Austria

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub – Moses und Aron (1975)

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This is one of the best opera films ever, one of the few to intelligently juxtapose image and music. S and H’s minimal visual style allows Schoenberg’s maximal musical style to flourish, and there are even spots where we have a black screen, with music only. Filmed outdoors, in natural locations.

Schoenberg’s opera is one of the landmarks of 20th century music, and is heard and seen at its best in this performance.

‘With Moses und Aron, I have tried to destroy Stravinsky’s quote
saying that music was powerless to express the most abstract, the
most ordinary, the most concrete things.’ (Jean-Marie Straub) Read More »

Karl Markovics – Atmen AKA Breathing (2011)

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Roman, played by Thomas Schubert, is a 19-year-old man who has known little else than prison walls. He is serving time for murder, but is at the end of his sentence. Parole may be offered if he can hold down a job in the real world. He has tried many different vocations, but has never lasted longer than a day. With one last attempt before his hearing Roman takes on a job at an undertakers. Could this be the one that helps him find his place in society? Read More »

Michael Haneke – Wer war Edgar Allan? (1984)

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Wer war Edgar Allan? (Who Was Edgar Allan?). 1984. Austria/West Germany. Directed by Michael Haneke. With Paulus Manker, Rolf Hoppe. Based on the novel by noted Austrian writer Peter Rosei, who draws on Poe’s themes of doubling, shadowing, and the uncanny, this atmospheric mystery, set in Venice over four distinct seasons, follows a German art student suffering from some unnamed illness, existential or otherwise. He is befriended by a shady and secretive German American gentleman, “Edgar Allan,” who seems intent on driving him mad by dogging his every move. Haneke’s Venice is a figment of the (paranoid) imagination, where strange characters make unwanted intrusions and clues are laid out like pieces of an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. In German; 83 min Read More »

Michael Haneke – Variation (1983)

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Haneke depicts the emotional story of an adulterous relationship between a journalist and a teacher. The film poignantly explores the difficult dynamics between people who love one another but still can’t keep from hurting one another. Variation has been described by its director as being closer to John Cassavetes than to Hollywood melodrama. Read More »

Michael Haneke – Lemminge, Teil 2 Verletzungen (1979)

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Description from the University of Massachussetts website:

This two-part drama examines the fate of Haneke’s own generation which came of age after World War II. The first part depicts the generational gap between 1950s teenagers and their parents while the second shows this same group of characters twenty years later as they have grown up to be dysfunctional and suicidal adults. Regarded as the most significant of Haneke’s early works, Lemmings contains incipient treatments of many of the themes he would later elaborate on in his theatrical features. Read More »

Michael Haneke – Lemminge, Teil 1 Arkadien (1979)

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Haneke unplugged – consistent themes, early, bare-bones exploration.

The dark mood is set in the first scene: the vandalizing of cars. At once a deeply anti-bourgeois impulse and an act that expresses the faceless anomie of the post-war generation, this film is a melodramatic exploration of teenage resistance to overbearing parents and the constricting influence of a too-small Austrian town. Haneke upends Arcadia (youthful innocence) by transgressing boundaries such as sex out of marriage; smoking; and adultery with an adult. His teens damage cars and otherwise passive-aggressively act against parents. Haneke then subverts the bourgeois fiction of happiness and security by suggesting that in the end our own self-absorption and lack of empathy will relegate our relationships to hostile acts. We can never know each other, and that ultimately we cannot care. As the character of Sigrid’s experience suggests, forget friends and family – ultimately we are cast out alone. The film is a bare bones exploration (a la Bergman) of the themes he will explore in more understated fashion in later work and more sensationally in Funny Games and Benny’s video. Read More »

Michael Haneke – Fräulein (1985)

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Described as an answer to Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun, Fraulein tells the story of a German woman and a former French prisoner of war living in 1950s Germany. Instead of playing a role in rebuilding her country, Haneke’s heroine remains preoccupied with her personal affairs. Shot predominantly in black and white (with a color sequence added toward the end), Fraulein asserts Haneke’s place alongside the masters of the New German Cinema. Read More »