Berlin Festival Diary: Day Eight

Notorious, An Education, plus German Satire Short Cut To Hollywood.

by Darren Amner and Adam Micklethwaite

Derek Luke and Jamal Woolard in Notorious© 2008 Twentieth Century Fox

Derek Luke and Jamal Woolard in Notorious© 2008 Twentieth Century Fox

Darren Writes: Okay, picking up from where I left off yesterday, let me talk about Notorious, which was a great biopic on life, love and death that had great performances, a cool soundtrack and in the midst of a a tragic tale had a lot of heart and soul to it.

The press conference afterwards was one of my favourites so far, very informative and moving mainly due to Biggie's mother being there I felt. Listening to Voletta Wallace talk about her son and the project was fascinating, she addressed why it had taken so long for a film version to finally reach cinemas and said it was mainly timing and also due to the fact that so many books and documentaries had already talked about the rapper.

The one thing none have ever touched upon was they never knew the man, the father or the son which she hoped this film would deal with in more depth. Jamal Woolard was scarily convincing as Biggie and is a rapper himself in real-life, which is perfect for the role. He, too, grew up in Brooklyn and said Biggie was their Shakespeare, whose music helped people relieve the stress of their lives. Anthony Mackie was in attendance - he plays Tupac in the movie - he wanted to make clear that both Biggie and Pac were actually good friends, with the latter actually acting as a mentor, co-incidentally Mackie has also played Tupac on the stage.

To end the day both Adam and I headed to the Gala screening of An Education, starring Peter Sarsgaard which also introduced a fine looking talent in Carey Mulligan whose performance was mind-blowing in this film. The film was written by British treasure Nick Hornby and went down as storm here in Berlin.

Carey Mulligan
Carey Mulligan in An Education
The audience was even more receptive and louder than the previous Gala screening we attended for It Might Get Loud, An Education is the story of bright young thing Jenny (Carey Mulligan), who, at 16, falls for a much older man played by Sarsgaard. I really enjoyed this coming-of-age tale and it was great to see the film was so warmly received, in attendance at this screening was director Lone Scherfig, stars Mulligan and Dominic Cooper as well as Nick Hornby. I must say when I saw Alfred Molina was in the film I made a passing comment to Adam, "I can't remember the last good thing I saw him in" only to eat my own words after seeing his performance here as Jenny Dad, its the best comedic showing I've seen in ages, truly remarkable.

Finally getting round to today's activities we started off with a little sight-seeing and in particular a trip to famous photographer Helmut Newton's museum, Newton's work I remember seeing once on holiday in Prague when I managed to attend an exhibition, not so long after he was killed in a car crash which slightly shocked me. So while in Berlin I thought it would be interesting to learn a little more about the man and it was worth it.

Back to the Festival, my only film choice today is Hilde a German film, another biopic this time about Hildegard Knef, a sinner, a world star, an icon and a performer whose career had many ups and down - the jury is out at the moment but will reconvene tomorrow...

Adam writes: After our visit to the weird and wonderful world of Helmut Newton's photography museum, I went to watch my second German film of the festival, the darkly comic celebrity satire that is Shortcut To Hollywood. It documents the rise and fall of one-time Berlin insurance salesman-cum-rock star John F Salinger who, along with his two lifelong friends, decides to leave it behind and head for Hollywood stardom. The film had its moments and some of the satire hit the mark, but I found the film's central conceit (ie the lengths that Johny F was prepared to go to achieve his dream) very alienating and some of the film was too uncomfortable for your humble reviewer.

Now it's off to Theo Angelopoulous' The Dust of Time. This was one of my festival picks, so I have only myself to blame if this one doesn't come off! Nevertheless, I remain optimistic...

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