Romance (1999)

Romance
Director: Catherine Breillat
Writer: Catherine Breillat
Cast: Caroline Ducey, Sagamore Stévenin, François Berléand, Rocco Siffredi
Seen on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
Marie (Caroline Ducey) is very much in love with her boyfriend Paul (Sagamore Stévenin), but Paul doesn’t want to have sex with her. Her increasing sexual frustration leads her to encounters with other men – be it Robert (François Berléand) who work in the school she works at, or Paolo (Rocco Siffredi) who she picks up in a bar. All the while Marie still tries to keep her relationship with Paul alive.

Romance is an interesting film that provokes discussion about sex, relationships and power. Though I found myself disagreeing with a lot of the conclusions it seems to draw, I enjoyed the thought experiments that come with watching it.

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Deine besten Jahre [Your Best Years] (1999)

Deine besten Jahre
Director: Dominik Graf
Writer: Markus Busch, Bernd Schwamm
Cast: Martina Gedeck, Tobias Moretti, Tim Bergmann, Carla Hagen, Wolfgang Hinze, Mona Seefried, Marian LöschBirge Schade, Monika Woytowicz
Seen on: 20.4.2016

Plot:
Vera (Martina Gedeck) seems to lead a perfect life: she’s the heiress of a successful company that is run by her husband Manfred (Tobias Moretti) who is devoted to her and their son Max (Marian Löschl). Then Vera starts to discover a first crack in the facade: Manfred seems to be having an affair. In an attempt to save their relationship, she whisks him away on an impromptu holiday. But very quickly Vera finds her life crumbling around her entirely and the only one who seems to be always there for her is former company employee Andreas (Tim Bergmann).

Deine besten Jahre is a strange film, made even more unusual because it’s a TV production. What starts as a normal family drama takes some surprising and sometimes downright experimental turns leading to a fascinating film that takes a while to settle.

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Meine Mutter war ein Metzger [My Mother Was a Butcher] (1999)

Meine Mutter war ein Metzger
Director: Jörg Kalt
Writer: Jörg Kalt
Cast: Jiri Bábek, Pavel Zvaríc, Christoph Müller, Sebastian Blomberg, Andrej Losin
Part of: FrauenFilmTage
Seen on: 26.2.2016

Plot:
Two students need to transport a body from Vienna to Russia which is a pretty expensive thing to do officially. So they decide to pretend that the body was simply drunk and to smuggle it to Russia by night train.

Meine Mutter war ein Metzger is a short film that was shot pretty much without a budget and in black and white, making it feel older than it actually is. But that doesn’t hurt the film at all. Neither does the fact that I can’t quite believe that the outlandish story is based on actual events like the film claims. Whether it’s half-true, all-true or all-made-up, it’s a funny film with awhole lot of black humor. I wouldn’t have minded if it had been longer.

meinemutterwareinmetzger

Nordrand [Northern Skirts] (1999)

Nordrand
Director: Barbara Albert
Writer: Barbara Albert
Cast: Nina Proll, Edita Malovcic, Astrit Alihajdaraj, Tudor Chirila, Michael Tanczos, Georg Friedrich, Brigitte Kren, Margarete Tiesel
Seen on: 12.2.2016

Plot:
Jasmin (Nina Proll) and Tamara (Edita Malovcic) were in school together when they were kids, but have since drifted apart. While Tamara is working as a nurse and dating Roman (Michael Tanczos), leading a relatively stable life, Jasmin is drifting at the edge of the politically right scene, moving from guy to guy and none of them are particularly nice. Their paths cross again, when they both end up getting an abortion on the same day. And somehow this time their connection seems to stick.

Nordrand is a smart film that looks closely at harsh social circumstances in Vienna. And it’s also a film with vivid characters that are lovingly set in scene.

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Re-Watch: Cruel Intentions (1999)

Cruel Intentions
Director: Roger Kumble
Writer: Roger Kumble
Based on: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, Louise Fletcher, Joshua Jackson, Eric Mabius, Sean Patrick Thomas, Swoosie Kurtz, Christine Baranski, Tara Reid
Seen on: 7.2.2016
[This concludes my Dangerous Liaisons marathon. At least until I can get ahold of the other adaptations.]

Plot:
Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) and Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar) are step siblings, united in their love to manipulate and destroy the people around them, a skill they have so artfully mastered that their ploys don’t fall back on them. Both have a new project: Valmont is trying to seduce Annette Hargrove (Reese Whitherspoon), the new principal’s daughter, who is widely known for her chastity pledge and that before school starts. Kathryn, on the other hand, is looking for revenge on an ex-lover who just dumped her for the naive Cecile (Selma Blair). So she enlists Valmont’s help to completely corrupt Cecile.

I was 14 when Cruel Intentions came out, 15 by the time I saw it the first time and I think that it is one of the defining teen movies of my generation. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good film, though it definitely does have its strengths, but it is very hard to view it separately from its influence.

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Outer Space (1999)

Outer Space
Director: Peter Tscherkassky
Writer: Peter Tscherkassky
Based on: The Entity
Seen on: 27.03.2015

Plot:
Tscherkassky re-edited footage from The Entity, transforming it into a psychedelic fight of a woman (Barbara Hershey) against, apparently, her own house. Or is it against the film itself?

Outer Space is a short film and I was glad that it was only a short – I don’t think I could have stomached the kaleidoscopic images, the sound design, the film jumps, the flashing lights for an entire feature. But despite the exhaustion caused by the film, the disorientation is evocative, creating a very unique atmosphere and one that is worth experiencing.

outerspaceSummarizing: it’s work, but it’s worth it. At least if you like experimental film.

The Winslow Boy (1999)

The Winslow Boy
Director: David Mamet
Writer: David Mamet
Based on: Terence Rattigan‘s play, which is in turn based on real events
Cast: Rebecca PidgeonJeremy Northam, Nigel HawthorneGuy Edwards, Colin Stinton, Matthew Pidgeon, Gemma Jones

Plot:
When Ronnie (Guy Edwards) returns early from his school, it doesn’t take long for his family to find out that he has been accused of stealing and expelled. When Ronnie is adamant that he didn’t do it, his father Arthur (Nigel Hawthorne) and his sister Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon) take up the fight to prove that he is innocent. They hire the famous lawyer Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam) to help, but the fight is more complicated, makes bigger waves and takes much longer than anyone expected.

The Winslow Boy is a nice film that wouldn’t stand out much if it weren’t for Rebecca Pidgeon and Jeremy Northam (and Jeremy Northam’s sexiness).

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The Best Man (1999)

The Best Man
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast: Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall

Plot:
Harper (Taye Diggs) is about to publish his autobiographical novel dealing with his time in college. But first there’s a different trip to the past he takes: his best friend from that time, Lance (Morris Chestnut) is getting married to his college sweetheart Mia (Monica Calhoun) and Harper’s the best man. So he travels to New York, leaving his girlfriend Robin (Sanaa Lathan) to join him later in the week. Which gives him the opportunity to reconnect with his friend and missed romantic connection from college Jordan (Nia Long).

The Best Man is interesting because it actually isn’t all that interesting at all: despite being a film that has both race and gender turned on the genre conventions’ head (since RomComs of this kind are usually targeted at and played by white women), it plays out pretty much exactly the same as what we’re used to. Which, from a cinematic pov, isn’t very captivating, but from a sociological pov, there’s much to dissect.

The_Best_Man

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Re-Watch: The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy
Director: Stephen Sommers
Writer: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Kevin J. O’Connor, Oded Fehr, Jonathan Hyde, Erick Avari, Bernard Fox, Patricia Velasquez

Plot:
Rick (Brendan Fraser) is in the Foreign Legion, stationed in Egypt. He is working at an archeological dig in the city of Hamunaptra, but things turn sour – not only is he attacked and arrested, but he and his dig also manage to wake the mummy Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). Gambler Jonathan (John Hannah) gets his hands on the map to Hamunaptra and sparks his sister Evy’s (Rachel Weisz) interest, a librarion who knows her ancient Egyptian stuff. They pick up Rick and their search for treasures leads them straight back to the mummy.

I remembered The Mummy being basically the epitome of a fun romp – and the re-watch absolutely confirmed those memories. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s entertaining and Rachel Weisz rocks.

the-mummy

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Pushing Tin (1999)

Pushing Tin
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Glen Charles, Les Charles
Based on: Darcy Frey‘s article “Something’s Got To Give”
Cast: John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Angelina Jolie, Jake Weber, Kurt Fuller, Vicki Lewis, Matt Ross

Plot:
Nick (John Cusack) is an air traffic controller – a job with a lot of responsibility and pressure. But he’s extremely good at it, he loves it and he’s happy with his wife Connie (Cate Blanchett). That is, until Russell (Billy Bob Thornton) shows up. Russell is aloof, cool and calls Nick’s entire standing into question. Threatened by everything about Russell, Nick gets into a giant pissing contest with him.

Pushing Tin has very funny moments and a pretty good cast, but boy does that testosterone-fueled competition between Nick and Russell get exhausting. A little more focus on the women would have made the movie so much better.

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