Foreign Film with subtitles (German)
Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Starring: Ulriche Muhe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch &Ulrich Tukur
This drama is the debut film of writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It is loosely based on true events. Agents of the Stasi, the GDR's Secret Police monitor the cultural scene in East Berlin. The movie begins with the interrogation of a prisoner by Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, who is using the interrogation to instruct a class he is teaching on techniques of for interrogation. You quickly realize how strict this societ is and how difficult it is to behave properly. The littlest things is taking as a slight against the government.
Captain Wiesler is soon recruited to monitor a playwright named Georg Dreyman who is suspected of pro-Western sympathies. Dreyman lives with his girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland an actress. It seems a top minister, Hempf, has his eye on Christa-Maria.
The secret monitoring of Dreyman and, consequently, Christa-Maria, as well as the atmosphere and morals in society during this time, has unexpected effects on the individuals who touch their lives.
This movie is about love, loyalties, corruption, values, beliefs, passion, how far a person can be pushed, what happens when beliefs held dear are suddenly trampled upon and so much more. This was a terrific movie that made me think about many things and also made me so very grateful for where I live and the era in which I live.
An American Crime
True Crime drama
Starring: Catherine Keener, Ellen Page, Hayley McFarland, Evan Peters, Nick Searcy, Romi Rosemont, Ari Graynor and James Franco
This is the true story about the life of sisters Sylvia and Jenny Likens when they boarded with Indiana housewife Gertrude (Gertie) Baniszewski in 1965 while their parents, Lester and Betty Likens toured with a professional carnival.
Gertrude had 6 children of her own and was in dire financil straits. She had other issues too and took her anger, frustration, sadness and jealousy out on Sylvia, the older of the Likens girls. Sylvia became the scapegoat for a woman not in control of her own life or her children, a woman with loose morals and in denial about her life and her children.
Gertie could be downright mean at times and, for some reason, had a profound influence over many of her children's friends. The Baniszewski children and their friends exhibited a Lord of the Flies mob mentality towards Sylvia. In addition, Gertie's children accepted Gertie's cruelty, neglect and abuse displaying a kind of Stockholm Syndrome mentality. Finally, Gertie's neighbors heard terrible screams coming from the house but felt that "it was better not to get involved". Even Sylvia's sister, Jenny, a polio victim, did little to help her.
This was a difficult movie for me to watch. I wasn't aware of the story when we rented it or I might not have watched it. I like true crime shows and this has a wonderful cast. But the violence and cruelty in this movie, directed at a child, made it hard to stomach.
This movie was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy. The director, Tommy O'Haver was asked several times why he got involved with this move. He grew up in Indiana and said he was always haunted by this case.