Bacurau (2019)

Bacurau
Director: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho
Writer: Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles
Cast: Bárbara Colen, Thomas Aquino, Silvero Pereira, Thardelly Lima, Rubens Santos, Wilson Rabelo, Carlos Francisco, Luciana Souza, Karine Teles, Antonio Saboia, Sônia Braga, Udo Kier
Seen on: 3.7.2020

Plot:
In the very near future, Teresa (Bárbara Colen) returns home to the small town Bacurau in the middle of nowhere because her grandmother, the family matriarch passed away. But when she gets there, she realizes that Bacurau is at the heart of a series of strange events – and the town and its inhabitants are in danger. But they are neither willing to go down without a fight, nor are they helpless.

Bacurau is a thoroughly entertaining film with strong politics that was simply a joy to watch. As it takes you from twist to turn, it’s best to just go with the flow and you will have one hell of a time.

The film poster showing the main characters drawn in watercolor style.
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Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

Dragged Across Concrete
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Thomas Kretschmann, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Fred Melamed, Justine Warrington
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 4.5.2019
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Content Note: racism

Plot:
Veteran cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger, more volatile partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are caught on tape using excessive force on a black suspect. They are suspended when the tape reaches the media. Ridgeman decides to turn to crime himself in this forced downtime: he and Lurasetti plan to take over a robbery of which they get wind. Part of the robbery crew is Henry Johns (Tory Kittles), just released from prison, who came home to find the poverty of his family completely overwhelming. Without other options, he lets himself get roped into the robbery plot. But things don’t go according to plan for anybody.

I was this close to not watching Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler’s last film – Bone Tomahawk – was racist crap. That he then turns to make a film that is a whole lot about racism and casts Mel Gibson, a known racist and antisemite, in the lead is insensitive to say the least. But then I figured, I had an all-access pass to the festival and I may as well give this film a go. Well. I should have listened to my gut and saved myself because the film is just as racist as the last.

The film poster showing the main characters in red paint that looks like something was dragged over the white poster background.
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Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria
Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi
Based on: Thomas De Quincey‘s essay collection Suspiria de Profundis
Cast: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Rudolf Schündler, Udo Kier, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett
Seen on: 20.11.2018
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Plot:
Suzy (Jessica Harper) was accepted into the prestigious Tanz Akademie, a ballet school. But her arrival is off to a rocky start as she is first denied entrance and then hears of a dead dancer. But those are not the only strange things that go on at the academy, as Suzy soon finds out.

Suspiria is, of course, a classic in horror film history, but I have to admit that I don’t feel overly enthusiastic about it, though it has some fantastic visuals.

The film poster showing the stylized drawing of a ballet dancer in a big puddle of blood.
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The Mountain (2018)

The Mountain
Director: Rick Alverson
Writer: Rick Alverson, Dustin Guy Defa, Colm O’Leary
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jeff Goldblum, Hannah Gross, Denis Lavant, Udo Kier, Larry Fessenden
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 3.11.2018
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Plot:
After Andy (Tye Sheridan) loses his father, his mother having been dead a while already, he is at a loss. That’s when he meets Dr. Wallace Fiennes (Jeff Goldblum) who specializes on lobotomies for the mentally ill. Fiennes new Andy’s mother and spontaneously offers the teenager a job as his assistant. Andy accepts and they start traveling together as Fiennes moves from hospital to hospital to perform his procedures.

The Mountain is not an easy film, in the best sense. It’s a film that requires work and you’ll probably get as much out of it as you’re willing to work for it. As the second film of the day, it got a bit much for me, but I’m more than willing to give it another go, because there is a lot of interest going on here.

The film poster showing Jeff Goldblum and Tye Sheridan reflected several times as with multiple mirrors.
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Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält [Mark of the Devil] (1970)

Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält
Director: Michael Armstrong, Adrian Hoven
Writer: Michael Armstrong, Adrian Hoven
Cast: Herbert Lom, Udo Kier, Olivera Katarina, Reggie Nalder, Herbert Fux, Johannes Buzalski, Michael Maien, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner, Adrian Hoven
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 29.9.2018
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Plot:
Christian von Meruh (Udo Kier) is the apprentice of witch hunter Lord Cumberland (Herbert Lom). Christian believes in the cause and the justice of the process with all of his heart. After the tavern girl Vanessa (Olivera Katarina) is accused of witchcraft and he sees the virtriol and violence of the local witch hunter (Reggie Nalder), Christian does find that he has doubts after all.

I was surprised by Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält. I expected an exploitative, gory B-movie. But instead I got a political, critical and pretty serious film – which is an absolutely positive turn of events for me.

The film poster showing with a drawn women whose hair is made of fire, with stills from the film that mostly depict women in pain as a collage in front of the hair.
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Re-Watch: My Own Private Idaho (1991)

My Own Private Idaho
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V (loosely)
Cast: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo, William Richert, Rodney Harvey, Chiara Caselli, Flea, Grace Zabriskie, Udo Kier
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2018
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Plot:
Mike (River Phoenix) and Scottie (Keanu Reeves) are hustlers, living in the streets of Portland. Scottie has been living this way for longer than Mike and shows Mike the ropes a little, introducing him to Bob Pigeon (William Richert) who is something between a pimp and a father figure for a lot of more or less homeless hustlers in the city. Scottie also takes care of Mike when he has one of his narcoleptic spells. Despite their closeness, there’s a chasm between Mike and Scottie as Mike doesn’t have many choices to live the way he does, while Scottie comes from a rich family and chose to hustle to embarrass them.

I saw My Own Private Idaho around 20 years ago and I understood very little of it back then. Seeing it now, opened up the film to me much more. That in itself is already a beautiful experience, but even without that part of the experience, the film is wonderful.

The film poster showing River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves.
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Downsizing (2017)

Downsizing
Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Cast: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Rolf Lassgård, Ingjerd Egeberg, Udo Kier, Søren Pilmark, Jason Sudeikis, Maribeth Monroe, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern, Margo Martindale
Seen on: 1.2.2018
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Plot:
The world has latched onto a new concept: downsizing. People are literally shrunk down to five inches. Given that they need much less resources that way, their dollar stretches much further, buying them a life of luxury. Paul (Matt Damon) is intrigued by the idea and when his friend Dave (Jason Sudeikis) tells him all about his newly shrunken life and how great it is, Paul and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to take the leap themselves.

Payne isn’t my kind of director, and Downsizing is unfortunately no exception, despite the fun premise. The execution is racist, sexist and gets lost inside its own metaphor. I was hoping for more.

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Iron Sky (2012)

Iron Sky
Director: Timo Vuorensola
Writer: Michael Kalesniko
Based on: Johanna Sinisalo‘s story
Cast: Julia Dietze, Götz Otto, Christopher Kirby, Peta Sergeant, Stephanie Paul, Udo Kier

Plot:
In 2018, the President of the United States (Stephanie Paul) sends two men to the moon – a PR measure that’s supposed to ensure her re-election. But upon arrival, the two discover that there are Nazis on the dark side of the moon who have been hiding there since the end of World War 2. James Washington (Christopher Kirby) gets captured, experimented on and finally, Klaus (Götz Otto) the aspiring Führer and Renate (Julia Dietze), scientist and his fiancée return to earth with James to finally retake their home planet.

If you’re not excited by the words “nazis on the moon”, then you probably won’t enjoy this film. But if you, as I did, think that this is THE MOST AWESOME THING, then you’ll love it.

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Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia
Director: Lars von Trier
Writer: Lars von Trier
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgard, Stellan Skarsgard, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, Brady Corbet, Jesper Christensen, Udo Kier

Plot:
It’s Justine’s (Kirsten Dunst) wedding day. But even though she should be the happiest person alive, apart from her husband Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), she is haunted by dreams and visions of the end of the earth, when the planet Melancholia collides with ours. Her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) tries to hold it all together, but is ultimately helpless against the overwhelming presence of Melancholia – both the planet and the mood.

After Antichrist, I was very reluctant if I actually wanted to see Melancholia. But the cast and the trailer’s aesthetics drew me in. In the end my fears that it would be the misogynist disaster Antichrist was, proved to be unnecessary. But I still only liked the first half.

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Metropia (2009)

[Anilogue.]

Metropia is Tarik Saleh‘s first fiction film, starring the voices of Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard and Alexander Skarsgard.

Plot:
2024. After using up the world’s ressources, Europe is in shambles. A huge underground network connects all the subway lines of the major cities, controlled by the Trexx corporation. Roger (Vincent Gallo) tries to avoid the subway as much as possible, going so far as biking to work (which is illegal). But when his bike is broken, he enters the subway station, starts hearing a voice (Alexander Skarsgard) in his head and suddenly sees Nina (Juliette Lewis) – the girl from the shampoo commercial and his dreams. Nina kinda leads him down the rabbit hole into a huge conspiracy.

Metropia has a strange aesthetic, an interesting premise and great voice acting. Unfortunately the animation itself is not that great and it loses itself a bit in the plot.

[Slight Spoilers]

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