What is it about fairy tales that still makes them so fascinating to us even though we have known their stories since our childhood? Is it nostalgia? Are we conservative if we like them because we need to be retold the same old tale over and over again? More than 200 years after the Grimm Brothers wrote Snow White, Spanish director Pablo Berger now retells the story of a young beautiful girl and her vicious stepmother for the cinema. The result might be based on a famous fairy tale, but it is so unique, original, and enchanting that you almost wish more filmmakers would use well-known stories to express their fresh artistic visions.
Do you still remember the first time you rewatched an old animated cartoon film as an adult? I still do, and I was amazed that this film- I believe it was a Disney classic- worked for a grown-up audience as well. I realized that it was filled with innuendos, puns, and cultural references and simultaneously worked for its main target audience, the child viewers. Despite the impressive empire of Walt Disney Company, great animated films have always had a second home in Japan, often with a slightly more poetic and less conventional feel to them. Now, more than two years after its release in Japan, From Up on Poppy Hill, a fascinating coming-of-age story from the famous Japanese Ghibli Studios, finally finds its way into German cinemas and reveals its beautifully drawn magic on big screens around the country.
Long before the hipster there was the nerd who now, thanks to hipster culture and its appropriation of nerd codes and styles, seems to have become an extinct species. There was a time when “uncool” people wore horn-rimmed glasses and weird hairstyles unironically. The preferred domain of these nerd types was the world of computers and their codes consisted of zeros and ones. Nerds were outsiders and loners and it was easy to make fun of the fact that they were living in a parallel universe. Mumblecore director Andrew Bujalski now remembers the peak of 1980s nerd computer culture in his new film and has produced a little masterpiece of modern retro-history and ironic social observations.
A postcard hangs over Florian’s bed and it reads: Fat kids are harder to kidnap. Florian is a fat kid. I use the word fat because, to quote Beth Ditto, “overweight” would imply that there is such a thing as normal weight. Both the funny postcard and Ditto’s quote are empowering messages that fat kids like Florian need since they are constantly reminded by others that what they are is not normal. The fact that Florian is about to come out as gay doesn’t make things easier and when his fat dad tells him that he wasn’t as fat as a kid, Ditto comes to mind again: “It’s a cruel, cruel world to face on your own.” Luckily, Florian has a best friend and ally who shares the soundtrack of his life…
Some hard facts first: porn is not what it used to be. Tonight, the Porn Film Festival Berlin opens its gates for the eighth time and things look a little different this year. A quick browse through the programme made me wonder where the porn went, and by porn I mean, quite conservatively, mainstream feature-length hardcore porn films. With very few exceptions, they have disappeared from the festival and that’s not even a bad or a sad thing since watching feature-length hardcore porn in a regular cinema in the company of strangers can be a… well… stressful thing.