Donnie Darko: a piece of junk from the hipster scrap pile

Donnie, Gretchen and the 'Bunny.'

Admittedly, I sometimes am a late-starter; particularly when it comes to ‘hot’ or ‘new’ fads. One of the fads which seemed to be peaking while I was in high school was the fad for the emos (really the hipsters of the time) to watch cult films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissor Hands, or the latest and greatest of the hipster films, Donnie Darko.

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Method Man: Sherlock Holmes – A Game Of Shadows

Madame Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace, center) joins forces with Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, jr., left) and Doctor Watson (Jude Law, right)

‘You know my methods,’ Sherlock Holmes remarks in A Game Of Shadows. Although he addresses to his loyal companion Doctor Watson in the second installment of his cinematic modernization of the old Arthur Conan Doyle tales, we know his methods, too. As James Bond has done so many times in the past and will do again in Skyfall come November, Robert Downey jr. has returned as Holmes and Jude Law once again plays Watson. So what’s new about A Game Of Shadows then?

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Movie poster

Could somebody call Tony Jaa and let him know that his Indonesian replacement has arrived?

Iko Uwais, an up-and-comer Indonesian martial arts star blasts onto the screen with a humble look, a calm gait and an unstoppable kick, in his first widely publicized film, Merantau.

The story in Merantau is not much different from the majority of martial arts films, with the typical ‘martial arts master goes to the city, not looking for trouble, finds it and then saves the girl, rescues the kid.’ It’s strange that these martial arts masters are never looking for trouble, but they certainly always somehow find it.

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The Analytical Mind: Comparing Sherlock Holmes, Then and Now

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey jr., left) and Doctor Watson (Jude Law, right) on the hunt for criminals.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective, Sherlock Holmes, is one of English literature’s most recognizable and enduring characters. As such, he has made more than 200 movies appearances since the inception of cinema. The master snoop had been portrayed by such luminaries as Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Christopher Plummer, Patrick Macnee, Jonathan Pryce, Christopher Lee and Charlton Heston. When Madonna’s former husband, British director Guy Ritchie, announced his plans to create a new version of Sherlock Holmes for the big screen, his choice for the part seemed rather curious to a lot of people. The filmmaker went with American actor Robert Downey jr. in the eponym’s role. The oft-troubled performer from ‘the other side of the pond,’ although talented, was a much-criticized selection due to the fact that he was battling drug addiction and legal problems for the better part of the 1990s and, more importantly, because he is no Englishman. Would he be capable of a convincing performance worthy of the legendary mantle?

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Hot Tub Time Machine

Main characters in 'Hot Tub Time Machine'

Hot Tub Time Machine is a movie for the collective masses aimed at anybody over the age of 13 who can giggle at profanity and a weak, overplayed storyline – going back in time and altering the course of events. Let’s be honest, the concept wasn’t even new when the Back To The Future franchise came out and catapulted Michael J. Fox to superstardom.

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Let There Be Light: Mankind’s Cosmic Journey Out of the Dark in Cyril Moog’s META_MORPHOSIS

The official poster for the Cosmic Cine Filmfestival

Letters scroll up the screen as if announcing a new episode of Star Wars. ‘The earth is on the brink of entering the next dimension,’ they tell us while ethno music plays in the background. ‘Thousands gather to mentally build an energy portal through which the earth will reach a higher spiritual level.’ That is the premise of META_MORPHOSIS, coming to you at a string of German science-fiction film festivals this spring.

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Immigrant Song: Almanya as a Heartwarming Portrait of the Multicultural Germany of Today

The whole family reunited

In the 1960s, West Germany prospered so much that people were referring to the period as Wirtschaftswunder, an ’economic miracle,’ so to speak. Although the country had full employment, there was still a need for even more workers. So the capitalist Germans recruited a myriad of laborers from abroad: Italians, Spaniards, Greeks, Portuguese, Yugoslavians, Moroccans, Tunisians, and, of course, Turks. Their arrival would change the nation forever.

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Touch-Type: Valeri Todorovsky’s Katya Ismailova and the Post-Soviet Years

Katya (Ingeborga Dapunaite) and Sergei (Vladimir Mashkov) in bed

Remember the days when there were no word processors and computers? ‘It was twenty years ago today,’ maybe a bit longer, when everybody used to write with a pen and some people did nothing else but interpret another person’s handwriting. Such a job was called ‘typist,’ and the French-Russian 1994 production Katya Ismailova by Hipsters director Valeri Todorovsky tells the story of one in the difficult early post-Soviet years.

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The Man Who Never Was

Film Cover

Do you fancy spy flicks? How about World War II era films where there are Nazis at every turn? Perhaps you just enjoy films from the Golden Age. Maybe, by chance, you also enjoyed the 1990s comedy flick Weekend At Bernie’s.

So, now you’re probably wondering what could spies, World War II and a random dead body who just so happens to be the life of the party have to do with each other?

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Conversation Piece: ‘Kvartet I’ and Their Funny Guide to Learn What Men Talk About

Our four heroes at their destination: Kamil, Lyosha, Slava, and Sasha (from left to right)

What would happen if you combined The Hangover (with less below-the-belt jokes and more sophisticated humor), Sex & The City, Road Trip, and then seasoned the recipe with some vodka, borsch, shashlyk, and other assorted Russian flavors? That is what the popular comedians ‘Kvartet I’ from Moscow asked themselves a while ago.

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Rebels with a Cause: Valeri Todorovsky’s Russian Hipsters and the Postwar Jazz

Mels (Anton Shagin) and Polly (Oksana Akinshina)

Russians tend to love music. People who are familiar with the country’s cinema know that there are usually a couple of songs in the films produced in Russia, especially in those from the Soviet period. Actors often double as singers and vice versa. It is therefore surprising that the musical had been neglected by the movie industry for almost half a century – until a few years ago.

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The World Needs a Hero: Vadim Sokolovsky’s The Book Of Masters as a Modern Russian Fairy Tale

Ivan (Maksim Loktionov) and Katya (Maria Andreeva) reunited at the end

The Walt Disney Company has been really active in Russia in recent years. Last year, it bought 49% of the shares of 7TV and launched its own television channel in the country. Yet Disney’s attempts to enter the Russian market did not begin with that event. With The Book Of Masters, the company had already fully financed a film for Russian audiences exclusively in 2009. On paper, the partnership sounds like a match made in heaven. Russia possesses a rich tradition in folk and fairy tales, after all, and who would be better suited to make use of it than Disney, which has long been known for its adaptation of exactly such stories?

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Scorsese and DiCaprio Set to Reunite for The Wolf Of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese (left) and Leonardo DiCaprio (right). Photo by Robert Hanashiro (USA TODAY).

One of the most successful actor/director partnerships of the last decade is back. Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese will reunite for their fifth collaboration. The Wolf Of Wall Street, set to begin production in New York in August, is a timely drama based on the memoir of white-collar criminal Jordan Belfort, a drug-addicted stockbroker who was indicted for security fraud and money laundering in 1998 and spent 22 months in prison.

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Back to the Roots: Recalling the Silent Age in Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo)

The Hollywood industry has had a soft spot for nostalgia and its own past as of late. This has been an ongoing trend for a while now, as the example of Martin Scorsese’s 2004 movie The Aviator about the notorious multibillionaire, bon vivant, and film pioneer Howard Hughes demonstrates. But the latest awards season is probably the culmination of this movement. Two motion pictures by New York mahatmas – Hugo, Scorsese’s 3D adventure for children, and Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris – both won multiple prizes by trying to recall the glory of former times. None of them, however, has been more successful than a rather peculiar project for the industry today: a black-and-white silent film from France by director Michel Hazanavicius.

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Heart Is…

One of the many versions of the cover

If you saw this film with friends you probably were embarrassed by the end, because this poignant tale leaves few with dry eyes.

Heart is… is a melancholy tale about a wonderfully innocent pair of children, neglected by their mother, forced to live with relatives, who eventually move and are unable to support them any longer.

Directed by Oh Dal-gyun, Heart is… is a tragic masterpiece which comments on the brutality of society, particularly on the dimension of human trafficking.

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