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EFM-Day 2

It is Day 2 of the EFM here at Berlinale, and the festival itself is in full swing after last nights Gala Opening. I was close by the main event, as I could see the barricades and hear ecstatic screaming ;which could only mean that George Clooney was nearby heading into the opening film of this years Berlinale: Hail Caesar.

However, I  ducked into the friendly confines of Cinemaxx 2 and checked out the cool new French flick: The Crew (Braquers; France 2015 Action Thriller).

Directed by Julian LeClerq, this is a heist film about a group of professional robbers who take a new rookie member into their midst for an impressive heist scene that kicks off the proceedings with a shot of adrenaline.

After the job, the film settles down for a while into on exploration of the human stories, motivations, and family struggles underpinning our characters and the unlikely bonds between them.

The plot takes an unfortunate twist however, as a mistake by one of the younger members of the crew eventually pits them against a gang of heroin dealers, and the ensuing  struggle threatens to tear families and friendships apart.

A slow build up of tension is ultimately truncated by terrific outbursts of action, as well as the realizations of tragic personal loss.

A terrific film, well shot,directed, and acted; with a great electronic film score, I will try and track down the name of the composer.

A great ending scene as well, and watching it you are left wondering what the future has in store for The Crew that remains …

The Crew

Creepy (Japan 2015)- A new film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa,who recently won Best Director in the Un Certain Regards section at Cannes 2015 for his drama: Journey To The Shore.

This new film Creepy is based on a novel by Yutaka Maekawa and revolves around an ex-police detective and criminal psychologist Takakura, who moves into a quiet suburban town seeking peace and quiet, but then suspects his new neighbour of being a serial killer.

This is a cool premise , and was a film I really wanted to like, but was hugely disappointed in the ludicrous plot turns, absurd character development, and cliches. Not to mention the irritating use of submissive female roles , and the total incompetence of the police force. Definitely a pass on this one folks….

I will write more later… As I need to get to  the second show of the day. It is a beautiful day here in Berlin: sunny and 5c.

The Dark Side Of the Moon (Germany 2015-Thriller) screening was fantastic, and it stars Jurgen Pronchnow (Das Boot) and Moritz Bleibtreu. It’s about a lawyer who has a crisis following the death of a rival in a corporate merger, and involves some psychedelic mushrooms that seem to facilitate his violent meltdown. Or do they??Based on a novel   By Martin Suter this is the feature film debut of director Stephan Rick. Recommended.

Evolution(France 2015-Thriller/Drama).This was a visually stunning dystopian drama about a secluded rugged seaside village, whose only inhabitants are women and young boys. Something very strange is taking place ,as the children seem to be unwilling subjects to strange experiments in genetic engineering; whose purpose remains unclear and enigmatic to the viewer. A strange , disturbing movie with many layers of metaphor waiting for the viewer to unravel. The new film by director  Lucile Hadzhalilovic stars Max Brebant and Lucie-Marie Parmentier ( The Crew) , and is a feast for the eyes ,especially on the Cinemaxx IMAX screen here in Berlin.Evolution premiered at TIFF 2015 ,and is a must see for those with an eye for something a little different. Think: Under The Skin.


Must log off for the day here from Berlin. But a funny story.

I was in line for the Evolution screening,when a woman got in the row behind me. She tapped me on the shoulder and asked: ” Are you in line for Evolution?”. I replied: ” I hope so, but only Darwin knows for sure”….












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Berlinale/EFM 1

Well today is the first full day of screenings here in Berlin. The area around Potsdamer Platz is the nerve centre of the festival, and the nearby Martin Groupis Haus is the hub of the EFM displays and offices.

It is a grey, damp start to the 2016 fest but buzzing with people. I started off at the EFM screening room at MGB for morning showing of: Inside The Cell (France 2015-Thriller). Waiting for the doors to open I bumped into one of the organizers of the Fantasia Film Festival. Small world.

The film is great, and ultimately a timely window into the inner workings and motivations of a terrorist cell in Paris. Well shot and conceived; it follows the story of a journalist who infiltrates a forming cell, and gets in too deep to walk away. Well acted, with nicely drawn out characters;and a surprise appearance from actor Nassim Si Ahmed. He is a HFF alumni ,as he starred in Adrien Costello’s mid-length feature: Night Is Meant For Sleeping, which premiered at the 2015 Hamilton Film Festival.

I would highly recommend Inside The Cell, and I will attach a VOD link:

Inside The Cell VOD

More later, I am on my way in to see The Devil’s Mistress…

Well, The Devils Mistress(Czech/Germany 2015-Drama) screened and I must say it was a disappointment. A new film by Filip Renc it deals with the real life story of Lida Baarova. She was a Czech film star who went to Germany in 1933 to star in the UFA Studio system as it was being taken over by the Nazi’s. She would also end up having an affair with Joseph Gobbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. The film never really reaches any kind of coherent style. It is a dull , uneven mess with some poor casting ,and strange with an almost flippant tone at times. I would recommend watching Fassbinders film Veronika Voss for a much more artistic portrayal of a similar subject matter; and it is a really cool riff on Sunset Boulevard to boot:)

The third film of the day was: What We Become ( Sorgenfri;Denmark/Germany 2015-Drama/Horror). What a pleasant surprise this film was, especially as I am not a big fan of anything Zombiesque:) I am partial too a stylish French Tv Series: Les Revenants; and this film had some of the same understated quality to it. It revolves around a small idyllic town that becomes quarantined after the outbreak of a strange virus. The undead do make an appearance halfway through the story,but it works for me. Directed by Bo Mikkelsen and picked up by IFC in the US, no Canada distro as of yet… Recommended.

Last screening starts in about an hour.It is just enough time to finish this cappuccino after a surprisingly great pizza. Italian food 3 days in a row. In Germany.Who knew?

The next film is: The Crew (Braqueres;France 2014-Action/Thriller). This is new film by director Juliem LeClerc and set in contemporary Paris. Having screened at the Busan International Film Festival, it’s now here at Berlin. Let’s see if it can top : Inside The Cell… Tall order.

Till Tomorrow





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European Film Market 2016

Hello from Berlin! The EFM 2016 and Berlinale kick off this week in Germany, and I have travelled over from Canada to attend. There are definitely a couple parties to go too,( Telefilm Canada & Fantasia Film Fest Karaoke Bash!); but mainly I will be attending as many screenings as possible and also taking a look at the many stall and displays at the main Market building.

Screenings for Thursday February 11:

Inside The Cell (France 2015) Thriller

The Devil’s Mistress (Czech/Germany 2015) Drama

What We Become (Denmark/Germany 2015) Drama/Horror

The Crew (France 2015) Action/Thriller

I’ll update the screenings daily and some quick notes on some of the films. I have a tendency to watch Euro and Asian thrillers and dramas but I hope to catch a couple Canadian flicks while I am here…

More later folks







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Goethe Film Talk: Christian Petzold & Nina Hoss

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Goethe Interview with Nina Hoss and Christian Petzold

Published on 17 Sep 2014-Text courtesy of: Goethe-Institut Toronto
Oscar nominated director Petzold & actor Hoss in conversation.
Presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto.
Christian Petzold is back at TIFF, after his 2012 success with “Barbara” and “Yella” in 2007. In his TIFF14 world premiere of “Phoenix”, he reunites top actors Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld in another story of a fiercely determined woman — and the deeply divided society to which she belongs — caught between a tragic past and an uncertain future. A disfigured concentration-camp survivor (Hoss) searches ravaged post-war Berlin for the husband (Zehrfeld) who might have betrayed her to the Nazis.
Moderated by Cologne film expert Nikolaj Nikitin.
Co-writer Harun Farocki to Petzold after “Barbara”: “With Nina and Ronald you have a romantic couple that is so intense and powerful – now you can tackle a difficult topic like ‘Phoenix’.”–
Christian Petzold was born in Hilden, Germany, in 1960 and has lived in Berlin since 1981. He studied German Language and Literature before studying film at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb) from 1988-94, during which time he was assistant director to late Harun Farocki and Hartmut Bitomsky. He has taken part in the Berlinale’s Competition program three times, with “Ghosts”, “Yella” and “Barbara”. The latter was Germany’s Oscar entry 2013.
Nina Hoss was born in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1975. Since acting school she has been equally present on the stage as in cinema. “Phoenix”‘s Nelly is her sixth lead role for Christian Petzold.
Her acting was twice honored with the Adolf Grimme Award and she won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale 2007 for her role in Petzold’s “Yella” .