Re-Watch: Frau im Mond [Woman in the Moon] (1929) + Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich / Timothy Brock

Frau im Mond
Director: Fritz Lang
Writer: Fritz Lang, Hermann Oberth, Thea von Harbou
Based on: Thea von Harbou‘s novel
Cast: Klaus Pohl, Willy Fritsch, Gustav von Wangenheim, Gerda Maurus, Gustl GstettenbaurFritz Rasp
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Timothy Brock, played by the Tonkünstler Orchester Niederösterreich under direction of Timothy Brock
Seen on: 27.4.2017
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Professor Manfeldt (Klaus Pohl) has spent his life researching the moon. He has theorized that it has huge gold reserves that could be harvested for earth should space travel ever be achieved. But academia laughed him out of work and into poverty. Now the only one who still believes in him is Wolf Helius (Willy Fritsch). After a mysterious man (Fritz Rasp) shows up at Manfeldt’s, trying to steal his research and putting pressure on them all, things are set in motion to finally finish a rocket and fly to the moon together with Manfeldt, his best friend, engineer Windegger (Gustav von Wangenheim), scientist Friede Velten (Gerda Maurus) and the mysterious man.

When I saw Frau im Mond for the first time, I was pretty annoyed with the music that came with it. So getting the chance to see it with different music (and that music performed live) was a good thing and made the film better.

Continue reading

Complete Unknown (2016)

Complete Unknown
Director: Joshua Marston
Writer: Joshua Marston, Julian Sheppard
Cast: Rachel WeiszMichael ShannonAzita GhanizadaKathy BatesDanny GloverMichael ChernusChris Lowell
Seen on: 26.4.2017

Plot:
Tom (Michael Shannon) and his wife Ramina (Azita Ghanizada) expect guests for dinner. Ramina is a jewelry designer who has recently been accepted into a design program across the country. Tom is ambivalent about moving and leaving his work behind. But before they can fight about this (again), their guests arrive and interrupt. Among them is Tom’s co-worker Clyde (Michael Chernus) who brought a date – the lovely Alice (Rachel Weisz). Michael is sure he knows Alice, but refers to her as Jenny. Her sudden re-appearance in Tom’s life throws him for a loop.

From the description I expected Complete Unknown to be an entirely different film, a thriller, something dramatic, dark and tension-filled. Instead I got a dialogue-driven rumination on identity. It wasn’t bad by a long-shot, but I did feel a little disappointed by that as the turn to darkness never came. Fortunately not for long, though.

Continue reading

Queen of Katwe (2016)

Queen of Katwe
Director: Mira Nair
Writer: William Wheeler
Based on: Tim Crothers‘ non-fiction book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster
Cast: Madina NalwangaDavid OyelowoLupita Nyong’oMartin KabanzaTaryn KyazeIvan JacoboNicolas Levesque, Ethan Nazario Lubega
Seen on: 26.4.2017

Plot:
Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) lives with her mother Nakku Harriett (Lupita Nyong’o) in the slums of Katwe, Uganda. Life is tough and Phiona and her brother Benjamin (Ethan Nazario Lubega) have to work to try and get a bit of money for the family, especially since Phiona’s older sister Night (Taryn Kyaze) went her own ways. That’s when Phiona stumbles on Robert Katende’s chess club. He offers not only to teach chess, but also food. Drawn in by the latter, Phiona gets more and more interested in chess. And it turns out that she’s really good at it.

Queen of Katwe is a supercute film about an intersting girl and story. The film itself is not particularly revolutionary, but it’s well-made and has a great cast.

Continue reading

Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)

Mechanic: Resurrection
Director: Dennis Gansel
Writer: Philip ShelbyTony MosherRachel LongBrian Pittman
Sequel to: The Mechanic
Cast: Jason StathamJessica AlbaTommy Lee JonesMichelle YeohSam HazeldineJohn CenatiempoToby EddingtonFemi Elufowoju Jr.Anteo Quintavalle
Seen on: 26.4.2017

Plot:
Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) has retired from the assassination business and withdrawn to Rio. But he is approached there with a business proposal that he declines. Instead he goes to Thailand to visit with his friend Mei (Michelle Yeoh) and to escape the figurative heat. Also vacationing there is the beautiful Gina (Jessica Alba). But it seems that Gina might be more than just a regular vacationer and that the person trying to hire Arthur hasn’t given up on their plan just yet.

I was looking forward to Mechanic: Reurrection and then it never made its way to cinemas in Austria, at least not in an undubbed version. So when I saw that they had it on the airplane, of course I had to watch it. And it may not be quite as good as the first Mechanic, but it could have been a lot worse as well.

Continue reading

20th Century Women (2016)

20th Century Women
Director: Mike Mills
Writer: Mike Mills
Cast: Lucas Jade Zumann, Annette BeningElle FanningGreta GerwigBilly Crudup
Seen on: 26.4.2017

Plot:
Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) lives with his mother Dorothea (Annette Bening) who raised him all her own. They share their home with photographer Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and handyman William (Billy Crudup) and as often as Jamie’s best friend, the slightly older Julie (Elle Fanning), stays over, you could say she lives there as well. As Jamie tries to navigate puberty, his mother tries to make sure he becomes a good man, while Jamie is more interested in convincing Julie to have sex with him.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Beginners and unfortunately, 20th Century Women didn’t really blow me away either. The cast was good but as so often, the film focuses on the wrong guy. With emphasis on the guy part.

Continue reading

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

The Edge of Seventeen
Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
Writer: Kelly Fremon Craig
Cast: Hailee SteinfeldHaley Lu RichardsonBlake JennerKyra SedgwickWoody HarrelsonHayden SzetoAlexander Calvert
Seen on: 25.4.2017

Plot:
Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) feels that she doesn’t fit in with the world around her. Certainly not her brother Darian (Blake Jenner) who is simply perfect. The only person who understands Nadine and who shares everything with her is her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). So it really throws Nadine for a loop when Krista starts dating Darian of all people. Nadine decides she has to look for new friends. But candidates are not easy to find. There’s her grumpy teacher Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson), and the slightly dorky Erwin (Hayden Szeto) who’s probably into Nadine. And there is the dreamy Nick (Alexander Calvert) who is everything Nadine dreams about.

The Edge of Seventeen is funny and sweet and cute, but it didn’t get all the points in my book it could have gotten with just a few minor adjustments.

Continue reading

Forushande [The Salesman] (2016)

Forushande
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Writer: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Taraneh AlidoostiShahab HosseiniBabak KarimiMina SadatiMojtaba PirzadehFarid Sajjadi Hosseini
Seen on: 25.4.2017

CN: rape, assault

Plot:
Ranaa (Taraneh Alidoosti) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini) are not only a couple, they also work together on a play – Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. When they have to move house, they move into an apartment a friend of theirs had rented out, but needs new tenants for. Ranaa and Emad move in, despite being a little weirded out by finding the previous tenant’s stuff still in the apartment. Then Ranaa spends the night in the apartment on her own and is assaulted and raped by an intruder, turning both her and Emad’s life upside down.

Forushande comes highly recommended and lauded, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me. I couldn’t go along with the story that centers the men and throws the women under the bus.

[Slight Spoilers]

Continue reading

Re-Read: The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel by Margaret Atwood.
Finished on: 25.4.2017

Plot:
Offred is a handmaid in Gilead, which used to be known as the USA. Being a handmaid means she is assigned to an important family where her job is to become pregnant and reproduce for the family, as many people struggle with fertility issues. Women in general are severely limited in their rights in Gilead. But Offred managed to hold on to a last shred of wanting more than her assigned lot.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale in school many years ago and some of its imagery burned themselves into my brain. But I don’t think I appreciated the book for all that it offers at that time. I am pretty sure that I understood and liked it more reading it now.

Continue reading

In Dubious Battle (2016)

In Dubious Battle
Director: James Franco
Writer: Matt Rager
Based on: John Steinbeck‘s novel of the same name
Cast: Nat Wolff, James Franco, Vincent D’OnofrioSelena GomezAhna O’ReillyAnaleigh TiptonJack KehlerScott HazeSam ShepardJoel Marsh GarlandJohn SavageRobert DuvallEd HarrisJosh HutchersonJulian De NiroBryan CranstonAshley GreeneKeegan AllenZach BraffAustin Stowell
Seen on: 24.4.2017

Plot:
Jim (Nat Wolff) just joined a political party who’s goal it is to empower workers. There he meets the charismatic and politically experienced Mac (James Franco) who takes him under his wing. Together they make their way to a fruit plantation where they hope to instigate a strike without the workers noticing that that’s what they came there to do. When they hear about a case where a plantation owner (Robert Duvall) reduced the workers’ pay from 3 to 1 Dollar, they know they have their in.

In Dubious Battle profits from Steinbeck’s strength as a writer and an absolutely stellar cast that makes the film worth seeing even though Franco directing Franco is not the best thing to ever happen.

Continue reading

Chicago

Chicago
Director: Steven Stead
Writer: John Kander (music), Fred Ebb (lyrics), Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse (book)
Based on: Maurine Dallas Watkins‘ play of the same name
Cast: Jessica Sole, Katy Moore, Jason Ralph, Charon Williams-Ros, Bryan Hiles, Anne-Marie Clulow
Seen on: 23.4.2017

Plot:
Roxie (Jessica Sole) wants nothing more than to become a star, like Variété dancer Velma (Katy Moore). But Velma just started serving a prison sentence for killing her husband and her sister who were sleeping together. And Roxie? Well Roxie just killed her lover and tried to make her husband Amos (Bryan Hiles) take the blame. But even the not very smart Amos figured out something else was going on and now Roxie faces trial. But that’s also a kind of fame, isn’t it? At least star lawyer Billy (Jason Ralph) knows to use Roxie’s situation for the best. For himself and for her.

Chicago is one of my favorite musicals, but I never saw it live. When my sister suggested going to see it at the local university theater, I was in, even if I didn’t expect much from a student production. But turns out that it was a professional company and it was a really good production.

Continue reading