Posts tagged movies
5 Films To Watch Before You Visit Berlin

Heading to Berlin? Check out these five films that will help you get a feel for the city, its history, sights, and sounds!

Good Bye Lenin!

Daniel Brühl gives a wonderful performance in this oddball comedy about the lengths a son will go to protect his mother. Few films have looked at the post-Wall era specifically so Good Bye Lenin! is a must-watch for those interested in the reunification period of Berlin’s history.

The Bourne Supremacy

While not strictly set in Berlin, 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy features a few action sequences set in the Alexanderplatz area of central Berlin, which happens to be where we are staying during our trip to Berlin.

The Lives of Others

2006’s The Lives of Others is a gritty look at the surveillance state in East Berlin. Set in 1984, a secret police agent is tasked with watching and reporting on the life of a writer, a task that quickly takes over the agent’s entire life. For those interested in a look at the lives of East Berliners in the late stages of the Cold War, this film is a must.


Moving back further in time, Valkyrie tells the story of the failed 1944 assassination and coup attempt by resistance members inside the Nazi party. Tom Cruise leads a mostly British cast (forgive the constantly wrong accents) in an action-packed tale of patriotism and heroism from within the ranks of Hitler’s Nazi establishment.

Wings of Desire

If you see one film before you go to Berlin, let it be Wim Wenders’ masterpiece Wings of Desire. Featuring a tour de force performance from Bruno Ganz as an angel that becomes fascinated with the human lives he is tasked with watching over, Wings of Desire is a brilliant look at then West Berlin. My personal favorite scene takes place in the Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek) as angels Cassiel and Damiel observe West Berliners going about their day. This one can’t be missed.

What films did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!

Five Great Criterion Collection Films On Sale Now

I'm a firm believer in the ability of film to transport us somewhere new, whether that be to a new world or to a country we've never been before. One of the best ways to do that is through the Criterion Collection. Not only does the Criterion Collection highlight some of the most beautiful films ever made, it also brings directors and films from world cinema to your doorstep.

If you're looking to start a collection of films that you'll definitely not find on Netflix, like Godard's Breathless, Truffaut's The 400 Blows, or Ozu's Good Morning, then Criterion is the way to go. Complete with the most authentic cut of the film and brilliantly designed packaging, it's a piece of film history that you'll love to have displayed on your bookshelf. 

Barnes & Noble is having a 50% off sale on all Criterion Collection products until August 6. I've already grabbed a few of my favorites and here's a few more to consider for your classic film collection. 

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Day For Night

Truffaut's look at the world of filmmaking makes for a funny and very French classic. Winner of the 1973 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Day For NIght chronicles the production of the fictitious film "Meet Pamela" about the drama that ensues when a young Frenchman introduces his parents to his new British wife. 


Wings of Desire

Set against the backdrop of Berlin in the mid-1980's, Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire is a compelling look at what it means to be alive. Centering around two angels looking down (yes this is the original version of City of Angels with Nic Cage and Meg Ryan) the film uses black and white and color to convey emotion and life. It also features an excellent performance by Peter Falk as himself. 


Seven Samurai

Akira Kurosawa's epic Seven Samurai transports you to the time of honor and duty as the way of the samurai comes into conflict with the changing modern world. The part story of courage and morality, Seven Samurai looks at what it means to follow an old tradition in an ever-changing world. Oft-cited as inspiration from modern directors, Kurosawa's classic is a great intro to Asian cinema of the 1950's. 


8 1/2

Moving to the Italy, director Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 is considered to be his magnum opus. Part autobiography, and part fantasy, Fellini delivers a surreal look at what it means to create art. If you're a fan of surrealistic films and great 60's fashion, Fellini's 8 1/2 is a great choice. 


Night and Fog

Released 10 years after the end of World War II, Alain Resnais' Night and Fog is a sobering, heart-wrenching look at life in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. Filmed not too long after liberation, Night and Fog's almost monotone narration is in stark contrast to the brutality played out on screen. I first saw Night and Fog in college and its images have stuck with me ever since. 

8 Films to Watch Before You Visit Paris

Visiting Paris? Nothing helps get you in the mood for a brilliant holiday like watching movies set in your soon to be locale. Here are my top eight recommendations for films to watch before you visit Paris.

In Paris, everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator. -Jean Cocteau

Midnight In Paris (2011)

Probably the most accessible of the films on this list, Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris follows an American couple visiting Paris in posh style with their parents. the story quickly takes a turn as Gill, smoothly played by One Wilson, begins to long for the Paris of the past, the one written about by Hemingway and painted by Degas. Filled with nostalgia, romance and intrigue, Midnight In Paris is a perfect way to prepare for your trip to this magical city.

Breathless (1960)

If Midnight In Paris is the most accessible of the films about Paris, then Breathless (À Bout de Souffle) will counteract that. This masterpiece from Jean Luc Godard is full of jump cuts, funny dialogue and some of the most iconic scenes set in the French capital. If you’re new to the films of the French New Wave, this is your perfect introduction. Breathless follows the whirlwind romance of a French outlaw and his American love interest as they traipse around the city avoiding the authorities. A French classic that must be seen.


Ratatouille (2007)

If you’re traveling to Paris with children, Ratatouille is the best way to help pique their interest. Kids and adults alike will love this beautiful Pixar film that stars a French chef and his rat friend Remy as they work in a stereotypical Parisian restaurant. Directed by Brad Bird, who also helmed The Incredibles for Pixar, Ratatouille is a fun jaunt into the city of light that gives viewers of all ages a lighthearted look at Paris and some of its more known locations.

Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962)

Agnès Varda uses Paris as the backdrop for one of the best character study films ever made. Cleo From 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7) follows Cleo through the back half of her day as she waits to get test results back form her doctor. the film also serves as a look at Parisian life in the 1960’s and the Algerian War, which led to Algeria’s independence from France in 1962. Cleo begins as a pretty vapid character that suddenly is faced with her impending mortality, prompting much wandering, physically and mentally. It’s a beautiful, meandering film that really captures the heart of the early 1960’s and gives a glimpse into the sexism that women dealt with.


Paris Je t'Aime (2006)

Eighteen short films set in different arrondissements, Paris, je’ t’aime is a love letter to the city in every sense of the term. With shorts from Gus van Sant, Alexander Payne, Wes Craven and many more, this is the perfect film for a quick introduction to the many different flavors of arrondissements of Paris. My personal favorite is Alexander Payne’s short that follows Carol from Colorado as she takes her first European holiday. hearing Carol speak French reminds me of my horrible attempts to speak a language that I’m pretty bad at, as are most tourists.

Before Sunset (2004)

Director Richard Linklater's use of real time in filmmaking is absolutely genius. Before Sunset picks up nine years after the previous film, Before Sunrise, with Jesse and Celine meeting in Paris. In each of the movies in the Before trilogy, the city that it takes place in becomes a character in its own right, with Paris playing its magical part in the romance. There’s something ethereal about Linklaters’s film. the almost mumble-core style dialogue mixed with exotic locales just draws you in. If you’ve ever wanted to just wander around Paris, this film is a great place to start.

The 400 Blows (1959)

There’s too much to say about François Truffaut’s masterpiece The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) and how much of an impact it’s had on my life. So I’ll save that for another post. Suffice to say that this French New Wave classic inspired countless filmmakers with its gritty look at Parisian life in the 1950’s through the eyes of a child. Young Antoine Doinel is the quintessential misunderstood child, and a somewhat biographical take on Truffaut himself, that just can’t seem to do anything right. the opening scenes show a moving Paris from a very low angle, invoking how a child would see such a massive city. A bit more harsh of a look at the French capital, but a moving and necessary one.


Amélie (2001)

There's just something about watching Amélie walk around Paris that is inherently romantic. Storyline aside, just seeing her interact with the outlandish but everyday Parisians makes you feel one step closer to eating a croissant in Montmartre. Jean-Pierre Jeunet created such a beautiful and whimsical film that puts you into the shoes of Amélie Poulain, a lovable and mostly accident prone young woman in the northern Paris district of Montmartre as she looks for love. It’s romantic, fun and a really heartwarming look at the former artist enclave of Montmartre and the area around Basilique du Sacré-Cœur.