Saturday, July 25, 2009

Jul 24-30: REVANCHE has all the right influences

Coming late July to the Cinematheque, the Vancouver premiere of an Austrian film that's getting compared to all the right directors...

REVANCHE ("Revenge" (2008, Austria, Götz Spielmann)
Pacific Cinematheque
Friday, July 24, 2009 - 7:00pm
Friday, July 24, 2009 - 9:20pm
Saturday, July 25, 2009 - 7:00pm
Saturday, July 25, 2009 - 9:20pm
Sunday, July 26, 2009 - 7:00pm
Sunday, July 26, 2009 - 9:20pm
Monday, July 27, 2009 - 7:00pm
Monday, July 27, 2009 - 9:20pm
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 7:00pm
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 - 9:20pm
Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 7:00pm
Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 9:20pm
"Revanche, a ravishing, masterfully restrained, unusually intelligent neo-noir revenge tale from talented Austrian director Götz Spielmann, was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar this year — "and it’s a better movie than most of the films in the main race" (Wesley Morris, Boston Globe). "A suspense-filled thriller, full of jarring angularities, perfectly composed scenes and dollops of steamy sex...Alex (a stellar Johannes Krisch) is a disgruntled, tightly wound ex-con working in a Viennese brothel. His only respite is his love for Ukrainian prostitute Tamara (Irina Potapenko) who reluctantly plies her trade in the same brothel. Out in the sun-dappled countryside, couple Susanne (Ursula Strauss) and inexperienced cop Robert (Andreas Lust) have just moved into their new home. Two couples in seemingly diametrical opposition are brought into one another’s spheres after a deadly botched robbery sets Spielmann’s taut tale in motion" (Vancouver I.F.F.). The film has been widely praised — and drawn comparisons to the lofty likes of Hitchcock, Haneke, Tarkovsky, Kieslowski, and Bresson — for its emotional and moral depth, life-affirming humanism, beautiful formal qualities, eloquent economy of means, and firm sense of place and purpose. "Directed with terrific control...Revanche gets its hooks into you early and leaves them there" (Scott Foundas, Village Voice). Colour, 35mm, in German with English subtitles. 121 mins." Pacific Cinematheque
At Twitch, fellow Filmwell writer Jason Morehead calls the film "the unexpected discovery and delight of the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival," and points out the double-entendre of the title: "'Revanche' means not only 'revenge' but something like 'a second chance.'" And if you watch the trailer at the auteurs (full screen!), you'll read Soul Food-friend Darren Hughes' quote that "Revanche is the kind of taut, thinking-adult's drama that America stopped producing 30 years ago." Here's what else Darren had to say at "
I've developed a lazy habit of saying that I don't particularly care what a film is about; I care what it does formally. But, while well-directed and wonderfully performed, the standout feature of Gotz Spielmann's Revanche is the story, which, particularly over the last 80 minutes, is perfectly constructed. Borrowing from scattershot genre conventions (lovers on the run, an escape to the country, the Madonna whore), Revanche is the kind of taut, thinking-adult's drama that America stopped producing 30 years ago. Although his film maybe lacks so neat a moral dilemma as that posed by The Son, Spielmann matches the Dardennes at the level of execution. Or, more to the point, I was tense and curious for the entire length of the film, and I was completely satisfied by its resolution. (Also, what the Dardennes did for the lumberyard, Spielmann has done for the wood pile.) Highly recommended."
And here's more of what they had to say at
Revanche shows just how successfully one can transpose the plot and character based drama of Hollywood to the refined style of European art-house cinema without hampering it with a sense self-importance. The film’s story of an unhappy Ukrainian prostitute (Irina Potapenko) and her boyfriend (Johannes Krisch) who works at her brothel essentially has all the ingredients of a sordid American narrative: exploitative setting, crime, a botched armed robbery, and an accidental murder. It is this last element that sparks the title and the film’s focus on contemplating vengeance. But Götz Spielmann’s film is far from the exploitative thrill ride this description would suggest. His approach is respectful and measured, as if wanting to give what would normally be considered a B-plot its due. There is no pretension in his scenes, each usually made up of longer takes and only one or two shots, all from a cool, respectful distance. Patience is the key, the film noticeably lacking any additional, deep-seeded psychological tumult that this divergent, far more brooding approach to such a story might bring to the robber’s boiling desire, while hiding out, to find and kill the murderer who upset the robbery.
Revanche takes the kind of story usually compressed into a taut, 90-minute film and carefully elongates it, drawing out relationships always given the short shrift in a more compacted versions—the attachment between the robber and his girl, between the cop (Andreas Lust) who ends up killing one of them and his wife (Ursula Strauss), between the robber’s father and the survivor, the cop’s wife and everyone else. Although coincidence connects everyone's relationship to one another just a bit too much, it also allows each character to settle into their tragedy by developing relationships with those similarly, but unknowingly affected by the very same events. The cop tears himself up over the murder, the robber over the lost loved one, and both the wife and father on the outside, one trying to push her way in deeper, the other trying to pull himself out, distance himself from this world and leave it for a better place. The idea seems too simple but the results speak for themselves: deliberation clearly can turn the regular into the accomplished. Revanche does just that, taking the time not to imbue its story with anything new or different, but rather giving a clichéd story room to breath, to settle down and admit its emotions, and to find its own tempo and tragedy on its own terms, in its own time.

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