ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (GB, 1969)
»Cinematically, the best Bond film – the only one that goes beyond mere entertainment, and is beautifully composed shot by shot.« (Steven Soderbergh)
A bond for eternity
Wrongly labeled a flop (just not as successful as his direct predecessors), this Bond film has long since become the secret favorite of the series. With Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas it not only features a fantastic cast (even the brittle one-time Bond George Lazenby is now rehabilitated) but also John Barry’s brilliant music. What Peter Hunt (as a former editor of the series, celebrating his directoral debut) and John Glen get out of the action scenes is simply breathtaking – even almost 50 years after the premiere of the film. Bond fans and all other film lovers can agree on this film – not least because it is still the most original film adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel and it had the courage to break with the success formula.
THE WILD GEESE (GB, 1978)
»The big character actors guarantee that the viewers actually identify with the characters – some scenes very much capture the heart.« (Empire)
Men shooting at targets
Films about soldier troops colorfully cobbled together, who face a dangerous mission in unknown terrain have long since developed into their own subgenre of the action film with modern classics such as “The Cannons of Navarone” or “Inglourious Basterds”. In contrast to other mercenaries, Andrew V. McLaglens’s “The Wild Geese”, however, not only shines with material battles, but also with pointed characterizations. In addition to the star quartet, fabulous actors such as Kenneth Griffith and Ronald Fraser appear in memorable roles that have been vividly drafted by the great scenarist Reginald Rose (who penned the well-worked ensemble piece “12 Angry Men”). In order to keep the viewer on top of the variety of characters, John Glen makes a considerable difference, and he regards the second-unit as the best footage (among other things the elegantly choreographed parachute jump) of his career.
OCTOPUSSY (GB, 1983)
»One of the most elegant and funniest of the series.« (Washington Post)
Octopussy is an anomaly among John Glens Bond films: Though Glens is merited to have the series back on Earth after the space-escapades of Moonraker and letting 007 fight against very real dangers, Octopussy (partly written by George Macdonald Fraser, the most successful British novelist of the twentieth century) indulges in overwhelming excess: In the best Indiana Jones spirit (the film directly followed Spielberg’s “Raiders of the lost Ark”), the film revels in exuberant exotism, but remains soothingly self-ironic. That Bond challenges the showdown in a clown costume and Q utilises a hot-air balloon much like Jules Verne’s adventurer Phileas Fogg, sets the marching direction: a good-mood Bond for young and old – and John Glens commercially most successful Bond film.
LICENCE TO KILL (GB, 1989)
»Occasionally, the Bond series sucks in its stomach, points the gun and scores a hit – one of the five or six best James Bond films.« (Los Angeles Times)
The Bond ahead of its time
Some films get released a couple of years too early: Licence to Kill, which John Glen himself calls his best film, shows an emotionally scarred bond, who is in conflict with both governmental authorities and the commandments of traditional film masculinity and advances from the individual fighter to being a team player – with which he pre-empts the era of Daniel Craig, that would inspire audiences in the 21st century with a similarly uncompromising dramaturgy. Bonds’s revenge campaign against the South American drug mafia sports classic 007 motifs with the uncompromising action cinema of the 1980s. However not able to assert itself against the oversupply of blockbusters in 1989, it has certainly aged far better than some cinema successes of the same year.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: THE DISCOVERY (ES, US, GB, 1992)
»John Glens portrayal of the Genoese explorer is magnificent entertainment – even Kirk Douglas or Charlton Heston would have felt at ease in some scenes.« (Variety)
Expulsion from paradise
The second major production, alongside Ridley Scott’s 1492, which was brought to cinemas on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s journey, looks like John Glens’s next Bond film: This Columbus is hell-bent on getting his way and leaves no flirtation aside. The great surprise of the film is, of course, how it critically roasts colonial leaders, who bring disease, canon thunder, capitalism and destruction into the New World. A star-studded and critical historical film, that, between the lines, clearly states that Columbus was not simply on the wrong path because of his confusion of India and America.
SECRET OF THE CHINESE CARNATION (Germany, France, Italy 1954)
The development of a spectacular fuel formula sparks the interest of an oil conglomerate and costs developer Professor Bexter his life. But not only the oil industry is interested in the microfilm, also the police as well as a secret organisation, whose tracks lead to the bar “Chinese Carnation”, chase after the formula. Susan Bexter (Olly Schoberova), niece of the murdered professor, is equally in the crosshairs as private detective Donald Ramsey (Brad Harris), who tries to save lives and the microfilm…
Based on a novel of crime-expert Louis Weinert-Wilton, who also delivered the tem,plate for “The secret of the Black Widow”. Rudolf Zehetgruber (“Kommissar X”, “Ein Käfer geht aufs Ganze”) filmed a suspenseful spy thriller in the tradition of the beloved Edgar-Wallace-film series. Beside Brad Harris (“Kommissar X”) and Olly Schoberova, he could cast popular acting greats such as Horst Frank, Dietmar Schönherr und Klaus Kinski.
MISSION TO HELL (Germany, France, Italy 1964)
Tropical doctor Vivian Lancaster works on a snake farm in the jungle of Thailand. She falls into the hands of a criminal diamond smuggler, who operates a diamond mine inside the country. A colorful group of travelers, among them a journalist, a punchy American and a dodgy husband also end up in the net of entanglements and they experience a series of sinister murder plots. The tracks lead to the diamond hell at theMekong, where fist law is key and no one who wins a fistful of diamonds can be certain, that he’ll survive.
The film was directed by Frank Kramer (= Gianfranco Parolini), who later realized Italian western like “Sabata”. Beside Swiss actor Paul Hubschmid (“The Tiger of Eschnapur”) and German actress Marianne Hold (“Die Fischerin vom Bodensee”), Horst Frank and Brad Harris (“Samson, Befreier der Versklavten”) appear in the film.
KOMMISSAR X: TIGER GANG (Germany, Pakistan, Italy 1971)
The Red Tiger Gang smuggles drugs from Afghanistan to Pakistan via the Chaiber-Pass, from where they are distributed to the US. Whoever gets in the way of the gang is killed, just like American Lesley Stevens.
To destroy the gang, Captain Tom Rowland and Kommissar X are sent to Pakistan. They are supplied with three contacts: Jacky Clay (Stevens secretary), Super-Intendent Ali and Mr. Khan. Even before their arrival, Mr. Khan is killed, allegedly attacked by a Tiger. The investigation leads to American mafia bosses Frank Stefani, Bosco and Paradiso, who had cleared out to Pakistan.
The film is based on the Kommissar-X novel of the same name by Manfred Wegener. Theo Maria Werner contributed to the script under the pseudonym „Werner Hauff“. A great number of scenes were filmed under the participation of local tribes in the Chaiber-Pass region.
RANCHO RIVER (USA 1966)
In 1880, the resolute Englishwoman Martha Price travels to the US with an award-winning bull. The Hereford bull is to be auctioned for a high price as a breeding animal. And indeed, a spirited Scot buys the valuable animal. To deliver it to his new owner, Martha hires the ageing cowboy Burnett as a scout.
Together they go on the dangerous journey, where they fight against killers, escape from panic herds of cattle and have to get along with each other. On arrival at Bowens Ranch, however, it is clear that the danger is not yet over.
ASSASSIN’S SEED (Germany 2017)
The ambitious assassin Lucas Kane (EVERETT RAY APONTE) hunts and tortures his old predecessor JOSEPH (ERIK HANSEN) in the basement of his European home to retrieve incriminating evidence about their mutual contractors. Lucas keeps interrogating the retired assassin with the big target mark on his head only to reveal the lies and corruption of their international hitman agency by taking a journey through the manipulations of the old man’s past.
PORTO (Portugal, USA, France, Poland 2016)
Porto, the old Portuguese port town with its mysterious, almost morbid atmosphere is the place where Jake (Anton Yelchin) and Mati (Lucie Lucas) meet. Both are foreigners in the city, both are outsiders, and both are searching. When they meet, it is attraction, yes, love at first sight. Foreign, yet at the same time familiar, they plunge head-on into an affair. It’s just a single night they spend together. But time seems to stand still. With glances, gestures and words, they create a mysterious yet indissoluble connection. The past can not be recovered, but the happy and painful memories leave their mark on both. Forever.
PORTO is the first feature film of the American-Brazilian director Gabe Klinger and at the same time one of the last of Anton Yelchin’s (STAR TREK, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE), who tragically died in June 2016. The film was produced by Jim Jarmusch (DEAD MAN, BROKEN FLOWERS) as an executive producer. PORTO celebrated its world premiere at the International Filmfestival San Sebastian, followed by further festive invitations to the 60th BFI London Film Festival, the Zurich Filmfestival and the 50th International Hofer Film Days.
Back in 2013, Gabe Klinger won the VENEZIA CLASSICI AWARD at the 70th Venice International Film Festival for the best documentary film (DOUBLE PLAY: JAMES BENNING AND RICHARD LINKLATER).
“The presence of the late Anton Yelchin amplifies the bittersweet melancholy of Gabe Klinger’s graceful romantic miniature … A film that’s in love with love.” (Variety)
TOM OF FINLAND (Finland, Denmark, Germany, USA, Sweden 2017)
Everyone knows the iconic, stylistic art of Tom of Finland, but hardly anyone knows the man’s story behind it. Returning from the front of World War II, the peacetime life of Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) proves to be a war. In 1950s Finland he can neither love whoever he wants as a homosexual, nor fulfil himself. Touko finds refuge in the drawing of homoerotic images, always exposed to the risk of a criminal prosecution, which deals rigorously with gays. Under the pseudonym Tom of Finland, his art finally takes on a triumph. The artist not only sparked the “gay revolution” but also became the symbolic figure of a whole generation of young men.
In the exciting Biopic TOM OF FINLAND, the award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski not only tells about the life and work of the most influential figure of the gay culture of the 20th century, but also brings a touching story about true love and the right to personal freedom onto the screen.
TOM OF FINLAND opened the Gothenburg Film Festival in 2017 and won the FIPRESCI Prize there. The film celebrates its German premiere at the Filmfest München.
THE SPACEWALKER (Russia 2017)
March 1965. In the heat of the Cold War, the USA and the USSR are competing for supremacy in space. What both superpowers aim for in this race, is to be the first to have a man walk in outer space. To accomplish that, no price is too high and no risk is too great.
Now it’s up to the unlikely duo of a seasoned war veteran and a hot-headed test-pilot to fulfill this mission. Two men in a tiny spaceship, without proper testing, facing the complete unknown… They were supposed to do what no man has done before – and no man imagined what would happen next…
Based on a true story, “The Spacewalker” immerses the audience in the amazing story of cosmonauts Leonov and Belyaev during their flight with Voshod-2 on 18/19 March 1965. The five meters back to the gate of the spaceship became the worst torture in the life of Leonov, the subsequent manual re-entry and emergency landing became a symbol for the will to survive.
ATTRACTION (Russia 2017)
Out of nowhere, a mysterious alien space ship emerges in orbit above the earth and crashes into Moscow, causing huge damage. Why the aliens have come to earth and whether their landing was actually an accident remains unclear at first. Only one thing is certain: some people are given a glimpse into the interior of the space ship, and they begin to question their entire existence and the emergence of mankind.
What will the staff of the Ministry of Defense expect when they try to contact the “guests”? Quickly, there is a demand that the aliens should leave the earth again. Artyom (Alexander Petrov) and Yulya (Irina Starshenbaum) also have to deal with this chaotic situation.
DANCE TO DEATH (Russia 2017)
Moscow, 2070s. The old energy technologies, such as oil and coal, were lost decades ago during the nuclear war. But a new technology has been developed that converts the human body directly into energy, leaving behind only a flurry of gray ashes.
In a sealed bunker in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Moscow, young people struggle against each other in a deadly dancing tournament. The winners will live. The losers will be consumed for energy to power the city. One of the young people in the bunker is Kostya (Ivan Zhvakin), who was captured during a police raid and forced into the tournament. There he meets and falls in love with Anya (Lukerya Ilyashenko), the daughter of a high-ranking official who has willingly offered herself to the tournament for the sake of the city. Who will survive?
THE COFFIN IN THE MOUNTAIN (China 2014)
A young man tries to get away from his family’s overwhelming power, but when he accidentally kills a local thug, his fate will be intricately linked to his father’s.
A woman, who for years has been victim of domestic violence, finds comfort in the arms of her ex-lover. The news of the death of her husband arrives as she was planning his murder. An honest village chief plans to retire but an exceptional event related to his son will pull him into the abyss.
The chinese crime drama by director Xin Yukun surprises with a mixture of black humour, suspense and thriller elements.
DETECTIVE CHINATOWN (China 2014)
After being rejected from the police college, Qin Feng (Liu Haoran) goes to Bangkok for a vacation. He plans to spend time with his “uncle” Tang Ren (Wang Baoqiang) who is reputed to be the number one detective of Chinatown in Bangkok. Tang Ren turns out to be a sleazy petty swindler who happens to be an underling of local incompetent police sergeant Kon Tai (Xiao Yang).
Meanwhile, the main suspect in a local gold robbery case, Sompat, is murdered and the gold goes missing. The gold belongs to prominent local gangster Mr. Yan (Chin Shi-chieh). Kon Tai and his rival in the police department, the ambitious Huang Landeng (Chen He) are put into competition to solve the crime with the person who solves the crime and retrieves the gold to be appointed the next deputy Chief.
The chinese mystery comedy by director Chen Sicheng combines everything your heart desires: lots of humour, action, suspense and an array of strange characters.
HAVE A NICE DAY (China 2017)
A city in southern China and a bag containing a million yuan draws several people f rom diverse backgrounds with different personal motives into a bloody conflict. Philosophising gangster bosses, ageing hitmen, men and women who are tired of the struggle to survive – anyone who happens to have the bag holds on to it tightly, as if it were a lifeline.
“Have a Nice Day” dissolves into four parts, seperated by numbers displayed. At the end of each part, someone is lying on the floor unconscious or there has been an accident. Nobody trusts the other, everyone fights everyone, but all cheat their way through as best they can. The film boasts several twists, changes quickly between the characters. But the plot is structured, most loose ends are brought back together.
DARK CIRCUS (Germany 2016)
Johanna is just twenty years old but struggling with her boring and aimless existence. Disturbing visions start the day she gets fired from her job. Soon Johanna is carried off into a different world beneath the city where people live in a parallel universe full of beautiful darkness and magic rituals. The denizens of this world are inspired and guided by a mysterious woman, The Mistress.
Drawn into her cult through an extravagant initiation ceremony, Johanna encounters fascinating characters. People like Simon, the collector, with whom she embarks on an obsessive affair. As Johanna plunges deeper into the occult her old world slowly collapses.
DARK CIRCUS is a story of transformation, a trip to the inner self, from deepest desires to darkest nightmares. Next to strong female characters, the film delivers a mythical insight into the occult. The well-crafted mixture of dark atmosphere, non-explicit eroticism, fetish and occult makes “Dark Circus” a valuable contribution to the German genre film.
MONTRAK (Germany 2016)
More and more people vanish in Germany. But the mysterious missing cases are not the work of wolves but of vampires, originating from the middle ages.
MONTRAK (Sönke Möhring), a former castellan, is damned to being a vampire by a ring transformed by Lucifer. When he is hunted by humans, he has no other choice than let himself be killed to make the vampire myth disappear.
But MONTRAKs subjects (among others Adam Jaskolka) secretly create a new vampire master who shall ultimately plunge the country into chaos with his army. Only a small group of people (among others Dustin Semmelrogge, Ralph Stieber) is standing in his way.
VESPER (France 2017)
Marge Ofenbey shuts herself away from all in a house to flee her sinister and manipulative husband. She asks her nephew Christian for help. But, Christian will soon discover the secrets hidden by Marge and Walter. What are Walter’s true intentions? Why is Marge haunted by stars?
VESPER, directed by 19 year old Keyvan Sheikhalishahi, is a mysterious and tragic thriller, a mix of three worlds : the tragic living world, the fantasy world and the idillic dead world.
The short film captivates with a suspenseful story and strong, convincing performances by its actors. For the Cineways Filmfestival, we have added German subtitles to the film.
BEZIEHUNGSPARADOX (Germany 2017)
Quantum physicist Dr. Ingmar Braun gets a strange call from his wife Marina during a conference at which he is scheduled to introduce his revolutionary time travel method. Convinced that she has an affair, he cancels the conference and travels back home.
Arriving there, he is in for a surprise: he is his own rival, meaning an older Ingmar, explaining to him that he had travelled to the past to save Marina from a deadly accident. But when Marina realizes what she had gotten herself into, she locks herself in the bedroom and Ingmar realizes, that his older self acts anything but selfless. Suddenly, not only Marina is in danger but also he himself.
Can Ingmar avert the threat originating from himself and save his marriage?