Tag Archives: Franka Potente

APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: BETWEEN WORLDS (2018)

DIRECTED BY: Maria Pulera

FEATURING: Nicolas Cage, , Penelope Mitchell, Garrett Clayton, Gwendolyn Mulamba

PLOT: Joe, a down-on-his-luck trucker, drives Julie to the hospital to visit her comatose daughter, Billie; when he helps Julie travel to the “other side” so she can guide her daughter’s soul back to this world, the spirit of Joe’s dead wife takes the opportunity to hijack Billie’s body.

Still from Between Worlds (2018)

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Twin Peaks, Washington meets Small Town, Alabama in a heart-warming-turns-disturbing tale featuring a possessed teenage girl and a frazzled Nicolas Cage-as-truck-driver who has a history of reading the erotic remembrances of… Nicolas Cage.

COMMENTS: When Maria Pulera watched “Twin Peaks” while growing up, I’m sure she said to herself, “I can do that.” And so she does, with the great Nicolas Cage front and center (and the great Angelo Badalamenti noodling musically in the background). Cage’s performance as a burnt-out trucker plays like a B-side to his Mandy animalism; and while I wouldn’t say he goes off the deep end, he’s about as close as any realistic scenario might allow. At least as realistic as the “dead-wife’s-soul-steals-comatose-girl’s-body” plotline can be expected to be. Everything comes crashing together in an Alabama melodrama ripped from a ’90s-drenched Tales from the Crypt episode, culminating in something altogether bizarre.

Pity poor Joe (Nicolas Cage). We meet him, boot-first, as he’s trying to convince his boss that he’ll get his truck payment settled next month. No dice, the truck is to be repossessed, and Joe, with his mountain of worry, takes comfort in a gas station foot-long. Hearing strange thumps from the restroom, he charges in and beats down a man strangling a woman. The woman, another trucker named Julie (Franka Potente—yes, that one) is nonplussed at this ostensible rescue, as she was trying to meet up with her daughter’s soul. Joe can’t help but try to do the right thing, so he drives her to the hospital where her daughter, Billie (Penelope Mitchell), rests coma-style. His spiritual baggage comes with him, unfortunately, so when Julie tries again to reach her daughter, Joe’s dead wife uses the opportunity to sneak back into this world.

Between Worlds‘ first act plays as a bizarre resurrection of Nicolas Cage’s more lamentable ’90s comedy stylings as funneled through a David Lynch fan-girl’s love letter to them both. I suspect (hope) virtually none of you have heard of (and, even less, sat through) the 1994 rom-com It Could Happen to You, but I was having flashbacks to Cage’s cop character, but now having been dragged through the ringer after losing his wife and daughter in a fire and forced to wash “NoDoz” down by the mouthful with swigs of whiskey. The sweet, lovey-dovey first act where Joe bonds with Julie goes by quickly, in its oddball way, before the reality of the situation sinks in that this isn’t a romantic comedy.

Frankly, I had a great time watching this1, and the expression I had on my face by the end confirmed my suspicion that what I was watching, though perhaps derivative, was quite strange. A smooth jazz score keeps prodding you (like in “Twin Peaks”), creepy evil is made manifest through possession (like in “Twin Peaks”), and there’s even a bad boy Bobby Briggs character (like in…). If you don’t like Cage, you will not like this movie; but if you do like Cage, then I recommend you hop in your truck and take a spin through Maria Pulera’s Alabama.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“If you saw ‘Mandy,’ and wished more Nicolas Cage movies were dark, weird, and personal: watch ‘Between Worlds’ and be careful what you wish for.” –Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com (contemporaneous)

167. RUN LOLA RUN (1998)

Lola rennt

“One of the big problems of the movie for me was always that I thought, how can we make the repetition idea become something spectacular and exciting, and not make it feel like ‘oh my God, it’s starting again, how boring.’ So this was really a big task for me, not losing the concentration of the audience and really having them care for what happens again and again. So we tried to really make it very exciting and very strange and different…”–Tom Tykwer, Run Lola Run DVD commentary

Must See

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: , Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri

PLOT: Lola’s boyfriend calls her on the phone: he needs 100,000 Deutschmarks in twenty minutes to pay off a gangster, or he’s going to be killed. Lola has no money and no transportation, but she formulates a plan in a split second, and takes off running. She arrives too late and the story ends in tragedy; but fortunately, she gets a do-over.

Still from Run Lola Run (1998)
BACKGROUND:

  • Lola‘s narrative structure is almost identical to Krzysztof Kieślowski’s 1981 film Blind Chance.
  • The film’s first epigram is a famous quote from T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding.” The second quotation, “Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel” (“after the game is before the game”) is from World Cup champion coach Sepp Herberger.
  • This fast-paced film contains 1581 cuts, averaging out to 2.7 seconds per shot.
  • Lola rennt swept the major categories at the 1999 German Film Awards, with the notable exception of Best Actress—Franka Potente was not even nominated. It won around twenty other awards from international critics associations, but was not nominated for an Academy Award.
  • Voted #86 on Empire’s List of the 100 Best Films Of World Cinema.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: Lola, running. Writer/director Tom Tykwer himself has said that the genesis of the film came from an image that sprang to his mind of a woman running through the streets; he constructed a scenario around the picture in his mind’s eye to explain where this vision was racing to. Since we’re interested in weirdness, we’ll focus on one specific iteration of the recurring image of Lola running: when she dashes out of her parents’ home, the camera circles around her mother’s room to catch a television set, where a cartoon version of Lola is flying down the spiral staircase.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Run Lola Run has the hip surreality of a music video. Stylized within a heartbeat of its life, Lola is as proudly and defiantly artificial as Franka Potente’s Strawberry-Shortcake-with-her-head-on-fire dye job.


Original trailer for Run Lola Run

COMMENTS: “Foreign movies come off really weird,” headlines one Amazon reviewer, who confesses that he got annoyed watching the opening and Continue reading 167. RUN LOLA RUN (1998)