Waren einmal Revoluzzer [Once Were Rebels] (2019)

Waren einmal Revoluzzer
Director: Johanna Moder
Writer: Johanna Moder
Cast: Julia Jentsch, Marcel Mohab, Aenne Schwarz, Manuel Rubey, Tambet Tuisk, Lena Tronina, Josef Hader
Seen on: 10.9.2020

Plot:
Helene (Julia Jentsch) is a judge, her husband Jakob (Manuel Rubey) a musician and stay-at-home dad. Their lives are pretty settled, as is their friend’s Volker (Marcel Mohab), a therapist with an unceasing string of girlfriends. The newest is Tina (Aenne Schwarz), an art historian who works with children at the museum. When Volker mentions that he will go to Russia for a conference, Helene asks him to bring a package to Pavel (Tambet Tuisk), her Russian college boyfriend who finds himself in a tight spot. This leads to Pavel actually fleeing from Russia to Austria. To Helene’s surprise, he shows up with his wife Eugenia (Lena Tronina) and their child, getting everything in disarray.

Waren einmal Revoluzzer profits from its political heart that does elevate the film beyond the rather standard comedy it is. Still, while entertaining and well-made, I didn’t really love it.

The film poster shwing the faces of the 3 couples in the film.
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Lovecut (2020)

Lovecut
Director: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Writer: Iliana Estañol, Johanna Lietha
Cast: Kerem Abdelhamed, Sara Toth, Valentin Gruber, Melissa Irowa, Max Kuess, Lou von Schrader, Raphaela Gasper, Marcel Mohab, Doris Schretzmayer
Seen on: 7.9.2020

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Jakob (Kerem Abdelhamed) and Anna (Sara Toth) have been a couple for a while and enjoy a rather adventurous sex life. Anna desperately wants to move out from home, but she needs to make money for that. So the two decide to try amateur porn. Meanwhile Jakob’s brother Alex (Valentin Gruber) is dating Momo (Melissa Irowa) – online, because he doesn’t dare telling Momo that he uses a wheelchair. Momo’s friend Luka (Lou von Schrader) also uses online dating sites and meets Ben (Max Kuess). Ben is very much into her, but Luka doesn’t want anything to do with feelings.

Lovecut is an interesting look at sex (and a little bit love) for teenagers in times of online dating and easily available (opportunities for) sex work. It manages to be non-judgmental for the most part, which is nice, but it does suffer a little from the inexperience of both the cast and the writing-directing team.

The film poster with three film stills: Ben (Max Kuess) floating in the danube; Anna (Sara Toth) posing for the camera; and Luka (Lou von Schrader) and Ben looking at each other while lying next to sleeping Momo (Melissa Irowa).
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Die Dohnal [Johanna Dohnal – Visionary of Feminism] (2020)

Die Dohnal
Director: Sabine Derflinger
Writer: Sabine Derflinger
Seen on: 27.2.2020

“Plot”:
Johanna Dohnal was Austria’s first minister for women and the first (outspoken) feminist to be part of the government in Austria (maybe even Europe). She fought for women’s rights and achieved a lot. The documentary looks at her achievements, her career and the influence she still has.

I have to say that until this documentary came out, Dohnal was not a name I really knew. She was a minister when I was a child and I was not a child overly involved in politics. And as is so often the case, women and their achievements are more quickly forgotten than you’d ever think possible. I don’t think I ever heard about Dohnal in school. So it is fantastic to get this documentary that memorializes her and makes sure we don’t forget what she made possible.

The film poster showing Johanna Dohnal smoking.
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7500 (2019)

7500
Director: Patrick Vollrath
Writer: Patrick Vollrath
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Omid Memar, Aylin Tezel, Carlo Kitzlinger, Max Schimmelpfennig, Murathan Muslu
Seen on: 22.1.2020

Content Note: (anti-muslim) racism

Plot:
Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the co-pilot for a flight from Berlin. Everything is going fine with the preparations, but as soon as the machine is up in the air, all hell breaks loose. A few men try to take over the plane. There are strict protocols for a situation like this, but as Tobias quickly learns when you’re actually faced with having to apply those protocols, things are far from clear-cut.

7500 is a tight thriller with an excellent performance by Gordon-Levitt that taps into an often-conjured scenario in a realistic way. I am a little hesitant if it really manages to work against the anti-muslim sentiments that come with that scenario, but at least it tries very much to do so.

The film poster showing the co-pilot Tobias (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in the cockpit.
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Little Joe (2019)

Little Joe
Director: Jessica Hausner
Writer: Géraldine Bajard, Jessica Hausner
Cast: Emily Beecham, Ben Whishaw, Kerry Fox, Kit Connor, Lindsay Duncan
Seen on: 5.12.2020

Plot:
Alice (Emily Beecham) is a botanist working on creating the perfect plant – a plant especially designed to make everyone happy who smells it. It appears that her attempts have been met with success and Alice decides to take one of the plants home against company policy. She presents it to her son Joe (Kit Connor) as a gift and calls it Little Joe. But the longer Alice deals with the plant and sees the effect it has on Joe, the more worried she becomes.

Little Joe is stylistically interesting, but everything else is a drag that quickly turns boring. I really wanted to like the film much more than I did.

The filmposter showing Alice (Emily Beecham) and Chris (Ben Whishaw) stadning in a laboratory full of red flowers.
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Widerstandsmomente [Moments of Resistance] (2019)

Widerstandsmomente
Director: Jo Schmeiser
Writer: Jo Schmeiser
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 28.10.2019

“Plot”:
In Widerstandsmomente, Schmeiser brings together various women and how they resist(ed) – starting in the World War II and stretching all the way to today. She puts various forms of resistance next to each other, examining the possibilities for everyone to resist in their own way.

I thought the topic of Widerstandsmomente was very interesting and I’m all here for resistance, but the film didn’t really come together for me, unfortunately.

A young woman in a hijab with her arms raised.
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Space Dogs (2019)

Space Dogs
Director: Elsa Kremser, Levin Peter
Writer: Elsa Kremser, Levin Peter
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 27.10.2019

Content Note: animal abuse and death

“Plot”:
Street dogs are roaming the streets of Moscow, always looking for a bite to eat somewhere. Laika, the first dog who went to space, in fact, one of the first living beings from earth to go, period, was also a street dog. For her to be able to go, experiments had to be carried out, on more dogs. The documentary takes a look at the relationship between Moscow and its dogs.

Space Dogs is a documentary in two interlocking parts, both of which felt very different to me, I have to say. Though I found both very interesting and well done, the part about the street dogs in Moscow today is the one that resonated more with me. In any case, the film is excellent, but also not always easy to take.

The film poster showing the image of a dog, made to look like a dog-shaped galaxy in front of a star-filled universe.
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Nichts zu verlieren (2018)

Nichts zu verlieren (literally: Nothing to lose)
Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Ruth Toma, Wolfgang Murnberger
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Christopher Schärf, Marcel Mohab, Susanne Wolff, Johanna Gastdorf, Lisa Wagner, Emily Cox, Michael A. Grimm
Seen on: 27.12.2018
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Plot:
Richy (Georg Friedrich), Tom (Christopher Schärf) and Charly (Marcel Mohab) have a plan: they will break into a famous artist’s house, empty his safe and then they’ll be rich. But things don’t go as planned. In fact, pretty much everything that can go wrong, does go wrong and Richy finds himself injured and looking for an escape with Tom, while Charly gets left behind. Out of options, Richy and Tom kidnap a bus, including the people riding on it, to get away from both the police and Charly. But their victims appear surprisingly disinterested in their fate: it turns out they are all on a “grief tour”, trying to work through the recent loss of a loved one.

I probably wouldn’t have watched Nichts zu verlieren if it wasn’t for Georg Friedrich (and to a lesser extent Christopher Schärf). The film just looked a little too much like a shallow comedy for my taste. While that impression wasn’t wrong, the film wasn’t bad and did manage to make me laugh a couple of times.

The film poster showing a bus on a meadow and Richy (Georg Friedrich) and Tom (Christopher Schärf) standing in front of it with nonplussed expressions.
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Angelo (2018)

Angelo
Director: Markus Schleinzer
Writer: Alexander Brom, Markus Schleinzer
Cast: Makita Samba, Alba Rohrwacher, Larisa Faber, Kenny Nzogang, Lukas Miko, Gerti Drassl, Michael Rotschopf, Jean-Baptiste Tiémélé, Nancy Mensah-Offei, Christian Friedel
Seen on: 4.12.2018
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Content Note: racism

Plot:
The Countess (Alba Rohrwacher) wants a new accessoire, so she heads to the slave market to get herself a black boy. The first Angelo she gets gets ill and dies, unfortunately, so she gets another one. This Angelo (Kenny Nzogang) is hardier. He grows up in her household. Baptized and educated, Angelo Soliman (Makita Samba) becomes the court mascot in Vienna. But he will not be confined to his assigned role.

I’m afraid that I saw Angelo on the wrong day and in the wrong way, so I’m not sure how much of its lack of an effect on me is due to that and how much is the film itself. It definitely does have very strong moments and is interesting in many ways, so I definitely wouldn’t discount it entirely.

Angelo as a child (Kenny Nzogang) and the countess (Alba Rohrwacher) standing next to each other. She's praying.
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Die Stadt ohne Juden [The City Without Jews] (1924) + PHACE

Die Stadt ohne Juden
Director: H.K. Breslauer
Writer: Ida Jenbach, H.K. Breslauer
Based on: Hugo Bettauer‘s novel
Cast: Johannes Riemann, Anny Miletty, Gisela Werbisek, Armin Berg, Hans Moser, Eugen Neufeld, Ferdinand Mayerhofer, Mizi Griebl, Karl Tema, Hans Effenberger
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by PHACE
Seen on: 7.11.2018

Content Note: antisemitism

Plot:
Austria has a new government and the new Chancellor (Eugen Neufeld) is a raging antisemite. He manages to pass a new law that will force all Jews to leave by the end of the year. The law is received with great enthusiasm, and the Jews actually do leave, although there are some people who are against it like the Jewish artist Leo (Johannes Riemann) and the girl he is in love with, Lotte (Anny Miletty), daughter of a politician who voted for the banishment. But once the Jews are gone, it doesn’t quite have the intended effect.

Of course, from today’s perspective Die Stadt ohne Juden seems both prescient and not exactly great activism anymore. In any case, it’s a chilling historical document and an interesting film.

The film poster showing a drawing of a shadowy figuring in red hovering over a city while a huge mass of people is leaving through the city gate.
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