12 Films of Christmas 2019 (Part 8)

Just as a heads up, I missed yesterday’s post, so you’re gonna get two of these today. Apologies for this fuck up if you somehow were looking forward to it yesterday, but didn’t see one. It’s all on me. So let’s not dilly dally, time for the first 12 Contrivances of Christmas post for the day.

So for this post I decided to go with a movie that I actually covered on the blog earlier this year (shameless plug, I know). It is 1987’s “Wings of Desire”, directed by Wim Wenders. It is a slow burn meditative fantasy drama about Damiel (Bruno Ganz, R.I.P), an angel watching over the humans of Berlin, and how he’s going through a bit of an existential crisis. So how am I going to cover a German art drama for this silly series of mine, you ask? Well, just sit back and relax as I contrive a reason.

Now, the first thing some of you might point to might be “Ah, it’s about angels, angels mean christianity, christianity means Jesus, Jesus means christmas!”. Firstly, don’t try to beat me to the punch. And secondly, that’s wrong. I ain’t forcing some christian crap here, it would be a bit disingenuous of an agnostic such as myself. No, I have something else planned.
Despite not exactly being the cheeriest movie around, “Wings of Desire” does tout a certain theme throughout… you know, when not focusing on people going through a personal crisis or two. That theme? Love. As Damiel goes through his crisis, he falls in love with a human woman. You know why the angels exist? To make sure nothing bad happens to the humans they watch over, which is an act of love. And you know what should be spread on christmas? Love! So “Wings of Desire” is a christmas movie because, just like the holiday, it’s all about that love (or that sweet, sweet existential crisis if that’s more your cup of tea).

And even if you don’t want to take it as a holiday feature, “Wings of Desire” is a wonderful drama that, despite its divine protagonist, shows so much humanity. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Have a good one.

Movie Review: Wings of Desire (1987)

Yes, sometimes I watch old foreign films too.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Wings of Desire”.

The story follows Damiel (Bruno Ganz), an angel watching over humanity. However, he is growing tired of his task, desiring to be a human. So now we have our existential drama. And who would’ve thought that it took a celestial being to give us the most human look at life. It’s a slow-paced affair, focusing more on giving us a deep and thoughtful look at what makes us human rather than being a traditional fantasy. And I love that, as it gave me something to think about while also making me feel a bit emotional at some of the heart-wrenching observations being made within the movie. So overall this plot is great.

The characters in this are layered, engaging, and overall really interesting. Bruno Ganz plays Damiel, the angel at the center of this story who is questioning his existence. Seeing a story take such a human look at something so divine and impossible is quite fascinating, and he’s given a lot of depth throughout, making him a very interesting protagonist. And Ganz is fantastic in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Solveig Dommartin, Otto Sander, Curt Bois, Peter Falk, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Jürgen Knieper & Laurent Petitgand, and I thought it was great. Based heavily in strings, it’s an emotional score that often evokes a very dreamlike quality which gives a surprising amount of layers to the various scenes in the movie. So yeah, this movie has some good music.

This movie was directed by Wim Wenders, and I think he did a really good job with it. His direction is tender, bringing us in close to the people, making us feel like one of the angels watching over humanity. The use of different perspectives as well as monochrome is utilized very cleverly too here, as Wenders creates something quite unique with his different directing tricks here. It all really sucked me into the story even more than I already was, and that is simply great.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 98% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 79/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

“Wings of Desire” is a unique and beautiful drama that wonderfully explores humanity. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Wings of Desire” is a 9,81/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Wings of Desire” is now completed.

In the arms of an angel…

Movie Review: Constantine (2005)

So what’s on the Month of Spooks meny today? Spooky comic book adaptation? Neat.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Constantine”.

The story follows John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), a private detective handling cases of the supernatural kind, as he helps an LAPD detective (Rachel Weisz) try to prove that her sister’s death wasn’t a normal suicide, but something more sinister. All while John is dealing with the recent news that he has a really severe case of lung cancer. So now we have our spooky detective story. And it’s good. Not perfect, but good. Overall it’s a very well paced story that never feels like it drags, but there is kind of a weird disconnect between the plots of the movie. It’s clear that they used the “Dangerous Habits” story arc from the comics as basis, but then added the cop with the dead sister plot onto it because I guess they needed a more movie-esque aspect in the plot. And the two sometimes tie into each other okay, but a lot of the time they don’t fully gel. Both plots on their own are really good, but putting them together like that doesn’t fully work. But overall, pretty good stuff.

The characters in this get some decent development and are all pretty interesting. First up we have Keanu Reeves (whoa) as the titular hellblazer. He’s a sarcastic jerk who doesn’t let anyone get close, for reasons we shall not disclose, but it’s some good stuff. He’s quite a departure from the comics, but I still found him to be an entertaining and interesting character. And Reeves is really good in the role. Next we have Rachel Weisz as Angela Dodson, the detective that Constantine decides to help. She’s tough as hell without it coming off as forced or unrealistic. She feels a bit more real. And Weisz is great in the role. We also get supporting performances from people like Tilda Swinton, Shia LaBeouf, Djimon Hounsou, Max Baker, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gavin Rossdale, Peter Stormare, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Brian Tyler (with some additions by Klaus Badelt) and I think he did a great job with it. The score takes influences from a couple cultures as well as taking inspiration from a couple different genres such as horror and action. And it creates a really interesting sound that elevates the various scenes where music can be heard.

Based on the “Hellblazer” comics by DC/Vertigo, this movie was directed by Francis Lawrence, and I think he did a really good job with that. While elements of the story and character have trouble capturing the vibe of the comic, his direction gets closer to capturing that feel… if it was turned up to 11 that is, but that’s slightly besides the point. But I do like the slightly gothic vibe this thing has, which often manages to add some creep factor to it all. And the cinematography by Philippe Rousselot is pretty great too, giving us some damn fine looking shots throughout.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 46% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 50/100. Roger Ebert gave it 1,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

While not necessarily a great representation of its source material, “Constantine” is still a damn good supernatural action thriller. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down a bit by elements in the story feeling somewhat disjointed. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Constantine” is an 8,94/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “Constantine” is now completed.

Whoa.