Thursday, July 02, 2020

last week in letterboxd

Forget Love for Now, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1937

Eternal fog, eternal bullies. Suffering becoming form. I won´t forget that one long scene with mother and son silently coming to terms with their mutual knowledge of the hopelesness of their situation, the mutual dependency of their pain: she suffers for his sake, but this very suffering becomes the reason for his suffering.

Dampfnudelblues, Ed Herzog, 2013

Drifting through damaged provincial biographies with Ed Herzog, a German Jody Hill from Calw. The rhythm of smalltown life and hidden dreams of an outlaw Bavaria shining through. Everyone faces the camera, everyone is lonely and the school principal is the loneliest. An eye for architecture. Curious neighbors behind hedges. Two drunk soccer players crash a car. Who was the driver? Nobody! The upturned ping-pong table hiding a sex cellar.

Goku: Midnight Eye, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, 1989

Without the all-out sleaziness of of WICKED CITY, Kawachiri´s noir tropes feel a bit mechanical. Still knows how to push the buttons.

Winterkartoffelknödel, Ed Herzog, 2014

Getting wackier, especially the musical interludes. A borderline splatter comedy with a minimalist jazzy groove. Everyone wants to have Sexualverkehr once in a while, that´s where the trouble starts. Who is the Moonboots voyeur? A plot fueled by slips and misplaced desire moving towards the tourist imaginary of Teneriffa and an italo-western showdown. Simon Schwarz and Daniel Christensen stealing the show.

A Star Athlete, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1937

People are sometimes a bit too eager to defend films by name auteurs made during fascism against accusations of complicity with authoritarianism, often by playing off form against content, a differentiation that itself becomes increasingly irrelevant once the content of a pluralist society starts being streamlined into the form of centralized power. In 1937 Japan, this process probably wasn´t all that advanced, but still it probably makes sense to think of A STAR ATHLETE as both a propaganda piece, a first call for the mobilization of all the forces (men, women and children) and a particularly freewheeling Shimizu comedy.

Parts of it feel like a free-jazz improvisation on the techniques developed in MR. THANK YOU: Instead of a bus, there are soldiers marching, while the camera aligns itself with the road, constantly switching back and forth in 180° cuts. Pure cartesian energy, unhinged from what normally is thought to be its precondition: the security of a fixed perspective. The scene when first the soldiers, then the children, then the women, and finally (but only after the street is completely emtied out) the camera, too, break away from the straight line and start roaming the fields is incredibly powerful - but of course, it also is the one scene that most perfectly realizes the mobilization of all the forces, precisely as form.

Schweinskopf al dente, Ed Herzog, 2016

The first one that feels slightly stale. The case of the day never really matters in these films, but this time around the procedural parts wear a bit too thin, because the hunt for some random escaped lunatic just doesn´t lead to many interesting situations to play off from. Still, we can share a cigarette break with the sexy nurse and enjoy her unnerving, defiant stare, there´s a funny hardware store scene, Flötzinger has fun in Italy and if nothing helps, there´s always the healing geometry of boozing in the village pub.

Sins of the Night, Gregory Dark, 1993

Stands out from the others because of the male pov: a magnificently sleazy nick cassavetes slowly drowning in the quicksands of toxic femininity. The vhs sex is very tactile, bodies pushing down onto each other, Deobrah Shelton´s breasts squeezed against Cassavetes´s torso, hands grabbing flesh and leaving an impression behind.

The Golden Demon, Hiroshi Shimizu, 1937

That final travelling, leaving behind a maze of pettiness, self-hate masquerading as devotion (or is it the other way around) and emotional corruption together with "the stupidest of Japanese. No, of the entire world."

Griessnockerlaffäre, Ed Herzog, 2017

Lilith Stangenberg, effortless ruling over the film like a slightly bored queen, standing in the nursery of a failed life: Why does a man marry a prostitute? Later on, she wears a white angora sweater over leggings, but this time, Eberhofer sticks with Susi and her pink jeans. Accidents are on the rise, alcohol levels are, too. The past is creeping up on us, so we got to stick together. Cheek to cheek, head in the lap. An introspective, tender Eberhofer film, and one of the best.

Berlin Alexanderplatz, Burhan Qurbani, 2020

Quite good as a Berlin gutter epic about a few lost souls fucking each other up in often rather surprising ways. Everyone is way slippier than one might think. Not all that good but still somewhat interesting as a postmodern actualisation of a modernist novel (and Fassbinder´s krypto-classicist film version which I´m finally watching right now). Not good at all in its attempts to turn all of this into an inventory of contemporary sociopolitical discourse.

Still remains fascinating throughout as an aesthetic object, deranged and gleaming, soft power instead of hard knocks, looking best in night-time colors, and Albert Schuch is indeed fabulous. Also, no one else in Germany even tries something of this scope right now, that alone must be worth something.

Sauerkrautkoma, Ed Herzog, 2018

The Eberhofer series entering the flatulence joke phase. Franz and Rudi are slumming in Munich, while the rest of the crew heads for the Swinger-Oase. The case of the week is extremely stupid this time, and Herzog gets it out of the way rather quickly to make room for a non-wedding with cinephile overtones. Why bring back Nora von Waldstätten for _this_ role, though? Ferdinand Hofer, on the other hand, proves an asset.

Leberkäsjunkie, Ed Herzog, 2019

The best one yet. "Feelings are always shit." Franz is out of shape, sloppily working a case like a referee who never even leaves the sideline. It´s not just him, though: Everyone is hungry. The chocolate box is cleaned out in mere seconds. Letting yourself go, stuffing yourself, turning yourself inside out: The soul is glowing, the heart is tattooed onto the decollete. The star soccer player vanishes into smoke, Franz vanishes into a sea of spheres. Sometimes even the camera looses balance and Franz´s baroque bachelor recluse is flooded with painterly light. A welcome deformation: embracing the grotesque while keeping the threat of bourgeoise respectability in check.

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