Rimini (2022)

Rimini
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Veronika Franz, Ulrich Seidl
Cast: Michael Thomas, Tessa Göttlicher, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Inge Maux, Claudia Martini, Georg Friedrich
Seen on: 23.4.2022

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism, fascism

Plot:
Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) is a “schlager” singer whose heyday has long been over. He lives in Rimini now where he barely gets by with performances for busloads of German-speaking tourists, the occasional sex work and renting out his house to fans while he himself goes to stay in a shabby room in one of the many hotels that are empty for winter. When his estranged daughter Tessa (Tessa Göttlicher) shows up to demand money from him, Richie needs all his (more or less sleazy) survival skills to comply with her request.

Rimini is a typical Seidl movie in a way, but there is an almost optimistic note at the end of the film that is rather untypical. In any case, it’s the portrait of a sleazy man that spares nothing, as it is the portrait of a tourist town without tourists.

The film poster showing Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) performing on an empty stage in front of a glitter curtain.
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Safari (2016)

Safari
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Seen on: 19.9.2016

“Plot”:
A private game reserve in Namibia run by a German couple. They have mostly guests from the German-speaking part of Europe who come to Africa to hunt and collect trophies. Going on Safari in the original sense: armed with guns and eager to kill.

Safari is not Seidl’s best documentary, but it is a provocative and very revealing look at colonial structures that are alive and well today without so much as the slightest veneer of post-colonialism. Unfortunately, by centering the experiences the white people have and by almost entirely excluding black people from his documentary, Seidl does reinforce the very same structures he so pointedly lays open.

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Ulrich Seidl und die bösen Buben [Ulrich Seidl: A Director at Work] (2014)

Ulrich Seidl und die bösen Buben [literally: Ulrich Seidl and the Bad Boys]
Director: Constantin Wulff

Plot:
Constantin Wulff followed Ulrich Seidl while he worked on his documentary Im Keller [In the Basement] and on the play Böse Buben / Fiese Männer [Bad Boys / Hideous Men], taking a look at how Seidl works: how he creates both documentary and fiction from fictional and real elements. How he examines masculinity (mostly) through both lenses. How he enriches both projects with elements from the other.

The documentary was a fascinating look at the work processes of Ulrich Seidl (equally illuminating was the discussion Wulff and Seidl had after the film at the cinema I saw this at) and the parallels he creates between both the play and his own film.

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Im Keller [In the Basement] (2014)

Im Keller
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

“Plot”:
Ulrich Seidl looks into the basements of Austrians and with that into their subconscious and the parts of themselves they like to bury. Far from only finding what you’d expect, he uncovers hidden desires and passions – from collections to baby dolls, shooting ranges to BDSM dungeons. And since we’re talking about Austria, there is also a basement devoted to everything Nazi.

Im Keller is a highly stylized documentary that is sad and weird and funny and uncomfortable in turn. It is an impressive display that I’ll surely remember for quite some time.

imkeller

 

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Paradies: Hoffnung [Paradise: Hope] (2013)

Paradies: Hoffnung
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Cast: Melanie Lenz, Verena Lehbauer, Joseph Lorenz, Viviane Bartsch, Michael ThomasMaria Hofstätter
Part of: The Paradise Trilogy (first movie: Paradise: Love, second: Paradise: Faith)

Plot:
While Melanie’s mother is on holiday in Kenya, 13-year-old Melanie (Melanie Lenz) is at a diet camp. Between the sadistic sport sessions and the weirdly military set-up of the entire thing, Melanie finds new friends, earnest teenager sex-talk, alcohol and cigarettes. But she also falls in love with the camp doctor (Joseph Lorenz), 40 years her senior, who shows her some kindness.

Paradies: Hoffnung is probably the most positive of the Paradise movies. That is not to say that it’s a lighthearted comedy, but, as the title promises, at least there’s some hope that not everything necessarily has to be completely awful. That is not much but it is nice that Seidl finishes his trilogy on that note.

paradies_hoffnung

[SPOILERS]

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Paradies: Glaube [Paradise: Faith] (2012)

Paradies: Glaube
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Cast: Maria Hofstätter, Nabil Saleh, René Rupnik, Natalya Baranova
Part of: The Paradise Trilogy (first movie: Paradise: Love)

Plot:
Anna Maria (Maria Hofstätter) lives alone and divides her time between working and praying with and for her catholic sect. That includes going from to door with the statue of the Virgin Mary and trying to convert people and get them to pray, too. One day when she returns from one of her tours, she finds that her muslim husband Nabil, paralyzed after an accident, has returned and she gets trapped between her belief in what a wife should do and his abuse.

Much like Paradise: Love, Paradise: Faith is pretty hard to watch. It’s interesting, though and has an unusual perspective on faith. And Maria Hofstätter is fantastic.

paradies_glaube

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Paradies: Liebe [Paradise: Love] (2012)

Paradies: Liebe
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Writer: Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Cast: Margarete Tiesel, Peter Kazungu, Inge Maux, Gabriel Mwarua, Carlos Mkutano, Maria Hofstätter, Melanie Lenz
Part of: The Paradise Trilogy

Plot:
Teresa (Margarete Tiesel) leaves her teenaged daughter Melanie (Melanie Lenz) with her friend (Maria Hofstätter) and goes on holiday to Kenya with her friend Inge (Inge Maux). Part of her motivation to go is to find herself a young Kenyan for sex, love and connection. Initially hesitant, she soon does find a guy – Gabriel (Gabriel Mwarua). And then another. But being a Sugar Mama isn’t actually what she’s looking for.

Ugh. Paradies: Liebe is a really good film – which makes it extremely hard to watch. (Which is exactly what you should expect from an Ulrich Seidl movie.) Difficult subject matter, excellent cast and set in scene.

paradies_liebe

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Böse Buben / Fiese Männer (Bad Boys / Hideous Men)

Böse Buben / Fiese Männer
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Based on: David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Cast: Georg Friedrich, Wolfgang Pregler, Lars Rudolph, René Rupnik, Nabil Saleh, Michael Thomas, Michael Tregor
Part of: Wiener Festwochen

Plot:
A bleak cellar. Seven men meet there. They exercise, they talk – less to each other than about themselves, slowly opening up more about their very private concerns, their obsessions, their fantasies and also revealing the very seedy underbelly of the (Austrian?) male.

This whole productions is very mixed. There are moments that are really fantastic, but more often than not it ends in drudgery. Especially whenever they depart from the original David Foster Wallace texts.

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