Womit haben wir das verdient? [What Have We Done to Deserve This?] (2018)

Womit haben wir das verdient?
Director: Eva Spreitzhofer
Writer: Eva Spreitzhofer
Cast: Caroline Peters, Chantal Zitzenbacher, Simon Schwarz, Hilde Dalik, Marcel Mohab, Duygu Arslan, Alev Irmak, Pia Hierzegger, Christopher Schärf, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Emily Cox, Denise Teipel
Seen on: 11.1.2019

Content Note: racism against muslims, homomisia

Wanda (Caroline Peters) is a staunch feminist and a modern woman. She has two teenaged children and an okay relationship with her ex-husband Harald (Simon Schwarz), a job, a new boyfriend (Marcel Mohab) and nothing whatsoever to do with religion. So when her daughter Nina (Chantal Zitzenbacher) announces that she converted to Islam, starts wearing a hijab and will be called Fatima from now on, Wanda is absolutely crestfallen. She doesn’t understand in the slightest and her attempts to engage with her daughter are clumsy at best.

Going into the film, I was suspicious of Womit haben wir das verdient?. I was worried it would be problematic regarding its depiction of Islam/Muslims, but I thought that I couldn’t say no to an Austrian film by a woman that is explicitely feminist. Well, unfortunately I was right to be suspicious: it was an exercise in white feminism if ever I saw one, always hovering around being completely racist.

The film poster showing Nina (Chantal Zitzenbacher) as she makes a selfie while wearing a hijab, surrounded by her parents Wanda (Caroline Peters) and Harald (Simon Schwarz), as well as her parents' new partners (Marcel Mohab, Hilde Dalik).
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Meine Schwester [My Sister] (2011)

Meine Schwester
Director: Sascha Bigler
Writer: Sascha Bigler, Axel Götz
Cast: Christiane Hörbiger, Maresa Hörbiger, August Zirner, Simon Schwarz, Cornelius Obonya, August Schmölzer, Edita Malovcic, Stella Butz
Seen on: 16.5.2017

Katharina Wallner (Christiane Hörbiger) owns a small shop. Much to the chagrin of her landlord Heinz Ortner (August Schmölzer) she has a contract for life. He would rather have her gone, so he can rent out the shop on better conditions. It’s just when he starts to put increasingly more pressure on Katharina that Katharina’s long lost sister Hannah Laval (Maresa Hörbiger) returns to Vienna. And Hannah isn’t as nice as Katharina, not by a long shot.

I stumbled into the film and since the cast wasn’t bad, I stuck around. It’s a rather solid TV production, but it’s really not a must see film.

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Stille Reserven [Hidden Reserves] (2016)

Stille Reserven
Director: Valentin Hitz
Writer: Valentin Hitz
Cast: Clemens Schick, Lena Lauzemis, Daniel Olbrychski, Marion Mitterhammer, Simon Schwarz, Stipe Erceg, Dagmar Koller
Seen on: 7.11.2016

Vienna in the not too distant future. People have lost their right to simply die: after you pass away, your body is reanimated, put into a vegetative state and used as processing power or storage device, put to work to pay off the debts you’re sure to have left behind. The only thing that will keep you from becoming a computer part is a death insurance – and Vincent (Clemens Schick) is the best salesman of this of course very expensive insurance. When his boss (Marion Mitterhammer) gives him the task of convincing Wladimir (Daniel Olbrychski) of getting an insurance, he finds himself confronted with Wladimir’s daughter Lisa (Lena Lauzemis) who is fighting to get everybody their right to death back.

I saw Stille Reserven a while ago at a test screening where they showed an almost but not quite finished version of it and asked for feedback. I was not particularly taken with it then, but I wanted to see it once more as a finished product (also to support Austrian SciFi) before judgding it completely. Unfortunately, neither the film nor my impression of it changed much in the meantime. There was just too much about it that was utterly familiar.

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Der Knochenmann [The Bone Man] (2009)

Der Knochenmann
Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Wolfgang Murnberger, Josef Hader, Wolf Haas
Based on: Wolf Haas‘ novel
Sequel to: Komm, süßer Tod, Silentium
Cast: Josef Hader, Josef BierbichlerBirgit MinichmayrChristoph LuserPia HierzeggerSimon SchwarzDorka GryllusStipe ErcegIvan Shvedoff
Seen on: 13.8.2015

Simon Brenner (Josef Hader) is getting by. With the help of Berti (Simon Schwarz) he can earn a little money by repossessing things. When Berti sends him to find a guy and his car, Brenner ends up at an inn in the middle of nowhere looking for him. The guy’s car is there, but nobody admits to knowing him. Sufficiently intrigued by circumstances and with nowhere else to go, Brenner decides to stay for a bit. Despite the foreboding presence of owner Löschenkohl (Josef Bierbichler) whose daughter in law Birgit (Birgit Minichmayr) may have something to do with Brenner’s interest. But a missing guy is only the beginning of the weird events at the Löschenkohl inn.

While the Brenner movies continue their increasing technical proficiency here, regarding plot and script Der Knochenmann is the weakest movie in the series so far.


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Silentium (2004)

Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Wolfgang Murnberger, Josef Hader, Wolf Haas
Based on: Wolf Haas‘ novel
Sequel to: Komm, süßer Tod
Cast: Josef Hader, Simon Schwarz, Joachim Król, Maria Köstlinger, Udo Samel, Jürgen Tarrach, Rosie Alvarez, Georg Friedrich, Johannes Silberschneider, Karl Fischer, Herbert Fux, Dirk Stermann, Christoph Schlingensief, Wolf Haas
Seen on: 23.7.2015

Simon Brenner (Josef Hader) now lives in Salzburg where he barely gets by with occasional jobs, the most recent of which – store detective – he promptly loses when he accuses the daughter of the director of the Salzburger Festspiele, Konstanze (Maria Köstlinger). Never mind that he was right. But Konstanze and Brenner are not done with each other yet: Konstanze’s husband recently died, believed to be a suicide. But Konstanze is sure that he was murdered because he spoke up about the sexual abuse he suffered from catholic priests when he was a child. She asks Brenner to investigate. Brenner agrees, going about it in his own very idiosyncratic way and uncovering much more than he bargained for.

Silentium is an improvement on the first film in the series in pretty much every aspect, except maybe acting and sense of humor which were already great in the first film and are equally great now. I enjoyed it a lot.



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Re-Watch: Komm, süßer Tod [Come, Sweet Death] (2000)

Komm, süßer Tod
Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Wolf HaasJosef Hader, Wolfgang Murnberger
Based on: Wolf Haasnovel
Cast: Josef Hader, Simon Schwarz, Barbara Rudnik, Michael Schönborn, Bernd Michael Lade, Nina Proll, Karl Markovics, Reinhard Nowak
Seen on: 13.7.2015

Simon Brenner (Josef Hader) used to be a police man, but after a, let’s call it a disagreement with his boss, he lost his job and now works as an ambulance driver together with Berti (Simon Schwarz). Brenner is not a very ambitious person and has settled in that life. But when a nurse and a doctor are murdered, and shortly afterwards one of his colleagues and another colleague is accused of the crime, his routine gets shaken up and Brenner finds himself investigating, rather in spite of himself.

Komm, süßer Tod has an excellent sense of humor and an interesting crime story, so it’s not surprising that it was the start to probably Austria’s most successful cinema series, even though from a film-making perspective it’s actually quite abysmal.

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Das radikal Böse [Radical Evil] (2013)

Das radikal Böse
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Writer: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Cast: Devid Striesow, Benno Fürmann, Alexander Fehling, Volker Bruch, Simon Schwarz
Interviewees: Roy Baumeister, Robert Jay Lifton, Christopher Browning, Patrick Desbois, Benjamin B. Ferencz, Dave Grossman

Radical Evil is a documentary about the mass shootings in Eastern Europe during WWII, where about two million Jewish civilians were killed – by completely “normal” soldiers. The documentary looks at the psychological basis of their behavior as well as quotes from letters and diaries the soldiers themselves wrote to try and understand how they could have done what they did.

The topic Ruzowitzky chose is extremely interesting and he chose fascinating men to interview about it. But I was still rather disappointed by what was made of it.


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Polt. (2013)

Polt. [link’s in German]
Director: Julian Pölsler
Writer: Julian Pölsler
Based on: Alfred Komarek‘s [link’s in German] novel
Sequel to: Polt muss weinen, Blumen für Polt, Himmel Polt und Hölle, Polterabend
Cast: Erwin Steinhauer, Fritz Karl, Tatjana Alexander, Simon Schwarz, Elisabeth Orth, Karin Kienzer, Michou Friesz, Cornelius Obonya, Hans-Michael Rehberg

Simon Polt (Erwin Steinhauer) used to be a police man but he gave that up to live in a small village surrounded by vineyards and working at the local grocery store. His only remaining contact to the police is his friend Norbert Sailer (Fritz Karl). And then one night Simon and Norbert find a body in Norbert’s vineyard and Simon’s retired life is over.

Polt. did surprise me. It’s a made for TV, Austrian crime movie – and those are usually things that are a dangerous combination for the quality of any movie. But it turns out that Polt. is a beautifully shot, slow film with a great cast.


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Wer’s glaubt, wird selig [Don’t You Believe It] (2012)

Wer’s glaubt, wird selig
Director: Marcus H. Rosenmüller
Writer: Jeremy Leven
Cast: Christian Ulmen, Hannelore Elsner, Marie Leuenberger, Lisa Potthoff, Fahri Ögün Yardim, Simon Schwarz, Nikolaus Paryla

The little Bavarian village Hauzenberg is slowly dying out. They used to be a skiing ressort, but the snow has been lacking. So when Georg’s (Christian Ulmen) rather unfriendly but very religious mother-in-law Daisy (Hannelore Elsner) dies [she gets hit by a cross that falls off a wall because Georg fucks his wife Emilie (Marie Leuenberger) a little too enthusiastically], Georg has the glorious idea to get her declared a saint to get the tourism back in the area. But sainthood isn’t achieved that easily.

Wer’s glaubt, wird selig is a fun little movie. Nothing too great, nothing too bad, but it does have some very nice laughs and just the right amount of irreverence, so it doesn’t get too catholic for my taste.

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Am Ende des Tages [What a Difference a Day Makes] (2011)

Am Ende des Tages
Director: Peter Payer
Writer: Kai Hensel
Cast: Simon Schwarz, Nicholas Ofczarek, Anna Unterberger

Robert (Simon Schwarz) is a rising politician who has built his career on being real and honest. In the middle of his election campaign he takes a weekend off to travel with his pregnant girlfriend Katharina (Anna Unterberger) to Tyrol. On their way there, they are followed by Wolfgang (Nicholas Ofczarek) who knows Robert from way back when. And Wolfgang knows something about Robert’s past that Robert has worked very hard to hide.

The movie did not impress me. It’s not really bad, it’s not really good. It just is.

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