movie film review | chris tookey
death by raspberry
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  Abendland/ Nightfall (1999)
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A sadistically slow, grindingly grim depiction of a Middle-European society sinking into a mire of drink, sleaze, prostitution, paedophile abuse and child murder.

You want grim? You want slow? You want slow grimness pushed to the very limits of audience endurance?... A collection of hysterically depressing gestures... profoundly unenlightening.
(Trevor Johnston, Time Out)
This excruciating experience of ultra-gloom... This is, in fact, all so pointless and, if humour were the aim, you'd take it for a parody of gloom. Harry Enfield might just want to take notes. Composed almost entirely of lingering close-ups of miserable faces, Abendland makes its point from the off and, refusing to develop, presents us with lengthy scene after lengthy scene of Anton hunched in a bar, squatting disconsolately on a bridge or staring sadly out of a train window (the former East Germany, it seems, is now so callous and cynical that those who mug him on the train don't even flee but sit down opposite him!). You'll be heartened to know that one of the few signs of action is Anton smashing a beer can into the kitchen table. It will please those who, like the director, mistake silence for profundity. For the rest of us, Abendland is the very definition of pretension.
(Michael Thomson, BBCi)
German director Fred Kelemen's Abendland won awards at Film Festivals, but the people who really deserve prizes are those who can stick to the end of its two hours 20 minutes. It's the kind of movie where everyone spends long, long, long minutes staring desperately into space in a state of profound existential despair - and that's just the audience. I whiled away the three or four months I spent watching it, trying to work out which was the most ludicrously doom-laden line of dialogue. It's a close-run thing, but the winner has to be: "I've just raped my budgerigars". Herr Kelemen hereby joins my list of pseudo-intellectual numbskulls whose work is to be avoided at all costs.
(Chris Tookey, Daily Mail)

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