Review: ‘Movies in the Mind’

(German and English narration)

(German and English narration)

When Austrian director Michael Glawogger placed an ad inviting members of the public to submit an idea for a movie each would like to make, the response was wildly diverse. “Movies in the Mind” brings to life the concepts of a dozen chosen candidates — 11 men and one woman, including a team of two — as they tell their stories on camera. Democratic premise is highly appealing, and its varied execution both educational and entertaining.

With its panoply of styles, settings and camera angles, pic is a sampler of visual approaches in which each story is appropriately cast and lit. Helmer’s camera is formal or freewheeling as needed, making the exercise a compact course in what works and what doesn’t when form and content meet. A sort of sample reel with multiple narrative hooks, pic could be useful in film production classes worldwide.

Pitch in which two girls fall in with a notorious vampire is as lurid as most of the other stories are tasteful, even old-fashioned. As the story’s originator acknowledges his debt to schlocky Italian horror pics, two lesbian vampires slurp at his side.

One fellow’s madly inventive tale — of an epileptic whose brain is surgically split in two in order to control seizures — carries through on the “split” theme by filming him in alternating positions on the left and right side of the frame as he narrates his increasingly demented tale.

The sole woman recounts a romance gone askew in a very well-equipped industrial kitchen. A scene in which three naked men hang upside down from meat hooks while a noted chef explains how to make stroganoff with human flesh drew laughs from local auds.

Pic’s only English-language pitch is a somewhat mystical tale of redemption in which a debt-ridden man heals a crippled woman via touch alone. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the story of a talking hog’s head in the front seat of a car — related by a German-speaking lad who must have studied at the Tarantino School for Euphoric Filmspieling.

The manner in which the 11 tales are fragmented and interwoven renders them more interesting than a linear arrangement ever could. Mix ‘n’ match editing imbues proceedings with the breathless quality of a serial, with a few stories remaining incomplete or dropped without a semblance of conclusion. Tech credits are pro.

Movies in the Mind

(Kino im Kopf)

Production

(Austrian) A Dor Film production. (International sales: Dor Film, Vienna.) Produced by Danny Krausz, Kurt Stocker. Directed, written by Michael Glawogger, based on treatments by E.P. Wischin, Willy Puchner, Carl Andersen, Christoph Mayr and Viktor Tremmel, Hans Weingartner, H.H. Fink, Susanne Strobl, Richard Blue Lormand, Andreas Dusl, Peter Budil, Boris Schafgans.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W), Glawogger; editor, Christof Schertenleib; music, Armin Pokorn; art direction, Renate Martin, Andreas Donhauser; costume design, Martina List; sound, Ekkehart Baumung. Reviewed at Viennale, Vienna, Oct. 25, 1996. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

With: Rainer Egger, Gabriele Skrabakova, Caroline Manceanu, Anna Harmer, Johannes Terne, Ela Piplits, Christoph Dostal.
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