Archiv der Kategorie: Film

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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These Shoes Are too Big for Walking

Film review – Solo: A Star Wars Story (Director: Ron Howard)

By Sascha Krieger

It’s almost as if the film wants to exorcise its, to put it mildly, difficult creation process. Its initial directors were fired halfway through, Ron Howard took over, making sure that at least top-level craftsmanship would be guaranteed. After a few minutes all of this is forgotten. Solo: A Star Wars Story charges out of the gate as if there was no tomorrow. A breathless chase, a few life-or-death confrontations, a love story, a miniature war movie thrown in for good measure and finally a memorable first meeting of  two beloved characters. The film’s first part is so fast-paced and breathless that viewers can easily forget how little things fit together, how much is constructed of set pieces cobbled together from various genres. Plausible characters? Who needs them? A consistent direction? That’s for losers! A goal for what is essentially a quest-based adventure movie, an Indiana Jones in space (the irony that said character was made famous by the man who originally played the title character in this one is not lost)? Overrated. Ron Howard knows how to build suspense, he masterfully erects a gritty, dirty, darkish world, an underworld really, and is an expert in keeping his audience entertained. There is no second that’s really boring, chiefly because Howard piles action sequence upon action sequence upon, well, you will guess it by now.

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That Awkward Age

Film review: Lady Bird (Director: Greta Gerwig)

By Sascha Krieger

Adolescence is the time when the individual emerges from the child, a process which involves emancipating oneself from one’s parents, frequently leading to clashes and a once close relationship being so utterly transformed that it can threaten to fall apart completely. This is summarized in Lady Bird’s opening scene: The titular, 17-year-old character and her mother share a moment of mutual happiness during a car ride before an entirely inconsequential disagreement leads to a rather radical separation. A scene which in its miniature characterisation of two strong, stubborn and equally vulnerable and confused women as well as its bitingly sharp humour epitomizes Greta Gerwig’s way of seeing the world and women’s place in it with which she has infused all her characters and which she now brings to her directorial debut. In Saoirse Ronan who invests her Lady Bird with a mixture of stubborn determination and fragile lack of direction and Laurie Metcalfe’s hard-shell and utterly lost mother, Gerwig has tow actresses carrying the film who take the Gerwig model a step further, adding a strength and roughness to it Gerwig’s own characters seldom have. The quirky sense of humour, the contradicting waywardness of characters caught in some sort of in-between and their essential awkwardness remain.

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Summer of Life

Film review: Call Me by Your Name (Director: Luca Guadagnino)

By Sascha Krieger

Soft sunlight drenches the village somewhere in northern Italy when Oliver arrives. The handsome American in his mid-20s immediately catches the eye of 17-year-old Elio, the son of the archeology professor Oliver has come to assist for six weeks. Luca Guadagnino’s celebrated film opens right with that first glance Elio can direct at the „usurper“ as he calls him on account of living in Elio’s room for the duration of his stay. The camera follows Elio’s eyes, filming Oliver’s arrival from the upstairs window Elio watches it from. Camera angles and focus play a key part in the way the film tells its story: The camera eye looks from above or below, faces quickly slide out of and into focus, partial views change with tha camera moving away, characters often moving into the foreground from a distance or remaining them. Shots over the shoulder are common, foreground and background swap places. The film thus mirrors the economy of looks and glances that the budding relationship of Elio and Oliver is built on, the maze of attraction and refusal, the slow and confusing process of understanding. The way they look at each other or deliberately refuse to do so is telling of what is about to happen long before it does.

Image:
© 2017 Sony Pictures Entertainment Deutschland GmbH

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Against the Darkness

Film review: The Post (Director: Steven Spielberg)

By Sascha Krieger

„Democracy dies in darkness“: Since the Trump administration began waging a war on the free press, this line has been added to the header of the Washington Post. With The Post director Steven Spielberg has now translated this claim in to a major film, an Oscar contender and quite possibly Hollywood’s statement about the crucial issues of the hour. The film takes place during the Nixon presidency in 1971, a previous time when a president had little respect for the constitution and especially the freedom of the press. When an injunction prevents The New York Times from publishing a secret report showing how the public was misled about the Vietnam War, the Washington Post rushes to find the material and decides to publish it, resulting in a Supreme Court ruling upholding the freedom of the press.

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Berlinale 2018: Day 11

By Sascha Krieger

L’empire de la perfection (Forum / France / Director: Julien Faraut)

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, tennis enthusiast Gil de Kerdemac produced various series of instructional films about tennis. Starting with simple dry demonstrations of techniques and movements he later started filming the greats of his day during competitive matches.  His favourite subject soon became John McEnroe, the emotional and sensitive genius of 1980s tennis. From that footage, French director Julien Faraut has constructed a film about the pursuit of perfection – in sport and in film making. He looks at McEnroe’s obsessive perfectionism but also at the evolution and techniques of the films de Kerdemac made, has both realms mirror each other and sides of the same coin. The search for perfection in the one is used as a symbol for that in the other. Which makes sense, especially when it’s done in such a light-hearted, humorous and gently ironic way. Particularly convincing are the isolation of images only looking at one player (McEnroe) and the series of the same scene from different angles. This allows us to look at the familiar in different ways, sometimes bordering on the absurd, as well as show the difference between film making and TV and the images Gil de Kerdemac produces are quite different from those of live sports broadcasts. However, the viewer grasps the point rather early on during these 95 minutes and soon – the audience’s reaction was obvious – focuses more and more on the match the film closes with, McEnroe’s 1984 French Open final against Ivan Lendl. And suddenly we’re much closer to the realm of distanced and unreflected sports TV than the film would like us to be.

L’empire de la perfection (Image: © UFO Production)

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Berlinale 2018: Day 10

By Sascha Krieger

The Berlinale is a strange festival. When it ends, it isn’t over yet. When the Bears are handed out, there is still a day of screenings to go. Perhaps that’s only right: Berlin hosts the world’s largest audience festival and so the audience should have the final say. Having said this, everyone looks at the awards and it’s a rather depressing sight this year. Where Cannes and Venice pride themselves in awarding feats of cinematic art, Berlin loves being different. They go for smaller films and overlooked geographies, unusual work, they like to surprise. Touch Me Not, this year’s winner is such a surprise: an international production with a Romanian director, it blurs the borders between fiction and doocumentary, ans is daring in its direct and taboo-chasing approach to human intimacy. TA controversial choice and a spectacularly bad one. The film is arguably one of the worst in the Competition, superficial, chasing shock effects and artistically close to a nightmare. „An invitation to dialogue“, director Adina Pintilie calls it at the winner’s press conference. That it might be. A women director’s film with a female protagonist radically exploring her physicality, is a statement. Politically but also – and not in a good way – artistically.

 

Drvo (Image: Berlinale)

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