Best of 2018: 30 things that made this year better than it should have been

It’s that time again, my best things of the year which not necessarily were produced or released this year but which I read, watched, listened to or otherwise enjoyed this year. So it will be full of stuff that makes you go: Geez, Juliane, that’s like, totally old news, in what kind of cave are you living?” And I’ll be like “I live in one of those parts of town in Berlin that no artist would ever move to because they all think it’s sad and dangerous and poor, so it’s actually kind of like a cave but a metaphorical one!”.

Anyways, let’s enjoy this list (or not, what do I care). Continue reading


Horror movie lists: Lin Shaye is the actual Scream Queen

You know, I always disliked the term “scream queen” because I for one do not appreciate the blood-curdling scream of any given woman in any horror movie. Sometimes, it comes from female characters who are not even characterized as being overtly expressive in their emotions. It never comes from men even though men can and do scream just as well, if not louder. Plus, my favorite horror movie heroine, “Ripley” from “Alien” simply doesn’t scream but is still the greatest horror movie protagonist of all times.

So, let’s redefine the scream queen. Let’s make her a queen who makes people scream. Enter Lin Shaye, mostly known for the “Insidious”-franchise by the masses but also beloved in a gazillion independent and B-movie productions from the outright ridiculous to the downright terrifying.

If you want to get to know Lin Shaye as the contender for the scariest scream queen, I present my suggestions for a very frightening Lin Shaye appreciation movie marathon.

(Small spoilers ahead) Continue reading

Horror movies: Caves and Tunnels are creepy

I am planing this list for a while now because some of my favorite movies involve tight underground spaces. The reason is simple: claustrophobia is wide-spread, darkness is horrible and everything underground always counts as a metaphor for burials, death and hell, so if that’s not enough for horror movies, I don’t know what is.

As usual: I try to avoid heavy spoilers but I will talk about the plot, so there might be some spoilers out of a necessity. “Is good” might be enough for Czernobogh but it’s not enough for me.

Oh and: be careful with the trailers. Usually, trailers have massive spoilers when it comes to horror movies. So watch at your own risk. Continue reading

Female desire in movies and tv shows – with or without men

I recently watched “Everything sucks” on Netflix (now cancelled, after just one season) and was really taken with it even though the show itself is neither laugh-out-loud funny nor a cinematic master piece (it is utterly charming, feel-good and all around fun, though).

But something in the story-telling really resonated with me and after watching “Super 8” again, I realized it: “Everything sucks” not only takes into account the desires of its female protagonist but also rewards them.

Continue reading

Overrated: What’s up with the love for ‘Dead Silence’

I watched “Dead Silence” the same year it came out and it was during a phase of heavy horror movie watching. For a long time I remembered that I didn’t like it and didn’t think it was scary at all. Since then, many horror movie lists and film critics have tried to tell me again and again what a great movie this is. And only very recently, even called it an “unpopular opinion” to like it (which it isn’t, people love it, it’s just that it was a box office flop).

So, I finally watched it again, because I thought that maybe, maybe after 10 years I would realize the genius of this hidden gem.

Narrator’s voice: she didn’t.

Spoiler Alert for the following critique: Continue reading

Orlando Weeks ‘The Gritterman’ – it took a while to get here

Sometimes, an illustrator also does music and he does it so well, that all people know him for is his music. And because maybe he is humble or maybe he does not yet know what to draw, one day he does music and lets another illustrator draw the story for it and then one day, the music as he did it before comes to an end and now there’s time and there’s an idea and there it is, a book, a picture book full of snow.

To be honest, I saved this one, because that’s what I do. I keep the thing that I want most on the plate and eat everything else, so I can have it for myself without anything else distracting me. And sometimes, I wait too long and then I am full and don’t want it anymore or the story about a gritterman on his last day of work in the midst of Winter feels awfully out of place on a warm day in Spring. But here I am and here is the book full of snow and here is also, a lovely audio book but also an album that feels like a radio play that has fallen out of time into our time, right into Spring, as it is.

“The Gritterman” is – first and foremost – about saying goodbye. On many pages, we see him on his own in his flat, sitting by himself – his “Joy” died a while ago – and going about his day as people do who feel something’s missing but don’t feel like giving up.

“Truth of the matter, it’s always the same. You dress for the sun and down comes the rain so you dress for the rain and the sun’s out again. It’s as old as the weather.”

The Gritterman has his last day as the gritterman on Christmas eve, they don’t need his old van anymore, nor his grit, nor the shaky headlights nor him. So we go along with him, on his last drive.

The accompanying record is narrated by Paul Whitehouse as Gritterman. The songs and the music are by Weeks who is incredibly soft-spoken, a warm piano like a blanket. It’s like a Christmas tale by the fire, such a lovely, gentle story, such a beautiful and sad story, something that doesn’t feel like it ever was written but was something that one person told the other and so on.

“I love that one. You never think of someone having to write Christmas carols. They’re just sort of there, aren’t they, like the AtoZ.”

You can wonder whether it is the loss of his job or the looming loneliness that awaits without anything to look forward to, without his Joy to be “company on the slower days”. Is “The Gritterman” about grief that is buried under the snow or is it about an old thing coming to an end because the time has come for change and some things don’t fit when things have changed?

It’s equally open to interpretation (or maybe not so much) how the Gritterman ends his last day of work. Alongside the smaller and smaller illustrations of the places his van has driven by all the years and the small shining light in the dark and stormy night, the story itself grows into fragments of thoughts and images and finally a dark starry night.

When one thing ends, it’s sometimes hard to grasp how anything can go on afterwards. In small ways, it can be the end of a band you’ve listened to since 10 years and more. In big ways, it can be the loss of a person who you were so close to and who was as much a part of your life as you were part of theirs. And without them, your life feels a little lonelier but you’re also missing some parts that went with them, maybe the person you could only be when you were with them.

Sometimes, though, there is a moment, when everything is calm and peaceful, like a starry night, like snow on Christmas, like a last journey on well-trodden paths. Sometimes, in small ways, someone might pursue what they intended to do in the first place and create a book full of snow and create music full of warmth and love and create a story about something that is sad but hopeful. Sometimes, in big ways, you find that the loss has grown into a new part of you and it might not only be filled with grief but also with love and memories and dreams that allow you to see them, if only for a while, if only at night.

Horror movie list: Camping is deadly!

I loved camping as a kid. Admitted, I am from Germany and especially back before David Hasselhoff single-handedly tore down the wall, people from East Germany had not many holiday-joys left other than camping or depressing tower block hotels with a gazillion people in them. But even camping was less the solitary trip into nature that most other people know but rather a big field with a lot of people in tents surrounded by nature (and Trabis). I mainly loved it because I loved reading books and comics in the tent when it was raining (which it naturally does whenever you decide to go camping in a tent) and eating junk food. Since these are the only things I fondly remember of camping, maybe I just liked staying in and reading (it would make sense given my present inclinations).

When I was older and really into music, I had to do the camping as a trade with the devil to spend time on festivals. I did this throughout my twenties and at some point realized that I absolutely loathed camping on festivals. It’s too loud, you can’t sleep, gross people will pee against your tent, the toilets are so disgusting that you will immediately wish humanity to die out and to be honest, once I moved to Berlin, I didn’t need to go to festivals anymore to see some bands. I was drowning in them!

So, there’s a weird ambivalence for me when it comes to camping. I think that the nature, clear air and loneliness is amazing. On the other hand, if you really go non-German camping, like, in nature without any other people, then it’s actually scary because there’s no Wi-Fi in nature!

Lo and behold, there’s naturally quite a few camping-based horror movies out there. I guess one of the main reasons is the advantage of not having to get permits for tons of buildings, rooms and streets. You also don’t have that many idiots walking through the set or onlookers. Especially found footage is crazy about camping and forests and weirdo lakes with ghastly secrets. So let’s see which movies I found that I actually can recommend.

(some spoilers ahead but I try to be nice) Continue reading