Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Alternate Best Actor 1988: Klaus Maria Brandauer in Hanussen

Klaus Maria Brandauer did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Klaus Schneider aka Erik Jan Hanussen in Hanussen.

Hanussen is an effective character study following an Austrian who after being wounded in World War I becomes a mentalist in Germany.

Well I interrupt our predetermined lineup of reviews to come to Klaus Maria Brandauer during his brief period as a leading man and international star. As with one of his other notable leading turn as a real life figure in Mephisto, Brandauer once again plays a role whose fate is intertwined with the Nazi movement in Germany. As with that earlier performance Brandauer's approach is innately fascinating in itself. Now in the early scenes of the film Brandauer's work is fairly unassuming in presenting just a man first in agony of his head wound from a gunshot, then going through a difficult recovery. We are granted this time with Klaus Schneider which Brandauer uses well to establish a pivotal initial understanding to the man before he becomes the titular figure for the film. Brandauer's work is properly modest here as we see him with the other veterans dealing with their suffering and Brandauer is moving in effectively depicting the somber state of this man. This all changes though when one of the particularly damaged men threatens the hospital with a grenade leading to Hanussen coming out.

The first time we meet Hanussen is a downright brilliant scene for Brandauer's performance, though there are many more to come, this one is distinctive in the way Brandauer approaches this first instance of his abilities. In the scene Klaus calls upon his apparent mental sway to calm the suicidal man, and prevent him from setting off the grenade. Brandauer in this moment brings this sudden power just in his gaze and in his delivery carries such an authority with every word, yet in this instance there is a desperation to the moment. Brandauer doesn't portray as an intentional use of some control, but rather the instinct of the man to try to handle the situation and save everyone in the room himself included. The power is realized yet in this moment Brandauer portrays it as brought on by the emotions of that horrible situation. This is Klaus Schneider using the power he'd be known for but before he realized he even had it. This leads Schneider to examine his position, and Brandauer portrays this as bringing a growth in the confidence in the man that leads to a fuller recovery from his war injuries. In this we are granted with the first sight of his ego which, as proven earlier with Mephisto, Brandauer is a master at a realization of this.

That ego is a major facet of his performance here, and he carefully uses this within his performance throughout. At the hospital the man's ego initially grows through the interest of his doctor who sees his power or at least talent, and even through a nurse who has an affair with him. Brandauer shows the way Schneider takes on these praises and encouragement with a certain thrill that provides with it a most definite joy. Brandauer shows this build the man up to so much more than he had been but this only grows as he changes his name to become Jan Hanussen. This is where his performance becomes particularly fascinating in how Brandauer works in discovering the character for himself. It would be simple enough just to create the megalomaniac but that isn't what Brandauer does with his performance. Instead even as we see Hanussen build up as this creation there is always a sense of Schneider in a certain way that is a central facet to Brandauer's work. There is no simplification as Brandauer presents the various faces of the man which are all compelling in their own right and what is truly remarkable is in the way Brandauer weaves them as one in this strange tapestry of a man.

In private quarters, though in company, Brandauer gives us some of Schneider still but with the confidence of Hanussen drawn within that. Brandauer in his moments with his old doctor and his girlfriend does offer a genuine decency at times. Although again that confidence is of Hanussen in a way, and Brandauer delivers all of these scenes with an inherent distance of the man with this power against those who do not have it. He projects a bit of an enigma, but he allows enough of an honest human being there as well. Brandauer carefully shows the man still is willing to connect, and there are moments of just some real warmth he provides in showing the man still needing normal friendships however they are a secondary goal in the end. The focus of the film is Hanussen, though this is most often as the mentalist performer. It is here where Brandauer is absolutely outstanding in every single scene as this larger than life figure. What he does is so incredible in every instance. Brandauer projects such an extreme and overpowering charisma in these scenes. Every part of it from his ease in delivery yet with such a commanding voice to his physical performance that is so essential in crafting the manner of a mystic who is otherworldly, and wholly in control.

It is enough of an achievement for Brandauer to do as I have already stated, but even here he goes further in the exact way he handles every single one of these scenes. In all of them there is this overpowering charisma yet he handles this in a different way depending on the situation. In many instances we are granted just the pure showman and in these scenes Brandauer is very entertaining with a more overt approach to a man somewhat playing up the mystic act since it is indeed an act. This is different though in a scene where Hanussen takes on a would be heckler. Again Brandauer commands the screen much as Hanussen commands the man's mind. In this time though there is a vindictive force to his pull as he so effectively presents the way Hanussen incisively breaks the man down before calmly dismissing him. My favorite single Hanussen scene though is when he is put on trial for charlatanism. Brandauer at first begins more grounded as he answers the questions of the prosecutor and the judge explaining his act as interest in humans. In this moment Brandauer reveals this quiet yet rather intense passion that holds this as truth to what inspires the man. Still by the nature of the court Brandauer shows Hanussen playing with them a bit, and Brandauer is rather enjoyable to watch in presenting so well the man treating the trial as a bit of a game. When pressed further though he switches to the full power of Hanussen in a way, and Brandauer is mesmerizing to watch pull out essentially that power of the man's sheer will. The whole court rises when he commands them to, and Brandauer makes this seem a natural act.

There is yet the final layer to Brandauer's performance and the man that is Hanussen. This is the most internalized part and an essential facet to this portrayal since it keeps him grounded to a certain extent alluding to the wounded war veteran we met at the beginning of the film. This facet is an extremely subtle part of Brandauer's performance in that it is mostly silent and comes into play with Hanussen's perhaps greatest ability which is to see in the future. Now when he acts as the clairvoyant there is that degree of showmanship, but what I speak to is what Brandauer does when he sees that his predictions have come true. Brandauer is amazing in bringing back a vulnerability to the man and in a way rationalizing the entire story. Brandauer, even though this is where Hanussen's powers are most proven to be true, Brandauer portrays in his eyes and whole body language this loss of ego and definite fear from Hanussen seeing his power as real. In this Brandauer realizes this sense of doubt within the man that should seem a contradiction yet Brandauer's performance is so astute it instead offers a greater insight into the man. Brandauer finds the man struggling with himself and not only whether his abilities or real, but also if really wants them to be. We see this side of the man continue as Hitler appropriates Hanussen's methods for his own ends, and in these reactions off unease there is that scared man just trying to get by again. This unease eventually leads him to take action which quickly leads him to be taken out by a group of Nazi soldiers to be executed. The final scene is another astonishing scene for Brandauer as he briefly begins with Hanussen attempting to play the master of the mind to get out of this, however the men's gun's quickly break this act. Brandauer then proceeds to be harrowing by depicting the breaking man's ego as he is taunted by the men before being killed himself. There is yet one final moment of his power, which is brilliantly portrayed, as Brandauer offers the foresight once again without the ego, and it is devastating as predicts the demise of the Nazis in one of his final breaths. This is a downright masterful portrait by Klaus Maria Brandauer as he not only becomes that otherworldly figure, but he manages to poignantly humanizes this man at the same time.

71 comments:

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Thank you for reviewing him, I saw this performance a couple of nights ago and he's indeed brilliant. Then again, I've always been a huge fan of Brandauer and wish we saw him again.

Luke Higham said...

Your thoughts on the cast.

Luke Higham said...

And is there any chance of him going up for Mephisto.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: You should check out La Revolution Francaise (1989). He's a pretty great Danton. :)

Charles Heiston said...

Totally love this performance, slipped my mind when i suggested, though. He could go as high as #2.

Luke Higham said...

Brandauer vs Dafoe should be very interesting.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: I hope you'll review Neville next.

Anonymous said...

Louis , thoughts and rating on robin Hood : Prince of thieves as a movie? I know you liked Rickman.

RatedRStar said...

I like it when you do this Louis, finding hidden gems outside of the lineup =D.

RatedRStar said...

I do wonder why the Klaus Maria Brandauer reign as a leading man was not particularly long, I mean with other 80s actors like William Hurt and Mickey Rourke you can pinpoint exactly when their time as a leading man was coming to an end.

Calvin Law said...

Everyone: your revised Oscar predictions?

Best Picture: Dunkirk
Best Director: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, Molly's Game
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Best Supporting Actress: Alison Janneyt, I, Tonya
Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name
Best Original Screenplay: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And I'm betting on Deakins finally winning, and Stanton getting a posthumous nomination.

Luke Higham said...

Calvin: I second that, apart from Janney who could face opposition from Mary J. Blige in Mudbound.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

I thought everyone else was decent, but this was basically a one man show, despite there being several other character. Erland Josephson probably had the most the do, though I'm pretty sure he was dubbed, but even that was no a lot. Everyone besides Brandauer was good though, but he was the only one who truly stood out.

Anonymous:

As I've mentioned before when asked about Rickman, it's a film I need to revisit.

RatedRStar:

I think Brandauer's situation might have been the same as Rick Moranis's. Although he never retired completely his output diminished considerably after his wife passed away.

Calvin:

Best Picture: Dunkirk
Best Director: Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Post
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Best Supporting Actress: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Best Adapted Screenplay: Call Me By Your Name
Best Original Screenplay: The Post

Luke Higham said...

God, I have to suffer through a 4th Streep win, though if she's five worthy, I'll let it slide.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I too will try to mentally will Stanton to that nomination, despite his distributor, he got the Gotham Nomination, that's not much but it's a start.

Luke:

I will be curious to see how Mudbound performs in general, I'm not convinced the Academy will be accepting a streaming film outside of Documentary, especially with how Netflix was treated at Cannes.

Luke Higham said...

*I may have to

RatedRStar said...

The problem with the Stanton nomination, is that who does he replace out of the 5?

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

I'd say is there five? Lead actor is pretty thin right now in terms of "legitimate contenders".

Calvin Law said...

RatedRStar, Louis: Well at this point I'd actually say only Oldman and Day-Lewis are dead certs, and maybe Gyllenhaal. I could see the final lineup ending up like this,

Oldman
Day-Lewis
Carrell (Battle of the Sexes)
Gyllenhall

Which leaves a spot open for Stanton possibly.

RatedRStar said...

Don't forget Garfield, Oscar bait film and consecutive second nomination, academy seems to love giving second straight nominations.

Calvin Law said...

Also, I'm thinking McDormand might have a bigger chance than Streep at winning. They love Streep, but they love McDormand as well, I mean they nominated her for bit parts in North Country and Almost Famous, so I can't imagine they'd not at the very least contemplate giving her the win for her career-best in Three Billboards.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: No offence, but it wouldn't bother me all that much if he got in ahead of Gyllenhaal, he did give one of the worst performances of the year in Okja and Jackman had a likely top 5 lead performance in Logan and his role in The Greatest Showman fits him perfectly.

Calvin Law said...

RatedRStar: I've got a friend who caught it at the LFF and she reckons Garfield's chances are really slim. Especially when he and Gyllenhaal's roles essentially tick the same boxes, so to speak.

RatedRStar said...

Breathe is getting mixed reviews but the Oscar campaign seems to be in full force atm.

Luke Higham said...

Are we forgetting about Chalamet as a possibility.

Calvin Law said...

Chalamet could easily get in too if the love comes on strongly enough, since he's gotten loads of praise and I've heard he's actually the highlight. Having said that, younger actors rarely ever get into Lead.

RatedRStar said...

If I have 5 wishes atm for this Oscar season, what with The Snowman being a gut puncher, I would say they were down to performances I want nominated atm rather than necessarily the films doing well lol.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

I should say I believe Actress is completely wide open at the moment. The Post would have to be seen as awful by all for her not to be at least nominated though. If the Oscars are as politically charged as the Emmys were I could see Streep easily winning for not only the nature of the role, but also in connection to what happened with her earlier this year.

Luke:

When he gets nominated I'll believe it, the Academy ignores young male leads all the time even in best picture nominees.

Anonymous said...

Thoughts on those who think Three Billboards will win Best Picture?

RatedRStar said...

The Oscars for me in the last couple of years have generally been good for me lol with 2014 being the last one in which I was disappointed with mostly. Now providing that these performances will be good, and I hope they will be then these at the moment for the male acting categories, if just one of these happens then I can go "well at least I got something"

1. Sam Rockwell getting in
2. Jake Gyllenhaal getting in
3. Harry Dean Stanton getting in
4. Phantom Thread getting good reviews
5. Timothee Chalamet getting in

Calvin Law said...

If I had 5 wishes for 5 unlikely scenarios:

1. Stanton and McDormand both getting Lead noms
2. Poulter getting in even if Detroit is shut out
3. Three Billboards winning Best Original Screenplay
4. Jackman getting nominated for Logan
5. Get Out getting any sort of Oscar nomnation

HM to Ellar Coltrane getting a nom for The Circle to makeup for his Boyhood snub :)

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: What I desperately want is Nolan and Oldman to win. Deakins wholly deserves to win, but it wouldn't bother me if he loses to a just as deserving work from Hoytema.

Calvin Law said...

Anonymous: It'll be crazy if it does, but it won't. I do think that out of McDonagh's pictures so far though, that it'll come closest to getting a nomination.

RatedRStar said...

I would get a massive nerdgasm lol just from seeing the words from Louis

"Sam Rockwell received his first Oscar nomination"

Calvin Law said...

RatedRStar: Rockwell getting in will be great but I'm afraid the nature of the role could easily turn them off, though I'd love if both redneck racist cop performances got in this year (never thought I'd say that). Out of your 5 hopes, Gyllenhaal has the biggest chance.

Giuseppe Fadda said...

@Calvin: isn’t Carell campaigning in supporting for The Battle of the Sexes?

Calvin Law said...

Giuseppe: I think he's campaigning in lead for both his performances, if I'm not mistaken? I may well be, though.

Louis Morgan said...

Anonymous:

Excessively Idiosyncratic writers/directors can get the Picture/Director noms when they are sort of a populist hit, even with a heavy does of their usual style, Coens (Fargo), Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds), but they don't win in those categories. It is only when their style is at its most limited Coens (No Country For Old Men), though it can still be apparent, when they win, which I feel is potentially the case for Nolan with Dunkirk.

RatedRStar said...

Calvin Law: Oh god lol xD, I can remember the last time where Jake Gyllenhaal was apparently my hope haha.

Louis Morgan said...

Calvin:

He's still campaigning lead for both, which is definitely a mistake. Although I will be interested to see if Last Flag Flying gets a boost when more critics see it or if it degrades. There are examples of legitimate contenders not coming out of the gate all that strongly, in terms of reviews, but later find their support like Nebraska and the Big Short.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: What performances can you remember being campaigned twice for lead and supporting or two for just a single category and missed completely come Oscar time?

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

Amy Adams last year quickly comes to mind.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: What do you think are the 10 most surprising Oscar winners in Lead and Supporting Actor, based on lack of precursor nominations/wins.

Louis Morgan said...

Tahmeed:

Lead:

1. Adrien Brody
2. Paul Newman
3. Russell Crowe
4. Denzel Washington
5. William Holden
6. Jack Lemmon
7. Cliff Robertson
8. Art Carney
9. Richard Dreyfuss
10. Lee Marvin

And yes most of these still shouldn't have been that surprising. Roberto Benigni is claimed to be one but really he shouldn't have been given that he won almost everything and had a best director nomination.

Supporting Actor:

1. James Coburn
2. Joe Pesci
3. Kevin Spacey
4. Kevin Kline
5. Martin Balsam
6. Alan Arkin
7. Harold Russell
8. Mark Rylance
9. Cuba Gooding Jr.
10. Michael Caine (Cider House)

94dfk1 said...

Everyone: Thoughts on the scene in mother! where (SPOILER) Javier Bardems character has a standoff with Jennifer Lawrence's character after she gives birth? Ironically, I think that's where the movie truly lost its own mind, since it's one of the quieter moments of the film.

Calvin Law said...

94dfk1: Actually one of the better scenes in the film, IMO.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: Harold Russell wasn't the favourite!!!, but who then could have been??? =)

Louis Morgan said...

RatedRStar:

Don't be so sure, Webb won the Globe.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your rating for Michael Caine in Honorary Consul.

RatedRStar said...

Louis: Way to wee on my optimism lol xD

RatedRStar said...

Louis: You know when you get back to 1957, how interested are you in The Incredible Shrinking Man and Night of the Demon, both highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes,, I have mentioned these 2 films before I think, they are considered hidden gems of those genres?

Here is a little clip, what you reckon?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yYoEShoNzk

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

3.5

RatedRStar:

Well that's what I'm here to do.

Anyway....although they aren't always great films, it's usually a lot fun to check out the 50's sci-fi/horror films.

Luke Higham said...

RatedRStar: I first discovered Night Of The Demon on Mark Gatiss' Horror Documentary and it looks very intriguing, especially with the casting of Dana Andrews.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: What would you consider to be the greatest era of Horror films.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

The 70's.

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Your ten best horror films of the 70s ranking.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

1. Jaws
2. Alien
3. 10 Rillington Place
4. The Exorcist
5. Don't Look Now
6. Halloween
7. The Wicker Man
8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
9. The Omen
10. Carrie

94dfk1 said...

Calvin: In a movie full of "moments" I found Bardem staring the snot out of Jennifer Lawrence for an entire day the most notable of the entire movie haha.

Louis: What decade would you cast Gene Hackman as Doc in a past version of Baby Driver?

Louis Morgan said...

94dk1:

80's

Luke Higham said...

Louis: And your ratings for Brando in Superman & Stamp in I and II.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Your top ten favorite actor/director partnerships, i.e. Mifune/Kurosawa.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Louis: Could I have your rating and thoughts on William Sadler in The Shawshank Redemption.

Tahmeed Chowdhury said...

Reviews of the second season of Stranger Things are in, and Noah Schnapps is said to be the MVP. Can't wait :)

Luke Higham said...

Louis: Have you watched either Grave Of The Fireflies, My Neighbour Totoro or Akira yet.

Bryan L. said...

Rewatched Blade Runner:2049 on Sunday. New ratings (old rating if changed). Now I'm really looking forward to the Alternate Round haha. Btw it's 94dfk1; I'm using my real name now.

Gosling-5 (4.5)
Ford-5 (4.5)
Leto-4
Hoeks-4.5 (4)
Wright-4
de Armas-4.5
Juri-4.5 (4)
Davis-3.5
Abdi-3
James-3
Olmos-2.5 (3)

Anonymous said...

Saw The Snowman. Hated it.
Fassbender: 2
Ferguson: 2
Gainsbourg: 1,5
Sevigny: 1,5
Vibert: 2
Simmons: 2,5
Kilmer: 1

Luke Higham said...

Anonymous: It's such a shame that Fassbender's gonna go under a 3 for the first time with a pretty flat performance. I don't believe it'll hurt Louis' opinion of him or mine for that matter. 1 failure in 20 is hardly earth-shattering.

Anonymous said...

Louis: I don't think it'll hurt mine either. I don't really blame Fassbender for what he had to work with.

Anonymous said...

Luke: I don't think it'll hurt mine either. I don't really blame Fassbender for what he had to work with.

Calvin Law said...

Yeah I'm not gonna really blame any of the actors in The Snowman for the failure of the film, either. Uniformly bad performances but there really was no other way.

Louis Morgan said...

Luke:

3.5, 3, 3.5

Tahmeed:

1. Mifune/Kurosawa
2. Shimura/Kurosawa
3. Guinness/Lean
4. Wayne/Ford
5. Nakadai/Kurosawa
6. Jackson/Tarantino
7. Nakadai/Kobayashi
8. Kazan/Brando
9. Stewart/Capra
10. Pegg/Wright

Sadler - 3.5(Although it is a somewhat limited role I really like the richness of the character he brings in every one of his scenes, and even a nice bit of natural humor. He's particularly good in just developing a natural camaraderie between the group of friends among the prisoners.)