Volker Schlondorff Reviews

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Calm at Sea

Review West Germany; the early 1980s. A terrorist gang bursts into a bank. "Hi guys, we're the robbers," says Rita Vogt, "We're nationalizing the economy." As they flee, Rita stops to give money to a street-person. These are not your average bank robbers. After a series of complications, these anti-capitalist revolutionaries are forced to disband, but Rita decides to take refuge in East Germany under a false identity, and this former socialist activist begins to encounter some of the drab and discontented reality of a Communist state. Volker Schlondorff (The Tin Drum) directs this striking political thriller set in the later years of the Cold War.
The King's Choice

Review No Description Available.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: 4-AUG-1998
Media Type: DVD
Habermann

Review With a foreigner's revitalizing influence, German director Volker Schlondorff turns this standard potboiler (based on the novel Just Another Sucker by British pulp writer James Hadley Chase) into a beguiling exercise in genre classicism. Woody Harrelson stars as a former journalist, just released from serving two years on a trumped-up charge, who is drawn into a troublesome mock-extortion scheme by the scheming wife (Elisabeth Shue) of a dying Florida millionaire. The movie's got style to spare and plenty of humid Florida atmosphere, but it's built on a series of improbable developments and is too low-key to generate riveting momentum. But Schlondorff occupies this tawdry territory with a keen sense of necessary mood and pace, maintaining adequate internal logic and awareness of the story's vintage roots. Subplots involving Shue's stepdaughter (Chloë Sevigny) and Harrelson's girlfriend (Gina Gershon) provide enjoyable distractions from the story's implausibilities. The movie's better suited to the fertile pulp mills of cable TV. But with an absurdly twisting plot to hold your interest, it's fun to watch how Schlondorff builds a bridge between traditional film noir and a more contemporary approach to sultry intrigue. --Jeff Shannon
13 Minutes

Review At an Austrian boys’ boarding school in the early 1900s, shy, intelligent Törless observes the sadistic behavior of his fellow students, doing nothing to help a victimized classmate—until the torture goes too far.
Within the Whirlwind

Review Latvia, 1919: the end of the Russian Civil War. An aristocratic young woman (brilliantly played by Margarethe von Trotta) becomes involved with a sexually repressed Prussian soldier. When she is rejected by her love, the young woman is sent into a downward spiral of psychosexual depression, promiscuity, and revolutionary collaboration. A startling tale of heartbreak and violence set against the backdrop of bloody revolution, Volker Schlöndorff’s Le Coup de grâce is a powerful film that explores the interrelation of private passion and political commitment.
Süskind

Review Passion and politics collide with tragically bleak results in Le Coup de Grace. Dedicating his film to French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville, director Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) emulates Melville's fascination with themes of war, adapting (with his wife and star, Margarethe von Trotta) the novel Der Fangschuß by Marguerite Yourcenar, set in Latvia in 1919 after the end of World War I. While sporadic fighting continues in the Baltic states, naive countess Sophie (von Trotta) seals her fate by falling in love with Erich (Matthias Habich), a Prussian soldier who secretly desires Sophie's brother (in one of several vaguely handled subplots). She retaliates by supporting the Communists and, when captured, demands that Erich be her executioner. Like the repressed emotions of its characters, the drama's power is nearly subdued by Schlondorff's murky ambiguity; it helps to be familiar with the film's historical context, but Le Coup de Grace is still a worthy companion to Schlöndorff's The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, and a hauntingly atmospheric tale of wartime self-destruction. --Jeff Shannon
Max and Helene

Review Volker Schlöndorff transported Bertolt Brecht's 1918 debut play to contemporary West Germany for this vicious experiment in adaptation, seldom seen for nearly half a century. Oozing with brutish charisma, Rainer Werner Fassbinder embodies the eponymous anarchist poet, who feels himself cast out from bourgeois society and sets off on a schnapps-soaked rampage. Hewing faithfully to Brecht's text, Schlöndorff juxtaposes the theatricality of the prose with bare-bones, handheld 16 mm camera work, which gives immediacy to this savage story of rebellion. Featuring a supporting cast of Fassbinder's troupe of theater actors as well as Margarethe von Trotta, BAAL demonstrates the uncompromising nature of Schlöndorff's vision and forged a path for New German Cinema.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director Volker Schlöndorff, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Interviews from 1973 and 2015 with Schlöndorff
- New conversation between actor Ethan Hawke and playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman about the play and adaptation
- New interview with actor and filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta
- New interview with film historian Eric Rentschler
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: An essay by critic Dennis Lim
Viceroy's House

Review West Germany; the early 1980s. A terrorist gang bursts into a bank. "Hi guys, we're the robbers," says Rita Vogt, "We're nationalizing the economy." As they flee, Rita stops to give money to a street-person. These are not your average bank robbers. After a series of complications, these anti-capitalist revolutionaries are forced to disband, but Rita decides to take refuge in East Germany under a false identity, and this former socialist activist begins to encounter some of the drab and discontented reality of a Communist state. Volker Schlondorff (The Tin Drum) directs this striking political thriller set in the later years of the Cold War.
Heroes of War: Poland

Review No Description Available.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: 4-AUG-1998
Media Type: DVD
Past Life

Review With a foreigner's revitalizing influence, German director Volker Schlondorff turns this standard potboiler (based on the novel Just Another Sucker by British pulp writer James Hadley Chase) into a beguiling exercise in genre classicism. Woody Harrelson stars as a former journalist, just released from serving two years on a trumped-up charge, who is drawn into a troublesome mock-extortion scheme by the scheming wife (Elisabeth Shue) of a dying Florida millionaire. The movie's got style to spare and plenty of humid Florida atmosphere, but it's built on a series of improbable developments and is too low-key to generate riveting momentum. But Schlondorff occupies this tawdry territory with a keen sense of necessary mood and pace, maintaining adequate internal logic and awareness of the story's vintage roots. Subplots involving Shue's stepdaughter (Chloë Sevigny) and Harrelson's girlfriend (Gina Gershon) provide enjoyable distractions from the story's implausibilities. The movie's better suited to the fertile pulp mills of cable TV. But with an absurdly twisting plot to hold your interest, it's fun to watch how Schlondorff builds a bridge between traditional film noir and a more contemporary approach to sultry intrigue. --Jeff Shannon
The Vatican & The Third Reich: An Unholy Alliance

Review At an Austrian boys’ boarding school in the early 1900s, shy, intelligent Törless observes the sadistic behavior of his fellow students, doing nothing to help a victimized classmate—until the torture goes too far.
The Legend of Rita

Review Latvia, 1919: the end of the Russian Civil War. An aristocratic young woman (brilliantly played by Margarethe von Trotta) becomes involved with a sexually repressed Prussian soldier. When she is rejected by her love, the young woman is sent into a downward spiral of psychosexual depression, promiscuity, and revolutionary collaboration. A startling tale of heartbreak and violence set against the backdrop of bloody revolution, Volker Schlöndorff’s Le Coup de grâce is a powerful film that explores the interrelation of private passion and political commitment.
Good Bye, Lenin! (Special Edition)

Review Passion and politics collide with tragically bleak results in Le Coup de Grace. Dedicating his film to French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville, director Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) emulates Melville's fascination with themes of war, adapting (with his wife and star, Margarethe von Trotta) the novel Der Fangschuß by Marguerite Yourcenar, set in Latvia in 1919 after the end of World War I. While sporadic fighting continues in the Baltic states, naive countess Sophie (von Trotta) seals her fate by falling in love with Erich (Matthias Habich), a Prussian soldier who secretly desires Sophie's brother (in one of several vaguely handled subplots). She retaliates by supporting the Communists and, when captured, demands that Erich be her executioner. Like the repressed emotions of its characters, the drama's power is nearly subdued by Schlondorff's murky ambiguity; it helps to be familiar with the film's historical context, but Le Coup de Grace is still a worthy companion to Schlöndorff's The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, and a hauntingly atmospheric tale of wartime self-destruction. --Jeff Shannon
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Widescreen Edition)

Review Volker Schlöndorff transported Bertolt Brecht's 1918 debut play to contemporary West Germany for this vicious experiment in adaptation, seldom seen for nearly half a century. Oozing with brutish charisma, Rainer Werner Fassbinder embodies the eponymous anarchist poet, who feels himself cast out from bourgeois society and sets off on a schnapps-soaked rampage. Hewing faithfully to Brecht's text, Schlöndorff juxtaposes the theatricality of the prose with bare-bones, handheld 16 mm camera work, which gives immediacy to this savage story of rebellion. Featuring a supporting cast of Fassbinder's troupe of theater actors as well as Margarethe von Trotta, BAAL demonstrates the uncompromising nature of Schlöndorff's vision and forged a path for New German Cinema.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director Volker Schlöndorff, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Interviews from 1973 and 2015 with Schlöndorff
- New conversation between actor Ethan Hawke and playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman about the play and adaptation
- New interview with actor and filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta
- New interview with film historian Eric Rentschler
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: An essay by critic Dennis Lim

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