Continuing my the enjoyable ‘quest’ of watching films by Michael Glawogger, I saw his 2003 work Slumming [IMDB]. It features the ever charming August Diel as rich twentysomething Sebastian. He lives in Vienna, sharing a flat with student Alex and enjoys spending the days driving around town in his posh car and meeting dozens of girls he got to know through dating sites, being mainly interested in secretly taking photos of them beneath the table while they’re chatting to him (let’s just say girls in Vienna seem to reliable wear skirts…)
Sebastian and Alex also enjoy a fair bit of twisted humour, enjoying to go ‘slumming’ and witnessing/enjoying the lifestyle of the underclasses. One of these excursions goes too far and they end up putting a drunk into their car at the railway station, driving over to the Czech republic and putting him back on a bench in front of the railway station there.
It’s interesting how this sounds like a rather funny thing to do, but is rather cruel once you spent a split-second thinking about it. Even the guys realise that and it’s driven home by Pia, the only girl Sebastian got to know on his dating sprees he actually liked, becoming very upset and immediately driving over to the Czech republic, putting up ‘Missing’ posters and starting a search for the guy. The manually added caron accents on the poster just make it feel more real.
In the end the guy manages to find his way back home by himself, wandering through the cold, breaking into some holiday home on the way an sneaking a ride on a football team’s bus. He doesn’t seem to mind. But still the wrongness of what happens remains.
He doesn’t have much else to do and she’s trying to do her job properly taking care that he doesn’t get off the track again. Her plan to achieve both that and killing his crush by getting him a job in her husband’s car repair shop fails as Jan almost become part of the family because of that. After her husband and her boss fail to take the situation seriously, she starts giving in.
Giving in to a sadomasochistic relationship with Jan, that his. He wants to be punished. She does just that. And eventually he’s in tears. For Elsa the only moments she’s seeing openness from him, but also coming from a situation which she realised she enjoys quite a bit and which is likely illegal.
Of course this doesn’t lead to a tremendously happy end but it throws up a bunch of questions when watching it. How much harm is done? Should anybody be told off or punished? How would you perceive the film if the genders were the other way round?
The whole film less than 90 minutes long and in nice-looking black and white, by the way. Hence enjoyable to watch for that alone.
Sticking with the black and white, 1946’s classic The Postman always rings twice [IMDB] has the nice and clean story with a twist which movies seem to have lost in the 1960s. Frank, a guy who is wandering between places, starts working at a petrol station. The owner, Nick, is a drunkard, his wife, Cora, is pretty, they fall in love and start considering to kill Nick.
Their first attempt at doing that fails due to an accident almost killing Nick at the same time. But the tension is there, suspicions arise and the idea of killing him cannot be un-thought. After returning from the hospital he announces to sell the petrol station to move back to his family and look after them. Cora considers the petrol station her carreer and her chance to a good life and hence the killing takes place anyway in a faux car accident which arises all sorts of suspicions.
This takes the affair to court with a sneaky lawyer starting to play his game, staging a conflict between Frank and Cora but managing to get them both out it free. Unfortunately Cora dies a bit later in yet another car crash and this time they ‘get’ Frank for it, even though he didn’t crash the car on purpose.
Of course the whole ‘moral’ aspect of the story is a bit lame but the way they build the story is quite cool.
Also continuing to watch Emir Kustirica films, I indulged in his 1998 Black Cat, White Cat (somehow the distinct cat genders are lost in the English version of the name…) [a.k.a. Schwarze Katze, weißer Kater, a.k.a. Crna mačka, beli mačkor, IMDB, Wikipedia].
Just like his other films it’s a wild and complex tale from south-eastern Europe. Everybody is at least a part-time criminal, dealing with other criminals all the time, some of them being considerably better than others. The less successful ones, try cheating and lying, making themselves even bigger victims of their more successful neighbours because they ‘owe’ them even more than they did before.
To pay off one of those debts Matko’s son Zare has to marry the midget daughter Afrodita of the successful and exuberant Dadan. It will be a big party and it will not be postponed by such details as Matko’s father dying. Hence there’s a feast with a couple who don’t want to marry one another, loads of presents, a dead guy on the attic, and the obligatory brass band playing. And somehow in the chaos they still manage to find to a happy end, real love and all that.
While this film may not be as refined as Underground, it’s still amazing how many stories it keeps going (and messing up) and how many sweet little details it manages to set up and revisit. Even at a length of two hours, it isn’t boring at any time.
I have watched my fair share of Star Trek episodes and probably seen most of the films. But I won’t consider myself ‘trekkie’ in any way and suspect trekkie people would laugh at my feeble skills at distinguishing aliens and so on. I thought the latest Star Trek film was nice in that it picked up the first Star Trek TV series and it characters. Somehow their unsophisticated attitude and the simple idea that you could just go out and beat up some aliens while others comment ‘fascinating’ made entertaining television.
Some of these aspects were cleverly inserted in the latest Star Trek film [IMDB], but I found all the gloss of it - particularly the constant fake lens flare - rather unnerving. Yes, they probably did everything ‘right’ in someone’s book. No, that doesn’t make it a good film.
And don’t even get me started about all the alternate timeline rubbish. Some people seem to consider it ‘clever’, to me it mostly seems too dumb to come up with an actual story, particularly in the ‘sci-fi’ genre.
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