Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:31 am 
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NIKOLAUS LEYTNER: THE TOBACCONIST/DER TRAFIKANT (2018) CAPSULE

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SIMON MORZÉ AND BRUNO GANZ IN THE TOBACCONIST


cAPSULE review - theatrical release coming soon

". . . a stunning recreation of the late 1930s in Vienna, thanks to the talents of director Nikolaus Leytner, his cinematographer and art director. The film expertly captures the tensions in the Austrian capital on the eve of Hitler’s takeover, and it also manages to be a vibrant coming-of-age story and an intriguing portrayal of Sigmund Freud, expertly portrayed by Bruno Ganz." - Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter.

In the first shot 17-year-old Frantz Huchel (robust young Everyman Simon Morzé) is hiding underwater in the lake as a thunderstorm rages, the water seemingly a safe cocoon for him. Out in the storm his promiscuous mother's latest lover, post copulation, takes a dip and is destroyed by lightening. Deprived of this source of livelihood, Mom sends Frantz to Vienna to apprentice to another lover, the tobacconist and one-legged WWI vet Otto Trsnjek (Johannes Krisch). Franz enters a miniature storybook world of Thirties shopkeeping, complete with period pornography hidden in a drawer for certain customers, all newspapers save the Nazi one, and a box of the best Havana cigars for the most special customers. Frantz sleeps in the shop, Otto at an apartment elsewhere.

The best touch in this atmospheric and visually pleasing but intellectually lightweight film (its YA storyline is never a total washout but sometimes belies its satisfying mise-en-scène) is what happens to Frantz at the end, as officials and bullies advise him to go back home but the future doesn't look rosy anywhere. He simply disappears, and the movie fades to black. Freud is gone, the shop has been closed, the Gestapo has the keys, the box of Havana cigars is left behind. The cozy, delightful mise-en-scène is plastered over with swastikas. What's left? Only tuneful credits roll. And credit is indeed deserved for dp Hermann Dunzendorfer and especially for production designer Bertram Reiter.

The Tobacconist/Der Trafikant, 117 mins., debuted at Hamburg Sept. 30, 2018 and had its US premiere in Jan. 2019 at the NYJFF at Lincoln Center, showing in numerous other Jewish film festivals including the SFJFF, where it was screened for this review.
SFJFF showtimes:
Tuesday July 23, 2019 8:10 p.m. CineArts
Thursday July 25, 2019 8:55 p.m. Castro Theatre
Saturday August 3, 2019 1:35 p.m. Smith Rafael
Sunday August 4, 2019 6:15 p.m. Piedmont Theatre

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©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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