Nicolas Freund: You can tell from the rings of the felled trees when the Chernobyl reactor disaster took place: From 1986 the wood has been discolored red from radiation. Elena doesn’t smuggle wood out of the zone, however, she is responsible for steel like her father, who is in prison for it. She actually studies in Belarus, but the lectures there are more propaganda than science. She has a difficult relationship with her boyfriend, and the forbidden zone with all the illegal deals seems to promise a future that would otherwise seem inaccessible. The feature film debut of Lothar Herzog shows the troubled world of a youth in Eastern Europe, the calm images of night clubs, endless forests and irradiated ruins are like a silent scream. The abrupt end and many only hinted story lines make the film look sketchy. It remains unclear what wood Elena is made of.
Pool edge sheriff
Josef Grübl: It’s a diving platform and not a standing tower, calls out swimming master Karl to the hesitant swimmer on the five-meter board. In the Bavarian provincial nest everything points to a standstill, the outdoor pool is in a poor condition, there are hardly any guests. But these are only the small problems that Karl (Milan Peschel) has to deal with – soon he will be dealing with real estate sharks, the fate of refugees and the threat of the bathroom being closed. Marcus H. Rosenmüller is the great philanthropist of German cinema, the love for its characters can also be felt here, but unfortunately the mixture of social drama and slapstick comedy doesn’t quite work out.
Come from away
Julia Rothhaas: After the attacks of September 11th, all flights to the USA were diverted, 38 aircraft landed in Gander, Newfoundland alone. Almost 7000 people were stuck in the small town, and the residents impressively demonstrated their hospitality in order to provide the strangers with food, blankets and comfort. This is what this filmed musical tells of Christopher Ahsley: Twelve actors, alternately as passengers or residents, give an impression of the chaotic days in nowhere, despite the minimal set design. On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the pathos-soaked but cleverly designed Singspiel is now starting as a stream (Apple TV +, from 10.9.).
Curveball – We make the truth
Josef Grübl: In times of alternative facts, it has long since ceased to be about truths, but rather the question of how to use them for your own purposes. Told about it Johannes Naber in his film about the Iraqi asylum seeker Rafid Alwan. He came to Germany in 1999 and promised better chances of staying if he served up false statements about biological weapons in his country to the BND. When the truth came out, the bureaucrats were too embarrassed to clear the matter up. That they provided the Americans with the alleged evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and sparked war, is the bitter punchline of this brilliantly told intelligence farce.
Fantastic mushrooms – The magical world too our feet
Anke Sterneborg: With elements of enchanted fairy tales, unsettling science fiction and creepy horror, a hidden wonder world of mushrooms opens up, which break through the forest floor in all colors, shapes and structures or spread out in the form of grid networks. Louie Schwartzberg, who has been tracking the beauty of nature with time-lapse cameras for 30 years, is dedicated to the fascinating world of a species that is neither vegetable nor animal, but something in between. Its mysteries are well worth exploring, not only because of their beauty, diversity and nutritiousness, but also because of the healing powers in human medicine and ecosystems. It’s just a shame that the sensually strong images are completely superfluous with an esoteric narration from the mushroom perspective (in the original: Brie Larson).
Freakscene – The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Juliane Liebert: They make music because it is important to them, says guitarist and singer J Mascis in Philipp Virus‘Documentary about Dinosaur Jr., not because it’s fun. It was with this seriousness that Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph created noisy hymns that saved countless gloomy souls and rock from themselves. The film tells the story of the band in chronological order. Rare live footage from early years compliments the interviews with band members and companions like Kim Gordon. The verbal tapping on the shoulder, which is probably obligatory for pop documentaries, is not entirely absent, but “Freak Scene” is an informative and loving homage.
A wet dog
Annett Scheffel: Reality and madness in Berlin-Wedding: The 16-year-old Iranian Soheil sits between all chairs. For the Germans he is a Kanake, for Jews either a petty criminal or a terrorist, and he hides his Jewish identity from the Muslim boys in his street gang. Narrated based on the autobiography of Arye Sharuz Shalicar Damir Lukačević the search for a home in the minefield of cultural, ethnic and religious lines of segregation. The story is strong, the images are authentic. In the end, however, the film runs out of breath to think through all the conflicts and contradictions that it raises.
Notes of Berlin
Juliane Liebert: The film for the blog of the same name, in which photos are collected from all the pieces of paper that a city produces. Requests, complaints, absurd, exhilarating, sad things. In Mariejosephin Schneider The film tells the stories behind these notes in short episodes, which are as different as the found objects that inspired them.
The Painted Bird
Philipp Stadelmaier: Vaclav Marhoul filmed the novel of the same name by Jerzy Kosinski as a two-and-a-half hour black-and-white picture sheet and passion story, in which a Jewish orphan boy (Petr Koltár) goes from one cruelty to the next in World War II. Udo Kier removes eyes with spoons, Stellan Skarsgard gives a gracious Wehrmacht soldier, Harvey Keitel a helping priest. The pictures are beautiful, the rest is a tour de force.
Sofia Glasl: One could think of a typology of pat on the shoulder Thomas Siebens Derive a thriller, because for the five buddies who are celebrating a bachelorette party here in the forest, the gesture can actually mean anything: encouragement, waving away or a preliminary step to hooking the chin. While their excursion turns into a hunt because an unknown sniper is driving them through the undergrowth, they run through even more stereotypical stereotypes, and the two women they meet on the run are little more than clichéd inventory – cute victims and vengeful lunatics. Even if Sieben tries everything to claim that it has more depth, patting on the shoulder unfortunately only turns into a shrug (Netflix, from September 10th).
Madame Vernet’s rose garden
Helena Zacher: France, as romantic as you imagine it to be, and a world in which the subtle reflex tones of the mother-of-pearl color are existential – this is how the director stages it Pierre Pinaud this movie. After protagonist Eve Vernet loses to her greatest competitor in the International Rose Competition, the rose breeder has to create a new creation. What comes out in the end is a wonderfully charming comedy and hymn to the elegance of nature. Because what would life be without beauty?
Fritz Göttler: Father of the family, that’s a damn tough job in American society. Matt Damon is such a hard working father, construction worker, he has to go to Marseilles, where his daughter is serving a prison sentence for the murder of a fellow student. She protests her innocence, now she has new information about the real perpetrator. The father is supposed to help with the resumption of the proceedings, he does what he can, after all with very ruthless means, and director Tom McCarthy consistently follow him on this path of self-destruction. Can a young French woman, also a single parent, help him through the night? The story is reminiscent of the Meredith Kercher murder case, in which Amanda Knox was wrongly accused of murder in Perugia, which is why she vehemently opposed the film on Twitter.
Once upon a time revolutionaries
Anna Steinbauer: Two well-off Viennese couples in their late thirties receive a call for help from a Russian friend in need, and it quickly becomes clear what is left of idealism and humanistic ideas when those in need do not behave as those who help would like. The director calculates relentlessly and sometimes a little too didactically Johanna Moder with the selfish attitude and mendacity of a cosmopolitan middle class. Your film alternates between biting social criticism and delicately arranged family drama.