Thursday, 14 May 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: German Films

This one is kind of difficult for me as most of the German cinema I've seen was during college studying Film and it was mostly Silent Cinema. I thought of the films I enjoyed the most, so Caligari didn't make the cut, on second viewing I could appreciate it but the first time, not so much. I'll stop the urge to go into my college self who really enjoyed studying Silent Cinema.

Goodbye Lenin
This film introduced me to modern(ish) German cinema that wasn't about war as a subject and to Daniel Brühl. A comedic at times family drama about Alex (Brühl) who wants to protect his mother from another heart attack after the Berlin wall comes down. It's about the lengths someone will go for someone they love, even so far as creating fake broadcasts and changing labels on food. The story was so simple and well executed. I know this usually appears in film lists but for me it was an introduction to another country's film industry.

Not the first silent film I had seen as I had watched Charlie Chaplin films when I was younger, but this was the first silent science fiction film I had seen. This film was so influential on every front. For science in science fiction, women in film, design in film and most likely budget. When in Berlin, we went to the Film Museum and this film, along with the other flagship silent era films, had some amazing exhibition. I was in my element. The art of the film and the robot part had the biggest influence on me and I think, back in college I wrote an essay on Metropolis and Fritz Lang, who was a creative genius.

Mostly Martha
After I saw the terrible poster for 'No Reservations', the US remake of the film, I found out from a friend's mum that this German original existed. It's miles better. The pacing, the acting, even the story feels better. A story about an uptight chef in a expensive restaurant who becomes the legal guardian of her niece after her sister dies. She has to cope with grief, becoming a parent and a new chef brought in to help out. It's brilliant drama, with a few added rom-com elements that don't smoosh up the flow of the story. One of my favourite scenes is between Martha and Mario (the new chef) when they are just starting to fall for each other, he blind folds her to do a taste test, it's actually quite sweet. I also wrote a comparison of the film against its remake, which you can have a look at here for further reading.


  1. Heard of the top two but never actually round of seeing them. Goodbye Lenin sounds very interesting.

    I think I went to the same museum as you did (Berlin is pretty awesome isn't it?), was there a Martin Scorcese exhibition when you went? How about the first ever Oscar awarded to Emil Jannings? Plus a big section of Nazi propaganda?

    It certainly was superb in there, been two years since I been though so my memory isn't as fresh as I would have liked.


  2. Metropolis! Yeah one I've actually seen! My German film knowledge is minimal and I forgot about this and Pandora's Box. I don't think of silent films as being from any particular country as a rule since although the filming techniques vary the replacement of the title cards with the appropriate language makes them more international than films with sound.

    I've seen No Reservations and was underwhelmed I'm sure Mostly Martha will be an improvement. I've heard of Goodbye, Lenin but didn't really know anything about it.

  3. Kezia Hutabarat14 May 2015 at 22:31

    I though i'm the only one who watch Good bye, Lenin! It wasn't included on my list because I think it's a very good film, but I don't really enjoy it.

  4. I highly reccomend Goodbye Lenin, its a great family as well as a social drama.

    I don't remember a Martin Scorcese exhibition but I do the propganda exhibition. I liked Berlin, wished I could go back, spend a bit longer there.

  5. oh no, what didn't you like?

  6. We watched part of Pandora's Box in class, I remember being annoyed it was only half. The story, cinematogrphy and production all define where the film was made. If you compared Battleship Potempkin to Birth of a Nation, you can see so many differences and the only element they share is the silence. Birth of a Nation has that typical early Hollywood sheen to it, where as Battleship has rough edges that make it more compelling, especially the Odessa Steps scene.

    Definitely watch Mostly Martha now, you can see the differences. Also, I don't understand the title 'No Reservations' it doesnt really make sense in the story.

  7. Andrew Ellington19 May 2015 at 14:59

    I haven't seen any of these! I'll have to get on that!

  8. Almost had Goodbye Lenin on my list too, but then it would all have been too much East Germany and Communism.

    Oh I never knew No Reservations is a remake, now I have to keep a look out for Mostly Martha.

  9. That's what I was thinking when I was picking and looking at other lists, so much German cinema to catch up on.

    Usually behind every crap US com-rom theres a great original, most likely European.