Cyrano (2021)

Cyrano
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Erica Schmidt
Based on: Edmond Rostand‘s play
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn, Monica Dolan, Bashir Salahuddin, Joshua James, Anjana Vasan, Ruth Sheen, Glen Hansard, Mark Benton, Richard McCabe, Peter Wight
Seen on: 15.3.2022
[Here’s my review of the stage adaptation.]

Plot:
Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage) is a poet and soldier, known for being short, and his hot temper that earns him a certain respect and fear. Cyrano is very much in love with Roxane (Haley Bennett) with whom he connects over their shared love of poetry. But he has never told her, fearing that she couldn’t possibly love him because of his looks. When she tells him that she is in love with the newly arrived soldier Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and asks him for help, he is reluctant. But when he learns that Christian also loves Roxane, but has trouble with words, he suggests that he could help him find the right ones to court her.

Cyrano is a bit of a mixed bag of beans. Some parts of it work very well, others not so much. I enjoyed it, but it just can’t keep up with the stage version I only saw recently.

The film poster showing a big close-up of Cyrano (Peter Dinklage) looking into the distance, with Christian (Kelvin Harrison Jr. ) and Roxanne (Haley Bennett) holding each other in a smaller image beneath him.
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Encanto (2021)

Encanto
Director: Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Charise Castro Smith
Writer: Charise Castro Smith, Jared Bush, Lin-Manuel Miranda (songs)
Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo, Jessica Darrow, Angie Cepeda, Carolina Gaitan, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama, Rhenzy Feliz, Ravi Cabot-Conyers, Adassa, Maluma
Seen on: 3.1.2022

Plot:
Many years ago, Abuela (María Cecilia Botero) had to flee her home together with her husband and her three children. On their flight, her husband didn’t make it, but Abuela got a gift, a miracle that gave her and her family magic powers and a safe haven in a magical house. Now the Mardrigal family uses their gifts to keep the village going. Everybody in the family got a different gift. Everybody but Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) that is. Now it is Mirabel’s little cousin Antonio’s (Ravi Cabot-Conyers) turn, and there is a certain tension in the air. What if Antonio doesn’t get a gift either? But even after Antonio is successful, there is something wrong – and Mirabel is determined to fix everything.

Encanto is sweet, touching and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it, its colorful world-building and characters.

The film poster showing a house wrapped in flowers and the Mardigal family in its courtyard, with Mirabel at the front.
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In the Heights (2021)

In the Heights
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writer: Quiara Alegría Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Leslie Grace, Corey Hawkins, Olga Merediz, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Diaz IV, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, Noah Catala, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Marc Anthony
Seen on: 30.7.2021

Content Note: colorism, (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) runs a bodega in the Latinx community of Washington Heights, New York City, but he dreams of returning to Dominican Republic and get the bar his father ran there going again. And he is this close to making this dream a reality. Much closer than to aspiring fashion designer Vanessa (Melissa Barrera) who he has been pining for since about forever. His best friend Benny (Corey Hawkins) is also waiting for a girl – his boss’s (Jimmy Smits) daughter Nina Rosario (Leslie Grace) who is returning home form college for the summer – one of the few people who actually made it to college out of their neighborhood. But Nina Rosario is unsure whether she actually wants to continue with college.

I had no previous contact with In the Heights before seeing the film, but I went in expecting a bombastic feel-good movie and that’s certainly what I got. It didn’t quite pull me into the music as much I’d hoped, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time.

The film poster showing a big crowd of people dancing in the streets of New York, Washington Heights to be specific.
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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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