Luzifer (2021)

Luzifer
Director: Peter Brunner
Writer: Peter Brunner
Cast: Susanne Jensen, Franz Rogowski, Monika Hinterhuber, Theo Blaickner
Seen on: 26.4.2022

Content Note: ableism/cripping up, abuse

Plot:
Maria (Susanne Jensen) lives off the grid in the mountains with her son Johannes (Franz Rogowski) who has a learning disability. They spend their days mostly quietly and calmly with a lot of prayer and Johannes’ birds of prey. But their idyllic existence is threatened when plans are made to create a skiing area around them – and the developers are desperate to buy their land, unwilling to accept that Maria won’t sell. An evil is coming for Maria and Johannes.

My history with Peter Brunner movies isn’t without its issues, but I have liked his films increasingly more – and Luzifer is probably the one I liked the most so far. It doesn’t always work, but it is definitely engaging.

The film poster showing Maria (Susanne Jensen) sitting on Johannes' (Franz Rogowski) shoulders. Both have their arms spread wide. Behind them is a mountain.
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Rimini (2022)

Rimini
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Veronika Franz, Ulrich Seidl
Cast: Michael Thomas, Tessa Göttlicher, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Inge Maux, Claudia Martini, Georg Friedrich
Seen on: 23.4.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, fascism

Plot:
Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) is a “schlager” singer whose heyday has long been over. He lives in Rimini now where he barely gets by with performances for busloads of German-speaking tourists, the occasional sex work and renting out his house to fans while he himself goes to stay in a shabby room in one of the many hotels that are empty for winter. When his estranged daughter Tessa (Tessa Göttlicher) shows up to demand money from him, Richie needs all his (more or less sleazy) survival skills to comply with her request.

Rimini is a typical Seidl movie in a way, but there is an almost optimistic note at the end of the film that is rather untypical. In any case, it’s the portrait of a sleazy man that spares nothing, as it is the portrait of a tourist town without tourists.

The film poster showing Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) performing on an empty stage in front of a glitter curtain.
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Große Freiheit [Great Freedom] (2021)

Große Freiheit
Director: Sebastian Meise
Writer: Sebastian Meise, Thomas Reider
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Georg Friedrich, Anton von Lucke, Thomas Prenn
Seen on: 19.12.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
It’s the 60s and Hans (Franz Rogowski) is once more arrested and imprisoned for “sexual deviancy”, for having sex with other men. It’s not the first time, and back in prison, he quickly settles into the routine when he sees two familiar faces. One is Leo (Anton von Lucke), one of the men Hans had sex with, a young teacher utterly lost in prison life. The other is Viktor (Georg Friedrich) with whom Hans shares a long history, and a connection that runs deep – and becomes deeper still.

Große Freiheit is a sensitive film with great performances about a horrific part of (German) legal history. And it’s also a beautiful love story.

The film poster showing Hans (Franz Rogowski) desperately holding on to Viktor (Georg Friedrich).
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Eva-Maria (2021)

Eva-Maria
Director: Lukas Ladner
Writer: Lukas Ladner
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 10.12.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) ableism

“Plot”:
Eva-Maria is spastic and so has been using a wheelchair for pretty much all of her life. Now she is in her 30s, works as an assistant, and she would like to have a child. That she doesn’t have a partner doesn’t keep her from seeking fertility treatment and attempting to have a child on her own. That’s easier said than done, though.

Eva-Maria is a nice documentary that follows its protagonist over quite a long time, making it a very personal portrait that could have touched on systemic issues a little more. But either way, it shows us what it can mean to be a disabled parent, and that is something we need to see more of, I think.

The film poster showing a drawing of a pregnant woman in an electric wheel chair.
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Kaviar [Caviar] (2019)

Kaviar
Director: Elena Tikhonova
Writer: Robert Buchschwenter, Elena Tikhonova
Cast: Margarita Breitkreiz, Darya Nosik, Sabrina Reiter, Georg Friedrich, Simon Schwarz, Mikhail Evlanov, Joseph Lorenz, Robert Finster
Seen on: 20.10.2021 (somehow missed to review this one)

Plot:
Nadja (Margarita Breitkreiz) works as the personal translator and all around organizer for Igor (Mikhail Evlanov), giving her in-depth knowledge of his dealings, little of which is actually legal. Nadja doesn’t really like it, but she has two kids and not that many options. When Igor hatches a new plan though – buying the Schwedenbrücke in Vienna (a bridge in the city center) to build an estate on – this is easier said than done, even in Vienna where people are willing to be very flexible for profit. Enter Klaus (Georg Friedrich), the husband of Nadja’s best friend Vera (Darya Nosik). Klaus has been waiting for an opportunity to make a deal or two with Igor and is sure that he can provide the necessary connections. The money that needs to change hands does give Nadja, Vera and Nadja’s nanny Teresa (Sabrina Reiter) an idea, though. Maybe this time it is them who get to be rich.

Kaviar is an entertaining film that makes fun of both Russian and (and even more so) Austrian business men. With its feminist undertones and its perfect political timing, it’s certainly a film to see.

The film poster showing Nadja (Margarita Breitkreiz) biting her lip, with Vera (Darya Nosik) and Teresa (Sabrina Reiter) behind her. Below them are Ferdinand (Simon Schwarz), Igor (Mikhail Evlanov) and Klaus (Georg Friedrich) toasting with champagne and a suitcase full of cash.
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Schachnovelle [The Royal Game] (2021)

Schachnovelle
Director: Philipp Stölzl
Writer: Eldar Grigorian
Based on: Stefan Zweig‘s novella
Cast: Oliver Masucci, Albrecht Schuch, Birgit Minichmayr, Samuel Finzi, Andreas Lust, Clemens Berndorff, Moritz von Treuenfels, Rolf Lassgård
Seen on: 14.10.2021

Content Note: torture

Plot:
Josef Bartok (Oliver Masucci) is a successful lawyer and a rich man. He follows the upcoming popular vote on the annexation of Austria to Germany with a clear distaste for the Nazis, but he is also sure that they cannot succeed. Out one night with his wife Anna (Birgit Minichmayr) he receives word, though: there will be no vote, the Nazis are taking over – and they are coming for him. Bartok takes care to destroy his ledgers, making his clients’ funds inaccessible, but he gets caught and is delivered into the mercy of Franz-Josef Böhm (Albrecht Schuch). In the subsequent months of torture, a booklet on chess is Bartok’s only hope to get through everything.

Schachnovelle is a good, intense film that could have maybe dialled it down a little. But that’s more a matter of taste than anything else – I thought it was very strong.

The film poster showing Josef Bartok (Oliver Masucci) in profile above a cruise ship. Inside his head we can also see Franz-Josef Böhm (Albrecht Schuch), Anna (Birgit Minichmayr) and a crowd surrounding a car.
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2551.01 (2021)

2551.01
Director: Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Writer: Norbert Pfaffenbichler
Cast: Stefan Erber, David Ionescu
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 27.9.2021
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Plot:
In an underground world of tunnels and masked people, a man with the head of a monkey finds a little child with a sack over their head in trouble. He helps the kid – and after that, the kid doesn’t let go of him anymore, no matter how much he tries to shake them off.

I was really quite taken with 2551.01, an experimental SciFi with a comedic touch that has its very own style. It’s really not something you get to see everyday.

The film poster showing a yellow-tinted image of a table set for a feast, but one in rather destitute shape surrpunded by strange people. Below it is a purple-tinted image of a child wearing a sack over their head, cradling a doll.
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Die Mitte der Welt [Center of My World] (2016)

Die Mitte der Welt
Director: Jakob M. Erwa
Writer: Jakob M. Erwa
Based on: Andreas Steinhöfel‘s novel
Cast: Louis Hofmann, Sabine Timoteo, Ada Philine Stappenbeck, Inka Friedrich, Svenja Jung, Jannik Schümann, Nina Proll, Clemens Rehbein, Sascha Alexander Gersak
Seen on: 29.8.2021

Content Note: bimisia

Plot:
Phil (Louis Hofmann) lives with his mother Glass (Sabine Timoteo) and his sister Dianne (Ada Philine Stappenbeck) in an old mansion at the edge of town, but he just spent the summer abroad. Returning home, he finds that things between Glass and Dianne are tense and Dianne is barely talking to him. Fortunately, there is still his best friend Kat (Svenja Jung) with whom he can still have fun. When school starts, it brings a new student to their class, Nicholas (Jannik Schümann). Phil is convinced that he met Nicholas once already, but in any case, he feels very drawn to him. And Nicholas seems to return his interest. Between family, friends and first love, Phil has to figure out where he stands.

Die Mitte der Welt felt a little bit more like wish fulfilment and fantasy than I would have liked, but other than that, and the usual bimisic trope of the bisexual just not being able to be content with one person, it was nice enough.

The film poster showing Phil (Louis Hofmann) lying between Nicholas (Jannik Schümann) and Kat (Svenja Jung), but they are upside down. Below them, the rest of the central cast can be seen much smaller, standing in a group.
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Gruber geht [Gruber Is Leaving] (2015)

Gruber geht
Director: Marie Kreutzer
Writer: Marie Kreutzer
Based on: Doris Knecht’s novel
Cast: Manuel Rubey, Bernadette Heerwagen, Doris Schretzmayer, Ulrike Beimpold, Fabian Krüger, Pia Hierzegger
Seen on: 16.3.2021

Content Note: homomisia

Plot:
John Gruber (Manuel Rubey) loves the expensive things in life, and little else. His sister Kathi (Doris Schretzmayer) who moved to the country with her family certainly doesn’t get much more from him than contempt. Just as Gruber has trouble with a big account in his firm and fears that he might have cancer, he meets DJ Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). Sarah happens to be there when Gruber gets the confirmation of his cancer diagnosis, turning their fling into something more. Both Sarah and his illness make him reconsider the priorities in his life – but that is not an easy process.

Writing this review feels a bit like saying goodbye after a lackluster first date. There just was no spark between the film and me. Sometimes these things just don’t work out. We had a nice time, but there won’t be a second date. In short, Gruber geht is a good film that I just didn’t find very interesting.

The film poster showing Gruber (Manuel Rubey) in bed with Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). She is handing him a cigarette.
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Die Deutschmeister [A March for the Emperor] (1955)

Die Deutschmeister
Director: Ernst Marischka
Writer: Ernst Marischka
Remake of: Frühjahrsparade (to which Marischka also wrote the script)
Cast: Romy Schneider, Magda Schneider, Siegfried Breuer Jr., Josef Meinrad, Gretl Schörg, Susi Nicoletti, Adrienne Gessner, Hans Moser, Paul Hörbiger, Gunther Philipp, Wolfgang Lukschy, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 14.3.2021

Plot:
After having her fortune told by a parrot, Stanzi (Romy Schneider) knows that she has to come to Vienna to visit her aunt Therese (Magda Schneider) who runs a bakery there. Right when she arrives, Stanzi gets caught up in a ball where she utterly confuses Baron Zorndorf (Gunther Philipp) who thinks her a countess. But the Baron is quickly forgotten when Stanzi meets the young drummer Willy (Siegfried Breuer Jr.) whose head is filled with music. When Stanzi sees an opportunity to help Willy by contacting the Kaiser (Paul Hörbiger) on his behalf, she takes it, even if that spells embarrassment for her aunt and the court counselor Hofwirth (Josef Meinrad) who is trying to court Therese.

Die Deutschmeister is a film that basically consists entirely of kitsch and is seasoned with a couple of charming characters. If you’re looking for Monarchy nostalgia and an intense dose of sugar, this is the film to turn to.

The film poster showing Stanzi (Romy Schneider) in the Prater with her date Willy (Siegfried Breuer Jr.).
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