Plot: Christoph (Laurence Rupp), called Burschi (“little boy”), has finally achieved what he has always dreamed of: he is training with the WEGA, Austria’s police special forces unit, under Konstantin Blago (Anton Noori), his big idol. His father Heinz (Roland Düringer) who is also a cop, but turned away from his career towards a more social role in the force sees Christoph’s dream with a critical eye. On a seemingly routine call Christoph ends up shooting a mentally ill man (Michael Fuith) who attacked. Celebrated as a hero by his squad and criticized by the public, Christoph starts to struggle with the events and his role in them.
I was pretty impressed by Cops as it takes a deep dive into police culture – which also means looking very sharply at masculinity. It’s sociological analysis in movie form and one I had yet to see from an Austrian perspective. Istvan handles it very well.
“Plot”: Kurt Waldheim was president of Austria from 1986 to 1992, after being the Secretary General of the UN. During his election campaign, it was revealed that he was an intelligence officer in the Wehrmacht and he was implicated in Nazi mass killings – a fact that did not keep him from getting elected, despite many discussions about it. Beckermann was involved in the protests against Waldheim at the time and filmed a lot of material – material she thought lost, but found again and now uses to look back at how things unfolded.
Waldheims Walzer is an excellent documentary. It’s informative, concise and brings home the flabbergasting outrageousness of it all, proving yet again how little Austria has done to reckon with its own past.
The Field Guide to Evil collects eight different segments from eight different countries that all build from a local legend. As usual with anthology films, Field Guide to Evil is a mixed bag of beans. There are some very good segments, but also some that didn’t really work for me. But I would say, it’s worth seeing because the good parts are really very good.
Plot: Alex (Toby Nichols) was kidnapped by Josef (Karl Markovics) a while ago, but Josef has to make a run for it. With Alex, traumatized and blinded, in the trunk of his car, he drives off and ends up at an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. Only that the house isn’t quite as abandoned as he thought: Mina (Nadia Alexander) lives there. Mina finds Alex and since she, too, has experienced unspeakable violence, the two bond and find strength in each other.
The Dark might be a little too long and a little too thin in the story department, but I enjoyed watching it, even if I don’t agree with the story’s angle.
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.
Plot: Romy Schneider (Marie Bäumer) has withdrawn to a spa hotel slash rehab center to attempt to get her life under control again. Her friend Hilde (Birgit Minichmayr) comes to visit and support her, as she always does. Joining them are two journalists from the STERN magazine, Robert (Charly Hübner) and Michael (Robert Gwisdek) who want to interview Romy. Over the course of three days, they try to get past the surface while Hilde tries to shield Romy from their invasive questions.
3 Tage in Quiberon has an amazing cast and a good story, but I nevertheless had trouble staying with the film sometimes. Still, I did get the sense that those three days were a very special event.
Plot: Julia (Elisabeth Wabitsch) and her classmates have finished school and as is increasingly common in Austria, that means that they’re packing their bags and heading for a week long party trip on an island off the coast of Croatia. It’s supposed to be a week of drinking, bathing and partying. Instead things turn sideways very quickly and Julia’s classmates start dying.
Die letzte Party deines Lebens is a classic teenie slasher that, unfortunately, has nothing much to recommend it. I was hoping for more from director Hartl.
Plot: Mati (Sophie Stockinger) loves nothing more than to ride around on dirt bikes with her (male) friends, above all Sebastian (Jack Hofer). They are loud and brash and cause trouble in the area. But shortly before her final exam in school, Mati is thrown for quite a loop when Sebastian confesses that he is in love with her and Mati meets the older Carla (Julia Franz Richter) who she is drawn to. Both of these things threaten Mati’s standing with her guy friends and force her to make decisions.
I really liked L’animale, even though it gets a little too on the nose with its parallels and metaphors at times. But it’s a strong, emotional, well-made and queer coming-of-age film – and there can never be enough of those.
Content note: cis and dya fuckery, trans- and intermisia
Plot: Erik Schinegger (Markus Freistätter) grew up as Erika, always uncomfortable in what society expects of girls and unable to reconcile it with his own wishes. Until he starts skiing – a sport that he really loves. After he wins some big women’s races for Austria, a medical check reveals that he might not be a girl after all as everybody assumed he was – and Erik has to face some questions about his own identity and make some difficult decisions regarding his body and his career.
Look, I know that my plot summary is less than perfect with how it talks about Erik Schinegger, but honestly, it’s the best I could do and still have it have anything to do with the actual film. Because Erik & Erika is a mess and incredibly biologistic, heteronormative and sexist especially for a film that is about a trans and inter guy.
Plot: Pepe (Roman Pokuta) has been in Vienna for a while and he knows the lay of the land. He works for his uncle Rocky (Frantisek Balog), begging in the streets. When Marcela (Simona Kovácová) arrives from Slovakia to join them, Rocky asks Pepe to show Marcela the ropes. And while Marcela seems pretty hopeless at begging, Pepe and Marcela do get closer. But is their hard life made for love?
Zerschlag mein Herz really is aptly name because my heart was sufficiently crushed by the end of it. It’s a great film that looks at some hard truths about life in Vienna and an absolutely fantastic film, especially for a first feature.