• The Elephant Man (1980)

    The Elephant Man is a melodrama that convinces with stunning make-up, monochrome images and splendid acting performances. It's inspired by the true story of Joseph Merrick whose body was terribly deformed by a combination of different diseases that remain uncertain until today. Ridiculed, exploited and abused by a circus owner named Bytes, the young man is studied by an ambitious doctor named Treves who initially only wants to impress his colleagues. Soon enough, the doctor discovers a wonderful human being behind the scary appearance and helps him find a home and integrate him into society. However, Joseph Merrick continues to face ridicule by a greedy night porter, is confronted by the vile circus owner and struggles to accept that there doesn't seem to be a cure for him.

    This movie certainly makes you think about humanity. It proves once more that you can't judge a book by its cover. The Elephant Man is the most humane character in the entire movie. On the other side, the sensationalism, prejudice and bullying he faced back in the nineteenth century still hasn't changed in our society. The character trait that human beings tend to ridicule others in order to make themselves feel better is a horror you can still witness on the news every single day.

    The make-up still looks haunting nowadays and has aged surprisingly well over the past four decades. The fact that the movie doesn't use any special effects makes it look very realistic. The monochrome images provide a gloomy atmosphere that is equally ancient and timeless. The acting performances are particularly strong and especially John Hurt truly became one with his character. The film features some surreal dream sequences that prove that experimental mastermind David Lynch directed this movie. The timeless soundtrack enhances the emotional story splendidly.

    On the negative side, the film has a few lengths and takes some time to unfold. The idea to reveal the entire appearance of the main character very early in the movie prevents the film from building anticipation. While the movie is of great emotional value, it's missing some intellectual challenge as the story is easily predictable.

    If you are interested in the human condition and like dramas with moving messages, you should certainly watch The Elephant Man. The professionalism, detail and dedication put into this project by make-up artists, cameramen and actors is still astonishing. This is a movie worth to be taught in school to prevent bullying.

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  • Colonia (2015)

    Colonia Dignidad was the German equivalent to Jonestown. It was an isolated cult led by a megalomaniac pedophile fugitive who collaborated with Chilean dictator Pinochet for decades. Neither German ambassador officials nor members of the Pinochet regime were ever hold accountable for the abominable crimes against humanity such as imprisonment, torture and murder that happened there for several decades. The worst thing is that there still is a colony called Villa Baviera that has taken Colonia Dignidad's place. That whole area has become some sort of sinister tourist attraction and people claim that hotel staff is friendly and the restaurant offers great meals. It's outrageous that this place even exists under any other form than a memorial. People who have lost their relatives should be able to grieve here like people who visit concentration camps. Even tearing this whole place down like it happened to Jonestown would still be a better option than what this place has become now. The existence of this place alone until this date is a slap in the face for victims and survivors alike. Germany and Chile should cooperate to shut this place down as soon as possible, start a thorough investigation of the gloomy past and create a humble memorial that educates present and future generations about the horrors that happened there.

    Colonia mixes gloomy historical events with more uplifting fictitious ones. This movie offers more than just entertainment as it informs people around the world about the terrible truth behind the gloomy cult. This movie should be taught, shown and discussed in history and ethics classes, particularly in Germany and Chile. Aside its educational value, the movie convinces with the realistic settings that bring the seventies in Chile back to life. The camera work is precise and intense. The acting performances by a diversified Daniel Brühl, a resilient Emma Watson and a scarily charismatic Michael Nyqvist are outstanding.

    This film deserves more attention than it has gotten so far. This is obviously also the case for the numerous victims of Colonia Dignidad. This movie exemplifies the physical and psychological horrors numerous victims of so many others isolated sects around the world have gone through, still go through and will sadly continue to grow through. Education is a strong tool to make sure this world becomes a better place as we learn from the mistakes of the past. It's our civil duty to speak up against such abominable crimes without any shame. Watch this film, spread the story behind it and recommend it to your friends to honour the victims of this terrible place.

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  • Ford versus Ferrari (2019)

    Ford versus Ferrari is too bland of a title for this amazing movie. International title Le Mans 66 already sounds much better. I would however propose Miles & Shelby: Friendship Through Racing. This is what the movie is all about. There is a lot of competition, culture, drama, hardship and racing in this film but once you have gotten the bigger picture, this movie really is about the friendship between an ambitious constructor and a tough driver.

    This gem of a movie convinces on numerous levels. The settings are authentic and bring the United States of America, Italy and France of the mid-sixties back to life. An old sports car here, an iconic poster there and legendary race circuits bring back the pioneer age of race driving.

    The actresses and actors are doing an outstanding job. Christian Bale and Matt Damon are two of the greatest actors to be around and they underline their excellent reputation for two and a half entertaining hours. Christian Bale convinces as rough guy with a tender core who cares as much about his own success as he does about his son who idolizes him. Matt Damon incarnates an ambitious entrepreneur who always strives to make the impossible possible. The supporting actors and actresses are also noteworthy as Caitriona Balfe convinces as resilient, smart and emotional wife and mother while Remo Girone delivers the goods by incarnating legendary entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari.

    The story is obviously also addictive as viewers care about the fates of the charismatic protagonists. The plot might be predictable, especially if you have some background knowledge about the actual events this movie is based upon. This however doesn't reduce this film's enjoyment because everything is crafted with authenticity, detail and wit.

    In the end, anyone who likes racing must watch this intense drama despite a few minor lengths. Those who were longing for a similar movie after the astonishing Rush six years earlier, will finally get something to crave for. Ford versus Ferrari is one of the most emotional dramas of the year and best enjoyed on the big screen at your local movie theatre.

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  • Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

    Motherless Brooklyn is a wonderful film noir that combines drama with thriller elements. It's easily the greatest American movie of the year and only South Korean masterpiece Parasite beats it on an international level. I wouldn't be surprised if this movie were nominated for several Academy Awards a few months from here.

    The greatest element about this movie is its atmosphere. It's dirty, gloomy and sinister. This is due to excellent camera techniques recalling film noir techniques of the fifties. The light techniques also blend in very well as the movie works a lot with dimmed lights and different shades. The settings also contribute as the lifestyles of the rich and poor are contrasted by the locations they live. The period cars, clothes and music blend in perfectly as well. There are few films that have brought the past back to life so authentically as it's the case here.

    One has to point out the character developments and excellent acting performances. Edward Norton is incredible as socially awkward investigator with a strong moral compass. Gugu Mbatha-Raw convinces as upright human rights activist with a mysterious past. Alec Baldwin convinces as ambitious, eloquent but sinister businessman. Willem Dafoe perfectly incarnates his brilliant, desperate and isolated brother. Bruce Willis convinces as courageous leader with a hidden agenda. The way these numerous characters interact like dynamic pawns in a twisted game of chess is absolutely incredible.

    Last but not least, one has to underline the excellent story. It comes around with interesting developments, turns and twists without ever feeling staged. The story is on the pulse of time of what was going on in the United States of America in the years and decades following the Second World War. You can learn about that period of time in this movie than you ever will in documentaries and history books. Telling you anything more would lessen the magnificent experience of watching this masterpiece.

    In the end, Motherless Brooklyn is a brilliant film noir that perfectly balances drama and thriller elements. It's a movie that takes its time to develop its characters, settings and story but the audience will be rewarded with an authentic, emotional and intellectual masterpiece. Nervously fidgeting youngsters might find the movie slightly long-winded but fail to understand that this movie successfully hearkens back to the art of cinematography established throughout the golden years of American filmmaking.

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  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

    Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is one of the Quentin Tarantino movies that is the most difficult to describe. Usually, there are movies of his that convince with atmosphere, depth and twists such as Inglorious Basterds or films that are rather shallow, referential and confusing like Kill Bill. The only movie that is somewhere in between both extremes might be Jackie Brown that convinces with great acting and cool retro atmosphere but disappoints with unnecessary lengths and a weak story. This new movie could be compared to Jackie Brown.

    The acting performances, especially by a very cool Brad Pitt and a vividly emotional Leonardo DiCaprio, are absolutely outstanding. Without the two brilliant main actors, this movie would have been painfully average but the strong acting performances make it a good movie, neither more nor less. The movie truly manages to capture the spirit of the end of the golden age of Hollywood with numerous references to popular television series and movies such as The Green Hornet and Rosemary's Baby. The movie cleverly mixes facts and fiction.

    However, the movie clearly overstays its welcome with a running time of one hundred sixty-one minutes. The film takes more than two hours to introduce all characters and settings until the climax unfolds in about ten minutes. While most of Quentin Tarantino's movies have a clever twist, the one used here is slightly disappointing at first contact but at least offers some food for thought in hindsight. This is the kind of movie that grows on you as you think about it later on while it slightly disappoints while watching it.

    This movie should be recommended to those who are either interested in the history of the American film industry or admire Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio who would both deserve Academy Awards for their extraordinary performances. The movie however has massive lengths and an almost unspectacular story. It's worth being watched at the cinema but overall slightly overrated due to the massive critical acclaim any Quentin Tarantino movie seems to receive.

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