and Albert ever find each other again?

This movie was so freaking long, I don’t even have words for it. And my 12 year old me would hate me for saying this but: there was just too much of this damned horse.*

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Same Same But Different (2009)

Same Same But Different is the newest movie by Detlev Buck, based on the book by Benjamin Prüfer and starring David Kross, Apinya Sakulyaroensuk and in a small supporting role Michael Ostrowski.

Benjamin (David Kross) decides to go on Holiday to Cambodia with a friend. There he meets Sreykeo (Apinya Sakulyaroensuk), a young Cambodian prostitute. They fall in love and Benjamin’s entire life, whether in Germany or in Cambodia starts to revolve around Sreykeo. But soon after, they find out that Sreykeo is HIV positive.

Same Same But Different is a nice movie. It is based on a real story, which makes it a little bit cooler than it would otherwise probably be, but altogether it is entertaining though nothing very special.

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The Reader (2008)

The Reader is the Oscar winning movie based on Bernhard Schlink‘s novel, directed by Stephen Daldry, written by David Hare and starring Kate Winslet, David Kross, Ralph Fiennes and Lena Olin.

Michael Berg (David Kross/Ralph Fiennes) is fifteen, when he meets Hanna (Kate Winslet), who is about 20 years his senior. They start having an affair and Hanna insists more and more that Michael reads to her. Their affair lasts for a summer, then Hannah disappears.
Michael goes on to study the law. When one of his teachers (Bruno Ganz) brings him to a trial of concentration camp guards, Michael recognises Hanna as one of the accused.
What ensues is a look at responsibility and guilt, pride and choices.

The movie is very well done, but it’s missing one essential thing: the personal connection. You don’t feel with the characters, you don’t care too much about them. All of the important things speak to your head – and that’s not enough to make for a really compelling film.


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Krabat (2008)

Krabat is a German movie based on one of the books (in English: The Satanic Mill) by Otfried Preußler, one of the more famous children/young adult authors from Germany. Though I loved his books as a child, Krabat somehow escaped my notice. (A situation I plan to rectify soon.) So, I can’t comment on the book itself.


It’s the 18th century. The 30 year war and the pest are plaguing the country, and Krabat took to the streets to beg for his livelihood. He and his friends go from village to village as carollers. But for three nights in a row already, he’s had dreams of crows, a mill and a voice telling him to come. He finally gives into his dreams. He arrives at the mill and gets taken on as one of twelve apprentices. Soon, Krabat finds out that he’s not only being trained as a miller, but also as a dark magician.

The movie is dark. It tackles themes, which are not easy and doesn’t make the mistake to pretend that they are. Death, friendship, love, power – it’s all there. Some critics say that the depth from Preußler’s book disappeared in the movie. I can’t agree. [Neither does Preußler, apparently. (German)]


The cast is mostly good: not surprisingly, Daniel Brühl acts his part convincingly and perfectly. Robert Stadlober does fine in his supporting role, but could have done with a little more character development (or time for that). Christian Redl, and even more so, Christian Redl’s voice are amazing as the master of the mill. Hanno Koffler as Juro is impressive. Unfortunately, the weakest cast member is David Kross, who plays Krabat. While his acting is mostly solid, but nothing special, in the last third of the film I couldn’t concentrate anymore, because he’d grown a moustache. And it was a moustache of the “wipe your face, there’s something on your upper l… oh, that’s nice! You’ve grown a beard!” variety, which drove me completely bonkers.


The best part about the movie were the special effects, though. Some, I admit, were a bit rugged like the CGI crows, Krabats transformation into a crow was a thing of beauty. And when I say a thing of beauty, I mean it was mind-bendingly, tears-in-my-eyes, I-want-to-see-it-again-and-again wonderful.

So, I really enjoyed it. I’d only recommend it to fantasy fans, though. I’ll tell you what I thought of the book when I’ve read it [Christmas holidays coming up, so that’s hopefully soon].