Content Note: sexual assault, sexism, (critical treatment of) ableism, medical experiments
Plot: 1943 in Italy. Israel (Giorgio Tirabassi) runs a circus with his four artists Cencio (Pietro Castellitto), Matilde (Aurora Giovinazzo), Fulvio (Claudio Santamaria) and Mario (Giancarlo Martini) – who actually all have supernatural powers that fuel their performances. The five try their best to stay out of the Nazis’ way, though there is the Circus Berlin stationed in Rome – supposedly the best circus in the world, headed by Franz (Franz Rogowski), a pianist with 12 fingers. Franz has superpowers of his own: he has seen the future and knows that it doesn’t look good for the Nazis. He is convinced that he has to find four superpowered people to prevent the Nazis from losing and he will do anything to find them.
I enjoyed Freaks Out for the most part. It is marred by the male gaze, but it’s entertaining and manages to combine comedy and Nazi horrors in a good way.
Plot: Maria (Susanne Jensen) lives off the grid in the mountains with her son Johannes (Franz Rogowski) who has a learning disability. They spend their days mostly quietly and calmly with a lot of prayer and Johannes’ birds of prey. But their idyllic existence is threatened when plans are made to create a skiing area around them – and the developers are desperate to buy their land, unwilling to accept that Maria won’t sell. An evil is coming for Maria and Johannes.
My history with Peter Brunner movies isn’t without its issues, but I have liked his films increasingly more – and Luzifer is probably the one I liked the most so far. It doesn’t always work, but it is definitely engaging.
Plot: It’s the 60s and Hans (Franz Rogowski) is once more arrested and imprisoned for “sexual deviancy”, for having sex with other men. It’s not the first time, and back in prison, he quickly settles into the routine when he sees two familiar faces. One is Leo (Anton von Lucke), one of the men Hans had sex with, a young teacher utterly lost in prison life. The other is Viktor (Georg Friedrich) with whom Hans shares a long history, and a connection that runs deep – and becomes deeper still.
Große Freiheit is a sensitive film with great performances about a horrific part of (German) legal history. And it’s also a beautiful love story.
Plot: Undine (Paula Beer) is happy with her boyfriend Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) – or so she thought. When he breaks up with her, she is surprised and devastated. She knows that having her heart broken means that she has to take revenge on Johannes – because she is a water sprite and that’s what mythology demands of her. By chance she immediately meets diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski). Their meeting is elemental, and so is there love. Undine hopes that she might have tricked fate that way, but she doesn’t know.
Undine is a beautiful, understated film with perfect performances. It may not be my movie of the year, but it’s definitely a good one.
After her mother is admitted to the hospital, Eve (Fantine Harduin) moves in with her father Thomas (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his new wife Anais (Laura Verlinden). They all live in Eve’s grandfather Georges’s (Jean-Louis Trintignant) house. Georges is starting to show symptoms of dementia and is desperately trying to keep control of his life. His business has already been taken over by his daughter Anne (Isabelle Huppert) who struggles with problems at work. In this difficult constellation, it comes as no surprise that secrets start coming to light everywhere.
Happy End, unfortunately, is a weak film, at least for a Haneke film. There was a lot of potential and some very good stuff, but it just doesn’t really come together.
Clemens (Franz Rogowski) just started working at a spa hotel. He is allowed to stay in a small storage room there and starts learning. But when the meek Clemens meets the rebellious Lara (Lana Cooper) who works in the kitchen, sparks start flying. As the two get more and more wrapped into each other, that spark between them starts to cause chaos in the entire hotel.
Love Steaks wasn’t my cup of tea. Difficult people in broken relationships is an interesting topic but if you try to sell it to me as romance, I’m out. And that’s what happened here.
Vanilla (Maria Dagus) failed the police academy entrance exam, so instead she starts training as a security. And then she meets Tiger (Ella Rumpf). Tiger sees the potential of Vanilla’s uniform and starts whittling away at her inhibitions. But as Vanilla loses herself in the exhilarating life Tiger seems to promise, Tiger realizes that maybe some lines should not be crossed. But will Vanilla let herself be put on a leash again?
The only time I could catch Tiger Girl was at a late night showing, so I re-considered watching it at all about 50 times. But in the end I went for it – and I’m more than happy that I did. It’s an absolutely amazing film with two unruly characters who I loved watching.
Victoria (Laia Costa) is out dancing alone. As she is about to leave the club, she meets Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his friends Boxer (Franz Rogowski), Blinker (Burak Yigit) and Fuß (Max Mauff), whose birthday they’re celebrating. Somehow Victoria gets sucked into their party and their night. But Boxer has a heavy past and its about to catch up with them – with unforseeable consequences.
Victoria has garnered quite some fame due to the fact that it was shot in a single take. And while the execution of that concept is brilliant, the story and the characters are not.