Atmen [Breathing] (2011)

Director: Karl Markovics
Writer: Karl Markovics
Cast: Thomas Schubert, Karin Lischka, Georg Friedrich, Gerhard Liebmann, Stefan Matousch

Roman (Thomas Schubert) is in juvie, and has been there since he was fourteen. Five years later and a possibility for parole comes up, but only if he manages to find a job outside – and hold it for a while. After a few false starts, Roman chooses a job at a morgue where he starts working under supervision. But the upcoming change in his future doesn’t only mean figuring out what’s going to happen, but also coming to grips with his past.

Atmen is an extremely confident and competent debut and a frankly fantastic movie. I’m very impressed, not only with Karl Markovics as a director, but also with Thomas Schubert and the rest of the cast.

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Wie man leben soll [The Way to Live] (2011)

Wie man leben soll
Director: David Schalko
Writer: David Schalko, Thomas Maurer
Based on: Thomas Glavinic‘ novel
Cast: Axel Ranisch, Robert Stadlober, Thomas Stipsits, Marion Mitterhammer, Bibiana Zeller, Josef Hader, Emily Cox, David Wurawa, Michael Ostrowski, Lukas Resetarits, Robert Palfrader, Thomas Müller, Thomas Maurer, Elisabeth Engstler, Armin Wolf, Roberto Blanco, Oliver Baier

Charlie Kolostrum (Axel Ranisch) is a “sitter”, according to one of his self-help books. Not a doer, but one of the people who sit around waiting for things to happen. So he sits through school where he is in love with his girlfriend’s (Stefanie Reinsperger) best friend (Katharina Strasser), mostly ignored by his mother (Marion Mitterhammer) and overfed by his aunt (Bibiana Zeller). And then he sits through university, where he studies Art History [not because he has a particular interest but because according to the study adviser (Michael Ostrowski) is has the prettiest women – and that’s everything Charlie can muster some kind of enthusiasm]. Dividing his time between uni and his membership in the socialist students union the years pass.

Wie man leben soll is by no means a bad movie but I didn’t really like it a whole lot because I just couldn’t stand Charlie. But despite that the film had its moments.

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The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

The Hunger Games is the first book in The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

The USA don’t exist anymore. In its place are 12 districts and the Capitol that has the districts under its thumb. Katniss Everdeen lives in district 12, where at 16 she’s basically taking care of her mother and sister Prim and has been ever since her father died four years ago. Which means that she breaks the laws daily to go hunting with her best friend Gale. But Katniss’ life changes radically when the kids for the Hunger Games of that year are reaped. In the Hunger Games every year 24 kids, 2 more or less randomly chosen from each districts, are pitted against each other in a battle to the death until only one remains standing. And in this year 12-year-old Prim is chosen. In desperation Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. And so Katniss travels to the Capitol together with Peeta the baker’s son – to certain death for at least one of them.

The Hunger Games is an absolutely addictive read. Seriously, I just blazed through it. It made me read until 4am (despite having to work the next day) because I just needed to know what happened next. I can’t remember the last time this happened to me. I even shed a tear or two.

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Soul Music (Terry Pratchett)

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett is the first Discworld book about Susan Sto Helit. [My reviews of the other Discworld novels here.]

Death has one of his episodes again and left his post, which means that his granddaughter Susan has to take over his job without really knowing what she’s doing. In the meantime the young musician Imp Y Celin comes to Ankh Morpork. When he meets up with the dwarf Glod and the troll Cliff, they start playing a new kind of music – Music with Rocks In. And with that they start events much bigger than they thought at first.

Soul Music was a good, entertaining read. But I mostly just don’t connect with Pratchett in the right way, and this book is no exception.

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Wittgenstein is a monodrama about Ludwig Wittgenstein, written by Wilhelm Pellert [German], starring Reinhard Hauser and directed by the both of them.
[Full disclosure: Wilhelm Pellert is my uncle, so that probably colors my review, even though I try that it doesn’t.]

Wittgenstein (Reinhard Hauser) leads us through his life: From his beginnings as the son of a very rich industrialist family, the inheritance of which he rejects to become a teacher in a village school. There he writes his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus which in turns leads him to being offered a chair in Cambridge where he meets Bertrand Russell who becomes his lifelong mentor and friend. During all of this Wittgenstein is severely traumatised by both World Wars and  his own battle with himself.

Wittgenstein was a good play, though it did have moments of length and moments where it was just a little too dramatic. But Reinhard Hauser does a good job and it makes for a very enjoyable night.

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Woyzeck & The Tiger Lillies

Woyzeck & The Tiger Lillies is a new production of Georg Büchner‘s Woyzeck with music by The Tiger Lillies and Die Brassisten (an Austrian brass ensemble). It was directed by Stephanie Mohr and stars Raphael von Bargen, Ruth Brauer-Kvam, Xaver Hutter, Anne Weber, Johannes Huth, Manni Laudenbach, Joachim Bissmeier and Ben Becker.

Woyzeck (Raphael von Bargen) is a young soldier who has a child with Marie (Ruth Brauer-Kvam), despite not being married to her. Woyzeck does all he can to support Marie and their child: he does menial tasks for his Captain (Ben Becker) and participates in questionable experiments of the local doctor (Joachim Bissmeier), both for extra pay. But Woyzeck’s psyche is slowly fracturing and when Marie starts flirting with the handsome drum major (Xaver Hutter), it pushes him over the edge.

I loved pretty much everything about this production apart from their interpretation of the play. The stage design and the music was great, the actors were mostly good, but I just did not like the versions of Woyzeck and Marie we got to see.

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The Guard (2011)

The Guard
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, Mark Strong

Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson) is a cop in a small Irish town. He has carved himself his niche, where he can ignore everything he doesn’t want to deal with at his leisure. His cynic routine is only interrupted when he meets with his dying mother or prostitutes. But all of this is threatened when FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle) comes to Ireland to investigate an international drug smuggling ring. Reluctantly, Gerry teams up with Wendell. If only to get his peace back.

The Guard is funny, well-written and has an excellent cast and a pretty subversive sense of humor. In the end it’s a mean film, but in a very good way.

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The Debt (2010)

The Debt
Director: John Madden
Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Peter Straughan
Based on: Ha-Hov [I haven’t seen it. Yet.]
Cast: Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciarán Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas, Jesper Christensen

1997: Rachel (Helen Mirren) is a retired Mossad agent. Her daughter is launching her book about Rachel’s most important assignment when Rachel’s ex-husband Stephan (Tom Wilkinson) brings her the message of David’s (Ciarán Hinds) suicide. In 1966, Rachel (Jessica Chastain), Stephan (Marton Csokas) and David (Sam Worthington) were in Germany together on said assignment: they were supposed to find the Nazi doctor Jürgen Vogel (Jesper Christensen) and bring him back to trial in Israel.

The movie is absolutely excellent. The cast is great, the story (while not completely surprising) was tense and I was completely involved. It did have some weaknesses but they hardly mattered.

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The Conspirator (2010)

The Conspirator
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: James D. Solomon
Cast: James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Danny Huston, Colm Meaney, Alexis Bledel

After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the conspirators are quickly arrested. Among them is Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) who is pretty much suffering for the crimes of her son. But the whole country is so riled up that nobody really cares. Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) takes on her defense in the military trial that is set up for her and where her constitutional rights are abused the whole time.

The Conspirator is a movie with a mission that gets so righteous and sanctimonious that it’s barely bearable. The cast ends up being its only redeeming feature.

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Short Films at the /slash Filmfestival

So, for the final entry about the /slash Filmfestival this year (well, at least until their Christmas Special which will most likely be on December 15, so save the date), I thought that I’d give you a round-up of all the short films they showed. After that, this blog returns to its normal state with one post a day that won’t necessarily be about a horror film while I’m busy raking in new material at the Viennale. :)
In any case, buying the /slash pass was one of the best acquisitions ever. I managed to sit in every film and I only fell asleep in a few of them. So, it was completely worth it.
Anyway, on to the short films!

They showed the short films of Brian Lonano, the “Ölfilm-Zyklus” (Oilfilm Cycle) by a group of young Austrian film makers, The Unliving and Roid Rage.

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