Sayonara Itsuka

Sayonara Itsuka

In the 1960s, an ambitious businessman moves on assignment to Thailand in order to allow himself to be groomed for promotion in the airline business. His goals are large and his dreams equally so. Yatsuka seems to have everything figured out. He has a waiting bride in Japan, but a home run he hits, while ignoring an order from his boss to bunt, changes his life forever.

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World-On-A-Wire

Caught in a Web: The Virtual Reality of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire

Dr. Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch, left) and his secretary Gloria Fromm (Barbara Valentin, right).

‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ the British band Queen asked at the beginning of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Freddie Mercury’s legendary opus magnum. A similar question has also been posed in the realm of cinema several times. What’s real and what’s a dream or, in the case of modern technology, a computer simulation? The most prominent films to deal with the matter of cyber universes are probably the Wachowskis’ The Matrix trilogy, but there have also been other noteworthy instances before.

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Driss (Omar Sy, left) and Philippe (François Cluzet, right) race down the streets of Paris.

Dear Friends: The French Surprise Hit Intouchables, or a Unique and Charming Plea for Respect and Tolerance

Driss (Omar Sy, left) and Philippe (François Cluzet, right) race down the streets of Paris.

A big fuss has been made about Michel Hazanavicius’s French silent film The Artist winning Best Picture at the 2012 Academy Awards. Yes, it’s an aberration, since a non-Anglo-American movie winning the prestigious trophy usually only happens once in a blue moon. Roberto Benigni’s Italian Life Is Beautiful tried but failed against James Cameron’s Titanic in 1997. So the success of The Artist came as somewhat of a surprise, although it’s debatable if it was even the best French film of its class because of a little picture by the unknown duo of directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano.

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The Dark Side of the Moon: Timo Vuorensola’s Iron Sky, or the Return of the Sinister Space Nazis

Obersturmbannführer Klaus Adler (Götz Otto, left) and Renate Richter (Julia Dietze, right), the future power couple of the Space Nazis.

Imagine what would happen if the Nazis had managed to build a spacecraft and rescued their remaining party soldiers to the dark side of the moon. An absurd and ludicrous premise, sure, but the international production Iron Sky is willing to make it. The intriguing independent movie caused a sensation when the first trailers spread around the virtual world. It almost became a cult classic among the online community even before its official theatrical release in the spring of 2012.

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When Two Worlds Collide: ‘The Ugly Truth’ about Andrew Stanton’s John Carter

Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins, left) and John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, right) in the Mars desert.

Expectations were enormous when Disney’s long-announced new live-action 3D blockbuster John Carter hit theaters in March. At an estimated budget of a ‘mere’ $250 million, John Carter is the fourth-most expensive film of all time. The studio was certainly willing to take that risk, given its good experiences with such big-budget blockbusters as the Pirates Of The Caribbean sequels and the animated Tangled. John Carter was supposed to be Disney’s answer to James Cameron’s 3D spectacle Avatar, a science-fiction adventure set in an alien world that would make use of the technology’s manifold possibilities.

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Sweet Temptation: The Collapse of Relationships in Atom Egoyan’s Chloe

Chloe (Amanda Seyfried, left) and Catherine (Julianne Moore, right) play a dangerous game.

‘I think with all directors there are ideas that recur, at least for the ones that have creative control of their films,’ controversial Canadian director Atom Egoyan once remarked. As one of the selected few in the movie industry who don’t need their products to turn a profit, the four-time winner at Cannes and two-time Oscar nominee is privileged to choose his own topics without commercial restraints.

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Women in Love… – Close Encounters of a Different Kind in Julio Medem’s Room In Rome

Alba (Elena Anaya, left) and Natasha (Natasha Yarovenko, right) in their room in Rome.

What happens when two pretty girls stay at a hotel in Italy’s ’Eternal City’? That’s the simple but intriguing premise of Sex & Lucía director Julio Medem’s Spanish arthouse film Room In Rome. Sometimes it doesn’t take more than such a basic idea – an intimate play of two – for a provoking work, in more than one sense. For starters, the movie contains dialog in whopping six different languages. But that’s not really the reason why Room In Rome attracted quite a bit of attention upon its release.

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Girls United: Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids as a Refreshing Take on a Male Genre

Bridesmaids
The lovely leading ladies (from left to right): Megan (Melissa McCarthy), Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Becca (Ellie Kemper), Annie (Kristen Wiig), Lilian (Maya Rudolph), and Helen (Rose Byrne).

Comedies have always been treated like second-rate citizens at the Oscars. In contrast to the Golden Globes, which hand out separate awards for dramas and comedies, the Academy has downright neglected funny films for ages. It was therefore all the more surprising to see Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids – a movie that scooped no trophies at all at the Globes – score two nominations at the 2012 Oscars.

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Sanada (Takashi Shimura, left) treats Matsanuga (Toshirô Mifune, right).

Ray of Hope: The Bleak Postwar Universe of Akira Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel

Sanada (Takashi Shimura, left) treats Matsanuga (Toshirô Mifune, right).

Japanese master Akira Kurosawa is arguably one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Yet he seems to have been largely forgotten by modern cinemagoers – despite the fact that he produced a string of great movies that have influenced so many Hollywood and foreign classics. We’ve all heard of John Sturges’s The Magnificent Seven, Sergio Leone’s A Fistful Of Dollars, and, of course, George Lucas’s epic Star Wars, right? Not many people know that none of them would have been possible without Kurosawa.

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Double Trouble: Jack & Jill, or Why One Adam Sandler is More than Enough

Jill (Adam Sandler) and Jack (Adam Sandler) celebrating their birthday.

Seriously, what the heck is going on with Adam Sandler? In the eyes of many, Kevin Costner took the throne as worst actor-and-producer with his terrible 1997 trashfest The Postman. You could also make an equally compelling case for John Travolta’s 2000 project Battlefield Earth. But Sandler’s new film Jack & Jill significantly ups the ante. Surely it’s hard to top some of his previous outings in the producer’s chair, such as Joe Dirt, Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo, or I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, you may think – and correctly so.

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Time To Say Goodbye: The Fragility of Family Ties in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants

The revamped King family, from left to right: Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), Matt (George Clooney), Scottie (Amara Miller), and their friend Sid (Nick Krause).

Women tend to love George Clooney because of his looks and demeanor, and understandably so. The average cinemagoer – males included – likes him because he has never shied away from ruining his outer appearance for the sake of a role in a risky film. Ever since his career-defining part as Dr. Doug Ross in the successful 1990s TV show Emergency Room, Clooney has carefully chosen his projects.

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Against All Odds: On Why Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Works

The new IMF team, from left to right: William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and Jane Carter (Paula Patton).

In the course of his career, Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, or simply Tom Cruise in Hollywood circles, has had his fair share of memorable roles. Some of those coming to mind are Jerry Maguire, Vincent Lauria from The Color Of Money, Charlie Babbitt from Rain Man, Daniel Kaffee from Born On The 4th Of July, Bill Harford from Eyes Wide Shut, Frank Mackey from Magnolia, or David Aames from Vanilla Sky.

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Castaway On The Moon

The protagonist.

Castaway On The Moon is a brilliant new take on the ‘castaway’ theme.

Imagine your life is in the dumps. I don’t mean that you broke a nail or your dog ran away; I mean you lost all of your money, you’re in foreclosure, and everything else in your life is simply going all down the tube. Some people step up and deal with it vis-à-vis, others jump off bridges to put a quick end to the suffering.

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