NYFF20 REVIEW: Undine [2020]

If you leave, you have to die. Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) laughs when Undine Wibeau (Paula Beer) tells him he can’t leave her lest she be forced to kill him. He laughs because he’s read the myth of sea nymphs sharing her name and the fate those who love them suffer if they ever betray it. That’s not how the real world works, though. Couples fall in and out of love all the time. Men don’t walk to forest lakes and scream her name to satisfy the holes in their heart…

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REVIEW: Transit [2018]

I won’t be writing anymore school essays. It took until the end of Christian Petzold‘s Transit and my reading the press notes to realize Georg’s (Franz Rogowski) story unfolded in the present day. I felt off-balance from the start as far as what the historical context for these events were because he was a German man in France fleeing an impending fascist force, hopeful of escaping somewhere outside of its reach. Was he Jewish? It’s never said. Is this the lead-up to World War II? Aesthetics, architecture, and cellphones prove…

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REVIEW: Jerichow [2009]

“You can’t love if you don’t have money” The titular town of Jerichow as shown onscreen by writer/director Christian Petzold is hardly one of paradise yet still very much of “home.” It’s where dishonorably discharged ex-Army man Thomas (Benno Fürmann) runs to without a word to his employer (in part due to stealing a few bucks), his mother’s death sparking the return while her empty house provides a reason to stay. And it’s where Turkish immigrant Ali (Hilmi Sözer) has set-up shop with wife Laura (Nina Hoss), their snack shack…

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REVIEW: Yella [2007]

“I want you to love me again” There’s a glimmer of hope in Yella Fichte’s (Nina Hoss) eye when things finally seem to be going in the right direction. She’s earned a new job starting the day after tomorrow, one that should fill her empty bank account and lead her towards prosperity. But before she can enjoy the good news, she must first endure that which she yearns to escape. This comes in the form of Ben (Hinnerk Schönemann), a man putting a chill down her spine with an unpredictable…

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REVIEW: Gespenster [Ghosts] [2005]

“And I walked towards the music” Three women caught in disparate existential crises are converging in Christian Petzold‘s Gespenster [Ghosts] to seek answers despite reality only supplying opportunity to exacerbate their already volatile shortcomings. Nina (Julia Hummer) is a late-teen orphan hopeful to discover an avenue towards a brighter future that will assist her in escaping the present. Francoise (Marianne Basler) is a middle-aged woman searching to retrieve something she lost years ago, her past-fueled desperation causing present strife. And Toni (Sabine Timoteo) is a displaced young woman hopping from…

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REVIEW: Die innere Sicherheit [The State I Am In] [2001]

“She’s translating menus now too” With his theatrical debut Die innere Sicherheit [The State I Am In], German writer/director Christian Petzold proves his most recent pair of Barbara and Phoenix were born from a mind that had always been ready to tell stories of personal emotional strife within complex circumstances. The way in which he presents them have always been unlike anything you see in Hollywood too, their dissemination of information meticulously planned for maximum impact both in terms of the audience watching and his characters onscreen. We know from…

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REVIEW: Phoenix [2014]

“I no longer exist” The Holocaust left thousands of survivors stripped of identity—branded by a number as though they weren’t worthy of the name given at birth. To exit such horror was to enter a new world forever changed for them as well as those lucky enough to have missed the nightmare first-hand. Pity, guilt, sorrow, and anger mixed as victims, oppressors, heroes, and bystanders who refused to acknowledge the truth reunited in a post-War Earth. Nations tried to make things better by pooling together the wealth of those who…

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