Isabelle Stever – Glückliche Fügung (2010)

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37-year-old Simone decides to go out alone on New Year’s Eve. The next morning, she wakes up next to a stranger in his car, and a few weeks later she discovers that she’s pregnant. By coincidence, she runs into the stranger again – the handsome Hannes – and is surprised to find that contrary to her expectations, he’s actually happy about the pregnancy and wants to live with her. Could this be the face of happiness? While Hannes works in a hospital as a nurse in palliative care, tending to the dying with extraordinary tenderness, Simone renovates their shared, little home. An attractive neighbor fuels Simone’s jealousy. The larger Simone’s belly grows, the more extensively Hannes’ integrity warms the nest, the more oppressive their little, homemade prison appears. Continue reading

Paul Schrader – Adam Resurrected (2008)

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Quote:
While the Holocaust is certainly a legitimate topic of inquiry for the committed filmmaker, most contemporary treatments of the Nazi camps betray their mission by allowing the viewer to feel altogether too comfortable as they take in the on-screen atrocities. Whether through the establishment of a mitigating historical distance, the adoption of standard genre tropes or the repetition of an established catalog of horrors, films like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and A Secret tend to overly familiarize the events of World War II, allowing the viewer to safely assimilate that conflict’s genocidal horrors. But whatever the flaws of Adam Resurrected, and despite the fact that no physical violence is perpetrated on screen, Paul Schrader never allows the viewer to get comfortably situated, relying on an absurdist central conceit and a rapidly shifting array of intellectual and moral concerns—whose superficial treatment unfortunately leads to a certain diffuseness in the work—to continually de-familiarize his subject. Continue reading