Knee deep in Filmfest…I’ll sleep when I’m dead

Knee deep in Filmfest

For ages I’ve referred to this as the ‘best week of the year‘ in Munich, and I might just stand by that, although it has some stiff competition the longer I live here. 

Why the best? Because of Filmfest, I tell you. 

Before I started reviewing films for English language publications, I regularly attended it as a viewer – as a member of the public, which is why I can still imagine what it’s like from that perspective. 

I’ll even tell you how you can get into it, if you’re so inclined. 
Because I tend towards independent film, I spent those early years seeing some real duds. There was the confessional autobiographical account of a sex addict, which was one of the worst cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. 

However, there have been some gems mixed in with the rifraf. That’s why I get so excited each year when Filmfest comes back round. 

Here’s how to do it. Well, how I do it. First I get my program, which I suggest you do too, if you’re at all interested in such things – and if you’re anywhere near Munich, I suppose. 

Immediately, I separate the wheat from the chaff. How does one do that exactly? 

Next, see if there are any actors and/or directors you already know. If you find a movie from or with somebody you already like, read the blurb and decide if you want to fork over the dough and waste a few hours of your life in a dark cinema, while there’s all that beautiful summertime going on outside. 

That’s where I am, by the way. Watching reflections of light projected onto the wall in some cinema in Munich. And loving it. Best week of the year, I assure you. Doesn’t get better than this. 

Star Wars from over here in my corner of the galaxy


excitement building for the new Star Wars
As popular as the new Star Wars film might be on social media and, of course, in cinemas around the world, there’s a contingent of people who never saw the point. Either they weren’t around when the original films came out and are baffled by the entire phenomenon or they even experienced all of that and are still unmoved. I get it. There was a funny piece I saw in the last few days in which the plot was purposely spoiled by telling the basic gist of each of the movies. It’s rather easy to take any story and ridicule it by boiling it down to its simplest parts. 

Yet if you take this pop culture behemoth out of context, you’re missing the part that I find so fascinating. Whether it was the British comedian in my feed who saw the first Star Wars film at Christmastime in London when it first came out there or the limitless American friends who have been buzzing with excitement about this new installment, there’ve been posts and comments on posts in which people tell about the first time they were introduced to the ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away‘. 

Scoff all you want, and I’m well aware there are always going to be those who’re too cool for what the masses like, but this story hits so deeply not just because of how compelling it is. How you got into it is nearly as much a part of the story as what the film makers intended to entertain you with to begin with. I love to hear these stories and imagine little kids in 1977 wearing their bell bottoms and scruffy t-shirts shuffling into the movie house having no idea what was in store for them. 

I was one of those kids and I can still remember getting completely lost in the story. We were late to everything and this was no exception, but they sold us tickets anyway and let us in even though an hour or so of the movie had already passed. It was even somehow agreed that we could hang out and watch the beginning of the next screening, so we’d know what had happened. For years, I even liked that disjunct way of watching it. 

Over the last six or months or so, we went through all the earlier films Episodes I – VI and over and over the question would come up, when are we going to see ‘The Force Awakens‘? Not until December. 

December??? How can we wait that long? 

Well, here it is. The day we’re seeing the newest installment. Are we going to get there an hour in and hope they let us stay for the beginning if the next showing? No, we are not. We’ve been listening to the soundtrack and singing along, we’ve been studying the Lego book that tells us all the nerdy details of that galaxy far, far away. There’s a whole new generation getting into this stuff, and that’s a good thing I assure you. 


a clear picture in a dark cinema

The old man seems to be trying to tell us something.
The old man seems to be trying to tell us something.

The last week was spent watching movies. Mostly.

Of course, Ella and Louis still needed to go out, and I had a day trip to Bamberg on business. That’s to say, life didn’t stop for the Filmfest München, but plenty was put on hold. There are not only plenty of film reviews left to write, but some of the things I’ve neglected are in desperate need of attention.

However, in the midst of rushing from one screening to the next, there was just enough time for daydreaming. The thoughts I come up with in those moments sometimes find their way into something fit for publication, but more often than not I turn here to this blog to leave such ideas.

And what might I have for you in that regard? Well, I’ve been pondering transcendence. There’s that moment that sometimes occurs when listening to music or watching sport when it’s almost as if time stands still. Every once in a while, you get that while watching a movie.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be great film in order to have such a moment, but it doesn’t hurt. Considering how many films I saw in the last week, statistically the likelihood is that I’d have a bit of transcendence.

For me, the most dramatic example came where I least expected it. I’ll be doing a proper review of the rather conventional movie Stuck in Love on another site, and if I remember to do so, I’ll even come back here and link to it. Yet what I want to say about it here may or may not fit in such a format.

One of the main characters, played by Greg Kinnear, is being told by everyone around him that he needs to let go emotionally of his ex wife. He’s still going by her house and looking in the windows – hoping beyond hope that she’ll come to her senses and return to him.

Personally, I didn’t relate to the specificities of the plot, but at the same time I’ve definitely held out for the impossible. Even when those who cared for me warned me about risky decisions I was making, I was hellbent on having it my way.

Whether it turned out well for the guy in the movie is immaterial (it did), but it was that moment where he finally let go of those expectations he’d been clutching onto so desperately that spoke to me. The look on his face when he realised the actions of others were truly beyond his control – that’s when I had one of those cliché aha moments.

Sometimes cinema is a wonderful distraction.

In this case, it provided a clear picture of how easily one can simply let go.





and so it begins


The Filmfest in Munich officially started last night, but the first day of screenings for regular folk is here. The day is upon us.

As much as I enjoy living here, I really miss independent film. This is the only week of the year one can catch work by obscure film makers.

Not all of it is good, but them’s the breaks. I can’t promise I’ll talk about every film I see, but my intention is to at least mention the misses, as well as the attention I always give the hits. Hold onto your hats. And so it begins.

Shadow of a Doubt

An offer on twitter of a free ticket to see a Hitchcock film that I was sure I’d already seen. Little did I know – it was one of the middle period Hitchcock movies, and I was in for a treat. I had not only not seen it, but it has one of my all-time favourite actors in it.

Cotten. This guy’s a dream.

Apparently, he was in three world class directors best-known masterpieces. This one was dear Alfred‘s, The Third Man was Carol Reed‘s, and Citizen Kane was Orson Welles’. Not too shabby, eh?

Actually, lemme let Wikipedia explain what this film is:

 is a 1943 American / directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. Written by Thornton WilderSally Benson, and Alma Reville, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story for Gordon McDonell. In 1991, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.’

What an evening.

The day had started with a visit to The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment and then a trip with one of my closest friends and his 9 year-old to The British Museum, which we sailed through in record time. Not that I’m proud of that. The whole point was to spend time with them. What we did was irrelevant. The British Museum was as nice a place as any for us to go, and she’d never been.

To imagine seeing all of those things through her eyes, I walked through the exhibits covering the ancient world. Saw the Rosetta Stone and the dude from Easter Island. What must it be like to be nine and wander through those rooms.

My goal?

To try seeing all this – this life I’m knee-deep in – from a nine year-old’s perspective. Certainly can’t hurt.

not very anonymous

even little Violet was disappointed by all of this

Haven’t ever seen a movie by Roland Emmerich.  Until today that is.  It’s actually something I was rather proud of. And even a bit smug.

How can you know you wouldn’t like it if you’d never seen one?  His sort of movie wasn’t my cup of tea (You knew I’d squeeze a little bit of tea in over here, didn’t you?).

So, I was browbeaten into actually going to see one.  And not just any movie, but his Anonymous.  A movie questioning the authorship of Shakespeare‘s plays.  Well, all of his works.  I have a lot of emotional baggage tied up in this.  Since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated with The Bard.

When we were encouraged to dress up as our favourite historical figure in grade school, I dug deep in my meagre savings and rented a Shakespeare costume.  Even including a fake bald pate with wisps of hair escaping in a mad fashion.

I did a very questionable job of researching The Globe Theatre and other important facts, but I certainly looked like the guy. Or how we think he looked.  As much as a nine-year old can look like a middle-aged Elizabethan.

As I say, I had a horse in this race.  I wasn’t walking lightly into this encounter.  Where would I turn for ammunition to defend me against the barrage of questionable historical claims?  Well, twitter of course.

I went to Dainty Ballerina, who has a *real world* name, but isn’t necessary here.  She directed me to Shakespeare Bites Back, and I’m grateful she did.  This was all the ammunition I needed.  I’m going to peruse this free download of an ebook, head off to the film and finish this post later.

time elapsed

Goodness.  What a ridiculous piece of movie making.  The comedy was often unintentional.  I’m not going to pick it apart.  Don’t want to spend a moment more of my life thinking about this.  There was one overly ridiculous scene, and I resolved upon watching it that it would be the one I shared here.

The clown playing William Shakespeare was revelling in the cheers of the audience.  In the next moment, he was crowd surfing over the patrons on the ground of the Globe Theatre.  It was out of place and offensive and if you give me a few more minutes, I’ll think of some other adjectives of ridicule.  That moment perfectly encapsulated the preposterous and depravity of this joke of a piece of revisionism.

And I’ll leave you with the best advice that’s included in the above-mentioned ebook:

However Shakespearians deal with this topic, we think that they should always express surprise when anyone starts even to suggest that Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon did not write Shakespeare.

And that’s what I’ve resolved to do.  If anyone asks, I’ll express the most convincing surprise.  Gladly.