Re-Watch: The School of Rock (2003)

The School of Rock
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Mike White
Cast: Jack Black, Mike White, Joan Cusack, Sarah Silverman, Adam Pascal, Lucas Papaelias, Chris Stack, Lucas Babin, Jordan-Claire Green, Veronica Afflerbach, Miranda Cosgrove, Joey Gaydos Jr., Robert Tsai, Angelo Massagli, Kevin Alexander Clark, Maryam Hassan, Caitlin Hale
Seen on: 30.6.2021

Content Note: misogyny

Plot:
Dewey (Jack Black) is a passionate musician, playing guitar in a band that has grown tired of his antics, feeling that he is holding them back with his talk about real rock instead of going in a more crowd-pleasing direction. That’s why they kick him out just before a big music contest. Hurt, Dewey withdraws to Ned’s (Mike White), where he lives for the moment, much to the chagrin of Ned’s girlfriend Patty (Sarah Silverman) who would like to see Ned, a substitute teacher, in a more settled position without any old friends who are freeloading. In short, Dewey needs a job, so when Ned gets a call to substitute at a prestigious school, Dewey pretends to be him. And when he realizes that the kids he should be teaching are actually good musicians, he hatched a plan to fulfill his dream after all.

I saw The School of Rock for the first time not long after it came out and I remembered it quite fondly. So when I was in the mood for a nice comedy, I decided to give it another try. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hold up as well as I’d hoped, even if it is still pretty entertaining.

The film poster showing Dewey (Jack Black) in his teacher outfit with a guitar, in a full-on rocker pose. Behind him, we can see 8 children dressed as rockstars themselves.
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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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Wiener Blut [Vienna Blood] (1942)

Wiener Blut
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Axel Eggebrecht, Willi Forst, Ernst Marischka, Hubert Marischka
Based on: Victor Léon and Leo Stein‘s operetta
Cast: Willy Fritsch, Maria Holst, Hans Moser, Theo Lingen, Dorit Kreysler, Fred Liewehr, Hedwig Bleibtreu, Klaramaria Skala, Paul Henckels, Ernst Fritz Fürbringer, Egon von Jordan, Fritz Imhoff
Seen on: 28.2.2021

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.

The film poster showing Melanie (Maria Holst) with Crown-Prince Ludwig von Bayern (Fred Liewehr).
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Allotria [Hokum] (1936)

Allotria
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Jochen Huth
Cast: Renate Müller, Jenny Jugo, Anton Walbrook, Heinz Rühmann, Hilde Hildebrand, Heinz Salfner, Will Dohm
Seen on: 14.2.2021

Content Note: racism

Plot:
Philip (Anton Walbrook) met Viola (Renate Müller) on a cruise ship and he fell for her hard. Just not quite enough to overcome his joy at and freedom of many years as a bachelor and actually propose to her. Maybe also because he knows that Aimée (Hilde Hildebrand) is waiting for him at home, however uncommitted their relationship actually is. Meanwhile Aimée has found herself a new lover in racecar driver David (Heinz Rühmann), not knowing that Philip and David are best friends – not that she would care very much. But David is trying to find a way to break things off with Aimée because he is about to get officially engaged to Gaby (Jenny Jugo). When Philip and David catch up with each other, their women also collide.

Allotria is a comedy of errors, basically, and definitely falls on the very silly side. It does have rather interesting characters, but the rest of it didn’t really work for me.

The film poster showing a pencil portrait of the four main characters.
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Helden in Tirol [Heroes in Tyrol] (1998)

Helden in Tirol
Director: Niki List
Writer: Niki List, Walter Kordesch
Cast: Christian Schmidt, Elke Winkens, Christian Pogats, Wolfgang S. Zechmayer, I. Stangl, Gregor Seberg, Werner Brix, Adrian Zwicker, Andreas Vitásek, Rüdiger Hentzschel, Walter Kordesch, Ludger Pistor, Adele Neuhauser, Silvia Fenz, Rudolf Strobl, Patrizia Moresco
Seen on: 14.2.2021

Content Note: rape, sexism, misogyny, transmisia/homomisia

Plot:
Helden is a sleepy village in Tyrol, but the mayor (I Stangl) has big plans for it. It has been 25 years that Lorenz Luftsprung, who owns most of the village, disappeared and since no heir could be found, the mayor is about to gain control over it. And when he does, he will make Helden in a tourist paradise. But not everybody is okay with his plans. Foremost Max Adler (Christian Schmidt) fears the ecological consequences of the mayor’s plans. A fight for Helden starts.

Helden in Tirol is a catastrophe of a film that mistakes sexism for humor. It’s the kind of film that will appeal to people who cry “it’s satire” whenever a sexist, racist or otherwise offensive joke is made, but if you are not one of those people, you best stay away.

The film poster showing a drawing of the main characters, front and center shirtless Max Adler (Christian Schmidt), playing an electric guitar.
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Leise flehen meine Lieder [Lover Divine] (1933)

Leise flehen meine Lieder
Director: Willi Forst
Writer: Willi Forst, Walter Reisch
Cast: Mártha Eggerth, Luise Ullrich, Hans Jaray, Hans Moser, Otto Treßler, Hans Olden, Anna Kallina
Seen on: 08.02.2021

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.

The film poster showing a woman, could be either Emmi (Luise Ulrich) or Duchess Eszterhazy (Mártha Eggerth), leaning against a pillar as Franz Schubert (Hans Jaray) plays the piano.
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Ich oder du (1984)

Ich oder du [literally: I or You]
Director: Dieter Berner
Writer: Dieter Berner, Peter Mazzuchelli
Cast: Beate Finckh, Hansi Lang, Karl Kröpfl, Johannes Weidinger, Wolfgang Ambros, Hilde Berger, Bobby Prem, Helmut Vinaccia, Rainer Egger
Seen on: 7.2.2021

Content Note: domestic violence, abuse

Plot:
Christina (Beate Finckh) is dating Robert (Hansi Lang), a singer of local renoun. But he is volatile – addicted to drugs and prone to violence. It seems to come as no surprise that Christina feels also drawn to Franz (Karl Kröpfl) who appears Robert’s opposite in every way: a young farmer to Robert’s city flair, he is much more grounded. Franz is also smitten with Christina. But whether Robert and Christina can give each other up so easily is a different question.

Ich oder du is an exhausting film that seems mostly built around Hansi Lang (a rather famous-at-the-time-and-place musician) and his star appeal – and I have to say that he didn’t appeal all that much to me, and so the film did neither.

The film poster showing Robert (Hansi Lang) and several film stills arranged like the photos from a photobooth.
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Blinded by the Light (2019)

Blinded by the Light
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Writer: Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges
Based on: Sarfaz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll
Cast: Viveik Kalra, Aaron Phagura, Nell Williams, Dean-Charles Chapman, Kulvinder Ghir, Nikita Mehta, Meera Ganatra, Tara Divina, Rob Brydon, David Hayman, Hayley Atwell
Seen on: 28.8.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) classism, racism

Plot:
It’s 1987 in England and Javed (Viveik Kalra) doesn’t really know where he belongs. He feels stifled in his family, especially by his father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), but also doesn’t feel like he has that much in common anymore with his childhood friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman), although he still writes lyrics for Matt’s band. When Javed starts a new school, he finds new friends though – activist-hearted Eliza (Nell Williams) and Roops (Aaron Phagura), the only other British-Asian kid in school. Roops introduces Javed to Bruce Springsteen – an eye-opening experience for Javed that changes everything for him.

Blinded by the Light is a really nice film that manages to combine a light-hearted coming-of-age story with serious issues like classism and racism without short-selling either. Sometimes it’s a little too conventional, but I enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Javed (Viveik Kalra) mid-jump in front of a orange-and-white striped background, reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA album cover.
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Yesterday (2019)

Yesterday
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Richard Curtis, Jack Barth
Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Sophia Di Martino, Ellise Chappell, Meera Syal, Harry Michell, Vincent Franklin, Joel Fry, Kate McKinnon, Michael Kiwanuka, Ed Sheeran, James Corden
Seen on: 24.7.2019
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Plot:
Jack (Himesh Patel) is a musician, albeit not a very successful one. His biggest supporter is his best friend and manager Ellie (Lily James), but she, too, can’t make fame just appear. One night, when Jack is about ready to give it all up, he is hit by a bus. When he regains consciousness, things seem unchanged at first – until Jack realizes that he is the only one who remembers The Beatles. It seems, they never existed. But Jack still remembers their songs – and pretending they are his is his ticket to the career he always wanted.

Yesterday is sweet enough as a film, albeit nothing much to write home about. Still, with a charmer like Patel in the lead and bolstered by The Beatles’ music, it is definitely entertaining.

The film poster showing Jack (Himesh Patel), a guitar strapped to his back, walking across a crosswalk like the famous Abbey Road Beatles album cover.
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Aladdin (2019)


Aladdin
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer: John August, Guy Ritchie
Remake of: Aladdin
Cast: Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Jordan A. Nash, Taliyah Blair, Aubrey Lin, Amir Boutrous, Numan Acar, Alan Tudyk
Seen on: 24.6.2019

Content Note: orientalism, brownfacing

Plot:
Aladdin (Mena Massoud) is poor and often has to steal to survive. When he meets a handmaiden of the Princess at the market, he takes a liking to her, not knowing the handmaiden is actually Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) herself. When he visits her in the palace, he is caught and the king’s advisor Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) realizes that Aladdin is just the man he needs to retrieve a magic lamp from an enchanted cave. Things don’t work out the way either man thought, and it’s Aladdin who ends up with the Genie (Will Smith) who resides in the lamp and promises Aladdin that he can win Jasmine – with his help.

Aladdin was generally unnecessary as a remake. The old one would have continued to be enough. But since they did it, at least it is entertaining – if you can look past the fact that it’s still pure orientalism.

The film poster showing Alddin (Mena Massoud) holding a magic lamp in his hands, a monkey on his shoulder. Behind him are Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and the Genie (Will Smith), as well as a small Jafar (Marwan Kenzari). Below him is a flying capret and treasure.
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