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Halbe Welt (1995)
6/10
Bleak, bleak, bleak
13 April 2017
This ultimately exasperating slice of Austrian sci-fi conjures up a metropolitan society where the sun's rays have become fatal and life continues at night or behind shades. Controlling all images of the sunlit world now off-limits is the all powerful Luna organization, but a disparate band of rebels stands determined to free themselves from the dark and re-embrace the light. Unfortunately, this is only half the movie. There's the germ of an idea, excellent use of Vienna and Hamburg locations, and impressive high-contrast photography, yet the plotting and characterization are dispiritingly minimal and one's interest soon flags. A missed opportunity.
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8/10
Very bleak Austrian thriller
13 April 2017
Very much a product of the post-1968 hangover era, in which thoughts of revolution gave way to dispirited cynicism, The Upper Crust concerns a murky political conspiracy in which a trio of well-connected government officials (Ernst Konarek, Bibiane Zeller, and Fred Schaffer) turn to murder to suppress a potentially ruinous scandal. Although it's not entirely clear (at least via the English subtitles) what kind of corporate crimes these starched-collar villains are up to, they are also connected to a prostitution ring via their pimp-enforcer Kralicek (Pavel Landovsky). When a small-time con man, Haumer (Lukas Resatarits), learns that Kralicek got his teen aged girl addicted to heroin and turned her out, he puts his unorthodox professional skills to work in a scheme to exact revenge on the whole group. Not wishing to sully their own hands, the trio send away to America for a mob-connected hit man to dispatch Haumer.
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9/10
Sock puppets, China and YouPorn: yes!
13 April 2017
"Kiki and Bubu: RATED R US" is a sock puppet adventure about Internet censorship and love directed by Johannes Grenzfurthner of Austrian art & tech group Monochrom. It is the sixth installment of the Kiki and Bubu series. The puppets Kiki and Bubu have "some feelings", so they sign up for an online dating site. When the People of China want to become their friend, they are excited. However, sending the People of China a video of themselves proves to be difficult: Their content gets flagged as inappropriate and taken down from YouTube. On the long quest for knowledge which follows, Kiki and Bubu learn all about Internet censorship. And love.
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Traceroute (2016)
9/10
A journey into oneself
13 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Most reviewers focus on the bizarre locations and interesting people that Johannes Grenzfurthner, the narrator-protagonist of "Traceroute", meets in his debut as a documentary filmmaker. That's interesting and fun and already way up on the scale, but what I find really outstanding is how he treats himself, as the main subject of the film. You might call it pretentious, but it truly isn't. Johannes is dissecting himself alive, and sometimes it almost hurts to watch. He is, even though he is telling it in an ironic way, very honest about his past, his interests, his politics. I mean, the film starts with his birth and ends with his (staged) *death*, just because he gets into a "nerd fight" about creationism. It's a never-before-seen finale in a "documentary" film, and very spot on. "Traceroute" is a film about accepting yourself, and others -- and this is beautiful.
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