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About me

an American living in Germany


Movies I Watched in School II (11 items)
Movie list by mkusa
Last updated 6 years, 10 months ago
3 votes
Movies I first saw in Germany (10 items)
Movie list by mkusa
Published 9 years, 6 months ago 1 comment
2 votes
Movies I Watched in School (22 items)
Movie list by mkusa
Published 9 years, 6 months ago 1 comment
1 votes
Movies (and TV) I watched on an airplane (14 items)
Movie list by mkusa
Published 9 years, 6 months ago 1 comment

Recent reviews

Bis zum Ende der Welt review

Posted : 6 years, 10 months ago on 17 September 2015 03:02 (A review of Bis zum Ende der Welt)

This is a TV movie that my husband randomly turned it to about 40 minutes after it started airing. Therefore, I missed the part when Maria, an older, widowed woman living in an apartment in a "bad neighborhood" is disturbed by her "Roma" neighbors. I missed the neighbors having troubles that lead to them (or at least the younger ones) going to Maria's apartment and also how she began giving the teenaged neighbor Baro music lessons. However, I was able to watch as Baro grew under Maria's instructions and Maria develop a lot more purpose in her once-lonely life (one of the first scenes I saw was her going to a store to buy baking ingredients and happily sharing with the clerk that she was going to bake. The woman who plays Maria, Christiane Hoebiger is amazing in her role, so I was immediately hooked).

Bero seems to genuinely like Maria, however, he is still a teenager. His siblings and their "friends" continuously pressure Bero until he reluctantly agrees to help break into Maria's apartment, where she has many valuable items. Bero first comes alone to Maria to warn her, but the other kids break in and freakishly injure Maria for "being in the way." The end up stealing a lot of her things and also damaging a lot of other items. That is devastating enough for Maria, but worse is Bero's apparent betrayal. Naturally, she tries to sever all ties with Bero, but he does not give up so easily.

What could have been a boring or depressing movie is actually a really touching tale of an unconventional friendship. Maria and Bero play very well off of each other and Sammy Abdel Fattah, who plays Bero, manages to make Bero, a character who could have been loathsome, sympathetic. Christiane Hoerbiger is fantastic in her role: probably the best performance I have seen by a German actress and in a "little" TV movie, of all things. Because it is a TV movie, it is not likely to be easily available to Americans, or be available with subtitles. In these situations it is sometimes more likely for Americans to remake their own version. Hoerbiger very much reminded me of Ellen Burstyn and she would be perfect in the role if there ever was an English version. Or I would be happy to see Christiane Hoerbiger and Ellen Burstyn in a movie together. I'd never heard of Christiane Hoerbiger before seeing this, but if her other performances are as good, she deserves international success.

8 1/2 out of 10 stars and that is only because I did not see the entire film.

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As Good as It Gets review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 16 September 2015 05:24 (A review of As Good as It Gets)

I saw this back when it was a fairly new movie, I think somebody in the family rented it. Back then I did not care for it at all, particularly not the characters played by Helen Hunt (whose performance I found extremely overrated) or Greg Kinnear.

This ended up being another movie I had to watch in class in 2015. I will say, the second time around was a lot more enjoyable. In this case I think it was good that we watched it in German, because I did not have to hear Helen Hunt flatly wailing about why she can't find a boyfriend. The German voice-over actress was not spectacular, but at least she did not have a flat voice. It made the character of Carol slightly more tolerable.

I hated the character of Simon the first time around and the second time around too. I hated how other characters treated him almost like a child and how he seemed to expect a lot more from other characters than he gave in return.

I don't really remember what I felt about Jack Nicholson's character the first time around, but the second time around, I did find Melvin interesting and layered. I hated a line he had early on in the film where he insulted Jews, as it seemed like "we" were supposed to like him for the rest of the movie, so why include that? He insults Simon too, but at least seems to learn the error of his ways, there.

The best parts of the movie by far were "friendship" that develops between Melvin and Simon's dog (who Melvin ends up sitting for and walking after Simon gets injured). By allowing himself to get close to the dog, Melvin slowly starts opening up more to people, such as Carol (the waitress at his favorite diner) and Simon himself.

As a unit, Melvin and Carol are decently interesting together and I didn't mind Melvin and Simon (although I hated in scenes when Simon whined and yelled at Melvin like a sullen teenager.) Simon and Carol, on the other hand, were extremely dull together and Carol's home life did not especially captivate me either (while it is likely very stressful having a son with a long-term illness, Carol was at times very shrill about it and vaguely acted as if she was the only person in the world with such problems. The son, while thankless, at least seemed decent enough.)

In spite of all of the negative things I am managing to find about "As Good as it Gets," it really isn't as bad as I am making it sound. It is well directed with a nice soundtrack and Jack Nicholson (and the German voice actor) really does a nice job in the role of Melvin. As I said, it is especially worthwhile watching him and the dog, particularly his moving and realistic reaction after the dog is returned to Simon. One of Simon's few redeeming qualities was allowing Melvin to walk the dog. I would have preferred more Melvin and less of his friends. Therefore, I will give it a 6 1/2 out of 10 stars

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Inklusion - gemeinsam anders review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 16 September 2015 05:05 (A review of Inklusion - gemeinsam anders)

This is another I watched in class and actually rather enjoyed. It follows two students with disabilities, Steffi (who is in a wheelchair) and Paul (who has a mental disability-sorry if there isn't a more politically correct term- and a learning disability.) Both have attended "special schools" but will be going to a "normal," "inclusive" high school in the upcoming year. They are put in the same class(es) where Albert Schwarz seems to be their main teacher. I don't remember if the movie flat-out says that only of the two students will succeed or if my teacher gave it away, but at any rate *spoiler* one student ends up in their old school by the end of the movie.

Therefore, the movie became of guessing game of which student it would be: Paul tries to be friendly to everybody and seems eager to learn. He brings an action figure everywhere for comfort and that quickly gets spotted by bullies, who are mean to him. Paul fights back, showing a surprising aggressive side. However, he later intervenes when the bullies are harassing a fellow classmate, Marie, and the two become friends (the actors work well together and I like that their friendship seemed to stay at the level of friendship instead of becoming a couple.) Paul is also a good basketball and seems to integrate well with the other students because of this. Academically, he struggles, but with Marie's help, his grades improve.

Steffi, on the other hand, is surly and makes it clear from the beginning that she did not want to change schools. She avoids classmates who try to be friendly to her, teases Paul because of his handicap (making Paul display his aggressive side, although Steffi was very much provoking him and eventually admits as much) and makes romantic advances toward Mr. Schwarz, both online (where she has a dishonest profile on a Facebook-like site) and in the school. This causes tension for Mr. Schwarz (who, in a hideously boring subplot that very much takes away from the rest of the movie, is having problems with his wife.) Eventually Steffi realizes the error of her ways. She makes friends with a girl she was initially mean to, is more civil to Paul, and even improves her behavior toward Mr. Schwarz (who helps her-without incident-with her physical therapy.)

Meanwhile the school administration has alternated between patting themselves on the back and panicking over having allowed Paul and Steffi to join as students. Many parents are against them, including the parents of Paul's friend Marie. Mr. Schwarz decides to have his class perform at an assembly for the parents and administration to show just how well all of his students (even Paul and Steffi) are doing. Of course it does not go as planned and the assembly proves to be too much for one of the two students.

I will say it was...not that hard to figure out which student would succeed and which one would not, but the movie was nevertheless enjoyable and made me think of "Degrassi High" (I'm surprised they didn't have such a plot.) Unfortunately as a German TV movie, it is unlikely that this movie would be easy for English speakers to find, let alone be easily able to watch. However, if a subtitled version would be available, it is certainly worth a viewing.

I will give this a possibly overly-kind 8 out of 10 stars. Mr. Schwarz's personal life, Steffi's early brattiness, and a not entirely-satisfying ending (although a scene where a group picture of Mr. Schwarz's class is taken seemed extremely "Degrassi-ish") keep me from giving it a perfect score.

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A Beautiful Mind review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 16 September 2015 04:34 (A review of A Beautiful Mind)

Another movie I watched in school. I quite remember when it first came out and I avoided it, thinking it looked boring, that Russell Crowe was in too many movies, and that I did not want to see Paul Bettany (whom I irrationally dislike. I'm sure he is a wonderful person, and I wouldn't say he is a bad actor. I just...don't care for him as an actor.) I remember when it won an Oscar, and that still didn't make me want to see it. Finally...in 2015, I had no choice. We watched it in class and you aren't allowed to leave early unless you have a good reason. Not wanting to watch a movie does not count as a good reason.

The experience was not so bad. The first part, where John is at college was very slow-moving and hard to sit through. After John graduates and meets and begins working with the mysterious Mr. Parcher, things pick up considerably. We soon learn that things are not as they seem for John. This is confirmed with his diagnosis of Schizophrenia. With the help of his (not-very-interesting-in-the-movie) wife Alicia, John struggles to lead a "normal" life, although he finds it harder than expected to leave his old "world" behind.

This is another movie that I saw in German, so I can say that Russell Crowe did a very good job, but I also have to give credit to the German voice-over actor for John. A German-voiced stand-in for Paul Bettany was more than alright with me, and while his character Charles seemed dull at first, he ends up being a very significant and fascinating part of the movie.

As for John's illness, the movie does an okay job at portraying Schizophrenia. I was interested enough in the movie to do a little bit of reading about John and Alicia (who tragically passed away together in the summer of 2015) and learned that the movie does not do the best job of portraying John's Schizophrenia. They also omitted a lot of interesting details about John and Alicia's personal life (they did divorce, but Alicia continued to help John out and even allowed him to live at her house. They eventually remarried in 2000 and remained married for the rest of their lives.) They even tackily omitted the fact that Alicia came from El Salvador. Jennifer Connelly...definitely is not from there.

All in all, for a more interesting than expected movie about Schizophrenia, "A Beautiful Mind" is worth watching. For a story about John Nash, I believe there is a PBS documentary that will teach people who he actually was.

7 1/2 out of 10 stars.

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Boy A review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 16 September 2015 04:07 (A review of Boy A)

I watched this one is school, or else I likely never would have heard of it. It is certainly worth watching. Andrew Garfield gives a wonderful performance as Jack, a young man recently out of prison, who is trying to reintegrate into society. It turns out that Jack is no "ordinary" prisoner, however. He is one of two boys (called "Boy A" by the press) who were convicted of brutally murdering a young girl. However much of a monster Jack (born Eric Wilson) might have been as a child, the movie does a rather good job of portraying adult Jack as a sensitive, hard-working adult who really seems to be worthy of a second chance (he even helps rescue a little girl from the scene of a car accident.) However, given Jack's circumstances, it certainly seems unlikely that he will be given that second chance.

I will give the movie and also Andrew Garfield a lot of props for making me actually want to root for Jack (who is blessedly neither too angst-ridden, nor too perfect.) I also have to give...the actor who did the German voice-over for Jack a lot of credit, too. I have not yet seen this movie in English (except for the trailer, which I actually wasn't a fan of. It veers between telling too much and too little of the story.), so technically, he and Andrew Garfield were a good "team" and both brought the character to life. I am almost always ambivalent to German voice-over actors, but this man impressed me. I have no reason to expect that the original actors weren't also talented, as their body language/facial expressions, etc certainly seemed to suggest. I hope to see it in English one day. Although the story is not a happy one, I would say the movie is worth seeing-even for a second time.
For my first time viewing, I will give it 9/10 stars. This is possibly a bit too enthusiastic, but it did leave an impression on me.

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Me Too review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 16 September 2015 04:50 (A review of Me Too)

This is another film I watched in class, otherwise I likely would never have known about it. It follows the adventures of Daniel, an exceptional young man with Down Syndrome who gets a job at an office. He soon makes friends with his co-worker Laura. He wants to be ...more than friends, while Laura struggles with that... and just about everything else. Daniel also struggles for General acceptance. Thanks to the support of his family, he is extremely well-educated, which makes him stand out from the others he knows with Down Syndrome. However, the other people in Daniel's world don't always realize that he is not so different.
Overall, this was an enjoyable and thought-provoking movie. It was nice to see a lot of actors with disabilities, including the one who played Daniel. The drawbacks:Daniel and Laura have decent chemistry, but are not always interesting. The other couple in the Film are two students with Special Needs at Daniel's brother's dance school. Their relationship seemed like it was being played for laughs, which was vaguely insulting. All-in-all, not an absolute must see, but I have cwrtainly seen worse.
7/10 stars

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Do the Right Thing review

Posted : 6 years, 11 months ago on 16 September 2015 04:28 (A review of Do the Right Thing)

It has been well over a decade since I have seen this movie, in what was my first and will be my only time. One of the most overpraised movies there is, this features absolutely no redeeming characters and a horrible message. I am usually pretty open-minded when my husband and I watch movies, but this would be one that I refuse to watch again! Out of 10 stars: 1

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Posted: 6 years, 10 months ago at Sep 19 8:38