“The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”, directed by Martin Ritt

Movie, 1965 Bleak, eerie and nihilistic existences in the Cold War, partly set in London, Berlin and other locations in Germany. A poetic despondency hangs over this film depicting the lives of an aging operative and a young Communist idealist, who both seem to exist and to not exist, and are both played in a strange, murky world full and empty of rain, pettiness, flamboyant … Continue reading “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”, directed by Martin Ritt

"Book of Clouds" by Chloe Aridjis

Novel, 2009 Story of a Mexican transcriber and her time spent and work in Berlin. This is a really skillful piece of writing, full of ideas and packing a dramatic and emotional punch when they’re needed. History and drama hang heavily around Berlin which is beautifully presented and shown to contain a number of self-absorbed, damaged characters, possibly including the narrator herself. Some great scenes, … Continue reading "Book of Clouds" by Chloe Aridjis

"Look Who’s Back," by Timur Vermes

Novel, 2012 A book about Hitler’s exploits after the Fuhrer wakes up on a patch of ground in Berlin in 2011. This is a confusing and frustrating book, translation or both; the early scenes and situations flicking too awkwardly between those where Hitler realises nearly 70 years have passed since his incarceration in his bunker to those where he forgets. The satire picks up as … Continue reading "Look Who’s Back," by Timur Vermes

"Half Blood Blues", by Esi Edugyan

Novel, 2011 A story of betrayal and part reconciliation, looking at the relationships between members of a jazz band who’d split after the Nazi crackdowns in Berlin and then the invasion in Paris. This is an entertaining, vividly drawn work which occasionally veers perhaps a little too far into a retelling of history, but which nonetheless effectively tells a good story evolving round Sid, who’s … Continue reading "Half Blood Blues", by Esi Edugyan

"The Good German", directed Soderbergh

Thriller, 2006 A film which, despite looking beautiful and clipping along at a fair old rate, nonetheless feels too pleased with itself, with its classy A-list actors trussed in period dress, swanning through painfully authentic looking titles, fades, soundtrack and a plot more peppered with violence than the 40s noir films it otherwise pays homage to. It’s by no means a bad film, but form … Continue reading "The Good German", directed Soderbergh