Film Friday #172

The Book Thief (2013)

After twelve year old, Liesel’s (Sophie Nelisse) mother is no longer able to look after her after being accused of being a communist, she moves in with foster parents Rosa (Emily Watson) and Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush). At first Liesel is extremely hesitant but as she gets to know strict but loving Rosa and gentle, generous Hans better she starts to settle into life on Hemel Street… especially when she befriends her neighbour, Rudy (Nico Liersch). But this is World War II Germany and every element of Liesel’s life is under threat… a threat that only intensifies when the family takes in Max (Ben Schnetzer), the son of the Jewish man who saved his life in WWI. As Max hides out in the freezing basement, he and Liesel bond over a shared love of books and reading, building a friendship that will risk both their lives and change them forever. An interpretation of a book as powerful and well-loved as The Book Thief was never going to be easy and there are several places where this film falls short. Half of what made the novel so special was getting to know all the little characters in the Hubermann’s town, which just doesn’t happen in the truncated time. Neither do we really get to see Liesel’s connection with Ilse Hermann (Barbara Auer) or what drives her to her book stealing ways. All of that said, there are some excellent performances. Geoffrey Rush is the absolute embodiment of Hans Hubermann and his chemistry with Emily Watson is the beating heart of the story. Nelisse, Schnetzer and Liersch are all also strong but some of the elements of the story that have been changed are not necessarily for the better. However even though there is so much missing, the film still packs a hefty emotional punch and its enjoyable in its own right. Definitely worth watching but if you haven’t read the novel, do yourself a favour and start there. 3.5/5

We call this the Fuhrer corner, it;s the highlight of every basement

We call this the Fuhrer corner, it;s the highlight of every German basement

Four Rooms (1995)

It’s New Years eve and Ted (Tim Roth) has just taken over as a bellhop at the Mon Signor Hotel, once a hot spot for celebs but now on its last legs. As his shift continues he finds himself in one bizarre situation after another dealing with a coven of witches, a pair of very badly behaved children, a couple playing out a bizarre fantasy and movie star who has made a terrible bet with his friends. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Four Rooms. It has a great cast including Quentin Tarantino, Antonio Banderas, Ione Sky and Bruce Willis and Roth is hilarious as he runs around trying to satisfy all of his guests’ needs. I found it hard to pay attention to though. Just as each one of the segments was getting going it came to an end which made it all feel a bit disjointed. Probably should have stayed in the 90’s. 2.5/5

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That moment when you get caught with a dead hooker’s leg in your hand

Lady Vengeance (2005)

When Geum-ja Lee (Yeong-ae Lee) is convicted of the kidnapping and murder of little Won-Mo everyone is shocked, not only by her youth and beauty but also by her apparent angelic transformation in prison. Little do they realise that it’s all part of an elaborate thirteen year plan that Geum-ja Lee has been building to exact her revenge on Mr Baek (Min-sik Choi), the man who betrayed her. Lady Vengeance is the third film in Korean director, Chan-Wook Park’s Vengeance Trilogy, which also includes Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Old Boy. While Lady Vengeance is nowhere near as graphically violent as Old Boy it’s not hard to see that they come from the same mind. They have the same air of mystery with a story that unfolds unexpectedly in a non-linear fashion, showing each one of its cards until eventually the whole dastardly hand is displayed. Geum-ja Lee is a total bad ass genius but she also a complex and damaged character that can be challenging to understand, especially in her relationship with her daughter, which makes her that much more interesting. Pair this up with the juxtaposition of the beautiful cinematography with the sickening subject matter and you’ve got another Korean gem. 4/5

vengeancetrilogy-04

Geum-ja Lee had sworn off backstreet budget manicures for life

Ghostbusters II (1989)

The Ghostbusters are forced to come out of retirement after Dana’s (Sigourney Weaver) baby becomes the target of Vigo (Wilhelm von Homburg), once the scourge of Carpathia, but now trapped in a painting. With the help of art restorer, Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), Vigo intends to possess baby Oscar and take over the world but not if Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Akroyd), Spengler (Harold Ramis) and Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) can find a way to use the emotionally charged river of ghost slime running under New York against him. Ghostbusters II is a lot of fun, mostly because of its zany stars, especially Murray. The effects have also aged remarkably well, which means you get the best of 80’s nostalgia without the hideous CGI. That said, it definitely isn’t as good as the first one and a lot of the jokes are a bit stale. If you get the option, pick Ghostbusters over this but it’s still a great watch. 3/5

It doesn't look anything like me, does it?

It doesn’t look anything like me, does it?

12 Comments

  1. I absolutely loved reading The Book Thief and I’m undecided about whether to see the film or not as I’ve heard very mixed things. And I actually prefer Ghostbusters 2 to the first one, although that’s not a particularly common opinion!

    1. Abbi

      It’s a tough one cos the book is so great and there’s so much going on it was always going to be nigh on impossible to match it. If you let that go then it’s enjoyable in its own right.

  2. Haven’t seen Lady Vengeance, but I agree on the other three films (especially Four Rooms – it still has moments of funny, but it hasn’t aged well). Good commentary.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! I think you’d like Lady Vengeance.

  3. Lady Vengeance is one that I think I really should watch at some point or another. I believe they were going to attempt an American remake of it, but it never came to fruition. That may have been a good thing…

    1. Abbi

      I’m over these English remakes. Why are people so subtitle-phobic?

  4. Great reviews. Glad to hear Geoffrey Rush is on top form in The Book Thief.

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! He’s always great. Such a talented actor!

  5. jennypughuk

    I realised that I didn’t have The Book Thief on my Goodreads list, so thanks for that, I’ve added it now. I’m really looking forward to seeing the film as I’ve heard so many good reports on it, but I will definitely read the book first 🙂

    1. Abbi

      They’re both great but in different ways. The book is an absolute must read.

  6. I’ve been thinking about reading The Book Thief before watching the film. I just might. Nice reviews. : )

    1. Abbi

      It’s an absolutely excellent book. I would highly recommend it.

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