Archive for July, 2019

American guests have no idea who Sissi is when they visit Bavaria/Austria for the very first time. Much to the (somewhat acted) shock of local guides, who refer to her quite a lot and then dramatically shout: “You mean: you don’t know Sissiiiiii ?”

The classic Sissy trilogy is not known to American audiences. There’s an abbreviated English dubbed version which is terrible. So never – ever – watch Sissi: Forever My Love. Just watch the original trilogy, in German, with subtitles.

Growing up in Europe, this trilogy is shown almost every year on several tv channels around christmas. Its success is a bit like The Sound Of Music, which was never popular in Austria and Bavaria by the way. Maybe a new generation has never seen the movies, but if you’re over forty, you must have at least seen parts of it.

The first movie: Sissi *** is still a great joy to watch. Camp isn’t the correct term. It’s more cheesy and corny. It’s a idealized portrait of the future Austrian empress from the moment she first meets Franz Joseph to her wedding. It’s a romcom that still works well 7 decades later. There is some efficient slapstick humor, the acting is deliberately over the top, Romy Schneider looks gorgeous and it has all the elements of a fairytale: the bold and adventurous princess, the charming prince (well…) and the evil stepmother. It’s really not a bad movie at all.

In Sissi, die junge Kaiserin **(*), there’s less comedy (although there are attempts) and more drama. Sissi is empress now and has a hard time with the strict life at court. When her first-born is taken away from her, she flees home. Time for Franz Joseph to gain her back. No wedding at the end, no divorce either. But the (very long) crowning of the couple as king and queen of Hungary. Lots of patriotism in this episode. Lots of postcard settings in cities and nature. Lots of Romy looking exactly how everyone wants to remember the empress.

Sissi, Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin ** is the third installment and the worst. Even though the first two movies were also not historically correct, they weren’t so historically incorrect as this one. This is pure fiction at times. The comic relief is gone and it just basically shows Sissi abroad. First during her lengthy stay in Hungary, then her trips to Madeira and Corfu (to cure from a lung infection) and then her trip home via Milan and Venice. This must have been like watching the Travel Channel back in the fifties, but anno 2019 it’s not really fascinating. Especially since all these nationalities are introduced in the most stereotypical way possible. No. This is not a good one, but Romy Schneider is absolutely gorgeous in every single scene. So. Watch it while doing something else. Like reading online what really happened to Sissi and Franz Joseph.

 

 

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Sarajevo – **

Posted: July 28, 2019 in 2014, Austria, biopic, Germany, Terrorist, War, WW1, XX

This whodunnit … or rather who-ordered-it-to-have-it-done starts off really well. It focuses on one of the most important historical moments in recent history: the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

The protagonist is Leo Pfeffer, the magistrate in charge of the investigation. The case is quite simple really. Gavrilo Princip shot him after an earlier attempt to kill the archduke by other Serbian terrorists failed. They even arrested the murderer and he confessed. So what’s there to investigate?

Well, according to this movie a lot. Like, who ordered this murder? In history class we learn that a group of Serbian anarchists did it. But did they get the order from the Serbian government? Or … did they get the order from German (business) leaders who just wanted to start a war ?

The movie is good. Well acted. Well directed. Well told. BUT it’s focussing too much on the latter assumption. It’s an interesting thought and it’s true that Europe was eager to go to war (at least the German leaders), but we get the point after a while. There’s also a love story, which most likely is pure fictional and was just added for the drama. It’s well thought of, but it does bother the storytelling a bit. The conversations between the characters also feel like these characters know what the future will look like. Which they didn’t.

Still. Worth the watch. And it’s on youtube

www.imdb.com/title/tt3691446

 

Three young adults learn at the age of 19 that they are triplets. They all were born on the same day, all look alike and were all adopted.

This happened in the early eighties and at the time, the triplets were popular guests on all kinds of talk shows, telling their story of finally being reunited.

But soon questions arose: why were they separated?

There are plenty stories of twins being separated at birth (check out the Dutch movie De Tweeling (Twin Sisters), but this one feels utterly unjust as it was all planned and part of a science project. A vile, unethical, but intriguing study, of which the results have never been published.

This documentary tries to unravel some of the mystery around this story. And does it really well. It’s a great example of how you can make a documentary, following the script rules of good cinema. The editing is really well done and the whole build up is great, with some surprises as well. And all that with just some interviews, some vintage footage and some re-enacted scenes.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7664504

Weird.

A director from the French-speaking part of Belgium made a movie about the life of Jewish businessmen in Germany, just after the end of the second world war.

The international title is Bye Bye Germany, which isn’t really a good translation of the original title. It should have been Once Upon A Time In Germany. The English title however explains a bit more about what the movie is all about though.

After having been rescued from the camps, the remaining Jews in Germany wanted to leave to the USA or (then) Palestine as soon as possible. Some of them decided to stay in Germany and do a little business to make money before emigrating. One of them was David Bermann, who – together with a group of aspiring emigrants – starts selling linen to the Germans. Any trick in the book was worth the try and they did succeed in making good money fast.

However, the memories of the atrocities of the war are still very fresh and not everyone can put the past behind them as easy as some others. Bermann himself on the other hand seems to only look at the future. Until an American investigator invites him to explain why his name is in a lot of Nazi documents. Was Bermann a traitor? Was he a collaborator? Or is he just a con, lying and cheating in order to survive?

The premise sounds intriguing, but the movie is a bit of a bore. There’s not a good balance between the storyline of the Jewish people trying to survive after the war and the storyline of the investigation. It starts of great though, with a lot of details on how these Jewish door-to-door salesmen managed to sell their goods. But then the focus shifts to the interrogation. The director decided to let Bermann explain what happened to him, accompanied with flashback scenes. Probably because he wants the audience to also doubt if the stories are true or not. But somehow that doesn’t really work that well.

Interesting, but not memorable. It wasn’t a success in Germany. Neither will it be in the rest of the world. It does look good though.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5609734/

Disappointing.

In November 2008, Mumbai experienced a series of terrorist attacks, amongst which one at the famous Taj hotel. This Australian production tells that story.

Somehow it just doesn’t work. If this were fictitious it would be a lousy action thriller. But it’s based on true events, so it’s even worse. It’s really bizarre, because it feels like an action thriller. The kind with Sylvester Stallone or JC Van Damme. Not the kind with Bruce Willis.

There’s a lot of shooting and – spoiler alert – almost everyone dies. So, knowing this, it’s kind of sad to realize that you don’t have time to care about any of these victims. Either the victims are nameless extras. Or they are stereotypical characters like the nasty Russian or the ignorant American. The director decided to create more empathy for the terrorists than for the people stuck in the hotel! How bizarre is that? There’s this one scene where one of the terrorists calls home, hurt because he is shot in the leg and crying. He asks his dad if the leaders of his organization have already donated the money. So, wait a minute, you want us, audience, to feel like money was the reason for the kid to do these horrific killings and we should feel his regret and doubt because he is crying? Ehm. No.

This movie didn’t do well at the box office and wasn’t released in India (yet). Let’s keep it that way.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5461944

Aladdin – **

Posted: July 24, 2019 in 2019, Children/Family, Fantasy, USA, XX

Visually a blast, this is quite an entertaining movie.

However. This live adaption of the animation classic is very flawed.

First there’s the setting. This is supposed to be an Arab folktale. Yet, it feels like the movie is made in Punjab or so. The market kinda looks middle eastern maybe. But the whole atmosphere is more Bollywood than anything else.

Also, why on earth would a Scandinavian-like prince speak with a German accent and look for an Arab princess to marry back in whatever era this tale is supposed to take place? Sure, it’s a fairytale, but even fairytales should make sense.

Then there’s the acting. It’s not good.

And finally, the music sucks. There are way too many songs and they all sound dull. About from that one hit maybe (A Whole New World).

However, as mentioned before. It’s an entertaining movie that doesn’t bore a bit. It baffles and annoys.

Makes you want to watch the animation movie though.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6139732

Nobody’s Fool

Posted: July 24, 2019 in 2018, Comedy, USA

This is terrible.

How can a movie with Tiffany Haddish, Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Rock be so unfunny. There are NO laughs whatsoever. Not one. Who is this movie made for? Is there an audience for this?

The acting is TER.RI.BLE !

But then again, the dialogue and the story suck.

Ambitious businesswoman and emotional wreck Danica has been online ‘dating’ some dude in an oil rig that she’s never seen before. All they do is call and talk sweet talk. There are two other men in her life, but she only cares for this ‘ghost’. The owner of a coffee shop is a nice flirt, but she refuses to go on a date with him And not so long ago, she was dumped by her long term boyfriend weeks before their marriage.

Enter her sister, who is just released from jail and who will stirs things up. Even calling the guys from Catfish (yes, the MTV show) to do their research on the oil rig guy.

Again, this is TERRIBLE. 

www.imdb.com/title/tt8097306