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A story about a time when church and men ruled the world
Last night at the current Munich Film Festival, I went to see the German/Austrian Made-for-TV movie, written by Peter Probst and directed by Dagmar Hirtz, "Die Hebamme Auf Leben und Tod" ("Delivering Hope"), the story of a midwife in the early 18th century in the mountains of Austria, in a time when the Catholic Church, its priests and men were the rulers over the women.
No red carpet for this premiere screening, but the foyer was so packed that the actors and the audience didn't had a chance but to mingle, or else get smashed to pieces.
Rosa Koelbl (Brigitte Hobmaier), a respected and skillful midwife in a small village in the mountains, with younger sister Anna (Pippa Galli), who was impregnated by Karl Bachler (Florian Brückner), the son of the village's wealthiest farmer, but denies fatherhood, is offered a job in the city by Dr. Gennaro (Misel Maticevic), where he works in a newly invented birthing hospital. She accepts, taking Anna with her, but conflicts soon arise between them despite their growing feelings for one another: he resents the fact that Rosa's more "primitive" handling of childbirth is often more successful than his academic approach. Due to not delivering an orphan baby to foundling house, Rosa and Anna have to flee back to their hometown, where Rosa's views on birth control and spousal abuse set her on a collision course with the church. In the end the church wins, and she is jailed for three years and loses her license as a midwife. The doctors are supposed to be the good guys, but by the ways they fulfill their profession, and keep their mishaps under wraps, and blame the women instead, it is not so sure whether they are really the good guys.
The time isn't unknown to me, but it was certainly for many others in the audience. Most of the happenings on screen I had read about, but the reactions round me were rather puzzled. But acting was great, the feel and look of the movie, the choice of the actors was wonderful, but in this case despite the impressive photography, the story is meant for TV. The actors are native speakers, so it will become interesting how the German speaking audiences will deal with the language - perhaps the network will provide subtitles?
After the screening, director Dagmar Hirtz brought most of her crew on stage, and most of the main actors, especially mentioning the missing Florian Brückner as being one of the nicest people she had ever met, playing the bad guy of the piece.
The audience wasn't invited to asked questions afterwards, but instead was invited to the premiere party in a nearby café.
It is worth to see it
On Sunday June 28, 2009 I attended the premier screening of the Made-for-TV movie "Schutzlos" / "Defenceless" (working title: "Illegal") by director René Heisig at the 27th Munich Filmfest in the Forum 1 cinema, beginning at 5pm.
The Forum 1 cinema is the former IMAX-theater of the Deutsches Museum. Therefore the rows are very steep and so all 329 seats have an undisturbed view to the very huge screen. The three rows on top carried 'reserved' signs, and so I moved my head around to see who would take their seats up there. No one I recognized.
The audience consisted half and half people from the industry and paying movie fans. I spotted some familiar faces from TV and the movies. As Matthias Brandt entered and made his way up to the top he got a round of applause from the audience.
Ulrike Frick, the woman in charge of the 'German TV movies' section at the Munich Filmfest, introduced the director, once the technicians managed to open the microphones. He said a few words about the movie and wished us a good time with it.
"Augsburg 2008" The film begins in an internet shop, where Maria is chatting with her two children whom she had to leave behind in Honduras to stay with her former husband. Suddenly the evening is interrupted by a police raid that is in search of illegal immigrants and Maria flees out into the stairwell. To earn enough money to pay back her debts back home and for the support of her children, she works as a cleaning woman for various employees but since she has no legal documents she is at their disposal. Moroccan Au-pair girl Sami is her best friend, and the grocer Jamshid, who married a German to get a residence permit, is her support if all things go wrong. And then there is the teacher Jens, gorgeous, blond, blue-eyed, and gentle and he can even dance, who is her partner since three months. Only he doesn't know that she is an illegal immigrant and she is afraid to tell him. She realizes that the new stepmother treats the children badly, so she wants them bring over to Germany. In order to earn even more money she has to accept more jobs, in much worse conditions. Jens can't deal with the fact that he should take care of Maria's children in the near future and, so they split. After the kids are finally in Augsburg, Maria's life gets even more complicated, as they also have to keep a very low profile. Without official papers she cannot register the children at school, thus forcing her to leave them unattended at home while she is working. After a string of devastating experiences, when Maria is on the verge of a nervous breakdown not only Jens but mostly the insurance agent Peter for whom she works, help her to consider a happy future in Germany.
The end credits rolled, and the sold out theater gave a thunderous applause. After that the director introduced not only the attending actors Carolina Vera, Matthias Brandt, Mira Mazumda, Sara Kessling and Miguel Hernandez Lara, but also the producers Rita Serra-Roll, Regina Ziegler and Martin Bach, casting agent Franziska Aigner-Kuhn, and Günther van Endert, responsible for the movie at TV network ZDF, and some more members of the crew. He delivered greetings from Maximilian Brückner, "who unfortunately couldn't attend".
René Heisig thanked the TV network ZDF for their bravery to make a movie about such a subject, partly in Spanish with German subtitles, and that it is a good example that our TV license fees are well used for once.
The story that is told here is disturbing, mainly because it is based on the true story of the real Maria Moreno, the script is gripping, and the way it was filmed is touching and most of all the actors are superb. It has one tender love scene almost Maria's only happy moment. Both Carolina Vera and Maximilian Brückner don't need words to show feelings on screen; the way they look at each other is way more. And Matthias Brandt brings the slightly confused Peter back into life, a role that could have easily become a caricature with a lesser actor. Unfortunately I don't know the date of broadcast yet.
Oh - and I liked the movie very much. It was absolutely worth to leave the comfy sofa in my living room for it!
The following evening between two other screenings I almost run into Carolina Vera, who was also on her way to a screening, and took my chance to pay my compliments to her acting in "Schutzlos" / "Defenceless", and on the movie itself. Apparently she was fond to get a feedback directly. She told me that after the photographers had left after the screening a bit of discussion about the movie took place. We bid good-bye, both being on the run and on leaving she told me that the premiere was the beginning of promoting the movie, which will continue through TV in the weeks to come. It will air later this year on a Monday evening, at prime time 8:15pm, as a 'ZDF Spielfilm der Woche', but I still don't know the date.
They talk a lot but they are without words
It is a small film, but it is worth to see it on a big screen. It is co-produced by a German TV network, so it might be shown there in the not too distant future.
The characters do telephone marketing, so the people in this film talk a lot, actually they talk all the time, but they have forgotten how to speak with each other. They are like hamsters in a treadmill, confined to small cubicles in a large office hanging on the phone cord like it is their livewire. We know such people working their behinds off to make a living, and so forgetting how to live. The director shows great sympathy for them, none of them is really bad or only good, they all have their moments. They are caught in a web of dreams and promises, and you can't help but wish them all the possible best.
Acting is great, lifelike, only the dialog is sometimes wooden. And the colour scheme for the characters is way too obvious or who has seen in one office someone who sticks to the bluish tones only, another one to the brownish tones, and another to the greyish ones? And one other thing: It wouldn't be necessary to have a string of such close close-ups of guest-starring singer Chris Norman (back in the 70ies front man of UK pop band Smokie), still a great voice, but his looks have paid tribute to the years.
Watching the film is definitely not a waste of time, especially on a rainy afternoon, and if you want to hear how someone whose native language is Bavarian (Sascha aka Maximilian Brückner) successfully deals with accentless German.
Räuber Kneißl (2008)
"De Woch fangt ja scho guad o"
I love to see films at film festivals. And I love films in my native language, which is Bavarian. But not too many such films made, and most of them are not really worth to watch, as often the actors are not capable of the required language, and the stories are weak.
So I was very pleased to read that director Marcus H. Rosenmüller's latest film "Räuber Kneissl" would have its premiere at the 26. Munich Filmfest on June 24, 2008, with a 2nd screening in the afternoon of June 26. I got tickets for that screening, on a sunny warm afternoon, in a sold out (yes, you have to buy tickets for the screenings of the Munich Filmfest) movie theater, unfortunately lacking of air condition. Festival director Andreas Ströhl welcomed us, announcing that he obviously isn't director Marcus H. Rosenmüller, but he asked us to stay in our seats after the film, as some members of cast and crew were in the audience.
The story of the thief and outlaw Mathias Kneissl is common knowledge in Bavaria, but for the rest of the world - here is a short description, loosely based on the version on the website of the Munich Filmfest: Mathias Kneissl (Maximilian Brückner) was a legendary bandit, a folk hero, in turn-of-the-century Bavaria. Born into a poor innkeepers' family as the eldest of six children, he and his brother Alois (played by Maximilian's real brother Florian) often go poaching with their father. When their father is beaten to death while being arrested, Alois fires at the policemen and both young men are sent to prison even though Mathias is innocent. Six years later, as a free man, Kneissl resolves to lead a respectable life and on visiting the rest of his family in Munich, he meets the love of his life, his cousin Mathilde. His past, however, soon catches up with him and the authorities, one policeman in particular, make life harder and harder for him. 'Once a criminal always a criminal'. He didn't do like Robin Hood in England 'Steal from the rich, and give to the poor', he simply needed to steal to survive. So Mathias decides to emigrate to America with Mathilde. If he can't make an honest living at home in Bavaria, he'll do so elsewhere. But in order to raise the money they need for the passage, he has no choice but to turn to crime for a last time. The beginning of a tragic ending... Bavarian historical stories are always entertaining, but hardly ever have a happy ending.
I laughed a lot during the film, cried a lot at the end, and I wasn't the only one shedding a tear then! It was really good to see a good film, in a language I understand with out thinking about. The acting is superb; it comes naturally, so the director's work isn't noticeable. It is almost like the Bavarian version of a Western, and with a nod to a particular scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". The film's leading actors Maximilian Brückner and Brigitte Hobmeier are such a convincing couple (it sure helps that they look great together, but also match the looks of the 19th century), their feelings for each transport into the audience, almost like real. The film got applause during the screening and a lot at then end.
A real story, a great script, a director and team who had a great commitment to the project, well thought about locations, what more can a film fan like me expect? Well, more of the same please!
Lights went on, and the festival director brought Maximilian Brückner up on stage, who shyly accepted the applause, and then brought another of his brothers, who is also in the film, and his little sister who in the film also plays his sister on stage with him. They greeted each other with handshakes which caused a round of laughter from the audience.
Then followed a Q&A, which will go down in history as one of the shortest of its kind. Due to the nature of the film and location of the screening, it was done in Bavarian, but since the comments here have to be in English, I'll use sort of a translation instead:
Maximilian about his siblings being in the film with him: "It is not that we are like the Mafia, but our director Marcus H. Rosenmüller thought it would fit that we all are in it."
The sentence "De Woch fangt ja scho guad o" (something like "The week really begins on a high note") of the real Mathias Kneissl before he was executed is very well known throughout Bavaria, and it is said in the film, but not by Mathias. Maximilian: "I pestered the director to be permitted to say it, but he insisted that it would fit better elsewhere, and in the end, he was right."
To his sister and brother: "Do you want to say something?" Apparently they didn't want to.
And to the audience: "If you have questions, you can ask them now." Only silent sweating (remember no air-condition!)
"No one?" Well, it is hot today, so we all can go home now."
Which we all did, after giving them another round of applause.
I wonder if they will dub "Räuber Kneissl" ("Bavarian Outlaw") in German or attach German subtitles when it will reach German screens.
I'm swept away!
Just returned from my first viewing of POTC - Sooooooo hilarious, all my nerves are still aching from laughing.
A very clever mix from the best bits and pieces of "Captain Blood", "The Sea Hawk", "The Black Swan" and "The Crimson Pirate" (the carrying of the small boats under water for cover, and disguising extremely ugly pirates as women to distract the attention of the soldiers from the main action), and bits from the Disney ride, like the prisoners trying to convince the dog who has the keys to their cell with a bone to hand them over. Also Captain Barbossa as a skeleton drinking wine resembles a figure at the ride, who is rumored to be a reverence to Errol Flynn, who apparently gave Walt Disney the idea to the ride in the first place. And there is also a nod to "Troy"...
Kira Knightley is as least as graceful and witty as Olivia DeHavilland was in her pirate days, opposite Errol Flynn.
Sword training with the elves has certainly left a mark on Orlando Bloom, and his moves resemble Errol Flynn, not much of a surprise as he has got his major training from Bob Anderson, who had brushed up Errol's movements for one of his last pirate movies "The Master of Ballantrae". Not to forget that he has become a really good actor, and a very handsome one too. But I still kept looking for the pointy ears ...
Johnny Depp is over the top, not as something between Keith Richard and a French cartoon character, but as a mix between Ozzy Osbourne and Robin Hood, with a hint of Burt Lancaster's artistic skills and humor as Vallo in "The Crimson Pirate" thrown in for good measure ...
One of the best movies I have seen for a long time, and certainly one of the best pirate movies I know - and I know pretty much all of them!
I'll see it again tomorrow. And again in the times to come...
Why can't I live in Middleearth?
**SPOILER** Just returning from a movie theatre, where I have seen "The Fellowship of the Ring" once again, not for the first time, not for the 2nd time, and certainly not for the last time. The first time I've seen it was on Dec. 18, 5 minutes prior to Midnite, in a Munich movie theatre with at least half of the audience (including my friends and me) dressed for the occasion. Knights in shining and not so shining armour, Elves, a Ringwrath (minus horse), Gandalf, some Hobbits, an Orc and Galadriel. The audience begged for an encore viewing, but as it was already 4 o'clock in the morning, the request was denied.
Peter Jackson has done splendid work with transforming my favorite books into something so gorgeous. The settings and costumes are magnificent, and the special effects are spectacular, with camera angles and rides never seen before. And being a fan of Errol Flynn movies, I enjoyed the fights and their choreographies so very much. Until now I hadn't realized how much I missed good sword fights on screen.
The actors seem to enjoy their parts tremendously - they don't act, they are those characters.
The Hobbits are so lovable, and there couldn't be a better Frodo than Elijah Wood.
Both Wizzards are larger than life, but aren't they a bit too old for the breakdance routine on top of Orthanc?
The Elv Ladies Galadriel and Arwen are beautiful but hardly present. Hopefully this will change in the movies to come. Love those ears...
I still wonder how Peter Jackson managed to squeeze John Rhys-Davies into Dwarf size without diminishing his presence.
And it is very hard not to deeply fall in love with the cat-like Elv Legolas. (sigh) Maybe Orlando Bloom will become the next heart-throb. I'll vote for him!
Seeing Viggo Mortensen as the impersonation of Strider/Aragorn, it is impossible to imagine another actor in this part. He brings all the qualities of the man from the book, as well as his own physical and acting and fighting skills to the screen and makes it shine. What a performance!
The biggest surprise for me was the portrayal of Boromir by Sean Bean. I must admit that I never liked the Boromir of the book, he was such a cardboard cut-out. But Sean Bean (who has never more convincing than now) transformed him into a deeply human being, whose pain and fear show thru all his movements and every spoken word and thought. The way he withstand the power of The Ring in the end is heartbreaking, and I was not the only one who shed some tears when he died. Too bad, he comes in the movie so late - but what an entrance, and won't be in the next one!
Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean are a terrific "screen couple", they don't steal scenes from each other, instead support each other.
For me "The Fellowship of the Ring" is not a movie, I was sucked in, and felt like being part of the action. The almost 3 hours went by in a flurry. Why can't I live in Middleearth? The only downbeat is, that we all have to wait for more than 11 months for the next installment "The Two Towers". But yet, there are the books and the soundtrack if the withdraw becomes too strong!
Der Schuh des Manitu (2001)
It is very easy to get addicted to this movie
"Der Schuh des Manitu" may not be the best movie ever made, but it is certainly the best one to keep me sane in times like these (September 2001). It is such a feelgood movie, that no matter how foul my mood is that day, after I've seen it, I'm really uplifted. It is very easy to get addicted to this movie because the characters are so lovable, and it pays sort of hommage to one of my childhood heroes - Winnetou. The dialogues are made of phrases that we in Munich use in daily life, and Abahachi, Winnetouch and Ranger speak the same dialect as my friends and I do, so it is more like following our neighbours lives, than watching a movie, except maybe for the locations and the costumes. The camera work is splendid and the musical score is very touching. Michael Herbig has done great in writing and directing, and his unforgettable performances as the Indian twin brothers are way too good for words. A highly recommended movie if you are in need of a laugh. And stay till after the end credits, you won't regret it!