Radio Dreams (2016)

Radio Dreams
Director: Babak Jalali
Writer: Babak Jalali, Aida Ahadiany
Cast:  Mohsen Namjoo, Boshra Dastournezhad, Bella WardaAli TahbazMahmood SchrickerMohammad Talani, Sulyman QardashSiddique AhmedRaby Adib, Lars Ulrich
Part of: surprise Viennale preview
Seen on: 13.8.2016
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Pars Radio is the Bay Area’s Persian language radio station. They have a big day ahead of them: They are visited by the first Afghan rock band Kabul Dreams (Sulyman Qardash, Siddique Ahmed, Raby Adib) who are supposed to meet up with Metallica at the station to jam. But nobody knows exactly when Metallica might arrive and they still have a lot of more or less scheduled program to go through, putting station manager Hamid (Mohsen Namjoo) under quite a lot of stress as he butts heads with pretty much everybody else there.

Radio Dreams was a very funny film in a quiet way, and a great look at a subculture that allows for many political topics to be present. I enjoyed it, though I didn’t absolutely love it.

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Anomalisa (2015)

Anomalisa
Director: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
Based on: his play
Cast: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 5.11.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Michael Stone (David Thewlis) is traveling to a reading of his successful book on customer service. Despite his wife and kid at home and his successful career, he feels empty though. Everything seems the same, everyone seems the same. As he arrives in Cincinnati, he debates with himself whether he should contact his ex-girlfriend who lives there. But it’s not until he meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that some excitement seems to come into his life.

I liked Anomalisa, but it didn’t blow me away as much as it seems to have most people. It’s a good film, but I’m nowhere near falling over myself from excitement.

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Réalité [Reality] (2014)

Réalité
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Writer: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Kyla Kenedy, Alain Chabat, Jonathan Lambert, Élodie Bouchez, Jon Heder, Eric Wareheim, John Glover, Lola Delon, Matt Battaglia, Michel Hazanavicius, Roxane Mesquida
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 5.11.2015

Plot:
Jason Tantra (Alain Chabat) wants to shoot a film, while working as a camera man on a cooking show with a host in a rat costume, Dennis (Jon Heder), who constantly complains about skin rash. Nevertheless Tantra thinks he is the ideal protagonist. The producer Bob Marshall (Jonathan Lambert) is interested in Tantra’s project, but he has one condition before he really puts his support into it: Tantra has 48 hours to find the perfect groan of pain to really sell the film. In the meantime, Reality (Kyla Kenedy) and her father (Matt Battaglia) shoot a hog on the inside of which, Reality finds a videotape. But maybe Reality is just the protagonist of Bob’s other movie venture, which is directed by the eccentric Zog (John Glover). And maybe her school director Henri’s (Eric Wareheim) dream of moving through town in women’s clothes isn’t actually a dream, explaining why Reality would see him. But if Reality and Henri are characters in Zog’s film, how can Henri be in therapy with Tantra’s wife Alice (Élodie Bouchez)?

So far I liked all Dupieux films I’ve seen, although Wrong Cops left an increasingly sour aftertaste and all of them had some part I found a little problematic. With Réalité that problematic bit was missing. Instead it was a glorious exercise in meta level fuckery.

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The Shaman (2015)

The Shaman
Director: Marco Kalantari
Writer: Marco Kalantari
Cast: Danny Shayler, David Sayers, Susanne Wuest
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 4.11.2015

Plot:
In the future a global war has broken out, a war that is thought with the help of giant battle machines who come with their own AI. But at the same time that technology has seen this giant leap, there has also been a resurgence of magical knowledge, in particular shamanism. Shamans like Joshua (Danny Shayler) believe that everything has a soul, even objects like the battle machines. Thus they become the best weapon against battle machines through the dangerous process of converting their souls.

The Shaman is an interesting mix of technology and spiritualism and with it of science fiction and fantasy. But it feels that to me like the concept was a little much for a short film – I felt a little overwhelmed by it all. But that doesn’t make the idea less interesting or the special effects less good. I’m just not a hundred percent sold on it.

the-shaman

Einer von uns [One of Us] (2015)

Einer von uns
Director: Stephan Richter
Writer: Stephan Richter
Cast: Jack Hofer, Simon Morzé, Christopher Schärf, Dominic Marcus Singer, Birgit Linauer, Andreas Lust, Markus Schleinzer, Rainer Wöss
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 3.11.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
A young boy is shot in a supermarket. Just before that happens, the summer holidays stretch seemingly endlessly before Julian (Jack Hofer). In his small town there is barely any place to hang out for teenagers like him, they usually meet in the supermarket parking lot. That’s where Julian meets Marko (Simon Morzé) who just returned from a youth detention center, and through Marko Victor (Christopher Schärf) who is older but likes to be the big guy amid the teenagers. There is not much else that one can aspire to where they live. Select few, like Michael (Dominic Marcus Singer) find a job – in Michael’s case in the supermarket. For the local police, especially for Georg (Rainer Wöss), the teens who are hanging out are an eyesore that should be banned. In the summer heat all of these things come together in an explosive mix.

Einer von uns is more or less based on an actual shooting that happened in Lower Austria in 2009, where the police shot a 14-year-old dead in a supermarket and injured a 16-year-old. Instead of reconstructing the particular events of that shooting, Einer von uns attempts to explain how such a shooting could happen with fictional characters in a real story. It’s a sensitive, critical and thoughtful attempt that I can only recommend watching.

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99 Homes (2014)

99 Homes
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Writer: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, Clancy Brown, Tim Guinee, Noah Lomax
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is trying his best to keep the family home together where he lives with his mother Lynn (Laura Dern) and his son Connor (Noah Lomax). But work has been sparse and now they are threatened with foreclosure. After a last attempt at court, Dennis finds the police and bank representative Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) in front of his house, putting him and his family on the street. Dennis is at a complete loss, but by chance he actually finds a job with Rick who doesn’t exactly work above the line in all places and rakes in quite a profit.

99 Homes is a well made film that is quite clear in its criticism of capitalism – which is much appreciated. But it’s also a film that is a little too hopeless for my taste.

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Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis [Mrs. Dane’s Confession] (1921)

Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis
Director: Michael Curtiz (then still Michael Kertész)
Writer: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Lucy Doraine, Alphons Fryland, Otto Treßler, Kurt von Lessen, Harry De Loon
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2015

Plot:
Dorothy (Lucy Doraine) awakens next to a body and is immediately arrested. Grilled by the police who accuse her of the murder, she protests that she’s innocent. Bit by bit Dorothy’s memories are pieced together, starting with the death of her parents and how she came under the tutelage of her uncle. But her seemingly safe life is derailed when she is saved from an attempted kidnapping by a dashing man. Unfortunately he is not really after her but her money.

Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis unfortunately didn’t manage to impress me, despite the nice presentation with a pianist who accompanied the film live.

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Not Wanted (1949)

Not Wanted
Director: officially Elmer Clifton, actually Ida Lupino
Writer: Paul Jarrico, Ida Lupino
Cast: Sally Forrest, Keefe Brasselle, Leo Penn, Dorothy Adams, Wheaton Chambers, Rita Lupino, Ruth Clifford
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2015

Plot:
Sally (Sally Forest) works as a waitress, the only place where she can get out from under the wings of her protective family. When she meets pianist Steve (Leo Penn) while out with her friends, she falls in love. Steve seems to like her, too, but a short while later he announces that he has to move to the city. Before he does, the two sleep together. After he moved, Sally doesn’t hear from him anymore, but she does realize that she is pregnant. She runs away to the city, half hoping that Steve will change his mind, half trying to escape her now tainted reputation.

Not Wanted is a film that is packed to the brim with social critique, sensitivity and political thinking, but also wonderful characters that you just feel for, perfectly straddling the line between particularities necessary for a story and the universalism that is expressed through that particular story.

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K (2015)

K
Director: Darhad Erdenibulag, Emyr ap Richard
Writer: Emyr ap Richard
Based on: Franz Kafka‘s The Castle
Cast: Bayaneruul, Jula, Yirgui, Altanochir, Zandaraa, Nomindalai, Aruna
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2015

Plot:
K. (Bayaneruul) arrives in a small village. He received a letter, ordering him there in his function as a land surveyor, but when he arrives, nobody knows about his engagement. He is told that he can’t work unless he gets the permission of “the castle” that governs the village. But all of K.’s attempts to communicate with anybody in charge are destined to fail. As he spends more and more time in the village, he starts a relationship with Frieda (Jula), but he remains a stranger there anyway.

K proves how easily Kafka can be transplanted from one cultural context to another – in this case from early 20th century Czechoslovakia to more or less timeless-modern Mongolia. In both cases it’s an engaging, if not exactly easy piece of media.

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Mistress America (2015)

Mistress America
Director: Noah Baumbach
Writer: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
Cast: Lola Kirke, Greta Gerwig, Matthew ShearHeather Lind, Michael Chernus, Cindy Cheung
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Tracy (Lola Kirke) ist about to start college in New York. She doesn’t know anybody there though and has trouble connecting, especially when she doesn’t make it into the prestigious writer’s club on campus. Her mother suggests that Tracy should call the daughter of the mother’s fiancé, her soon-to-be-stepsister Brooke (Greta Gerwig). Brooke enthusiastically lets Tracy into her life that is quite wild and unusual. Tracy is enraptured by Brooke, Brooke’s life and her myriad plans that never seem to come to any fruition.

If I hadn’t already been in love with Greta Gerwig before Mistress America, I would be now. The film is very good, but she is awesome personified.

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