Edwin Zbonek – Der Henker von London AKA The Mad Executioners (1963)

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Synopsis:
‘A band of hooded men have formed a court and they are exacting justice upon the criminals who have escaped the reach of the law. The sentence they exact is death by hanging. Using the hangman’s rope from the Scotland Yard Museum they leave their victims hanging from various locations with a file detailing the case against them pinned to the body. Scotland Yard is stumped and have assigned their best man to break the case. Meanwhile another fiend is on the loose, one who is neatly severing the heads of young women. The bodies are found the heads are not.’
– dbborroughs Continue reading

Julian Benedikt & Andreas Morell – Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz (1997)

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The artists list on this DVD reads like a Who’s Who of the best international jazz musicians of all times. It features Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins — musicians whose names have become synonymous with the great Jazz Age in the 1950s and 60s. With Carlos Santana, Cassandra Wilson and André Previn and jazz experts like Joachim Ernst Berendt and Bertrand Tavernier, the list of interviewees and artists on this DVD becomes encyclopaedic. But how many people have heard of Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff, to whom we owe the recorded memory of our Jazz legends? These two Jewish Germans emigrated from Nazi Germany to New York in 1939 and promoted Jazz Music, which at the time had received little serious attention from mainstream America. Without money or connections and speaking little English, the two men began to record practically unknown musicians, following their own taste and judgement, and thus establishing the legendary Blue Note label. Continue reading

Jules Herrmann – Liebmann (2016)

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Quote:
The teacher Antek Liebmann moves to the French countryside to leave his former life in Germany behind. He soon gets a job and finds himself in a new relationship. But the strange energy of a near-by artists residency and an unexpected visitor from Germany make him realise he cannot escape his memories. He has to find his own way to confront the ghosts of his past. Continue reading

Achim Bornhak – Der Nachtmahr AKA The Nightmare (2015)

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Quote:
After a night of partying in a mansion with a swimming pool, teenager Tina starts to experience weird things. She hallucinates a violent deja-vu, and hears discomforting sounds. At home she is haunted by a mysterious creature that only she can see. The film suggest several explanations for her visions. Is she overly tense? Psychotic? Drugged? Jealous? Her parents and friends seem to think she is going through a phase. Tina is convinced that the creature is for real, and she starts identifying with in a way that prompts her parents to take drastic measures on her behalf.

DER NACHTMAHR (“the nightmare”) is best characterized as an atmospheric thriller or indeed like a dream: at times feverishly slow, at other times restless and shifting. A vibrant electronica-soundtrack and superb acting from Carolyn Genzkow in the leading role makes it a captivating film experience. Continue reading

Patrick Vollrath – Alles wird gut AKA Everything Will Be Okay (2015)

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Synopsis:
A divorced father picks up his eight-year-old daughter Lea. It seems pretty much like every second weekend, but after a while Lea can’t help feeling that something isn’t right. So begins a fateful journey.

Review:
Cinema as a mode of fabricated observation can be fascinating because, unless instructed to do so, the camera doesn’t judge. This is the key to entering Patrick Vollrath’s powerful domestic drama Everything Will Be Okay, which chronicles a divorced father’s initially fun day out with his daughter during which life-altering decisions are made. The movie opens with Michael (Simon Schwarz, “About a Girl”) impatiently waiting for young daughter Lea (Julia Pointner) outside her mother and stepfather’s home. He’s itching to go and can’t wait to get her in the car and race her off to the toy store, an innocent start to their time together. Continue reading

Michael Haneke – Das Schloß AKA The Castle (1997)

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Quote:
It was just a matter of time before Michael Haneke and Franz Kafka crossed paths. The Castle, the Austrian filmmaker’s made-for-TV version of the Czech writer’s famous unfinished novel, promises an intriguing meeting between these two dedicated misanthropes, yet despite the overlapping bleakness of their worldviews, the film is notable mostly as an example of how somebody can follow a work to the letter and still miss its essence. K. (Ulrich Mühe) comes in from the cold, summoned by the mysterious officials at “the Castle” to an isolated village for a position as land surveyor; instead he finds himself reluctantly engaged to forlorn barmaid Frieda (Susanne Lothar), saddled with a couple of dolts (Felix Eitner and Frank Giering) for assistants, and trudging in circles in the snow, helplessly trying to unscramble the tortuous snafu that’s made him “superfluous and in everybody’s way.” Haneke’s last Austrian picture before his departure to France and richer, less offensive films (The Time of the Wolf, Caché), The Castle is something of a companion piece to the director’s deplorable, hectoring Funny Games, even bringing back the earlier film’s tormented couple for another round of inexplicable distress. Continue reading

Edward Berger – Jack (2014)

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Quote:
Breakfast, younger brother fed and dressed, off to school, all in haste. Great responsibility for a ten year old, great fun in places too; later going playing in the park with mother and her friends but then her two boys, Jack and Manuel, taking the U-Bahn home well after dark as Sanna’s evening continues.

Eventually this domestic arrangement collapses, an accident leads to corridors inhabited by social workers, new rules, a new home, a new struggle. Continue reading