Archiv der Kategorie: Film

We Won’t Rock You

Film review: Bohemian Rhapsody (Director: Bryan Singer)

By Sascha Krieger

Musicians‘ biopics are not among the least popular fares of cinema but they aren’t without risks either. While the fanbase can usually be counted on to run to the theatres in flocks and – depending on the notoriety of the subjects – the celebrity-curious masses will as well, depictions of beloved stars‘ lives will invariably meet with a long litany of criticisms especially from devoted fans who are bound to find the portrayal of their darlings inadequate. However, as this usually does not to affects at least the initial box office numbers significantly, it was only a matter of time until Freddie Mercury’s life would make its way to the big screen. Mercury, lead singer of the legendary hit factory of bombastic rock anthems that was Queen, is one of the most intriguing figures in the history of popular music: a flamboyant and mesmerising performer with an unmatched voice and unbelievable vocal range, an eccentric and hedonist capturing the desires of many, the curiosity of almost all and the fear of some. And, following his untimely death at the age of 45, an icon in the fight against HIV and AIDS and by proxy against discrimination and for tolerance and diversity.

Image: © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox

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Look Back in Awe

Film review: A Star Is Born (Director: Bradley Cooper)

By Sascha Krieger

A Star Is Born is Hollywood’s own rising from the ashes Cinderella story. The seemingly plain, unrecognized young girl discovered by  a successful yet somewhat desperate man, benevolently lifted by him into the spotlight where the duckling turns into a swan and blossoms and blooms and fullfils all her potential because, well, there was a man to recognize it, help her, make her, while he himself goes down. The films had three incarnations already, the first in the 1930s, the last it the mid-70s, before it was remade again, curiously in year one of the #MeToo era. A chance, of course, to retell the story as an emancipatory tale, focus on the female perspective, level the playing field, re-invent the central couple as partners. There’s just one problem: not only is the director male, he also plays the male protagonist, setting the film up for a level of lopsidedness not easy to overcome. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

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Festival: Around the World in 14 Films 2018 (part 3)

Short reviews of selected films from this year’s festival

By Sascha Krieger

Manbiki kazoku / Shoplifters (Japan / Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda) – Cannes Film Festival

Celebrated Japanese film-maker Hirokazu Kore-eda has made himself a name for tender, subtle, highly observant and quiet family stories, a seismograph for the most essential of social units. Shoplifters, the surprise but wholly deserving winner of the Golden Palm at this year’s Cannes film festival, is no exception. except that the family is highly exceptional. Firstly, it engages in rather unusual behaviour: in a the opening scene, what seems to be a father-son duo expertly and quite poetically steals from a supermarket before they lift a lonely little girl on their way home. Subsequently, it is gradually revealed that the family ties are not exactly what they seem. When something goes wrong and finally the agents of a hitherto almost completely absent outside world enter, efficient and benevolent society does a thorough job in unravelling a family unit that is all their members have, leading to a haunting series of quietly moving final scenes, images mostly, hovering uncertainly between faint hope and shattering desolation.

Image: © 2018 FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK/GAGA CORPORATION/AOI Pro. Inc. All rights reserved.

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Festival: Around the World in 14 Films 2018 (part 2)

Short reviews of selected films from this year’s festival

By Sascha Krieger

The Favourite (UK, Ireland, United States / Director: Yorgos Lanthimos) – Venice Film Festival

Yorgos Lanthimos, the creator of bitter, biting, often very cold allegories on the perversion of (post)modern humanity, has made a costume drama. Two hours later, the most conservative, rule-ridden, comfort-zone-seeking genre will never be the same. The celebrated and much hated Greek film maker tackles it with the force of a hurricane, leaving no stone unturned. On the surface, everything is fine: the sets are as elaborate and injected with a great love of detail as are the costume, the atmosphere of the claustrophobic powder and wig-heavy indoor society that is Baroque England so expertly covered one can almost smell the sweet stench of decay. The story is fictional, some of the characters are not. It takes place in the court of Queen Anne, the forgotten queen between the first Elizabeth and the only Victoria. In the film, she builds around herself a circle of female friends and confidantes: first the resolute, tactically relentless uber-politician Lady Sarah (with biting force: Rachel Weisz), later the fallen former Aristocrate and now servant (though not for long) Abigail (quickly turning from innocent to witty to coldly scheming: Emma Stone). Together they fight the patriarchy by mirroring it: they’re tougher, more ruthless, less scrupulous and a lot more radical than their male counterparts. So much so that ultimately they turn against each other in one of the more epic and brutal battle of wits, minds and bodies you’ve ever seen in film.

Image: © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox

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Festival: Around the World in 14 Films 2018 (part 1)

Short reviews of selected films from this year’s festival

By Sascha Krieger

Se rokh / Three Faces (Iran / Director: Jafar Panahi) – Cannes Film Festival

In 2010, Jafar Panahi was banned from making films for 20 years. Three Faces is the fourth film he’s made since. This time, after being caught in a taxi or his own house, he has a little more room: he haunts his home region, the villages his family came from, a safer place for him than Tehran. Not a freer one though, as his film shows. The beginning is stark: a horizontal cell phone video shot by a girl apparently committing suicide. „This is not a film“, his first post-ban effort was called, „we’re not making a film“, Panahi keeps saying during this one – the beginning makes this statement, too, loud and clear. There is a documentary feel to this film, a sense of uncertainty representative of Panahi’s situation, of the female protagonists of the film – who all bear their real names – and the society depicted. It is a patriarchal one, full of often absurd rules such as the elaborate honking ritual to ensure safe passage on a narrow mountain road when it would be so much easier to just make it wider. Panahi depicts such episodes with glee, with a sly humour and a lightness of touch that astonishes.

Image: © Jafar Panahi Film Production

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The Mess of J.K. Rowling

Film review – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Director: David Yates)

By Sascha Krieger

Sometimes, a film’s problems start with its title. The latest instalment in J.K. Rowling’s cinematic wizard universe that was once centred around a boy named Harry Potter, is a fine example of that. It locates the film within the bounds of the story of famed beast researcher Newt Scamander – known from the textbook used by Harry and his fellow Hogwarts pupils – and at the same time anchors it firmly in the previous series‘ battle between good and evil, with the title character having been established there as a predecessor of „Dark Lord“ Voldemort’s and the first arch-enemy of the embodiment of good, Albus Dumbledore. What is it going to be? A somewhat quirky tale about a highly wird loner and idealist and animal lover or a dark parable about evil invading the world and the desperate attempt to fight it? While the first film already struggled with these conflicting forces, the second one quickly capitulates. It starts with a high-speed battle, showing off the films CGI capabilities as well as its arrival in the world of 3D as though it were 2005. A show of strength without much necessity to the story. Filling time, killing time, awing the audience.

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To Feel or not to Feel

Film review: The Children Act (Director: Richard Eyre)

By Sascha Krieger

In Ian McEwen’s 2014 novel The Children Act, a venerable judge faces a difficult case: a 17-year-old boy suffering from leukemia need blood transfusions in order to survive. He and his parents, however, are Jehova’s Witnesses and their faith forbids this procedure. The judge decides that the minor’s welfare is of the utmost importance and allows the hospital to conduct the transfusions against the patient’s will. Case closed. Or not: because the decision has effects on the boy, later the young man, and ultimately the judge, too. Her refusal to accept them has catastrophic consequences. The book deals with the clash of morals and law, the murkiness of the former and the supposed clarity of the latter, in an earnest way that however, tends to use the thick brush when it really matters. The conflict becomes a little too dramatic, the childlessness of the protagonist too pronounced, the parallel storylines of the court case and its aftermath on the one hand and a marriage in crisis on the other, feel a little to construed. At times, the novel feels more like a mixture of legal case study and tear-jerking newspaper story. Not a failure but a little to bloodless (!) to rank among McEwen’s best.

Image: © 2018 Concorde Filmverleih GmbH

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Die Stille nach dem Knall

Filmkritik: Jusqu’à la garde (Nach dem Urteil) (Regie: Xavier Legrand)

Von Sascha Krieger

Ein getrenntes Ehepaar sitzt vor einer Familienrichterin. Es geht um Unterhalt und das Sorge- und Umgangsrecht für die Kinder, vor allem den 11-jährigen Julien. Die Richterin liest eine Aussage des Jungen vor, in dem dieser ausdrücklich keinen Umgang mit dem Vater fordert. Die Anwältinnen tragen ihre Argumente vor. Die Richterin vertagt die Entscheidung. Regiedebütant Xavier Legrand filmt diese Eingangsszene mit kalter Präszision. Zunächst ist nur die Richterin zu sehen, dann die Eheleute. Erstarrte Gesichter, sich mühevoll zusammenhalten. Einander nahe und doch Welten getrennt. Die Spannung in diesem nüchternen Raum der Fakten und des Rechts ist für den Zuschauer spür-, ja beinahe greifbar. Sie ist in den kalten, entsättigten Farben der kühlen Symmetrie, den zum Zerreißen gespannten Körpern. Das Ende einer Beziehung, wie es sich viel zu oft abspielt: als Kampf um die Wahrheit und die Kontrolle über den jeweils Anderen. Und ein Ringen zwischen Macht und Machtlosigkeit. Wer hat ihr die Oberhand? Die taktierende, rachsüchtige Frau (Léa Drucker) oder der verzweifelt um sein Kind kämpfende Vater (Denis Menochet)? Oder: die unterdrückte Miriam und Mutter misshandelter Kinder oder der herrschsüchtige, gewalttätige Antoine? Es bleibt offen, doch die Zündschnur ist gelegt.

01_Nach_dem_Urteil

Bild: ©KG_Productions

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Bruchstück Mensch

Filmkritik: Gundermann (Regie: Andreas Dresen)

Von Sascha Krieger

„Der Kollege hat den Vor- und Nachteil, dass er ausspricht, was er denkt.“ Trocken fallen diese Worte in die triste Runde einer betrieblichen Parteisitzung, ausgesprochen von einer älteren Baggerfahrerin im Lausitzer Braunkohletagebau irgendwann in den 1970er Jahren. Sie gelten einem Mann mit langer blonder Mähne und viel zu großen Brillengläsern, der stets ein wenig neben sich selbst und seiner Welt scheint. Alexander Scheer, der Schauspielextremist und Verwandlungsberserker des deutschsprachigen Schauspiels und Films ist Gerhard Gundermann, Sänger, Baggerfahrer, Kommunist, Dissident, Stasi-Mann, Mythos. Einer, bei dem man immer das Gegenteil mitzudenken hat, weil er stets schwarz und weiß war. Ein Mann des Widerspruchs – in sich und mit der Welt. Andreas Dresen, der der Figur Gundermann vor 35 Jahren erstmals begegnete und sich seitdem von ihr nicht loslassen lässt, hat sein Leben verfilmt. Nein, falsch. Er hat Alexander Scheer in diesen zerklüfteten Charakter hineinkriechen, Fragmente einer sich nicht verstehen lassen wollenden Persönlichkeit konstruieren lassen. Was herauskommt, ist ein Film des Widerspruchs, in dem nichts zusammenpasst und sich alles zu einander fügt. Der keinen Sinn ergibt und gerade darin Bedeutung findet. Ein zerrissener Film über einen zerrissenen Menschen und eine zerrissene Zeit.

Bild: Peter Hartwig / Pandora Film

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Opening Doors

Film review: Love, Simon (Director: Greg Berlanti)

By Sascha Krieger

First of all: Love, Simon’s greatest achievement is that it was made. Believe it or not, the film is Hollywood’s first teenage film slash comedy with a gay protagonist. Ever. Its director Greg Berlanti has been a trailblazer in bringing gay topics to screens outside the „indie“ field, starting with the wildly successful 1990s teen TV blockbuster Dawson’s Creek, where as the showrunner he insisted in introducing a gay couple, even threatening to resign if it wasn’t included. Now he’s opened teen popcorn cinema to the fact that a significant percentage of its depicted group – and target group – loves members of their own sex. The fact that this is worth mentioning and even regarded as revolutionary in 2018, is not something to be proud about for Hollywood. That it has finally been done is at least a silver lining.

Image: © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox

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