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When the Wall Came Tumbling Down

When The Wall Came Tumbling Down:
50 Hours that Changed the World 
reviewed by Chris Cooke

It‚s easy for Americans to
think back to the fall of the Berlin Wall and fail to appreciate
the hows and whys of the events that led to this historical moment.
Along comes When The Wall Came Tumbling Down: 50 Hours that Changed
the World
. Documentarians Hans-Hermann Hertle and Gunther Scholz
have pieced together extensive footage and interviews to create
a chronological portrayal of the miscommunications and political
slip-ups that started East Germany on an inevitable slide toward
either freedom or catastrophe. 

This is the real deal, not some
watered-down-for-your-entertainment, sentimental history gloss.
Interviewees rank among the prominent leaders of the day: Mikhail
Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl, George Bush, an assortment of higher-ups
in the East German government and even journalists like Tom Brokaw.
After a brief bit of background to explain the travel and emigration
controversies at the time, Hertle and Scholz plunge us right into
the fray, with a play-by-play retelling of East German officials‚
decision to lift travel restrictions, the inadvertent early leak
of this decision to the press and the ensuing chaos. 

Admittedly, it’s a bit hard for
the non-historian to keep up with the who’s who of German politics.
But even if you only follow half of what’s going on, it’s impossible
not to get caught up in the events, to feel a swelling of political
joy as the wall slowly begins to tumble. This engaging and highly
informative documentary should come with a warning label attached:
Viewers May Experience Urge to Beef Up on Cold War History. Maybe
you‚ll want to do a quick review first. 

>>
Buy a copy of it at BuyIndies.com

The Edge of the World
reviewed by Jennifer M. Wood

The Edge of the World

For true cineastes, there is perhaps
no greater British director than Michael Powell whose films, including I Know Where I’m Going, The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom have reached near-legendary status. But the film that brought
him to the forefront of the director’s curve may very well be 1937’s The Edge of the World.

The Masons and the Grays are two
families living in a close-knit community on an island off the coast
of Scotland. In the middle of these families is Andrew Gray, who
is the best friend to Robbie Manson, and the fiance of Robbie‚s
twin sister, Ruth. Though Robbie dreams of leaving the island and
finding out what the rest of the world has to offer him, Andrew
doesn’t believe he will find anything outside of their own community.
So the two make a bet: they will race to the top of a cliff and
whoever makes it their first will win. But once at the top, they
learn more about their world — and the imminent tragedies that
exist — than they ever dreamed possible.

Pumpkin Man

Though considered a true talent
throughout his career, Powell always seemed to push the cinematic
envelope to its limits. Though The Edge of the World would
likely be met with critical praise if released today, its outright
discussion of such then taboo topics as premarital sex would not
seem at all surprising. Powell was always a director for another
generation. And it‚s lucky for today‚s moviewatching public
that staunch
preservationists like Martin
Scorsese have stepped in to make sure that Powell‚s films will
be widely available for future generations as well.

>> Buy
a copy of it at BuyIndies.com

Pumpkin Man 
reviewed by Chris Cooke

Most films set on Halloween aren‚t
the kind of thing you‚d want your children to see. With all
the slasher flicks out there, it‚s nice to see a Halloween
picture that offers solace along with its scares. Director Jennifer
Wynne Farmer‚s charming Pumpkin Man is just such a movie.
Jason (no, not the Friday the 13th guy) always
loved Halloween, until his favorite costumed companion — his dad
— moved out. Still reeling from his parents‚ recent divorce,
Jason (Christopher Ogden) wants nothing to do with any tricks or
treats. 

But of course he does go (as the
Invisible Man˜a fitting choice, considering his state of mind).
But first, he and his mother pick out a mysterious pumpkin, one
that seems to rock itself off its perch and roll right in front
of Jason’s feet. The pumpkin shows up later, in a more threatening
form, as Jason and friends make their way through the neighborhood
to their traditional last stop — the house of reputed father-killer
Sammy Hain (Milton Greagh), where they plan to ring the doorbell
and run. 

Things are not always as they seem
here, but Farmer‚s tricks turn out to be kind-hearted when
all is said and done. Perhaps a bit too scary for the wee ones and
not cool enough for teens, Pumpkin Man will be quite a treat
for all kids in between, especially those who have lived through
a parental divorce. There are no razor blades in this apple.

>> Buy
a copy of it at BuyIndies.com

Bikini Bandits

Bikini Bandits: Freeze Mother Fu***rs!
reviewed by Jennifer M. Wood

A throwback to all that made the
seventies the decade that pop culture dreams are made of, Bikini
Bandits
seems intent on offending the sensibilities of the
general American public. Take „The Big Top,‰ which pits
our bikini-clad heroines against a circus of homosexual clowns.

Vibration

This DVD, which contains seven
separate segments, is very stylishly created˜a pumping soundtrack
and super-quick edits make the entire disc seem more like an hour
of MTV watching than anything else. And, like the crowd that MTV
targets, Bikini Babes is much better suited to the tastes
of adolescent males who were caught by the title of this film.
The rest of us might have better luck — and a more enjoyable
time — watching some Dukes of Hazzard reruns.

>> Buy
a copy of it at BuyIndies.com

Vibration 
reviewed by Chris Cooke

Those of you jonesing for some decades
old Swedish erotica (and I know you’re out there) should check out
Torbjorn Axelman’s Vibration (1968). Mauritz (Sven-Bertil
Taube), a writer of astrological pap, leaves Paris for a remote
Swedish isle so he can write his next book before his publisher
asks too many questions about where his latest advance has gone.
Once on the island, he finds himself surrounded by an assortment
of artists, locals and high society loafers. Needless to say, he
gets distracted, pairing off first with a beautiful maid before
moving along to the more sophisticated Eliza (Essy Persson). 

As far as the erotic goes, Vibration implies more than it shows (always good for the imagination).
There is playfulness aplenty, but few cheap thrills. And though Vibration wears its Euro-art-film vibe on its sleeve, there
is little exploration of character or philosophical insight beyond
Mauritz’s inevitable astrological musings. Rather, the film delights
in the transitory nature of human interaction, never exploring
any emotion more extreme than mild amusement or the occasional
happy sigh of resignation at love lost. Vibration is very
much of its time; it‚s mellow, hip — a bit like Ingmar Bergman
meets Emmanuelle, only cooler, without the tension or the
heat. So pour yourself a Pernod, pull up a chair and press Play.

>> Buy
a copy of it at BuyIndies.com

 

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