Newt’s Emerald (Garth Nix)

Newt’s Emerald is a novel by Garth Nix.
Finished on: 30.5.2019

Content Note: misogyny

When Lady Truthful Newtington, called Newt by everyone, turns 18, she is set to inherit the Newtington Emerald that gives magical powers to its owner. But in a conjured storm, the emerald is stolen and Newt decides that she has to set out herself to get it back. Only that isn’t easily accomplished as a woman traveling alone. So, instead she dresses up as a man. In her disguise, she meets Major Hartnett who offers to accompany her on her quest. Despite his rough manners, Newt accepts his help and the two set off.

Newt’s Emerald is a quick, fun read that proves that regency romances and fantasy are a really good combination (in case you needed proof of that). But I was a little unhappy with the love story.

The book cover showing the silhouette of a city as well as several items (a sword, a tophat, a glove, an emerald heart).
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Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng)

Little Fires Everywhere is a novel by Celeste Ng.
Finished on: 29.5.2019

Content Note: abortion, (critical treatment of) racism

Elena Richardson rents a house to Mia Warren and her teenage daughter Pearl. Mia is an artist and she and Pearl have always moved around a lot. The Richardsons – mother, father, four children around Pearl’s age – live the compelte opposite life and Pearl is fascinated with them. Both Mia and Pearl quickly become more than just tenants. All of their relationships are put to the test, though, when friends of the Richardsons want to adopt an Chinese-American baby and Mia tries to help the biological mother keep it.

Little Fires Everywhere is wonderfully observed, realistic and well-written novel that maybe didn’t touch me quite as much as Everything I Never Told You, but I still loved it a whole lot.

The book cover showing a little paper house on fire.
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Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal [The Incessant Fear of Rape] (2018)

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal
Director: Aditya Kripalani
Writer: Aditya Kripalani
Cast: Shalini Vatsa, Chitrangada Chakraborty, Kritika Pande, Sonal Joshi, Vinay Sharma, Ahmareen Anjum
Seen on: 29.5.2019
[Screener Review.]

Content Note: rape

Vibha (Shalini Vatsa), Chitra (Chitrangada Chakraborty) and Shagun (Sonal Joshi) don’t know each other, but they end up sitting in the same taxi, part of a fleet especially for women. Their cab is being driven by Shaila (Kritika Pande) who owns the taxi company. As they are stuck in traffic, the four women get to talking: about the need for a taxi service like this. About the constant threat of being raped if you’re out just a little too late. About the entitlement of men. Even on this night, they can’t get home unbothered: a man (Vinay Sharma) starts hollering at them from his moped. But this time, they strike back and soon they have the guy locked up in an abandoned building, ready to teach him what it means to be afraid all the time.

Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal is an interesting, character-driven film on a feminist mission. It has a good cast and is well-told, although the ending – while thought-provoking – is a little unsatisfying. But that shouldn’t keep you from watching it: the film is well worth it.

The film poster showing Chitrangada Chakraborty.
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Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin [Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress] (1957)

Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin
Director: Ernst Marischka
Writer: Ernst Marischka
Sequel to: Sissi, Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin
Cast: Romy Schneider, Karlheinz Böhm, Magda Schneider, Gustav Knuth, Uta Franz, Vilma Degischer, Josef Meinrad, Walther Reyer, Senta Wengraf
Seen on: 25.5.2019

Sissi (Romy Schneider) has decided to distance herself from the court in Vienna. She spends most of her time in Hungary where rumors abound that she is having an affair with Count Andrassy (Walther Reyer). When Franz Josef (Karlheinz Böhm) comes to get her, he finds that Sissi is already on her way back to him. Things should be good for them again, if it weren’t for a mysterious pain that Sissi keeps experiencing.

Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin was probably the weakest of the trilogy, although the difference in quality between it and the second film barely exists. In any case, I’m pretty glad that I have seen all three of the films now and have no need for more.

The film poster showing Sissi (Romy Schneider) wearing a crown.
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Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin [Sissi: The Young Empress] (1956)

Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin
Director: Ernst Marischka
Writer: Ernst Marischka
Sequel to: Sissi
Cast: Romy Schneider, Karlheinz Böhm, Magda Schneider, Gustav Knuth, Vilma Degischer, Josef Meinrad, Walther Reyer, Senta Wengraf
Seen on: 24.5.2019

Sissi (Romy Schneider) and Franz Josef (Karlheinz Böhm) are married now and Sissi is trying to adjust to life as an Empress. But neither her wild spirit, nor her overbearing mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie (Vilma Degischer) makes this particularly easy for her. Especially when Sophie tries to take Sissi’s daughter away from her. That there are tensions between Austria and Hungary that put Franz Josef under a lot of pressure doesn’t help either. Sissi has a great love for Hungary and intervenes on their behalf, especially for the passionate Count Andrassy (Walther Reyer) who led the rebellion.

After seeing the first Sissi movie, I felt that I needed a break with the movies because watching the film was a bit like being on drugs. I hadn’t planned to make it a three year break, but shit happens. In any case, Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin dials things up even more and worked a little less for it. But I’d still say that the films are worth watching, just for having seen them.

The film poster showing a close-up of Sissi (Romy Schneider) as well as smaller shots of her on a horse, in Hungary and with Franz Josef (Karlheinz Böhm).
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Der letzte Mann [The Last Laugh] (1924) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester / Frank Strobel

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
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Giuseppe Becce, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 23.5.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

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.

When I first saw Der letzte Mann, I was completely blown away by it, so when it was announced as part of the Film and Music Cycle, I was pretty excited to see it again. Thankfully, the film lived up to my memories of it and the accompaniment of the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester was also really good.

The film poster showing a drawing of the Doorman (Emil Jannings) whose uniform jacket is pulled from his body by two giant blue hands.
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Ink (Alice Broadway)

Ink is the first novel in the Skin Books trilogy by Alice Broadway.
Finished on: 23.5.2019

In Saintstone, everyone is tattooed and every important life event is recorded in tattoos. When a person dies, their skin is preserved in a book that chronicles and pays hommage to their life. This thought gives Leora, who dreams of becoming an inker herself, much peace when her own father dies. But then she glimpses a mark that should not be there, something that marks him as a traitor. With that realization, Leora’s entire life starts to unravel.

Ink is not exactly subtle in its metaphors about surveillance states and populism. It doesn’t need to be to be a good read – and that it certainly was. Even if you aren’t as into tattoos as I am.

The book cover that is covered in bronze-colored tattoo-like markings, showing, among other things, an owl, an eagle, a feather and a girl in white instead of bronze.
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At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

At Eternity’s Gate
Director: Julian Schnabel
Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière, Julian Schnabel, Louise Kugelberg
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup, Anne Consigny, Amira Casar
Seen on: 21.5.2019

Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) spends most of his time in Arles, painting in a rather fragile state of mind. His brother Theo (Rupert Friend) is his one great supporter. When news reaches Theo that Vincent isn’t doing so well, he convinces Vincent’s friend Paul Gauguin (Oscar Issac) to travel to Arles. But what ails Vincent is not so simply dealt with.

At Eternity’s Gate is one hell of a boring film with irritating cinematography. Despite the amazing cast, I just couldn’t get into it at all.

The film poster showing Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) with a bandaged ear in front of a yellow wall.
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George Ezra (Support: Hot 8 Brass Band)

George Ezra played another concert in Vienna. This time his support was Hot 8 Brass Band.
Seen on: 20.5.2019

It was not so long ago that I saw George Ezra live in Vienna and I probably wouldn’t have gone to see him straight away again, but it became a family event, so I went after all and I did have fun again, albeit I wouldn’t need to see him a third time (at least not on this tour). Hot 8 Brass Band was also a really good opening act.

George Ezra sitting in an almost empty truck with a guitar in his lap.
George Ezra
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