A couple of days ago we went to see “Das weisse Band. Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte” (“The White Ribbon”), an Austrian-German movie which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and apparently is nominated for the Oscar as well.

The movie takes place in a small protestant Northern German village and focuses a group of children and their families. A narrator, the teacher, tells us what happened in 1913/14: One day the doctor has an accident while riding his horse, but it soon becomes evident that someone has consciously effectuated it by straining a cord. The suspect cannot be revealed. This accident does not stay the only one, more are to follow, and appear to be a punishment aimed at the Janus-faced doctor, pastor, and baron.

The movie is black-white, and only when the choir sings you hear music – a very interesting view-listening experience.


A while ago I saw “Kleine Verbrechen”, a Greek-German-Cypriote co-production, which is really worthwhile to watch:
Leonidas is a young graduate of the police academy and works on a very small island where his duties consists of traffic supervision and issue cautions against nude tourists. He dreams of moving to a bigger city where he can work on solving real crimes.
One morning Zacharias, one of the villager, is found dead. Leonidas starts to investigate, and he mets Angeliki, Zacharias’s daughter, who helps him. During his interrogations each villager offers a different version of what could have happened to Zacharias.

With a couple of friends we went to see the movie “Horst Schlämmer – Isch kandidiere!” – not so much because the movie gets quite some media attention right now but because they are fond of Hape Kerkeling and his “art character” Horst Schlämmer.

Horst Schlämmer works for a local newspaper and feels not being appreciated enough. He is wasting away his talent and seeks a challenge: he decides to run for chancellor. On his way he meets real politicians whom he interviews (kudos to Cem Özdemir) as well as politicians he imitates.

I think the first 30 minutes were entertaining and funny, but his character Schlämmer does not have enough potential to be the plot for a whole movie. When Kerkeling invented Schlämmer some years ago people were not aware of the fact that he was not real and acted naturally around him. This time, however, everyone knows that Schlämmer is an art character, and part of the intented comedy is lost.

The basic concept of the movie is nice – but that’s it. The chance for a good political satire was definitely missed.

Last night we finally watched “A touch of spice” which sounded promising  – family life, food and politics.
Fanis Iakovides who lives in Athene is expecting a visit from his grandfather who lives in Istanbul but instead receives the news that his grandfather had to got to the hospital. Fanis travels to Istanbul to visit his grandfather in the hospital, and on his way we are transferred three decades ago into the past: Fanis family lives in Konstantinopel. His grandfather trades spices and teaches him a lot about food and life.
In 1963, however, due to the increasing tension Greece and Turkey, the family is deported to Greece. The grandfather is a Turkish citizen and is allowed to stay. He promises to join the family soon, but will never do so.
Fanis has troubles  integrating into Greece. He spends his time cooking and with this linking to his memories.
When Fanis arrives in Istanbul, he meets his childhood love who is married now, and for a second there is the idea of getting together.

The movie is picture wise beautiful, but I am a bit disappointed by the story line. There were a lot of interesting plots (maybe too many to cover them accordingly) – the developments between Turkey and Greece or the problems of a family trying to integrate into a country that is only on the paper their home, feeling alienated, or the passion for food. The stories do not develop very deep and stay a bit superficial – but maybe I am just so disappointed with the ending  – this love story just did not really fit well into the plot, no happy ending or not.

A possible translation might be: “Maria, he doesn’t like the food!”

The movie is based on the book “Maria, ihm schmeckt’s nicht. Geschichte von meiner italinischen Sippe” (“Maria, he doesn’t like the food! Stories about my Italian clan”) by Jan Weiler, which was published in 2003. I knew about the book, but had not read it myself (which I still might after seeing the movie.)

On the way to finally get introduced to his girlfriend’s parents, Jan and Sara somehow decide to get married. The initial hellos proceed very different than Jan expected, and he gets the impression that Sara’s father does not like him.
Sara’s father decides that the wedding has to take place in his home town in Italy, despite the wishes of the bridegroom.  This is the starting point for the movie. The family goes to Italy for three weeks in order to organize the wedding, Jan is confronted with his future in-laws who only speak Italian – while he does not, and a sequence of entertaining scenes based on Italian stereotypes about Germans, and German stereotypes about Italians, enfolds. I laughed so hard that I cried.

The main character, however, is Jan’s future father-in-law, who acts “Italian” with the Germans around, and “German” with the Italians around, having been influenced by living in Germany for decades by now. And he is the character who breaks the entertaining exchange of stereotypes by telling anecdotes about his life, how it was like to move to Germany in order to find work, having his degree not being accepted, facing racism and discrimination in work and in daily life, getting married to a German. These earnest moments are a thoughtful counterpart which creates a balance to the entertaining scenes.

During our vacation we finally made it to the movies and saw “State of Play” which plays in Washington, D.C. In the beginning two men are killed, and reporter Cal McAffrey is assigned to write about it. The next day a young is pushed in front of an underground train, but it appears to be a suicide. Congressman Stephen Collins informs the press about her death (she worked with him), but in the way he does it it becomes obvious that they had an affair. At the newspaper Cal works for, Della Frye, a young and energetic blogger, gets assigned to work on this case.
McAffrey and Collins are friends from college, and Collins tells him that he does not buy into the suicide theory. McAffrey starts researching on this case, realizes a connection to the shootings, and together with Frye works on figuring out the truth.

The movie is a homage to the good old newpaper.

We enjoyed it, being more or less typical Hollywood with some interesting turnarounds one would not expect immediately.

I like the idea of listing the books I read for pleasure (and I am so behind in posting them), especially as the New Year Meme made me realize how fast I forget when I read which book. I think Lila once wrote that she jots down a comment inside the back of the book jacket, together with the date she read it. Maybe I will start that as well.

Anyway – I am expanding to cover the movies I have seen, too. Not the weekly murder’s mystery show, but the cinematic ones.

Last weekend we watched “Die Spielwütigen” (“Addicted to Acting”), a documentary which was released in 2004. During the period of seven years the director Andres Veiel follows four young people who – in order to become actors – apply to the Ernst Busch Academy in Berlin. While watching we follow them through their education, see a glimpse on their family background, get a sense of their up and downs, and their growing-up.

I had wanted to watch it for a very long time and was happy that The Husband’s colleague had recorded it when it was aired on TV and lent us the DVD. I really enjoyed it and wished it would have been longer, covering more, deepen certain aspects – on the other hand, however, it did not expose the four too much. And that’s something I appreciated. With all the self-exposure one is used (especially through reading blogs and blogging oneself), it was a nice change that not everything was revealed.