Monday, August 17, 2009

Movie Monday!

Sheri at A Novel Menagerie hosts Monday's Movie. I watched two movie from Netflix this week so I thought I would tell you about them!

Foreign Film with subtitles (German)

Winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

137 minutes

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
98 minutes
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.


  1. I loved The Lives of Others! My husband was raised under the umbrella of communism in Poland, so we are sadistically drawn to movies like that! The other one sounds interesting, but slightly disturbing (not that disturbing has ever stopped me!)

  2. Thanks for the reviews Amy! They are not my kind of movies. I generally do not like difficult movies, but I took a movie course last semester and have learned(forced!) to appreciate them.

  3. Thanks so much for joining Monday's Movie! This is so great!

    I want you to know that I have two kitties that look like yours. I have a grey kitty like the one in your header and a black and white one that looks like Sadie. Love my kitties!

  4. I must add The Live of Others to my Netflix queue. It sounds like just the movie I'd like. I am not familiar with the other movie you mention, An American Crime. It does sound gut-wrenching. I'll have to look for that one too.

  5. Great reviews! I think my husband would like The Lives Of Others.

    The second movie you reviewed, An American Crime, sounds familiar to me. I haven't seen the movie, but I think they may have featured the story behind it on TruTV.

  6. Sandy: It's interesting that we are often drawn to things that remind us of some of the less pleasant times in our lives! I guess it keeps us grateful for what we have now? I know reminders keep me grounded and happy with what I have now.
    American Crime is quite disturbing especially in light of the fact that what is shown in the baby isn't half of what was done to the poor girl. The acting is pretty great.

    Kathy: If I had known what American Crime was about, I probably wouldn't have watched it. The older I get, the more trouble I have with movies that hurt and abuse innocent people and animals. I would love to take a class on film. The New School in Manhattan offers such a class and I plan to take it one day!

    Novel Menagerie: Your Blog is one of the first blogs I came across and I was attracted by the title and then thrilled to discover that you are an animal lover! Your kittys sound adorable!
    I've been meaning to join your Movie Mondays for a few weeks. For some reason I can't always sign on to your blog, I think it's that my computer doesn't always like your blog server - my computer is old, cantankerous & missing a memory board (that will be remedied soon). I will be updating the computer before the year is out but for now I have to learn to work with it! Thank you for visitng!

    Literary Feline: The Lives of Others is worth watching. A lot happens in the movie and it's subtle and beautifully portrayed. American Crime is very painful and sad and the acting is fantastic. Let me know if you see either or both.

    Willoughby: I think I read on the web that American Crime was featured on truTV. It shocked a lot of people in Indiana when it came out and many people ended up in jail because of it.
    I hope your husband likes Lives of Others if he sees it!

    Thank you for stopping by! Love your comments!

  7. Amy: I think you would enjoy a film course! Mine was an online course so we had to read the text, watch 6 films that went with each section of the text (acting, directing, producing, cinematography,etc.) We had to write a final paper on one movie and I chose "Greatest Show on Earth" because I really like it. I thought it was a good "B" movie and was I surprised to learn that it had won the Oscar for best picture!

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