Germany

Georg Wilhelm Pabst – Die 3 Groschen-Oper AKA The Threepenny Opera [+Commentary] (1931)

In London at the turn of the century, the bandit Mack the Knife marries Polly without the knowledge of her father, Peachum, the ‘king of the beggars’.
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Brecht’s opera, as we have seen, is not as ideologically pure as he would have us believe, nor is Pabst’s film as apolitical as Brecht charged. Both works are to be valued in their own right, although to my mind, Pabst’s film is ideologically more correct from a Marxist point of view. One can argue, then, that despite Brecht’s objections to the film, Pabst’s version of THE THREE PENNY OPERA is the most Brechtian film adaptation of Brecht’s work to date. Read More »

Walter Heynowski – O.K. (1964)

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This fascinating and unique film is unfortunately almost entirely unknown in the West. The girl Doris S. leaves East Germany in 1961 to join her father in West Germany. Three years later, she returns and tells the camera why she returned. The reason is simple: West Germany is a country or moral and sexual corruption, full of bars, American soldiers, American cars, alcohol, and prostitution. Doris S. succumbed to both commercial sex and drinking, but finally decided to return to clean living in East Germany. Clearly designed to discourage actual or potential emigration from East into West Germany, the film nevertheless operates on a second, unintended level as well. For in this lengthy interview, Doris reveals non-verbal and unmistakable signs of fear and coercion, reinforced by the stentorian, Prussian style of the interviewer (rather, cross-examiner). Read More »

Vicco von Bülow & Renate Westphal-Lorenz – Pappa ante Portas (1991)

What happens if your husband is early retired? That is the master question of Germany’s famous actor, writer and director Vicco von Bülow’s comedy. He understands very well to show the audience the small things of life, that can be funny as well. Although nothing important or extraordinary happens in this movie, it is interesting for every minute. You won’t find simple jokes and gags (like in a Zucker movie) in this film, but you will be fascinated about the subtle sense of humor of Loriot. The only thing to criticise is the very poor quality of scenery and camerawork what seems to be an effect of the low budget of this film. But I would consider “Pappa ante portas” (a German-Latin play on words that means “Daddy in front of the door” and is an allusion to the Latin figure of speech “Hannibal ante portas”) as one of the ten funniest German movies in the history of German comedies. Read More »

Joachim Lang – Brecht – Die Kunst zu leben (2006)

The director and writer Joachim Lang makes a great research and presents the life of Bertolt Brecht though footages, pictures, documents and statements of his relatives, friends and acquaintances showing his work and his loves. This documentary is mandatory for those that want to have visual information of this great intellectual. Read More »

Michael Schaack – Felidae [+Extras] (1994)

Francis, a tomcat, and his “can opener,” a writer of pulp romances, move into a new neighborhood, where a feline serial killer appears to be on the loose.

Gifted with an inquisitive temperament beyond that of the typical house cat, he befriends a battle-scarred and foul-mouthed tom by the name of Bluebeard, who shares the belief of the other cats in the neighborhood that the bloody murders are the work of a human. Francis thinks that the evidence points to another cat, and sets out to sniff out the culprit. Read More »

Helke Sander – Der Subjektive Faktor (1981)

“What were the beginnings of the new women’s movement like?”, “What was life like in a commune?”, “What were discussions like?” The Film reconstructs in 1980 events that took place between 1967 and 1970.
I was also always interested in what would have happened if certain people had acted differently, or not at all, at given points in time; that is to say, what influence do individuals, “the subjective factor”, actually have on historical events? Do people’s individualities encourage or inhibit each other? How do their activities affect the general public? In 1980 this was a very unpopular question. Read More »

Daryush Shokof – Seven Servants (1996)

AMG: A very strange dream about a wealthy man preparing for death inspired director Daryush Shokof to make this off-beat and highly esoteric art film. Archie (Anthony Quinn) receives inner peace by being touched by people of four different racial groups. The film shows the five of them conducting daily activities as Quinn endures having their fingers in his nose and ears constantly for 10 days. Archie invites two old friends of his to be present at his death and reveals his secret for inner peace to them. The man goes off in a huff, but the woman stays around and finds her own enjoyment in the situation. Read More »