Der letzte Tanz [The Last Dance] (2014)

Der letzte Tanz
Director: Houchang Allahyari
Writer: Houchang Allahyari, Daniel Kundi, August Staudenmayer
Cast: Daniel Sträßer, Erni MangoldJanina SchauerDoina Weber, Viktor Gernot, Stefano Bernardin, Fritz Karl
Seen on: 16.02.2015

Karl (Daniel Sträßer) is surprisingly arrested one morning, to the horror and surprise of his mother. He won’t say a word, but slowly it becomes clear what happened over the past few months: Having just finished university in Germany, Karl had to start his compulsory civilian service in Vienna, which was scheduled at a geriatric hospital. Shortly before he started, he reconnected with Nathalie (Janina Schauer), an old class mate, and they started dating. But Karl remained distant with pretty much everybody but one of his patients, Julia Ecker (Erni Mangold). And that relationship soon crosses professional boundaries.

Der letzte Tanz takes on a difficult topic and has garnered quite a few awards in Austria, but personally I wasn’t very happy with how they handled it. Both regarding content and regarding style.

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Concerning Violence (2014)

Concerning Violence
Director: Göran Olsson
Writer: Göran Olsson
Based on: Frantz Fanon‘s book The Wretched of the Earth
Narrated by: Lauryn Hill
Part of: Scope50
Seen on: 15.02.2015

Olsson uses historic footage about the fight for freedom from European rule in Africa and underscores it with the writing of Frantz Fanon, a philosopher and social theorist who wrote in particular about colonialization and de-colonialization.

Concerning Violence is a difficult film with a challenging concept which probably pushes it further into a particular niche of filmmaking than strictly necessary. Personally I was surprised that I wasn’t quite as exhausted by the film than I thought I would be. But it certainly isn’t a film that’s fun or entertaining.

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Blackmail (1929) + Stephen Horne

Blackmail [I saw the silent version of this.]
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Alfred Hitchcock, Benn W. LevyMichael Powell
Based on: Charles Bennett‘s play
Cast: Anny OndraJohn LongdenDonald CalthropCyril RitchardSara AllgoodCharles Paton
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by: Stephen Horne [autoplay warning]
Seen on: 15.02.2015

Alice (Anny Ondra) has been dating Scotland Yard detective Frank (John Longden) for a bit, but she is a little bored by him. That’s why she accepts an invitation by an Artist (Cyril Ritchard). They spend an evening together and Alice agrees to visit his studio in the end. But there things go awry and the Artist tries to rape Alice. She fights him off and kills him. Dazed she runs away, only to be confronted with the deed when Frank takes up the investigation. He quickly connects the murder to Alice, but decides to keep it to himself. Especially when a witness (Donald Calthrop) turns up and tries to blackmail the both of them.

I came rather late to Hitchcock in my cinematic life and I still haven’t seen much, but with each of his film more I see, I appreciate him more as a filmmaker. His films aren’t always perfect, but they are always engaging. That is also true for Blackmail, especially with the musical support by Stephen Horne.

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Återträffen [The Reunion] (2013)

Director: Anna Odell
Writer: Anna Odell
Cast: Anna Odell, Kamila BenhamzaAnders BergJimmy CarlbergErik EhnNiklas EngdahlHenrik Norlén
Part of: Scope50
Seen on: 14.02.2015

Anna Odell wasn’t invited to her high school reunion, so she decided to make a movie where she goes and tells everybody what she thinks and what she experienced in high school. But she’s not content with that. After she’s done with the film, she tracks down her former classmates to show them the film in person and see how they react.

Återträffen starts off as a normal, albeit autobiographical feature film, then veers into (semi-)documentary territory and that is a mix that is certainly interesting, even though it probably won’t appeal to everyone. I liked the mix of fiction and reality, though.


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Die 3 Groschen-Oper [The 3 Penny Opera] (1931)

Die 3 Groschen-Oper
Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Writer: Béla Balázs, Léo Lania, Ladislaus Vajda
Based on: The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill
Cast: Rudolf Forster, Carola Neher, Reinhold Schünzel, Fritz Rasp, Valeska Gert, Lotte LenyaErnst Busch
Seen on: 13.02.2015

Mack the Knife (Rudolf Forster) knows what he wants and he takes it any way he can, which is also possible with the help of his old friend Tiger Brown (Reinhold Schünzel), chief of police. Mack decides that he wants to marry Polly (Carola Neher). Polly agrees, but her father Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum (Fritz Rasp) knows nothing about it. But Peachum is not to be trifled with. From running the beggar’s guild, he has both money and influence which he both uses to pressure Tiger Brown to finally arrest Mack.

In the description of the film it was mentioned that Brecht himself hated this version of his opera. Generally the Threepenny Opera is a bit of a household brand but I didn’t know much about it before seeing the film. I did recognize some of the music that I didn’t know was from the opera, and I knew that it was about Mack the Knife, but other than that, I was completely fresh to the experience and I can’t understand Brecht’s hatred at all. It was a delightful film.

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Der letzte Mann [The Last Laugh] (1924)

Der letzte Mann (literally: The Last Man)
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: Carl Mayer
Cast: Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller, Emilie Kurz, Hans Unterkircher, Olaf Storm
Seen on: 13.2.2015

The Doorman (Emil Jannings) has been working in the big hotel for a very long time and he takes a lot of pride in his job. But he is also getting old. After carrying a particularly heavy suitcase, he has to take a break – which the Hotel Manager (Hans Unterkircher) sees. He decides that the Doorman isn’t up to the task anymore and that he should do something less strenuous, so he makes him washroom clerk. But the Doorman can’t handle the demotion this means and starts to unravel.

The last F.W. Murnau/Emil Jannings cooperation I saw (Faust) already blew me away, but this film blew me even further (I should make a project or something of watching all their stuff). Both the story and Jannings’ acting had me completely in their grip and I could still cry when I think about it.

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Romane Thana – Places of the Roma and Sinti

Romane Thana – Places of the Roma and Sinti is an exhibition at the Wien Museum about the history of the Roma and Sinti in Austria.
Seen on: 13.2.2015

Roma and Sinti have historically been an extremely underprivileged group in Austria, and that is putting it lightly. They were systematically persecuted, killed and generally abused – all of that for centuries rather than decades. That has been going on for so long that most of the people who identify as Roma, or Sinti, or one of the many other groups that are usually subsumed under the mantle of “Roma”, would rather that nobody knows of their background. So to see an exhibition that not only talks about the exotification, ostracization and annihilation of the Roma and Sinti in and around Austria, but also about their arts, culture and accomplishments, all curated by Roma and Sinti themselves, is a wonderful thing and I’d urge everybody, in particular Austrians, to see it.

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I Am Me – Mira Lobe and Susi Weigel

I Am Me was an exhibition at the Wien Museum, about children’s books author Mira Lobe and illustrator Susi Weigel.
Visited on: 13.02.2015

Mira Lobe and Susi Weigel worked together for almost 50 years, creating children’s books that Lobe wrote and Weigel illustrated. Most of those books were extremely successful, many have been translated into many languages. The exhibition shows not only their work and lives, but puts it into a political context that is shaped by the fact that Lobe was Jewish and that both had strong socialist convictions.

I grew up on Mira Lobe and Susi Weigel books, but to see their work in the exhibition really showed me how productive they were – and how much of it I can still discover. I also appreciated the background info that made me look at their books in a new light.

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Love’s Labour’s Lost

Love’s Labour’s Lost
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Sam Alexander, Edward Bennett, William Belchambers, Tunji Kasim, Michelle Terry,  Leah Whitaker, Frances McNamee, Flora Spencer-Longhurst, John Hodgkinson, Peter McGovern, Nick Haverson, Emma Manton, Chris McCalphy, David Horovitch, Jamie Newall, Thomas Wheatley, Roderick Smith
Seen on: 11.2.2015

King Ferdinand (Sam Alexander) and his entourage Berowne (Edward Bennett), Longaville (William Belchambers) and Dumaine (Tunji Kasim) have decided to devote their time entirely to studying and to foreswear all women (Berowne only with reluctance, though). So it is of course now that the Princess of France (Leah Whitaker) arrives with her handmaidens Rosaline (Michelle Terry), Maria (Frances McNamee) and Katharine (Flora Spencer-Longhurst). Soon all of the men find their vows of abstinence tested – and very much lacking.

I didn’t know Love’s Labour’s Lost before seeing the RSC production – and I can’t imagine a better way to get introduced to this play than this wonderful production that reminded me of how funny Shakespeare actually can be. I immediately fell in love with it.

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Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Jupiter Ascending
Director: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Writer: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Christina Cole, Maria Doyle Kennedy, David Ajala, Doona Bae, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, James D’Arcy, Terry Gilliam
Seen on: 10.02.2015

Jupiter (Mila Kunis) and her mother (Maria Doyle Kennedy) work as cleaners for rich people. Russian immigrants themselves, they can only dream of the riches they are cleaning. But there is something about Jupiter that catches the attention of some very powerful people who are not from earth. Former soldier and wolf/human hybrid Caine (Channing Tatum) is only one of a few people trying to get Jupiter. But he makes it his mission to protect Jupiter, whatever may come. And so Jupiter finds herself whisked from earth and crowned space royalty – and that’s only the beginning of the adventure.

I went into Jupiter Ascending armed with vodka and about 50 extremely negative reviews at the back of my head, expecting the worst. And it is true that it is not a particularly good film. But I had so much more honest to goodness fun in the film than I’d ever thought I would have, I can only recommend it.



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