Plot: Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) lives in a small town at the sea with her mother (Gemma Jones). Every day, Mary goes down to the beach to look for fossils, having made many important finds already – not that the scientific establishment cares much about her. Nevertheless, one day a geologist, Roderick Murchinson (James McArdle) comes to her shop and hopes to accompany Mary to the beach to learn from her. He is willing to pay for it, and Mary is poor, so she agrees. A little while later, Murchinson leaves on a trip to the continent, but leaves behind his sickly wife Charlotte (Saorise Ronan). Mary finds herself suddenly responsible for Charlotte, a charge she resents at first. But slowly the two of them warm to each other.
Ammonite is a really nice film with excellent performances and good characters. It could have done with a little more happiness, but I did like it a lot.
Plot: When Mr Earnshaw (Paul Hilton) brings home an orphaned Black boy who he calls Heathcliff (Solomon Glave), his daughter Catherine (Shannon Beer) is at first taken aback. But then the two become inseperable. But in their harsh surroundings, their relationship also becomes one of harshness. When they grow up (James Howson, Kaya Scodelario), it turns to bitterness, especially when the rich neighbor Edgar (James Northcote) starts courting Catherine.
Wuthering Heights does not have an easy start with me. I absolutely hated the novel. But I was hoping that Arnold would still manage to turn the story into something I’d care for. Unfortunately, my hopes were disappointed in that regard.
Plot: Tepulpai (Andrea Santamaria) wants to become a shaman like Shaman (Saïd Amadis). When its time to prove that he is willing to sacrifice his most treasured possession to Pachamama and thus prove that he is becoming an adult, he can’t do it – unlike Naira (India Coenen) who is ready to sacrifice her small llama Lamita. When a tax collector shows up in their village and takes not only more than the village can afford, but also their Huaca, a sacred idol, Tepulpai hopes he can prove himself after all – by bringing back the Huaca.
Pachamama is a really beautiful film with a political core, but the story and the voice acting didn’t quite work for me.
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.
Plot: Countess Melanie (Maria Holst) and Count Georg von Wolkersheim (Willy Fritsch) have not been married very long, but are very happy with each other. Melanie is excited because they are about to arrive in her hometown Vienna for the first time since they got married. Georg has to attend the Congress of Vienna and Melanie can’t wait to dance again at Vienna’s lavish balls. But they quickly realize that Georg just wants to work and expects Melanie to have no fun either. This causes a rift in their marriage that they may not be able to repair.
Wiener Blut concluded the Willi Forst retrospective at the Filmarchiv and it’s probably the distillation of the films he is known for. But I thought that compared to some of his other films, Wiener Blut is just okay and not the best thing he ever made.
Plot: Georges (Willi Forst) just returned to France after serving as a soldier in Algeria. Pretty much penniless, he tries to get by on his looks when he runs into an old colleague, Forestier (Will Dohm). Forestier invites Georges into his home, introduces him to his wife Madeleine (Olga Tschechowa) and several other influential people. Soon Georges’s luck is looking up, as he sleeps his way up the ladder: he starts an affair with Clotilde (Hilde Hildebrand) and works at the newspaper La Vie Française, though his articles are written by Madeleine who has her own goals.
Bel Ami wasn’t my cup of tea and probably the weakest of the Forst films I saw so far. Part of that reason was that Forst didn’t work for me as Georges. Another part was that I was a little (very) weirded out by the political angle here.
Plot: Working as a companion to Mrs van Hopper (Ann Dowd) has brought the unnamed protagonist (Lily James) to Monte Carlo where Mrs van Hopper spies Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer), whose somewhat tragic story precedes him: he is a widower and lives at the grand estate of Manderley, now all alone. 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 (Kristin Scott Thomas) makes sure it doesn’t leave, proves quite a challenge for them.
Rebecca is an okay adaptation of a really excellent novel. That squandered potential leaves a film that is decidedly meh, but very pretty.
Plot: Marie Bashkirtseff (Lili Darvas) is a promising and ambitious painter. Under the tutelage of her friend and mentor Bassieux (Attila Hörbiger) she has grown better still, but when Bassieux asks her to marry him, she declines – she’d rather focus on her career. Taking Bassieux’s advice to visit the poorer quarters of the city to make her paintings more naturalistic, Marie ditches her companion Doctor Walitzky (S.Z. Sakall) and is off for an adventure. But adventure also spells a little bit of trouble for her – fortunately a charming young gentleman (Hans Jaray) comes to her aid. Marie doesn’t realize it’s the famous Guy de Maupassant (who also happens to be Bassieux’s nemesis), but it doesn’t keep either of them from falling for each other hard.
Tagebuch der Geliebten is fun enough to watch as long as it doesn’t try to be romantic. Unfortunately, it tries to be romantic a lot.
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.
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.