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Entries in Germany (12)

Saturday
Jul262014

NewFest: "Futuro Beach" and "Gerontophilia"

This double feature review was originally printed in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Help, he’s drowning! In good movies so don’t rush to the rescue. Both the opening and closing night films of this week’s satisfying NewFest (July 24th-29th), NYC's annual LGBT film festival in partnership with OutFest, begin with a drowning. Both drownings become romantic catalysts for the lifeguard, but the films couldn’t be more different in tone or purpose so it’s surely a coincidence. NewFest got the order right, opening with the dramatic punch and ending with a sweet drive into the sunset.

In the Brazilian/German film FUTURO BEACH, which opened the annual LGBT film festival Thursday night, two tourists are hit by violent waves. Lifeguards rush in to save them but only one survives. Donato (Wagner Moura) shaken up by losing his first swimmer, seeks out the survivor's friend, a sporty motorbike enthusiast named Konrad (Clemens Schick) to explain the process for dealing with the body. Soon they're angrily rutting, caught up in the disorienting and wrenching drama. Their hookup appears destined to burn bright and die quick due to its emotionally disconnected start and its rapid and frank visual presentation -- English language cinema still lags far behind European cinema in its depictions of sex; the full frontal here is presented as if it’s no big deal.

[More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
May162014

"Alone in Berlin" and Back on Marquees

Few things gave greater pleasure last year than the reemergence of Emma Thompson on the film scene, shoe chucking, Annie-scripting, Mary Poppins writing, and all. I'm not sure who or what convinced Emma that it was time to reclaim her place in the cinema but I thank them profusely and ever so much.

While she didn't receive the expected Oscar nomination for Saving Mr Banks, despite carrying it on her very capable film-elevating shoulders, her next project looks super promising so we hope it picks up interest in the Cannes market.

If all goes according to plan she'll play one half of a married couple who defy Nazis in Alone in Berlin. The true story is based on the book "Alone in Berlin" by Hans Fallada. The plot premise goes like so...

Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich...

With Emma leading a drama we're in good hands but the rest of the cast makes it doubly enticing. Actor turned director Vincent Perez (Queen Margot) has also enlisted Mark Rylance, in many ways the reigning god of the stage, as Emma's husband.

Rylance in the sexually explicit Intimacy (2001) his last bigscreen leading man gig, and in "Jerusalem" for which he won all theater awards ever created a few years ago

He's rarely onscreen though if you've seen Intimacy (2001) or Angels and Insects (1995) you'll remember him. Hollywood's favorite youngish German Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglourious Basterds) is also on board and we assume he is the key baddie Escherich.

Sounds promising, yes?

Emma with Terry Gilliam at a film premiere last monthEmma Thompson just turned 55 and though the fiftysomething years tend to be the leanest for actresses (too old, under Hollywood logic, to lead movies and too young for the juicy "old lady" roles) but maybe Emma's people realized that Dench (79), Redgrave (77), Mirren (68), and Smith (79) aren't getting any younger. Thompson is their natural successor for that whole swath of character types and Thompson doesn't seem to have much competition in the realm of aging British divas that virtually everyone loves. Tilda Swinton (53, after all, is her own special case and weirdly ageless, never young even when she actually was or old now unless the makeup artists are having Budapest prosthetic fun with her). Thompson's main competition for these future roles was surely Kristin Scott Thomas (54) but she's planning that vanishing act now. American actresses not named Streep have it much much rougher than their British counterparts once they hit their fifties so it would be wise for that generation of stars (Bening, Moore, Linney, Clarkson, Hunter, Tomei) or any that have already all but vanished who'd like to return (Allen, Pfeiffer, Davis, McDormand) to start honing their plummiest British accents. 

Sunday
Apr272014

Tribeca: Three Bizarro Twin Gay Films

Tribeca wraps tonight but we're still writing. Here's your host Nathaniel on three LGBT offerings. Portions of this piece were originally published in his column at Towleroad

The Tribeca Film Festival, founded in 2002 at least in part to help revitalize the Tribeca neighborhood after 9/11, has migrated and grown over the years; in 2014 I saw almost everything in Chelsea. An apt location because there seemed to be a lot of gay movies. Here are three, the first two of which seem like warring fraternal twins and the other which may or may not have psychotic doppleganger issues.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb062014

Meet the Berlinale Jury

The 64th Berlinale begins today in Germany - a press conference for Grand Budapest Hotel is streaming right now. It's the second of the six most powerful and premiere-heavy festivals each year, which schedule like so: Sundance -January; Berlin -February; Cannes - May; and the September glut of Venice, Telluride & Toronto. Like most of the biggies Berlinale has multiple juries for multiple types of awards, major and niche. But here's the main competition jury presided over by former Focus Features chief James Schamus. 

The Jury, The Competition Films, and Oscar History after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug202013

Germany @ The Oscars

Germany has a long and trivia-crazy history with the Oscars that didn’t just begin with Sandra Bullock speaking German in her Blind Side acceptance speech or Christoph Waltz, an Austrian-German talent winning two Tarantino-Flavored Oscars for multi-lingual performances. We’ll get to more trivia in a minute but first the German shortlist.  We await their choice for Oscar’s Foreign Language Film submission with curiousity because they’re always a threat for the eventual shortlist. Germany has received 18 nominations and 3 wins over the years. They’re weighing the quality of nine different pictures before deciding. Which will they send our way?

The finalists are…

  • MY BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY Michaela Kezele
    This one skews international - a romance between a young Serbian widow and an Albanian soldier 
  • THE GERMAN FRIEND Jeanine Meerapfel
    A coproduction with Argentina 
  • FREE FALL Stephan Lacant
    A gay romantic drama about two cops
  • THE GIRL WITH NINE WIGS Marc Rothemund
    I don't know what this one is about but I love the title 
  • OH BOY Jan Ole Gerster
    a popular comedy about a drop out university student 
  • RITTER ROST multiple directors
    an animated film 
  • SCHULD SIND IMMER DIE ANDEREN  Lars-Gunnar Lotz
    This one sounds interesting - a juvenile offender in an "open prison" discovers that his house-mother was one of his victims 
  • NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN von Katrin Gebbe (Junafilm)
    Also known as Tore Tanzt. Will this Cannes entry be too controversial for submission?  
  • TWO LIVES von Georg Maas & Judith Kaufman (DE/NO, Zinnober Film,  B&T Film)
    Also known as Zwei Leben. This film stars Liv Ullman of all people!!! It's about a woman (Juliane Köhler who starred in the German Oscar winner Nowhere in Africa), born to a Norwegian woman and a German soldier who becomes involved in war crime trials. 

It's worth noting that the acclaimed Hungarian German coproduction The Notebook which was suggested to be in the running by some outlets is being submitted by Hungary so it can't be the German submission.

Patrick, a German reader thinks that it would be a surprise if they passed on OH BOY which has been a major hit in Germany at the end of 2012. But since it’s a black and white contemporary film and youth sensation it’s no automatic draw when it comes to appealing to Oscar’s foreign language voters who are, it's important to remember, a volunteer group culled from all the branches. Anecdotally speaking, they skew even older than the typical Oscar demographic because they have to have a lot of free time to attend a least a couple dozen screenings from the long long submissions list (which is broken up into 3 sections so that each member doesn't have to watch all 60+ entries). For Germany, Oh Boy, is also facing the potential problem that The Hunt has for Denmark. It's not "new" anymore... so if the decision-makers have a fresh love...

I wouldn't be surprised if they went with Two Lives (trailer above) given Liv Ullman and Juliane Köhler's Oscar histories but the only director in the nine finalists that's previously been submitted is Marc Rothemund (The Girl With Nine Wigs). His film Sophie Scholl was an Oscar nominee in the 2005 race.

They'll announce their submission on August 27th. What do you think it will be? 

P.S. I promised some trivia so here we go...

a few German winners: Emil Jannings, Luise Rainer and Hans Zimmer

  • Germany's most frequently submitted director is (drum roll please) Wim Wenders who has been submitted only three times (The American Friend, Wings of Desire, and Pina). None of those famous films were nominated in this category. Wenders has better luck with the documentary branch where he's won two nominations (Pina, Buena Vista Social Club).  Several other directors are tied with two submissions each.
  • Germany holds two important "firsts" for the acting Oscars. The first actor ever handed an Oscar was Emil Jannings for The Way of All Flesh. Less than a decade later Luise Rainer became the first actor of either gender to win two Oscars. Since she did that in the late 30s Hollywood lied about Rainer's provenance and claimed she was from Austria.
  • The category that loves Germans most is Art Direction (31 nominations and 7 wins) but weirdly no German has been nominated there since 1972 when Cabaret took home the gold in that category. 
  • Hollywood's favorite German currently, if you subtract Christoph Waltz, is Hans Zimmer a frequent nominee for Best Original Score. [cue: loud Inception bwaaaaaaa  ♫ here]
  • The last German film to win the Oscar was The Lives of Others (2006), one of the most popular winners in this category in recent years.