Author: Redhead at the Movies

Flights of Fancy

Overview: 23-year-old Simon deals with first love while his father Hans, a brilliant architect, relapses into paranoid, schizophrenic behaviors that make Simon’s home feel like a tenuous, toxic insane asylum. 2014. 90 minutes. Roxy Film / Movienet Film (Germany). Screened at: Kino! Festival of German Films 2015 in NYC, on April 16th. Meh-lodrama: From the very opening of the film, it seems like what we’re going to get from Flights of Fancy (original title: Hirngespinster) is a sometimes sweet and sentimental, sometimes emotional and difficult to watch family drama. The film was, at times, difficult to watch, but not because of its...

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Who Am I – No System Is Safe

Overview: A young, mostly meek computer whiz named Benjamin (Tom Schilling) joins an ambitious group of amateur hackers who struggle to go above and beyond their usual pranks to be taken seriously both within the Darknet as well as in the real world…until things get dangerously out of hand in both realms. 2014; Sony Pictures Releasing (Germany); Screened at: Kino! Festival of German Films 2015 in NYC, on April 13th; 105 minutes. “Foreign Mainstream”: Who Am I is an engaging, fast-paced thriller about cybercrime in modern-day Germany. It’s a twisty and tautly told story — non-linear, highly-stylized and therefore totally enthralling —...

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Is It Still Fun?: Gremlins

Just this past August, I participated in Forgotten Films’ 1984-themed blog-a-thon, and I couldn’t resist picking Gremlins as a forgotten favorite of mine to write about. It’s a weird, quirky gem of a film that shouldn’t be as deviously fun as it is. For letting its freak flag fly, it goes down in pop culture history as a weird genre mash-up of creature-horror and crazy-comedy and defies easily definable demographics. In fact, it helped give rise to the PG-13 rating. But is it still as fun as it used to be? Before I answer that, I have to bring up one...

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Happy Birthday, Ron Perlman: Hellboy and Beyond

Ron Perlman has over 200 acting credits on his IMDb page, mapping a prolific, productive career that spans three decades. A classically trained actor, he’s lent his talents to stage and screen and his larger than life presence to television and film, and he’s even done voice work for video games and cartoons. From his turn as Vincent the lion-man in the short-lived cult hit television series Beauty and the Beast in the late 80s, to his work as Hellboy, arguably his most recognizable and iconic role, Perlman has garnered a loving fan-base and has cultivated a career out of playing unconventional characters — tortured creatures with intensely human qualities no matter what their exteriors convey to the contrary. Perlman is an anomaly of an actor — willing to play the most strange, obscure parts at times, and talented enough to play them well and make them both fascinating and relatable to us. His friendship with Guillermo del Toro, which started when they worked together on Cronos (1993), is arguably what led Perlman to his eventual, more mainstream fame, specifically the aforementioned Hellboy (2004). Literally no one else could have played this part, or at least, they could not have played it as effectively and the whole project would have suffered. It may seem easy to try and reduce a celebration of Perlman’s career to an examination of this character alone,...

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Abandoned Goods

Overview: This eloquent essay film is about the Adamson collection of 5,500 works of art created by long-term patients of Netherne psychiatric hospital in Surrey after World War II. The collection was more or less neglected and has since been rediscovered, its reputation rejuvenated by the recognition it has received in the art world. Fly Film Company; 2014; 37 minutes. A Tricky History: There is something inherently delicate about depicting life in psychiatric hospitals and asylums in film, and documentary film carries with it its own challenge of doing a subject justice and taking a stand without exploiting or perverting...

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Good Bye Lenin!

Overview: In October of 1989 in East Berlin, a matriarch and socialist-party loyalist has a heart attack and falls into a coma. One month later, the Berlin Wall falls, and she sleeps as the nation she knew and loved changes completely. When she unexpectedly wakes up in 1990, her devoted, beloved son Alex (Daniel Brühl) is determined to recreate communist East Berlin for his mother, for fear that the shock of finding out the truth would kill her. Germany, 2003. 121 minutes. X-Filme Creative Pool/Sony Pictures Classics. History Lesson: First and foremost, I firmly believe that this movie transcends personal...

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Wild Tales

Overview: Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at last weekend’s Oscars, Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) is comprised of 6 stories of varying length and complexity, dealing with revenge and excess, centering upon humans who act on their dark, violent, absurd urges when pushed just beyond the limit. Argentina, 2014 (US 2015). 122 minutes. Sony Pictures Classics. Sin and Surrealism: The stage is set for a darkly comic thrill ride from the very first story: a short and simple but deeply satisfying opening in which a group of passengers on a plane find that they’ve all been brought together for...

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The Oscar Hates Horror: Genre Filmmaking’s Awards Season Absence

Diversity was a big issue surrounding this year’s Oscars. This year’s awards season was exciting on one hand because it veered further into lower-budget, lower-grossing indie fare than ever before, but on the other hand, it was more white and masculine than it has been in years, proving that the Academy especially is starting to think forward in certain respects but devolve into old, bad habits in many others. I’m not here to talk about race and gender diversity though, as much as I agree that it matters. For the purpose of this post, I instead want to bring...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #32: Pontypool

Film: Pontypool Released in 2008 Directed by Bruce McDonald Ponty Up Pictures / Shadow Shows , IFC Films (US Distribution) Summary: Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is a talk radio shock-jock looking to create a little on-air edge, until he is given more than he’d bargained for when a sinister and mysterious virus of sorts spreads and wreaks unknowable, inexplicable havoc throughout their previously quaint Ontario town. My horror-loving co-worker recommended this film to me and I was instantly intrigued by the premise, then remembered that it was also one of the items we’d offered in our #HAElloween giveaway back...

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Heritage and Homeland: Turkish-German Relations in German Cinema

Heimat— the German word for homeland. It is a word that is fraught with anxiety and double-meaning for the Turkish population of Germany. And, as a result, Heimat as it pertains to Turkish immigrants living in Germany is a theme throughout German cinema. The five exemplary films I’ve thought of for this post raise questions of homeland, identity, destiny, and duty for the Turkish people who were once, and perhaps in certain ways still are, displaced within a nation that is culturally and linguistically far away from their own– and yet who, with every passing generation, have come to consider Germany as somewhat of a home. Since these examples are German films, of course, they raise just as many questions about how the presence of Turkish people in Germany has shaped German history and German cultural identity. I think the relations between Turks and Germans within Germany are so fascinating and important, and yet I do think the films that explore these relations only make up an oft-overlooked subsection of German cinema. So, I’m here to highlight this subsection, starting with: Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland (2011) This isn’t necessarily the most well-known of these five films. (I actually watched it in Berlin during my semester abroad there.) But Yasemin Samdereli’s comedy Almanya – Welcome to Germany is a beautifully told story about three generations of a Turkish immigrant family,...

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Is It Still Great?: 10 Things I Hate About You

I know there are some classic teen movies from the 1980s (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982) and certainly from the early 2000s (Mean Girls, 2004) but I still say the 1990s were the peak of the high school set subgenre, at least in terms of prevalence. My favorite of this decade, and possibly of the entire subgenre, was always 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). When “Is It Still…” became a feature here, I realized that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to step back and ask myself why I’d loved this movie so much—...

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George A. Romero: Birthday of the King of the Undead

There are some filmmakers who are so iconic, so important, and so beloved to me that I could write about them and their work endlessly. George A. Romero is such a filmmaker, and to celebrate his 75th birthday, I will now proceed to gush over him— one of the horror genre’s greatest heroes— and his achievements as I would on any other day, really. Because his films are not simply entertaining, and they’re not merely political, either: they’re both, and they’re more than that, too. They’re inventive and inspiring. They’ve become classic landmark moments in the birth and evolution...

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Human Capital

Overview: Italy’s entry into this year’s Foreign Language Film Oscar race tells the story of two families, each grappling with ambition, secrecy, desire and greed. Both forever linked by the hit-and-run accident from which this non-linear, multi-layered drama unspools. Limited US Release 2015. Unrated. 110 minutes. US Distribution: Film Movement. He Said, She Said: The film, serving as a kind of Rashomon for modern day bourgeois Italy, is broken up into precise chapters, each highlighting a different individual’s side of the story. But rather than just focusing on “the story” at hand— the whodunit mystery surrounding the hit-and-run—the multiple...

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January: Cinematic Winter Wasteland or Awards Season Distraction?

January, despite being my birthday month, is kind of the worst: it’s cold, it snows, the new year’s resolutions are already falling to the wayside, and, worst of all, there’s only so much escapism from all of that which we can find at the movies during this time of year. I first noticed this about 10 years ago or so, when I had the oh-so-brilliant idea of having a movie theater birthday party. It was one of the Underworld films, and needless to say, it wasn’t good. Everyone was pretty eager to get out of the Goth stupidity happening...

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The Man, The Legend, and Oh the Horror: Happy 50th Birthday, Rob Zombie!

About ten years ago, I went through what most teens and pre-teens of the Hot Topic era go through—a faux punk rock phase, replete with stud belts and unsubstantiated angst. I outgrew the fashion and most of the music, thank goodness, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still miss my Devil’s Rejects messenger bag or my Captain Spaulding tee shirt, both of which have long since been worn out. They’d served as more than just staples of my highly-constructed look, after all—they were vehicles with which to display my admiration of horror icon Rob Zombie, and...

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