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*** Official THE READER Discussion Thread


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#1 of 44 Robert Crawford

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Posted January 01 2009 - 10:52 PM

This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "The Reader". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

All HTF member film reviews of "The Reader" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


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#2 of 44 Henry Gale

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Posted February 03 2009 - 01:05 PM

Too bad that apparently next to nobody is seeing this film.
Caught it at a matinee in San Antonio today and thought it was a fine piece of work from all involved.
Maybe this will help, Kate is starkers quite a bit. Posted Image

Yeah, like we've never seen that before.
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#3 of 44 Michael Elliott

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Posted February 03 2009 - 01:14 PM

Yes, I was shocked to see she wasn't naked in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. Posted Image

This film seems to be DOA, which is a real shame because it's a film that gives me hope for the future of films. However, like I said in the box office thread, I wonder if because of the economy and this thing bombing if we'll see less and less of these types of movies.

I'm pulling with Winslet to get the Oscar but thought Fiennes should have gotten a Supporting Actor.

#4 of 44 Jeff_Standley

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Posted February 03 2009 - 03:49 PM

Saw this the other night and loved it, Kate Winslett is amazing in it too.
I am still going over my thoughts and will post more later on it. I hope more see this movie too.
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#5 of 44 Cameron Yee

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Posted February 24 2009 - 02:29 AM

I watched this on Saturday, along with Frost/Nixon and Benjamin Button, in a pre-Oscars cram session. The Reader is the only film I'm still turning over in my mind, mostly trying to understand how Hanna could feel so much shame about her illiteracy that she'd throw herself on the sword. It's hard to fathom, and maybe that's the point.
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#6 of 44 Holadem

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Posted February 24 2009 - 03:23 AM

I wonder how much of a spoiler is the literacy thing? Ebert treats it as such, but a Time article about Winslet casually spoils it. It hit me when she looked at the menu, but then it was meant to be a big reveal at the trial.

Patrick Sun mentioned said his review: "you'll never take for granted the gift of literacy in your everyday life." I assure you I don't, having grown up around a lot of illiterate people.

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#7 of 44 Cameron Yee

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Posted February 24 2009 - 03:43 AM

I think it was only a big reveal for the character of Michael; it's seen through his eyes, so it feels revelatory in that way. But I think a lot of the audience had figured it out already or, when it was revealed, merely reacted with a, "Oh, that makes sense." For myself and a lady nearby, the big reveal was the depth of Hanna's shame about it.
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#8 of 44 Michael Elliott

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Posted February 24 2009 - 06:17 AM

In a rather rare thing for me, I went back and watched this a second time a few weeks ago and I'm really dying to go watch it again. On my constant watching as many new movies as possible, this is rare that I get so caught up on one.

It's personally making me sick that so many people are attacking this film because some of the comments make me scratch my head. I mentioned this in the Oscar thread but many are saying the film only got nominated because Jewish people like Holocaust movies. To me this isn't a Holocaust movie but that's besides the point. Another group of people are saying the film should be burned because it's anti-Jewish. It's usually the same people making these complaints so I don't see how Jewish folks are supporting the film if at the same times it's anti-Jewish.

Don't give an Oscar to The Reader. - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine

The above is a rather interesting "review" of the film and one I've talked about in the TRACK thread when someone brought it to my attention. I think it's a shame a person like that is able to write about movies when it's clear he would attack anything that didn't show German's as monsters and Jewish as angels. I found the write up to be rather insulting to anyone who did enjoy the movie but I guess he had forgotten that Brando played a "good German" in THE YOUNG LIONS. I'm going to guess he'd have a problem with that. It seems like he'd like the story of HITLER LIVES, a U.S. post-WW2 film that said never trust a German.

To me this film isn't about the Holocaust and no one will ever talk me into believing that it is. I think Cameron hit it right on the head with this line:

Quote:
big reveal for the character of Michael; it's seen through his eyes

Everything in this film is about Michael and how it relates to him. The sexual relationship, the cause of this with his friends, his law school, his views of the trial, his relationship with his daughter, his current state and finally having to come to terms and face Hanna again.

To me it really doesn't matter what Hanna did, although in the court room she asks the judge what she was suppose to do. I mentioned this in the other thread but she had the option of freeing the 300 people, them escaping and her being killed for it. Or she could "do her job" and let the people die. I think any normal human would like to think they'd give their life for the 300 but I doubt many people really have the guts to do this. I think most people, especially then, would have done the exact thing and I don't believe they would have had many options.

Even at the press thing the other night someone asked Winslet if she felt guilty for making a "sympathetic Nazi" and she said no to a few groans. There are certain movies out there that deal with certain issues that you have to act sorry for if you enjoy them. I find it downright stupid that one would be attack for enjoying this film but it seems like this movement is getting stronger each and every day. I said in the chat the other night that no one should walk into this expecting a Holocaust movie because it isn't one. I think this is where a lot of people are going wrong.

To me this is a coming of age story about Michael. I will add that the thing broke my heart more on the second viewing and God knows I didn't walk out of this thing feeling good.

#9 of 44 Michael Reuben

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Posted February 24 2009 - 07:39 AM

Quote:
Don't give an Oscar to The Reader. - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine
An interesting read. Leaving aside the substance, which strikes me as flawed in ways so numerous that one could write a piece of at least equal length cataloguing them, there's something about the hectoring, self-righteous, self-promoting tone that just sounds so . . . familiar. Posted Image
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#10 of 44 TravisR

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Posted February 24 2009 - 07:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Elliott
It's personally making me sick that so many people are attacking this film because some of the comments make me scratch my head. I mentioned this in the Oscar thread but many are saying the film only got nominated because Jewish people like Holocaust movies. To me this isn't a Holocaust movie but that's besides the point.
I don't see it as a holocaust movie either and I don't really get how anyone does. It just uses the holocaust as a setup for the rest of the movie.

For the record, the reveal of he illiteracy was a surprise to me.

EDIT:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Elliott
I think it's a shame a person like that is able to write about movies when it's clear he would attack anything that didn't show German's as monsters and Jewish as angels.
It's funny because I did see Hanna as a monster so I didn't walk away from the movie "empathiz[ing] with an unrepentant mass murderer" (as the article says) but I did feel bad when I realized that she couldn't read. However, there's a big difference between feeling bad about that one thing and suddenly letting that 'forgive' the rest of what the character did.

#11 of 44 snowwhite

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Posted February 24 2009 - 07:45 AM

I don't know why I've been putting it off, but I think I'll have to check it out this week.

#12 of 44 Michael Reuben

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Posted February 24 2009 - 08:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
It just uses the holocaust as a setup for the rest of the movie.
Right there, you've summed up the problem that a lot of people have with the film. (For the record, I'm not one of them.)
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#13 of 44 TravisR

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Posted February 24 2009 - 08:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
Right there, you've summed up the problem that a lot of people have with the film. (For the record, I'm not one of them.)
It must be. I could see the problem if The Reader was a sitcom but it's not like the movie cheapens or exploits the holocaust or says "See, the Nazis were OK afterall".

#14 of 44 Michael Reuben

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Posted February 24 2009 - 09:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
It must be. I could see the problem if The Reader was a sitcom but it's not like the movie cheapens or exploits the holocaust or says "See, the Nazis were OK afterall".
I quoted this in the Oscar thread, but here's an excerpt from the NYT review by Manohla Dargis. Better to get this view from one of its representatives than to try expressing it myself:

Quote:
Outrageously, Hanna is a victim too, because she took the guard job only to hide her illiteracy, as if illiteracy were an excuse for barbarism. Not that the film dwells on barbarism: beauty is its currency, from the cinematography (by Chris Menges and Roger Deakins) that makes Ms. Winslet’s pale skin creamy, to the immaculate production design (Brigitte Broch). Even Michael’s visit to an extermination camp is beautifully lighted.

* * *

Although the commercial imperatives that drive a movie like this one are understandable — the novel was a best seller and an Oprah’s Book Club selection, for starters — you have to wonder who, exactly, wants or perhaps needs to see another movie about the Holocaust that embalms its horrors with artfully spilled tears and asks us to pity a death-camp guard. You could argue that the film isn’t really about the Holocaust, but about the generation that grew up in its shadow, which is what the book insists. But the film is neither about the Holocaust nor about those Germans who grappled with its legacy: it’s about making the audience feel good about a historical catastrophe that grows fainter with each new tasteful interpolation.

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#15 of 44 Michael Elliott

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Posted February 24 2009 - 10:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
An interesting read. Leaving aside the substance, which strikes me as flawed in ways so numerous that one could write a piece of at least equal length cataloguing them, there's something about the hectoring, self-righteous, self-promoting tone that just sounds so . . . familiar. Posted Image

Do you have a link to that other one? Posted Image

BTW, did you hate Hanna?

Quote:
It's funny because I did see Hanna as a monster so I didn't walk away from the movie "empathiz[ing] with an unrepentant mass murderer" (as the article says) but I did feel bad when I realized that she couldn't read. However, there's a big difference between feeling bad about that one thing and suddenly letting that 'forgive' the rest of what the character did.

I took it that one reason she took the job was because it didn't require her to read. Simply being a guard would allow her to keep her secret and I'm guessing the movie tried to say she didn't know what she was getting into. Of course, at the trial she stood by her guns and said she couldn't do anything but let them die. Again, I think this was true. Even when she meets Michael in prison she doesn't take back what she did. I believe her line is something to the effect that "the dead are still dead". I'm not sure if that line is rubbing people the wrong way but it struck me as Hanna saying no matter what she feels or says, the people are still going to be dead and there's nothing she can do about it.

One of the law students also made reference to the trial as being a joke because the women were only on trial because the survivor wrote a popular book. In other words, everyone in Germany knew what was going on but no one did anything about it. Many other war criminals were not being punished nor were they being brought in front of a court. Again, I'm not sure if these comments rubbed people the wrong way.

In terms of the article Michael posted, again, I don't see the film as begging us to feel pity for a Nazi. I think any pity we see or feel comes from the view point of the Michael character. I think a lot of the credit goes to the two performances but the scene when Hanna tells him she doesn't care was very heartbreaking to me. It shows Hanna as a bitch for saying it but the actors reaction and the pain he was able to show was heartbreaking. I loved the way the sexual encounter was shown because I thought it perfectly nailed that first sex act from a boy. I loved the follow up scene of him with his family and noticing everything a bit more. Rushing out of school to get to the "fun". Of course, with all this fun comes the falling in love but then it quickly turns to the scene where I think Michael was being held back when it comes to hanging out with his friends. To me Michael was about to end it with Hanna but by her doing so it left a void in his heart and life. Not knowing why someone leaves you could haunt you and I think this haunted Michael up until his next visit with her.

I think this is further shown when he tells his daughter why he is distant from people. The way Fiennes face looks when he sits down in the jail cell is the reason I would have voted him Best Supporting Actor of the year. I also think it was some of the strongest scenes of the entire year. Again, I wasn't sad because Hanna was dead but I was devastated because of the effect it was having on Michael.


On a side note, I do find it funny that not too many people have mentioned a 32-year-old woman sleeping with a 15-year-old boy. I do wonder what the reaction would have been had the boy been 32 and the woman 15.
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#16 of 44 Holadem

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Posted February 24 2009 - 10:18 AM

EDIT: bah never mind. Some 15 y/o are more "mature" than others. Posted Image

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#17 of 44 Michael Reuben

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Posted February 24 2009 - 10:53 AM

Quote:
BTW, did you hate Hanna?
No, but I found her creepy from the outset, long before knowing the specifics of her wartime activities. There's something predatory in her relationship with Michael, and it's clear that Hanna needs the control that the age difference allows her.

Sure, it looks like a gift from heaven for a 15-year-old boy, but it comes at a price. When Michael listens to Hanna's courtroom testimony, a part of him dies right there. Whenever we see him as an adult, there's an absence, as if he were only halfway in this life.

I keep returning to Lena Olin's scene, though, because that's the one the film's critics generally ignore, and I think that seriously undermines their critiques. That scene is very deliberately placed and powerfully played. It's intended as a slap in the face to both Michael and the audience, a reminder that what we've been dealing with throughout is a monstrous, unspeakable evil. Where does that fit into your tragic love story? (the adult Ilana seems to be asking Michael). Were it not for this scene, people like Dargis and Rosenbaum might have a point. But I don't think the film lets anyone off the hook.
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#18 of 44 TravisR

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Posted February 24 2009 - 11:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
No, but I found her creepy from the outset, long before knowing the specifics of her wartime activities. There's something predatory in her relationship with Michael, and it's clear that Hanna needs the control that the age difference allows her.
When I saw the movie, I knew nothing about it other than that Kate Winslet was in it and her performance was nominated for an Oscar. So that scene when Michael is getting into the tub and suddenly Hanna is nude behind him was surprising and very creepy to me. It was like she was a vampire. I also heard other people in the theater mumbling "Oh my god" type comments during that scene.

#19 of 44 oscar_merkx

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Posted February 24 2009 - 11:40 AM

I really thought that The Reader is thought provoking in the fact that both Hanna and Michael are using each other throughout their lives, whether it is at the trail or later in prison when she learns to write.
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#20 of 44 Edwin-S

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Posted February 24 2009 - 12:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Reuben
.

I keep returning to Lena Olin's scene, though, because that's the one the film's critics generally ignore, and I think that seriously undermines their critiques. That scene is very deliberately placed and powerfully played. It's intended as a slap in the face to both Michael and the audience, a reminder that what we've been dealing with throughout is a monstrous, unspeakable evil. Where does that fit into your tragic love story? (the adult Ilana seems to be asking Michael). Were it not for this scene, people like Dargis and Rosenbaum might have a point. But I don't think the film lets anyone off the hook.

So then, it is, ultimately, a holocaust film? At least that is what your last paragraph seems to indicate. Unfortunately, this discussion will be dead before I ever get to see this film. I just hope it doesn't bore me into a coma when I do see it.
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