Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Moon in the Gutter is coming to Region 1 DVD


A kind reader has brought it to my attention that Cinema Libre has signed up with Jean-Jacques Beineix to re-release his historic catalogue of films in the United States. This group includes my beloved The Moon in the Gutter, as well as Betty Blue and several of his other films. DVD's are expected to word on extras yet but, since Beineix is directly involved, I suspect we might get some real special treats. I am thrilled at this news and am so grateful that these incredibly special films are reappearing again, especially Moon in the Gutter, which hasn't been available in the States for more than twenty years.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nastassja on eBay

This auction features some fairly rare clippings of Nastassja, a few of which I am sharing here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Ring (1996)

Shot for TV in the early part of 1996 by talented director Armand Mastroianni in Paris, Prague and Switzerland, The Ring is far from one of Nastassja’s most distinguished productions but for a TV mini-series it is not bad at all. Featuring a noteworthy cast and Nastassja in a splendid lead performance, The Ring is a fairly classy period piece loosely adapted from a Danielle Steel novel.
Mastroianni has worked mostly in television in his near three decade career but genre film lovers will remember him mostly for his stylish 1980 slasher flick, He Knows You’re Alone. His work on The Ring is fairly solid and he captures Germany during World War Two quite well consider the means, locations and budget he had to work with.
Steel’s original novel, centering on a young woman separated from her family in Germany during the war, had been originally published in 1980 and it is widely considered among her most serious and better works. Steel had no active involvement with the script of the film version (those duties went to Nancy Sackett and Carmer Culver) but the network had no problem selling the film as one of her works, and indeed in much of the original advertising her name is listed as big as the title of the film. Ironically, the final film version apparently strays quite a bit from Steel’s original novel, although I can’t comment on this as I haven’t read it.
Joining Nastassja is an undeniably impressive cast including Michael York, Allessandro Nivola, Leslie Caron and Leigh Lawson (who had appeared in Tess with Nastassja more than fifteen years previously.) The whole cast delivers solid work, especially Nastassja who seems to be relishing having a meaty and serious part again after the dreadful double shot of Crackerjack and Terminal Velocity that had proceed The Ring.
Behind the scenes are some top of the line players as well, including famed composer Michel LeGrand, whose score gives the film a tragically romantic and rather lush feel. Also, while the film never fully escapes from the trappings of a TV production, cinematographer Gideon Porath manages to give it a stately and distinguished look that separates it from most TV films of the era.
The Ring is nowhere near perfect and at 180 minutes it feels more than a little overblown and at times overtly melodramatic. Thankfully Mastroianni manages to keep things interesting and the film moves along at a nice pace, and never completely outstays its welcome.
The film appeared on American TV over two nights in October of 1996 to fairly solid ratings and mixed to positive critical notices. It would prove more popular in parts of Europe, where it had some sporadic theatrical showings throughout 1998 and 1999. It is currently available on DVD and I will eventually post some screenshots of it when time permits.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vote for Nastassja at GQ

Nastassja Kinski

Not sure how much longer it will be going on but GQ magazine is having an online poll judging the 25 sexiest actress of the past forty years or so. Nastassja is, of course, one of the choices and everyone should visit here and give her a vote. While I typically don't like these sort of polls, this one seems to be in a fun and tributary spirit so I thought the link was worth posting.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hatred and Hunger (1994)

Nearly impossible to find now, episode seven of the acclaimed PBS documentary The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century entitled "Hatred and Hunger" features the voice of Nastassja Kinski as Rosa Luxemburg. Information on this hard to find series that Nastassja lent her voice to can be found here.

Terminal Velocity (1994)

Released in 1994 to almost universal critical disdain and poor box-office receipts, Terminal Velocity is exactly the rather lame and mindless failure most people considered upon its original release. Unfortunately it would also be the highest profile American film Nastassja Kinski had made since the disastrously received Revolution nearly a decade before. Coming on the heels of a such an ambitious and well meaning film like Faraway, So Close, Terminal Velocity seems even all the more vapid and lifeless and it remains among the worst films Nastassja Kinski ever appeared in.
Of course, little of the blame for Terminal Velocity’s failure can be placed at the feet of Nastassja Kinski. Poorly scripted David Twohy and blandly directed by Deran Sarafian with a weak lead performance by Charlie Sheen (who seems to be here just to pick up a paycheck), Terminal Velocity feels like a doomed production all the way through with only some good stunt work and a couple of decent action sequences distinguishing it.

Nastassja Kinski, Terminal Velocity

Astonishingly, Sheen and Kinski weren’t the only talented and high profiled actors attached to this limp work. Everyone from future Sopranos star James Gandolfini to legendary filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles to Brooke Langton are featured and wasted in the film.

Nastassja Kinski, Terminal Velocity

There is some hefty talent behind the scenes talent as well who do some of the most un-noteworthy work of their careers including BAFTA nominated cinematographer Oliver Wood and usually reliable composer Joel McNeely. Everyone working on Terminal Velocity, outside of the stunt crew headed by Buddy Jo Hooker, just seem like they are on autopilot.

Nastassja Kinski, Terminal Velocity

Charlie Sheen had hit a bad spot in his career in 1994 and was caught between his earlier fine dramatic work with the likes of Oliver Stone and his current status as popular television comedian. He’s at his worst in Terminal Velocity and sleepwalks through the role, plus he has less chemistry with Kinski than probably any male lead has had in a film with her before or since.

Nastassja Kinski, Terminal Velocity

Like in the previously lame action flick she had just appeared in, Crackerjack, Nastassja isn’t given much to do here and there isn’t really a part for her to elevate. She’s simply the girl in the film and as in Crackerjack (or any number of unfortunate films she has shot since) she is simply too big for the role…to say it is beneath her is an incredible understatement.

Nastassja Kinski, Terminal Velocity

Terminal Velocity limped into theaters in the fall of 1994 and it disappeared soon after. Budgeted at a whopping 50 million, it only grossed 16 and was one of the biggest disappointments of the year. A minor hit on home video and TV, it is still in print on a barebones widescreen DVD.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nastassja on eBay: Rare Photos and More


Three fascinating auctions have appeared on eBay advertised as some of Nastassja's personal items. Most of the things, that were bought at an auction, are just promotional materials but there are some real treats...such as these amazing photos of Nastassja as a child with her parents.


A link to one is above and from there you can view the other two.


Friday, September 19, 2008

New Posts Coming Soon

My sincere apologies for the lack of updates recently. I've been incredibly busy with school, Moon in the Gutter and my new project Fascination but new posts are coming here very soon. I must admit also that it is more depressing than I imagined covering some of Nastassja's lesser works. I am incredibly excited though to get to such worthwhile projects such as One Night Stand, Your Friends and Neighbors and several others we have coming up. Don't give up on me, Nostalgia Kinky will be up and running again very soon. Thanks for the patience.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Critical Reactions: Terminal Velocity (1994)

Terminal Velocity (1994) would be the most high profile English language film for Nastassja since the mid eighties, unfortunately the production is not all that distinguished. The film works as an okay action film but Nastassja, cast opposite Charlie Sheen, is given little to do and the work is never totally successful. Still, it was nice to see Nastassja back in the headlines when the film was released, although as you can see below critical reaction wasn't so favorable and the picture made very little impact.

"There is a thin line between an action-adventure movie that has a human touch and one that doesn't, and "Terminal Velocity" falls on the inhuman side. For all its concentration on action, the recent blockbuster "Speed," which "Terminal Velocity" sometimes recalls, included two or three characters who behaved like everyday people. Their hair-raising journey on a speeding bus was an adventure that anyone who has ridden on a freeway could identify with...
The chemistry between Mr. Sheen and Ms. Kinski is also flat. Although Mr. Sheen's cocky, sarcastic performance suggests that he has a chance of becoming another Robert Mitchum, his character is too loutish to be sympathetic. And Ms. Kinski gives a thin, jittery performance that is lacking in both sensuality and feeling. After all its rollercoaster thrills, the movie provides no romantic payoff."
-Stephen Holden, New York Times-

"It is possible to enjoy Terminal Velocity once you realize how truly awful a film it is. In fact, it's only then that it becomes fun. In terms of laughs, there are moments of high mirth. The question is: how much of the humor is intentional? Sadly, given the way the film was put together, the answer is likely to disappoint. Intent, however, does little to limit effect. Why else do people find Plan Nine from Outer Space so engaging? (No, Terminal Velocity isn't that bad.)"
-James Berardinelli, ReelViews-

"Sheen seems aware of the movie's comic possibilities, and must surely have had a smile on his face when he designed his character's haircut, which seems inspired by the pompadour of the hero of a little-seen but long-remembered movie named "Johnny Suede." Kinski has a hair motif, too - it's always in her eyes - but she brings a bright, bemused air to her character, and has fun juggling various accents."
-Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times-

""Terminal Velocity" could also refer to the speed at which Charlie Sheen's career is plunging earthward. Sheen's character here requires a certain level of stardom that the actor aspires to but has never reached. He can't redeem bad material through sheer force of personality like, say, Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis can. He's a supporting player, and his lack of stature makes "Terminal Velocity" appear undermanned, starless.
As for Kinski, she has only recently returned to regular movie work after taking a break to raise her children. She should've stayed away a little longer."
-Hal Hinson, Washington Post-

"Summer's officially over, and with the release of “Terminal Velocity,” the bottom of the summer-movie barrel has officially been scraped. Movie distributors must have had some kind of gaping hole to fill in their schedules, because this thrill-free thriller has straight-to-video written all over it.
Whoever thought of casting charmless Charlie Sheen with the long-lost and unlamented Nastassja Kinski as romantic leads deserves some sort of genius award. Guess Heidi Fleiss wasn’t available. This time, the insufferably smug Sheen’s a cocky skydiver, who has just broken an FAA record for safety violations. Kinski’s a foreign babe who shows up one day looking for her first skydiving lesson. She wants it now, and only from the soon-to-be-grounded Sheen."
-Joe Brown, Washington Post-

"It's not that David Twohy's script is bad -- it's awful, crammed with mind-boggling improbabilities and gigantic leaps of faith that -- stunningly -- actually pale beside the steady stream of rank, tired witticisms that flow like verbal sewage from Sheen's wiseacre mouth. It's bad enough when Schwarzenegger and Van Damme attempt clever repartee, but it's a felony offense to give Sheen this much rope. Kinski (?!) is adequate as the KGB pariah, but only just. It's clearly not her type of film, and rumors of heated offscreen battles between herself and Sheen only serve to point up that fact. Stunt fans will find plenty of aerial acrobatics to slake their thirsts, including a dizzying, Houdini-esque gag involving an airborne transport plane and an equally untethered sports car. Stuntwork aside, though, perhaps this film would have been more aptly titled Terminal Stupidity."

"Sheen is a dumb, daredevil sky-diving instructor mixed up with the Russian Mafia and $600m of stolen Soviet gold. Things get off to an attention-grabbing start when, soon after her flatmate is murdered by Russkie thugs, blonde babe Chris (Kinski) persuades 'Ditch' Brodie (Sheen) to take her up for her first jump. She then redefines the meaning of drop-dead beautiful - she jumps, she drops, she's dead. Or is she? Is that unidentifiable body really hers? To cut a long story short, Ditch stumbles about looking for clues to Chris's nose-dive, which lead him to members of the KG-used-to-B, who plan to fund an anti-democratic coup with the stolen gold. While Kinski unwisely takes the whole thing seriously, Sheen simply grins inanely and makes flip remarks. If you can wait long enough, the extended airborne finale is one of the most extraordinary stunts you're ever likely to see; but like the soundtrack, it's too big for the picture. Most people will have bailed out long before then."
-Time Out-

Crackerjack (1994)

Crackerjack 1

Directed with as little flair as possible by Michael Mazo from a witless script by Jonas Quastel and Michael Bafaro, Crackerjack is one of the worst films Nastassja Kinski ever appeared in. The fact that the film, a poor Die Hard wanna-be that fails at every turn, followed up a work as well meaning and esteemed as Wim Wender’s Faraway So Close makes its shallowness all the harder to swallow.

Crackerjack 2

Nastassja thankfully has a relatively small role in the film, which is controlled by the rather weak lead of Thomas Ian Griffith. Griffith is joined by the usually reliable Christopher Plummer as well as some other recognizable faces, all of whom are much better than this lousy film they are stuck in.

Crackerjack 3

Crackerjack fails on even the most rudimentary levels of basic storytelling and filmmaking…the fact that the film inspired not one but two cringe worthy sequels (thankfully Nastassja was not involved in either) is as depressing as it is telling.

Crackerjack 4

Crackerjack 5

Shot in the Czech Republic as well as Canada, Crackerjack at the very least should have worked as a gorgeous looking production but the TV-movie like photography of Danny Nowak is flat at best. Even worse, the film takes itself entirely too seriously so it doesn’t even have the opportunity to work as just a big dumb fun action movie. Special Effects creator Terry Sonderhoff (who has done a lot of good work in his career) is hampered as well by the low budget and Crackerjack fails to generate any excitement in its visually motivated sequences.

Crackerjack 6

Nastassja has nothing to do here and her performance shows it. She’s not bad but her part is written just as ‘the girl’ and frankly she is just too good for the film, and her appearance in it is out of place to say the least. Crackerjack unfortunately marks a period in Nastassja’s career where she would appear in many films simply not good enough for her, including her next film Terminal Velocity (which at the very least works as the fun action film Crackerjack fails to be at every turn.)

Crackerjack 7

Crackerjack has basically slipped into total obscurity and it basically went straight to video in late 1994. My screenshots are taken from that ugly old VHS copy of it and the film, to my knowledge, has never had a DVD release anywhere. It’s a depressing experience for fans of Kinski’s prestigious career and just action thrillers in general.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Very Bad News

It looks like Diane Kruger has been given the part Nastassja was rumored for in Tarantino's upcoming Inglorious Bastards. I am really depressed to hear this as working with QT would have been a sharp reminder to how incredible an actress and screen presence Nastassja is. It could have introduced an entire new generation to her work. The report on Kruger's apparent casting can be read here and it is very disappointing (no offence meant to Kruger, who is a very effective actress and great beauty in her own right).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Faraway, So Close! (1993)

Faraway So Close 10

Wim Wenders’ follow-up feature to his legendary Wings of Desire is simultaneously one of his most flawed productions and most resonate. Gone is the moody perfection that inhabited so much of his early career, and in its place in Faraway, So Close! is a sprawling over-ambitiousness that is as beautiful as it is frustrating and as poignant as it is flawed.

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Of the three films Nastassja Kinski made with Wim Wenders, Faraway, So Close! is the weakest and yet there is something profound and right about it. Faraway, So Close! is a overtly spiritual work that has moments that rank along with the best of Wenders, but it’s hard to deny that the film falters in ways that Wenders work hadn’t before it. It’s a film that finds the great German director transitioning from one of the shining lights of the art house world into one of the most fractured.

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Wings of Desire was a phenomenal success for Wenders and is arguably the pinnacle of his career. A near unanimous critical smash that is often featured along with Scorsese’s Raging Bull as the best film of the eighties, Wings of Desire was one of the oddest choices for a film to make a sequel to so Faraway, So Close! automatically had a lot going against it.

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One of the most anticipated films at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival and one of the most controversial, Wenders Faraway, So Close! split audience and critical reaction more than any of his films prior had. Even the admires (and there is a lot to admire abut the film) were more muted than usual and its critics were much more vicious.

Faraway So Close 32

The film, written by Wenders with Richard Reitinger and Ulrich Zieger, like Wings of Desire centers on a group of Angels in Berlin looking over the people in the city. Also, like Wings of Desire, it features cameos from real life figures including everyone from Lou Reed to Peter Falk to most astonishingly Mikhail Gorbachev.

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The positives from Wender’s sprawling film are easy to note. A incredibly beautiful looking mostly black and white production shot by legendary DP Jurgen Jurges, Faraway, So Close!is at the very least one of the most striking looking films from the early nineties. The acclaimed soundtrack, featuring a beautiful score by Laurent Petitgand and songs by the likes of Reed, U2 and Simon Bonney has also held up very well. This is also clearly one of the most personal projects Wenders ever mounted and its clear-headed spirituality is downright touching. There’s nothing ironic about Wender’s work here and its good-heartedness and good-will make it one of the most spiritually resonate works in all of modern cinema.

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Unfortunately the negatives are just as easy to spot. Overlong and sloppy, the film never finds a consistent tone and for the first time in his career Wenders seems downright confused by the film he is making. Part political commentary about the reunification of Germany that had happened after Wings of Desire and part Spiritual confirmation, Faraway, So Close! marks a surprisingly unbalanced period for Wenders, one that unfortunately he has still not fully recovered from.

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Despite the films many faults, its virtues finally outweigh them. The cast is extraordinary with special mention going to German actors Otto Sander and Bruno Ganz. The American actors in the film, including Falk and Willem Dafoe, are also quite splendid in their smaller roles. If the film does finally feel a bit bloated due to the cameos, Lou Reed does reverberate nicely specifically in a chill inducing moment when he plays his “Berlin” in his hotel room.

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Nastassja is really fine in her role as the good hearted angel Raphaela and it remains one of her most resoundingly tender roles. There is something special in the collaboration between Kinski and Wenders and that comes out here, even though one wishes more time would have been spent on her character rather than the irritatingly silly action subplots that film becomes occupied with in its last forth.

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Faraway, So Close! surprisingly won the Grand Prize at the 93 Cannes festival but the disappointment many people felt with it was palatable, and by the time it reached Britain and the States the sharp backlash was in full force. The soundtrack ended up being a much bigger success than the film did, and after a brief theatrical run it was relegated to a poor full frame VHS that destroyed the film’s stately compositions. Most English speaking countries would have to wait nearly ten years to see a decent copy of the film but thankfully the Widescreen DVD of it is quite nice, and it even contains a commentary by Wenders where he manages to highlight the films many virtues and faults.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nastassja Kinski Rumored to Return for Tarantino's Inglorious Bastards

Just a couple of weeks after running into each other at a screening of James Toback's Exposed, it looks like Quentin Tarantino and Nastassja Kinski's paths might soon cross again. While Brad Pitt and Eli Roth are the only two major cast members to have officially signed on so far to Tarantino's long awaited war epic Inglorious Bastards, Kinski is in serious discussions with the writer and director to return to the screen to play Third Reich film star Bridget Von Hammersmark. This story is being reported at several spots on the Internet including here and here.
This role would mark Kinski's first appearance in front of the cameras since her cameo two years ago in David Lynch's Inland Empire and her first starring role in more that five years. Also in talks for what promises to be a mind-blowing production are Simon Pegg, Udo Kier and BJ Novak.
Thanks to Mr. Peel for this very hopeful and exciting news.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Toback and Tarantino Introduce Nastassja on Exposed Screening

Even though the tapers memory card ran out before he could get the whole thing, this is still a very special clip.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wenders on Faraway, So Close

From The Cinema of Wim Wenders and The Celluloid Highway:

"The hesitancy to say something rests on the inability to form an opinion. Everybody wants to stay out of things. But with the present situation, one cannot stay out of things. Today, films are evaluated exclusively by their entertainment value, and it bothered many people that Faraway, So Close had a message, especially if they saw it as a Christian message."

Faraway So Close 5

"Stories are impossible, but it's impossible to live without them. That's the mess I'm in."

Interviewed by Daly and Waugh at Film West:

"I think every film is a new exploration of that equation, and that each film defines its own time and its own space, and each film does so from scratch. Faraway, so Close certainly defined a different time to Wings of Desire which is after all what the title of its sequel is referring back to."

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"Faraway so Close was the first script that Ulrich ever wrote. He’s a young German poet. He wrote two stage plays and basically a collection of poems and his poems were the only thing I knew when I contacted him. Maybe it’s also because I know so well the structure and the story of what I want to do, or even if I don’t know it I feel it’s something that has to come from myself. Because the one thing that I really can’t find for myself, and that other people are so much better at is to invent characters, and to have different people speak differently, which is an incredible gift I think, to write a script and achieve this phenomenon that one person speaks according to his character and he sits at a table with somebody else who speaks differently. Whatever I did in my life, whenever I was writing dialogue, everybody was speaking with my voice and that’s boring. I really think it’s a fantastic gift to be able to write dialogue, but of course nobody just writes dialogue. Whenever you sit and write with somebody they are getting involved with the story, the structure and with the various scenes. I was never really looking for somebody who was a screenwriter in the sense that he was responsible for the ‘screen-play’. I was looking for somebody who was just a good writer."

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From John Wilson's The Best Christian Writing 2004.

"Far Away, So Close! was a film that was clearly made with religious intent. I mean, it even starts with a quotation from the Gospel of Matthew: 'The eye is the lap of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness'."

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"In Far Away, So Close! there's an entire film happening just on an audio level, and it's filled with all sorts of quotes, many from the Old and New Testaments. From the beginning, I felt that if we ever made a second film with these angel characters, I couldn't pretend that nothing had happened to me in between. I couldn't make another film in which the angels were metaphors, because they were no longer metaphors to me. If I made another film about angels, they would have to be messengers of God, the go-betweens. They could refer only to God, because as messengers, they were nothing in themselves -- the message was everything. So the film had to be filled with their message. To do anything else with these characters would have been to betray my entire experience. The film would have to be with God from beginning to end, because that would be the angels' only intention. Unlike Wings of Desire, where their metaphorical choice was to become human, in Far Away, So Close! that was no longer an option. It does happen that the angel Cassiel becomes a man, but only so that he then can return to being an angel. In a strange way, in Wings of Desire the spiritual world was a metaphor, but in Far Away, So Close! life is the metaphor for something spiritual.
In hindsight, I must say, I was too didactic. The film was way too cerebral. In the first year you become a missionary or a priest, you probably, make nothing but mistakes because you're too upfront about things. You're too filled with a certain desire, and that kills everything you want to achieve. When I see the film now, and I hear all those quotes, I must say that I was filled with too much missionary fervor."