Film Review: IN THE FADE (Aus dem Nichts) (Germany/France 2017) ****

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In the Fade Poster
Trailer

Katja’s life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.

Director:

Fatih Akin

Writers:

Fatih Akin (written for screen by), Hark Bohm (author) (co-writer)

 

Director Fatih Akin broke into the film making scene with small films on gypsy music.  He has come a long way since with his new film IN THE FADE.  IN THE FADE stars top German actress Diane Kruger, which won her the Best Actress Prize at Cannes in 2017.  She totally deserves it and IN THE FADE is an incredible film that attests Akin’s prowess as a filmmaker.  The film also tackles the current problem in the world of racism and prejudice, looking at the face of neo-Nazism.  The film is named after a song by the American rock band Queens of the Stone Age, whose lead singer, Josh Homme, wrote the film’s score.

The film opens in a prison setting.  The inmates are cheering a prison wedding where Kurdish inmate, Nuri Sekerci is being wed to German Katja (Kruger).

The story moves to the present in Hamburg, when Nuri is out of prison and has a business in helping the needy.  They now have 5-year old son.  Katja met Nuri when she bought hasish from him.  Since the birth of their son Rocco, Nuri has quit drug trafficking, studied business administration while in jail, and now works in Hamburg at a translation and tax office.

Akin shocks the audience with the sudden death of Nuri and his son by a bombing, just when one expects Nuri to be the main protagonist, similar to the Janet Leigh character being killed off in PSYCHO.  No doubt an old trick, but one that still works.  It turns out that the killers are neo-Nazis.  After they are acquitted, despite damming evidence, Katja decides two things.  There is no purpose in her life and longer and that she wants justice and revenge.  No more should be said of the plot to prevent any spoilers.

Akin’s IN THE FADE moves along smoothly with nary a dull moment.  He succeeds by inserting various different events like the courtroom drama, the impact on Katja of both her parents and parents-in-law, her sister’s pregnancy and daughter and her own turmoil.  One does admire Katja’s strong character though she breaks down doing drugs at several points in the film.  But it shows the strength of her love for both her husband and child.  This is revisited in home footage she views of her son and husband at the beach, the segment that finally cracks her up.

A different look at the law is also observed.  The investigating officer initially is biased against her because of her husband’s racial background, but he eventually takes her side at the court hearing.  Her lawyer, Danilo Fava (Denis Moschitto) is also sympathetic, always probing her on, and never to give up on justice.  Any romantic involvement between the two is halted immediately with the line Fava utters that he has to drive his kid to kindergarten the next morning.

IN THE FADE is also this year’s German entry for the Best Foreign Film entry at the Academy Awards.  A good choice.  It just won the Golden Globes Prize for Best Foreign Film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyjnzhXJlHU

 

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Film Review: PADDINGTON 2 (UK/France/USA 2017) ****

Paddington 2 Poster
Trailer

Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.

Director:

Paul King

Writers:

Paul KingSimon Farnaby 

Stars:

Ben WhishawHugh GrantHugh Bonneville

PADDINGTON the livable British bear that wears a trench coat, Wellington boots and red hat, returns with another big adventure. The first (2014) PADDINGTON film was wonderful and made a whole lot of money. PADDINGTON 2 also directed by Paul King has already been released worldwide grossing $134 million and nominated for Best British film for the this year’s new BAFTA (British Academy Film and Television Awards) to be hosted by Joanna Lumley, who also has a cameo in PADDINGTON 2.

PADDINGTON 2 is live-action/CGI animated comedy film directed by Paul King and written by King and Simon Farnaby, based on the stories of the character Paddington Bear created by Michael Bond. The film is dedicated to Bond. Ben Whishaw provides the voice of Paddington, with Imelda Staunton the voice of Aunt Lucy.

The story involves Paddington, who is now settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens. Paddington has become popular in his community, offering people emotional support in various ways. In order to purchase a unique pop-up book of London in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington performs several odd jobs and saves his wages, but the book is stolen, and the culprit escapes, resulting in Paddington being accused of the crime and arrested. Although Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent) does not believe that Paddington stole the book, with no evidence that the thief existed, Paddington is wrongfully convicted and jailed.

Besides the known Paddington characters , the script includes two lively new ones. One is the villain of the piece, Phoenix Buchanan ( a price performance by Hugh Grant), a faded and narcissistic theatre actor now doing doggie food commercials looking for a comeback. He steals an antique pop-up book that Paddington wants to buy as a birthday present for her Aunt Lucy while framing Paddington in the process. His performance is camp, funny and totally winning. Make sure you sit for the entire closing credits as Grant performs his musical number in prison after he credits roll. As Buchanan sys, “This is a success because of the captive audience.” Grant won a BAFTA nomination here for Best Supporting Actor.

The second lively character is Nuckles with a capital N. It is in prison that Paddington befriends many of the inmates, including the short-tempered chef Nuckles, who hires Paddington, impressed by his marmalade sandwich recipe. Paddington is at first warned by all the inmates about Nuckles but Paddington insists that there is some good in everyone, as Aunt Lucy says. The inmates respond that it is obvious Aunt Lucy has never met Nuckles. Irish actor Brendan Gleeson who has proven himself apt at both drama and comedy is perfect as Nuckles, who proves himself finally a worthy friend to the bear.

PADDINGTON has all the ingredients of a solid family film with good values, humour, with and excitement. The climatic train segment with a chase on top of the train is both fun, clever and exciting. Everyone proves his worth, including Paddington’s adopted father, Harry Brown (Hugh Bonneville). It is also great to see Sally Hawkins as Mary Brown. Hawkins is always goodie anything and her expressive words and smile brings additional charm to the film.

PADDINGTON 2 is a total delight from start to end.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52x5HJ9H8DM

Film Review: GLORIOUS VICTORY (USA, Animation)

 A colorful two minute animation short coming out of the US and directed by Will Kim GLORIOUS VICTORY tells the story of two beatles fighting over a fruit. Without dialogue, and with simple images- there is an incredibly effective use of “body language” in the story. Although our fighting beatles do not have human faces to display their feelings, their emotions are palpable as they fight for their prize- and to the victor go the spoils.

But winning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be- when the final victor claims his fruit only to have it fall from the tree, we see that ants can spoil more than just a picnic.

A piece with action and colorful to delight any crowd, and of course a message about pride before the fall, GLORIOUS VICTORY is a sure-to-please piece for all ages.

 

Short Film played at the ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2017

Review by Kierston Drier

GLORIOUS VICTORY, 2min., USA, Animation 
Directed by Will KimGlorious Victory is an animated short film about two beetles fighting over a fig fruit which leads both of the beetles to complete disaster. Will Kim uses watercolor to tell a story of ambition, greed, and selfishness with an original soundtrack composed and performed by Tatenori Hamasaka.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES (Canada, Animation)

  This bright and startlingly unique two minute Canadian Animation is filled with strong visuals and symbolism. The story is incredibly simple, yet undeniably compelling- our hero, the cool alley Cat simply retells his life know musician ‘Ol Man Blues.

Although we never get the details, there is an unmistakable undertone that Blues and Ally Cat are rough and tumble, hijinks creating machines. The audience only ever gets the cliff notes of what was sure to be a long and laughter-filled friendship.

PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES leaves you wanting more- because you know there is more to be told. Like getting a piece of chocolate when you want the whole bar, this film is sweet enough to enjoy at it’s length- but just interesting enough for you to want more. A fantastical piece indeed.

 

 

Short Film played at the ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2017

Review by Kierston Drier

PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES, 2min., Canada, Animation
Directed by Susan ShulmanCool alley cat meets old blues musician and they tour together

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: ONCE AND DONE (USA, Animation/Documentary)

 At times funny and often shocking, ONCE AND DONE is the story of one man’s run in with the law and his troubled and traumatic time in prison. With honesty and good-humor our hero recounts his horrors but also his lessons learned.

Although our subject has a clearly troubled past and has had issues with the law, he is undeniably loveable. Perhaps it is the natural tendency we have to love a reformed-anti-hero, or because our subject is so clearly dedicated to making a better life for himself.

ONCE AND DONE is a delightful film- because it shows the slice-of-life of an every-man who made a handful of bad choices and is ready to learn from them.
It’s an important demographic to give voice to- and his voice is worth hearing.

ONE AND DONE will make you laugh, make you feel and might just even make you think about how everyone deserves redemption.

 

Short Film played at the ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2017

Review by Kierston Drier

ONCE AND DONE, 3min, USA, Animation/Documentary
Directed by Jacob PettitThis is the true story of Jeff as told by Jeff, who faces the repercussions of his choices, and learns from his mistakes.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: PINK BUBBLES (Taiwan, Animation)

 A film with a deep and intrinsic stillness and beauty, held up by an emotional and powerful score, PINK BUBBLES is a visually alluring and moving film. Our gentle whale protagonist is lured towards the beautiful pink bubbles floating in the water towards it.

Believing them to be the whale music similar to other whales they’ve seen in the area, our hero rushes towards it- only to discover a dark and terrible secret.

The most powerful films are simple. PINK BUBBLES does not need intense dialogue or raucous music or mind-boggling stunts to be a captivating piece. It is visually fluid, beautifully composed, gorgeously rendered and profoundly meaningful. A short, simple and heart wrenching piece. A short not to miss.

 

Short Film played at the ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2017

Review by Kierston Drier

PINK BUBBLES, 3min., Taiwan, Animation 
Directed by Pei Yao Pink Bubbles is a short 3D animation about a lonely whale looking for a companionship. Diving underwater, this whale has been ignored by other whales because their calls are on different frequencies. As he is a fighter, he never gives up on finding someone who can understand him. His longing leads him to a tragic end.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Film Review: BARRY THE BLOBFISH (USA, Animation)

  This two minute short is a delight for young and old alike. BARRY THE BLOBFISH, an American film directed by Marleia A Alfaro is simple and effective, delivering its’ story with heart and ease.

Barry, our melancholic blobfish at the bottom of the shallow sea floor can’t get to the top reef no matter what he does. Depressed that he can’t get to his friends, he begins to cry- but then his friends come to him.

A simple and sweet story with a strong message for any one- we are always better when we work together.

Short Film played at the ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2017

Review by Kierston Drier

BARRY THE BLOBFISH, 2min., USA, Animation
Directed by Marleia A. AlfaroBarry is a fat ugly fish that can’t swim and lives at the bottom of the ocean. He longs to live on a beautiful coral reef at the top of a tall, tall cliff.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!