Here’s the debut feature film by director Uwe Schrader, who’s still a well-kept secret of german cinema. I first read about him in the most recent issue of Cargo. His realistic “Milieu” films recall the works of Klaus Lemke, Roland Klick or the austro-canadian filmmaker John Cook. Kanakerbraut is only one hour long, and it is about the dull life of Paul (Peter Franke) and his encounters with similar characters in Berlin Kreuzberg. Continue reading
Features four distinct, bizarre, existential tales about people whose lives are in transition, who are each asking questions about themselves, their environments, and about God(s).
Here’s the final film of Uwe Schrader’s proletarian trilogy, following White Trash AKA Kanakerbraut [Germany] and Sierra Leone [Germany] . Without a straight narrative, a couple of stories revolve around the last days of a stripclub called ‘Mau Mau’.
MAU MAU is located right in the middle of the red light district. When night falls on the city, the joint starts jumping in MAU MAU. Stripping, pimping, ripping off and grifting are the order of the day. Sometimes it’s all very agreeable and sometimes all hell breaks loose. Celebrations and snivelling go hand in hand here. In this world of the marooned, the stumbling and those who have gotten back on their feet, the film traces the lifelines of Inge and Heinz, of Rosa and Doris and of Ferdi and Ali on their search for love, happiness and life. “If I had the choice of filming in heaven or hell,” says Uwe Schrader, “then I’d choose hell”. Continue reading
Even more so than The Orchid Gardener, this film anticipates Lars von Trier’s later work. The cross-wielding figure who emerges in the final shot before the end title in The Orchid Gardener appears here as “the Jew” who keeps the garden in the cloister where Menthe’s would-be mistress attempts to make her “remember” the things that they have lived together in a series of images that play with expectations about dominance. Continue reading
Lars von Trier submitted this film as part of his application to film school. Many of the aesthetic and thematic fetishes of his later feature length films (including the Dogme films and his more recent return to the ‘fantastic’ in Antichrist, Melancholia, and the forthcoming Nymph()maniac) are already evident here. The film, as its subtitle says, tells “part of the story of Victor Marse”, an artist (played by Lars himself). The only English language synopsis of this film that I’ve found is reproduced in this wiki and seems to be a poor translation of a summary written by a 12 year old. Consult it at your own peril! Continue reading
Again, it is a portrait of a woman and it gives us another glimpse of an exceptional figure. Mézières comes across as an outstanding actress, offering her body and her sufferings with a rare and profoundly moving abandon. Although the action of the film unfolds over five years, charting the development of a painful relationship between a mother and her daughter, the basic principle is to draw it all together rather than follow a psychological chronology. The relationship is apprehended as a single entity: the cracks are evident, but there is not too much emphasis on the process of disintegration. The story divides into two distinct time periods, first with mother and daughter together in the same bohemian setting, then separated by society, each facing her own choices and wanderings. However, the purpose of this time division is not so much to answer the predictable question “What will become of them?” in preparation of a pointless debate on “How can a girl live without her mother?” (and vice versa), as to show the metamorphosis of a single body, a dual mother-daughter identity, which is treated in the film less as a social couple going through ups and downs than as a single female figure with two faces. The beauty of the film lies in this constant blending of the two personalities, an on-going role-play in mother/daughter boundaries resulting in a disturbing tension between incestuous bond and transfer of identity. Continue reading
Playwright, actor, director, and theatre scholar Girish Karnad conceived this film as a popularly-accessible tribute to the glories of Sanskrit drama, turning one of the most beloved of classical plays, the ca. 5th century “Little Clay Cart” (ascribed to Shudraka) into a contemporary spectacle with A-list stars and music by major filmi composers. Lavish sets and costumes, jewelry and hairstyles, all inspired by classical paintings and sculptures, evoke the glories of the Gupta age, while saucy dialog in contemporary (if properly Sanskritized) Hindi recreates the playwright’s satirical vision of the demimondaine world of the city of Ujjayini. By reminding viewers that, for ancient Indians, “pleasure” and “profit” (kama and artha) were right up there with “virtue” (dharma) among the principal Aims of Life, the film can serve as a refreshing antidote to the over-emphasized philosophical and mystical preoccupations of the much-studied texts of the classical period (e.g., Bhagavad-gita). Its Rabelaisian cast of characters — the voluptuous and talented courtesan, witty cat burglar, pompous monk, wild-eyed revolutionary — mirror those found in the worldly-wise story anthologies of the classical period (such as those translated in J. A. B. van Buitenen’s Tales of Ancient India), and thus bring to life their urbane world of fleshly delights. Continue reading