Juste la fin du monde [It’s Only the End of the World] (2016)

Juste la fin du monde
Director: Xavier Dolan
Writer: Xavier Dolan
Based on: the play of the same name by Jean-Luc Lagarce
Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel, Marion CotillardLéa Seydoux, Antoine Desrochers
Seen on: 18.1.2017

Plot:
Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) hasn’t spoken to his family in years. But now that he is terminally ill, he wants to see them and let them know that he is dying, and soon. So he leaves his boyfriend in the big city and makes his way home to his mother Martine (Nathalie Baye), his older brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel) and his wife Catherine (Marion Cotillard) – who Louis never met before – and finally his little sister Suzanne (Léa Seydoux) who barely remembers him at all. But the reconciliation Louis is most likely hoping for is overshadowed by old resentments.

Juste la fin du monde is probably the weakest of the Dolan films I’ve seen so far (which is not all that many, unfortunately). It’s still above average, but I’ve come to expect more of Dolan than what the film gave me.

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Steaming Satellites

Steaming Satellites [German link] gave a concert at the Metropol in Vienna.
Seen on: 12.1.2017

Steaming Satellites are among my favorite (Austrian) bands and it took me a while to finally catch one of their concerts. So when I found out about their show at the Metropol, I knew I had to go. And it was a great concert, although different from what I expected in a few ways.

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The Tempest

The Tempest
Director: Gregory Doran
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Broadbent, Jenny Rainsford, Joe Dixon, Mark Quartley, James Tucker, Tom Turner, Daniel Easton
Seen on: 11.1.2017
[Here’s my review of the Julie Taymor movie version.]

Plot:
Many years ago Prospero (Simon Russell Beale) was betrayed by his brother Antonio (Jonathan Broadbent). Antonio sent him and his daughter Miranda (Jenny Rainsford) off on a ship so that they may die, but they managed to survive and have been stranded on an island ever since. They are almost the only inhabitants of the island, apart from Caliban (Joe Dixon), the spiteful son of the former island ruler, and the sprite Ariel (Mark Quartley) who both have been enslaved by Prospero’s magic. Their existence is severely disrupted though when a ship sinks just off the island – a ship carrying not only Alonso the King of Naples (James Tucker), his brother Sebastian (Tom Turner) and his son Ferdinand (Daniel Easton), but also Antonio. Prospero knows that his time has come at last.

The Tempest was a gorgeous production with a strong cast and nice use of video projections. It still had a couple of issues, but I did enjoy it very much.

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Blue Ruin (2013)

Blue Ruin
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Cast: Macon BlairDevin RatrayAmy HargreavesKevin KolackEve PlumbDavid W. ThompsonBrent WerznerStacy RockSidné Anderson
Seen on: 8.1.2017

Plot:
Dwayne (Macon Blair) has hit rock bottom. He doesn’t have a job, he lives out of his car, he doesn’t have any friends. It is only when he is told that the man who killed his parents is being released from prison that he starts moving again: he goes to find him and take his revenge. After he does, he goes to find his sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves). But revenge provokes revenge – and this spiral has only just begun.

Blue Ruin was entertaining enough but didn’t blow me away. Emotionally, I just never connected all that much to Dwayne and his ploy for revenge.

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Bronson (2008)

Bronson
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Brock Norman Brock, Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Tom HardyKelly AdamsMatt KingJames LanceJuliet OldfieldKaty BarkerJoe Tucker
Seen on: 8.1.2017

Plot:
When Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy) is 19 years old, he robs a post-office. He is apprehended pretty quickly and sentenced to 7 years in prison. But due to his violent behavior, his sentence keeps getting prolonged and he spends most of the decades he ultimately is imprisoned in solitary confinement. There he grooms his public persona Charles Bronson, who started as a bare-knuckle fighter. Peterson/Bronson notoriously becomes Britain’s most violent prisoner.

Bronson is not an easy film to watch but it’s a film that leaves a mark. It definitely left a deep impression on me.

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Somersault (2004)

Somersault
Director: Cate Shortland
Writer: Cate Shortland
Cast: Abbie CornishSam Worthington, Anne-Louise LambertErik ThomsonLeah Purcell, Lynette CurranOlivia Pigeot
Part of: 7.1.2017

Plot:
16-year-old Heidi (Abbie Cornish) runs away from home after being caught when her mother’s boyfriend kisses her. She ends up in a small town in the mountains where she tries to connect with people. With men, that mostly means sex, though that doesn’t really end well. She finds a motherly friend in Irene (Lynette Curran) who offers her a place to stay; and she finds a job. And then she finds Joe (Sam Worthington) and kind of falls in love with him. But Joe is withdrawn and rough and is still trying to figuring out his own sexuality.

I hadn’t heard much about Somersault before seeing it, I basically bought it because Abbie Cornish is in it. What I got was an emotional, engaging and beautiful film with a wonderful ending.

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Winters Garten (Valerie Fritsch)

Winters Garten (translates literally to Winter’s Garden) is a novel by Valerie Fritsch. As far as I know, it has not been translated into English.
Finished on: 7.1.2017

Plot:
Anton Winter spent a lot of his childhood at his grandparents’ house and garden. Now he’s an ornithologist in his fourties and looks at the ruins of a city in a world devastated by war. He is a loner, but when he happens to meet Friederike, he falls in love. He starts working with her at a birthing clinic and they get closer. But with the end of the world fast approaching, they have very little future, only the hopes that fill their present.

Winters Garten is Literature-with-a-capital-L and while I loved to get a speculative fiction novel from Austria, I couldn’t really get into that literary style that – to me – felt like it was trying too hard.

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Assassin’s Creed (2016)

Assassin’s Creed
Director: Justin Kurzel
Writer: Michael LesslieAdam CooperBill Collage
Based on: the video game franchise
Cast: Michael FassbenderMarion CotillardJeremy IronsBrendan GleesonCharlotte RamplingMichael Kenneth WilliamsDenis MénochetAriane LabedKhalid AbdallaEssie Davis
Seen on: 5.1.2017

Plot:
Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) was sentenced to die. But the Abstergo Company fake his death instead and bring him to Madrid. As Abstergo’s CEO Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) explains, Cal’s ancestor belonged to a brotherhood of assassins, and they need him to access his own genetic memories to find the Apple of Eden, an artifact that belongs to the Templars and that has been historically protected by the Assassin’s Creed. Cal is more than reluctant to participate until Rikkin’s daughter Sofia (Marion Cotillard) puts him into the Animus – a machine that makes it able to access his genetic memories.

Assassin’s Creed was impressively nonsensical and it was far from pretty enough to make up for the incredible stupidity. I saw it on January 5th and it was clearly one of my biggest mistakes of the year that I did not bring alcohol to the screening.

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Moana (2016)

Moana aka Vaiana
Director: Ron ClementsJohn Musker, Don Hall, Chris Williams
Writer: Jared Bush
Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
Seen on: 3.1.2017

Plot:
Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) has always been happy on her island, but curious about the sea that surrounds it as well. But nobody on her island really ventures out to sea. But then an ancient curse starts to affect their island, a curse set into motion by the demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson). Moana knows that she has to do something about it: she has to find Maui and make sure that he makes things right. And that means leaving the island.

Moana is a beautifully animated film with absolutely fantastic movie. There are some issues but I was able to really fall into the film regardless.

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Jenseits des Krieges [East of War] (1996)

Jenseits des Krieges
Director: Ruth Beckermann
Writer: Ruth Beckermann
Seen on: 2.1.2017

“Plot”:
In the 90s, the Wehrmachtsausstellung reached Vienna. It detailed the war crimes committed by the Wehrmacht during World War II and created a lot of controversy, as the Wehrmacht thus far had been thought to have a relatively clean record (after an extensive review of the exhibition and its materials after the criticism, they found certain inaccuracies and a few generalizations that were too big, but the core argument still stands).
Beckermann visited the exhibition with her camera and interviewed the visitors to the exhibition, most of whom were Wehrmacht soldiers themselves.

Jenseits des Krieges is an incredibly important cinematic document and one that should be much older than it actually is. It proves that we had and still have a long way too go when it comes to our confrontation with World War II.

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