Archive for October, 2020

Love Demands Sacrifice

Narcissus and Goldmund

Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky

Cast: Jannis Niewohner, Sabin Tambrea, Roxanne Duran, Henriette Confurius, Elisa Schlott, Emilia Schule, Georg Friedrich, Matthias Habich, Andre Hennicke

Austrian Entry for the European Film Festival 2020

This film is in German with English Subtitles.

Winner of the 2008 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for The Counterfeiters, Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky returns to the Big Screen with the film adaptation of famed 20th century German author Hermann Hesse’s medieval novel Narcissus and Goldmund which is the Austrian entry for the European Film Festival.

Set in the 14th century in medieval Germany at the time of the Black Death plague which swept Europe, Narcissus and Goldmund focuses on the homoerotic friendship of two young men in the monastery Mariabronn. Narcissus is devoted to the monastic life of prayer and soliture and aims to become an Abbott.

His life is upended by the arrival of the gorgeous yet adventurous Goldmund, wonderfully played by German actor Jannis Niewohner, whose blond hair and sparkling blue eyes lands him in all sorts of trouble. Narcissus is played by Romanian actor Sabin Tambrea whose portrayal of tortured love and self-flagellation is nuanced and perfect.

Unlike Narcissus who has to constantly suppress his unrequited love, Goldmund on the other hand is a drifter, who decides that the Church life is not for him and embarks on a picaresque adventure as a young and handsome man who frequently lands himself in the beds of every available German maiden.

Goldmund is duped by the German noblewoman Lydia played by Emilia Schule and is taken up by the wealthy and entitled Julia played by Elisa Schlott. Riviera star, French actress Roxanne Duran also has a brief role as a noblewoman who seduces Goldmund.

Besides his numerous romantic adventures, Goldmund also has to use his wits to survive the growing devastation of the Bubonic plague which swept through 14th Century Europe as well as surviving the rage of his numerous patrons from Furst played by Georg Friedrich and Burger played by Matthias Habich. Goldmund possesses a unique talent of creating beautiful wooden sculptures and when he returns to Narcissus for assistance, his friend commissions him to create a beautiful altar for St Catherine at the Monastery.

Haunted with eternally searching for his lost mother, Goldmund creates a ravishing wooden sculpture reflecting all the woman he has met and seduced, a religious art piece that causes controversy amidst the cloistered monks. Narcissus confronts Goldmund about his suppressed love for him, but unfortunately their social circumstances forces them to remain apart.

As the prying Lothar played by Andre Hennicke says to Narcissus, a lifetime devotion to God is a love which demands sacrifice.

Narcisssus and Goldmund is a fascinating film about male friendship in the medieval times, about two diametrically opposed characters that ultimately lean on each other to survive in a harsh and judgmental society which was completely controlled by the Church.

Gorgeously shot with some unforgettable and enlightening sequences, Narcissus and Goldmund gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is definitely worth seeing.

Sylwia’s Stalker

Sweat

Director: Magnus Von Horn

Cast: Magdalena Kolesnik, Julian Swiezewski, Aleksandra Konieczna, Zbigniew Zamachowski

Polish Entry for the European Film Festival 2020

The Polish entry for the European Film Festival is director Magnus Von Horn’s intimate examination of the moral duplicity of a social media star and fitness trainer Sylwia wonderfully played by the beautiful actress Magdalena Kolesnik in his film Sweat set in Warsaw and surrounding areas. Sweat was also part of the official selection for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival held virtually this year.

Sweat presents Warsaw as a glossy and sophisticated contemporary European capital complete with upmarket apartment buildings and thriving shopping malls and the main character Sylwia is a vain and ambitious social media star whose only concern is how many followers she has on Instagram and whether her beloved dog Jackson is loved.

Director Von Horn follows his main character Sylwia around as he guides the viewer through her hollow and utterly vacuous existence as she tries to deal with her mother Basia played by Aleksandra Konieczna and her new boyfriend Fryderyk played by Zbigniew Zamachowski (Three Colours: Red, Three Colours: Blue, Three Colours: White).

Sylwia also has a rather weird relationship with her male fitness star Klaudiusz wonderfully played by Julian Swiezewski who she sexually manipulates to beat up a male stalker who has been following Sylwia and become erotically obsessed with. An incident occurs late at night whereby Klaudiusz forces Sylwia to directly confront and assist her stalker.

Besides the moral repugnance of the main character, Sweat is more of a direct commentary on the age of obsessive social media and as the overly long film portrays Sylwia does not come clean about her ordeal with a stalker but rather seeks the self-congratulatory limelight of Polish Television as she does more to increase her social media visibility and her brand by ironically portraying herself as a victim of her own success.

Sweat is a fascinating and incisive portrayal of social media obsession but unfortunately it needed to be drastically edited since basically every frame of the film focuses on the life of Sylwia and her media obsessed fitness world and its inherent darkness. This microscopic obsession does tend to drag the film down and perhaps the viewer might find the subject matter tedious without their being any form of cathartic release or even an alternative point of view.

Sweat gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and unfortunately is not the best Polish film I have seen, but is certainly the most bizarre in terms of subject matter: vanity and self-obsession.

Desert Fox and the Informant

Curveball

Director: Johannes Naber

Cast: Sebastian Blomberg, Thorsten Merten, Dar Salim, Virginia Kull, Michael Wittenborn, Franziska Brandmeier

German Entry for the European Film Festival 2020

German director Johannes Naber’s brilliant political satire Curveball is an absolute must see and this year’s European Film Festival held virtually in South Africa and scheduled to be released in Germany in November 2020. Curveball premiered in the Berlinale Special section at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival held in February 2020.

Sebastian Blomberg (The Baader-Meinhof Complex, The People vs Fritz Bauer) plays the unassuming but slightly naïve German chemical weapons expert Dr Wolf who unwillingly gets roped into a political conspiracy to prove that Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president was harbouring chemical weapons.

Set between 1998 and 2003, Curveball is the terrifyingly true story of an Iragi fugitive Rafid Alwan wonderfully played by Iragi actor Dar Salim who has also appeared in Lee Tamahori’s brilliant film The Devil’s Double opposite British star Dominic Cooper.

Alwan is questioned by Dr Wolf on the existence of anthrax and other chemical weapons and their existence in Baghdad, which he eventually concedes that there could be such weapons driven around Iraq on trucks which is flimsy and unreliable intelligence at best. What makes Dr Wolf rely on this informant even more is that in Curveball they form a formidable friendship with Wolf teaching Alwan how to use a snow sleigh and Alwan proving that he is quite an unreliable source especially after his drunken escapades with whiskey.

Thrown into this bizarre friendship, is Dr Wolf’s feisty and ruthless CIA agent Leslie played by Big Little Lies star Virginia Kull who exploits Dr Wolf’s naiveté to steal the informant from the Germans to assist the Americans to construct a premise for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. No matter that both the German and American espionage service know that the Intel that Alwan has fed them is entirely fabricated.

Director Johannes Naber skilfully guides the audience through the key events of that period from the chemical weapons experts employed by the UN to search for biological weapons in Iraq in 1998 to the election of George W. Bush as U. S. President in November 1999 to the 2001 World Trade Centre attacks in New York City.

Curveball is both surreal, hilarious and utterly unbelievable made more bizarre by the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the intelligence services of America and Germany.

Thorsten Merten plays Dr Wolf’s ambitious boss Schatz while Michael Wittenborn plays the more pragmatic Retzlaff.

Curveball is fascinating viewing especially as it deals with recent historical events and demonstrates that the truth can be constructed for a political purpose in this case used to invade a foreign country. Curveball gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended for those that enjoy incisive political satires.

Zaheer’s Journey

Mogul Mowgli

Director: Bassam Tariq

Cast: Riz Ahmed, Anjana Vasan, Aiysha Hart, Andrea Hart, Alyy Khan

British Entry for the European Film Festival 2020

British Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed’s fame in Hollywood rose quite substantially after his initial big screen performance opposite Kate Hudson in Mira Nair’s stunning film The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Since then Ahmed has gone on to star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Venom and Jason Bourne.

Riz Ahmed and director Bassam Tariq co-wrote the British Pakistani film Mogul Mowgli which will be screened virtually at the 2020 European Film Festival, which focuses on the unlikely tale of a Pakistani rapper in a British city, the son of a traditional Pakistani family who immigrated to the UK to make a better life for their children.

Riz Ahmed plays Zed which is short for Zaheer a loud-mouthed and confident rapper who has proven his worth against a group of Nigerian immigrants at a rap competition and is on the cusp of a British tour aided by his manager Vaseem played by Anjana Vasan when tragedy strikes.

Zaheer, after an altercation in an alleyway with a disgruntled rap fan, collapses and is admitted to hospital. After several tests done, Zaheer is diagnosed with motor-neuron disease and his muscles are slowly deteriorating. The diagnosis comes as a shock to Zaheer and his parents particularly his father Bashir played by Alyy Khan.

Zaheer’s reflection on his condition which forces him to revaluate his hopes and dreams and specifically the side effects of the stem cell treatment which will make him infertile, makes up the basis of director Bassam Tariq’s over-directed film Mogul Mowgli which is saved by a stand out performance by Riz Ahmed who is basically in every scene of the film as he shows all of Zaheer’s vulnerability and subsequent humiliation especially as he has to rely on others to survive.

There is a particularly touching scene between Zaheer and his father in the hospital bathroom. Overall Mogul Mowgli is confusing to watch and the script is lacking some form of closure as to the real destiny for Zaheer, but nevertheless it’s his personal journey that counts. Riz Ahmed carries Mogul Mowgli and although this film has a niche appeal, it does showcase the lives of an immigrant community in contemporary Britain.

Mogul Mowgli is an interesting film, but it will not have a broad appeal as it deals with a very specific immigrant community and the strange and difficult choices they have made in attempting to integrate into a Western culture.

Mogul Mowgli gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 is a flawed film about a performance artist that has to deal with a devastating disease.

Clarke’s Catastrophe

Greenland

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Cast: Gerard Butler, Morena Baccarin, Roger Dale Floyd, Scott Glenn, Hope Davis, David Denham

Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Angel has Fallen director Ric Roman Waugh reunites with his star Gerard Butler for the latest doomsday disaster film Greenland. The hunky Scottish actor Gerard Butler who become a household name after the smash hit 300 and then went onto star in the Fallen trilogy plays American structural engineer John Garrity who is trying to reconcile with his wife Allison Garrity played by Homeland star Morena Baccarin (Deadpool, Spy) who both live a comfortable life in suburban Atlanta.

That comfortable life is shattered into a million pieces when John and Allison have been selected to survive an extinction event after a Comet called Clarke’s Comet hits Earth and breaks up into a million asteroids which demolish cities and towns across the planet. The Garrity’s only chance of survival is to head towards a secret government facility to house survivors located in Greenland. The only problem is how to get there.

To add to John and Allison’s woes their young son Nathan played by Roger Dale Floyd is diabetic and cannot be without his insulin injections which proves difficult when the entire family get separated and Nathan gets kidnapped by some desperate hillbilly’s Ralph and Judy Vento played by Hope Davis (Proof) and David Denham (Logan Lucky, 13 Hours).

In the meantime the world is literally going to hell in a handbasket as fiery asteroids start striking the earth and the Garrity’s need to reunite at Allison’s father’s ranch in Knoxville. Allison’s father Dale is played by Scott Glenn (The Bourne Legacy, The Paperboy). Fortunately once the family gather there John confesses to his father-in-law that he hasn’t been the best husband.

Whilst Greenland’s doomsday scenario could be the metaphor for a broken marriage, the rather lacklustre script by Chris Sparling is fortunately punctuated with some dramatic action sequences including the airport chaos sequence and the asteroid crushing car sequence on an American interstate.

Greenland is great entertainment and doesn’t pretend to be anything superb. It’s a good old fashion disaster movie in the tradition of director Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact and Michael Bay’s 1998 smash hit film Armageddon. Greenland is worth seeing on a big screen and is a reasonably enjoyable action disaster film which certainly needs cinematic support in these uncertain times when audiences are not rushing back to cinemas in a hurry.

It did help that the star Gerard Butler did broadcast a preview message thanking South African audiences for supporting Greenland in cinemas. With that being said, audiences should watch Greenland – it’s an exciting two hour family adventure film which gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
October 2020
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
  • Trump Pardons Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser Who Lied to FBI
    President Donald Trump on Wednesday granted a full pardon to Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. Under Attorney General William Barr, the Department of Justice had been trying to drop the charge against Flynn. But prosecutors met stiff […]
    gmaddaus
  • PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X Restocks: Where to Get the New Consoles Before Black Friday
    All products and services featured by Variety are independently selected by Variety editors. However, Variety may receive a commission on orders placed through its retail links, and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes. The holidays are here and a new generation of video game consoles is upon us. Sony’s PlayStation 5 […]
    Jordan Moreau
  • Haim Exults in Grammy Noms: ‘Everyone Nominated for Rock Performance Is a Woman — That’s F—ing Incredible’
    Whatever intent the group Haim may have had in titling its third album “Women in Music Pt. III,” it seems as if the Grammy Awards took that not just as a description but a command. In one of the two categories Haim is nominated in, rock performance, all six nominees have something in common that, […]
    chrislwillman
  • TikTok Revised Sale Proposal to Get U.S. Government Review Amid Threat of App Ban
    China’s ByteDance submitted a revised proposal related to the sale of TikTok to U.S. buyers to the Trump administration, which said it has extended its deadline for the divestment until Dec. 4. President Trump previously ordered Beijing-based ByteDance to sell TikTok to American buyers by Nov. 12, alleging that the short-form video app represents a […]
    Todd Spangler
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group Bets With STIRR That All Streaming Is Local
    Sinclair Broadcast Group has opened up a new front in the streaming wars: Local markets. The TV station giant is expanding the ad-supported STIRR platform designed to help its nearly 200 stations better monetize digital viewing of newscasts and syndicated programming. Adam Ware, Sinclair’s VP and general manager of national networks and platforms, talks about […]
    Cynthia Littleton
  • Read More
    Different providers offer different cell phones, so take a look at the options from each provider to choose the right one for you. You may also want to look into any promotions that the providers have to offer, such as free cell phones in exchange for signing a contract. Tags: 2gmhass90