Freaks Out (2021)

Freaks Out
Director: Gabriele Mainetti
Writer: Nicola Guaglianone, Gabriele Mainetti
Cast: Claudio Santamaria, Aurora Giovinazzo, Pietro Castellitto, Giancarlo Martini, Giorgio Tirabassi, Max Mazzotta, Franz Rogowski
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Filmfestival
Seen on: 7.5.2022

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.

The film poster showing the four "freaks" in their performance poses, as well as Franz (Franz Rogowski) wearing a Nazi robe.
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Luzifer (2021)

Luzifer
Director: Peter Brunner
Writer: Peter Brunner
Cast: Susanne Jensen, Franz Rogowski, Monika Hinterhuber, Theo Blaickner
Seen on: 26.4.2022

Content Note: ableism/cripping up, abuse

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.

The film poster showing Maria (Susanne Jensen) sitting on Johannes' (Franz Rogowski) shoulders. Both have their arms spread wide. Behind them is a mountain.
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Große Freiheit [Great Freedom] (2021)

Große Freiheit
Director: Sebastian Meise
Writer: Sebastian Meise, Thomas Reider
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Georg Friedrich, Anton von Lucke, Thomas Prenn
Seen on: 19.12.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

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.

The film poster showing Hans (Franz Rogowski) desperately holding on to Viktor (Georg Friedrich).
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Undine (2020)

Undine
Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold
Cast: Paula Beer, Franz Rogowski, Maryam Zaree, Jacob Matschenz,
Seen on: 16.7.2020

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.

The film poster showing Undine (Paula Beer) in Christoph's (Franz Rogowski) arms, looking back over his shoulder.
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Happy End (2017)

Happy End
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Cast: Isabelle HuppertJean-Louis TrintignantMathieu KassovitzFantine HarduinFranz RogowskiLaura VerlindenAurélia PetitToby Jones
Seen on: 12.10.2017
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Plot:
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.

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Love Steaks (2013)

Love Steaks
Director: Jakob Lass
Writer: Jakob Lass, Ines SchillerTimon SchäppiNico Woche
Cast: Lana CooperFranz RogowskiKerstin AbendrothDaniel AlznauerEric PoppRalf Winter
Seen on: 11.10.2017
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Plot:
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.

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Tiger Girl (2017)

Tiger Girl
Director: Jakob Lass
Writer: Jakob Lass, Eva-Maria Reimer, Ines Schiller, Hannah Schopf, Nico Woche
Cast: Ella Rumpf, Maria Dragus, Enno Trebs, Orce Feldschau, Benjamin Lutzke, Franz Rogowski, Ulrik Bruchholz, Lana Cooper, Robert Gwisdek
Seen on: 2.5.2017

Plot:
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.

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Victoria (2015)

Victoria
Director: Sebastian Schipper
Writer: Sebastian Schipper, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Eike Frederik Schulz
Cast: Laia Costa, Frederick Lau, Franz Rogowski, Burak Yigit, Max Mauff, André Hennicke
Seen on: 19.8.2015

Plot:
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.

Victoria Continue reading