ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – B – The Baader Meinhof Complex (2009)

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“If you throw a stone, it’s a crime. If a thousand stones are thrown, that’s political. If you set fire to a car it’s a crime; if a hundred cars are set on fire that’s political.” – Ulrike Meinhof

Number of Times Seen – Twice (5 Jul 2009 and 2 Jun 2019)

Brief Synopsis – During the late 1960’s, a group of German students begin a movement against the government which they see as fascist

My Take on it – This is a film that I saw nearly a decade ago and din’t remember much of it.

They d a fascinating job telling this dark tale in a very sensationalizing way that helps sow how these things came to be.

The broad scope of actions that the RAF participated in during the late 1960’s and onward for nearly a decade is quite vast and they needed to make a crucial decision here as to whether to omit certain parts yet expand on others or try to abbreviate all of the events in order to even find a way to stretch things into 2 and a half hours.

Things sometimes feel a bit rushed yet they still manage to give us an overall portrait of the things that happened.

The character development is a bit strange since a few of the main characters are developed really well while others feel too superficial the entire time.

This film manages to find a way to capture the essence of this group and at the same time constantly bombard us with the age old question as to where is the fine line between freedom fighter and terrorist.

This is still a subject of ongoing debate despite the 5 decades since the RAF was established.

The choice to leave some crucial plot points very ambiguous works really well since there s no clear evidence ether way as t where the real truth lies and the unanswered questions seem to be actually asking for proof from the authorities as to the truth.

This film does a great job showing how this terrorist group differed from the ones run by their Arab counterparts.

The classic scene on the rooftop while training which shows the Germans scantily clad (or less) in order to get some sun is albe to say so much by the depiction here and is a testament to the various motivational difference between the two factions.

Bottom Line – Fascinating film that tells a very dark story by sensationalizing things. The scope of the actions of the RAF during the late 60’s and onward for a decade is quite vast and even a 2 and a half hour film is unable to do it complete justice because it needs to rush through many of the terrorist events in order to cram it all in. Some of the characters are developed really well while others seem a bit too superficial. The film manages to capture the essence of this group and constantly makes us ask the question about where is the fine line between revolutionary and terrorist which is still being debated more than 50 years after the start of the RAF movement. I liked the way that they leave a few important details ambiguous since it allows the debate to continue but since there isn’t any true evidence to support either side, it’s understandable why they would leave some questions unanswered.  The choice to show the various social and nationalistic differences between them and their Arab counterparts, this film has some great scenes with them together which speaks so much about the differences in motivation between the two groups. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – As an immediate reaction to the movie, Ignes Ponto, widow of Jürgen Ponto, whose assassination is portrayed in the movie, returned her Federal Cross of Merit. She was angry that the Federal Republic of Germany has never even created a memorial for victims of the RAF, but instead helped to finance films like this one about the members of the RAF. Also, she said, she had not been warned about the graphic portrayal of Ponto’s assassination when she was invited to the movie premiere and felt humiliated by the producers for making her sit through this without a warning. About a month later, she filed a lawsuit against the producers, who claimed that every scene is historically accurate, because the assassination of her husband, which she had to witness from the next room, was not portrayed as it happened. She demands the scene of the murder of her husband be cut from the movie. The filmmakers claim that they had tried to contact her during production to get the scene right but she had no desire to cooperate. Before this movie, there had been no portrayal of Ponto’s assassination on film and she felt the staging of the movie was lurid and dishonoring to her husband. As of this writing, no decision has been reached about the lawsuit. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10)

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Morgan Freeman Weekend – Going in Style (2017)

Director: Zach Braff

Writer: Theodore Melfi (Screenplay) Edward Cannon (Story)

Starring: Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman, Matt Dillon, Joey King, Christopher Lloyd, Ann-Margret

 

Plot: Desperate to pay the bills and come through for their loved ones, three lifelong pals risk it all by embarking on a daring bid to knock off the very bank that absconded with their money.


Tagline – You’re never too old to get even.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Comedy

 

Story: Going in Style starts when Joe (Caine) learns his mortgage payments have trebled, forcing him to talk to confront the bank, this sees him witness a bank robbery, to make matters worse his best friends Albert (Arkin) and Willie (Freeman) are all going to lose their pensions.

Facing a future with no money, the three decide to rob a bank only to get enough to cover what they would be owned and not super rich, which leads them to head down a path meeting the criminals of the world as they try to solve their own problems.

 

Thoughts on Going in Style

 

Characters – Joe Harding has worked his whole life, he has his own home where he lets his struggling daughter and granddaughter live to help with their job and education, this becomes difficult when he learns that he might lose his home after a mortgage hike. He sees a bank robbery happen and decides it is the best option for the friends to get the money they are about to lose. Willie is about to lose his pension, he is sick and needs a transplant, he wants nothing more than to be able to spend time with his family, who are on the other side of the country. Albert is the reluctant member of the friends, but once he learns about where his pension is going he jumps at the chance to get even. We do meet the family they are working to help, though the film never creates a human villain, it is the idea of the bank being the villain.

PerformancesMichael Caine is always a man that can lead a heist movie, this is no different has is smooth delivery gets to poke fun, while remaining strong through the film, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin continue the old man humour which Arkin is has made himself the star of this genre.

StoryThe story follows three elderly men that decide to rob the bank that has been taking the money they haven’t earnt fairly in life. We get to see how a heist is planned out, with the comedy coming from just how the speed element is going to be more difficult for anyone of their age. We see them turning to the life of crime for a good reason and only going after what they need to survive. Having them being honest men who had never thought of turning to crime makes the story stand out too because we can support their actions through the film. This may not be the most original or realistic, but it does entertain.

Comedy/Crime The comedy is mostly a mix of old man humour which surrounds the different actions the three must go through, it works and will get the required laugh. The crime side of the film follows how the robbery is planned and just how they aim to get it done without hurting anyone or getting caught.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn, the bridge shows us that these men have lived through the rise of the area, a place that they call home.


Scene of the Movie –
The alibi.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The cops are made to be dumb.

Final ThoughtsThis is an entertaining crime comedy that has a strong cast that know they are having fun as the film unfolds.

 

Overall: Enjoyable Crime Comedy.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – B – Birth of the Dragon (2016)

Director: George Nolfi

Writer: Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson (Screenplay)

Starring: Philip Ng, Yu Xia, Billy Magnussen, Simon Win, Ron Yuan

 

Plot: Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, BIRTH OF THE DRAGON is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between an up-and-coming Bruce Lee and kung fu master Wong Jack Man – a battle that gave birth to a legend.


Tagline – The Fight That Created The Legend

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not the Most Effective Biopic

 

Story: Birth of the Dragon starts in 1964 San Francisco, where Bruce Lee (Ng) has started his own kung-fu academy with students including Steve McKee (Madnussen) and Vinnie Wei (Yin), he has just started to move into filming his fight sequences and always looks after his student’s mental vices too.

When one of the masters from China Wong Jack Man (Xia) visits to see the how Kung Fu is being used in the western world, he is guided around town by student Steve who wants to learn off him too. The showdown between the two is going to go down in legend.

 

Thoughts on Birth of the Dragon

 

Characters – Bruce Lee is the legend we know, in this film he is only in the early stages of teaching kung-fu to Americans, not the most popular decision within the kung fu community. He is cocky, arrogant and will help his students through any problems. He is moving into movies, filming his fights, but first he must prove himself to a former master. He believes he can win any fight he is put in using the kung fu skills he has learnt through the years. Wong Jack Man is a master of kung fu, visiting from China to learn how the Americans are using his skill. He is also punishing himself for his action back home, putting himself back into a position of needing to learn the reason of using kung fu. Steve McKee is the American that has been training under Bruce, but he becomes fascinated by Wong Jack Man’s visit wanting to learn more from his skills, while trying to win the heart of a Chinese local woman.

PerformancesPhilip Ng is solid enough with the fighting side of the film, but he does make Bruce look like a terrible person. Yu Xia is the best of the performers, the calmness he brings to the characters makes us want to see more of his characters life. Billy Magnussen did have his role cut back, which doesn’t help his performance because he does feel like the main character in this film.

StoryThe story follows one of the masters of kung fu going to America to witness the new wave of kung fu being taught be Bruce Lee before they both get caught up in the middle of a gang war, needing to see just who is the best. This is meant to lead up to one of the most controversial fights every reported, only it makes Bruce Lee out to be an arrogant man and uses the stereotypes of gang mentality to give us a mostly traditional and dull story to follow. The story also gives up on its own main character getting completely lost in the story it is telling through the film.

Action/BiopicThe action involves the basic of kung fu which we have seen before, only feeling anti-climatic when it comes to the showdown between the legends.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which for the time would have been one of the locations the Asian community would have first been bring the kung fu teachings to America.


Scene of the Movie –
The club fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The showdown was billed to be more.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action biopic that doesn’t give us enough details of the iconic Bruce Lee, doesn’t deliver on what is being promised and fails to make us connect to the characters involved.

 

Overall: Disappointing biopic.

Rating

 

 

Burning (2018)

Director: Chang-dong Lee

Writer: Jungmi Oh, Chang-dong Lee (Screenplay) Haruki Murakami (Story)

Starring: Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun, Soo-Kyung Kim, Seung-ho Choi, Seong-kun Mun

 

Plot: Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.


Tagline – Now Tell the Truth

Runtime: 2 Hours 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burning Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Burning starts when Jongsu (Yoo) working part time in the delivery job he bumps into an old neighbourhood schoolgirl Haemi (Jun) who asks him to look after her cat while she travels to Africa. Jongsu has his own problems though, with his father facing jail time, leaving him the small farm to operate.

When Haemi returns, she brings the mysterious Ben (Yeun) the only other Korean she meets in Africa, he is older, richer and has a laidback attitude to life unlike most of the Korean’s Jongsu has met. When Ben revives that he has a secret hobby, Jongsu’s life takes a drastic change, as he gets drawn into this world.

 

Thoughts on Burning

 

Characters – Jongsu is a simple delivery boy that is trying to figure out a way to help his father out of his prison sentence, while this is going on he looks after their small farm, until he meets Haemi, who opens up his world to something new, until she goes missing he starts to look at life the way Ben taught him. Haemi is the girl from the neighbourhood Jongsu grew up in, she asks him to look after his cat while she travels, she returns with a new man which sees him start to become jealous, until she vanishes. Ben is the mysterious man that Haemi returns with, he is wealthy, older and has a secret hobby unlike anybody else, Jongsu starts to become fascinated in his ideas of the world, which leads him down a dangerous path. These three characters are the main ones that we meet, we barely get into any supporting characters, with every shot being focused on what Jongsu is seeing.

PerformancesAh-in Yoo in the leading role is fantastic to watch, he keeps our attention to his characters decision making by showing us the emotional journey he must go on. Steven Yeun is the biggest global name in this film because of his time on the Walking Dead, he brings the confidence that his character requires to make him feel mysterious throughout the film. Jong-seo Jun brings the bubbly energic performance the film requires from her character with ease.

StoryThe story here follows a delivery boy that reconnects with a former school friend who ends up bringing him into a world with a mysterious stranger, who teaches him something new about the life he enjoys. This is a slow burning (no pun intended) story that builds up the tension in the life of Jongso as he must piece together what might have happened to Haemi after she vanishes, he must also deal with his own person problems after his father is facing jail time, showing the uncertainty of his future. We get plenty of time to build everything up, which in places does drag along at times, though this does lead to the explosive conclusion of the story.

MysteryThe mystery elements are bought to us by wondering just what could have happened to Haemi with Jongsu desperately trying to learn the truth and not having any leads to truly follow.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to create some of the most beautiful shots in film in 2018, we see how the busy city can bring people together and the open spaces can give them peace from the world.


Scene of the Movie –
The Meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is longer than it needs to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is slow burning story that does delivery everything it promises, it has brilliant performances that control the film which is a joy to watch.

 

Overall: Burns bright.

Rating