Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Woman In Gold – **

Posted: August 16, 2019 in 2015, Courtroom, Drama, UK, USA, XX

Gustav Klimt’s Portrait Of Adèle Bloch Bauer was hanging at the Belvedere in Vienna for several decades until a family member of the model claimed it back.

It’s an amazing story. Based on true facts. Adèle Bloch Bauer was a model for one of the most important Austrian painters. Her husband commissioned the portrait and it hung in their house for many years. Until the Nazi’s took over control in Vienna and the paintings were confiscated. The portrait was brought to the Belvedere, which is one of the many art museums in Austria’s capital.

Jump ahead to the late nineties when Austria starts to talk about giving back paintings to those families that the nazis stole it from. Unfortunately for the Austrians, there’s a niece of Adèle Block Bauer living in Los Angeles who wants the painting of her aunt back. She gets the help of a young lawyer, also of Jewish-Austrian descent, and an Austrian journalist who wants to come to terms with the country’s nazi past.

It’s an okay movie. The story intrigues and Helen Mirren is quite charming in the main lead. She created a character that entertains throughout the entire story. Also good are the flashbacks to the time of when the painting was made and the time of the nazi takeover. But unfortunately the focus is on the court case and that’s a tad boring.

Not sure what Austrians think about this movie…

www.imdb.com/title/tt2404425

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A guided tour of the Leopoldmuseum in Vienna by an art historian who raved about Egon Schiele. That’s all it takes to start watching the biopic that was made of the famous Austrian painter a few years ago.

It’s an interesting movie. It’s well acted, somehow historically correct and it shows the complexity of the artist without really judging him. That said, it’s also quite superficial. And romantic. Egon Schiele was not a handsome guy, yet he’s interpreted by Noah Saavedra – who apart from being an actor also works as a model. This feels wrong. Like having Brad Pitt or so play Van Gogh. However, the guy does an excellent job by keeping you intrigued for the entire length of the movie. Same for Valerie Pachner, who plays his muse and (eternal) lover Wally.

It’s a love story really, but a good one. Without a happy end of course. They all die. And that’s not a spoiler. The title is referring to one of his most famous paintings. A painting which is quite disturbing, something this movie (unfortunately) never does. So Egon Schiele himself would probably not like it at all. But oh well, he died 100 years ago…

www.imdb.com/title/tt4558396

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.

 

 

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/

1956, East-Berlin. Two students of a class finishing high school are able to sneak into West-Berlin to see a movie. The wall separating both parts of Berlin hasn’t been erected yet and it’s still possible to visit the other part. However, at the movie theatre they learn about a revolt in Budapest agains the Russian occupiers and once back in East-Berlin they inform their fellow classmates about the different reporting about what’s going on in Hungary.

The entire class decides to keep silent for 2 minutes in respect for what’s going on in Hungary. But the silly act isn’t met with much comprehension from their teacher and soon the principal and higher officials are informed. Keeping silent for 2 minutes as a protest is considered a political act and the consequences will be severe.

The story is based on true events, which makes the movie more intriguing than if it were pure fiction. It’s a history lesson and worth watching, but the storytelling isn’t that compelling and the acting or directing isn’t that extraordinary either. It does give you an idea of what life was like in the mid fifties in East Berlin, but it’s all pretty superficial. It’s a warning against propaganda and it does give some insight as to why a lot of people in the DDR were okay with being in the DDR. But it doesn’t really dig deep.

The book was probably better than the movie.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6576556

Gräns – **(*)

Posted: July 20, 2019 in 2018, Fantasy, Romance, Sweden, XX1/2

Not half as bizarre as critics want you to believe, this romantic drama will keep you intrigued until the very end.

Tina looks different. She’s been told that it’s due to a mistake in the chromosome system. She has some traits that others don’t have though. She can smell emotions and feels much more united with nature. She works at customs and can ‘sniff’ out those passengers with illegal merchandise. Then, one day, she meets a passenger that seems to suffer from the same medical injustice. It turns her world upside down. He claims not to be human.

It’s a movie about a troll woman figuring out who she really is. And it’s a good movie. Sure, there are some scenes that may be disturbing, but they fit the narrative. It’s a bit predictable though. You may not smell it, but you can still anticipate what’s coming. Maybe that’s why in the end it’s a bit disappointing, after having read all the raving reviews.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5501104/?

Three more episodes of this fascinating series of standalone near future dramatic thrillers. Not so thrilling or scary or thought provoking as before, but a good watch nevertheless.

Striking Vipers (***) isn’t half as scary as other episodes. In fact, the technological novelty kinda looks appealing. It’s a virtual reality game console that makes you become the character you chose. The idea could be frightening, but this time the makers turned it around and made it something more sexual and romantic. Quite intriguing. Well acted.

In Smithereens (**) a man kidnaps an employee of a major social network company in order to be able to speak to the founder of the company. He manages to do so and the end is a bit of a disappointment. It’s the kind of kidnapping show that makes you wonder why the person being kidnapped is not cooperating with the police to being rescued.

Miley Cyrus plays an unhappy pop star in Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too (**). Her manager controls every aspect of her life and just wants the business to boom. Just as a new A.I. lookalike robot is launched on the market, things get ugly. But thanks to one of the robots and the owners of it, the pop star is saved.

www.imdb.com/title/tt2085059/episodes