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Movie Review: The Lives of Others

Alternate Title: There are Spies Amongst Us

Story: The walls have ears (really, they do) in this terrific Best Foreign Oscar nominated film,by first time director, Florian von Donnersmarck.

It is 1984 (really, it is) five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. East Germany exists as a police state with over 300,000 of its citizens spying on one another. STASI, the secret police sets its focus on one of the only state approved play writers and his actress girlfriend. How the Sate's oppressive hand insinuates itself into the lives of others and how compassion slowly opens that hand is at the heart of this film.

I cannot reveal much more of the plot because I would ruin its twists and turns. Suffice it to say, this film had me riveted from scene one. It is a first rate political thriller, filled with great acting and unhurried storytelling.

Das gut!

Acting: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Muehe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur and Thomas Thieme were all fabulous.

Predilection: I like to see all of the Oscar nominated films if I can before the big award night. I also has the opportunity to visit East Germany in 1985 and was interested in how that repressive time period would be depicted. It was right on the money as I remember it to be.

Critters: A German Shepard (really)

Food: Not much eating to be seen.

Blatant Product Placement: Several typewriter brands were discussed at length but since typewriters are a thing of the past I guess it would not count as product placement.

Soundtrack: A haunting soundtrack - almost old-fashioned.

Visual Art: The film was very gray and I recall it in a black and white memory. There was only one Jackson Pollack type painting featured in the writer's apartment.

Theater Audience: Very crowded for a Monday mid-day showing. I imagine everyone else in the theater wanted to see all of the films before they filled out their Oscar ballots for their own Oscar pools.

Weather: Gray

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 1

Drift Factor: Not for a nano second.

Predictability Level: I was not sure where this film would take us.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Yes - but I do not think it will win.

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine.

Length: 25 minutes over the Two hour Lobo rule.

LOBO HOWLS: 8.5