Phoenix (2014)

Phoenix (2014)

Phoenix is a German-English bilingual film directed by Christian Petzold, and tells of a woman’s story; a Jewish woman who has escaped a concentration camp, with a disfigured face for a parting present. So, does the movie really show us the horrors of the Holocaust?

The answer to that is, simply, no. Not overtly, anyway. The film is set in the aftermath of the Holocaust, during the American and Russian occupation of Germany. The woman with the disfigured face, Nelly Lenz, a singer, is brought back to her home in Berlin by her friend, Lene Winter. After a facial surgery, her face is transformed to the extent that even her husband, Johnny Lenz doesn’t recognize her during a chance encounter. But the more pressing matter was, how was it possible for Nelly to be captured? Winters suspects Nelly’s husband of informing the SS of her whereabouts, while Nelly herself is not so sure.

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     Her face says it all, all about the horrors of the Holocaust…

Winter’s desire is for Nelly to collect the money she has received as her inheritance from her family, and then accompany her to the Palestine, but Nelly wants to find her husband first. She does manage to find Johnny working at Phoenix, a nightclub. When events transpire so that Nelly is living with Johnny, who has no idea she is his wife, the plot tightens and twists, and Nelly herself is put in a position where she can see her husband’s true self, whether he has really betrayed her (or not). I won’t reveal any more of the story, but I promise it is worthwhile to watch it.

The plot is tight and self-contained, and has few, if any, flaws. The post-war Berlin is captured with great detail. The actors are brilliant; Nina Hoss as Nelly is amazing as a Holocaust survivor, and so is Nina Kunzendorf playing her friend, Lene Winter. Ronald Zehrfeld as Johnny, is great, and we’re always left guessing as to his involvement in Nelly’s capture. But the clear star of the film is still Nina Hoss, who carries Phoenix on her shoulders. Nina’s facial expressions as Nelly show more than enough evidence of having been a sufferer in the concentration camps.

Anyone who wants to watch a different take on post-WWII and Holocaust films will surely find their time well-spent after watching Phoenix. And even in general, this movie is a great watch, a piece of art on reel.

RATING : 8.4/10

PROS :
– lead actress is brilliant
– music
– plot
CONS :
– narrow target audience

 

 

DARK SOULS 3 BOSS TIPS #3

Some more boss tips for those of you who are interested and/or are having issues with them boss-fights :

1. Oceiros, The Consumed King :

This is an optional boss-fight, and the boss is found at Consumed King’s Garden. The boss is a sort of a failed experiment in turning himself into a dragon, so he looks somewhat like a dragon. Being a dragon, he’s especially weak to lightning-based attacks. Melee players shouldn’t have many issues against Oceiros, just keep dodging beneath his range, stay under his legs for as long as possible for free hits. He uses frost-type attacks, so some frost-resist is necessary for those infrequent situations where you have trouble dodging him. Initially, he uses his staff for melee attacks, in the second phase he ditches it for a more primal approach.  But the strategy remains more or less the same. Be wary of his dash attacks, though, as they can deal a significant amount of damage. But if you dodge it successfully, you get 3-4 free hits at him.

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2. Champion Gundyr :

Champion Gundyr is an optional boss in DS3. He is similar to the first boss Iudex Gundyr, but this guy hits much harder than Iudex. His damage is all-physical though, so get armor with as high physical defense as your character allows, without actually hindering your movement. This is because movement is critical against Champion Gundyr; he moves pretty fast and has a bunch of gap-closers. Most of his attacks can be dodged with a bit of practice, though. But the real problem with this boss-fight is his kick; dodging behind him for a couple of quick hits at the boss is no longer as safe as before, he’ll sometimes just kick you off, and then follow up with his halberd to take a toll on your health and Estuses. So never let your guard down even if you think you’ve dodged his combo, because he may land a kick on you out of nowhere, just when you least expect it.

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3.  Dragonslayer Armour :

This boss uses lightning-based attacks, so having armor with high lightning-resist and physical defense is necessary. DA uses a Great Axe empowered with lightning, and Greatshield. He occasionally imbues his Greatshield with lightning and uses shield-bash, so be wary of that. The good thing about this boss, is that all his attacks can be blocked, and his shield-bashes can be dodged pretty easily, as they have a clear visual wind-up, although the window is small. Keep dodging to his left and get in 1-2 attacks on the boss, until he uses a charged up shield-bash, which has to be dodged to his right. He’s good at gap-closing, so it is somewhat tough to maintain distance between you and the boss. There is a small fenced-up area of shrubs on the far side of the boss chamber, use it for healing up and catching a break to recover your stamina, while circling it to avoid the boss’ attacks. Occasionally, the creatures circling the arena high above will use some magic AoE attack, so be wary of that. You can’t do anything about them, so just concentrate on  the boss and start rolling when they attack.

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4. Ancient Wyvern :

Ancient Wyvern is one of the optional bosses in DS3. This is what you would call a gimmick fight. The boss keeps breathing fire out at you if you linger near him for too long, but that isn’t even the point of this fight. You need to run off to his left and run up all the way up to a high place, and then jump down on his head to make a plunging attack. Doing that will cause a 1-hit K.O. on the boss. It is, in fact, a test on your speedrunning skills, as you will encounter a number of powerful enemies on the way. Don’t worry, you will see a number of hints all along the way to the perfect position to kill the boss.

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

This is one of the classic Western films of all time, as most film-buffs know, and follows the exploits of the titular lead characters. It has been about 50 years since the film has come out, so how does it hold up now?

After watching BCatSK, I must say it holds up pretty well. It’s probably one of those movies which has no problems withstanding the test of time, and actually comes out the better for it.

So let’s get down to the story part. The film starts off with a few slides which give us some idea of the “Hole-in-the-Wall” gang’s notoriety, of which Butch Cassidy is the leader and Sundance Kid is a member. But more than a member, Sundance is a great friend of Butch. Their occupation : holding up the trains and robbing them blind. However, they aren’t very rich despite stealing loads of money, due to “Butch’s expensive ways” as Sundance puts it, more or less. But when they try to steal from the Union-Pacific Railroad one too many times, the owner of the company, E.H.Harriman, sets a bunch of specially-employed gunslingers and trackers to chase them down and kill them both. From this moment on, Butch and Sundance are on the run.

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The movie is a masterpiece of cinema : there is no sugarcoating this fact. The film flows from scene to scene like honey; there is no breakage as such in the story-telling style. Perhaps it is helped by the fact that the film follows a strictly linear story, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that BCatSK is a great film. Solid writing by William Goldman; a man who’s widely known for his novels The Princess Bride and Marathon Man among many others. The dialogues are brilliant throughout; the self-deprecatory banter between Butch and Sundance makes for more than a few chuckles. Not to mention the acting; Robert Redford as Sundance Kid, the great sharpshooter and Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, the thinker of the two, both of them are brilliant. And so is the female lead Katharine Ross playing Sundance’s love-interest, Etta Place. Great casting right there, especially when considering the fact that Robert Redford was a relatively unknown commodity at the time.

Awesome film. Must-watch for fans of Western films, although I can’t think you wouldn’t have watched this if you were a fan of the Wild West. And I’m not even a fanatic for these kind of films.

RATING : 10/10

 

PROS :
– locations
– acting
– brilliant dialogue

CONS :
-can’t really think of anything at the moment; actually I don’t see any.

DARK SOULS 3 BOSS TIPS#2

In this post, we shall be looking at a few more of the game’s myriad bosses you’ll be fighting on your way forward in Dark Souls 3’s beautiful, brutal world.

Bosses in this post :

Pontiff Sulyvahn
Aldrich, Devourer of Gods
Old Demon King
Yhorm the Giant
Dancer of the Boreal Valley

1. Pontiff Sulyvahn :

This boss wields two swords, a curved sword of fire in his right, and a straight sword of the dark type in his left. When you head into the boss chamber, the first attack he’ll perform is a dash to your face, followed by a slashing attack with his curved sword. Roll away to one of his sides the moment you see him preparing to dash, as the attack is unexpectedly fast. During the fight, notice he uses his fire sword more often than his dark sword. Also with his dark sword, he only performs thrusting attacks, so they’re relatively easy to dodge. The thrust also leaves him vulnerable for about 3 seconds so you can get in a few hits on him. But most importantly, always dodge into his curved sword attacks, even though it is really tempting to dodge away from him. Dodging away makes you an easier target for the boss, and he will (sometimes) follow up with a 6-attack combo which can be escaped only by 4-5 consecutive rolls away from him, which will chunk your stamina down to 10%. Force the boss to use his dash-attacks by sticking to his right flank, as he’s relatively more vulnerable after dashes and tends to use his thrust more, for some reason.

 

Once you get Sulyvahn down to half-health, he summons an image to fight alongside him. Get in 2-3 attacks here and dodge away, as he does an AoE attack  when the summon is complete. But unexpectedly, the second half is actually easier, as the boss is less aggressive now. Once you get the boss and his image together (they generally stick together) after dodging/blocking their attacks, you can go in for a quick 2-3 attacks if you have enough stamina. Generally both the boss and his image perform the same attacks, so be wary of that point.

Far as gear is concerned, get high fire-resistance armor. Dark-resist may be unnecessary as his dark-type attacks are somewhat easy to dodge anyway. For weapons, use non-fire and non-dark weapons, as Sulyvahn is more resistant to those types.

2. Aldrich, Devourer of Gods :

Aldrich is one of the four Lord Souls you’re supposed to collect. The fight is relatively easy. He uses dark-type attacks for the first half of the fight, and uses some sort of a homing soul-arrow which is not too hard to dodge. Whenever he takes around 20% health damage, he goes underground and resurfaces elsewhere on the arena, similar to the Crystal Sage fight. But during his tunneling(so to speak), he does a dark attack which will chunk your health down to around 50%, so be wary, just get in 2-3 quick hits and roll away.

The second half of the fight, Aldrich starts using fire-type attacks and does AoE lava attack too. But the only attack to be really worried about throughout the fight, is his arrow-rain attack, which will potentially one-shot you. It has a distinct wind-up animation, and when you see it, dodge away to his back, or run away from him. If you’re caught in front of him in his proximity, you’ll most probably die, unless you have a huge health bar and decent magic-resist.

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3. Old Demon King :

This boss uses attacks which are only fire-based. As such, use armor of high fire-resistance when going in. The fight is fairly simple, just try to keep rolling under him and keep poking him down. His basic attacks are mostly sweeping slashes which can be dodged that way. Occasionally he does an AoE lava attack, for which you’ll have to dodge away. Also there are two or three piles of dead bodies in the arena, use these to get some heat off you and heal up. Sometimes he also uses a fire-meteorite attack, just watch out for it when under cover behind those piles.

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4. Yhorm the Giant :

Yhorm is one of the four Lord Souls you need to collect. This boss is more of a niche fight, than anything else. Once you enter the boss room, run straight across the room and collect the Storm Ruler(Greatsword) near the boss’ throne. Now proceed to equip the weapon and begin fighting. Although the weapon isn’t necessary to beat the boss, you’ll end up fighting a battle which will probably last around 20 minutes without it, that too, if you play clean.

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After equipping Storm Ruler, enter Stance by pressing right trigger(RT). Now charge up the weapon until you hear(and see) a cue for the completion of the charge-up. Now attack the boss to deal a shitload of damage(about 20% of Yhorm’s max health) with a single hit. Rinse and repeat until his death. Be mindful of his attacks, his slashes deal about 40% max health damage until you are a hyper-tank already. And his other attack will one-shot squishier players. Once his health drops to 50-60%, he begins to use fire-type attacks also, but if you are decent at dodging and stick to his feet throughout, the complications will cease to worry you.

NOTE : Yhorm is the huge guy shown in the DS3 trailer for E3.

5. Dancer of the Boreal Valley :

This fight is triggered right after you defeat the third Lord of Cinder. You get teleported to the High Wall of Lothric, where High Priestess Emma resides(the lady who gives you the Lothric Banner in the beginning).  The Dancer has long legs, but doesn’t move around fast, as opposed to most of the game’s bosses. But do not underestimate her, she can move when she needs to. Most of her attacks are sweeping slashes with her fire sword, mixed with long-reaching slams. Be wary of her grab, if you linger in her face for too long, she’ll try to grab you with her free hand. And if she grabs you, get ready to strategize for your next attempt at the boss. Also, running away from her can keep you safe for only so long, she’s an excellent gap-closer, and has wide reach due to her skeletal structure. She uses an occasional AoE fire attack, which has a distinct animation.

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When her health is down to 50%, she uses a dark/ash(?) type AoE attack and summons another sword. Now the real fun begins, as she’s a dual wield enemy for the rest of the fight. And you will now know why she’s called a dancer. Her dance of death is one to be admired and taken notice of, and getting caught in that combo is a sure-fire way of getting killed. When you see her dance, run as far away as possible and hope she can’t get to your position. But the overall strategy for the fight doesn’t change much. Keep kiting her the way you would in a MOBA game; one hit, roll, one hit, roll…And use those pillars; the way you use them will probably determine the result of the fight. A weapon with a long reach is ideal for the fight, as you’ll get in free hits on the Dancer while she’s just circling you, as she’s wont to do during the fights.

Pi

Pi

Ever wanted to see a movie that attempts something out of the ordinary? A movie where you have to really stress your mind, like really? I’m not talking about stuff like Inception. I’m talking of something much more hardcore, like Primer. Well, this is one of those messed-up movies you can recommend to your friends just to see the expressions on their faces while they struggle to understand what the hell is happening on the screen.

Max Cohen, the protagonist (and narrator) of the story, is a mathematician whose current project is to predict the direction the stock market is about to take, using his computer Euclid. But in a more general sense, Max believes that everything in the universe follows a pattern , and similarly, even the stock market must have an inherent pattern which no one has yet discovered. One day, when Max is outside, he happens to meet a person Lenny Meyer, who happens to be researching on the mathematical significance of the Hebrew alphabet and the Torah, and shows Max some fascinating implications of the math involved in the Hebrew words.

    Max Cohen, with his computer Euclid

One day, when Max conducts a routine experiment with Euclid to predict the next day’s stocks, the computer prints out seemingly-garbage results for the next day, along with a 200-odd digit number, and hangs. Max throws the results out in frustration, but when he visits his mentor’s house and reads the newspaper there, he finds that Euclid was right all along. And when Lenny talks of a 216-digit number which was supposed to be of immense importance to the Jewish world, he realizes that this has to do with the final thing his computer printed out before it crashed on him. Now begins a mad dash for the number, and from here, the film goes places, both real and imaginary.

Sean Gullette, in his portrayal of the main character Max Cohen, is amazing. Max’s psychosis is disturbingly unnerving, and the intensity of Sean’s acting can only be understated. Also, you never know if what is being shown on screen is really happening, or if it is only a product of his imagination. He suffers from frequent cluster headaches and hallucinations, and they are truly freaky to watch. Ben Shenkman, playing Lenny, and Max’s mentor Sol, played by Mark Margolis, are great as well. The atmosphere of the film is tense throughout, and really builds the suspense in the viewer.

The movie, although a great attempt, isn’t without its flaws. The technical flaws aren’t always noticeable, but if you are observant and knowledgeable, you will notice a few goofs. Still, this movie is worth watching for the thought put into it, and the acting prowess on exhibition.

RATING : 8.3/10

PROS :
– unreliable narrator
– atmosphere
– concept

CONS :
– some noticeable goofs
– may get a little bit too disturbing for some

 

DARK SOULS 3 BOSS TIPS #1

DARK SOULS 3 BOSS TIPS #1

So I’ve started playing DS3 a few days ago, and I’m going to post some bossfighting tips for anyone who’s interested and/or is having a hard time trying to figure out the best ways of fighting and defeating bosses. From my personal experience in the game until now, I’ll be posting tips on fighting individual bosses. The page will be updated daily, to accommodate for ever more of the bosses I’ll be facing in this brutal game.

Bosses covered :

Iudex Gundyr
Vordt of the Boreal Valley
Curse-Rotted Greatwood
Crystal Sage
Deacons of the Deep
Abyss Watchers
High Lord Wolnir.

Note : My playthrough of DS3 is that of a dual-wield mercenary, going for a dual-katana light/medium armor build. So please make some adjustments if necessary, to adapt my tips for your play style.

1. Iudex Gundyr :

He’s the first boss you’ll encounter in the game. Easy enough to fight the guy until you get him down to half his health, then he goes crazy, as is expected with all the bosses in the Dark Souls series. Just don’t forget the fact that he’s a left-hander after his health is below 50%, so dodge accordingly to his right side as much as possible from hereon. Shouldn’t be too tough.

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2. Vordt of the Boreal Valley :

This guy was admittedly more of a pain to me than the other bosses till now. Died a bunch of times to him, and then killed the boss on my very first try of day 2. Go full aggro on this guy, and try to dodge into his person, so that you position yourself behind him after you come out of your roll. Especially after deleting him to below 50% of his health. Force him to perform his groundsmash by sticking to him throughout, especially in the latter half of the fight, as it is a much easier attack to dodge. Also beware his 3-dash combo, if you dodge sideways all the three times perfectly, you get a free shot at him while he charges up his icethrower (like flamethrower, but not exactly). You’ll either kill him in 3 minutes, or die in two. At least that was the case with me.

Debuff : Frostbite.

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3. Curse-Rotted Greatwood :

Hit the tree in its eggs/mushrooms or whatever they are, as they are the only weak points on this boss. You’ll know them when you see them. Initially, the grunts will also try to kill you, so be more careful at the start of the bossfight. When you get the boss to below 70-75% health, you and the boss will fall into an underground chamber, and the secondary enemies will cease to bother you after this event. Concentrate on hitting the eggs on the boss, and be wary of the extra hand that sprouts out of the boss when you go into the underground chamber. There is a set of eggs on the boss’ back, too. And make maximum use of his strong attack, when he all-out falls on his stomach in order to crush you. When he falls down, he stays that way for about 10-odd seconds, use this time to hit his extra hand(which can also be hit to cause damage). Also, once in a while, he spills poisonous sap all over the ground near him. Do not approach him at this time, as the liquid slows your movement and does damage per second. He periodically drops his payload of poisonous sacs on his branches to injure you, but it’s very rare to get hit by them, so don’t worry too much about this attack.

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4. Crystal Sage :

Most of the boss’ attacks are magic-based, except when you get in his face and stay there for too long. Beware his sword attacks, as they are pretty strong. But the spells arcing towards you can be dodged pretty easily. His more powerful attacks need some channeling time, and if you go full aggro at this moment, you can cancel his spell(s). After his health is decreased to below 50% though, he spouts a couple of doppelgangers, who vanish after taking one hit, but still have access to all his spells and attacks. This is when your awareness of all the crystal sages’ positions, along with the environment, comes into play. Also, I think only the real crystal sage can use the purple-colored spells, that should help with the matters some.

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5. Deacons of the Deep :

This bossfight is basically a slaughter-fest against the zombified(?) skeletons and dead bodies that you would have faced (and killed) a bunch of times already. However, attacking just about any of them does not cause damage to the boss. The actual boss is hidden among all those zombies, he has a reddish aura around him. Attacking him is the only way any damage can be inflicted on the boss. The main zombie dies in 3-4 hits, but respawns in a span of 10 seconds or so. But do not totally ignore the other zombies, their attacks are moderately powerful, especially the spell-wielding ones are more of a pain. After reducing the boss to below 50% health, a mage wearing some distinct robes replaces the zombie. At least, you don’t need to search around for the new zombie to kill, anymore. But now the attacks from the grunts are more powerful, so some decent blocking/dodging is required.

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6. Abyss Watchers :

This is where the definitive Dark Souls experience (read : frustration, helplessness, this is bs etc.) begins. He’s one of the four Lord Souls you must collect. He has a variety of attacks, all of which can put in a hell of a lot of pain on you. His 15-yard dash, followed by a barrage of fast-paced attacks, is the stuff of nightmares. Pretty hard to dodge his attacks, but you should be fine if you are a sword-shield guy. Also, there are two more of the Abyss Watchers who spawn during the fight, and sometimes you don’t really have to do much to cause his demise.

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And then the second part starts…now the fight gets just plain hardcore. The guy’s sword takes on the aspect of fire, and even if you dodge his sword itself, you may still get hit by the arcing flame. Try to maximize your fire-resistance and conserve your stamina for dodges and 1-2 quick attacks. By the way, there are two greatsword wielding hollows near the bonfire close to the boss chamber whose fighting style is somewhat similar to the boss’. So you can practise a bit against these guys so that you can get used to the boss’ attack patterns, while farming souls at the same time.

7. High Lord Wolnir :

This boss is pretty easy to fight against, although given a chance, he’ll just one-shot you with an attack which has near-to-no counterplay. The boss has three golden bangles on his hands, and all you have to do to defeat the boss quickly, is to attack those bangles until you break them one by one. But one major pain is that he has a swatting attack which is practically undodgeable and will delete 40% of your health. Also, when he does his one-shotting attack, it’s best to back up as far as possible. Don’t get too close to him as he emits some sort of toxic fumes which will melt your health to zero faster than you can say ” Pentakill!” or something. Well, you get the drift.

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DOWNFALL [DER UNTERGANG]

DOWNFALL [DER UNTERGANG]

Downfall is a 2004 German drama set in the timeline of the Second World War, specifically the end of it. The movie chronicles the final days of Adolf Hitler and those closest to him, Eva Braun, Himmler, Goebbels, the works.

The story starts off in mid-1942 with the appointment of Traudl Junge as Hitler’s secretary. The plot is conveyed to the viewer through the eyes of the young lady (she’s 22 at the time of appointment). It takes us through the tumultuous final ten days of war in Germany, with the Soviets pushed all the way up to Berlin. As was the case then, many were of the opinion that the war was lost, and that the Fuhrer should either retreat from Berlin to spare further loss of life and destruction of the capital, or failing that, should discuss terms of surrender with the Allies. And of course, neither of these courses is taken by Hitler, who instead chooses to fight the Allies to the bitter end. Upon hearing this announcement, most of his major officers begin to defect to the Allies, and those who are beyond any hope of pardon from the Allies, make preparations to sneak by the enemy unnoticed (read : Himmler).

The movie highlights the essence of the horrors of war in a no-holds-barred manner, and is especially good at capturing the Fuhrer’s emotional turmoil upon hearing of his officers’ defection. All this, viewed through the lens of Junge, makes the film a poignant watch, and for the first time I’ve seen Hitler being portrayed as a real man, and not someone who has been reduced to a barrage of evil deeds he has committed, and for that alone Downfall is worth watching. Also, the effects the war has on the fanatical Nazis is clearly shown in the movie, most notably the Goebbels family interactions.

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  The Goebbels family…in happier(?) times

The plot is good, and the subject has been dealt with extremely well. The atmosphere of the movie, the one of tense expectance, holds up throughout the runtime of the film. And kudos to the acting department, because they were awesome all of them. Bruno Ganz, playing the Fuhrer, plays him to perfection, and the emotional outbursts are truly disturbing. Trundl Junge, played by Alexandra Maria Lara, is portrayed realistically as well. But the one who really steals the show, is Corinna Harfouch, who plays Magda Goebbels in the film. Her role as the fanatic Nazi supporter of Adolf is truly the highlight of the film, and her acting is disturbingly captivating.

The only negative thing about the movie is all the suicides throughout. Towards the end of the film, some of these suicides take on a comical quality due to the frequency, and me and my friend who watched the film with me, had a hard time trying to not make fun of all the suicides. But all-in-all, a great example of German cinema.

RATING : 8.2/10

PROS :
– acting
– tense atmosphere throughout
– the German viewpoint

CONS :
– too many suicides(but well, it was unavoidable) make it unintentionally funny in places