Die Piefke-Saga (1990, 1993)

Die Piefke-Saga [Piefke is a derogatory term Austrians use for Germans]
Director: Wilfried Dotzel, Werner Masten (Part 4)
Writer: Felix Mitterer
Cast: Dietrich Mattausch, Brigitte Grothum, Ferdinand Dux, Sabine Cruso, Ralf Komorr, Kurt Weinzierl, Veronika Faber, Tobias Moretti, Josef Kuderna, Gregor Bloéb, Hans Richter, Brigitte Jaufenthaler, Doris Goldner, Barbara Weber, Ludwig Dornauer, Peter Kluibenschädel, Sascha Scholl
Seen on: 24.+26.2.2021

Content Note: racism, (critical treatment of) sexism

The Sattmann family from Berlin – father Karl-Friedrich (Dietich Mattausch), mother Else (Brigitte Grothum), grandfather Heinrich (Ferdinand Dux) and the children Sabine (Sabine Cruse) and Gunnar (Ralf Komorr) – have been coming to Tyrol for their holidays for years, always staying in the same hotel run by Franz Wechselberger (Kurt Weinzierl), who also happens to be mayor, and his wife Christel (Veronika Faber). The Wechselbergers know that their village is dependent on the German tourists. But Franz’ brother Hans (Hans Richter) fears what the increasing tourism means for the nature in Tyrol. So he brings his journalist friend Holleschek (Sascha Scholl) to write an article about the German tourists which is less than flattering. The article comes out just as the Sattmanns arrive for their summer holidays – and they will not let that insult stand.

Die Piefke-Saga is a four part miniseries of quite some renoun in Austria. The first three parts were shot together, the fourth part was made three years later and is very different from the first three. But all of them are pretty enjoyable.

The series poster showing the six main characters in the drawing of a suitcase.
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Short Cuts (1993)

Short Cuts
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt
Based on: short stories and a poem by Raymond Carver
Cast: Andie MacDowell, Bruce Davison, Jack Lemmon, Zane Cassidy, Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer, Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Robert Downey Jr., Madeleine Stowe, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Huey Lewis, Annie Ross, Lori Singer, Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry,
Seen on: 20.10.2018

Nine intersecting stories of people in Los Angeles during the Medfly epidemic: Ann (Andie MacDowell) and Howard’s (Bruce Davidson) child (Zane Cassidy) was in an accident just before his coma. Police man Gene (Tim Robbins) cheats on his wife Sherri (Madeline Stowe). Lois (Jennifer Jason Leigh) works for a sex hotline, much to the dislike of her husband Jerry (Chris Penn). Doreen (Lily Tomlin) and Earl (Tom Waits) have a good marriage, at least as long as Earl is sober. Honey (Lily Taylor) and Bill (Robert Downey Jr.) are housesitting. Stormy (Peter Gallagher) is struggling with his divorce from Betty (Frances McDormand). Zoe tries to connect with her mother Tess (Annie Ross). Claire (Anne Archer) and her husband Stuart (Fred Ward) are invited to dinner by Marian (Julianne Moore) and Ralph (Matthew Modine). Stuart, Gordon (Buck Henry) and Vern (Huey Lewis) are looking forward to a long-planned fishing trip.

Short Cuts was really painful: a film filled with unlikeable men who behave like assholes and somehow we are supposed to think think that’s funny and/or interesting? No, thank you and I mean that in the harshest possible sense.

The film poster showing a fractured red heart in front of a white background.
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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

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.


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Re-Watch: Alive (1993)

Director: Frank Marshall
Writer: John Patrick Shanley
Based on: Piers Paul Read‘s book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors
Cast: Ethan HawkeVincent SpanoJosh HamiltonBruce RamsayJohn NewtonDavid KriegelKevin BreznahanIlleana Douglas, Josh Lucas
Seen on: 6.1.2015

A Uruguayan rugby team is on its way to Chile for a game. But as they fly over the Andes, their plane is experiencing trouble and they crash. Those who are not killed instantly face intense cold, hunger and still have to deal with the injured. As more and more time passes, it becomes increasingly less likely that a rescue mission can find them – they will have to save themselves.

I saw Alive when I was a kid and I was deeply impressed by it and the story back then. So I wanted to revisit it 20 years later to see if it still holds up to scrutiny. The result is rather mixed.

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Schramm (1993)

Director: Jörg Buttgereit
Writer: Jörg Buttgereit, Franz Rodenkirchen
Cast: Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Monika M., Micha Brendel, Carolina Harnisch, Xaver Schwarzenberger, Gerd Horvath, Michael Brynntrup
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 29./30.4.2015

Lothar Schramm (Florian Koerner von Gustorf) is a normal cab driver on the surface. But underneath that surface is a deeply deranged serial killer for whom reality and fantasy are not easily distinguishable. As that line gets more and more blurred, it becomes clear that he is heading toward some kind of climax.

Of the three Buttgereit films that were shown at the /slash Filmfestival, I liked Schramm the best (though it’s not that far from Final Girl). It’s tense and cringeworthy, but not without a sense of humor.

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Halbe Welt [Half the World] (1993)

Halbe Welt
Director: Florian Flicker
Writer: Florian Flicker, Michael Sturminger
Cast: Rainer Egger, Dani Levy, Mercedes Echerer, Maria Schrader, Goran Rebic, Allen Browne, Michael KreihslMara Mattuschka, Karl Markovics
Part of: Viennale

The sun has turned deadly, so life in the remaining megacities on earth now happens at night, where the sale of postcards showing sunny spaces without the threat of death is booming. Katz (Dani Levy) takes full advantage of that – dealing with everything that people might need, in particular every reproduction of nature he can get his hands on that is not owned by the “Whites” who sell it to the rich. Herzog (Rainer Egger) on the other hand didn’t manage to adapt to the new situation as well as Katz – he misses the sun and every day at dawn, he tries to stand outside as long as possible. And Sunny (Maria Schrader) sees all of them in her bar where the different spheres come together.

Halbe Welt is a very weird film. I’d understand if it was too weird for somebody, but I really enjoyed it.

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Das Wiener Kettensägenmassaker [The Viennese Chainsaw Massacre] (1993)

Das Wiener Kettensägenmassaker
Director: Martin Nechvatal
Writer: Martin Nechvatal
Cast: Martin Nechvatal, Michael Ettmann, Josip Markovic, Stefan Schichor, Martin Tropper
Part of: /slash Filmfestival

A murderous fiend (Martin Nechvatal) is killing teenagers in a meadow close to a apartment complex in the bloodiest of ways.

Das Wiener Kettensägenmassaker is a short film and less a remake of than a tribute to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was obviously made without a budget but with love, which gives it its very own charm. But mostly it was made for the special effects – all of them homemade – and they are actually awesome. It is astounding what you can achieve with creative thinking, a chainsaw and buckets of blood.

Summarizing: an inspiring effort that I loved.


Re-Watch: 12:01 (1993)

12:01 is a movie by Jack Sholder, based on Richard Lupoff‘s short story, starring Jonathan Silverman, Helen Slater, Jeremy Piven, Robin Bartlett and Martin Landau.

Barry (Jonathan Silverman) works in Human Resources in a reserch company, hating his job and pining after Lisa (Helen Slater), one of the scientists he hasn’t dared to talk to yet. What starts as an ordinary working day ends with Lisa getting shot, Barry getting drunk and then shocked by his nightstand lamp. When he wakes up the next morning, it isn’t the next morning at all, but the last day happening all over again. Now Barry is on a mission: He will use the time loop to save Lisa and to stop the loop from happening at all.

12:01 is one of those movies that you start watching – and then you realise that you’ve already seen it a long time ago when you were still a kid. I remember liking it then and I liked it now, too. It’s not awesomely brilliant or great, but it’s perfect afternoon TV.

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