Ulrich Seidl – Hundstage AKA Dog Days (2001)

Dog Days is an incredible film, though what it has to offer will certainly not be appreciated by every viewer. This is not to be meant as condescending – I simply mean not everyone will enjoy Ulrich Seidl’s aesthetics which have more than a little in common with Von Trier’s Domga 95 movement. Though Seidl doesn’t explicitly articulate his aesthetics the way Von Trier does, it features the same sense of realism. The characters are mostly non-actors wearing their own clothes and without makeup (except where diegetically necessary). The acting is very raw with many scenes calling for displays of intense emotional pain. There is no non-diegetic music. The film is shot entirely with hand-held DV. The film is, however, very aesthetically appealing. There are many beautiful, sun-drenched compositions, even if all the characters are sweating! Read More »

Vojtech Jasný – Der Kulterer (1974)

Vojtech Jasný’s adaptation of Thomas Bernhard’s story (1962) of the same name starring Helmut Qualtinger as Der Kulturer, who while in prison becomes a self-sufficient thinker and writer. Read More »

Paulus Manker – Der Kopf des Mohren AKA The Moor’s Head (1995)

A family man slowly becomes dangerously obsessive and paranoid in this grim Austrian drama that contains a graphically violent ending. As the story begins, George, an engineer who works at a science facility, has a normal happy life with his wife and kids. They are in the process of building a new house when George learns that a nearby chemical plant has been leaking dangerous gas into the air. This causes George to begin suffering from terrifying hallucinations. His paranoia increases every time he hears another report of violence, crime, war, or any other social problems on the news. After learning that his company may be overtaken by a larger corporation, George decides to send his family on an Italian vacation while he stays home and turns their apartment into a strange refuge from the terrible world he knows is coming. Read More »

Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz – Ich seh, Ich seh AKA Goodnight Mommy (2014)

In the heat of the summer. A lonesome house in the countryside between woods and corn fields. Nine-year-old twin brothers are waiting for their mother. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before. The children start to doubt that this woman is actually their mother. It emerges an existential struggle for identity and fundamental trust. Read More »

Peter Brunner – Luzifer (2021)

A man with the mental faculties of a child must save his mother, thereby becoming god and devil. Read More »

Josef Aichholzer & Ruth Beckermann – Wien retour AKA Return to Vienna (1983)

Franz West (1909-85) remembers his youth in Vienna: the variety of the Jewish population of the so called Matzah-Island, his commitment to the worker’s movement of the Red Vienna and the rise of Austro-fascism and National Socialism. West’s masterly narration combined with impressing archive footage illustrate and elucidate the complex Austrian history between WW1 and WW2. Read More »

Hellmuth Matiasek – Biedermann und die Brandstifter (1963)

There is more and more arson, with two arsonists pretending to be peddlers, asking for shelter in the attic and setting fires a little later. Shortly afterwards, a peddler rings the doorbell at Gottlieb Biedermann’s hair tonic manufacturer and asks for accommodation. Biedermann had recently dismissed his employee Knechtling and is indifferent to his future fate. Read More »