JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Viktor und Viktoria | Volition | Invasion Earth (Directors: Reinhold Schünzel, Tony Dean Smith, James Twyman) - July 30, 2020

Viktor und Viktoria | Volition | Invasion Earth

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One from the past, another from the galaxy and a tale of clairvoyance

Viktor und Viktoria (remastered)
100 minutes, 1933
Reinhold Schünzel
Four stars

Love for 10 bucks

Arguably one of the first madcap comedies of the talkies, this tale of female/male impersonation is a joy to relive 87 years later.

Anyone who has pined to be an artiste (“holding the world at their feet…”) will readily identify with failed dramatic actor, Viktor (Hermann Thimig displays much comic genius, setting the stage for the likes of Red Skelton once television rolled around), who can only make a buck in drag instead of donning Othello’s blackface.

But the table—and his fortunes—are soon turned when Viktor enlists Susanne—the equally unemployed actress wannabe—to become, Viktoria, a marvellous chanteuse/dancer on the stage who only reveals his/her gender with the doffing of the wig during the thunderous applause. Renate Müller devours the early gender-bending role with the greatest of ease. Fritz Odemar readily provides the love interest and even as two belles of the ball (Hilde Hildebrand and Fridel Prisetta) keep the slight plot moving forward.

Franz Doelle’s original score adds much to the mix, which frequently feels more like a musical than a film, even as the dance numbers (featuring overhead cam moments for the bevy of beauties courtesy of cinematographer Konstantin Irmen-Tschet‘s deft angles and shots) overflow with sparkle and zest.

Silly as most of it is, it’s a welcome sorbet during our current international dilemmas where less and less amongst could care less about what gender anyone purports to be: just stay safe! JWR

92 minutes, 2020
Tony Dean Smith
Four stars

“Our choices don’t matter”

Clairvoyants—those who can see the future—use their special gift for fame, fortune and personal success, apparently.

But what if this “gift” announces the death of Mom to a seven-year-old and forecasts the unstoppable murder of the mature man?

In writer-director Smith’s (along with cowriter Ryan W. Smith) vision of visioning, being able to see what’s coming can be lucrative (winning bets in the sports arena) or deadly (viewing unstoppable violence to self and loved ones).

At the centre of everything is James (engagingly portrayed by Adrian McMorran), who sees snippets of the future but not enough to predict every outcome with confidence.

Worked into the narrative mix is a diamond heist (headlined by Ray—John Cassini is a great bully and his two recently ex-con henchmen: Frank Cassini and Alexs Paunovic). The love interest, Angela (done up by the shapely, believable Magda Apanowicz) infuses an element of intrigue to the narrative and dénouement.

Which only leaves James’ research scientist, estranged step-dad (Elliott—Bill Marchant, ably sporting two sets of beards depending on the time warp…) to fill in the plot-point blanks as James learns more about his past even as he must face a predictable future.

It’s a fun ride from stem to stern (with a subliminal homage to the likes of non-linear films such as Mementocross-reference below), that will engage most viewers and cause genre devotees to merely enjoy without savouring. JWR

Invasion Earth
106 minutes, 2020
James Twyman
One and one half stars

Alien to our culture

Twyman’s cautionary tale of visitors to earth with deadly intent began with promise then merely stopped rather than ended.

The premise was promising: an out-of-the-way rehab program (“Rough-it-out”) headed by Dr. Carson (David Shaw gamely tries to hold his charges and the script together), has the extra challenge of fending off aliens whose costumes and demeanour ought to scare no one. The initial scenes manage to work in overt racism—and the black do die first—(with the dutiful, see-it-a mile-away apology), transgender desire (Simon pines to become Cheryl), and a loud-mouthed TV “journalist” (Jon-Paul Gates, managing to endure the unbelievable scenario) whose death can only be cheered.

By journey’s end, only one question remains: How did this get made? JWR

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