The Thing (1982)

The Thing
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bill Lancaster
Based on: John W. Campbell, Jr.‘s novella Who Goes There?
Cast: Kurt RussellWilford BrimleyT.K. CarterDavid ClennonKeith DavidRichard DysartCharles HallahanPeter Maloney, Richard MasurDonald MoffatJoel PolisThomas G. Waites
Seen on: 30.5.2016
[This concludes the John Carpenter special (for me).]

Plot:
A USAmerican research station in Antarctica find themselves the harbor of a sled dog that ran from another facility, chased down by helicopter. But before the hunters can kill the dog, they crash. Irritated by events, the men decide to investigate the Norwegian camp nearby. What they find there, actually raises more questions – and that’s before the saved dog starts mutating into something else entirely.

The Thing – arguably one of Carpenter’s most revered films – cements what I had been suspecting: Carpenter is wasted on me. I thought The Thing was well done and I loved the special effects, but other than that, it just really didn’t speak to me.

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Fear is an Option – Short Film Program

Fear is an Option [a play on the VIS motto of Fear is not an Option] was a collection of horror short films curated (among others) by the /slash Filmfestival as part of the VIS Vienna Independent Shorts film festival. They showed the following short films:
The Simpsons Couch Gag [You’re Next] (2015)
Directed and written by: Lee Hardcastle
[Can be watched here.]
The Chickening (2015)
Directed and written by: Nick DenBoer, Davy Force
Based on: The Shining
[Can be watched here.]
Invaders (2014)
Directed and written by: Jason Kupfer
Cast: Ricky Wayne, Jordan Woods-Robinson
[Can be watched here.]
Jack Attack (2013)
Directed and written by: Bryan Norton, Antonio Padovan
Cast: Helen Rogers, Tyler Rossell, Steve Anderson Jr.
Monster (2005)
Directed and written by: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Susan Prior, Luke Ikimis-Healey, Trash Vaudeville
[Can be watched here.]
One Last Dive (2013)
Directed and written by: Jason Eisener
Cast: Catherine Maltais, Peter Allen
[Can be watched here.]
Polaroid (2015)
Directed and written by: Lars Klevberg
Cast: Annika Witt, Thea Sofie Loch Næss, Anne Cloetta
Baskin (2013)
Directed and written by: Can Evrenol, Co-Directed by: Ogulcan Eren Akay
Cast: Muharrem Bayrak, Fadik Bülbül, Gorkem Kasal, Aydin Orak, Remzi Pamukcu
Lights Out (2013)
Directed and written by: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Lotta Losten
[Can be watched here.]
Seen on: 29.5.2016

They put together a strong collection of short films here, some of which were connected to the /slash Filmfestival – where they did show You’re Next, the basis for the Simpsons Couch Gag; both Baskin and Monster were turned into feature films that were also part of the festival program – Baskin and The Babadook respectively; and Jason Eisener had segments in V/H/S 2 and The ABCs of Death, where Lee Hardcastle also made an appearance. The short films ranged from very funny and silly to outright terrifying and most of them were really effective, even if not all worked for me.

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[After the jump I’ll talk about each of the films individually.]

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Money Monster (2016)

Money Monster
Director: Jodie Foster
Writer: Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf
Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham, Lenny Venito
Seen on: 29.5.2016

Plot:
Lee (George Clooney) and his producer Patty (Julia Roberts) have a very successful TV show in which he discusses the developments on Wall Street. As part of his show, Lee gives recommendations on what stocks to buy and what to sell. And recently he recommended the stocks of Walt’s (Dominic West) company – that shortly thereafter went bust in a pretty spectacular fashion. Janitor Kyle (Jack O’Connell) followed Lee’s advice – and lost everything. Now Kyle has found his way into the studio and takes Lee hostage, hoping to get to the truth – and to justice.

Money Monster is a very watchable film with good performances. It’s solid, but it never really manages to go beyond that.

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Sing Street (2016)

Sing Street
Director: John Carney
Writer: John Carney
Cast: Ferdia Walsh-PeeloLucy Boynton, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton, Ian Kenny, Ben Carolan, Percy Chamburuka, Mark McKenna
Seen on: 29.5.2016

Plot:
Dublin in the 1980s. Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) and his family aren’t doing too well financially, which is why it is decided that Conor should change from his current school with a hefty fee to one that is publicly funded. Conor is appalled, and sticks out like a sore thumb at his new school. But then Conor sees Raphina (Lucy Boynton), an older and beautiful girl. He knows that he has to get her attention somehow and so simply walks up to her and asks her if she wants to participate in his band’s music video. When she says yes, all that is left to do is form a band, write a song and develop a concept for a music video. No trouble at all.

Sing Street is a very funny and sweet film with nice music. It’s also very much a boy’s vision of how his life is supposed to be and that, unfortunately, includes some poor handling of female characters.

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Remember (2015)

Remember
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Benjamin August
Cast: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Kim Roberts, Amanda Smith, Henry Czerny, T.J. McGibbon, Liza Balkan, Peter DaCunhaBruno Ganz, Dean Norris, Jürgen Prochnow
Seen on: 28.5.2016

Plot:
Zev Guttman (Christopher Plummer) only barely survived World War 2 in Auschwitz. The rest of his family did not. Now living in the USA, he is old and dementia is slowly grabbing ahold of him. After his wife dies, he finds that the time is finally right to go on a mission and bring down one of the SS officers in Auschwitz who is still at large. Together with his friend Max Rosenbaum (Martin Landau), Zev has narrowed it down to five people the guard could have assumed the identity of. So Zev flees from the senior residence with a bit of money, a detailed letter that explains everything and a gun, hoping to achieve his goal before his dementia will take him over entirely.

Remember takes you on a slow, painful journey and ends with a kick in the gutts. And in this case, all of those things are really good, although afterwards you’ll probably want a stiff drink.

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Идеальный муж. Комедия [An Ideal Husband. Comedy]

Идеальный муж. Комедия
Director: Konstantin Bogomolov
Writer: Konstantin Bogomolov
Based on: Oscar Wilde‘s An Ideal Husband and The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as Anton Chekhov‘s Three Sisters, Johann Wolfgang Goethe‘s Faust and William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet
Cast: Nadezhda Borisova, Andrei Burkovsky, Rosa Khairullina, Svetlana Kolpakova, Alexei Kravchenko, Maxim Matveev, Igor Mirkurbanov, Darya Moros, Vasily Nemirovich-Danchenko, Yana Osipova, Artyom Panchik, Vladimir Panchik, Aleksandr Semchev, Marina Sudina, Pavel Chinarev, Sergei Chonishvili, Pavel Vashchilin
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 27.5.2016

Plot:
Lord (Igor Mirkurbanov) is a famous Russian singer, about to be honored for his life’s work in the Kremlin. The prize is delivered by his friend Robert (Alexei Kravchenko) who is the Minister for Rubber Goods. But their partying finds a quick end when they are contacted by Cheavley, the main rival of Robert’s wife Gertrude. Cheavley has video evidence that Lord and Robert are actually lovers and threatens to expose them. In the world of Russian politics, intrigue and bigotry that cannot stand.

An Ideal Husband is a sometimes haphazard but always enthusiastic amalgamation of various texts that are full of political barbs, irony and sarcasm. While it was a bit long and seeing it in Vienna made it feel a little diluted, I did enjoy most of it.

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Der Nachtmahr [The Nightmare] (2015)

Der Nachtmahr
Director: Achim Bornhak aka AKIZ
Writer: Achim Bornhak
Cast: Carolyn Genzkow, Sina Tkotsch, Wilson Gonzalez Ochsenknecht, Arnd Klawitter, Julika Jenkins
Seen on: 26.5.2016

Plot:
Tina (Carolyn Genzkow) had planned on spending her summer holidays with her friends, partying and enjoying herself. But after a rave at the local swimming pool, she starts seeing this creature that seems to follow her home, raiding her fridge and disappearing whenever somebody else is there. Tina’s parents are understandably worried, as Tina’s mental health seems to start to spiral more and more out of control.

I missed this film at last year’s Viennale and was very happy when it got a small release after all here. And I’m even happier after having seen it: Der Nachtmahr is a weird and beautiful film. Touching, well-acted and smart it takes you on quite a journey.

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Escape from L.A. (1996)

Escape from L.A.
Director: John Carpenter
Writer: John Carpenter, Debra Hill, Kurt Russell
Sequel to: Escape from New York
Cast: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Valeria Golino, Stacy Keach, Pam Grier, Bruce Campbell, Georges Corraface, Michelle Forbes, A.J. Langer, Ina Romeo, Peter Jason, Leland Orser
Seen on: 26.5.2016

Plot:
2013. The future. After an earthquake, Los Angeles was turned into an island, separated from the rest of the USA, and used as a deportation station, not only for illegal immigrants, but also for people who lost their citizenship because they didn’t conform to the ultra-conservative morality enforced by the government. But the President’s own daughter Utopia (A.J. Langer) rebels against him and manages to get stranded in L.A. with a deadly device. Fortunately it’s just then that Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is caught once more and threatened with deportation himself – unless he retrieves both Utopia and the weapon.

Well. Since I wasn’t particularly taken with the first Escape film, it is not surprising that I didn’t love the second one either – a film that is inferior in almost every way to its predecessor.

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Kollektivet [The Commune] (2016)

Kollektivet
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Writer: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Cast: Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen, Ulrich ThomsenTrine Dyrholm, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Fares Fares, Julie Agnete Vang, Lars Ranthe, Mads ReutherMagnus MillangAnne Gry Henningsen
Seen on: 26.5.2016
[Here’s my review of the play version.]

Plot:
Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) just inherited the family house and he and his wife Anna (Trine Dyrholm) and their daughter Freja (Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen) are about to move in. But they don’t want to move in alone. Instead they want to build a commune. So they find Ole (Lars Ranthe), the couple Steffen (Magnus Millang) and Ditte (Anne Gry Henningsen), Mona (Julie Agnete Vang) and Allon (Fares Fares) to move in with them. And this works rather well until Erik meets Emma (Helene Reingaard Neumann) after a few years and falls in love with her.

Kollektivet is a well-acted ensemble piece with great characters, but I do think that I was a little more taken with the stage version than with the film.

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La belle saison [Summertime] (2015)

La belle saison
Director: Catherine Corsini
Writer: Catherine Corsini, Laurette Polmanss
Cast: Cécile De FranceIzïa Higelin, Noémie Lvovsky, Jean-Henri Compère, Loulou Hanssen, Kévin Azaïs, Benjamin Bellecour, Laetitia Dosch, Sarah Suco, Calypso Valois,
Seen on: 26.5.2016

Plot:
1971. Delphine (Izïa Higelin) just arrived in Paris to study. As the wide-eyed country girl she soon finds herself swept up in a feminist activist group, drawn in by the French-Spanish teacher Carole (Cécile De France). Both Delphine and Carole are a little surprised when they realize that their attraction isn’t in fact platonic. When Delphine has to return home because her father (Jean-Henri Compère) falls ill, Carole follows. But under the watchful eyes of Delphine’s mother (Noémie Lvovsky) and society in general, can their love work?

La belle saison is a nice film. It didn’t blow my mind with how great it was, but it was a really good film that I enjoyed a lot.

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