Archive for the ‘Austria’ Category

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

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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.

 

 

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

 

Die Fälscher has been on my dvd shelf and in my travel dvd holder for years (some 50 other movies share the same fate), but for some reason it took me until today to finally watch it. It was worth the wait ! What an excellent movie.

Much has to do with the character of Sally Sorowitsch, a most intriguing Jewish counterfeiter who’s arrested by the Nazis and later placed as head of their own money forging business. His will to survive is enormous and if that includes collaborating with the nazis, than so be it. Soon after he’s been placed in a concentration camp he makes it known what his talents are in order to get a (slightly) better treatment than the others. And it works.

Both Karl Markovics (the actor) and Stefan Ruzowitzky (the director) are to be complimented for depicting a believable anti-hero. In fact, the whole cast and production team should be given kudos. The story is interesting, the characters aren’t one-dimensional, the script is well written, a lot of the background information is told with clever images, both explicit and suggestive…

Yeah, nothing to complain about at all. Apart from the soundtrack maybe and the Monte Carlo scenes in the beginning and at the end, which don’t add anything interesting to the story.

Great watch ! A must.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0813547/

Paradies: Hoffnung – **

Posted: December 13, 2013 in 2013, Austria, Dramedy, XX

I absolutely LOVE the way Ulrich Seidl uses the camera! It’s so refreshing to see someone shoot scenes with a camera that stands STILL. It’s all incredibly beautifully framed as well. Very photographic.

I also really LIKE the way Ulrich Seidl just shows scenes as they take place in front of you. It’s very voyeuristic and at times unsettling, but it makes you feel like you are part of the story. It’s hyperrealism. It’s people-watching from your living room (or cinema theatre).

It doesn’t bore. But it doesn’t really excite either.

Part one (in which a single mother goes to Kenya to find herself some exotic boy toy) was funnier. Part two (in which an extremely devote catholic gets confused when her muslim husband returns home) was more depressing. This third part just doesn’t really confront you with anything special. It’s more of the same ‘laughing with sadness’. A fat girl falls in love with an older, fit doctor who rejects her (even though he does feel attracted to her in some way). Sure the pedo-erotic moments are a bit confronting. They feel normal and innocent, even though you expect them to feel wrong. But all the other scenes are just about a girl discovering booze, sexual desires and missing a father figure. Or a parent in general, as she’s trying to get a hold of her mother (who is too busy falling in love with a Kenyan lover boy – see part one).

This trilogy is definitely a must to watch, because it’s like nothing much you’ve seen before. But its originality doesn’t make it a masterpiece.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2371834

 

Paradies : Glaube – *

Posted: November 25, 2013 in 2012, Austria, Drama, Social Drama, X

The middle part of Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy focusses on Anna Maria, the pious sister of Teresa (who goes to Kenya in the first movie to find herself some exotic love). It’s a different type of woman. She got married to a muslim once, but after he got paralyzed and went away to Egypt for a while, she converted to a very strict Opus Dei-like Catholicism. She gathers with other believers to pray for Austria to become catholic again. She goes from door to door with a statue of the virgin Mary to convert sinners. And she has a perverted sexual and sadomasochistic obsession with Jesus. When her husband returns, she gets all confused and her faith becomes even more extreme.

If this sounds TOO MUCH, don’t bother watching. The voyeuristic and humorous aspect of the first movie are gone. So what’s left is a depiction of a very sad lady who lives a very sad life. Even the shocking scenes (an orgy by mentally disabled people in the city park and a masturbation scene with a catholic cross) are sad. That said, it’s well acted again. Both by Maria Hofstätter (an experienced actress) and Nabil Saleh (a random muslim who’s never acted before). And the photography is again awesome.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2371824

Great: the photography (awesome) and the acting of Margarete Tiesel (daring)

Good: the movie’s theme (sex tourism in Kenya) and the way it was presented (very realistic)

Interesting: the fact that none of the characters are good looking or remotely personable.

Weird: the feeling of being a voyeur and the feeling that you’re laughing at a seriously sad subject

Bad: the depiction of Africans (racist) and the African actors (amateur)

 

All in all a weird experience with a lot uncomfortable moments. Very much in your face and very confronting.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1403214/