Straight Line Crazy

Straight Line Crazy
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: David Hare
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Siobhán Cullen, Samuel Barnett, Alisha Bailey, Danny Webb, Alana Maria, Helen Schlesinger
Seen on: 8.9.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Robert Moses (Ralph Fiennes) is a city planner, and an ambitious one to boot. When he has a plan, he will do everything to see it made reality, and he is usually successful. Starting his career with pissing off the rich folk on Long Island, making the island accessible to the poor people of New York, his career later turns to plowing down “slums” and disregarding the Black community. But when it comes to Washington Square, his methods may finally catch up to him.

Straight Line Crazy is a powerful portrait of a thoroughly despicable man. While that’s always very good, it’s not always particularly entertaining.

The production poster showing Robert Moses (Ralph Fiennes) standing with arms crossed over his chest. Behind him is a photo of the New York City skyline.
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Prima Facie

Prima Facie
Director: Justin Martin
Writer: Suzie Miller
Cast: Jodie Comer
Seen on: 30.8.2022

Content Note: rape

Tessa (Jodie Comer) has worked very hard to get to where she is now: a successful barrister with more wins under her belt than losses. She has no problem defending her clients, even in cases of sexual assaults. The system, after all, is built on “innocent until proven guilty”. But then an unexpected event changes her outlook drastically.

Prima Facie is a hard watch, but only because it is so very good. Comer is mind-blowingly fantastic and the story definitely packs a punch or ten. I’d definitely recommend it, but prepare yourself.

The production poster showing a screaming Tessa (Jodie Comer) superimposed over her looking calm, eyes closed, in an attorney's whig.
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Michael Kiwanuka (Support: Lou Asril)

Michael Kiwanuka played a show at the MetaStadt Open Air, preceded by Lou Asril. (There was third act before Asril as well, but I didn’t see it.)
Seen on: 11.7.2022

I got concert tickets for Michael Kiwanuka’s show a while ago (sometime in 2020, I think). Then the concert was pushed back, and it was announced that Kiwanuka would open for Lauryn Hill. Then Lauryn Hill canceled, and it was announced that Lou Asril would open for Kiwanuka. Since I had tickets for another Asril show that I couldn’t attend after it, too, was moved, this seemed like a particular stroke of luck for me. And I can say that it really was worth the wait for both of them.

Michael Kiwanuka looking straight at the camera with a small smile.
Michael Kiwanuka
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The Circus (1928) + Tonkünstler Orchester Niederösterreich / Timothy Brock

The Circus
Director: Charles Chaplin
Writer: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Al Ernest Garcia, Merna Kennedy, Harry Crocker, George Davis, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford, John Rand, Steve Murphy
Part of: Film and Music Cycle
With music by Charles Chaplin, played by the Tonkünstler Orchester Niederösterreich, conducted by Timothy Brock
Seen on: 19.5.2022

After being confused for a pickpocket, the Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) takes refuge from the police in a circus where he meets the lovely Merna (Merna Kennedy), a young acrobat and the daughter of the circus proprietor (Al Ernest Garcia). The circus can always use more people and the Tramp has rather a talent for clownery – at least as long as he doesn’t try to do it on purpose. And so he signs on with the circus – the perfect opportunity to stay close to Merna.

As expected with Charlie Chaplin films, The Circus really is incredibly funny and maybe a little less melancholy than some of the other Tramp films. I had an extremely good time with it.

The film poster showing a drawing of The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) in front of a circus tent.
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Woodkid (Support: Awir Leon)

Woodkid played a show in the Gasometer in Vienna supported by Awir Leon.
Seen on: 23.4.2022

Having seen two live shows recently (in relatively small locations and with mask mandates in place), I threw caution into the wind a little and went to see Woodkid (a show that was originally planned to be open air and two years ago) in Vienna’s second biggest concert location. Indoor. With a recently lifted mask mandate. My friend and I wore our masks anyway, but I was surprised by how few people opted to wear masks on a voluntary basis, and I’m not keen to repeat the experience any time soon, I have to admit. But my anxiety was not so bad that I left the concert early. Or maybe the concert was so good. I mean, it was definitely really good.

Woodkid standing in a uniform that is vaguely reminiscent of an astronaut's suit, a hardhat under his arm, in front of some machinery.
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Mighty Oaks (Support: Christof van der Ven)

Mighty Oaks played a concert at the Ottakringer Brauerei in Vienna with Christof van der Ven as their support.
Seen on: 2.4.2022
[Here’s my review of the last Mighty Oaks show I saw.]

Buoyed by my recent concert experience, the first since this pandemic started, I decided to see the next show I had tickets for, too – Mighty Oaks (incidentally, they were also one of the last shows I saw before the pandemic). And it was a great concert again, despite me feeling a little crowded in that location and with that many people there.

The three white guys of the band Mighty Oaks sitting on and in front of a bench, all holding guitars.
Mighty Oaks
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Oma oder Alles Paletti!

Oma oder Alles Paletti! [literally: Granny, or Everything’s Peachy!]
Director: Michaela Ehrenstein
Writer: Elfriede Hammerl
Cast: Anita Kolbert, Eva Christina Binder, Barbara Edinger, Stefanie Gutmann, Georg Müller-Angerer, John Fricke, Alfons Noventa
Seen on: 30.3.2022
[Full disclosure: I know Elfriede Hammerl personally.]

Oma (Anita Kolbert) used to be a scientist. But now she has grown old and society has no room for an old woman, except for working as a “rented” grandmother. But Oma was never the parental type and after yet another family lets her go, Oma gets relegated to a Senior Sanctuary. Her ticket out of there: Viktor (Georg Müller-Angerer [though on the day I saw the show, Michaela Ehrenstein had to step in for him]), a young successful type missing his own grandmother. What starts as a convenient arrangement leads both of them to reconsider the world around them.

Oma oder Alles Paletti! is an entertaining play that carries quite a punch. It doesn’t quite seem to know how to end, but given how many good points it makes in a funny way before that, it is still very much worth seeing.

Oma (Anita Kolbert), Viktor (Georg Müller-Angerer) and Beate (Barbara Edinger) looking depressed.
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Black Sea Dahu

Black Sea Dahu are a singer-songwriter and her band from Switzerland. They played a show in the Porgy & Bess in Vienna.
Seen on: 7.3.2022

It has been almost exactly two years that I was on my last concert. And while it felt weird to get back to live shows, watching and listening to Black Sea Dahu was an excellent way to get back into the groove of things in that department.

Singer-songwriter Janine of Black Sea Dahu holding a guitar.
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Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac
Director: Jamie Lloyd, Tony Grech-Smith
Writer: Martin Crimp in an adaptation of Edmond Rostand‘s play
Cast: James McAvoy, Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Eben Figueiredo, Tom Edden, Nima Taleghani, Michele Austin, Adam Best, Nari Blair-Mangat, Adrian Der Gregorian, Kiruna Stamell, Brinsley Terence
Seen on: 1.3.2022

Cyrano de Bergerac (James McAvoy) is a poet and soldier, known for his big nose that practically disfigures him, and his hot temper that earns him a certain respect and fear. Cyrano is very much in love with Roxane (Anita-Joy Uwajeh) 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 (Eben Figueiredo) 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.

This production of Cyrano de Bergerac is a wonderfully modernized, exciting adaptation with a frankly astonishing McAvoy in the lead. I was utterly enchanted by it.

The poster for the play showing Cyrano (James McAvoy) leaning against a mirror, his reflection looking at the viewer.
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