Rimini (2022)

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

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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The Lodge (2019)

The Lodge
Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Writer: Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
Cast: Riley Keough, Jaeden Martell, Lia McHugh, Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 19.9.2019

Grace (Riley Keough) plans to spend Christmas with her fiancé Richard (Richard Armitage) and his two children Aiden (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh) in their lodge. It’s supposed to be a way for the children and Grace to get to know each other better and to get used to each other a little more – especially because the kids don’t accept her. But Richard has to leave for work, leaving Grace alone with the children. They get snowed in to boot. And their relationship is put to a hard test when strange things start happening around them.

After Ich seh, ich seh, Fiala and Franz had a lot to live up to and with The Lodge, they absolutely did. It’s an atmospheric, gorgeous and above all gripping film that will have your eyes glued to the screen.

The film poster showing a window from a cabin in the snow, three blurry humans can be seen inside.
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The Field Guide to Evil (2018)

The Field Guide to Evil
Segment 1: Die Trud [The Sinful Women of Höllfall]
Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Writer: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Cast: Marlene Hauser, Birgit Minichmayr, Karin Pauer, Luzia Oppermann
Segment 2: Al Karisi [Haunted by Al Karisi]
Director: Can Evrenol
Writer: Elif Domanic, Can Evrenol
Cast: Naz Sayiner, Sureyya Kucuk
Segment 3: Kindler i dziewica [The Kindler and the Virgin]
Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Writer: Robert Bolesto
Cast: Andrzej Konopka, Kordian Kadziela
Segment 4: The Melon Heads
Director: Calvin Reeder
Writer: Calvin Reeder
Cast: Sarah Navratil, Jilon VanOver, Claude Duhamel, Paul Ford, Kannon Hicks
Segment 5: What Ever Happened to Panagas the Pagan?
Director: Yannis Veslemes
Writer: Yannis Veslemes
Cast: Vangelis Mourikis, Antonis Tsiotsiopoulos, Vasilis Kamitsis, Panagiotis Papadopoulos, Nikos Dallas
Segment 6: Palace of Horrors
Director: Ashim Ahluwalia
Writer: Ashim Ahluwalia
Cast: Niharika Singh
Segment 7: A Nocturnal Breath
Director: Katrin Gebbe
Writer: Katrin Gebbe, Silvia Wolkan
Cast: Thomas Schubert, Lili Epply
Segment 8: The Cobblers’ Lot
Director: Peter Strickland
Writer: Peter Strickland
Cast: Fatma Mohamed, Károly Hajduk, László Konter, Péter Jankovics
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2018

The Field Guide to Evil collects eight different segments from eight different countries that all build from a local legend. As usual with anthology films, Field Guide to Evil is a mixed bag of beans. There are some very good segments, but also some that didn’t really work for me. But I would say, it’s worth seeing because the good parts are really very good.

The film poster showing a young woman lying on her back, her eyes rolled back, her mouth open with a man's hand at her chin.

[More about each of the segments after the jump.]

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Safari (2016)

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

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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Ich seh, Ich seh [Goodnight Mommy] (2014)

Ich seh, Ich seh (German version of “I spy with my little eye”, literally “I see, I see”)
Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Writer: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Cast: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz
Part of: /slash Filmfestival (Suprise Movie X)
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Lukas (Lukas Schwarz) and Elias (Elias Schwarz) spend their summer playing in and around the rather lonely country house at which their mother (Susanne Wuest) is recuperating from cosmetic surgery. But their initially idyllic summer is disrupted when the twins start to doubt that their mother is actually their mother. It seems that someone or something else came back from that surgery.

A few months ago I saw a testscreening of the still unfinished film and was less than convinced by it. It seemed decent enough, but nothing to write home about. The finished product, though, is another beast entirely. It is a tense, gripping and absolutely fantastic piece of cinema.


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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.]

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.



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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)

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.



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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)

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.


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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

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.


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