Montag, 30. März 2020


© Outside the Box


"Prudhomme und ihr Gefolge rezitieren ihren Dialog ohne Leidenschaft und ohne Anspruch auf Naturalismus, als befänden sie sich in Rainer Werner Fassbinders Effi Briest (1974) oder einem Stück des epischen Theaters. In der Theorie ist das ein mustergültiger Verfremdungseffekt, mit dem Dumont seine eigene Inszenierung ironisch aufs Korn nimmt. Doch in der Praxis führt dieser Gimmick ins Nichts."

Ganze Kritik auf Maximum Cinema (online einsehbar)

Samstag, 28. März 2020

Lady and the Tramp

© Disney


"Man könnte sich die Rezensionsarbeit im Grunde sparen, läuft doch letztlich jeder dieser Filme mehr oder weniger auf dasselbe Fazit hinaus: Wozu soll man sich das inferiore Remake antun, wenn – gerade in Zeiten von Disney+ – das geliebte Original nur einen Klick entfernt liegt? Das gilt auch für Lady and the Tramp, das vom Animationsexperten Charlie Bean inszenierte Remake des gleichnamigen Disney-Klassikers von 1955."

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Samstag, 21. März 2020

The Two Popes

© Netflix


"So muss sich der amüsante, theologisch und kirchenhistorisch anregende, mitunter sogar berührende Blick auf eine ungewöhnliche päpstliche Zwangsheirat das Scheinwerferlicht mit einem bruchstückhaften Franziskus-Biopic teilen, das sich auf der Bühne wohl besser ins Gesamtkonzept integrieren lässt. Damit ist der Film der zwei ungleichen Päpste ein Werk mit zwei ungleichen Teilen: Einer zeichnet sich durch ungeschickte, aber letztlich sympathische Leichtfüssigkeit aus; der andere wirkt knorrig, steif und altbacken."

Ganze Kritik auf Maximum Cinema (online einsehbar)

Montag, 16. März 2020


Sitting decorously at the intersection of stately and irreverent, photographer Autumn de Wilde's debut feature – an adaptation of Jane Austen's 1815 novel Emma – is neither as idiosyncratic as it could be nor as stuffy as these kinds of adaptations of prestigious source material often are.

On the whole, director de Wilde and screenwriter Eleanor Catton, herself a Booker Prize-winning novelist (The Luminaries), prove a fine duo to tackle one of the most enduring works of English literature, as they display a keen understanding for what makes Austen such a perennial favourite. Their Emma – stylised as Emma. on the title card, the full stop allegedly marking it as a "period piece" – is a romantic comedy with the emphasis on the comedy; a decision perfectly in tune with Austen's tendency to mock rather than lionise her protagonists' comparatively low-stakes misadventures among the Regency period's landed gentry.

Emma is a case in point: the titular heroine, played with wit, panache, and bubbly naïveté by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split), is, in Austen's own words, "handsome, clever, and rich ... and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." So when Emma's governess and best friend (Gemma Whelan) is married off to a kindly neighbouring landlord (Rupert Graves), the young woman befriends a parentless girl (Mia Goth) and starts fancying herself a master matchmaker.

Naturally, this claim will soon come to haunt both her and the sizeable supporting cast, which features some choice performances: Bill Nighy is a phlegmatic delight as Emma's shivering father; Josh O'Connor's foppish vicar feels like a more youthful spin on Rowan Atkinson's Father Gerald from Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994); and Miranda Hart delivers an arrestingly multi-layered turn as Miss Bates, a hilarious caricature of a blissfully oblivious bore, who comes to signify Emma's realisation that her view of the world may not actually correspond to the real state of things all that much.

Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy) tries her hand at being a matchmaker – with mixed results.
© Universal Pictures International Switzerland
That the story's primary love interest – gallant George Knightley, played by folk musician Johnny Flynn – ultimately finds himself among the less interesting figures vying for narrative attention here is par for the course for a film based on an 1810s novel of manners. And although this weakens the development of the romance that eventually emerges, Flynn is affable enough to make the inevitable resolution seem sweet rather than anticlimatic – something Matthias Schoenaerts, for instance, wasn't quite able to convey in Thomas Vinterberg's Far from the Madding Crowd (2015), which dampened the impact of an otherwise majestic Thomas Hardy adaptation.

De Wilde's Emma, in short, is a lark – an upbeat, frequently very funny, and visually pleasing take on an established classic. But as the film keeps piling on the minor disturbances in the characters' supremely bearable slightness of being, it starts to beg the question whether all of this really warrants a runtime of over two hours, also given its extremely leisurely pace. This impression is compounded by the fact that neither de Wilde nor Catton go as far in their engagement with (literary) history as one feels they could, for while issues of class and gender do crop up – as they are wont to do in an Austen plot – they are never subjected to the kind of modern scrutiny Greta Gerwig employed so incisively in Little Women (2019). Still, as romantic comedies go, Emma is unquestionably among the better offerings in recent memory.


Sonntag, 8. März 2020

ONE FOR YOU: "About Endlessness" & "My Neighbor Totoro"

This week, I once again joined fellow critic Olivia Tjon-A-Meeuw in studio to talk about movies on the One for You podcast. Our main topics this week were Roy Andersson's beautifully strange About Endlessness, which I'd already reviewed on Maximum Cinema, and Hayao Miyazaki's animated classic My Neighbor Totoro from 1988. Listen to the episode on Soundcloud or on the podcast app of your choice.

Dienstag, 3. März 2020

About Endlessness

© Xenix Filmdistribution GmbH


"Der Zusammenhang dieser Momente offenbart sich im Kontext der titelgebenden Endlosigkeit: Ob historischer Kriegsausgang oder scheinbar unwichtiges Alltagsdetail – die Zeit wird jeglichen Unterschied zwischen diesen Ereignissen im Endeffekt zur Bedeutungslosigkeit zerreiben. Zugleich unterstreicht About Endlessness hiermit auch die fundamentale Unzulänglichkeit menschlichen Strebens: Ziele und Endpunkte sind eine Illusion; die einzige Hoffnung liegt in der Vorwärtsbewegung; Stillstand ist fatal."

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