Category Archives: m for movies

Best Foreign Film Oscar: I approve

I went to see The Lives of Others today around noon for my Eastern European history class; I couldn’t make it to see the scheduled class movie about Kosovo, so the professor strongly recommended to go see this one while it’s in the theater.

Which raises the ever-fun question: when’s the last time I saw a movie in a theater?

Cinderella Man? And before that it was Wallace and Gromit, Saturday Night Lights, and Master and Commander, I think. I’m so out of touch with movies. None of the movie posters at the theater clicked with me, and I barely knew any of the Oscar nominees. I recognized The Queen (and mean to see it eventually) and Flags of our Fathers — the latter only because it was being advertised in Rome while we were there (“di fianco al soldato, √© un eroe” was the slogan, I think).

Anyway, I went to see The Lives of Others today.

Movie poster

I liked it; it really conveyed that confusing and dangerous atmosphere that has come across in class and in the readings. Things are dangerous — but maybe not, maybe you can get away with it. Things are safe — but not, maybe it’s suspicious just because it appears safe. It felt realistic to me also in that the actions and consequences felt real. I didn’t agree with this review, which claims that the ending is too feel-good and “sentimental”. I thought it was very human, and very cathartic — but not too much so. The characters, so far as you know, don’t make any heroic stands; they go on with their lives with appropriately human emotions about what has happened to them. The only thing I didn’t quite like was the “Sonata for a Good Man”; maybe it sounds less hamfisted in German.

I look forward to hearing what the professor has to say in class, and I’m also wondering whether he thinks there is any significance to the fact that the West German magazine editor is portrayed as being more anxious about the Stasi than the two East German writers in the relevant scene.

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