Who saw The Sicilian (1987)? More to the point, which of the casting directors of The Sicilian saw Barbara Sukowa in Lola and decided to drag her into its hell, and endanger whatever likely career she may have had? The Sicilian is a hard film to watch, especially for an admirer of Barbara Sukowa. What The Sicilian proves is a prime example of Hollywood at work overseas —spotting somebody’s star quality and in attempting to harness it, the movie ends up trampling all over it and going for the nudity...
‘You will now listen to my voice. My voice will help you, and guide you still deeper into Europa.’ So is the stunning opening to Europa in the world-famous voice of Max von Sydow, as he describes the journey of film, of life and of our own internal fantasy. It’s deep stuff! And one of the best openings there has ever been in film - really!
It’s easy to forget that the country Rainer Werner Fassbinder lived in doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a pity but there aren’t many Germans of his generation who missed out on the unification experience, but because of when he lived and died, Fassbinder was unlucky enough to find himself existing in a Westdeutschland that came into existence in 1949, a few years after he was born, and ceased to exist almost a decade after he died.
B-movies are sometimes redeemed by astonishing casts, and Johnny Mnemonic is a great example; Dolph Lundgren appears as a psychotic Christian killer, probably the weakest role in the film as he overeggs it horribly; Dina Meyer, who has sadly never been A-list despite having been in Starship Troopers and numerous Saw films; Takeshi Kitano, whose acting credits fill entire websites devoted to his skill, looks and genius; Henry Rollins, a guy who just keeps getting work despite obvious flaws; Denis Akiyama, who looks like British comedian Michael Mackintyre; and how Barbara Sukowa ended up within this lot is anybody’s guess.
If there is a genre known as ‘feel-good’, then Tim Robbins’ second film as director, Cradle Will Rock (1999) applies to it. The feel-good starts early on, and even though Cradle Will Rock covers pretty grave economic times, it does so with the froth to the max, with everyone belting out the same stylised version of the zippy 1930s. The feeling good continues in comedy, song and in about 300 extras – all the way to the finish.