a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Posts tagged ‘Germany’

“Marie’s Mind for Murder,” a Mommy & a Hottie German Detective Duo

I really did enjoy viewing ALLLL ten episodes of the German Crime series “Marie’s Mind for Murder” which is now being brought to our shores by the inimitable MHz Networks. It’s refreshing in that we see the main character of Marie Brand is a very spunky and sparky Mom. Played by Meriele Millowitsch, who was born in 1955, she is dynamically paired with the hot young German star, Hinnerk Schoenmann, who is decades younger than she is.

The December/May age difference gives the series its’ pzazz. Shot as a series of TV movies for German television over a number of years, the first set available here has ten 90 minute episodes. Police procedurals all. But with the twist that Marie Brand (as the series is known in Germany) is a semi-dowdy, but in shape, intelligent policewoman who can write simultaneously with both hands. She is none to happy at first to return to police work and be paired with air-head ladies. man, Jurgen Simmel (Schoenmann), who she only refers to quite formally as Herr Simmel.

The strawberry-blond hunk is treated as something of a boy-toy, whose manly physique is given as much exposure, sometimes more, than most ingenues are called upon to do, in Series TV. In fact, for those who MUST know, he goes full-frontal in Episode 3 “Marie and the Night of Retribution” getting out of a large marble bath-tub, where he is romancing one of the episode’s hot chick suspects, who is also nude in the bath with him. We then are treated to him crossing to pick up his clothes on the far side of the bathroom, so coming and going Hinnerk Schoenmann cuts a fine figure. And he’s a karate expert, too.

He’s also very funny, and the back and forth between the two detectives is quirky and entertaining and keeps the viewer interested, if things get bogged down plot-wise. They are decidedly an odd couple, the oddest I’ve ever seen as a cop duo. And the singularity of a mature, smart woman paired with the less-than-intellectual younger man is something we’d never see dealt with States-side on TV. And may never. But “Marie’s Mind for Murder” is certainly worth seeking out and checking out. Because the sexual role reversal makes everything quite refreshing.

As the series wore on, it got better and better and really hit its’ stride with the last two episodes, “Marie & the Wrong Woman” and “Marie & the Song of Love & Death.” And there are more to come.

It’s still in production in Cologne, Germany, the most uninteresting locale imaginable. But the duet of detectives Brand und Simmel keep things hopping and popping.
Marie's Mind 2

“The Book Thief” Definitely Oscar Worthy!

Just saw a truly wonderful late entry into the Oscar Race, Fox 2000’s “The Book Thief”, a small “little” film that is anything but. “The Book Thief” creeps up and steals your heart away and leaves you devastated.  Oscar, are you watching?

It’s World War II and an unseen narrator eerily sets the scene.  Who this narrator is slowly to be revealed is one of the main mysteries of “The Book Thief.” Is it Geoffrey Rush? The film’s leading man. Or just who is it?

Of course, this immediately sets up the greatest of film dynamics which is  the audience wanting to know “What’s going to happen next?” And with “The Book Thief” that suspense is maintained literally til the last frame. Which is really an achievement.

We’re in a familiar setting, Germany during WW II. In fact, it seems to resemble very closely another German back-dropped war drama “The Reader” which won Kate Winslet one Oscar and two Golden Globes.

“The Book Thief”could land a slew of Oscar nods, too. Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush) and Best Supporting Actress (Emily Watson) Best Adapted Screenplay and maybe more.

It depends on just how wily Fox 2000, sometimes referred to as Big Fox, plays its’ Oscar campaign from here on out. Fox Searchlight, of course, has a sweeping winner with “12 Years a Slave”. But “The Book Thief” should gets its’ due also.

IF enough Academy members get to see it in time to nominate it.

Geoffrey Rush gives one of his most beguiling and sweetly sympathetic performances as the adoptive father of the titular heroine, the child Leisl played by newcomer Sophie Nelisse, who is the Book Thief.

And Emily Watson gives hands down one of the best performances of her career as Leisl’s turbulent adoptive mother who is practising tough love with the child for most of the movie.

So familiar is this setting,i half-expected Kate Winslet to bicycle around the corner in braids any second. The aqua hue of the light is almost the same color of the lighting in “The Reader.”

The Nazi book burning that really sets the film in motion is frightening, and Leisl, who loves books so passionately that she begins to steal them, is traumatized by this event that she witnesses as a choir member of the Hitler Youth singing “Deustcheland Uber Alles.”

She even is so bold to steal one of the still smoldering books from the embers of the pile in one of the film’s pivotal moments. It’s still burning and as her kindly doting adoptive father Geoffrey Rush hurries her home, she starts coughing from the smoke that is coming from the still burning book hidden under her coat.

Rush takes the book from her then hides it under his coat. And more I cannot reveal, because the plot involves and tricks you with its’ many twists and turns that are its’ strengths. As well as the superb performances of Sophie Nelisse, Rush and Watson.

Don’t read any reviews that might spoil the delight of experiencing “The Book Thief” for the first time, not knowing what was going to happen. Just know that it COULD be nominated for Best Picture, though nobody is predicting it for the moment. BUT I AM.

Germany, the Halocaust, the Nazis, WWII, Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush, an adorable little girl heroine, it’s catkip to Oscar Voters, and to me as well. See it!

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