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  • Berlin Alexanderplatz

    Berlin Alexanderplatz

    ★★★★★

    Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert...

    Forty years ago today, the first episode of Fassbinder's magnum opus Berlin Alexanderplatz first aired on German television, and it is my intention to watch every single episode on its 40th anniversary - a project that will keep going until December 29th. This review will get updated after every episode.

    The first episode, aptly titled The Punishment Begins, opens with our main character's release from prison, where he served a four-year sentence for manslaughter. Franz…

  • La Strada

    La Strada

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Reading all those tributes about Fellini's centennial made me want to revisit La Strada, which I feel I should do more often anyway.

    La Strada is one of my Holy Trinity of Cinema (the others being 2001 and Rashomon), a film I hold sacred and dear to my heart, that transcends its artform and that I will never not admire with every fiber of my being.

    Much of this is due to Giulietta Masina, who is playing Gelsomina. She might…

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  • Teenage Wolfpack

    Teenage Wolfpack

    ★★★½

    Horst Buchholz had, at least for some time, the moniker the German James Dean, and this, his breakthrough film in Germany, makes it easy to see why. The film is a sometimes somewhat hammy society drama about youth delinquancy, but it is a lot better and more serious than its very silly English-language title suggests.

    And Buchholz is truly terrific in his part as the gang leader - his timeless charisma (as well as his undeniable youthful good looks) are more than enough reason to watch this film.

  • The Commitments

    The Commitments

    ★★★★

    As far as working-class-guy-hustling-for-his-big-shot movies go, this is a very enjoyable one. Mostly because of the music, bot not exclusively because of it.

    And that final dialogue between Jimmy and Joey is truly perfect,

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  • Colette

    Colette

    ★★★

    I am torn on this one.

    On the one hand, this is a well-made examination of grief and re-opening wounds that are many decades old.

    On the other, there are at least three moments in this film in which its protagonist, a 90-year-old woman, is either at her emotional breaking point or well beyond it, but the camera keeps rolling mercilessly. At one point she is even commenting herself on how morbid she thinks this really is. It just seems…

  • Hunger Ward

    Hunger Ward

    ★½

    Ladies and gentlemen, meet the inevitable winner of this year's Best Documentary Short category: Exploitative misery porn that is using starving children as props to point a camera at. Yes, this is A Story of Healing, Chernobyl Heart and Smile Pinki all over again, and it throws in an extra dose of war to boot - so barring a miracle, this will get the Oscar because Academy voters feel sorry for starving children in warzones, and we will get even…