Queer*Welten 01/2020

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. It contains four short stories and an essay.
Finished on: 14.2.2021

Queer*Welten fills a gap in the German SFF scene by having an explicitely queer-feminist mission. That in itself would be reason enough to support it any way you can. But fortunately it’s not all the magazine has to offer – it gives us a wide range of stories that probably has something to offer for everyone.

The magazine cover showing a colorful word cloud in the shape of an heart.
Read More About Each of the Stories

Re-Watch: Burgtheater [Burg Theatre] (1936)

Burgtheater
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Werner Krauss, Hortense Raky, Olga Tschechowa, Hans Moser, Carl Esmond, Karl Günther
Seen on: 11.2.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Content Note: attempted suicide

Plot:
Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss) is the star of the Viennese Burg Theater. The eccentric and basically socio-phobic star. He has the prompter Sedlmayer (Hans Moser) take care of most of his social interactions. Even when he meets the young Leni (Hortense Raky) who finds really charming, he relies on Sedlmayer to establish contact. With these social skills, it’s no wonder that he doesn’t notice that Leni is head over heels for the aspiring actor Josef (Willy Eichberger). When Leni finds an invitation for the Baroness Seebach’s (Olga Tschechowa) weekly party for the rich and famous at Mitterer’s place, she steals it without thinking and gives it to Josef, setting quite a few things in motion.

I had forgotten that I’d seen Burgtheater before. Seeing it again, I started to remember, but only vaguely. This time, I didn’t love it as much as the first time – and it generally struck me very differently. It does have a pretty great and very memorable character in Mitterer, though.

The film poster showing the audience at the Viennese Burgtheater and headshots of the three protagonists of the film - Friedrich Mitterer (Werner Krauss), Josef Rainer (Carl Esmond) and Leni Schindler (Hortense Raky).
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Maskerade [Masquerade in Vienna] (1934)

Maskerade
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cast: Paula Wessely, Anton Walbrook, Olga Tschechowa, Hans Moser, Walter Janssen, Peter Petersen, Hilde von Stolz, Julia Serda, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 9.2.2021

Plot:
The painter Heideneck (Anton Walbrook) tends to draw the attention of women. His latest flame is the married Anita (Olga Tschechowa), but Heideneck isn’t all that interested in her anymore. Anita’s sister-in-law Gerda (Hilde von Stolz) thinks that Heideneck could be a wonderful distraction from her rather boring marriage. After they meet at a grand masquerade, she simply comes to his studio and he paints her – in the nude. When nothing more happens, Gerda leaves disappointed. Unbeknownst to Heideneck, the drawing is delivered to the newspaper to be printed as his illustration of the masquerade. The drawing causes quite a stir in Viennese society and Heideneck has to make sure that the identity of his model is neither revealed nor falsely assumed. So he simply makes up a name – not knowing that there actually exists a Leopoldine Dur (Paula Wessely) who gets drawn into the scandal without even realizing.

Maskerade is absolutely fantastic. I already liked Leise flehen meine Lieder, but Maskerade is even better – funny and charming and very stylish.

The film poster showing Heideneck (Anton Walbrook) dipping Leopoldine (Paula Wessely) was they dance.
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Leise flehen meine Lieder [Lover Divine] (1933)

Leise flehen meine Lieder
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cast: Mártha Eggerth, Luise Ullrich, Hans Jaray, Hans Moser, Otto Treßler, Hans Olden, Anna Kallina
Seen on: 08.02.2021

Plot:
Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) makes his living as a school teacher, but he is barely scraping by and always dreams of making music. When he has to pawn one of his instruments just to get by, pawn shop worker Emmi (Luise Ullrich) takes a shine to him. And Franz seems to like her, too. But right when his career seems to take a turn and he gets the chance to play at an important soiree, he crushes all hopes when he is unable to keep his temper in check when somebody in the audience laughs during his piece. Franz has to accept a teaching position in the country to make his living, a position with none other but the young woman in the audience who laughed at him – Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth).

Leise flehen meine Lieder is a very romantic take on a story that probably wasn’t as romantic. It works with music beautifully and I liked it.

The film poster showing a woman, could be either Emmi (Luise Ulrich) or Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth), leaning against a pillar as Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) plays the piano.
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Ich oder du (1984)

Ich oder du [literally: I or You]
Director: Dieter Berner
Writer: Dieter Berner, Peter Mazzuchelli
Cast: Beate Finckh, Hansi Lang, Karl Kröpfl, Johannes Weidinger, Wolfgang Ambros, Hilde Berger, Bobby Prem, Helmut Vinaccia, Rainer Egger
Seen on: 7.2.2021

Content Note: domestic violence, abuse

Plot:
Christina (Beate Finckh) is dating Robert (Hansi Lang), a singer of local renoun. But he is volatile – addicted to drugs and prone to violence. It seems to come as no surprise that Christina feels also drawn to Franz (Karl Kröpfl) who appears Robert’s opposite in every way: a young farmer to Robert’s city flair, he is much more grounded. Franz is also smitten with Christina. But whether Robert and Christina can give each other up so easily is a different question.

Ich oder du is an exhausting film that seems mostly built around Hansi Lang (a rather famous-at-the-time-and-place musician) and his star appeal – and I have to say that he didn’t appeal all that much to me, and so the film did neither.

The film poster showing Robert (Hansi Lang) and several film stills arranged like the photos from a photobooth.
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Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

Rebecca is a novel by Daphne du Maurier.
Finished on: 6.2.2021

Plot:
Working as a companion to Mrs van Hopper has brought the unnamed protagonist to Monte Carlo where Mrs van Hopper spies Maxim de Winter, whose somewhat tragic story precedes him: he is a widower and lives at the grand estate of Manderley, now all alone. Mrs van Hopper arranges a meeting with Maxim de Winter which also introduces the protagonist to him. When Mrs van Hopper falls ill, the protagonist and Maxim de Winter start to spend more time with each other and finally he asks her to marry him. But living in Manderley, where the shadow of Maxim’s deceased wife Rebecca hangs over everything and her housekeeper Mrs Danvers makes sure it doesn’t leave, proves quite a challenge for them.

I’ve been meaning to read Rebecca for a while, and despite its renown I actually managed to stay spoiler-free – which was a good thing. But even if I had known more about how things would go down, I doubt that I would have been any less engaged in the book. Rebecca is a classic for a reason, a hypnotic novel that doesn’t let go of you easily.

The book cover showing a drawing of a young woman in front of a huge estate.
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Misspelled (ed. by Julie E. Czerneda)

Misspelled is a short story collection edited by Julie E. Czerneda.
Finished on: 5.2.2021

Misspelled is an anthology with stories all about spells that go wrong somehow. The stories are all humorous in tone, but, as usual, not all of them work equally well. Each story in this collection is introduced by a narrator who also comments on it at the end – a bit like an MC. I found that a little irritating, but not so much that it actually bothered me. Overall, the collection didn’t blow me away, though I liked more stories than I didn’t like.

The books cover showing a young woman leaning on a stone table with a key on it, with a kind of lens-flare effect over the image that includes a couple of ghostly figures.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

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Salir del ropero [So My Grandma’s a Lesbian] (2019)

Salir del ropero
Director: Ángeles Reiné
Writer: Ángeles Reiné
Cast: Rosa Maria Sardà, Verónica Forqué, Ingrid García Jonsson, David Verdaguer, Candela Peña, Mónica López, Pol Monen, Alex O’Dogherty, Leander Vyvey, Liz Lobato, Maria Caballero
Seen on: 5.2.2021

Content Note: ableism, (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) is just about to get married to Stuart (Leander Vyvey) who comes from a very rich and very conservative family. So when Eva hears that her grandmother Sofia (Verónica Forqué) wants to get married to her best friend Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà), Eva sees her wedding and her happiness threatened. She decides to return to Lanzarote and to talk some sense into her grandmother, keep her from getting married and thus causing an uproar and saving her union with Stuart. That’s easier said than done, though.

Salir del ropero is okay. It leans a little too hard on some of its comedic aspects, and puts the focus on Eva instead of Sofia and Celia, but it does have sweet moments.

The film poster showing Sofia (Verónica Forqué) and her granddaughter Eva (Ingrid García Jonsson) on one side, and Celia (Rosa Maria Sardà) and her son Jorge (David Verdaguer) on the other. Eva and Jorge seem to be pushing them apart.
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Bride for Rent (2014)

Bride for Rent
Director: Mae Czarina Cruz
Writer: Charlene Grace Bernardo, Carmi Raymundo
Cast: Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, Pilita Corrales, Empoy Marquez, Martin del Rosario, Tirso Cruz III, Dennis Padilla, Matt Evans, Lloyd Zaragoza, Zeppi Borromeo, Eda Nolan, Gerald Pesigan
Seen on: 02.02.2021

Content Note: a couple of transmisic and fatmisic jokes, but not central to the story

Plot:
Rocco (Xian Lim) can’t wait for the day he turns 25 and will finally get access to the trust fund his grandmother (Pilita Corrales) is taking care of for him. Rocco is living a life of leisure, parties and women and he intends to keep it that way with the money. But his Lala has other plans: she puts a stipulation into the contract that Rocco can only get to the money if he gets married. Rocco and his friends come up with the plan to hire an actress for the role of his wife and deceive his grandmother just long enough to get the money. Enter Rocky (Kim Chiu), a struggling actress from a poor family, hoping to make it big. Even though she feels slightly uncomfortable with the part, she can’t say no to the money. That she has a bit of a crush on Rocco is a bonus. But things quickly become more complicated.

Bride for Rent is a sweet RomCom with a couple of questionable jokes, but overall a fun watch with a nice emotional core.

The film poster showing Rocky (Kim Chiu) with a bridal veil and a big ring, and Rocco (Xian Lim) hugging her with a slightly uncomfortable facial expression.
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The Bye Bye Man (2017)

The Bye Bye Man
Director: Stacy Title
Writer: Jonathan Penner
Based on: Robert Damon Schneck‘s short story/chapter The Bridge to Body Island
Cast: Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount, Cressida Bonas, Doug Jones, Michael Trucco, Jenna Kanell, Erica Tremblay, Marisa Echeverria, Cleo King, Faye Dunaway, Carrie-Anne Moss, Leigh Whannell
Seen on: 31.1.2021

Plot:
Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and their friend John (Lucien Laviscount) decided to move off-campus together. They found a big house that meets their requirements and are excited for this next step into adulthood. But once they move in, strange things start happening. Sasha’s friend Kim (Jenna Kanell), who is a medium, feels a presence and the friends start to grow suspicious of each other. And then Elliot finds a strange name etched into the nightstand drawer: The Bye Bye Man.

The Bye Bye Man opens strongly and then loses a bit of its verve and momentum as it continues. In the end, the okay outweighs the good, but I have definitely seen worse films.

The film poster showing the Bye Bye Man (Doug Jones) - a hooded figure whose face you can't see - with the words "Don't think it. Don't say it." repeated all over his body.
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