Vampyr (1932)

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Writer: Christen Jul, Carl Theodor Dreyer
Based on: Sheridan Le Fanu‘s book In a Glass Darkly, which contains the novella Carmilla
Cast: Julian West, Rena Mandel, Sybille SchmitzMaurice Schutz

Allan Gray (Julian West) arrives in a small village where he is soon swept up in somehow supernatural affairs. It starts when a strange man enters his hotel room and leaves apparently his last will and testament there but gets even worse from thereon out. Allan is haunted by weird dreams that lead him to the local castle and the daughters of its owner, Giséle (Rena Mandel) and Léone (Sybille Schmitz). Léone appears to be anaemic, but there are also strange bitemarks.

Vampyr was shown right after Invocation of My Demon Brother at the Filmmuseum and they both share a certain disorienting quality. It was much more of a fault for Vampyr, but the film’s atmosphere and the wonderful visual effects make up for it. Continue reading

Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969)

Invocation of My Demon Brother
Director: Kenneth Anger
Writer: Kenneth Anger
Cast: Kenneth Anger, Bobby Beausoleil, Bill Beutel
[You can watch it here.]

Invocation of My Demon Brother is a short film that doesn’t really have a plot. Rather it’s a sequence of impressionistic images revolving around satanic ritualy, with sounds (difficult to call it music) by Mick Jagger. Watching it is a disorienting experience  That I probably wouldn’t have endured much longer than the 10 minutes it’s long, especially because of the “music”. But for the time it lasted it was kinda a cool experience.


Bill Bailey: Qualmpeddler

Bill Bailey came to Vienna with his Qualmpeddler program.

Bill Bailey’s show is a mix of music show, normal stand-up and utter lunacy. He is a proficient musician and really uses that for his show, creating surprising musical numbers with a lot of knowledge and respect of but not much reverence for genres. And he’s just a smart man with a lot of funny stories.


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Director: Brett Bailey
Writer: Brett Bailey, Fabrizio Cassol (music)
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play Macbeth / Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera
Cast: Owen Metsileng, Nobulumko Mngxekeza, Otto Maidi
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Macbeth (Owen Metsileng) is a warlord in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Witches foretell him that he will achieve great things. Hungry for power, Macbeth and his wife (Nobulumko Mngxekeza) are intrigued by the prospect – and what better place to ruthlessly rise than a country at war? So Macbeth succeeds, at least at first.

I’m not the world’s biggest opera fan, but I was very much intrigued by the concept of this one. And the actual thing very much does the concept justice: the music is cool the stage and setting awesome and I as completely engrossed.


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La belle et la bête [Beauty and the Beast] (2014)

La belle et la bête
Director: Christophe Gans
Writer: Sandra Vo-Anh, Christophe Gans
Based on: the fairy tale
Cast: Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux, André Dussollier, Yvonne Catterfeld

After his ships sink, a rich merchant (André Dussolier) is left destitute. He has to move to a small cottage in the countryside, much to the chagrin of all his children, except Belle (Léa Seydoux), who loves life on the country. One day, after trying to get their money back in the city, the merchant becomes lost in the woods. He happens upon a castle where nobody seems to be, but a rich feast is there for him to take. But when he also tries to take a rose for Belle, a beast (Vincent Cassel) appears and demands that the merchant be his prisoner for the theft. The merchant agrees but asks to see his children one last time, a wish the beast grants. But when Belle hears about the sacrifice, she offers herself in her father’s stead, setting a whole string of events in motion.

Beauty and the Beast is a problematic story (hello, consent issues and Stockholm syndrome!), but I honestly thought that I had seen the worst possible version of it in Beastly. Well, La belle et la bête fights extremely hard for that spot.


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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Based on: The Marvel Comics series
Sequel to: X-Men: First Class
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas HoultHugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Shawn AshmoreEllen PagePeter DinklageOmar SyEvan Peters, Anna Paquin, Famke Janssen, James Marsden

Scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) created an adaptive superroboter to hunt and kill mutants that eradicated mutants almost entirely in just a few short years. The only way to stop their complete extinction is by stopping Trask building the robots in the first place. So Kitty Pride (Ellen Page) sends Logan (Hugh Jackman) back into the past to find Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) from stopping Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) to inadvertently set everything in motion. But neither Charles nor Erik are at a particularly good place in their lives and its up to Logan to make everything happen.

I really, really enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past (I even saw it twice in the cinema), even if I do have certain qualms about it. But the fund pretty much outweigs everything.


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Kumonosu-jô [Throne of Blood] (1957)

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writer: Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryûzô Kikushima, Akira Kurosawa
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play Macbeth
Cast: Toshirô MifuneAkira Kubo, Isuzu Yamada, Takashi Shimura

Generals Washizu (Toshirô Mifune) and Miki (Akira Kubo) have successfully defeated the emperor’s enemy and are now on their way to collect their reward from the emperor. On the way there, though, they get lost in the Cobweb Forest and stumble upon an apparition who foretells them that Washizu will achieve great things – almost as great as Miki’s descendants. Their reservations about the prophecy disappear when they are immediately promoted by the emperor after getting out of the forest – and they want more. Especially Washizu’s wife Asaji (Isuzu Yamada) pressures her husband to do everything for power.

Kumonosu-jô runs a tad too long and the end just features a couple of arrows too many. But altogether it was fascinating adaptation – especially because it was removed from its original context such a long way.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Director: Marianne Elliott
Writer: Simon Stephens
Based on: Mark Haddon’s novel
Cast: Luke Treadaway, Niamh Cusack, Nicola Walker, Paul Ritter, Una Stubbs

Christopher (Luke Treadaway) finds his neighbor’s dog dead on the lawn, a pitchfork being the rather obvious reason of death. He decides to investigate the murder and find the killer. But that’s easier said than done, especially since Christopher lies on the autistic spectrum. But where there is a will, there is a way, even if that way leads further into his own family’s past than he anticipated.

I’ve heard only good things about this play (in fact, we were thinking of seeing it when we were in London, only that it was booked to the brim for the next couple of months or so) and I’m glad to say that I wasn’t disappointed at all. It’s a wonderful play with a wonderful design and wonderful direction. I loved every second of it.


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Über-Ich und Du [Superegos] (2014)

Über-Ich und Du
Director: Benjamin Heisenberg
Writer: Benjamin Heisenberg, Josef Lechner
Cast: Georg Friedrich, André Wilms, Margarita Broich, Maria Hofstätter, Elisabeth Orth

Nick (Georg Friedrich) is in trouble and needs to disappear for a bit. Through a friend he is sent to a house in the countryside that’s supposed to be empty. But when Nick arrives there he finds renouned but very old psychoanalyst Curt Ledig (André Wilms) there. When Nick is mistaken for somebody who is supposed to take care of Curt while he prepares for a big conference, Nick jumps at the chance. Only Curt sees right through him and decides to analyze Nick, in secret. At least at first.

Über-Ich und Du (which btw. is a wonderful pun in German as it means”Superego and You” but also “About Me and You”) is an entertaining film with great leads that runs a little too long (despite not actually being that long).


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Stereo (2014)

Director: Maximilian Erlenwein
Writer: Maximilian Erlenwein
Cast: Jürgen Vogel, Moritz Bleibtreu, Petra Schmidt-Schaller, Georg Friedrich, Rainer Bock, Adrian Can, Mark Zak

Erik (Jürgen Vogel) leads a rather quiet life as a mechanic together with his girlfriend Julia (Petra Schmidt-Schaller) and her daughter. But then one day caravans arrive and with the caravans a bit of Erik’s past catches up with him in the form of Henry (Moritz Bleibtreu). Henry might not be entirely real but that doesn’t make him any less threatening to everything Erik has built up.

Stereo is an entertaining film with good pacing. I did have some issues with it – mainly its treatment of the Roma in the film and the misogynistic language sometimes used – but it was enjoyable enough that I didn’t even mind that I foresaw the biggest plot twist.

stereo Continue reading