Thursday, April 21, 2011

HTTPicks: Run Lola Run

To finish off our slew of new features this week, I'd like to present the first of HTTPicks, a joint feature with HTTPreviews. While the latter covers reviews for recently released films in theaters (see other Hunter's great Scre4m piece!), this will focus on "older" films we happen across for the first time and enjoyed enough to try to spread the word. These picks will focus more on overall themes and opinions rather than ratings (there will be plenty of that for the numerous summer movies this year). For our first installment, I'll be talking about two films I recently watched: Run Lola Run and Island of Flowers.

I saw these for a film class screening during the week covering editing so one would expect them to exemplify peak editing skills, and they do. Run Lola Run is a 1998 German film directed by Tom Tykwer and staring Franka Potente and runs a mere 81 minutes, but man are you on the edge of your seat that entire time. The premise is as simple as a film can get: a woman has twenty minutes to get 100,000 marks to her boyfriend. Getting the money is a matter of life or death, as there's a criminal involved (isn't there always?). The first thing you realize about this film, though, is that it isn't meant to be a realistic fast-paced thriller like Bourne, though Paul Greengrass was partially inspired by this for Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum. The opening credits are part strange philosophical prologue and part animation. You immediately know this will be like nothing you've ever seen.

From here on it's go-go-go, as the film runs through three different versions of the twenty minute scenario, Lola trying to decide exactly how she wants to save her boyfriend. The film switches from film to animation to video (the difference, in 1998, is very notable), but it's all done to serve a stylistic purpose (hint: the scenes with Lola and her boyfriend were shot on film). The cutting is quick between all the different A and B-plot stories intertwining with one another, but it's never too much to keep up with, especially when the twenty minute story repeats. You start expecting things to happen and realize what large changes the smallest of differences can make on the situation's outcome. It would be really easy to ask an audience to watch the same sequence three times and hear them groan, but Tykwer successfully keeps his viewers engaged.

I could go on talking about all the themes and symbolisms and this and that, but I have neither the time nor desire to spoil it for those who want to see it. I'll finished by saying Run Lola Run is the first film I've seen in a while that had me excited from start to finish. There are parts where it begins to slow, but it always picks up (much of the excitement is inspired by the great pop-techno score). I really enjoyed this film, which is largely due to the impact it has editorially and my bias towards the process. Overall, I still stand by Run Lola Run as being not only a well cut film but a well made film, and incredibly entertaining.

Island of Flowers is a 1989 Brazilian documentary from Jorge Furtado running at a quick twelve minutes, but it makes great use of that time to deliver its point. I won't give too much away because I want everyone to go into it blind, so to speak (it's legally online and embedded below). Again, well cut, of course. The greatest thing about the short doc is how expertly it manages to make you laugh and think it's all a joke and then in a matter of seconds make you realize how serious the issue is. It's a great message that is as alive today as it was twenty years ago. I don't want to spoil too much of it, so take a few minutes to watch something unique. Video embedded below!


  1. Run Lola Run is one of my all-time favorite movies. It has inspired my daughter's hair color for 10 years; I guess she was over exposed to it. It fact, her nick name is Lola.

    That movie is such a delight. It's a sparkling crystal just spinning with its flashes of brillance. I'm now going to have to watch Island of Flowers. It's new to me, and since you like Lola, I respect your opinion.

    Do you watch House? There was a plot line when he was in the psychiatric hospital. The German woman he loved is Franka Potenta.

    For a while, I watched movies that screwed around with time like Lola does. One of my other favorites is Memento. It tells a story in reverse. Have you see it?


  2. Island of Flowers and Run Lola Run really aren't connected other than fantastic editing. I just happen to screen them at the same time. Still great. I've never really watched House, but I have seen Franka in something else, though I can't place it right now. As for Memento, I'm a Chris Nolan fanboy so yeah, I've seen it and loved it. It's another one of those "exemplary editing" films where you just can't imagine the story being told any other way. It's amazing the impact that different styles of editing can have on the tone, rhythm, and on and on with a movie.