Der Rosenkavalier [The Knight of the Rose] (1925) + Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / Geoffrey Paterson

Der Rosenkavalier
Director: Robert Wiene
Writer: Louis Nerz, Robert Wiene
Based on: the opera by Richard Strauss (music) and Hugo von Hofmannsthal (libretto)
Cast: Michael Bohnen, Huguette Duflos, Paul Hartmann, Jaque Catelain, Elly Felicie Berger, Carmen Cartellieri, Karl Forest, Friedrich Feher
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Richard Strauss played by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Geoffrey Paterson
Seen on: 25.5.2018

Content note: questionable consent

Plot:
Countess Maria Theresia von Werdenberg (Huguette Duflos) is surprised by her cousin Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau (Michael Bohnen) while the young Octavian (Jacque Catelain) is in her room. Octavian quickly dresses up as a chambermaid and escapes notice, especially since Ochs has his own problems: he is looking to get married to Sophie (Elly Felicie Berger), hoping to get out of debt by the connection. The Countess suggests that Octavian could be his “Rosenkavalier”, his second in command for the wedding, a mix of messenger and wedding planner. Ochs agrees to the suggestion, but Octavian proves to be a difficult choice for everybody.

Der Rosenkavalier has beautiful music, but not much else about it worked for me, despite the obviously lavish production.

Film poster showing Jaque Catelain and Huguette Duflos.

[SPOILERS.]

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The Bookshop (2017)

The Bookshop
Director: Isabel Coixet
Writer: Isabel Coixet
Based on: Penelope Fitzgerald‘s novel
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy, Hunter Tremayne, Honor Kneafsey, Michael Fitzgerald, Frances Barber, Reg Wilson, James Lance, Patricia Clarkson
Seen on: 22.5.2018

Plot:
Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) needs a fresh start after her husband’s death. She moves to a small town on the coast and opens a bookshop there. Unwittinlgy she disrupts the local politics with her opening – the powerful Violet Gamart (Patricia Clarkson) had set the sights on her shop. Florence manages to gain the trust and appreciation of a local few – like Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) regardless. But her bold choice to promote Nabokov’s Lolita at her store, causes quite an upheaval in town.

I expected The Bookshop to be this romantic, cute film and it does start that way. But then it suddenly throws so much sadness in your face that I could barely handle it. You should definitely be prepared for that.

Film poster showing Emily Mortimer leaning against the wall of a book store.
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Phobiarama

Phobiarama
Directed by: Dries Verhoeven
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 22.5.2018

“Plot”:
A haunted house, a ghost train riding through darkness. But what exactly are we afraid of? As political rhetoric keeps whipping up fear and looks for a scapegoat, we might be missing the most obvious and dangerous developments.

Phobiarama builds its concept from a single idea and that idea is a good one. The execution doesn’t work all the way through, but it works most of the time. They do make a good point.

Two people in a bumper car in the dark.

[SPOILERS, I guess. Can you spoil a performance?]

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Liliane Susewind – Ein tierisches Abenteuer [Little Miss Dolittle] (2018)

Liliane Susewind – Ein tierisches Abenteuer
Director: Joachim Masannek
Writer: Matthias Dinter, Beate Fraunholz, Betty Platz, Antonia Rothe-Liermann, Katrin Milhahn
Based on: Tanya Stewner‘s book series
Cast: Malu Leicher, Peri Baumeister, Aylin Tezel, Christoph Maria Herbst, Meret Becker, Tom Beck
Seen on: 21.5.2018

Plot:
Liliane (Malu Leicher) just moved to a small town with ther parents (Peri Baumeister, Tom Beck) and her best friend, her dog. Liliane has a special talent: she can talk with animals. It’s a talent that comes in as handy as it brings her trouble. In this case, there’s a zoo in town and the animals there tell Liliane that animals have been going missing. And even though Liliane promised to keep a low profile in the new town, she can’t let things rest.

Liliane Susewind is a sweet film that I would have lapped up as a child. And it’s very definitely for children. Looking at it with an adult’s eye, though, there are a few things that bothered me about it.

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Herrliche Zeiten [Subs] (2018)

Herrliche Zeiten
Director: Oskar Roehler
Writer: Jan Berger, Thor Kunkel
Cast: Oliver Masucci, Katja Riemann, Samuel Finzi, Lize Feryn, Yasin El Harrouk
Seen on: 12.5.2018

Plot:
Plastic surgeon Claus (Oliver Masucci) and landscape architect Evi (Katja Riemann) are successful and rich, living in a chique villa in a fashionable area. But one day, their cleaner doesn’t show up. Dismayed, Claus puts an ad in the newspaper for a new cleaner, but thinking it funny, he writes that he is looking for a slave. The ad is a full success, much to his surprise. But even more surprisingly they actually find somebody among the applicants who might work: Bartos (Samuel Finzi) and later his wife Lana (Lize Feryn) move in to give the arrangement a try. And Claus and Evi quickly adapt to the all-around service.

Herrliche Zeiten is a little obvious in where it is going, but I liked the idea enough to have it still be interesting. There are cringeworthy moments and the ending didn’t entirely work for me, but it was never boring and I enjoyed watching it.

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Rampage (2018)

Rampage
Director: Brad Peyton
Writer: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J. Condal, Adam Sztykiel
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Marley Shelton, P.J. Byrne, Demetrius Grosse, Jack Quaid
Seen on: 11.5.2018

Plot:
Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) works at the San Diego Zoo. In particular he is responsible for George, a white gorilla, whom he has taken care of for many years. But one night, something falls from the sky into George’s enclosure – and George suddenly changes, growing bigger and more aggressive. And he is not the only animal affected that way. Davis knows that he has to find a cure for what ails George – and soon before he destroys too much or is destroyed himself.

Rampage promises a film where Dwayne Johnson beats up giant animals and it absolutely delivers on that. If you feel that this sounds like a good concept, then Rampage is a must-see. Personally, I definitely enjoyed it.

Film poster showing Dwayne Johnson in front of a huge gorilla, wolf and crocodile, walking purposefully, gun in hand.
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You Were Never Really Here (2017)

You Were Never Really Here
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writer: Lynne Ramsay
Based on: Jonathan Ames‘ novel of the same name
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Dante Pereira-Olson, Vinicius Damasceno, Judith Roberts, Frank Pando, John Doman, Alex Manette, Alessandro Nivola
Seen on: 11.5.2018

Plot:
Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a veteran with PTSD whose job it is to retrieve trafficked girls as a freelancer. His newest task is to find Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov) who ran away from home. Her father (Alex Manette) is a state senator and he’s pretty sure she’s held against her will at a house he knows of. He wants as little fuss as possible, not only for his own position, but also because he works for the Governor (Alessandro Nivola). Joe takes the job but soon finds that things may be more complicated than anticipated.

You Were Never Really Here is a fantastic film that really carries a punch. There’s a lot to dissect and reflect here – and since it is such a good film, you’ll be happy to engage with it after having seen it to do just that.

The film poster showing Joaquin Phoenix with a hammer in his hand, looking down with an image of Ekaterina Samsonov floating in water superimposed over his body.
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55 Steps (2017)

55 Steps
Director: Bille August
Writer: Mark Bruce Rosin
Cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Hilary Swank, Tim Plester, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Riddell, Johan Heldenbergh
Seen on: 11.5.2018

Plot:
Eleanor Riese (Helena Bonham Carter) has been in and out of psychiatric facilities for most of her life, so she is intimately aware of what is going wrong there. And what it boils down to that people believe that being in need of psychiatric help means that one can no longer be trusted to make decisions about one’s own treatment. Eleanor really doesn’t think so – and she’s willing to sue the hospital for it. With the help of her new lawyer Colette Hughes (Hilary Swank), she takes up the fight for psychiatric patients everywhere.

55 Steps is probably a nice crash course for the patients’ rights movement. It is an enjoyable film – apart from the catastrophic casting decisions made.

Film poster of 55 Steps, showing Hilary Swank and Helena Bonham Carter.
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Macbeth

Macbeth
Director: Rufus Norris
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Rory Kinnnear, Anne-Marie Duff, Kevin Harvey, Stephen Boxer, Trevor Fox, Hannah Hutch, Anna-Maria Nabirye, Beatrice Scirocchi, Parth Thakerar, Patrick O’Kane,
Seen on: 10.5.2018
[Here are my reviews of other takes on Macbeth.]

Plot:
Macbeth (Rory Kinnear) and Banquo (Kevin Harvey) just fought successfully for King Duncan (Stephen Boxer) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Anne-Marie Duff) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.

This version of Macbeth has its strong moments and I have definitely seen worse productions, but I’ve also seen better.

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The Boy on the Bridge (M.R. Carey)

The Boy on the Bridge is a prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (aka Mike Carey).
Finished on: 7.5.2018

Plot:
Humanity is trying to figure out what has turned people into zombies and to find a way to stop it. As they are running out of options, their measures become more desperate. One of those measures is to send a specially designed research vehicle – the Rosalind Franklin – after its counterpart that has gone missing before to try to retrieve whatever data it could gather. So a team of scientists and soldiers board the Rosie. Among them is Dr. Khan who insisted to bring along 15-year-old Stephen, a highly gifted, autistic boy she basically adopted. That Stephen is part of the mission underscores its desperate nature, but maybe he is the key to the answers they need.

The Boy on the Bridge is an extremely good read and a very satisfying addition to The Girl with All the Gifts. Depite a couple of issues I had with it, I really enjoyed it and I’m happy that it expands the universe that we were introduced to in the first novel.

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