Der Ork guckt ollen Kram

Von Zeit zu Zeit schaue ich mir ja bewusst und gerne Filme an, die alle etwas älter sind. Manchmal, weil ich die aus Jugendzeiten in guter Erinnerung habe, manchmal um Lücken in meinem (Pop-)Kulturwissen zu schließen. Hier also mal ungeordnet die Ergebnisse der letzten zwei Monate:

The Associate — Dieser Whoopi Goldberg Film lief in Deutschland als „Wer ist Mr. Cutty“ — ein Name, der erst nach gut der Hälfte des Films überhaupt erst genannt wird, als Whoopi ein männliches Finanzgenie erfindet, um als schwarze Frau an der Wall Street ernst genommen zu werden. Der Film ist auf der einen Seite sehr deutlich 20 Jahre alt und wirkt an vielen Stellen überhaupt nicht modern. Auf der anderen Seite ist das Thema immer noch aktuell und relevant. Alles in allem ein amüsanter Film, wenn auch kein Meisterwerk.

Risky Business — Jeder kennt die Szene mit Tom Cruise auf Socken im Wohnzimmer, aber ich hatte den Film bis dato nie gesehen, genau wie Oliver, der ihn auf seinem Blog als richtig geilen Film empfiehlt. Recht hat er.

The Return of the Musketeers — ich habe ja ein Herz für Mantel-und-Degen Filme, und ganz besonders für die Musketierfilme von Richard Lester. Dieser wurde gut 15 Jahre nach The Four Musketeers gedreht, und ist mir lange völlig entgangen. The Return… leidet ein wenig an den viel zu zahlreichen Voice-Overs, und mehr als einmal wollte ich dem Fernseher „Show, don’t tell!“ zurufen. Aber irgendwann ab der Mitte findet der Film sich, und die Kampfszenen sind wunderschöne Mantel-und-Degen-Kost.

Cutthroat Island — Ein Piratenfilm, der 100 Millionen Dollar gekostet hat, aber nur 10 wieder einspielte. Unter dieser Prämisse betrachtet, ist der dann gar nichtmal so schlecht. Ein klein wenig übertrieben viele und große Explosionen vielleicht.

Pets (1973) — Schmieriger Sexploitation Sleaze um eine junge Frau, die von einer mehr oder weniger hilflosen Situation in die nächste stolpert. Diese sind allesamt überzeichnet und sowohl Männer wie Frauen wollen unsere Heldin mal für Geld und mal für Sex ausnutzen. Am Ende entkommt sie einem irren Kunstsammler, nur um sich dem nächsten anzuhängen.. Dennoch nicht langweilig und ein schönes Sittengemälde der 70er.

The ApartmentTorsten Kleinz hat da eigentlich alles Wichtige zu geschrieben.

Josie and the Pussycats — Hier wiederum hab ich schon alles Wichtige geschrieben.

Vampire’s Kiss — das You Don't Say? meme ist recht bekannt. Der Film dahinter nicht ganz so. Zu Unrecht sage ich, denn das ist eine Tour de Force die American Psycho nur unwesentlich nachsteht. Der Film lässt es recht unklar, ob Nicolas Cage hier wirklich von einer Vampirin gebissen wurde, oder ob das alles nur Wahnvorstellungen sind — da wir fast alles nur durch den Protagonisten erfahren, wirkt das Erlebte nur um so mächtiger.

Watching Josie and the Pussycats

I’m not entirely sure why I’m doing this, but man, this is a treasure! I’m liveblogging, so this might be disjointed…

The movie first shows you an absolute inanely hyped boy band that has to die when they figure out some nefarious plan from their record company representative played by Alan Cummings.

How do they die? Plane crash. How does Alan Cummings order it? „Take the chevy to the levy“

We then get introduced to the titular girl band and learn that they don’t have any audience at all, but they are obviously cool, full of rock’n’roll and generally loveable. Also some interpersonal tension and we get to know the handsome but clueless love interest.

Then we realize how full of product placement the movie is. Like, two brands a second full. I think there is no shot that doesn’t feature an obnoxiously obvious brand logo. Apparently this ties in to aforementioned nefarious plan, but right now, we don’t know how. But an emo girl gets annoying enough that Alan has to order her kidnapping: „smells like teen spirit“…

A short 4th-wall break later the band is hired. (After a short gaffe by Alan which hasn’t memed at all: He says he’s so proud to meet all the Pussyhats) Everyone and the annoying hanger-on girl gets on a plane to New York. Why her? Because she’s in the comic, she tells us.

Finally we learn what the evil plan is: The Mixmaster 6000 adds in a bunch of subliminal messages to get kids buy lots of stuff. Evil. Genius. MTVs Behind the Music just exists to explain the downfall of those bands that don’t play ball…

A week later they are #1 on the billboard charts and the band will get a biopic, starring Drew Barrymore. Everything is peachy — or is it?

(also: It’s funny to see how many of the internet brands prominently displayed in the movie are defunct now. Everything non-internet is still relevant though)

Then the ditzy band girl ignores the creepy warning about the music and we cut to the romantic confusion between Josie and the loveable but dumb love interest. The sexual tension immediately gets defused by Alan Cummings bursting in and sweeping Josie away to some gala.

At the big party the girls get suspicious and the evil record label owner and Alan cumming plot murder and do dramatic evil laughs. But they can’t kill the whole band, because they have already ordered a gazillion electronic mind control pussycat ears

(also, there’s even advertising inside a frigging giant fishtank. Evian water, if you need to know.)

The murder plot is underway while love interest tries to get a gig and Josie soaks in a bathtub after being pressured into compliance by Alan Cummings. It gets foiled by „if I weren’t a key player in this nefarious plot to brainwash americas youth, we could totally date“, cued by ditzy bandgirl smashing some brains in.

But woe! The bathtub soak came with listening to brainwash-music, so Josie is now convinced that she doesn’t need the band, so DRAMA!

The band is broken up, Josie is slave to the brainwashing CD and who knows if friendship will ever prevail?

Ah, she is running, and then she falls, the CD stops and she finds the magical bus pass of friendship and ominous music shows us that things will get better!

Only that now the other two girls are gone, „like a flock of seagulls!“

To the studio to inspect the CD! And lo and behold, they find the hidden message, voiced by Mr. Moviephone. The plot is uncovered and what happens now? (they actually played the dramatic dun-dun-DUHN! jingle for this!)

Some blackmail about fiery car-death, Josie agrees to play the concert that will brainwash the masses. But not before some heart-to-heart friendship talk that hopefully will make things everything up. Shot while Mel and Bel are in a car that is slowly revolving on some presentation platter.


The boyband from the movies beginning is NOT DEAD AND SAVES THE DAY! They landed the plane just fine, but they got beat up by Metallica fans, which is why they kept being missing.

Ok, they don’t save the day, but they were a good diversion and now we have a cat fight and can watch Rosario Dawson beat up Alan Cummings.

Josie is clever and tricks the evil record label lady into smashing the brainwashing machine. 

Turns out, the actual evil plan was to brainwash everyone into loving evil record label lady, and to hide her lisp. And this is the moment where Alan Cummungs recognizes her as Lisping Lisa and reveals himself to be Whiteass Wally, so the two former high school losers admit their faults and love to each other. IS THIS THE TOTAL HAPPY END?

The government that wanted in on this shuts down the whole thing and arrests the bad persons because it turns out, subliminal messages work better in movies!

And then we do get the big final concert. Will the band actually rock, or was it all smoke and mirrors? (spoiler: No, everyone still loves them, after a short tense moment where the audience just stares wordlessly, now that the mind control headsets are off)

And then we get the inevitable love confession between Josie and Love Interest. They kiss, but Bel has to remind them that they are actually in the middle of a song and should shelve it for later…

And that’s it. Yes, you want to wach this movie. It is stupid, but fun.

Terrifying German Culture Hour — Subversiveness

Today, I’ll tell you about the close relationship of the really popular „Schlager“ genre and, well, critical anti-establishment voices. But first, I need to take a slight detour. With cat content.

Well, cat-and-mouse content.

Regardless if you’re a german or US-american reader of this blog, you probably know Tom&Jerry. And the americans among you probably know this intro from your childhood:


If you’re a german reader, you will probably say: Hey, waitaminute… where’s the cake? The flowers? The catchy voice of Udo Jürgens?

Fear not, here it is:


See, dear american readers, german public tv thought that the original intro sequence was a little bland, lacking a proper introduction of what we should expect from the show. So they cut a little sequence together and added the refrain from one of the songs of the (actually austrian) national treasure Udo Jürgens: „Vielen Dank, für die Blumen“ (Thank you for the flowers)

Now, the refrain is basically a flowery reaction of someone who’s just been handed a shit sandwich. Or generally is coping with bad news the best way one can. In the end, it’s a really catchy tune that everyone of my generation associates with wacky cat-and-mouse animations. And the musical style of is very much a prime example of what a bourgeoisie-supporting Schlager should be. It’s comforting, it talks about inconsequential worries, lost love..


and, of course, Heimat:

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(Nitpickers will tell me that Heino should be labelled Volksmusic, but frankly, he’s Volksmusik-dressed Schlager)

What we were missing from the Tom&Jerry intro were the whole lyrics of the same song. Because the individual verses tell the story of how & why said shit sandwich was being delivered in the first place: Trying to seduce the boss’s secretary — get fired! Trying to pick up the loveliest girl in the bar — who turns out to have a deep bass voice and is named „Dieter“. (sadly, casual trans- and homophobia was still a thing in the 70ies) Here’s the full thing, complete with musical cartoon sound effects:

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Which brings us finally back to the topic of today: Subversiveness. Good art nearly always has a good heap of that in it, and Schlager is no exception to that, even though a lot of people miss this.

Here’s another song by Udo:


Even without speaking german, you’ll pick up bits & pieces like „New York“, „Hawaii“, „Jeans“ and so on. This song is about a father who walks out after dinner to pick a cigarettes, only to realize that… life is boring, and he never did something extraordinary. Why not just leave the wife and kids, see the world, never come back?

In the end, he just buys those cigarettes from a vending machine around the corner and gets back inside, through the staircase full of stuffiness and the smell of floor polish, to watch Dalli Dalli with the family.

Or that song called Greek Wine, which is chock full of sirtaki and happy-but-just-so-slightly melancholic:


If you’re at a party in germany, with people older than 40, this will be played. And everyone will love it and be happy about it.

Except it’s about the dilemma of foreign guest workers. Germany invited those into germany after WWII, because gee, somehow a large portion of the german men were either dead, prisoners of war or too shellshocked to be of any practical use. Those workers were at once both welcomed but also resented and had a very hard time to integrate into german society, constantly longing for their home, but also knowing that they are kinda stuck in Germany. It’s a song that addressed a very real problem that is still being felt right now, several decades later.

And even though very few of those happy drunken people at that party next to you, shouting „Griechischer Weeeeeiiin!“ at the top of their lungs think about that sad fact, it still gets through to them, at least sometimes.

If that isn’t subversive, I don’t know what is.

As another example, but in a different genre, take Rio Reiser, one of the great intellectuals of german music:

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This is a song about all the silly things he’d do if he were King of Germany. There’s the champagne for breakfast, having a birthday party every day, putting his favourite show on TV 247. But there’s also biting Ronny (Reagan) into the leg, abolishing the military, heartfelt critique of some parts of german public tv, and so on.

When he performed with his band Ton Steine Scherben, things got a bit more on the nose: No Power for No One!

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Facts you should know about this song and this band:

  • current vice president of the german parliament Claudia Roth was their manager
  • Keine Macht für Niemand“ is a recurring headline to be used whenever there’s a row between politicans
  • You remember that axe-on-table thing from the installment about Shows? That was Nikel Pallat, one of the bands singers..

Still, König von Deutschland is another one of those songs drunken germans will scream at you during parties. So be prepared.

Oh, and before you leave: Heino is still around, although he adjusted his style just a tiny bit


I’d dub this the best cover of Paloma, but then, there's still these two boys from saxony

Terrifying German Culture Hour: Think of the Children!

If you ever looked at one of these Buzzfeed lists like „10 dark original endings of Disney princesses“ or similar things, you certainly know that european, and especially german fairy tales are dark. Gloomy, doomy, dark.

You might know of old-school things like the Struwwelpeter: An educational book that was supposed to scare kids straight, so they won’t suck on thumbs anymore:

Right, stop sucking on that thumb, or some tailor will come and SNIP THEM OFF!

And yes, a lot of the fairy tales end with people being seriously dismembered, tortured or just dead. To be fair though, a bunch of them aren’t actually german.

But also more recent kids books contain, let’s say, disturbing elements. Take Krabat. A story about a boy getting apprenticed at a spooky mill, where the boys learn true black magic, from a miller that serves the devil or at least Death himself!

(unsurprisingly, this book by Ottfried Preussler is purported to be one of Neil Gaimans favourite scary stories for children.)

But Ottfried Preussler also wrote slightly more cheerful things. One beloved work is „The Robber Hotzenplotz". To understand this though, you need to understand who Kasperl is.

Before we got the Muppet show on TV in germany, we had Kasperletheater, the hopelessly german variant of the Punch & Judy show. Instead of Punch, we have Kasperle and he isn’t a violent anti-hero but more of a friendly trickster archetype. As a whole, Kasperletheater is set up to instill kids with a sense of morality and to respect societies norms.

Schoolvisits of the „Polizeikasper“ aren’t uncommon: A friendly police officer comes along with the well-known handpuppets to introduce the kids on the correct ways to brave traffic with their bike.

The Robber Hotzenplotz is such a theatre, put into literary form. The infamous robber with the name „Hotzenplotz“ sets out to steal grannies coffee mill (by accident he kidnaps granny as well) and has to be stopped by Kasperle, by any means necessary!

Such an epic plot needs to be put into a movie. And simple hand puppets won’t do this justice, so.. we need… string puppets!


String puppets shows, all produced by the Augsburger Puppet Box have been a fixture of children’s TV in germany for a few generations now. If a german comedian starts walking funny, as if held upright by strings, this is what they’re referring to.

The Puppenkiste has produced many a beloved story, be it about a freshly hatched dinosaur..

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a wish-fulfilling creature that only appears if you stick to a specific plan for 7 days straight..


a cat with a hat (!)…


and.. a small black boy who is best friends with a steam train driver on a tiny island: „Jim Knopf & Lukas der Lokomotivführer“. Here’s the intro, pay attention, there will be a quiz:

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As with all the other examples above, the basic appearance is quaint, provincial with a tiny bit of disturbing added in. Nearly all the stories happen in small towns, and everything is of small scale. What makes this noteable, is that the story has been penned by Michael Ende, probably known to you for the Neverending Story, so, yes, this heartbreaker:

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But back to more cheerfully Jim Knopf. Knopf means „button“, and he’s named that way because he was constantly ripping his pants, so his foster mother put a button on it, so it was easier to close up the ripped part. Yes, I know, that makes no sense.

This is a vastly more cheerful and optimistic story, even though it begins with the fact that Jim Knopf is an orphan and ends with the discovery of a massive slavery operation. (Run by an ancient dragon, no less. And on the way, we’ll meet the Wild 13, a bunch of pirates, who are actually only a dozen.)

Anyway, you still have that catchy tune from the intro in your head? In case you it didn’t stuck, let me introduce you to „Dolls United“, who sampled it into Eurotrash:

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And if that isn’t making you pray for the sweet release of death, here’s the MDR Fernsehballett doing a live performance (the concept of a tv station having their own permanent on-staff ballet troupe is completely normal for germans. Just saying):

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(yes, this is blackfacing. In 2012. There is a way to explain that, but it won’t make anyone look actually better, so I won’t even try.)

Instead, I’ll show you a clip from The Show with the Mouse, where they explain why there’s a dent in every sausage:

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