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 The Berlin School and Beyond 
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 The Berlin School and Beyond

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The cinema of the Berlin School - or new, New German Cinema - is very much a cinema of solitude. Its figures drift silently but purposefully from one cold dawn to the next; through the dimly-lit tunnels and soundless, leafy parks of a New Germany, clinical in its ability to isolate the masses. It is also a cinema of following; of quiet observation and an ultimate embracing of routine. Yet, for all its obstinate austerity and precision, this is also a world in which the extraordinary can and shall occur; indeed, sometimes it seems almost inevitable. The automobile accident, for example, which has become a feature of Christian Petzold's work in particular, is by very definition a violent derailing of the ordinary; an immediate and unexpected wrenching apart of the very fabric of an ordinary existence. This is a cinema less concerned with such events as it is their fallout: the bounding waves and fleeting ripples that succeed such an impact, and how these move outward to affect differently the lives of all they proceed to envelope.

While many reject its collectivism, the term Berliner Schule appears to have stuck. Opinions vary on its initial use, or coining, since both Merten Worthmann and Rainer Gansera mention it, mere weeks apart, in their reviews of Angela Schanelec's Passing Summer and Thomas Arslan's A Fine Day respectively - "the same kind of light seems to pervade the images, a glowing which is sober yet intense", notes the former. While both Schanelec and Arslan are seen as something like founder figures, Olaf Möller points to Petzold as the movement's "most prominent member", and argues that while "no one quite knows what the Berlin School is", most know what it signifies: "a low-key cinema, devoted to the real as well as to realism, of a rare formal rigour and a stubborn tenderness." Marco Abel is more specific in his definition, listing "long takes, long shots, clinically precise framing, a certain deliberateness of pacing, sparse usage of non-diegetic music and poetic use of diegetic sound" as typical characteristics.

I would like for this thread to become a collective exploration into this New Cinema, from its influences and roots to its most recent manifestations - though, without the contractual obligations of other threads. There shall be no deadline, nor shall there be a finish line. This shall be an indeterminate, voluntary voyage. As an introduction, I felt it would be a good idea to link to any and all previous Corrierino mutterings on the subject, so as to provide an overview of our experiences to date. These can be seen below, though be sure to correct me if I've missed anything - both on the forum and off it. I've also supplied a veritable fistful of "essential reading" on the topic, culled from the Internet's shiny and bounteous archives. These include indispensable overview pieces in both Vertigo and Senses of Cinema, as well as Andrew Tracy's essay over at Mubi and Marco Abel's piece for Cineaste, from whom I stole the title for this thread. Join me, then, in an exploration of The Berlin School and Beyond!
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Luminous Days: Notes on the New German Cinema by Ekkehard Knörer | http://www.closeupfilmcentre.com/vertig ... an-cinema/
States of Longing: Films from the Berlin School by Andrew Tracy | http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/states-o ... lin-school
Intensifying Life: The Cinema of the "Berlin School" by Marco Abel | http://www.cineaste.com/articles/the-berlin-school.htm
The Berlin School – A Collage by Various | http://sensesofcinema.com/2010/feature- ... collage-2/
A German Wave, Focused on Today by Dennis Lim | http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/movies/10lim.html
Thomas Arslan’s films in the Context of the Berlin School by Thomas Schick | http://www.acta.sapientia.ro/acta-film/C3/film3-10.pdf
The Berliner Schule as a Recent New Wave in German Cinema by Maria Vinogradova | http://www.acta.sapientia.ro/acta-film/C3/film3-11.pdf
Unknown Pleasures: Marseille by Andrew Tracy | http://www.reverseshot.com/article/marseille
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Thoughts on Places in Cities (Angela Schanelec, 1998) by elixir | Das | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Dealer (Thomas Arslan, 1999) by JediMoonShyne | Shieldmaiden
Thoughts on L'Amour, l'Argent, l'Amour (Philip Gröning, 2000) by elixir | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on The State I Am In (Christian Petzold, 2000) by hirtho
Thoughts on The Days Between (Maria Speth, 2001) by elixir | Das | Shieldmaiden | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Passing Summer (Angela Schanelec, 2001) by LEAVES | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Something to Remind Me (Christian Petzold, 2001) by B-Side | Shieldmaiden | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on A Fine Day (Thomas Arslan, 2001) by JediMoonShyne | charulata
Thoughts on Venus Talking (Rudolf Thome, 2001) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Bungalow (Ulrich Köhler, 2002) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Class Trip (Henner Winckler, 2002) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Wolfsburg (Christian Petzold, 2003) by elixir | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on In This Very Moment (Christoph Hochhäusler, 2003) by Shieldmaiden[/quote]
Thoughts on Marseille (Angela Schanelec, 2004) by LEAVES | ShieldMaiden
Thoughts on Allein (Thomas Durchschlag, 2004) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Close (Marcus Lenz, 2004) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Ghosts (Christian Petzold, 2005) by ShieldMaiden | JediMoonShyne | hirtho
Thoughts on I Am Guilty (Christoph Hochhäusler, 2005) by Shieldmaiden | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Unveiled (Angelina Maccarone, 2005) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Pingpong (Matthias Luthardt, 2006) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on The Unpolished (Pia Marais, 2006) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Sommer '04 (Stefan Krohmer, 2006) by JediMoonShyne | Shieldmaiden
Thoughts on Windows on Monday (Ulrich Köhler, 2006) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Ferien (Thomas Arslan, 2007) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Afternoon (Angela Schanelec, 2007) by LEAVES | Shieldmaiden | Trip | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Madonnen (Maria Speth, 2007) by charulata | Shieldmaiden
Thoughts on The Heart is a Dark Forest (Nicolette Krebitz, 2007) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2008) by JediMoonShyne | charulata | dreiser
Thoughts on The Stranger in Me (Emily Atef, 2008) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on The Invisible Frame (Cynthia Beatt, 2009) by JediMoonShyne | hirtho
Thoughts on Everyone Else (Maren Ade, 2009) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on In the Shadows (Thomas Arslan, 2010) by charulata
Thoughts on Deutschland 09 (Various, 2009) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Orly (Angela Schanelec, 2010) by Shieldmaiden | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Blessed Events (Isabelle Stever, 2010) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Dreileben (Various, 2011) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Sleeping Sickness (Ulrich Köhler, 2011) by Shieldmaiden | JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Totem (Jessica Krummacher, 2011) by JediMoonShyne
Thoughts on Above Us Only Sky (Jan Schomburg, 2011) by Shieldmaiden
Thoughts on Barbara (Christian Petzold, 2012) by Shieldmaiden
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Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:26 am
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woo i'm reading the essays

all i'm good for is reading and digesting listlessly

looks beautiful jedi

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:27 am
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A new Jedi thread is cause for celebration. I'm gonna go drink some lagers, come home drunk, and read!


Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:57 am
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the conformist wrote:
woo i'm reading the essays

all i'm good for is reading and digesting listlessly

looks beautiful jedi

Thanks!

And be sure to mention if you find any other worthwhile essays or articles.

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:24 am
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Awesome :) <3 I'll post something on the Arslans and more Schanelec soon. So happy about this!

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:49 am
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I watched some stuff recently and will try to throw together short thoughts maybe. And watch more stuff hopefully soon. Coolz.


Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:55 am
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elixir wrote:
I watched some stuff recently and will try to throw together short thoughts maybe. And watch more stuff hopefully soon. Coolz.

Yes, please do!

Either that, or we can just link to your journal thread. Is there anything you've written that I missed above?

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:57 am
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http://cinelixir.wordpress.com/2012/11/ ... ober-2012/
That has thoughts on Places in Cities and Wolfsburg, not that I'm particularly proud of them. :D

It seems silly to link to like ten words on others. I'll try to write more at length in future.


Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:58 am
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elixir wrote:
http://cinelixir.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/these-are-the-films-i-watched-in-october-2012/
That has thoughts on Places in Cities and Wolfsburg, not that I'm particularly proud of them. :D

It seems silly to link to like ten words on others. I'll try to write more at length in future.

Added, thanks!

And don't worry about length, I'm just glad we have some existing words to look at. :heart:

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:12 am
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Despite its arrival at the end of what has since become known as his "Migrant" or "Berlin Trilogy" - following Brothers and Sisters in 1997 and Dealer in 1999 - Thomas Arslan's A Fine Day is a flag-bearing example of, and therefore an excellent introduction to, the Berlin School; its aesthetics of reduction, as well as its aforementioned existence as a cinema of solitude. The film opens on Deniz, a girl of Turkish origin, whose solitary movements we track through Berlin's topography: she trudges through sun-dappled parks, across featureless courtyards, and stands impassive at Metro stops. These movements are undoubtedly defined and purposeful, with clear existential and emotional motivation, yet there is a certain listlessness in her body language. She does not wander, as Thomas Schick suggests, though one can agree that any "external conflicts" or "specific goals" are indiscernible. We witness a discussion with her boyfriend and their eventual parting of ways, and note that the two seem just as much at odds as they are with their urban surroundings. Deniz's job as an actress, specifically the casting and dubbing that come with it, come to represent her attempts to blend in - not so much as a German with Turkish identity, but as a young person striving to become part of an adult, capitalist society. These casting and dubbing sessions also present an opportunity for Arslan to nod in the direction of some of his influences: Pialat and Rohmer in particular, especially the former with his alienated youth, but also Bresson for his views on actors and acting in general. As with much of the Berlin School, A Fine Day concludes nothing but does hint that this elusive "fine day" among weeks of bleakness may yet be attainable.
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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:31 am
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Looks good

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:37 am
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:fresh:


Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:46 am
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This will be a good source for recs.

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:55 am
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Petzold ftw

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 1:39 pm
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sounds good

i'll try and contribute sooner rather than later

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:39 pm
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Nice.

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:41 pm
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Trip wrote:
Petzold ftw

LEAVES would not be happy.

Here are another couple of essays I found, the first of which is mentioned above:

[Click]

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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:31 pm
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I'll be looking forward to Speth's Anonym whenever it makes its appearance - it's in post production, so within 2 years or less hopefully.


Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:03 pm
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Das wrote:
I'll be looking forward to Speth's Anonym whenever it makes its appearance - it's in post production, so within 2 years or less hopefully.

I've heard nothing about it, other than that it's about a teacher looking for her daughter in Berlin.

Rate/rank her others?

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“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:50 pm
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AFAIK, Speth only has two films available. TDB>Madonnen, then. I've tried finding 9 Leben, but to no avail.

Sorry I don't remember A Fine Day to talk about in too much detail, Jedi, since I have awful memory, but here's something. Your write-up is nice. I'm not sure I see all those comparisons. Well, Rohmer, yes. Pialat w/ the break-up I guess, but otherwise IDK. The acting isn't the same as in Bresson, but there's something there. Her eyesbrows, so intense, y'know--or was that just me? Body movements, too. Lots of "third" persona, Jedi; why no entry yet? :P

Something I saw in some other review, and something I found perhaps most interesting, was how deflecting the central character was; though confident, she was always ready to talk about another person. I think a lot of these films present not exactly character studies, but have a central character but is not beholden to them (Kohler's output, Marseille, etc.) which I find narratively freeing, this is good I mean. If we're talking about her joining the adult world, I suppose the conversation with her mom can be looked at more critically, but I don't remember its contents terribly well; certainly her sister seems to exist already as part of this world though, no?

It's weird. When I saw the film, when I saw her eye the guy on the train, I said to myself in my head, "I hope he doesn't show up again." This is/was unfair of me. It's just that those things happen all the time, having that moment will evaporate as soon as its over, never to be returned in any real way again, except here it does. Which is fine. I don't know. I found the film definitely compelling even if the experience feel wispy (if appropriately so). Arslan seems to be taken more with genre in his other films? Will see and report!


Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:16 am
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I saw these films about a month ago.

The Free Will This wouldn't really be Berlin School at all. Too nasty! But this gets worse and worse as I play it in my mind, like a moronic B-side to Sombre. It features queasy scene after queasy scene of the rehabbed rapist following women around late at night, even entering their apartments before he returns with them unharmed. Anyway, the thing is he finds a girl he maybe loves, or at least she loves him. The film makes it quite obvious she has been beaten around somehow in her life, especially considering the weird relationship she has with her father. The best parts of the film are when it is focused on journey, until the worst scene in the film which takes a narrative turn which made me roll my eyes to the back of my head three times in succession. The film is really grimy and dirty looking, very overexposed at the beginning to match the gross, awful content (which the film recognizes and I guess is doing a "service" by rendering is so ugly?). Ultimately, for a 2.5 hrs descent into the depths of depravity, there's not enough potency in emotion or even gravitas to justify it and I seriously wondered whether it was just a waste of my time. I guess the acting is good though...

The Friend of Friends Okay like the above I watched this for Sabine. Though I've been interested in Graf. Unforunately, while this doesn't dispense with my interest, it doesn't make me feel terribly excited because this is one of the silliest movies I've seen. I mean, I like portentous films, but the mixture of laddishness with its attempt at metaphysical/spiritual intrigue falls completely flat on its face. While "expressionistic" visually, it's done in a sort of nauseating manner, so no thanks.

Windows on Monday I wish I liked this director dude more, and I do happen to think Bungalow is alright, but this just wasn't compositionally interesting enough to account for its inability to build a proper atmosphere (that hotel visit should be incredible--why does it just feel shrug-worthy?) and arbitrary movements among characters (even as that's probably the most interesting things about it). The final scene is stupid.

I don't like writing negative comments about movies. I like recent German film in general. Honestly, I have nothing to say about Afternoon though; it was pleasant and serenely gorgeous in the same way Passing Summer was, though in a slightly better way I thought. Though maybe that's just because Passing was my first. And the aforementioned Madonnen was okay, but ultimately too drab and lifeless and cold for me to get all that excited about. I'm going to try something a little bit more on Orly since I found that to be a really interesting and even weird film, actually.


Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:36 am
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I liked the hotel sequence in Windows on Monday and felt it was reasonably atmospheric, but that's about all I can remember from that film.

I've tried to like Petzold, but neither Die Innere Sicherheit nor Jerichow were particularly interesting to me. Nevertheless, I reckon at least one of his films will spark more of a positive reaction and I remain intrigued by such possibilities.

I've tried to like Schanelec, and did in the case of Passing Summer despite its annoying preponderance of supporting characters, but Orly was mediocre and I thought Marseille was awful.

I'd probably have better luck with Arslan judging by Mach die Musik leiser, which I believe I watched with the intention of subsequently moving onto his other films but never got round to doing so even though I liked that one more than any other italicised title in this post. You have reminded me that this dawdling must cease.


Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:10 am
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I like the three Petzold I've seen to varying degrees. Well, Barbara somewhat less, actually.

Marseille...awful? whaaaaaaat


Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:12 am
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The most beautiful Jedi thread yet! I'll be learning a lot here, since I've only scratched the surface of the movement so far. (Does Maren Ade count?) And I'll try to participate as much as I can.

elixir wrote:
I'm going to try something a little bit more on Orly since I found that to be a really interesting and even weird film, actually.
Please, do! I'd love to discuss that one.

I'll write something on Speth in a bit.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:24 am
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elixir wrote:
AFAIK, Speth only has two films available. TDB>Madonnen, then. I've tried finding 9 Leben, but to no avail.

Argh, you're right. I was thinking Schalenec.

elixir wrote:
Sorry I don't remember A Fine Day to talk about in too much detail, Jedi, since I have awful memory, but here's something. Your write-up is nice. I'm not sure I see all those comparisons. Well, Rohmer, yes. Pialat w/ the break-up I guess, but otherwise IDK. The acting isn't the same as in Bresson, but there's something there. Her eyesbrows, so intense, y'know--or was that just me? Body movements, too. Lots of "third" persona, Jedi; why no entry yet? :P

An entry is on the way, I promise! The Bresson comparison is difficult, since it's not exactly the acting but his approach to it that I believe the Berlin School tends to channel. This idea that acting is not generally required, since characters are often reduced to mere bodies in a frame. Turhan's performance as Deniz is not at all dramatic, and could perhaps be better described as merely a series of movements and poses. As with Bresson, Arslan uses non-actors, and while I'm yet to watch it I've heard that his Dealer is something of a homage to Pickpocket. The nod to Rohmer comes during the dubbing scenes, where they appear to be working on a German dub of his Conte d'Été, whereas Deniz herself mentions Pialat's À Nos Amours when talking about that film she saw late one night on the television. I see more Pialat in A Fine Day than Rohmer, but the discussion that Deniz has with her boyfriend seems to be influenced by the typical dialogue you would find in one of Rohmer's later works.

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elixir wrote:
Something I saw in some other review, and something I found perhaps most interesting, was how deflecting the central character was; though confident, she was always ready to talk about another person. I think a lot of these films present not exactly character studies, but have a central character but is not beholden to them (Kohler's output, Marseille, etc.) which I find narratively freeing, this is good I mean. If we're talking about her joining the adult world, I suppose the conversation with her mom can be looked at more critically, but I don't remember its contents terribly well; certainly her sister seems to exist already as part of this world though, no?

How do you mean, she was always ready to talk about other people? You mean the jealousy she displays towards the beginning of the film, accusing her boyfriend of spending too much time with another woman? Yeah, the meeting with the sister is quite important in that she seems to reflect the figure that Deniz wants to become. An adult woman, much like the professor (?) she meets at the end of the film, who is not only an important part of society but is also defined by her role within it.

elixir wrote:
It's weird. When I saw the film, when I saw her eye the guy on the train, I said to myself in my head, "I hope he doesn't show up again." This is/was unfair of me. It's just that those things happen all the time, having that moment will evaporate as soon as its over, never to be returned in any real way again, except here it does. Which is fine. I don't know. I found the film definitely compelling even if the experience feel wispy (if appropriately so). Arslan seems to be taken more with genre in his other films? Will see and report!

Those things do happen all the time and never develop any further, you're right. It seems coincidental that she encounters the Portuguese guy again and again, but I'd say that Arslan makes up for this by ensuring that their relationship doesn't evolve any further than an evening of talking and an eventual peck on the cheek. This is why I love films like Guerín's Sylvia so much, because it is literally built upon such fleeting moments.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:43 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
The Bresson comparison is difficult, since it's not exactly the acting but his approach to it that I believe the Berlin School tends to channel. This idea that acting is not generally required, since characters are often reduced to mere bodies in a frame.

More on this from that Knörer article:

"The aesthetic concept underlying most of the "Berlin School" films might be summed up as a realism intent on avoiding the pitfalls of naturalism. It is a realisms that avoids all kinds of manipulative effects, ranging from plot point oriented storytelling to sound tracks heavy on music. It is an idea of realism that can to some degree, most conspicuously in Arslan's earlier films, go hand in hand with the defamiliarization found in a Bressonian scepticism towards the acting technique."

And more from Arslan on his influences:

"Within the movie there are more or less explicit references to movies that are important to me. The film that Deniz re-narrates from her subjective point of view in the casting-scene is Maurice Pialat's À Nos Amours. The works of Eustache, Pialat, Rohmer, Kiarostami (to name just a few) do not stop to accompany and to concern me."

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:55 am
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Oh, hey Jedi, this is that thread you thought was so important that you had to PM me on that-place about.

Cool.

Let's see what's going on here.
Trip wrote:
Petzold ftw
Circus Freak wrote:
I thought Marseille was awful.
I don't think these people understand the whole timeframe involved in April Fool's Day. Maybe it's Opposite Day so soon after that one. I don't know when that day happens, or if it can even be predicted, though.

So...

Don't sleep on Mitte Ende August.

To Watch:

Klassenfahrt Nightsongs Milchwald Auftauchen Pingpong Madonnas Jagdhunde Sehnsucht Ferien Allein

... and other films with multiple words in the title. Like Was am Ende zählt?

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:52 am
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Cynthia Beatt's The Invisible Frame shall be my first nomination to the "beyond" category mentioned previously, since it's a film I've been wanting to write about for a while - though, not before seeing its predecessor, Cycling the Frame. Described as something of a "cinepoem", Beatt's earlier film was first shown on German television in 1988 and follows a girlish, long-haired Tilda Swinton the length of the Berlin wall on her bicycle, occasionally peering over its mossy heights to compare East and West. Twenty years on, The Invisible Frame retraces these movements, stirring up the phantom of a divide that seemed so vast and immovable at the time. While this is an essayistic, semi-documentary project involving Beatt and Swinton, the images we see seem only to depict the latter, often lost in thought, weaving her way through traffic or else pausing to ponder the features of a passing landscape: a weed-strewn railroad, crumbling factory or felled tree. It's that recurring theme of solitude again, only here we are given more insight: occasional inner musings from Swinton, sometimes even in the literary form of Stevenson or Yeats: "The shadows and the generations, the shrill doctors and the plangent wars, go by into ultimate silence and emptiness; but underneath all this, a man may see, out of the Belvedere windows, much green and peaceful landscape; many firelit parlours; good people laughing, drinking, and making love as they did before the Flood or the French Revolution; and the old shepherd telling his tale under the hawthorn." What is most impressive here is the conscious and measured change in perspective between the two films: in Cycling the Frame, we only see what Tilda sees, whereas here the camera often cuts away, expanding our view just as the demolishing of a wall has done.
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Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:57 am
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mmm Poupaud

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:02 pm
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Trip wrote:
mmm Poupaud

Knew this was coming.

He'd have made a better woman back then. :heart:

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:04 pm
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no :x

Anyway, he's virtually a Rohmer female in that film.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:05 pm
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Based solely on The Days Between, I'm really excited about Speth. I've seen her compared to Tsai, which I can see if I squint, but I think Denis is a better comparison. Deep, gorgeous blocks of color divide the screen, separate the characters, hold us at arm's length, while quick touches of conflict and emotion pull us in. Lynn is a difficult character, withdrawn and moody, but Sabine Timoteo has a face I'd be content to watch sleep; awake, she's mesmerizing. All the tension of the film stems from that face's guarded ambivalence and fleeting happiness. And, in the end, the power she has over us merges with the colors and the space and the music. It's pure mood.

And, just look at it:

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I'll try to watch Madonnen this weekend.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:35 pm
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TDB is the best

also, welcome back

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:04 pm
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snapper wrote:
also, welcome back
Thanks! :)

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:08 pm
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omg shield's back <3

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:12 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Based solely on The Days Between, I'm really excited about Speth. I've seen her compared to Tsai, which I can see if I squint, but I think Denis is a better comparison. Deep, gorgeous blocks of color divide the screen, separate the characters, hold us at arm's length, while quick touches of conflict and emotion pull us in. Lynn is a difficult character, withdrawn and moody, but Sabine Timoteo has a face I'd be content to watch sleep; awake, she's mesmerizing. All the tension of the film stems from that face's guarded ambivalence and fleeting happiness. And, in the end, the power she has over us merges with the colors and the space and the music. It's pure mood.

Tsai is a name that I've seen a few times now when talking about the influences behind the Berlin School, though not as often as I've seen Joe's. I guess it's this obsession with urban space and how bodies exist in/react to it that draws such comparisons, but I also see a lot of similarities in the clean, reduced aesthetic. The Days Between, for example, really reminds me of Goodbye, Dragon Inn in its use of colours and urban light sources.

Shieldmaiden wrote:
I'll try to watch Madonnen this weekend.

Excited to hear your thoughts, and welcome back! :heart:

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:31 pm
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I'm downloading Petzold's Something to Remind Me, Speth's The Days Between and Ade's The Forest for the Trees. Should be a good starting point.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:48 pm
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
How do you mean, she was always ready to talk about other people? You mean the jealousy she displays towards the beginning of the film, accusing her boyfriend of spending too much time with another woman? Yeah, the meeting with the sister is quite important in that she seems to reflect the figure that Deniz wants to become.

More the first thing. That struck me not so much as jealousy as a desire to start an argument/confrontation; she seemed to want to have a fight to me. Doesn't she tell her sister that talking about her situation is more important than discussing where she's at? Though maybe she talks about how she met a guy too. Can't remember.

Jedi wrote:
Those things do happen all the time and never develop any further, you're right. It seems coincidental that she encounters the Portuguese guy again and again, but I'd say that Arslan makes up for this by ensuring that their relationship doesn't evolve any further than an evening of talking and an eventual peck on the cheek. This is why I love films like Guerín's Sylvia so much, because it is literally built upon such fleeting moments.

I agree, which is why I said it was unfair. I really need to see the Guerin, and I know I say that a lot, but it seems like a film I'd like a lot.


Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:53 pm
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Shieldmaiden wrote:
Based solely on The Days Between, I'm really excited about Speth. I've seen her compared to Tsai, which I can see if I squint, but I think Denis is a better comparison.

I don't think you need to squint, but I did compare them to both initially, or at least it reminded me of both in some ways...

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I'll try to watch Madonnen this weekend.

Not as good, but maybe you'll get more out of it than I did.

Also, unrelated to this thread, but I really want to hear your thoughts on the Grandrieux in your sig!


Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:54 pm
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elixir wrote:
More the first thing. That struck me not so much as jealousy as a desire to start an argument/confrontation; she seemed to want to have a fight to me. Doesn't she tell her sister that talking about her situation is more important than discussing where she's at? Though maybe she talks about how she met a guy too. Can't remember.

You're right, you know. It's like she feels secure in the routine that society expects her to follow, but then also wishes for any kind of disruption of it. The appearance of the Portuguese guy is a welcome distraction, but yeah, looking for a fight with the boyfriend is a more dramatic disruption. Since Maiden recently brought up Tsai, it's similar to the attitude of his recurring Hsiao-Kang character: almost a distracted boredom that longs for confrontation, but also a willingness to be accepted or at least noticed.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:51 pm
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Some comparison shots taken from Beatt's Cycling the Frame and The Invisible Frame:

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Also, an excerpt from Angelika Ramlow's review:
Quote:
In the expanding nature, a once ostensibly insurmountable monument that symbolised lack of liberty and repression, the separation, demarcation and exclusion of people and places, becomes part of the process of transformation within the natural passage of time and is left to vanish. Traces must be searched for – that also has a liberating aspect. Because the once ostensibly insurmountable line of separation is now hardly discernible, it can therefore be unmasked for what it was: an unnatural and enforced thing that could not be endured. But Tilda Swinton and Cynthia Beatt also pose the question, how can something come to light that is not visible, that exists as a memory, suppressed and forgotten: the inhumanity of the individual, the suffering of the individual. And they point in passing to new walls that demarcate private property, newly studded with directives “keep out”, although under other auspices.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:27 pm
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In the Shadows | Arslan | 2010


Arslan takes the well-worn "one last job" plotline that forms the basis of countless heist films and refashions it into something uniquely his. Yes, there are definitely traces of Melville here in the cold, clinical approach deeply focused on process and the mostly cipher-like lead character. But to my mind, while Arslan's film is definitely a crime procedural first and foremost, it's also very much a film about bodies moving through spaces with particular interest in these spaces.. in particular in-between spaces like car washes and parking lots where pivotal scenes in the film are situated.

Jedi's introduction speaks of a cinema "...of following; of quiet observation and an ultimate embracing of routine. Yet, for all its obstinate austerity and precision, this is also a world in which the extraordinary can and shall occur; indeed, sometimes it seems almost inevitable." That description fits this film to a T. One of the (many) reasons I was so excited about Jedi creating this thread is because having watched a few of these films now, I am eager to get a better sense of what it is that unifies these films into a movement. And at least stylistically, I see what this has in common with those other films. This is hardly a huge insight but visually at least, it resembles those other films with Arslan's tendency to shoot through cool glass (or glassy) and often wet surfaces which means lots of lovely reflections and such that make the film absolutely gorgeous to look at. There's also the very specific color palette .. all blues and slate greys (with the occasional lovely pop of neon) while in the city that stands in stark contrast to the dense green countryside that the film moves to towards the end. Just those opening five or so minutes full of refracted light alone make the whole thing worthwhile.

But there's more to recommend here than just pretty images. It's interesting that I watched this so soon after a month of Johnnie To movies. One of the things I love so much about To's films is his ability to keep us aware of the geography of an action setpiece at all times.. who's located where and who is at a vantage point to shoot someone else and so on. Arslan does something similar not so much or not just in terms of action sequences but with the plot, which is pretty dense for a film that feels so minimalist stylistically. And when I say dense, what I'm referring to is a focus on and richness of detail. The "what" isn't new at all as I mentioned earlier but the "how" is specific and exquisitely realized. I am also still wrapping my mind around how Arslan's film fits into this "new German cinema" mold and yet feels very classical in other ways. Jedi, help me.

In any case, this is extremely pleasurable cinema and more people should watch it. More pretty images here.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:47 pm
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I thought The Days Between lacked Tsai's humour and magical realist bent, but I think the style Speth cooks up doesn't need humour to be successful.

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:04 pm
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i don't think anyone said it is equal or *exactly* similar, i mean like duh GOD

for some reason the only added u thing that looks funny is humour


Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:15 pm
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what?

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Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:20 pm
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it was just a weird thing to say man


Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:24 pm
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I was just saying I think the similarities are only really in some of the visual style, so I agree with Shield

man

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Bush Mama / Gerima
** Paris Is Burning / Livingston
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Les signes / Green
Time and Tide / Hutton
* Ordinary Matter / Frampton
Vertical Features Remake / Greenaway
* Chickens / Amiralay


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Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:25 pm
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i know but it was like you were positioning it as a disagreement to something someone said

anyway enough. sorry jeds


Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:26 pm
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I can't wait to see that one, charu. Good to hear that stays faithful to some of the Berlin School merits, if not all of them. I, too, am working out Arslan's role in all of this, though the essay I posted earlier has helped.

snapper wrote:
I thought The Days Between lacked Tsai's humour and magical realist bent, but I think the style Speth cooks up doesn't need humour to be successful.

If there's one thing these films lack, it's humour. At least, there are spontaneous touches of comedic warmth, but nothing concrete. One of the most memorable moments of that Swinton film, despite the fact that it's not exactly Berlin School, is when some guy overtakes her turns around before wolf-whistles. She, of course, burst out laughing.

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Sun Apr 07, 2013 12:36 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Tsai is a name that I've seen a few times now when talking about the influences behind the Berlin School, though not as often as I've seen Joe's. I guess it's this obsession with urban space and how bodies exist in/react to it that draws such comparisons, but I also see a lot of similarities in the clean, reduced aesthetic. The Days Between, for example, really reminds me of Goodbye, Dragon Inn in its use of colours and urban light sources.
I don't know why I don't see it. Maybe it's because it feels quite different emotionally and I'm still not very good at separating that from the aesthetic bits. Her takes are too short, though, surely. Agree about the humor though.

I have A Fine Day now, too, so I'll watch that soon.

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Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:52 am
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