Another Day in Paradise (1998)

Another Day in Paradise
Director: Larry Clark
Writer: Christopher B. Landon, Stephen Chin
Based on: Eddie Little‘s book
Cast: James Woods, Melanie Griffith, Vincent Kartheiser, Natasha Gregson Wagner, James Otis, Peter Sarsgaard
Part of: Road Movie Special at the Filmmuseum

Plot:
Bobbie (Vincent Kartheiser) and Rosie (Natasha Gregson Wagner) are young, in love, drug addicts and criminals. After a break-in that goes pretty badly for Bobbie, they meet Mel (James Woods) and his girlfriend Sid (Melanie Griffith). Mel sees potential in Bobbie and kind of adopts him – to use him for robberies and drug deals, introducing him into the “big league”. What at first seems to be a functioning, if morally dubious ersatz family soon gets out of control when they encounter problems with the drug deals.

Another Day in Paradise is a tight film with an excellent cast. It’s not perfect but it tells its story very well.

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The Driver (1978)

[The movie was part of the road movie special at the Filmmuseum.]

The Driver was written and directed by Walter Hill and stars Ryan O’Neal, Bruce Dern and Isabelle Adjani.

Plot:
The Driver (Ryan O’Neal) drives getaway cars for robberies and he is very good at his job. But The Detective (Bruce Dern) is already close on his heels. The Detective catches a gang of criminals and makes them hire The Driver to catch him in the act. Even though The Driver is suspicious, he goes along with them, but he hires The Player (Isabelle Adjani) to distract the police.

When I went into the film, I was expecting a good action flick, but I got a dose of Teh Stoopid. I was so extremely bored by this movie. It’s pretty crappy, but unfortunately, the moments where it actually crosses into craptastic territory are very few and rare.

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Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

[The movie was part of the road movie special at the Filmmuseum.]

Stranger Than Paradise is a film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring John Lurie, Eszter Balint, Richard Edson and Cecillia Stark.

Plot:
Willie (John Lurie) lives in New York and gets by on more or less legal endeavors together with his friends Eddie (Richard Edson). One day he gets a visit from his Hungarian cousin Eva (Eszter Balint). And Eddie is immediately smitten. After Eva leaves, Willie and Eddie get some money from betting on horses and they decide to travel and visit Eva in Cleveland in turn.

Weird, weirder, Jim Jarmusch. Stranger Than Paradise is Jim Jarmusch’s first big film and it already has all the trademarks of his work. I guess you have to like his style. I do and I loved the film.

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Solyaris [Solaris] (1972)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum. They showed the film in comibination with Deimantas Narkevičius’ Revisiting Solaris in his presence and in the presence of Natalya Bondarchuk. Both also gave short talks about the respective films.]

Solyaris is Andrey Tarkovskiy‘s arguably most famous movie, based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem, starring Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Jüri Järvet and Vladislav Dvorzhetsky.

Plot:
The psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) is sent to a space station which orbits the planet Solaris. Weird things have been happening there and Kelvin is supposed to look into it and see what’s going on. His assessment will decide whether the whole Solaris project should be continued or not. As soon as Kelvin arrives on the space stations, he finds his dead wife Hari (Natalya Bondarchuk) in his bed: apparently Solaris is trying to communicate with him through her.

Solaris is a very slow movie with a lot of seemingly unrelated sidenotes and little dialogue. This does not make for easy viewing and it will probably never become my favorite movie, but it was good to have seen it anyway. If only for Natalya Bondarchuk.

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Dr. Strangelove is a movie by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel Red Alert by Peter George, starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden and James Earl Jones.

Plot:
Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) manages to launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union all by himself. Since the American government headed by President Muffley (Peter Sellers) doesn’t actually want a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, they frantically try to abort the command.

I have to admit that I was barely conscious when I saw this film. I had been too much to the cinema and I was stressed and tired and I kept falling asleep during the movie – even though I enjoyed the hell out of it.

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Demonlover (2002)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Demonlover is a movie by Olivier Assayas, starring Connie Nielsen, Charles Berling, Chloë Sevigny and Gina Gershon.

Plot:
The Wolf Corporation are planning their big entry into the anime porn market. Diane (Connie Nielsen), who works for Wolf, “insinuates” herself with quite hard measures into the negotiations. Together with her colleague Hervé (Charles Berling) she flies to Tokyo to close the deal. But we soon discover that Diane not only works for Wolf, she’s also on the payroll of a competitor. But in the world of corporate espionage, it’s never quite clear who works for whom.

The film starts out fine, but after the first half it slowly spins out of control and into meaninglessness. The film tries to be profound but ultimately confuses the audience too much to achieve much of anything. At least the cinematography and the production design were very nice.

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Pervye na Lune [First on the Moon] (2005)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Pervye na Lune is a mockumentary by Aleksei Fedorchenko, starring Boris Vlasov, Viktoriya Ilyinskaya, Viktor Kotov, Anatoli Otradnov and Aleksei Slavnin.

Plot:
In 1938, Russia built a rocket sent their first manned mission to the moon and were therefore the first to arrive on the moon. But following that success, a series of problem arises and the story of the rocket and its astronaut Ivan Kharlamov (Boris Vlasov) is seemingly forgotten. Until video footage turns up and a team of journalists decides to make a documentary: the movie we’re seeing.

Pervye na Lune worked wonderfully. There’s much attention to detail and even if you don’t know your Russian history (welcome to the club), it’s very enjoyable and told with a nice sense of humor.

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Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1992)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America is a 50-minutes-movie by Craig Baldwin, narrated by Sean Kilkoyne.

Plot:
In the year 1000, aliens from the planet Quetzalcoatl fled to earth, where they started to live underground, bothering no-one. But in the 1950s, the aliens are disturbed by the Atomic Bombs testings – and they start to attack with doppelgangers, killer bees and all kinds of other conspiracies.

Tribulation 99 sounds great on paper – a fake documentary made completely with footage from other movies, building a grand unified conspiracy theory about aliens? That has got to be awesome, right? Wrong. Unfortunately this movie is too frantic for its own good.

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Strange Days (1995)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Strange Days is a film by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, William Fichtner.

Plot:
1999: Lenny (Ralph Fiennes) is a former cop who now makes his money by selling discs that can be inserted into the so-called SQUIDs: machines that can record everything a person experiences and can play it back to somebody else so that they experience it themselves. These recordings are illegal, and often record illegal things happening. Lenny’s life is pretty pathetic, he barely makes enough money to survive and he still dreams of his ex-girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis). The only constants in his life are his friends Max (Tom Sizemore) and Mace (Angela Bassett). In the middle of the world preparing for the new millenium, Lenny stumbles upon a conspiracy somehow involving Faith.

Strange Days is a pretty fantastic movie. The cast is great, the ideas interesting and even though the camera moves practically all the time, it never gets too shaky. The weakest point is the script, though – the big twist at the end is way too obvious, most of the characters are a little flimsy and the dialogue hurts a bit sometimes.

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Dni zatmeniya [Days of Eclipse] (1989)

[Part of the Science Fiction special in the Vienna Filmmuseum.]

Dni zatmeniya is Aleksandr Sokurov‘s loose adaptation of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky‘s novel Definitely Maybe, starring Aleksei Ananishnov, Eskender Umarov and Vladimir Zamansky.

Plot:
A small town in Soviet Turkmenistan: the young, promising doctor Malyanov (Aleksei Ananishnov) is writing on a paper about juvenile hypertension and its correlation to old believers. [Or something like it.] But strange things start happening around him. He receives a crab from someone, his neighbor Snegovoy (Vladimir Zamansky) is killed, but when he visits him in the morgue, they have a talk and his best friend Vecherovsky (Eskender Umarov) is behaving weirdly, too.

Oh boy. This movie really doesn’t make a lick of sense. I probably would have walked out of it if I hadn’t promised to meet friends afterwards. It’s just one giant sequence of What the Fuck.

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