Mister Universo (2016)

Mister Universo
Director: Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
Writer: Tizza Covi
Cast: Tairo Caroli, Wendy Weber, Arthur Robin, Lilly Robin
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 28.10.2016

Plot:
Tairo (Tairo Caroli) is a lion tamer in a small circus traveling through Italy. The circus is struggling and Tairo is struggling with him. His elderly animals aren’t all that strong anymore and he probably won’t get new animals. And then Tairo loses his talisman, a piece of iron he got from Arthur Robin (Arthur Robin) who was once crowned the first black Mister Universe and now works in a circus himself. Hoping to get his luck back when he gets a new talisman from Arthur, Tairo sets out to find him.

Mister Universo tells a fictional story with real people and this blend of documentary and fiction becomes pretty magical. I really loved it.

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Müllers Büro (1986)

Müllers Büro [literally Müller’s Office]
Director: Niki List, Hans Selikovsky
Writer: Niki List
Cast: Christian Schmidt, Andreas Vitásek, Barbara Rudnik, Sue Tauber, Maxi Sukopp, Gaby Hift, Jochen Brockmann, I. Stangl
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 26.10.2016

Plot:
Max Müller (Christian Schmidt) is a private detective, usually only barely skating by and always on the lookout for money. His best friend and partner Larry (Andreas Vitásek) works with him, and they are supported by Miss Schickel (Sue Tauber) a pretty, but not all that smart secretary. One day, a gorgeous woman finds her way into Müller’s office, introducing herself as Bettina Kant (Barbara Rudnik) and hiring Max to find her missing boyfriend. As Max starts to dig into the case, he soon realizes that nothing is as it seems.

I swear it was coincidence that I saw two idiosyncratic musicals in as many days, but Müllers Büro definitely falls into that category (as did Romance & Cigarettes). In any case, it might just be the finest Austrian musical parody of noir crime stories. I enjoyed it for the most part, although it is unbelievably sexist (again, like Romance & Cigarettes).

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Nachsaison [Off Season] (1988)

Nachsaison
Director: Wolfram Paulus
Writer: Wolfram Paulus, Ulrike Dickmann
Cast: Albert Paulus, Günther Maria Halmer, Mercedes Echerer, Daniela Obermeir, Michael Reiter, Claus Homschak
Seen on: 23.10.2016

Plot:
Lenz (Albert Paulus) works as a massage therapist in a town that lives off the sanatorium / spa business. But the town has seen its heyday and the few rich guests that make their way there anymore only barely keep Lenz and his family afloat. Therefore he’s looking for other possibilities to earn a little money and make a better living. Or at least drown his sorrows in alcohol. As he’s just about to get laid off, young dancer Nurit (Mercedes Echerer) comes to town to get well and Lenz is appointed as her therapist. But their relationship may not stay entirely professional.

Nachsaison has a few strengths, but ultimately it didn’t work for me. Neither Lenz nor the story itself managed to keep my interest.

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Die Jüdin von Toledo [The Jewess of Toledo] (1919)

Die Jüdin von Toledo
Director: Otto Kreisler
Writer: Robert Land
Based on: Franz Grillparzer‘s play
Cast: Thea Rosenquist, Franz Höbling, Ida Norden, Leopold Iwald, Josef Viktora, Theodor Weiß, Emmy Flemmich
With music by: Fabian Pollack
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 21.10.2016

Plot:
Rahel (Thea Rosenquist) is a free spirit and doesn’t care much for rules. When she sees the beauty of the royal gardens, she goes in even though it’s forbidden and promptly stumbles on the King (Franz Höbling) and the Queen (Ida Norden). The King is enchanted by the girl’s passion, her family, all to well aware of their precarious status as Jewish people, are horrified. But after their encounter, the King can’t just let Rahel go.

They showed only a fragment (about 40 minutes) of this film at the Viennale, I’m not sure if there isn’t more of the film at all or if not everything is restored, but either way, I regret deeply not being able to see the film in its entirety because the part of it I saw was absolutely electrifying.

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Immer nie am Meer [Forever Never Anywhere] (2007)

Immer nie am Meer
Director: Antonin Svoboda
Writer: Christoph Grissemann, Dirk Stermann, Heinz Strunk, Antonin Svoboda, Jörg Kalt
Cast: Christoph Grissemann, Dirk Stermann, Heinz Strunk, Philip Bialkowski, Christopher Schärf
Seen on: 15.10.2016

Plot:
Baisch (Dirk Stermann) is an archaeology professor who believes that his ex-wife will at one point want him back. His ex-brother-in-law Anzengruber (Christoph Grissemann) is less uptight than Baisch and pretty sure that ex will stay ex, but comes with his own problems. The two of them met at an event and are now on their way back into town. They stumble upon Schwanenmeister (Heinz Strunk), a musician/comedian, who hitches a ride with them. And then they crash their car and while they end up unhurt, they are unable to leave the car. And so the three men are trapped with each other – and tensions will have to rise.

I liked the idea of Immer nie am Meer, but the film was a homophobic, antiscientific and unfunny mess that dragged more than its short runtime should have made possible.

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Der Nachbar [The Neighbor] (1993)

Der Nachbar
Director: Götz Spielmann
Writer: Götz Spielmann
Cast: Rudolf Wessely, Dana Vávrová, Wolfgang Böck, Hana Cainer, Wolf Bachofner, Michael Kreihsl, Heinz Weixelbraun
Seen on: 13.10.2016

Plot:
Rudolf Pawlik (Rudolf Wessely) lives a rather quiet life. He works in the small bookstore he owns and most of his social contact is with his neighbor – even older than he and not in a good shape – whom he takes care of. When his neighbor dies and her son Herbert (Wolfgang Böck) with his girlfriend Michaela (Dana Vávrová) and her daughter Agnes (Hana Cainer) move into the apartment. Pawlik takes an immediate dislike to Herbert, but Agnes and Michaela both steal his heart, and he will try his best to give them a better life.

Der Nachbar is a supercreepy film with a supercreepy protagonist in Pawlik – and nobody involved seems to realize the creepiness of it all. I watched the film with growing horror at pretty much everything.

[SPOILERS]

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Eros in Ketten (1929)

Eros in Ketten [literally: Eros in Chains]
Director: Conrad Wiene
Writer: Louis Nerz, Conrad Wiene
Cast: Emmy Flemmich, Maly Delschaft, Walter Slezak, Christian Holt, Anita Dorris, Bert Torren, Lizzi Natzler, Trude Fiedler-Seitz
Seen on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
Maria (Anita Dorris) is the daughter of a good family, her father (Christian Holt) a magistrate. When Maria strikes up a friendship with Lilo (Maly Delschaft), she meets Heinz (Walter Slezak) and falls in love with him. So much so, that she actually sleeps with him against all conventions. When she ends up pregnant, she knows she has to get an abortion. But abortions are illegal and Maria is promptly arrested and forced to have the child.

The film’s sensationalistic title is bound to give people wrong ideas about the nature of the film. It’s not some kind of (BDSM) erotica, but a highly political take on the topic of abortions. I was surprised, but definitely not in a bad way.

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Mein Fleisch und Blut [Place of Shelter] (2016)

Mein Fleisch und Blut [literally: My Flesh and Blood]
Director: Michael Ramsauer
Writer: Michael Ramsauer
Cast: Ursula Strauss, Andreas Kiendl, Lili Epply, Wolfgang Rauh, Nikolai Klinkosch, Hary Prinz
Seen on: 5.10.2016

Plot:
Katharina (Ursula Strauss) and Martin (Andreas Kiendl) adopted their son Tobias (Nikolai Klinkosch) when he was just a baby and now most of their live revolves around giving him the best home they possibly can and maybe try and figure out whether he actually is on the autistic spectrum. Since Tobias lives in his own world a little bit, it comes as a welcome surprise to Katharina and Martin when their new neighbors, the young nurse Nicole (Lily Epply) and her boyfriend Christian (Wolfgang Rauh), immediately get along with Tobias. But it doesn’t take long until Martin suspects that there is something going on with the young couple.

Mein Fleisch und Blut is a decent thriller, but it also comes with a few problems and some overused tropes which meant that I couldn’t really get into it.

[SPOILERS]

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Auf Augenhöhe mit dem Teufel [Eye to Eye with the Devil] (2015)

Auf Augenhöhe mit dem Teufel
Director: Alexander Naringbauer
Writer: Alexander Naringbauer
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.9.2016

“Plot”:
In Austria, our Christmas traditions are such that on December 6th, Nikolo (who is known in other parts of the world as Santa Claus) brings small gifts to the children [on Christmas proper it’s baby Jesus who brings gifts] who have been good. But Nikolo doesn’t come alone, he comes with Krampus, a devil figure who will take the bad children and put them in his sack (or maybe just spank them a bit). In some areas of Austria, there are entire marches of Krampusses (or Perchten) – those can be around Christmas, but also at the end of winter to chase the winter spirits and darkness away.
Auf Augenhöhe mit dem Teufel is a short documentary about what it means when the Krampus comes to the children and what it means to perform as Krampus.

It was a little disappointing that the documentary was only a short one – I wouldn’t have minded to watch an entire feature about the topic, especially since we are not all that big on Krampus and Perchten in the part of Austria where I’m from. But that’s not the only reason – maybe with a feature documentary, Naringbauer would have looked more critically at its subject. Because there are many things to criticize about this tradition as well – from the fact that during the marches, the Perchten, worn exclusively by men, are often used as the excuse to sexually harass women to the fact that most children are simply terrified of Krampus – and that a lot of adults think it’s the funniest shit ever. But hearing the men talk about their take on the tradition and documenting the tradition itself are two very good reasons to watch this.

Fantastic Shorts Competition at the /slash Filmfestival 2016

A short note on all the short films at the /slash Filmfestival 2016 that were part of the Fantastic Shorts Competition. The winner was Ariane Louis-Seize Plouffe for her short Wild Skin.
Seen on: 25.9.2016
[Reviews by cornholio.]

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