Archives for posts with tag: costume drama

Beloved Sisters

This German film tells the presumably somewhat true story of two sisters, Charlotte (Henriette Confurius) and Caroline (Hannah Herzsprung) von Lengefeld, and their shared love for Friedrich Schiller (Florian Stetter), a charming poet of frail health and uncertain fortunes. The offbeat romantic scenario and the performances are intense and largely engrossing, the love scenes erotic without being obscene; but costume drama buffs expecting another Pride and Prejudice may be put off by the gradually darkening tone of the film, which takes on the character of a tragedy without ever becoming a tearjerker, however. Beautifully staged and photographed, with a few quirky stylistic choices such as having characters address the camera directly, Beloved Sisters is unique and never feels like a run-of-the-mill Austen-derivative programmer.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Beloved Sisters is:

6. Pro-choice. “Do you want to have the child? … Why?”

5. Anti-Christian. A mother whose bastard child is of an uncertain paternity is compared to the Virgin Mary. Schiller also recites from one of his writings dealing with the inhumanity of the Inquisition.

4. Feminist/pro-gay. The sisters, who share Schiller sexually, also dress as men in order to attend one of his boys-only lectures. Caroline longs to be “a free woman, a single woman.”

3. Anti-marriage. Beloved Sisters depicts multiple unhappy unions, with marriage described as “tragedy”. Caroline’s husband is an “evil elephant” who “wants a dozen children, but only because he won’t come into his father’s inheritance otherwise.” Consequently, he “keeps pestering” her. The sisters, says Wilhelm (Ronald Zehrfeld), sent Schiller “not to paradise, but to the solitary confinement of marriage.” An incident in which a woman who fakes her death to escape her boring husband and run away with her lover demonstrates “international flair”.

2. Reactionary! Initially, Schiller is a naïve radical fired by the ideals of the Enlightenment. “I think humanity will evolve through knowledge and the sight of true beauty,” he says. Later, in the bloody wake of the French Revolution, and after having heard the horror stories of his friend Wilhelm, who has witnessed the carnage of the Terror firsthand, Schiller has more sobering thoughts. “Shouldn’t we have known, Wilhelm?” he asks. “Yes,” his friend replies. “Everyone who rang the bell for renewal should have known.”

1. Racist! That a movie – a German movie, no less! – would have the nerve to present a primitive, pre-multiculturalist Europe as something other than a totalitarian nightmare, and a place, indeed, of great natural charm and civilizational order, is a crime that this critic cannot forgive. Internet bigots obsessed with those supposed Cologne “attacks” will no doubt find much to admire in this dainty, escapist portrait of a racially homogenous society.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY ELEVEN

Madame Bovary

Sophie Barthes adapts Flaubert’s great novel as a film that covers the essentials of the narrative, but proves as unfaithful as its protagonist in reproducing the author’s tone and his mordant humor. Madame Bovary succeeds, at least, in evoking the nineteenth century, and no frame of the film is unattractive. Mia Wasikowska, who plays the lead, is not to blame for the choice to depart from the novel’s attitude, and her presence does much to sustain viewer interest; but the character’s bitchiness is toned down, her agency in her mistakes diminished, and her selfish culpability in the campaign to convince her husband, country doctor Charles Bovary (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), to perform a disastrous experimental surgery is deemphasized – the cumulative effect of which is to make the character less intriguing. Surprisingly, given that it is the current year, even some opportunities for eroticism are neglected. “Perhaps Bathes’ intention was to do her part to prevent anyone from wanting to read the novel?” speculates Cinema de Merde. “Regardless, that remains the most interesting thing about this film: wondering what the director’s intentions possibly could have been.”

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Madame Bovary is:

4. Anti-Christian. Emma finds no solace in the Church.

3. Pro-miscegenation. Emma’s first extramarital love interest is the clerk Dupuis, played by weird-looking Jew Ezra Miller. Cinema de Merde is again worth quoting at this point: “Ezra Miller […] looks like the face of a young Alan Rickman emerging from within a hairy vagina. It’s the sort of thing where you think: ‘Maybe women find that attractive? Is that possible?’”

2. Anti-capitalistic. Aggressive, insinuating merchant Lheureux (Rhys Ifans) is the cause of much of the Bovary household’s trouble. (Why could Ezra Miller not have been cast as Lheureux?)

1. Vaguely feminist. The camera obsesses over the lacing of Emma’s corset, the idea apparently being to squeeze sympathy from her unenviable plight as an oppressed woman presented with no options for self-actualization by nineteenth century society. Then, too, her husband is shown to be a sexually inattentive lover. She even has a brief, inarticulate rant about how insidious men are – though this viewer was somewhat perplexed as to whether or not this scene was supposed to be comic. Enough of Flaubert remains, however, for the protagonist’s behavior to be inexcusable on account of patriarchy.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Viking Saga

Roving bands of foreigners ravage a seemingly helpless Britain, pillaging, raping its women, and humiliating or liquidating its men. No, this is not Woolwich in May of 2013, but the eighth century, when Norsemen subjected the island to terror even more frightening, at least in its immediate consequences, than that presented by the swarms of uncivilized welfare rats presently infesting jolly old England. Today the invaders are Third World rubbish of the British government’s own invitation, but during the Middle Ages an enemy threatened civilizational cataclysm by military means. Fortunately, back in those distant days, there were Englishmen sufficiently concerned with national survival to resist and struggle for the preservation of their culture.

The awkwardly titled A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day follows monk Hereward (Marc Pickering) as he makes his perilous way, attempting to elude the Vikings and get the Holy Book of Lindisfarne, a relic of great national and spiritual significance, to safekeeping at a northern monastery. During his journey Hereward is joined by the warrior Aethelwulf (Mark Lewis Jones) and Pictish woman Eara (Elen Rhys), who both have things to teach him about his responsibilities to his faith and his people.

The lead performances in this historical allegory, particularly Pickering’s, are passionate; and the mist-shrouded Welsh landscape, in combination with a constant sense of urgency and doom, contribute to A Viking Saga‘s air of earnestness of purpose. The artificial dialogue, always a challenge in bringing to life such a distant period, may strike some viewers as unnatural, and the film does show its budgetary limitations in the paltry smattering of actors purporting to represent a devastating Norse invasion force; but A Viking Saga is, on the whole, a better and more engrossing film than might be expected from its unfortunate title.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day is:

10. Mildly feminist. Eara gets revenge for a rape and helps win the day.

9. Traditionalist/pro-family. “My people have used the land’s gifts for a thousand years,” Eara says. “My mother taught me as her mother taught her.”

8. Drug-ambivalent. A psychoactive plant causes Hereward to have frightening hallucinations, but this also results in his having a spiritually instructive vision.

7. Anti-capitalistic/anti-NWO. The invasion started with coastal trading, an allusion to capitalism and possibly also to the EU as sources of Britain’s degradation and loss of sovereignty.

6. Populist. “The church has seen to grow rich and fat while the country starves. Monks hold little respect in the wilds.”

5. Antiwar. The Vikings’ invasion, like so many wars, is motivated by gold and dreams of empire.

4. Conservative. Pathetic, pale-faced, defeatist victims of plunder, plague, and famine actually suffer from a mental disorder: self-loathing liberalism. “We must embrace the death He brings so we may sit at His side in paradise,” one of these medieval progressives explains.

3. Xenophobic and anti-immigration. A quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles at the film’s outset reads, “The heathens trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.”  Black clouds are said to have brought this human pestilence. Alcuin of York “was victorious over the darkness of his time. We shall be victorious over the darkness that threatens to engulf our time.” (Italics added)  Unfortunately, trends today in the UK and Europe, with Islam the continent’s fastest-growing religion and soon to be the dominant faith in Britain, indicate that these storm clouds of the present will not be so handily dissipated.

2. Militantly Christian. A Viking Saga opens with naked monks, beaten and humiliated by Vikings, cringing, crying, and imploring God on a beach after being kicked out of their monastery. These are flabby, undignified men, unsuited to the task of protecting the faith. (“We have seen the bravery of the Saxons here. Men who would stain their church with the stench of their own piss rather than fight.”) “There are many ways to serve Christ, boy,” Aethelwulf tells Hereward. Lifting his sword, he asks, “Does it not resemble the cross?” “Become my wrath,” Christ (Gerald Tyler) says in a vision.

1. Nationalistic. “The book isn’t everything.” The violent defense of the island and nation comes even before Christ’s teachings. “Without their book, this nation would fall,” a Viking leader observes. The perpetuation of Christianity, then, is but a means to the survival of a tribal and racial identity. “The people of England are as precious as the Word.” Jesus is more than once called the “white Christ”.

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